Orange Washi with white pom-poms

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UPDATE: The Washi Dress sewing pattern is now available here

It’s been just over a month since I posted the Washi Dress and I can tell from the emails and comments I’ve been getting that some of you are starting to get antsy for the pattern. I’m happy to report that Elli (my uber-talented graphics queen) and I are making good progress. I know it seems slow, but it must. be. perfect. Six sizes now instead of five (upper chest roughly 41″ on the largest size), so that’s good too. Slow and steady wins the race, I say. No good to put out something that I don’t feel is totally excellent. I also talked to Rashida Coleman-Hale (designer of the Washi fabric) about calling the sewing pattern itself “Washi” and she is totally excited about it. So it will officially be the “Washi Dress and Tunic (yes there is a tunic option!) Sewing Pattern.” Yaaaaay!!

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Currently I seem to be obsessing over getting the bust darts just. right. I’m not sure how close I am, but it’s getting there. You didn’t want your boobs to look crazy, did you? I didn’t think so.

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And yes, I use my washi tape to tape my pattern pieces together. So sue me.

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Oh look there I am on the phone with Elli yesterday afternoon, talking about…bust darts! If you must know. And here’s one of Elli’s drafts of the cover page…looking like an Amy Grant tape cover circa 1991:

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Awesome, right??

I should also probably mention that this pattern will be priced higher than my children’s and purse patterns (which are usually $8-10). I want to make sure that it is valued appropriately for the amount of work and skill that has gone into it. I am so proud of this pattern and I think you will be really impressed. So it will cost more. Anyway.

One more shot for you, my “deer in the headlights” look:

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Striped Wiksten Tank

Hi everyone! I had such a fantastic weekend. Mr Rae’s parents had the kids for four days so Mr Rae and I got to have a nice relaxing “stay-cation” at home by ourselves. The house always feels so quiet when the kids are gone. It’s weird. And of course I miss them and we Skype or talk on the phone every day if we can. But I always know they are having so much fun at grandma’s (she has a pool — need I say more?) which allows me to relax and do all kinds of things I want to do, like sew, sew, sew! So this weekend I finished dress for Clementine (I know, yet another one…snooze) AND a short-sleeved Negroni Shirt for Mr Rae which I would photograph for you but it’s already in the wash (you can get a little peek here though) and this lovely Wiksten Tank for myself.

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Yeah!!! I had hoped to make one of these during the Spring Top Sewalong earlier this year, but got stalled when my measurements led me to a size that was way too big. I’ve learned over the past few years how important it is to always make a muslin (usually just out of cheap white muslin, not a “wearable muslin” which takes longer), but I’m starting to realize now just how much time it really does save (and wasted fabric, for that matter). For muslins, if you skip the finishing/hemming and just machine-baste all the seams, you can get a REALLY quick feel for whether it will fit or not. Anyway, I ended up getting stalled on the muslin step during STS because I selected a size too big, but when I finally decided to try it again this weekend, I found that I had already traced the smaller size I needed (another YEAH! Way to think ahead, Past Rae) so it took no time at all. The fabric here is a super lightweight cotton lawn that has almost a chambray-look to it that I found at Mood last fall in NYC. The stripe is woven into the fabric and it has a very breezy texture.

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I found (and I’ve seen others encounter this problem as well) that because I have curved shoulders that the back of the neck gaped something fierce, in both of the sizes I tried. Normally the fix for this would be to add some shoulder darts, but luckily I found that by pinching off the amount of excess on the muslin (it was about 2″ total), I was able to just move the pattern piece over the fold by 1″ at the top and the problem was easily corrected:

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So basically I took 2″ out at the neck but angled the pattern piece so that the bottom center edge lined up with the fold. As you can see the result worked out just fine.

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For others thinking about purchasing this pattern, I recommend it! Once you have the size you need, it’s such a quick sew. If you’re small-chested as I am you can make it without modification, but I’ve noticed that those with more up top tend to get creases/tightness in the bust area. If this is the case, I’d highly recommend either making it out of knit fabric (you might need to go a size down for this) or adding a bust dart, something that is actually fairly easy to do (the Threads Sewing Guide: A Complete Reference has a nice easy section on this, but there are a fair number of places online that show you how as well). Also, definitely go lightweight when it comes to picking fabric for this one, lawn or voiles are the way to go here, not quilting cotton so much (although you could try!!). Otherwise, I think the cut and style of this tank are lovely, absolutely perfect for summer!

Any other favorite summer patterns I should know about?

