New whales!

I recently made a few more color variations of the whale fabric design and ordered them up over at Spoonflower on the organic knit (by far my favorite of their substrates). Spoonflower is a company that prints digital fabric on demand, so you can upload any image and get it printed onto fabric.

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Cute-cute, right? OK so I’m biased. ANYWAY.

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This aqua and green whale print will become a knit dress for Clementine, but I think it could also turn into a great little gift set for a baby boy.

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The navy background is just a color swap-aroo from the original whale print (featured in this post). Both are now available for purchase in my Spoonflower shop if you want some.

I really enjoy printing up my own fabric for fun and once you order a print, it’s easy to make them available for purchase. Know that if you do order some, a bit of that sale goes back to me. With the Spoondollars I received from everyone who ordered the first whale print, I was able to buy this yard of knit. I believe I had wagered that the most I would get out of the deal was a cup of coffee, so I’m happy to be proven wrong. That was really nice, so thanks!!!

One other thing you should know if you’re thinking of ordering some is that the background color shown in the top photo is more of  a cream than a white because of the base color of the organic knit. The linen/cotton blend also has a slightly off-white color. The poplin, quilting cotton, voile, and silks all have more of a pure white background color, which also looks great with these prints. I happen to prefer the off-white shade though, especially with the aqua and green.

Speaking of knits, I’m so excited for next month — I’ve got big plans for a “Sewing with Knits” series of posts starting in January that should be loads of fun! I guess I should get sewing on these whales then, ack!!

And, there are only FOUR MORE DAYS to sign up for our Handmade Kid’s Wardrobe Sewing Class in Ann Arbor. I’m totally in love with this cute postcard Karen made to advertise the class:

I’ve been kindof a slacker about marketing it (well to be fair I was in Seattle and Florida and then Christmas hit) and now time is running out — we need at least 6 students in order to run the class, so if you’re thinking of it, now’s the time to sign up. Stop over at our course website for more information and to register!

Just in time

I managed to get the buttons and button loops sewn onto the holiday dress I made for Clementine, just in time for Christmas. You may remember that this one was part of the List O’Despair.

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She rocked it of course.

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The rainbow Baby Legs helped.

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I did NOT get a matching one for Elliot finished as I had hoped. Nope-nope. But he had a nice blue dress shirt that matched his new accordion nicely (although he insists on calling it a “RE-cordion”), so now I can use the extra red material for something else festive next year!

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This was SUCH a fun year for opening Christmas presents. Both kids “got it” and were excited about absolutely everything, even the small stuff. I’m so grateful for the wonderful time we had with our families who showered them with love (and presents of course).

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I’m feeling very grateful, and I am hoping that each one of you is experiencing the love, joy, peace and hope that this season brings. Love and hugs to you all!

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PS. Just in case you were still wondering, all of my falalalaFABRIC giveaways are now closed and the winners posted/contacted. I’m so happy we could send new fabric to NINE lucky winners this month — congratulations to you all! Many of my sponsors are still running promotions until the new year, so if you’re shopping online be sure to check them out!

Overcoming Christmas-Craft-Related Despair

I’m a procrastinator. It’s part laziness, part space-cadet-ness. I wish I could get extra points for an Energetic Response when I realize something should have been done 15 minutes ago, but for some reason that never happens. We moved twice this year, and last spring when my mom started calling a month before we were supposed to load up the truck to ask if I had started packing any boxes yet, I just laughed. “Mom,” I told her, “I always do this. It will get done, just all at the last minute.” Why on earth would I be packing boxes? (and surely she could still remember my senior year of high school, and the violin concerto I began practicing at home just days before I had to perform it with my school orchestra at a spring concert???)

Our Christmas tree, short a branch (that’s it sitting on the floor there for the last two days). What? You don’t let your kids play hide and seek in *your* Christmas tree?

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So every year, around mid-December, I’m not sure why I’m surprised when despair sets in as I realize that the Giant List of Handmade Christmas Gifts that has been sprouting out of my brain for the last week or two has No Possible Way of reaching completion. This is always made worse by reading other blogs and feeling like everyone else is nearly finished with their handmade gifts (actually, it probably begins with all of the advent calendar posts, which always start popping up mid-November). “Why didn’t I start on these LAST month?” I think to myself. The answer can be broken down into three very simple themes, of my whole life actually: 1) Failure to Plan Ahead, 2) Poor Time Management and 2) Unrealistic Estimation of Actual Time.

