The post where I go a little #fangirl on Cloud9

Yesterday was a pretty unproductive day; besides keeping the baby fed, clothed, and happy (a feat which should not be underestimated, I realize, yet somehow feels oddly dissatisfying as far as checking things off the to-do list), I ended up staring off into space most of the day due to a serious case of Busy Brain. Busy Brain is just what I call having too many ideas + the inability to focus or execute on any of them, a negative side effect of having an overactive creative mind, and it can be paralyzing and frustrating. Since I began assessing and diagnosing this malady in myself, I have learned that many other creative people share it as well.

However, during one of Hugo’s naps, I did manage to listen to Abby Glassenberg’s latest podcast which is an interview with Gina Pantastico and Michelle Engel Bencsko of Cloud9 Fabrics. I swear this has got to be the best While She Naps podcast Abby has ever done; I really, really enjoyed this one. I’ve been trying to figure out if I feel this way only because I’m completely biased (I am a Cloud9 Collective Designer) but I truly believe it’s more a testament to Michelle and Gina’s amazing story plus Abby’s awesome interviewing skills. This is a modern success story about two talented and ambitious women, taking a leap of faith and starting this really cool company. I loved getting a look behind the scenes in this interview.

Years ago, long before Cloud9 Fabrics or Made By Rae, I was a faithful reader of Michelle’s blog, Cicado Studio, which no longer exists online as far as I can tell. I remember when Michelle announced that she and Gina were starting Cloud9, and I remember being so freaking excited over the concept of an organic fabric company and even more excited that their designs were so modern; at that time it seemed like every organic textile was required to be the color of undyed hemp. I also remember the note on their brand new Cloud9 website that said, essentially “Hey guys, we’ve gotten a ton of requests but we can’t take on new designers at this time; we’ve got our hands full with this whole starting a new business thing, so we’re going to start with our own designs and see where that takes us!” and I remember feeling a little bit disappointed. Maybe you didn’t know this, but before I ever dreamed of designing sewing patterns, I dreamed of designing fabric.

In 2012, when I finally got my shit together enough to patch together a rough fabric design portfolio and bring it to the first Quilt Market I ever attended, I showed my designs to a small handful of people, including Melody Miller and Rashida Coleman-Hale, who encouraged me to bring them to Michelle at Cloud9. I don’t think I would have ever had the nerve to approach her out of the blue unless those two had pushed me to do it, and for that I am eternally grateful to them. I felt my aesthetic was a dead match for Cloud9, but to have others affirm that was really encouraging. And even though nothing really happened right away, I understand now — after listening to Michelle talk about what she looks for in new designers — that just putting myself on their radar was the first (very important) step. It wasn’t about the portfolio (I will readily admit, my portfolio pretty much sucked), it was about introducing myself and my work. Almost a year later, after working together on a Tsuru-Geranium collaboration, Michelle decided I might be a good fit as a Cloud9 designer and the rest is history.

I still have to pinch myself sometimes when I see my name on the selvage of my fabric along with Cloud9. My designs are printed on real fabric that is sold in real fabric stores. It’s such a huge thrill and I feel so immensely lucky. Being a fabric designer has also legitimized my brand and my business in a way that making digital sewing patterns never really could; I’m not sure I anticipated that happening but it certainly is true. My mom can walk into Pacific Fabrics and tell the lady at the cutting counter that her daughter designed that fabric (even if that lady couldn’t care less, true story). There’s something about that that makes me feel just a little bit happy and proud. I imagine this must be similar to how authors feel when they finally hold an actual book in their hand; the thing they have been working on virtually for so long finally turning into a physical reality.

Anyway, Hugo is upstairs complaining loudly because his nap is over and I’m still typing away, so I’ll wrap it up by saying this: I love working with Gina and Michelle. I love Cloud9’s modern look, the company ethic, their cool story, and the fact that they are both so down to earth and I highly recommend listening to their While She Naps podcast interview with Abby!

And: more on my latest Cloud9 fabric collection, Small World, soon!

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Geranium Dress Sewing Pattern is now in print!

