Don’t look too close at this dress

A couple weeks ago I kind of panicked when I realized I had done just about NOTHING to get ready for our baby (expected any day now, for those just joining). This resulted in a frenzy of painting, furniture moving (don’t worry, it wasn’t me), suitcase packing, birthing-book reading and inevitable new-baby-item purchasing.

That has slowed considerably over the last week or so and I finally feel ready. Problem is, now I’m waiting, not a great situation for someone who’s used to always having a bajillion things to do. So with all this newfound baby-waiting time, I’ve become a machine, I tell you, a machine. I’ve been pumping out sewing projects left and right; changing pad covers, curtains for the nursery, baby outfits, baby hats, a shirt for Elliot…and yesterday, I got really gutsy. I sewed something for my post-baby body:


This stretch jersey dress is a lengthened variation of Simplicity 3893 (which I think only comes in plus-sizes…luckily the smallest size (10) works fine for me) which is probably one of my favorite knit patterns. It’s quick and simple (if you ignore stuff like the trimming and the center back seam…durr?).

I used knit fabric obtained at Fields in Holland, Michigan but recently Alexis posted an online spot for knits (Hart’s) that I’d never seen that looks worth checking out. Sewzanne’s is a good knit spot too, but I always link to them so I’d love to hear other good apparel knit sources.

Now there’s a reason you aren’t getting a closeup of this dress. I’m starting to realize that most of my serger/knit projects don’t look so great when the lens is zoomed in. They look very…homemade. The stitching isn’t even, the edges ripple unevenly when I try to roll-hem, and so on.

I originally wanted to do some oh-so-trendy shirring on the sleeves and neckline, but after trying some tutorials out with both a Bernina and a Singer, I got so frustrated I almost went into labor (hmmm, should have kept trying???). I spent a whole afternoon trying to master this and I’ve finally just had it. Am I seriously going to just have to wait until the shirring trend disappears? I just know all of you Problem Solvers out there are going to try and help me out with this, and I SO appreciate the links and tutorials, but right now I just really want to wallow. But go ahead if you must…

One final thing: I wanted to post about how much I love my dress form. It’s called Uniquely You, and it’s made out of foam (really scary and Mae-West-like when it arrives in the box) that you put a cover over that you’ve tailored to your own dimensions. Now the tailoring is pretty tricky (it took me two evenings and Mr Rae’s assistance), but once you have the cover to your size, you zip it on over the foam and you have this great form that you can pin into. Just wanted to put that out there for those of you searching for a good dress form…I love mine, but do be a sport and read some reviews before you purchase; it’s definitely a project and I don’t want anyone getting frustrated. An added plus: on days I feel too preggers and whale-like, I can just go in the sewing room and take a look at Mia, and remember that yes, someday, my body will be somewhat normal looking again (and if not, you can re-tailor the cover).

Sewing for Baby: Cloth Diapers!

Now that the nursery is painted and pretty much ready to go and I’ve gotten much of the before-baby-comes stuff completed, I’ve been able to really dig into the baby sewing. It’s so relaxing and fun to think about the little baby who will wear all these teeny things.

We’ve been cloth diapering with Elliot since he was born and since he’s not yet potty-trained, and yesterday I ordered some more one-size diapers for the new baby to boost our stash. Am trying very hard not to think about having two in diapers. Cloth diapers.

Of course after talking to my friend Cheryl about making diapers, I had to go home and try making some teeny-tiny pocket ones:


:: these are actually the same size; the velcro tabs are just in different places ::

This is certainly not my first foray into making cloth diapers; I’ve probably made at least 5 pocket diapers for Elliot over the past couple years, but they’ve all been bigger. These are definitely newborn sized.

I have used just about every kind of cloth diaper there is: prefolds with covers, fitteds with covers, one-size pockets, all-in-ones, wool soakers, but my personal preference (as is with many many others) is for the one-size pockets. I love that the inserts come out, they adjust and get bigger as your baby grows, and you can “load” them up when you’re folding laundry so they’re ready-to-go when you need them.