UPDATED! The ever-popular Baby Sunsuit Tutorial

** I couldn’t let yet ANOTHER summer go by without updating this oldie-but-goodie tutorial! I hope you’ll enjoy this sunsuit tutorial, new and improved! **

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This is an update to the original Baby Sunsuit Tutorial, which was posted over two years ago (has it really been that long…YIKES!) as part of the Baby Bonanza series over on luvinthemommyhood. This sunsuit is completely adorable and makes a great gift for a baby. Clementine used to love hers as you can plainly see:

(I can’t resist showing this photograph over and over. It’s a classic. It’s fine with me if you pin it, but please don’t use it anywhere else without permission. Once it turned up on some random parenting website (?!?) Thanks to an eagle-eyed reader for catching that one!)

Why post this tutorial again? I wanted to correct some of the “issues” that popped up with the first version of the tutorial, mainly involving the snap closure at the bottom. In a nutshell the changes are: instead of cutting out a curved piece for the bottom closure, you trim out the corners of the rectangles you start with, and use the piece left behind for the snap closures:

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I think you’ll find this way is easier and quicker to sew, and it eliminates some of the “side bulk” the original tutorial had. Here’s a quick run-through (and stick around, there’s a FREE PDF instruction sheet at the end!):

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1: Cut two rectangles of fabric. Their width should be [your baby's chest measurement - 3"], and the length should be [the measurement from crotch to neck (the length of their torso) + 2"] — if you need a general number because you don’t have a baby on hand to measure, cut 16″ wide x 19″ long…that’s about a 6-12 month size. note: The rectangles are shown sideways in the photo above, with the grain running horizontally across the photo.

2: Now you need to draw the leg holes. Along the bottom (usually shorter) edge of your rectangles, make a mark at the center with your marking pen, then draw a line 2.5″ from either side of center along the bottom edge and 2″ high. This will create a 5″x2″ rectangle that will become the snap panel between the legs. Then make another mark along each side, 5″ from the bottom, and connect the rectangle to this mark with a nice curved line.

3: Cut these curved areas out.

4: Sew the long sides of the sunsuit together, right sides facing, with a 1/2″ seam.

5. Fold up 1/2″ at the bottom of each rectangle toward the wrong side and press.

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6: Fold another 3/4″ up, this time towards the right side of the fabric, and press. Stitch the sides down, 1/2″ away from each edge.

7. Clip the bottom corners with a scissors close to the stitching, then turn this part right-side-out, use a pencil or knitting needle to push out those corners, and press. This will become your snap panel.

8. Fold under 1/4″ twice around the legholes, and pin in place.

9. Now sew all the way around the bottom of the legholes and snap panels, stitching as close to the folded edge as possible (this is called “edgestitching.”)

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10: Finish the top edge of the sunsuit opposite the legholes. You can do this by folding over the top edge 1/4″ twice and stitching down, or doing a rolled hem or zig-zag stitch, up to you.

Shirring: Loosely wind elastic thread (I recommend Gutermann, not Dritz) around your bobbin, load it into your machine (you may need to loosen your bobbin tension a bit with the little screwdriver if you have a front-loading bobbin), and sew with thread on top and elastic thread in the bobbin around the top of the sunsuit for 6 rows, keeping each row of shirring about 1/2″ apart (see the original sunsuit post for more shirring resources) so that you have about 3″ of shirring.

11. Keep the elastic thread in the bobbin and sew along the legholes back and forth for 2-4 rows, about 1/8″ apart. Use your iron and lots of steam to press the elastic thread, both at the top and bottom of the sunsuit. It should shrink up nicely.

12. Add snaps to front and back. Remember that the snaps should go on the bottom of the front snap panel, but the top of the back snap panel in order to overlap properly!

**Do you hate putting snaps on something? Try cutting off the snaps from an old onesie and stitching them onto the bottom panels instead, like I did below. It’s a little tricky sewing around the snaps, but if you can manage, it’s pretty easy!**

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OK, we’re almost done!

13: Make the straps: Cut two strips 2″ wide by half your rectangle length; for the 6-12 month size, 2″x9.5″ is great. Go to my Easy Strap Tutorial to see how I made my 3/4″ wide straps. I put buttonholes in the ends but you could also use snaps here.  Another option would be to do a pair of ties at each shoulder.

14: Stretch out the top edge and mark 3.5″ from center on both the front and back of the sunsuit. Pin your straps to the front at each mark about 1/2″ from the end of each strap. Try the sunsuit on your baby if possible to check the strap length. Sew your straps down at each mark.

15: Sew your buttons to the back top edge, again 3.5″ from center. Cross the straps in back, and you’re done!

Put the sunsuit on your baby (preferably with a matching Peekaboo Bonnet) and enjoy! Here’s a couple finished shots on Clementine:

And on the recepient of the pink one, Baby A:

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Sunsuit Instruction Sheet

FREE PRINTABLE DOWNLOAD!

The other day I found this page of sunsuit diagrams and instructions that I had all but forgotten about after we moved last year. Written with little hand-drawn diagrams onto a 1-page sheet, ready to scan. Seriously? Sometimes I amaze myself. So it’s now ready for you to download and print, just in time for summer sewing.

