Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

Coco’s Garden and Other Stories


I’m beginning to think that life is just a series of coincidences – one event/decision/action leads to an apparently unrelated event/decision/action, which leads to another and so on, until all those little things add up to one big thing. Here’s how my recent series is connected:

For nearly a year I have been reading Coco’s Loft. A fabulous and talented lady who makes the most outstanding clothes and has really defined her style. Many of her photo shoots are in her garden. My fingers are definitely NOT green, I can kill weeds, but Coco’s garden is tropical, lush and very, very green. Every time I see it I tend to look at the plants and not the dress (sorry Coco).

Then Elizabeth, from Sewn, was fixated for a while on a Burda batwing top and made some beautiful versions, each a little different from the last. I actually have this pattern too, being one of the few that I managed to trace off and know her addiction well. I also made 3 or 4. It’s an easy pattern, front and back cut on the fold with a bit of bias or other finishing technique around the neck, sleeves and hem. Recently she also posted about hating to cut out, have I got a treat for her!

Next, I set a puzzle pattern piece for you to guess what it would morph into. I inadvertently posted a photo of the pattern and The Centre for Pattern Design told me off, in case some unscrupulous sewer copied the design from my blog. I promptly removed the image and for my efforts, CPD very, very kindly gifted another pattern. I also suspect that they received considerably more orders for patterns that week.

I’ve also been reading around the blog-o-sphere of Fearless February. A personal challenge to settle down and tackle those sewing related things that you ‘need a bit more practice‘ at. While not officially signing up, the challenge did spark something in me. So things I’m really crap at – sewing in a straight line; applying bias binding without wrinkles; sewing an even distance from the edge; good top stitching, and stitch-in-the-ditch. Ironically, I used most of these techniques in the recently completed raincoat but I’ve seen it up close and believe me, there’s lots of room for improvement.

Bear with me, we’re getting there………that’s four stories so far.

While in town the other day, the one and only fabric shop had a table set up with a selection of cottons at half price. Most were end of rolls but generally 1 -2m in length. All sorts of colours and patterns but I was drawn to a grey/green leaf design.

My immediate thought was – Coco’s garden!

Then the pattern arrived in the post (air mail no less), MV bias cut top. Wait for it… piece!

My immediate thought was – Elizabeth would love this: batwing style and easy to cut out!

And so, we are now at the point of culmination of all these coincidences to proudly present the Centre for Pattern Design’s Madeleine Vinonnet’s inspired bias cut top-

And so we come to then end (so far) of this series of fortunate events…or do you have any to add?

I’ve practiced my top stitching and stitching in the ditches, attaching bias binding in lots of different ways, and discovered a top that has one pattern piece that is cut on the bias with only 2 seams (count them, two!), drapes beautifully to the body without being clingy and can be made in almost any fabric.

The pattern comes in small, medium and large but without SAs. I started with the L but have added 1cm on every subsequent cut. The fit on Number 2 and 3 is much better than the Number 1 satin. Just check the width of the bottom of the sleeves – too tight and you’ll end up with a T-shirt like me! You’ll need about 1.5m of fabric and the wider the better, especially of you want longer sleeves. The excess fabric at the end can be used very productively for making the bias binding.

Most batwing tops are difficult to wear under a cardigan or jacket without the sleeves all bunching up but this top has narrower sleeves and easily fits comfortably underneath a cardi.

Do you have any strange coincidence stories,  or a train of events that led you to where you are now?

26 thoughts on “Coco’s Garden and Other Stories

  1. These are fantastic Ruth. I love them , but the turquoise circles one is very "you"! How do you get the time….. ?Talking of which – I'd better get off the computer and cut out the rest of my dress while the house is quiet!