Since I lack a plastic snap press ($$$), I can’t make them adjustable (in other words, not “one-size”…that’s confusing, isn’t it?) but I don’t really mind. I use waterproof PUL for the outside and microfleece for the inside. I buy 2″ velcro by the yard for the tabs and front. The inserts I use are the “extra” cotton inserts that comes with almost every one-sized pocket diaper you can buy, but you can also buy these separately (they are sometimes called boosters or doublers) or you can fold a prefold (the traditional rectangular dipe) and stuff that inside too!

A view of the pocket opening (with an insert inside) and the velcro tabs
The two I made last night next to a larger aqua one previously made for Elliot

Some of you are wondering about the pattern. The first few I made I just stretched out a purchased diaper on my cutting table and traced it to get the pattern. I did this with the diaper set to the snap setting in front that was closest to what Elliot was in at the time. This time I used a newborn sized cover, traced it, and then changed the shape a little so it didn’t have rectangular corners and it looked better.

I always write my pattern instructions right on my patterns so I don’t have to try and remember what I did each time.


Here’s a shot where you can see 1) the nursery colors (yay!), 2) my big big belly, and 3) just how teeny tiny these little dipes are!

Even more diaper blah blah

Part of the reason I use cloth diapers is because it makes me sad to throw disposables in the garbage and wonder how long that diaper will be there in the landfill along with those millions and millions of other disposables. And even though we use some chlorine-free disposables with E, I really hate to. I’ve read a number of places that when you factor in the energy costs to produce, wash and dry cloth diapers, it’s very close in terms of money savings. However, the fact that when you toss a disposable, poo goes in the trash rather than through proper sewage treatment methods is in my opinion enough to justify using cloth diapers alone. But ethics aside, Shallow Rae really just prefers cloth b/c they’re cuter. By ALOT.

Our faves:
I know someone’s going to ask, so the three one-size pockets that we use in our house are (and the order in which I prefer them changes constantly): Haute Pockets, Bum Genius, and Happy Heiny’s. Luckily, the inserts for all three of these brands can be interchanged with the others, so they’ve worked well together. HH’s are usually our night-time diapers.

What about accessories?
I also use Imse Vimse Liners (which you can wash and reuse a number of times if not soiled) in our diapers to make poo-disposal easier, we have a toilet sprayer, we use a basic white powder laundry detergent without dyes or enzymes, we have four hemp inserts (more absorbant) for overnight, and I’ve purchased a few wet-bags to store dirty diapers in when we’re out and about.

Cloth Diapering Information:
There are a TON of cloth diaper 101 sites out there to help those who are clueless. I found these type of websites incredibly helpful before I started. Here are just a few (FYI, most also sell diapers and may be/probably are biased):
Sunshine Diapers
Kelly’s Closet
Zany Zebra

If you have a cloth diaper information site or blog post, please feel free to post it to comments. However, please don’t post blatant advertisements or commercial links (they will be deleted).

I’d also love to hear from those of you who cloth diaper or who’ve made cloth diapers!!!

Hanging with Serge

OK, so not a very creative name for my serger (a Brother 1034D; I know someone’s going to ask), but we’re still stuck on the baby name, so all my name-picking energy is being directed thataway. It’s been the machine of choice around here because 1) I found myself short on 2T summer clothes for Elliot and knits are the obvious answer and 2) It’s so QUICK.

I used an Ottobre T-shirt pattern (issue summer 3/2006) and a trace of another pair of pj pants E has to make this pair of pajamas for him:


In this shot you can get a better view of the dog interlock (which I found at JoAnn last summer, along with the brown knit jersey used to trim it):


These were a test run for some PJ’s out of another knit material I bought (with submarines!) at SewZanne’s, hopefully you’ll see those soon. Here’s the recipient modeling them, but only because he was bribed with sprinkles (yes, the kind that are completely artificial…sigh). Although I have to say, a pinch of sprinkles goes a LONG way for a toddler with limited dexterity.


