I love how much they love this

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We put up the Christmas tree last weekend. It was such a great weekend. We didn’t go ANYWHERE. We did NO SHOPPING. We just stayed at home. We didn’t even make a turkey for Thanksgiving Day, just a roasted chicken because it was the four of us. Though I did make little mini-apple pies, that was fun.

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Every year gets better and better with kids, I tell you. They are more fun, more verbal (though being more opinionated goes right along with that). Their excitement over putting up the Christmas decorations was amazing this year. We put on the Christmas carols, some Herb Alpert (this version of Winter Wonderland is my all-time favorite, by the way. YOU’RE WELCOME!), and they went crazy.

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They don’t seem to able to both smile in the same picture yet though. That will be nice someday.

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Hey Seattle!

I’m going to be in the Seattle area next week and I’m excited to announce that I’ll be at Dry Goods Design in Ballard on Thursday evening, December 6th, to help celebrate the opening of their new make*do*mend studio space. A sewing studio full of Berninas??? Awesome!!

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Here’s a blurb from Dry Goods: “December 6, 2012 – Open Studio Night with special guest Rae Hoekstra of made-by-rae.com and creator of the famed Washi Dress Pattern. Join us for our first studio night in the new make*do*mend at Drygoods Design space! Rae will be speaking to sewing clothing, tips and tricks on the Washi Dress, fun variations and more. You will also get the first look at the new space, test drive our fleet of Bernina sewing machines, and check out our new selection of notions, supplies and crafting fun. Attendees will save 10% on the Washi Dress Pattern as well. We’ll provide the space and machines and some snacks, you bring yourself! *Special waiver of the $10 reservation for studio night for this date.

I’ll bring along my closet of Washi Dresses and give a short presentation on sewing garments and maybe even do a demo or two of some garment-sewing techniques. There will be machines so bring something along to sew or bind or work on, or just bring your amazing self and hang out and chat. I also heard there might be snacks. It’s going to be really fun!

If you haven’t checked out Dry Goods Design online shop yet you really should — Keli has a great eye for selecting fabrics and has a nicely-curated collection of modern prints. The website is really fun to look around!

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Dry Goods Design is located in Ballard. The address is: 5308 Ballard Avenue NW, Studio One, Seattle, 98107. Please reserve your spot by going to the event page and clicking on the “Join” button to let Keli know you’re coming!

Hope you can make it!!!

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B-Side Metalworks Giveaway [NOW CLOSED]

Thanks for entering! A winner will be announced/contacted shortly.

images courtesy of B-side Metalworks

OK, so before we talk about the giveaway, I have to show you my sewing machine charm. Love it. I was so excited when my friend-in-real-life Christy (and, also: blog sponsor) asked if I was interested in collaborating with her on a sewing-related jewelry design for her shop B-side Metalworks. Yes please! I drew up a few sewing machine designs and this one ended being my favorite, so Christy turned it into a sweet little charm (they’re available in her shop now as well).

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I seriously wear this thing all. the. time. It’s super high quality but still casual enough to wear every day. Perfect combination. The little sewing machine is cut out entirely by hand which I find totally amazing. I also bought two extra initial charms that say “C” and “E” that I wear along with the sewing machine charm. I love wearing little symbols of my “loves” around my neck (though I still need to get Mr Rae’s initial. Ahem. Will work on that. hee oops. Love you babe!!!).

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My other favorite purchase from Christy has been these fallen leaves hoops, which I wore in this post. I like that they’re not too fancy for every day and they instantly kick it up a notch when I wear them. Hot-cha-cha.

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and I love my copper hoops, too, you can see a peek at those in the original Washi Dress post if you look carefully. It’s like Where’s Waldo, with jewelry.

Anyway, I’m thrilled to have B-side Metalworks as a sponsor and so happy to be able to give away a $50 gift card to the shop today! Every piece that Christy makes is completely hand-made, from cutting out and soldering the frames onto her circular charms, to hand-sawing the highly-intricate sewing machine shape. She hand-stamps all letters and names for custom orders, and shapes like the leaves are all hand cut and shaped. The result is one-of-a-kind pieces that are more beautiful and valuable than your run-of-the-mill stamped jewelry. Some more pretty things from her shop:

All found in the B-Side Metalworks shop

Today Christy is giving away a $50 gift card to her shop to one lucky winner, as well as 10% off for one week to everyone!

To enter to win a $50 gift card to the B-side Metalworks shop, leave ONE comment on this post before it closes on Thursday at 9 pm Eastern. I’ll choose a random winner and contact via email. You must be 18 or older to enter. Void where prohibited by law.