On the first point, I need to be honest with myself: I’m just not the sort of person who gets into the “Christmas spirit” months in advance. At our November Crafty Meetup I was impressed to see a few of the gals puttering away on handmade Christmas gifts. I really was impressed, but did it motivate me to start or even plan out anything? Not really. I have to feel a sense of urgency to truly motivate myself to buckle down.

On the second two points, I was happy to see a recent post from dear Shannon on luvinthemommyhood about making handmade gifts and how she goes into December with a realistic number (three) of knitted gifts she’ll make, and this gem of wisdom:

“i made sure the list i had set out to make for december would be doable in the time frame i had given myself. that’s the trick folks…right there. make sure you have the actual time to finish these projects…not your dream time. all too often we think we will have tons of time but in reality things take a lot longer and that’s when the stress comes in. other obligations can get in the way. make sure the projects you choose are realistic and are something you truly would love to make for that person.”

-Shannon, luvinthemommyhood

Realistic estimation of the actual time I have is definitely an issue for me. In December I feel suddenly like I’ve been sucked into some alternate universe where time passes three times as quickly, but in reality it’s just that I don’t realize just how little free time I have to make the giant stack of imagined gifts that would have made it the Best Christmas Ever.

So this year, instead of feeling bad that I don’t have all kinds of handmade gifts to show you or a new series of tutorials and posts entitled “Fabulous Last Minute Gifts” as Christmas approaches, I decided not to worry about it. And guess what? As soon as I decided I didn’t care, I felt suddenly motivated yesterday to complete this little tablet sleeve for Mr Rae. Hah!

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It’s a Christmas Miracle! (ok that may be a slight exaggeration but it cracks me up to think of one completed gift counting as a Christmas Miracle) And it might be the only thing I’ll finish in time to wrap under the tree, but that’s just fine. The lowered expectation is key. So if you’re currently suffering from Christmas Craft-Related-Despair, it’s time to just let it go. It’s just not worth the stress. And if you’ve already gotten a pile of handmade gifts completed and wrapped under the tree, you’re probably Feeling Smug by Comparison (and: you’re welcome!!!)

Finally, I thought I would present to you A Thorough but Not Exhaustive Photographic Collection of Unfinished Projects Currently Sitting Around My Sewing Room that, if nothing else, exhibits my inability to complete one thing before beginning another. Because by golly there’s nothing that makes me feel better than seeing someone else’s pile of UFOs and I figure some of you are the same. Plus you know as soon as I see them all here taunting me, I’ll make myself a liar and finish them (part of my reasoning for putting them up in the first place). Here we go:

Fig A: Flannel PJ pants for C that have been finished/worn for at least 2 months, still needing a PJ top to match (that would be that neatly folded pile of fabric on top there)

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Fig B: Christmas Charlie Dress, finished for two weeks now, still needing buttons and button loops

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Fig C: Pants for Elliot, only partially cut (got distracted by something halfway through no doubt). Someday could be the Awesomest Pair of Pants on a 5-year-old ever.

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Fig D: More PJ’s for Clem out of Cape Ann with matching leggings

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Fig E: Radioactive* Green Pants that JUST NEED POCKETS GAH!!! *at least I presume that explains their inability to be photographed clearly? They seriously look like they are glowing.

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Fig F: Big pile of burp cloths in varying states of completion

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Fig G: Another Charlie, in a size 3, and this fabric combination

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There. Don’t you feel better already? How’s that list of handmade thingies coming along for you?

Posted in holidays
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Shop handmade for the holidays with Made By Rae sellers!

It’s not too late to shop online for the holidays (or heck, for yourself)! I’ve been working on updating my Made By Rae sellers lists (they’re listed below) so I thought I’d showcase a few of the great items available from the talented group of indie crafters who are licensed to sell things with my patterns! From time to time I get requests for ready-made items from one of my patterns, and since I don’t have time to sew them up myself, I always send people over to the sellers lists. Supporting these shops is a great way to give handmade, especially if you don’t have time to sew it yourself!