The only thing I would say is if you’re going to use this sheet, sew the sides together after you’ve cut out the legholes (step 7), instead of before. Not a big deal, just something I realized after I’d drawn the whole thing out and was too lazy to go back and change. It’s also missing the part about the straps and buttons, but hey, it’s free (read: CAMPY)! Enjoy!

Click on the image above for your very own 1-page Sunsuit Instruction sheet.
DO NOT DISTRIBUTE OR RE-SELL THIS PDF WITHOUT PERMISSION! THANKS!

Have a great weekend everyone!

This blog is proudly sponsored by

How much fabric should you buy?

After I posted gratuitous post-fabric-purchase photos the other day, Nancy wrote to ask me how I decide how much fabric to buy:

“Hi Rae, When you are looking at fabric and you may or may not have an idea in mind at the time for what you are going to use it for, how much of the fabric do you purchase? That is always the hardest decision for me b/c I don’t want to not have enough for when I decide what I’m going to use it for but then can you get too much? I was just wondering if you have a system that you use or a minimum yardage purchase, etc? Thanks. I’m loving the summersville prints.”

It’s a great question. So I thought it might be a good idea to share my “rules” for buying fabric with you, developed over many, many years of fabric purchasing, in hopes you’ll find them useful. I always chuckle inwardly a bit at the people who walk up to the cutting table with a pattern envelope in hand and ask for 2 3/8 yards of something. Newsflash, Everyone: It’s not going to kill you to pony up and buy that extra 1/8 of a yard and call it an even 2.5 so you have a little room for shrinkage/error!!!

Rae’s Fabric-Buying Rules:

- If no idea but have to have it, 1/2 yd
- If it could be a kids garment, 1 yd (small kids only)
- If it could be a short sleeved top for me, 1.5 yd
- If it could be a long sleeved top for me, 2 yd
- If it could be a skirt for me (fitted), 1.5 yd
- If it could be a skirt for me (longer/fuller), 2 yd
- If it could be a shirt for Mr Rae, 3 yd
- If it could be a dress for me, 3 yd

Those are my usual amounts…I usually regret not buying enough of something, but I still have way too much fabric. Go figure. I tend to “pat-on-the-back” buy after I sew something…case in point: I already bought more of the Washi tape print. Ack! (that link is from Instagram [madebyrae], by the way, where you can witness the gory play-by-play of my fabric purchases).

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And for a really, really fantastic post about how to estimate yardage for various types of garments, you really must check out my friend LiER’s post over on Ikatbag called “How I Estimate Yardage.” It comes complete with nifty diagrams, you will not be sorry I promise.

How much do you buy?

Posted in fabric
33 Comments

Flashback Skinny Tee for BIG KIDS is here!!

I am so excited to announce that we have finished working on the Flashback Skinny Tee for Big Kids, sizes 6-14. Yaaaaaay! *Kermit arms*

buy now2

 

BUY BOTH FLASHBACK PATTERNS & SAVE 20%! (just select the size(s) you’d like to purchase in the dropdown menu)

Just like my Flashback Skinny Tee sizes 12 mo-5T, except this time in larger sizes for big kids! The sizes included are meant to fit most boys and girls through age 14, which means — if you remember the disparities in sizes from your own, memorable teenage years — that it will fit every kid differently, depending on chest measurement, broader shoulders, and developing busts. For this reason we’ve included a two-page guide called “Getting a Better Fit” that walks you through the process of choosing size based on your child’s measurement and adjusting pattern piece lengths accordingly to get a more “custom” fit (PS. I’ve sent the “Getting A Good Fit” guide out to everyone who purchased a Flashback Tee in the smaller range as well, and it will be included in ALL Flashback Tee PDF pattern packages from now on).

Here’s just a few fantastic shots from some of my wonderful testers (yes there were more, this is just a handful!):

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Guitar and blue short sleeved versions from Cindy of Siestas and Sewing (blogged here) / Grey version from Beth of Yellow House Days / Purple floral and Striped versions by Clover of Farr Better Life (blogged here) / Pink Polka Dot version by Brittney / Rainbow version by Yara / Car, Black, and Dog versions by Tina / Pale Pink version by Becky / White floral with red trim version by Shannon of Mama’s Hustlin’ (blogged here) / Heart version by Melissa (love that awesome pose!)

Sizes Included: 6, 7/8, 9/10, 11/12, and 13/14

SIZE CHART

What about short sleeves?
As summer is now in full swing, I suggest you check out my Short-Sleeve Flashback Tee Tutorial which shows you how to turn the Flashback Tee into a short-sleeved tee for summer! I would suggest leaving 2-5″ on the sleeve below the armpit for the larger size range, depending on the size you are making and the style you want.

