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I should really be paying my mom and mom-in-law, because they are two of my biggest promoters. They both carry around bags I’ve made for them, show off the fabric I’ve designed, buy the magazines that feature my work, pass out Made By Rae postcards and tell their friends about my blog. So it was really more of a marketing ploy more than anything else that I gave my mom-in-law this Lickety Split Bag for her birthday a couple weeks ago. Actually, come to think of it, it was my mom’s idea when I mentioned it was coming up! Gotta love that. Anyway, my mom-in-law was excited to get it, even if she saw right through me. Fabric is from my line for Cloud9, Lotus Pond.

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So I made myself a new maxi dress for the beach! It makes me feel super glamorous. It’s made out of flowy cotton rayon which also makes it incredibly comfortable. The other great thing about this dress is that I made it with just one 1.5-yard piece of 54″ wide fabric. AND it was super quick to make, which is just the right speed for me these days; it’s gotta be fast otherwise it just won’t happen.

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The basic idea is that you cut the fabric into two rectangles, sew the sides together, leaving the bottom 18″ unsewn for slits, sew with elastic thread in a big spiral around the top portion (shirring tutorial here), and then finish the hem and slits. The only thing that’s a bit time consuming is the shirring; you go through about four bobbins worth of elastic thread, so that requires some serious concentration because sewing around and around a tube of fabric a bajillion times is not the most mentally stimulating activity. I should have put on some TV. I just finished binge-watched all five seasons of Breaking Bad on Netflix, which is so good and awful at the same time. It was like watching a wreck happen, I just couldn’t look away. If you do not like violence do not ever watch that show. It’s downright horrifying. And addicting. But awesome. Anyhoo.

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I’ve mentioned before that this cotton rayon challis is one of my favorite fabrics of all time. Pink Castle has a few of the Free Spirit rayons in stock, including this one, and I found a few at Pink Chalk too (both of these shops sponsor my blog). In addition to being really comfortable to wear, the cotton rayons also cinch up like a dream when you do the elastic shirring.

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I sketched out some basic instructions just in case you wanted to make one yourself; I’m pretty sure that this would fit just about anyone, but if you’re pretty small (XS or S) you might want to narrow the pieces by a few inches so that it doesn’t just slide right off of you. I’m wearing a women’s size large these days and it fits perfectly.

And my handy-dandy tutorial for elastic shirring can be found here:

shirring with elastic thread

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My little angel baby is 3 (and a half…forgive the time lag since I took these photos) months old. Man, I know I’m biased, but is this kid the cutest baby EVAR or WHAT? Don’t answer that. It’s so textbook it’s hilarious: I can’t stop staring at him, smiling at him, and cooing at him. I’m completely smitten. I remember being worried that having a third baby would feel a little “been there, done that,” but the miracle is that it doesn’t feel that way at all. You fall in love all over again, and it even feels new again, if perhaps a bit less surprising as with the first.

Each of my three baby experiences has been so different. Not so much because the babies themselves were so different — they have all been fairly easy babies — but because I am different. With Elliot I was fresh off of a seven-year science teaching stint that was so mentally and emotionally challenging that by comparison the days with a newborn felt lonely and unproductive. It’s hard to remember how happy or content I was, but guess I must have felt disconnected and a bit directionless, because I started the blog. I remember feeling like I just needed to find something to DO (you know, besides take care of an infant full time. HAH).

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With Clementine, my blog was a new business and it was getting pretty demanding. It felt like anyone who had any audience was picking up ad networks and sponsors and beginning to see that they could make money just by blogging. The digital patterns I had made while I was pregnant with Clementine while Elliot took his afternoon naps were selling well enough that I felt like I was thinking about business stuff all. the. time. I had to constantly check email to make sure my patterns got emailed out on time. I had to keep sewing. Keep blogging. Put the kid in front of the TV. Keep making new patterns. My brain was so busy with ideas and information, but with a toddler and a newborn every day needed an outing or playdate or I would go crazy. The result was that I had next to no free time to act on any of my ideas. It was like “Attack of the Busy Brain!” all the time, and it was pretty frustrating.

With Hugo (see he is SMILING???), I at least have the benefit of knowing what to expect; knowing that it is kinda boring sometimes, knowing that I’ll feel unproductive, and knowing that it will be a while before I can really dig in and work again, and that all of that is OK. I’m still in the thick of it. As I type this, I’m at my studio, and Hugo is napping underneath my cutting table in the next room (scratch that; he just woke up, so now he’s nursing). I go downtown to my studio for a few hours each week, not because I think I’ll get anything done, but because it’s just good to get out of the house and putter around in this place that feels like something I’ve built from the ground up. Low expectation seems key.

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The blog, the patterns, my overflowing inbox, the new website (!!!) we’re working on…the work is all still ever-present, and if I think about it too much it stresses me out, but I have to keep reminding myself that it’s just not that important. And I think I’m happier for it, at least I feel more at peace with my life. Some days I can hardly contain my joy at how wonderful this life I’ve been given is — I am so thankful to God for my healthy children, Mr Rae, who is just the best mate I could ever ask for, and the fun thing that “Made By Rae” has become. Other days I want to pull my hair out and I feel like a monster when I yell at my kids because they’re dorking around instead of putting their shoes on or getting ready for bed.

I want to write, but phantom blog posts just end up circling in my head instead of getting onto the page. I want to sew ALL THE THINGS, but the block of sewing time never materializes. But I know like everything about having a baby, things change so quickly, but work will always be there if I want it. And if it’s not — for isn’t that what all bloggers fear? that if we step away from what we have built with our blogs that it will all disappear into thin air? — that everything will still be just fine.

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