You can use the gift code MadeByRae10off in the B-side shop and get 10% off anytime between today and next Tuesday, December 4th, 2012. Just enter the code in the coupon code section at checkout (click on “apply shop coupon code” and then the coupon box will appear). Don’t forget, because it’s good for just one week!

Best of Quilt Market: Anna Maria Horner

Never fond of finishing what I start before the next thing, I pooped out before I had a chance to write all of the “Best of Quilt Market” posts that I wanted to…but I can’t stop thinking about a few other cool things that were at Quilt Market that must see the Light of Blog. Anna Maria’s booth was one of them!

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You already know I love Anna Maria Horner’s fabric designs (hello shower curtain?? And to the two or three ladies who keep emailing me repeatedly to ask if I will sell it, I’m very sorry but it’s not for sale). Her latest line, Field Study, is currently vying for the award of “favorite AMH fabric line” in my heart (with Good Folks, of course. Both lines can be viewed in AMH’s product gallery). I also really fell for this booth because, as someone who loves to sew garments, I’m super happy about the coming-soon Field study voiles and rayons that will work great for sewing garments. See these lovelies? They are the most wonderfully drapey RAYONS. Perfect for skirts, dresses, blouses. YAY! I am giddy with excitement. When. will. they. be. here. ???

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The other fabric I get really excited about is velveteen, and the Field Study velveteens are really, really great. Check out these awesome pillows, with TASSELS. I know. Those are going to take a big chunk out of my fabric budget this year. Oy.

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I also really enjoyed the peek at her embroidery designs from her new hand-sewing book, Anna Maria’s Needleworks Notebook. Really love the pink wall too. I wish I had the guts to paint a room in that color.

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More of my Fall 2012 Quilt Market posts:

Kokka faves
Melody Miller
Carolyn Friedlander
Ty Pennington hilarity

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Washi Dress Sewing Pattern is now in print!

I am like a proud mother hen, y’all.

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I can’t take much of the credit though; Elli reformatted the original digital layout for print, Lauren designed the cover, and Jessica did just about everything else required to ship these out to all the shops that wanted them: taking orders, emailing shops, sending invoices, and so on. I made Jessica put “Director of Print Operations” on her email signature. Ostentatious titles amuse me.

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There are two full-sized one-sided pattern sheets, so you can either trace or GASP! cut your pieces out (I never cut into my pattern pages — see this post for an overview of my sewing process — but you do what you have to do).

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The instructions are also on one big sheet (don’t they look awesome, by the way? That’s Elli, my Digitizing Queen). This was a selfish decision, really; when I sew I like to have everything out there, where I can see it, instead of having to flip through pages in a booklet. Just my personal preference. You want to know my trick? Instead of laying it out on the table where it gets in the way, I hang the whole page up on the sewing room wall with a few pieces of washi tape, like this! Handy.

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If you would like to own your very own copy of this limited-edition print pattern, click here to see a list of the shops who have it in stock:

We are also still taking wholesale orders from brick and mortar shops and webstores who are interested in carrying the pattern, so email Jessica if your shop is interested in carrying these.

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The Princess and the Pea Dress

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First can I just say, the Gulf of Mexico at sunset is quite possibly the best backdrop for photos that I have ever had. These pics are all unedited (save a couple of crops), taken with a cheap 50 mm lens, no tricks, so fun. Snapping pictures of my daughter playing happily on the beach in something cute I made her in less than a half hour THAT SHE WILL WEAR WITHOUT A TANTRUM = heavenly.

Second. I have owned this Heather Ross Far Far Away Double gauze for more than three years, but it wasn’t until I chopped a bunch of it up for a rainbow quilt that I felt really liberated to really dig into it. A quilt for Clementine was always the first thing I meant to do with it, but now there are plenty of other big chunks of the rest of the collection that I can see already will make divine little outfits for the girl. Fun!

Third. This Florida vacation has not been quite as idyllic as it looks in these pictures and in my Instagram pics. Mr Rae, his parents, Elliot, and I all spent the earlier half of this week suffering from a ridiculously contagious stomach flu that now everyone on this trip except Clementine has had (we’re in Florida this week on an annual vacation with Mr Rae’s entire family. We’ve done this now for four years in a row instead of exchanging gifts for Christmas). My sister-in-law now has something resembling strep. Ack. I don’t think I want to do this again. All that to say, family vacations can be a mixed bag, right?

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree Shorts

OK, so it’s a long name, but it’s fitting: You take a bunch of shirts or boxers from dad’s closet and chop them up, then put them back together to make a great pair kid shorts. I should have posted this eons ago, but honestly I just plain forgot about it *facepalm*. Sometimes that just happens around here. You know what made me think of it? The fact that he’s wearing them, today, in Florida (we’re here on our annual family vacay). He loves these shorts, mostly because everything in them used to be his daddy’s. Plus they’re supercomfy. Double yay.