Just wanted to let everyone know that the Geranium Dress Sewing Pattern is finally in print! I know there are many people out there who really prefer the printed pattern over the PDF patterns so we’re slowly working on moving a few more of the patterns over to print. The print thing started as a “let’s see what happens if we print this!” experiment with the Washi Dress sewing pattern, but it’s turned out to be a pretty good source of income. I’ve seen other pattern designers move away from print because of the high overhead but it seems to be working out for us pretty well. Turns out that having the Made By Rae brand in hundreds of shops around the world is good for business, even if we make a lot less on each pattern sale. And it allows those shops to make money off of our patterns, so it’s a double win.

print geranium bottom front

We decided to start out by printing the original size range (0-5T) because that’s been the most popular range, but if you need the pattern for 6-12 year-olds, you can get the digital pattern in my online shop. I love seeing Clementine and Phoebe smiling at me from the front of the pattern:

print geranium full front

There is a full-sized, one-sided pattern sheet, so you can either trace or GASP! cut your pieces out (I really do not recommend cutting into your pattern pages — see this post for an overview of my sewing process). Don’t the instructions look pretty all laid out on one sheet?

print geranium instructions

If you would like to own your very own copy of the Geranium Dress (sizes 0-5T) print pattern, CLICK HERE to see our list of stockists.

We also take wholesale orders from brick & mortar shops and webstores who are interested in carrying the pattern, so if you own or work at a shop, visit our wholesale page to sign up for an account.

print geranium full back

print geranium back

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Kitty Geranium Dress with sleeves

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One of the most common pattern-related questions I get over email is “is it possible to add a sleeve to the Geranium Dress?” The pattern has been such a huge hit so it’s only natural that people would want to add a sleeve when the weather gets cooler. I have made the dress with a sleeve a few times before (in fact, one of the earliest “Geraniums” I made featured a sleeve); usually I use the Charlie Tunic‘s sleeve and just gather the sleeve cap. This year I finally got around to fiddling around with a sleeve that is fitted; this takes a bit more work than a gathered sleeve because the sleeve cap has to be drafted to fit the armhole and you have to play around to get the right amount of ease, whereas a gathered sleeve just gets gathered to fit (super easy). Anyway, this is the result of our fitted experiment. I love it. The kitty fabric is part of Lizzy House’s recent Catnap line.

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I’ll be completely honest, this sleeve isn’t ready to distribute in any meaningful way; it’s not even graded yet, and I’m not sure how to put it out there once it is. I really dislike multi-sized stuff being given away for free online; I think it devalues the work it takes to make something multi-sized, so my current thinking is that we could maybe make an expansion pack for Geranium, something like the Washi XP. Maybe some collar and sleeve options, and I have another idea for the pattern that I think would be really fun that I’m testing out right now. Anyway, I’ve got plenty of other projects on my plate right now (the Moon Pants Pattern is currently being tested, and the pattern pieces are ready for this new women’s pattern in the works), so my guess is that there probably wouldn’t be anything concrete until next fall at the earliest.

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Please don’t pin or reuse photos of Clementine where she’s looking into the camera; I’ve put a bunch of cropped and side shots in this post that you can feel free to pin. Too complicated? Check out the ones I’ve already pinned right here on Pinterest. THANKS!

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Sleeping Beauty Super Tote

Hey look I made a Super Tote! This ultra-popular pattern is from Anna of Noodlehead and turns out it’s the perfect size for a me-bag-slash-diaper-bag. When I saw this version that Gail made I knew I wanted to try a version with the piping and bust out some Heather Ross Far Far Away sleeping beauty canvas I’ve been hoarding forever. Well, since 2009, which in Blog Years is forever. You know it’s only a matter of time until they reprint this line, and I still have a huge pile of it sitting around begging to be made into something. So: Super Tote! And: it matches my rain boots! That was a happy coincidence, since I’m not usually a huge purple fan. But for some reason when I was pregnant last year I went through a purple phase.

Super Tote Far Far Away canvas by madebyrae

My only regret with this project was I wish I had added the (recommended) stiffer interfacing. I used quilt batting for all of the layers but I wasn’t sure I wanted to use fusible interfacing on my precious Far Far Away canvas so I skipped it. Looking back I think it would have made the bag stand up and look a little sharper, but that’s OK. Next time.

Super Tote Far Far Away canvas by madebyrae

It took me a long long time to make this only because I kept setting it aside for higher-priority projects. That’s one drawback of being a pattern designer is that I end up with next to no time to make anyone else’s patterns. Wah-wah. On the other hand, I kind of suck at making other people’s stuff anyway because I usually end up hacking it or “improving” on it because I always try to change something (that is more a testament to my personality than the quality of the pattern in question, by the way). The fact that I did NOT change anything about the Super Tote pattern is a testament to it’s fineness. Especially fine: this nice zipper closure at the top:

Super Tote Far Far Away canvas by madebyrae

I’ll be taking this tote with me to Austin next week; our whole family is headed to Texas to visit my new niece in Waco and then head over to Austin so I can make a stop at QuiltCon on Saturday (you can find me at the Stitch Lab booth on Saturday afternoon around 3pm if you want to stop by and say hi!) and teach a Buttercup Bag workshop at Stitch Lab on Friday that is SOLD OUT, wooot I am super excited! (But: there are spots open in a couple of Stitch Lab fabric printing and screen printing workshops yet next weekend, so check those out if you’re going to be in the area).

