When one writes a blog such as Fifty Dresses, it can be a dilemma deciding how many personal details to include in one’s narrative.  Because this is a fashion sewing blog, I try to limit going too far afield into other subjects or areas of my life.  But sometimes, it is unavoidable.  Because fashion/couture sewing is so time intensive, my projects and my sewing intentions will necessarily be sidetracked when my time is taken up with other things or family needs.  And then, in order to make sense of my absence or my wandering attention, I feel the need to tell you, my readers, what is going on in my day to day.

Oh, the sewing plans I had in early January!  I was cranking right along with my projects, and I was so excited to think about starting my pink coat.  I mentioned in an earlier post that the start on that coat was delayed because of unexpected, but fortuitous, circumstances.  Well, those circumstances continue to wreak havoc with my sewing, although I can feel a shift back to normalcy somewhat close at hand.

In early March, my husband and I finally, after looking for 4 years, found and purchased a “perfect for us” vacation house in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  It had been a dream for quite a while, but we had certain requirements regarding the size house we needed (not too big, not too small); the location of the house in relation to the town of Jackson, Wyoming; the property (a view of the Grand Teton mountains was a necessity); and of course, the asking price of the house and land.  Because this all happened very fast and very unexpectedly, life was topsy-turvy as we booked last minute flights, negotiated, signed papers and more papers, and then took on all the preparations for establishing a new “vacation/Summer” household.

We drove 2100 miles from our home in Pennsylvania to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, our car completely filled to its top. Our two cats were our traveling companions. It was very exciting when we crossed over into Wyoming!

Oh, yes, I forgot a very important detail.  The house has a sewing room.  Described in the listing as a “study,” I quickly set the record straight, declaring it perfect for my sewing room away from home, and fortunately, Mr. Fifty Dresses agreed!  With built-in cupboards, bright light and a knockout view of the mountains, it is a wonderful and inspiring place to sew.

This is the view out my sewing room window.

I am indebted to a former neighbor who very kindly gave me her mother’s 1951 Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine, the exact same model I use at my home in Pennsylvania. It is so wonderful to have a machine I can leave here in Wyoming.

Built-in cupboards are the perfect place to store fabrics and supplies I brought with me.

Although I have no dress form for my new sewing room, which could prove challenging, I have been gathering supplies and duplicates of many tools, to minimize the challenge of sewing “away from home.”   Which brings me to CocoLand.

At my home in Pennsylvania on the East Coast of the United States, I have a very spacious and beautiful second floor sewing room.  I keep an ironing board up all the time in it, as 1) it’s a necessity for sewing, and 2) being on the second floor, it is not in a highly visible part of the house (I like things to look tidy!).  My new sewing room is right off of our “great room,” making it much more visible.  I knew I needed an ironing surface handy, but I was not keen on having an ironing board set up all the time.  Somehow, I found out about TNT Quilt Boards, and I ordered a  “Studio Table.”  This padded and covered table measures 32” x 21.5” and is absolutely multi-functional, providing both a pressing surface and a working surface in its compact size. It can also be folded up and stored. The icing on the cake was that I had my pick of a wide variety of covers for the board.

And here is where another bit of personal information needs to be shared….  My granddaughters call me ‘Coco,” a name chosen by my daughter, which has proven to be one of the great pleasures of my life.  To hear them call me that cute name and tell others that I am their “Coco” (as if every grandchild has a grandmother named Coco!) is pure happiness to me.  So, when one of the fabric choices for the Studio Table was a cat print, with the description “CoCoLand” running through it – well – of course, that was what I chose.

Two of the cat figures look like sketches of our two wonderful, silly cats….

So here I am in CocoLand. I’ll be doing quite a bit of home decorator sewing (not my favorite thing to do) for our new house, but it seems only fitting that my first sewing accomplishment since we have arrived here is – a dress for each of my granddaughters.  They arrive soon and then I will share these cute confections.  Until then, thank you for reading about my topsy-turvy life.  I promise more fashion sewing to come – and for me it cannot come quickly enough!


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38 responses to “CocoLand

  1. Peggy

    Congratulations on your new vacation home. I’m so delighted for you. Jackson Hole is a place I long to visit and the view from your sewing room makes me jealous, but I a nice way. Good luck with your home decorator sewing; you’re nesting, so enjoy it. Keep us informed as to your progress.

    • Thank you so much, Peggy! I’ve been in love with this spot since I visited as a little girl, so this is a dream come true for me – and our family, who all love it here. I’m so fortunate in that I also love our home in Pennsylvania. Two special places to sew! And yes, it does feel like nesting!

  2. Mery

    Oh, just send us a picture of anything and whatever you’ve been musing and I’ll be thrilled. So happy for you.