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This tutorial was published earlier this fall as part of the Fall Issue of Petit Purls, a great online kids’ knitting mag (this was their Sewing Issue) and it’s still fall, so in a sense it isn’t late at all. But in the sense that it’s just now starting to snow in the Midwest, maybe not so much. Ack. Oh well, perfect timing for those of you in Australia, who are just now starting your summer sewing, right? By the way, that will never not be weird to me.

CLICK HERE FOR THE TUTORIAL

I should also point out that if you followed the tutorial but used a pair of pants for your pattern instead, you could make a seriously cute pair of pants for winter!! Flannel plaids would be SO GREAT for this pattern. One last thought: if you’re cleaning out the husbeast’s summer clothes drawer to make room for sweaters now, start saving a few shirts for a pair of shorts next spring. OK, I’m finished trying to convince you that you need this now. If it’s snowing by you, save it for later.

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So the tutorial consists of three parts. First you trace a pattern (you could do this with shorts or pants):

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And then you make the “fabric:”

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Then you turn them into cute shorts! (or pants!)

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Did you catch the incorporation of shirt-pockets to shorts-pockets? Clever, eh?? Can I get an Upcycling high-five?

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And of course, you could use the basic instructions with any fabric, even if it’s not pieced. I think you’ll find this tutorial to be really useful!!

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For the full tutorial, head over to Petit Purls to check it out (scroll down to find it under the “Patchwork” heading). You’ll also find an awesome interview with Liesl Gibson there as well as plenty of other free tutorials and patterns for sewing and knitting. Fun!!

CLICK HERE FOR THE TUTORIAL

Fitting It All In

It’s been awhile since I talked your ear off, so guess what? You’re in for a bit of blahdeeblahdeeblah today! Yay!!

I am embarrassed to admit how many times I’ve written and then deleted this post. It’s hard to write about your life without sounding really cheesy, and mostly I would think to myself, “why write about life and blogging and balance when it’s been written about SO many times before?” Then I realized, duh, you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog if you didn’t care about what I have to say in some small way, so why not give it a try? I want to talk a little first about how blogging turned into sort of a job for me, and then how on earth I fit everything Blog-related into my Real Life without going insane. An interesting topic, no? And I think, really important, because I want to be the best wife to Mr Rae and mama to these little munchkins that I can possibly be.

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This blog began humbly, like most other blogs, with no huge aspirations but more as a hobby to keep myself from stabbing my eye out with a pencil after hour upon hour watching baby Elliot drool and try to roll over. I really truly wish it hadn’t been the case, but after being a full-time high school science teacher, the extremely slow pace of motherhood bored me to tears and made me feel a bit depressed and aimless. I needed a project. And friends. Besides the baby. So I started blogging about my sewing projects. Sound familiar? I feel like this is a story that so many of us share!

Once I started posting things on my blog on a regular basis, more people began visiting and commenting (the blog was then hosted at madebyrae.blogspot.com) and it felt very exciting. I posted a free marker-drawn baby dress pattern and things really picked up. I started selling a few digital patterns, first on Etsy, and then through instant download directly from my blog. I contributed to One Yard Wonders. I ran my first Spring Top Sewalong. By this time Elliot was nearly two and I was pregnant with Clementine. The blog began demanding more of me but it was fairly manageable during naps and after Elliot went to bed, maybe the occcasional put-the-kid-in-front-of-Charlie-and-Lola to finish things up. It wasn’t until after Clementine was born and began napping at different times than Elliot that I began to feel a bit frustrated by my inability to keep up with the work of blogging. It wasn’t just writing blog posts, it was answering emails, trouble-shooting pattern download issues, and participating in blogger events, and on, and on…

It was at this point that Mr Rae and I realized that if I was going to continue blogging and designing patterns (I wish there was ONE word for what exactly I do), that we would have to put Elliot into preschool and get a babysitter for Clementine. That was a really hard decision. E was barely three and C wasn’t even crawling yet, and I felt immense guilt over wanting to have them out of the house for a bit each week, but I really loved doing this blog/pattern thing. Plus the money I was making from pattern sales wasn’t really all that much, so it was a bit of a leap of faith to decide that if I could spend a little uninterrupted time without the kids a couple mornings a week, maybe I could make enough income selling more patterns to justify it. That turned out to be true, and it’s worked out that way ever since. I love that I can “work” a few days a week but still be at home with my kids too. I really really love sewing, designing, blogging, and I feel like the problem-solving-science-teacher part of my brain is happy with all of the logistics involved producing sewing patterns. It’s really wonderful.