  2. All fab – especially that navy Vionnet. I had some fortuitous fabric coincidences of late, instead of my more customary strange ones, so I'm happy about that. I detest cutting out projects but with a newly built cutting table a full 8' x 3', complete with rotary cutting surface, this step is far less painful. Don't kid yourself on your work, you do lovely craftsmanship. Rock on!Coco

  3. I really like these tops! I enjoy stopping by your blog and reading your latest sewing adventure.

  4. Just love reading about your sewing adventures. You're very brave and willing to try almost anything. A hint… I learned about some sewing machine feet that make life much easier. I have a Pfaff, and they make set width feet with a little lip at 5/8", and 1/4" and the other foot I use constantly has a lip down the middle that for edge stitching and stitch in the ditch. I assume most machines have the same feet. I think they were in the nature of $20 US each, but it has made my clothing look so much more professional I can't even tell you. Like all the tops, but my fav is the silk!

  5. Love this top!!! Thanks for the shout out. My favorite is the last one. Tweaking the fit is great isn't it? Super cute.

  6. In my late teens I was quite a few sizes bigger than I am now and mostly wore sacks but the one top I had that was flattering and lovely was a batwing one like yours bought from Camden Market in a purple batik. Coco's Garden reminds me of it. I love concidences: they're one of my value for money thrills! I often blog in the evenings with the telly on and am struck by how often as I'm beginning to type a certain uncommon word, a talking head utters it at the same time… Or often, I remember people I haven't seen for years, then a couple of days later there they are, at the station, in the crowd.

  7. I had missed the previous post with the CPD spiral top. Very slick! And this top is also quite nice! You are on quite the roll!

  8. Oh, Ruth, thank you so much, what a lovely compliment. I love your blouse! I think it's interesting how things can just take us down a road without our even know it!

  9. Funny how we can look back and see so many connections in our lives! I love the tops, especially the lush, tropical type leaves!!

  10. Ruth, your blog post was stolen in toto… Check out this site.

  11. Sally, that helps – sitting at the sewing machine instead of the computer really gets the sewing done!

  12. Thanks Coco – your table sounds perfect.

  13. Thank you Linda, you're always welcome here.

  14. Lynda, you're right. I got this machine last summer and have used only 3 of the 6 feet that came with the machine. I'll look into specialised feet. Thanks

  15. And I haven't stopped yet – plans are afoot for more

  16. I'll be thinking of a movie I haven't seen in a long time and in a couple of days it's on TV! WeirdOne time when I lived in London, I worked late one evening; on the way down to the tube at Tottenham Court Road I felt a tap on my shoulder, I turned round and it was my Dad! He was standing right behind me on the escalator. He was in London for one day on business and was heading back to Heathrow. As he was only in London for a few hours he didn't think he'd have time to visit with me so I didn't even know he was in the city. If I hadn't worked late, or choose a different route home we would never have met.

  17. Their patterns are divine – such craftsmanship.

  18. No thank you Coco. The top will forever be referred to as Coco's Garden

  19. Thanks Rhonda – we all do have a little influence on those around us. For good I hope.

  20. Elizabeth – that's just weird. Do you know how to prevent this?

  21. All of these are just gorgeous…I'd be hard pressed to pick a favorite but might have to go with Coco's garden…great work!

  22. No I don't unfortunately. On wordpress blogs, you can have pingbacks to your blog which notifies you if someone links to you. That's how I found out your blog post was stolen because your original link to me was pinged back to me again.

  23. Oh, that's a lovely story! I love stories like that. Maybe they happen a lot but we don't always notice them.Once on a very crowded tube train, I turned my head into the chest and stomach of a man who I realized had the same lovely shirt fabric as my other half (I iron the shirts often enough!) I looked up and …. yes you guessed. Only it wasn't such a coincidence as we were both making our way to the same event. But still, there must have been hundreds of people on that train.Finally and funnily , the day after I posted the comment above, I bumped into a woman I hadn't seen for 9 years and had suddenly remembered her only a few days before, wondering where she'd ended up. The answer was in Tunbridge Wells….

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