Super Tote Far Far Away canvas by madebyrae

So, since it’s our first time in Austin and we have three kids in tow, I would really love some suggestions for places to go and eat while we’re there. Mr Rae will be on the town with all three kids for a couple of days while I’m at QuiltCon so he ESPECIALLY appreciates any advice you can give!!

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Posted in bags
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Frock Frock

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I’m so pleased to be a part of the Frock Blog Tour today! Also: a little surprised I’m the first one to use “Frock Frock” as a blog post title. Well, finders keepers. Frock is a new collection of rayon fabrics from Cotton and Steel. I love sewing with rayon — it’s one of my five fabric faves — and I’m a big fan of candy pink so when I saw this print in the mix I knew it was meant to be. Faithful readers may recall a few other candy pink concoctions that have appeared in this space (see exibits A, B, and C; note that B and C are also rayon). I do seem to gravitate towards that color whenever it is available (oh! and my hair extensions are currently pink too).

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Frock is printed on a lovely substrate that is flowy and soft yet still substantial. The fabric has a bit more weight than the Free Spirit rayons (like this one) but has a similar drape and behavior for those who have had experience with those, though I think it has a bit more stand. The true sign of a quality rayon is a geometric print that is actually printed ON GRAIN and Frock is right on target. Cutting rayon can be a bit of a challenge, so not having to make a choice between the print and the grain is really refreshing. The other thing I love about it is that it is incredibly wrinkle-resistant. I threw this thing in my purse and carried it around with me for a day and then hung it up on a hanger for a few hours and it looked as good as new.

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As far as washing it (Cotton and Steel recommends dry cleaning), I decided to be a Cowboy for the Sake of Science and throw it in the wash on hot and tumble dry it on high, just to see what the heck would happen. That was probably risky given that I might have ended up with a pile of melted rayon in my dryer, but you know what happened? Nothing. I honestly can’t detect any issues; it didn’t melt or pucker or shrink unevenly as far as I can tell; it looked phenomenal when I pulled it out of the dryer. I’m not sure I would recommend that sort of devil-may-care attitude to anyone else, and if I wash it again I’ll probably wash delicate on cool and maybe tumble dry low for a few minutes before hanging it up to dry, now that it’s been sewn up and I have more to lose.

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Let’s talk about the pattern: This is Josephine with the large bow from the Washi Expansion Pack. I combined the large sleeve and longer length from Josephine’s View A with the center seam from View C (see this post for all three views). I added an extra inch (so 5″ total) to the center of the sleeve because I wanted as much drama as possible in the sleeves. I also sewed the tucks down to just below the bust; I’ve done that before and I like the added shaping that release tucks give to this pattern.

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I love how this turned out! The slightly scandalous length of this tunic makes it read “mini-dress” when paired with tights (at least on me, I’m tall), and the bow on top keeps the whole thing looking prim and cute. I think this might be my Valentine’s Day aka Anniversary Date Dress (we got married on Valentine’s Day…awwww!). Or do I need to wear something more skanky? I don’t know, I feel like I’m getting to old to hooch out on Valentine’s Day.

Frock Rayons by Cotton and Steel

Sewing with Frock was an absolute delight. Frock is available for pre-order at Pink Castle Fabrics and Fancy Tiger (sponsors of this blog). The line is just hitting shops this week; another sponsor, Fabricworm, will have it in stock soon! Here are the rest of the prints in the Frock Rayons Collection:

Frock 8

And you really must check out the other stops on the Frock Blog Tour! You’ll may get a kick out of how many of these feature a bow (hey, what can we say, this rayon is PERFECT for a bow!!):

January 29: Deborah of Whipstitch blog
January 30: Amber of Fancy Tiger Crafts
January 31: Rochelle – Lucky Lucille
February 2: Christine Haynes
February 3: Devon Iott of Miss Make
February 4: Jemellia Hilfiger of JemJam
February 5: Anna Graham of Noodlehead
February 6: Oliver + S
February 7: Me!

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