When it comes to actually scheduling the Blog into my Real Life, time-wise, I’ve tried a few of approaches. First, there was what I like to call the “Multitasking Approach.” This was when the babies were both small (under 2 1/2) and it mainly consisted of “working” (blogging, emailing, designing patterns, sewing) whenever the kids were asleep or playing. So after bedtime and during naps. Sometimes during a TV show. The problem is, a nap never ends when you want it to. There’s always one more thing to do, another email to write, and soon enough you have toddlers tugging on your pant leg and screaming whenever they see the laptop open. I really started to hate how much Elliot expected TV to be a regular part of his day.

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(OK, so we let them have “screen time” every day (tablet apps, games), but very little TV, which I’m more comfortable with)

When we decided the kids would have a babysitter/daycare/preschool, it was like breathing a sigh of relief. No more trying to multitask. Now I really try to stick to the “Divide-and-Separate Approach,” in other words, trying as much as possible to separate the time I spend “working” from the time I spend with my kids and Mr Rae. I’ve tried to do this as much as possible, by having the kids with a babysitter or in daycare/preschool for at least 2-3 days a week for the last couple of years so that I can really focus on sewing or blogging or whatever, and that has worked pretty well for me. In reality, kids get sick, babysitters cancel, school is closed for holidays, so it’s not always a perfect system. But that’s life. I find that if I at least know that I have another block of work time coming up soon, I don’t get as frustrated if I have to set aside a creative project to play Ring-Around-The-Rosie or Chutes and Ladders (gah! that game drives me bezonk!).

Another key part to the “Divide-and-Separate” approach for me has been a strict “When-the-kids-are-in-the-room-the-laptop-is-closed” rule for myself. It’s just too easy to ignore them when that screen is open. I try to only ever be on my computer or sew when they are out of the house or after they are asleep at night. Just shutting it off is really good for me.

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Finally, I just want to say a little bit about saying NO. One of the things I really hate is having to email someone to turn them down when they ask me to participate in a project. But I do it, alot. In fact, I feel like it’s almost every day. But I have another rule for myself that I call “Say Yes to ONE” that means that I only ever allow myself to take on one outside project a month. So if there’s a book tour going around, or a costume series, or someone wants me to contribute to a publication, I usually say no. And yes, it sucks. I worry that people think I don’t want to be a part of it. There is SO much fun stuff to participate in. But I find (big surprise) that the more things I say yes too, the more flustered, disorganized, and overwhelmed I feel, and that can be paralyzing to me when it comes to working efficiently on the things I want to do and enjoying the time I do spend with the kids and Mr Rae.

I’ve also realized that it’s totally worth it to pay other people to do a bunch of my work for me so that I can spend less time working. My sister Elli does a ton of work on my digital sewing pattern layouts and digitizes the pattern pieces, my cousin Jessica has been running the Printed Washi Pattern Project (shipping Friday to a shop near you!!) for me for the past couple months and assisting in other ways, and Lauren and Karen have helped me out with various projects in various ways, just to name a few people who pitch in around here. And yes, that means I spend bunches of dollars paying people every month but it’s so worth it for me not to have to try and do everything myself.

I really hope this post hasn’t given anyone the impression that I’m only blogging to make money or that I want to “make it big” because the truth is, the blog itself makes very little money, definitely not enough to pay myself in any reasonable way for all of the time I have spent here over the past five years, growing and tending it. But selling my sewing patterns HAS turned into a business and I try to accept the reality of that and hope that I can still keep the blog real even if things get commercially every once in awhile (*cough* shameless Washi Dress promotion *cough*).

I don’t want a big business or the stress that goes with it. I love the semi-small thing I have worked out now, and I really love the community of people that I have been able to get to know through this blog and ultimately my goal is to be able to keep sewing and blogging about things that I love. The sewing patterns are a natural way to make money doing what I love, and I’m really thankful that I can make enough selling sewing patterns to support my family (Mr Rae’s been working on getting a start-up off the ground for the last couple of years, so yup, right now, it’s pretty much just me, income-wise). That is immensely gratifying from a professional standpoint and I only have you, dear readers and friends to thank for all of your unrelenting encouragement and support. Anyway, blahdeeblahdeeblah CHEESY! BWAAAAH. See I barfed all over it to make it better.

Signing off now,
Rae

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Project Peeks

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I had a truly wonderful weekend, mostly due to the fact that we didn’t go anywhere. I’d been out of town two weekends in a row and sometimes you just want to stay home, you know? Do laundry, clean the bathrooms, make the rest of the house look semi-clean. I even found a little time to start on some new projects. A rainbow quilt for Clementine (above), a doll quilt for her doll with some of the scraps (below), and those colorful pom-poms. I love pom-poms so much, don’t you? I cranked out that little pile while Mr Rae and I watched a movie Saturday night. Not sure exactly what they will turn into yet, but I do know that Christmas is coming!!!

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