I also used the Ottobre pattern to make a tee for E out of one of Mr Rae’s old tees, and used one of his old summer sweaters and a trace of a pair of well-fitting pants to make “jammers”:


I just love using old clothes to make stuff for Elliot; it’s hard enough to find good fabric for boys, so reusing thrift pile stuff instead is extremely gratifying. I know I’ve seen a bunch of great tutorials online on how to make baby pants (feel free to share more in the comments section), but here’s a great one from Dana of MADE.

:: Miscellany ::

Lickety Split Thanks
Thanks to everyone for your support of the Lickety Split Pattern launch earlier this week! I’ve been shocked and amazed at its popularity and am so glad that so many of you are enjoying it. Instant download seems to be working really well, and helps me avoid potential problems when folks don’t get my pattern emails, so I may move the other patterns over there too eventually. Thankyou thankyou thankyou!!!

Hooray!!!
I won the Top Tutorial Sewing Category over at luvinthemommyhood! Thanks so much for all your votes! It was such an honor to win in the midst of such fabulous competition.

MadeByRae Maternity Leave
After the Dr’s visit I had on Monday, I wouldn’t be surprised if Baby #2 comes early, so I want to give fair warning that I’m going to be taking my “maternity leave” a little earlier than expected.

I appreciate your patience with me as I’ll need to slow things down around here for awhile (yes, I’m aware I’m not all that speedy to begin with…). And since I know many of you are experienced in the multiple-child-department, I’m going to try to gather as much advice as I can. Any tips from anyone out there on transitioning from one kiddo to two?

Posted in knits
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Lickety Split Bag Pattern PDF

LicketySplitCard

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DESCRIPTION

This pattern is for the Lickety Split Bag previously featured here on my blog; it is reversible and can be easily sewn in just a few hours (or less!). It’s so versatile you’ll find yourself using it for everything: a book bag, shopping bag, stroller bag, diaper bag, and more! The four pockets are optional (and super-handy for keys, phones, or water bottles), and the adjustable tie strap allows you to get the perfect fit. It can be sewn on a regular machine or a serger.

YOU WILL NEED

  • 1 yard of quilting cotton for each side of the bag (or less; the amount of fabric you use depends on how you position the pattern pieces, which depends on how the design is printed on the fabric)
  • ric-rac or other trim for pockets (optional)

DIMENSIONS
Body of bag: 18″ wide x 13″ tall at center
Overall height: 34″ total with straps untied, approx 26″ with straps tied

PATTERN INCLUDES

  • Detailed step-by-step instructions
  • Color photographs to augment instructions
  • Hand-drawn summary sheet of instructions (a cheat sheet if you will…this is totally campy but totally me)
  • Complete set of full-sized pattern pieces (attach together before cutting)

: : OTHER STUFF : :

Thanks
Special thanks to Andrea, my good friend, fellow blogger, and sewist extraordinaire who reviewed the pattern for me!

Pardon my dust
I have worked so hard on this pattern and getting the instant downloads to work smoothly and properly, but as you might expect, problems can and will arise no matter how much testing you do ahead of time. Would you please let me know if you find mistakes, if something is unclear, or if I could make something better? I really appreciate your patience as I get all the glitches worked out.

Flickr Group
Lickety Split Photo Pool (add your pictures when you’re finished!)

My boys


I don’t usually include much in the “family life” department on the ol’ bloggityblog, but since there’s been no sewing this week, I thought I’d share this picture from Father’s Day a few weekends ago. Elliot helping Mr Rae assemble a grill at Uncle Don and Aunt Sara’s (“Zahzee’s”) house. (picture by Aunt Zahzee)

Have a Happy Weekend!

Rally, people, rally!!!

Oh my…luvinthemommyhood has been kind enough to feature my Spring Top Tutorial in a Top Tutorial Vote this week. Just yesterday I finally figured out what was going on and realized I’d better get out the vote! There’s too much firstborn in me; I can’t help but get an eensy-weensy competitive. But of course I’m such a doofus, today’s the last day to vote! Durr, Rae.