Fabric: Just like the original Flashback Skinny Tee size 12 mo – 5T, we recommend using stretchy jerseys and 1×1 rib knits (although a stretchy interlock may work) for the body of the tee and a rib knit for the neckband. It’s easy to recycle adult tees to make kid sized Flashback Tees because we’ve included finished hem lines on all of the pattern pieces. I don’t recommend using the traditional “beefy tees” to make Flashback Tees, though, as they don’t have enough stretch!

Yardage Needed:

More Information
For more information on the Flashback Tee, including pattern details, seller policy, and more, please see the Flashback Skinny Tee for 12 mo – 5T.

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Polka Dot Dress

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She had outgrown the other polka dot top but was still insisting on wearing it despite the fact that it was leaving marks in her armpits from being too tight. She would demand it even when it was in the wash, and as soon as it came out clean it would be the first thing to be worn again. Something had to be done. So I made another, bigger one. In the exact same fabric, because she’s been a little fussy about what she’ll put on lately. Sure enough, it’s a favorite.

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It made the perfect summer dress for a playdate with friends a few weeks ago.

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Here’s what the boys were up to.

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Reading Curious George on the blanket. Yeah, we couldn’t believe how absorbed they were with this either. They’re not normally so docile. It was cute (and doesn’t my friend Giedra have the most beautiful boys??).

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While she did all the work, of course.

{pattern: in the works, after Washi, see this post / fabric: It’s a Hoot by MoMo for Moda}

Take My Trace and Make Tee Workshop in Ann Arbor

For those of you who are local Michiganders (yes that really is a word) and interested in the women’s garment courses I’ll be teaching/assisting with this summer, we’ve got four courses lined up at Pot and Box in Ann Arbor Michigan. Here’s the first one, later this month:

Here’s the deets:

Trace & Make T-shirt Workshop

“Bring a great-fitting t-shirt you already own, and in one evening we will show you how to trace it and make a new one out of knit fabric!! Our awesome instructors Rae (lead instructor for this course) and Karen will show you how. You’ll hone your knit-sewing skills and learn a little something about patternmaking, too!”

Cost: $50 + $10 supply fee (fabric, pattern paper, and ballpoint needles provided)

More Info and Register Here

Anyway, it should be fun. So if you know anyone here who might be interested, please pass the info along! It should be a really fun (and useful) class. Here are ALL of the courses in our Women’s Garment Series we’ll be offering this summer at Pot and Box:

Trace and Make Tee Workshop (lead teacher: Rae), $50 + $10 supply fee
(Info above)
Tuesday, June 26, 7-10 PM

Made-to-Measure Skirt Workshop (lead teacher: Rae), $50
Tuesday, July 17, 7-10 PM
Make an easy and flattering woven skirt with pockets (like this one) using your measurements and some simple rectangles. (Basic sewing skills required)

The Perfect Dress Workshop: Make a Muslin (lead teacher: Karen), $50 + $10 supply fee
Tuesday, August 14, 7-10 PM
Learn to make a bodice muslin and adjust it to fit your body for a perfect fit!
(Intermediate sewing skill required)

The Perfect Dress Workshop: Make a Dress (lead teacher: Karen), $50
Thursday, August 16, 7-10 PM
We’ll construct a dress based on the muslin made in our previous class. When you’re finished you’ll have a lovely summer dress you’ll love to wear!

[Note: We recommend that the Perfect Dress workshops are taken as a pair, but they can also stand alone if you'd prefer to take just one. The "Make a Muslin" workshop is fantastic for learning how to adjust any pattern for a good fit, while the "Make A Dress" workshop focuses on construction. If taking the "Make A Dress" workshop alone, talk to Karen ahead of time so she can make sure you're ready to go.]

And I know there are a few of you who would love to take something like this online, because most of you *don’t* live in Michigan, as it turns out. Doing some of these presentations and courses online is definitely a dream of mine (and Karen’s)…just need to find the time to make it a reality. All that to say, I hear you, and it’s definitely in my brains, no worries.

Posted in events
7 Comments

Still fits: Short-sleeved Charlie

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{please do not pin these images of Elliot. Thanks!}

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I could do a whole series of posts called “Still Fits!” showing how my kids grow into certain items of clothing. Sometimes a top or pair of pants I’ve sewn for them sees nearly a year of wear, which is a big win. Of course, on the other hand, there are garments that only make it onto their bodies for a fraction of a second before they’re either rejected forever or grown out of. So I suppose it goes both ways.

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This little short-sleeved Charlie tunic (originally blogged here and here) came out of the summer-clothes bin again this spring and Elliot snapped it up and has been wearing it quite a bit.

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Paired with his super-cape (just a semi-circle of fabric with some bias tape and an appliqued letter thingy) it’s a pretty great outfit, wouldn’t you say?

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