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1. Toddler Airplane Backpack by Zaaberry 2. Tutti Frutti Big Butt Baby Pants by Wee See Three 3. Winter Buttercup Bag by Handmade Therapy  4. Baby Boy Charlie Tunic by Honey Baby 5. Tropic of Aqua Buttercup Bag by CitricSugar Handmade 6. The Showoff Bag by hollyberrydesigns 7. Linen Big Butt Baby Pants by beatmckinley 8. OOAK Itty Bitty Baby Dress by The House of Random

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1. Handmade Buttercup Bag by Anna in Chautauqua 2. Train Toddler Backpack by Josh & Teo 3. Woodland Tunic Dress by Mira & Westie 4. Adorable Baby Pants by Mister Prickle Pants 5. Urban Whales Big Butt Set by Lavender Bird Creations 6. Isabel Buttercup Bag by A Stone’s Throw  7. Juicy Jungle Backpack by teacher mom 8. The Compliment Lickety Split Mini by Handbag Chronicles

Want to see more? Here are all the Made By Rae Sellers Lists:
Big Butt Baby Pants Sellers List
Bonsai Bag Sellers List
Buttercup Bag Sellers List
Charlie Tunic Sellers List
Itty Bitty Baby Dress Sellers List
Lickety Split Bag Sellers List
Peekaboo Bonnet Sellers List
Showoff Bag Sellers List
Toddler Backpack Sellers List

Happy shopping!

PS. For more information on the Seller’s Program, click here for more information than you could ever need!

A different kind of craft

When we were out in Seattle a couple weeks ago it dawned on me that my dad is a crafter too…just a different kind. I really wanted do a blog post about him and share his amazing craft with everyone!

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This is my dad, Marv. He used to be a research chemist, but now he’s retired. Since the time I can remember he has always had more hobbies than I can keep track of. Trains, trees, birds, drawing, piano, classical music, seashells, sailing, racketball, running. When you start to go through the list, it’s really an impressive amount of interests for one person. About eight years ago he picked up a new, pretty amazing hobby: violin-making!

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See that thing in his hand? That’s his most recent violin-in-progress. At the beginning of the week it looked like this:

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And by the end of the week it looked like this, complete with its own hand-carved cherry chin rest:

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Isn’t that cool? Sometimes I think it’s a little crazy. But it’s definitely cool.

Dad started making violins with a book and a kit after he would come home from work. Now that he’s retired, it’s expanded into nearly a full-time obsession. We’re talking ordering-large-shipments-of-spruce-from-Germany-obsession here. Learning to make violins well is something that takes years and traditionally involves hours and hours of apprentice-style instruction, so Dad has spent numerous weeks during summers and winters at “violin school” and “bow camp” to learn how to craft from experienced violin makers. And just in case you’re wondering, we’re talking no power tools here, everything is done by hand. For the last year he’s been driving into Seattle to work side by side with a local violin maker as a student in his studio. He managed to make this violin in about two and a half months. So far he’s made five violins (one of which I play) and one cello (for my sister Elli). It’s been fun to play the violins he’s made. Each one sounds different, and — I think this is really neat — better than the one before!

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On top of that, about five years ago he decided he should probably take some violin lessons so that he could play the instruments he was making. So now he’s getting really good at playing them too.

I’m so fortunate to have grown up in a musical family; classical music was on the radio or record player (and then CD player) all the time and all of us, my three sisters and both my parents, played one or more instruments. While I may have groaned about it as a teenager, waking up at 9 AM sharp on weekends to one of your parents practicing the piano just isn’t something that happens in every house. I used to complain about having to practice the violin or piano when I got home from school, but now I am so grateful to be able to play both instruments reasonably well (and pipe organ maybe not-so-well, but at least I try…). As I get older I appreciate that more and more.

Dad really is an inspiration to me when it comes to doing what you love; he’s always found time for his hobbies, whether it’s practicing piano or making a violin (and of course my mom deserves full credit too for supporting him and helping him to make that happen, especially when we were small). And music is such a wonderful creative outlet, even if you’re just listening. I hope you enjoyed meeting my dad and seeing his latest violin!

Posted in at home
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My recent appearances elsewhere in Craftblogland

With all the travel our family has been doing lately, I completely forgot to tell you about a couple of other blogs I’ve recently been featured on. First, Prudent Baby featured my Cheater Quilt Bind-off Tutorial as part of a Quilting Series in November:

SEE THE PRUDENT BABY POST

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{a sampling of great projects from Prudent Baby}

If you’ve never been to Prudent Baby, it’s definitely worth a look. TONS of great tutorials and projects over there! I feel like every time I’m there I get “lost” for hours, do you know what I’m talking about?

I also recently wrote a post KoJo Designs last week as part of their Gifts for Guys series. This is a neat series (in its second year) that focuses on ideas for handmade gifts for guys! I rounded up 20 projects from our Celebrate the BOY series that would make great handmade gifts for boys of all ages!