:: click on image (courtesy of luvinthemommyhood) above to go vote ::

Of course, it makes it so much better to be featured along side of some of my favorite creators in Craftblogland (Dana, Traci, Alexis, and Chris) so I won’t be TOO disappointed if I don’t win…

Anyway, if you have time, go and vote for one of us (translation: me)!

Rae’s pattern in a Book and other updates

Some randomness today to prove I’m still here, puttering away…


New Book Alert:
The folks responsible for “One Yard Wonders”, a compilation sewing book due out this October, finally released a cover shot and a peek at some projects on their FB page this week so you can hop over and have a look! I submitted a couple of patterns on a whim last fall, and it looks like at least one got in (the summer nighty, below). YAY! I’m extra pumped because it’s got 101 (!) projects in it. SO appealing to the Dutch girl in me. I’m very excited and proud to say I’m going to be “published!”

: : A new pattern by me! In a book! : :

(Image by One Yard Wonders, Storey Publishing)

Lickety Split Bag Pattern Update: I am SO close to being finished! All of the pattern pieces are finished, the instructions are almost done, and the cover sheet is ready to go. So…it should be available soon. And from the number of emails I’m getting asking me to send it (“Dear Rae, Please send the Lickety Split Pattern to myemail@pmail.com, thanks, Soandso.”), I feel the Pregger-Brain must have miscommunicated somehow. Did I give the impression that it was already available? Sometimes I feel like I’ve totally lost it. Now to be fair, most of the emails are more like “Dear Rae, when will it be available?” which is gads better. It’s so nice to have so many polite people here in Craftblogland; I do really appreciate all the inquiries and emails.

Paint: Thanks for all the Low/Zero VOC paint suggestions! I decided to go with both Aura from Benjamin Moore and Duration from Sherwin Williams (different colors from each). If I hadn’t been such a last-minute kind of person I would have tried out Mythic Paint; “Endless Summer” (row six, center) is so dreamy. I may have to find another room to transform just to try it out. So far I’ve only used the Aura in the nursery, but I have to say it’s totally amazing to only have to do one coat (plus a little extra brush touchup around edges). ONE COAT!

TUTORIAL: Pleated Pocket!

Just a minute ago I submitted my final exam for my very last class for my Master’s Degree! YAAAAY!!! (to be exclaimed with flailing arms all Kermit-the-Frog-style). I’m FREE! Well at least academically speaking. So let’s start tackling that “list,” shall we?

Here is the long-awaited Pleated Pocket Tutorial. Now you too can make your very own and add it to everything: skirts, shirts, purses, baby dresses and more. This really is so simple. Enjoy!

P L E A T E D
P O C K E T
T U T O R I A L

made by Rae
please do not take images from this tutorial without permission. thanks!

Materials
For EACH POCKET cut:

  • 1 rectangle for the top band of the pocket: 1.5″x12″ for narrower band (yellow one, shown in tutorial) or 2″x13″ for wider band (pink one pictured above)
  • 2 rectangles for the bottom of the pocket: 5.5″ x 8″ each

Instructions
Step 1: Press under 1/4″ along the bottom side of the top band (I did both sides but later realized I should have just done one).


Step 2: Fold top part of pocket in half lengthwise.


Step 3: With a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew around just two edges of the top band, the top edge and the side across from the fold (has been marked with purple in picture below). This will leave the bottom edge (the one you pressed) open.


Step 4: Clip corners.


Step 5: Turn right-side out, poking the corners out with a tweezers or a pencil or some special thingamabob you purchased for this very purpose. Press. If you are smart you will also fold and press the raw bottom edges under along the folds you made in Step 1. Did I do this? NO. Dur!

Now set this piece aside.


Step 6: With right sides together and a 1/4″ seam, sew the bottom pocket pieces together, leaving the top open. When you do the corners, instead of making them square, sew them as rounded as you can. FOR BEST RESULTS, DRAW THE CURVES WITH A FABRIC MARKER BEFORE YOU SEW! One rounded corner closeup is shown below:


Step 7: Trim corners off with scissors and clip seams.