    I would have to adapt to that view like a trip shared for distance running. Run until you’re comfortably winded and time how long that was. Then time how long you walk to recover before running g again When it takes longer for recovery than running it is time to quit for the day. So when I’m spending more time enjoying the view than sewing it would be time to quit for the day and I would have to set specific goals to keep my feet under the sewing machine longer tomorrow.

    • I can always count on you, Mery, for a fun perspective! Yes, if I can stop looking at the mountains long enough to sew, then I might actually accomplish something! What a spot this is. It’s very difficult to be grumpy in a place like this.

  3. Congratulations on your new holiday home – what a fabulous view.

  4. My daughter has worked at Grand Teton National Park for many summers, and I was just there a month ago. It’s unquestionably one of the most beautiful spots in this country. Congratulations on your second home!

  5. Cheryl

    Congratulations to you and your husband. This new venture is bound to create new joyous distractions I’m sure, but oh the fun to be had! I so enjoy following your blog, and reading about small personal elements such as this is equally welcomed. To me you are stitching stories for your readers that are instructional, inspiring and entertaining. The scenery from your windows seems stunning.

  6. Welcome to Wyoming – hope you love it as much as I do and congrats on the new home. You are in one of the most beautiful parts of Wyoming and I have no doubt that you will treasure every minute of your stay.

  7. Karen Wright

    I believe you are, at heart, a private person and this was not an easy story to tell. Thank you for trusting that your readers will enjoy and appreciate your candidness. I have a niece who has been vacationing at Jackson Hole (hiking with friends) this past week. I know it is gorgeous, and I am happy you have found your perfect vacation home.

    I love that you are Coco to your granddaughters. It is so perfect for you as you don’t fit the typical description of a grandmother to me.

    All good wishes to you as you set up your new sewing “atelier” in Wyoming. Who knows, you might start your own couture design studio.

    Do you have any suggestions as to where I can learn to sew a muslin? I never sewed using a muslin and I don’t understand how best to go about it without spending too much time or money. Happy 50th Apollo anniversary. So glad we were a part of this piece of American history.

    • You are so correct, Karen. I almost did not post this, but now I am glad I did. And thank you for the mention of the Apollo anniversary. It is so vivid in my memory that I can scarcely believe it was 50 years ago.
      My suggestion to you on learning to sew a muslin is to take Susan Khalje’s online Craftsy/Bluprint course on the Couture Dress. Even if you don’t make the dress, the instruction on the muslin is just excellent. She also did an article in Threads Magazine a few years ago on making a muslin. Perhaps you can track that down. Making muslins changed the way I sew – for the better! I wish you the same.

  8. Your new home sounds wonderful and I’m sure you will spend many pleasureful hours sewing there. CocoLand is the perfect name. Enjoy!!!

  9. Jackie

    Congratulations and I will be looking forward to reading about your adventures from CocoLand!

  10. Heather Myers

    Welcome to the mountain west!😊 I’m sure you will love it. Is a 1951 machine your only machine for these lovely garment creations?😮

    • Thank you, Heather. It is wonderful to be here! About that 1951 machine. That is the machine I use 99% of the time. I use a newer basic Singer to make machine buttonholes, and sometimes to sew really heavy fabric, like canvas. But the 1951 Featherweight is a fabulous machine. It is really all I need for couture sewing.

  11. Your mountain view is so beautiful and I’m sure it’s one that you will never tire of or take for granted.

  12. What a fun post, Momma/Coco! We love you so much and can’t wait to see the new digs so soon. The girls are counting down the days…

  13. What exciting news, Karen! I’m thrilled for you and your family and hope you’ll keep us updated with lots of Jackson Hole news 😊

  14. Marianne

    Congratulations on finding your perfect holiday home. But how can you get anything done in a sewing room with such a stunning view? I would gaze at those mountains all day long! I know what you mean about hesitating to share more personal news. But I often think it gives some context to what we are sewing, and why. And in this case it was educational as well, as I looked up the unknown to me Jackson Hole region and read about its history. Have a wonderful summer!

    • It was really wonderful to read your comment, Marianne, and know that my post could be enlightening to those unfamiliar with this part of Wyoming. And, yes, it is difficult to take my eyes off of those magnificent mountains!

  15. Summers in Wyoming are the best! We love the Big Horns, and took the girls to Yellowstone when they were small, great times and memories! I know you have spent a lot of time in Wyoming over the years, are you enjoying being a longer term resident? I’m certain that view will inspire your sewing!

  16. Anne

    Congratulations on your new home away from home!
    I fully understand the dilemma of how personal to get in a sewing blog.

  17. Deb

    Congratulations on your new home in Wyoming…sounds like a wonderful new adventure…welcome to the West!

  18. Cissie

    Your vacation house is truly spectacular. I know you will spend many happy years here

  19. You are so lucky to have such an incredible view!! ♥

    Also, do check out my blogs. 🙂

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