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SEE THE KOJO DESIGNS POST

You should also check out the roundup of guest tutorials from all of the other Gifts for Guys posts, it’s a great resource when it comes to getting ideas for handmade gifts for guys!

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Finally, we have a winner from my weekend giveaway of Mollie Makes magazines! Congratulations to Heather, who was randomly selected from 214 entries. Heather said:

“These magazines look amazing! I would love to read them.”

Heather, please send me your mailing address so I can send of your issues right away!

Posted in updates
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Christmas is coming!

Just in time to help you put the finishing touches on your Christmas list…

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Made By Rae gift certificates!
Easy to order using our Gift Certificate Order Form, we send a Paypal invoice, and then email you a printable (and personalized!) PDF gift certificate upon receipt of payment. You can then print it out and put it in a card or forward it directly to the recipient. The gift certificates can be purchased right here for any dollar amount over $10.


Handmade Kids Wardrobe Class – January and February 2012
For those of you who are local and are interested in taking our Handmade Wardrobe for Kids class, Karen and I will be teaching the course again next January and February right here in Ann Arbor. The course consists of 5 class sessions and costs $250 + $20 pattern fee; we had so much fun the last time that we’re doing it again, this time at Maker Works. This would make a fantastic Christmas gift, eh??? Check out our Handmade Wardrobe Course website for more information and to register.

PS. Come back tomorrow or Sunday for a weekend giveaway that would also make a great Christmas gift!

Posted in holidays
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What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever seen from an airplane?

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I think this might be it for me so far: Mt Rainier, Mt Hood (I think? off to the far right in the second pic?), and Mt St Helens, all peaking out from the clouds on our flight from Seattle Monday afternoon. Breathtaking!

Posted in travel
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Christmas Craft: Potato Stamp Wrapping Paper

Around here I am always looking for fun things to do with Elliot while Clementine naps. Once in a blue moon he’ll fall asleep during his “quiet time” but usually he pops up after about 10 minutes of reading books by himself or puttering around in the living room — they share a bedroom so he takes his quiet time on the couch downstairs — and wants to be entertained. And I’m like “seriously you are done ALREADY?” but I keep my mouth shut and then try to remember how much I will miss him when he moves out of the house.

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My children are very different; Clementine will play by herself, alone, unprompted, for long beautiful periods of time. Elliot is a more typical first-born, craving adult attention almost constantly. Or he’ll start pestering me to watch TV. I will admit, it’s easy for me to fall into the habit of just letting him watch TV or play games on the tablet while Clementine sleeps, which, when combined with the one hour of Busytown Mysteries or Pink Panther they usually watch in the morning while I shower/chug my coffee/check my email AND the half hour of video games he’s allowed to play while Mr Rae makes dinner starts to add up to more media time than I am comfortable with. And honestly, while my Perfect Self thinks the amount of media time I’d be happiest with is NONE, my Real Self realizes that as much as I’d like to be the Wundermum who doesn’t ever have to rely on TV to entertain my children, it’s not a realistic expectation for me personally. So. I’m happier with a reasonable set of rules for media time than none at all. Currently that’s 1 hour of TV in the morning for both kids, and a half hour of video game time for Elliot before dinner (Clementine sometimes watches him play, but more often plays by herself while he does this).

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Which brings me to that hour or two of time in the afternoon when Elliot and I find something to do together. Sometimes we draw pictures or play games. Sometimes I let him sew. I’ve really enjoyed Meg’s Things We Do After Nap series over on Sew Liberated and the websites she links to in this post where she finds more great ideas. And now that Christmas is upon us there’s a bunch more things we can do, including making homemade wrapping paper with potato stamps! I remember making potato stamps as a kid with my mom, so when we got a package from amazon that had a ridiculous amount of packaging in it for the size of the item I saved it for this project. Score!

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I’m pretty sure the pictures speak for themselves, but basically I cut a potato in half and used a knife to cut out the two basic shapes here (a star and tree) and then used a couple of 99 cent paint trays at the craft store and sponge brushes to spread out acryllic paint so that the paint would go on the potatoes relatively smoothly. And then we just made an assembly-line style station at his little table and stamped away. He probably lasted about 15 minutes before he got sick of it but there it is: homemade wrapping paper!

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I’m always looking for new ideas, so throw them at me if you’ve got them. And what about “media limits?” Are there rules at your house? For kids or even yourself? I am infinitely interested in this topic.

Posted in holidays
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