Step 8: Turn right-side out and press.


Step 9: Tuck bottom part of pocket into top band, making sure the folded edge of the top band is tucked inside, and pleating the bottom piece to taste*. I would tuck at least 1/2″ into the band. The size of the pleats will vary depending on how wide your top band is, but I would guess they will be about 1/2″ deep; adjust the size of the pleats so that the edges of the bottom piece fits exactly inside the top band. Pin pleats to secure.

*Want the one you see in the picture? On the pink pockets I made two pleats facing out about 2″ from edge of pocket. On the yellow pockets I made two pleats facing one way about an inch apart. For the bird pocket I put one large pleat in the center facing inward).

One other thing here: I found that the pocket looks better when the corners of the bottom piece go farther into the top band than the center, so don’t feel like you need to make the edge of the bottom even with the edge of the top. If anything this will help your pocket pucker more.


Step 10: With the pocket facing up, topstitch across the bottom of the top band to close everything up. The closer you are to the edge, the harder it is to “catch” both the top and bottom edges of the top band, so be careful. You may want to baste first with the back side up or do some extra pinning. I’m a glutton for punishment so I always just wing it and then end up inevitably tearing out the part I missed. Of course I remain graceful and dignified as I do so. Always.

Here is a view of the finished pocket from the back (I used a white lining for one of my rectangles because I was short on fabric. You don’t see the inside anyway):


And the front:

Notice that it looks a little uneven still; this will go away once you sew it to your garment. Remove pins, press it, pin to your garment and sew around the edges to secure. If you pin it so that the top band doesn’t lay completely flat against the garment, the pocket will have more of a rounded look and will pucker away from the garment somewhat.

Finished dimensions are approximately 6″ x 7″

Wow. I guess I’ll take that as a "yes"…


I’m pretty sure that last post set some kind of record on my blog for most comments received in the shortest period of time. I’m going to go ahead and say that was an ENTHUSIASTIC response to the Lickety Split Bag. And for those of you who have been sending me emails like “how much is it” and “when can I buy it?”, the current status report on the Lickety Split Bag is: has been scanned, will be available for sale as soon as is reasonably possible (given my current state and situation), with an option for commercial licensing for those wanting to make/sell them. I’m excited about this. But then I’m also kicking myself for making more work in these last precious days…

Speaking of situation, our basement renovation is complete and I am now able to spend more time in my home as the fumes from the new carpet have slowly dissipated. Which is good because taking a toddler out of the house every day proved challenging. Mr Rae installed some surround sound wiring down there so the TV is goin’ downstairs and his dream of having the “Man Den” is finally being fulfilled. Not that we ever have time to watch TV, but when we do, man we are going to feel like we are right there. The old TV room is becoming the new nursery so I have my fantasy nursery all planned out in my head. Here’s one of my inspiration points for Baby #2’s decor:


I did a refurb on this vintage Irmi lamp I found on Etsy (unfortunately the lovely shop I purchased from is down to one or two Irmi items) by very carefully cleaning the figures and repainting the base. I rewired it and gave it a new lampshade and added pompoms. And if you think this one’s cute you should wait until you see the one I got for Elliot’s room.

Now finding cheap Low-VOC paint to coordinate is something that will probably only happen in another space-time. Should I buy the $56 per gallon uber high-quality Benjamin Moore Aura if it means I have to put the baby in a dresser drawer? Oh, the issues that have been keeping me up at night. At least I know what colors I want on the walls (warning: blurry sideways scan):


The light mango orange is going on the top half of the walls top and one of those celery greens is going on the bottom (there’s a white chair rail that divides the room). The dark red-orange is just an accent color for a side table. Many of you have asked if we know if it’s a boy or a girl and the answer is: YES! But that’s all I’m leaving you with (and those of you family and friends who know need to keep your mouths shut) since I think it’s more fun if it’s a surprise! So that’s all for now…

Posted in baby
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