Snake top by Melissa

Melissa's snake top

Melissa's snake top

When Melissa started working for me about a year and a half ago as a studio assistant, she didn’t know how to sew. It may surprise you, but most of the work of running a small pattern business doesn’t involve sewing. There’s organizing and editing photos, categorizing expenses, printing pattern pieces, taping pattern pieces, cutting fabric, pressing, and plenty of other things to keep an assistant busy, so as far as the sewing goes, I can pretty much manage it by myself. Melissa really wanted to learn how to sew, though, so I’ve been teaching her basics like threading the machine and doing basic stitches. Last semester I decided it would be fun to have her come in a bit early once a week (she usually works a few hours a week, between her classes), so she could work on sewing something fun to wear. The result was this top that she cut and sewed herself, with some coaching and help from me, of course. We picked Astoria from Seamwork to start with.

Melissa's snake top

I showed her how to add 2″ to the length of the bodice (you may remember from my Astoria pencil top that it’s a cropped length, and Melissa is even taller than I am), and I think it was the perfect amount. She picked the long sleeve rather than the 3/4 length, and now I think I need one with long sleeves too. We also flipped the neckband to the inside again, as you can see below.

Melissa's snake top

I love how the snake print from Sidewalk (this print is called “Off the Trail”) looks with her white jeans. So awesome, right? I love how these photos turned out. This girl can rock anything.

Melissa's snake top

I especially love this candid shot I got of her when she was picking music on my iPad at the beginning of the shoot. That red matches the snakes perfectly.

Melissa's snake top

I’m excited to see what she sews up next!! So fun!

I think I might make a tee for Hugo with this print next. What would you make with these snakes??

Pear shirt for Hugo

Pear shirt for Hugo

I’ve been experimenting with a few new knit fabrics since Isla (my first women’s knit pattern) was launched a few months ago. Knits can be so different and I wanted to have some (new) good ones to recommend. I’d been eyeing Alison Glass’ solid jersey for Andover for awhile, so I bought a few different colors from Alison’s shop. These have a relatively low amount of stretch (reminds me of those “beefy Ts” we used to wear in the 90s); I first made an Isla top out of the navy color and it came out a bit on the tight side, although it was really cute. Next I decided to try something less fitted, so I used the brighter blue and lime to make a more loose-fitting raglan-style turtleneck top for Hugo, and that worked out even better!

Alison glass knits

I really like how the bright blue and lime hues looked together, so I thought it would be cute to add a little pear detail to the front. Karen was sweet enough to hand-stitch it on for me at the last Sew Ann Arbor sewing night we had at the studio. Isn’t it sweet?

Pear shirt for Hugo / made by rae

Pear shirt for Hugo

I got him to sit and pose for some rather nice photos (above), but the ones I love the most of him in this shirt are the ones shown below…they’re not as “clean,” but they capture more of our life at home…a bit of the daily mess, Clementine’s supercape (similar to the one I made Elliot, scroll down in that post), a red “Hugo” name tag someone (probably Clementine) stuck on him, as if we would forget his name. And the expression here is just priceless to me.

Pear shirt for Hugo / made by rae

Pear shirt for Hugo / made by rae

Also, this one is great:

Pear shirt for Hugo / made by rae

Anyway, I do love the AG knits; definitely recommend, and do keep in mind that you want to use them on projects that have more ease built in, so they don’t turn out too tight.

Hope you’re having a lovely week!

Flamingo Robe

flamingo robe / made by rae

Hello! Happy New Year! I ended up taking a bit of a blogging/screen break for the past couple of weeks, which was really quite nice because it gave me more time for reading (finished Everyone Brave is Forgiven last night, so good!!), board games with kids, friends, and family (PANDEMIC!!! SO good!), and some drawing and painting (maybe more fabric designs this year…who knows?), among other things. I really feel like it gave me a lovely break, like I have a bit more mental space now or something. I didn’t completely cut off, just kept my phone off/away/silent more than the usual. I know it’s all the rage to “quit” your phone and that’s fantastic too, but I also don’t think that’s completely necessary. Everything in moderation and all that.

flamingo robe / made by rae

I don’t generally do “Christmas sewing.” Ever since I nearly suffered a mental break one year I’ve managed to lower my sewing expectations for Christmas year by year so that the past few years I’ve ended up with nothing on my “Christmas-to-sew” list, which is liberating. Of course then two weeks before Christmas this year I started working on a kimono-style robe using my new Sidewalk flamingo print and realized halfway through that it would make a fantastic present for my sister Kricket, whose name I had drawn for our sibling gift exchange. So I guess I did do some Christmas sewing, though I personally think if you don’t realize you are doing Christmas sewing it really shouldn’t count.

flamingo robe / made by rae

Alas I cannot provide you with a pattern for this robe (a common request when I posted a pic of it — above — on Instagram), as I made up the pattern based on a tracing of another robe I own that is similar in overall shape. Maybe some of you have kimono-style robe patterns you could recommend in comments? You can see (from the clip on the shoulder) that the robe was still a WIP when I took this photo. I later added pockets, and I had to tear out, redesign, and resew the neckline facing in the back a few times until I got the shoulder right.

flamingo robe / made by rae

Closeup detail. Eagle-eyed readers will notice that I managed to keep part of the selvage with my name on it visible in the sleeve seam. A signature of sorts. This pic probably conveys the true color of the background best, though the flamingos look darker here than they are in real life.

flamingo robe / made by rae

And the finished robe!

flamingo robe / made by rae

Kricket seemed v. pleased with it when she opened it up on Christmas Day, so I feel this was a job well done. But also a bit of remorse for not keeping it for myself. But not really. But maybe a little bit.

flamingo robe / made by rae

If you’ve got a hankering to sew up some Sidewalk knit of your own, you can head over to my blog post about where to find Sidewalk knits, or check out the shop finder on the Cloud9 website. Sidewalk is shipping now and is perfect for a cosy winter sewing project! Please share your pics with me if you sew something with Sidewalk! The #sidewalkfabrics tag is useful on social media.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas with mom and dad

Just popping in to wish you all a Merry Christmas!!! My parents are here in Michigan from Seattle and the kids are soaking up all of the extra attention from both sets of grandparents. Lots of good food, champagne cocktails, games, cookies and movies so far (the French film “Blind Date” is cute and fun and on Netflix, if you don’t mind subtitles). No box wine yet. Hugo’s cough is getting better. They all woke up at 6:30 this morning. We are hanging out in West Michigan for a few days and then home for the New Year. May your holidays be merry and bright!

Love,
Rae

PS. Happy Hanukkah, too!

Hugo’s Pencil Shirt and Fleece Parsley Pants

Flashback tee + parsley pants for Hugo

Here’s my little monster in a few new things I’ve made for him recently: a Flashback Tee in Sidewalk interlock and some fleece Parsley Pants. It could hardly have escaped anyone’s notice that now we both own knit pencil tops (here’s mine)…which means a pretty awesome photo shoot needs to happen soon. Twinsies with a toddler, YEAH!

Flashback tee + parsley pants for Hugo

CHEESE.

Flashback tee + parsley pants for Hugo

I love making Parsley Pants in fleece since it adds a bit of stretch and makes them super cosy to wear. I made two pairs for him: the blue pair he’s wearing in these pics, and a green pair which are a lovely quality Mill End fleece and therefore even more cosy. The green ones I accidentally pressed with the iron on the cotton setting (oops!) and melted, so I had to put in a separate waistband. Which actually looks really cute, though it’s more work.

Flashback tee + parsley pants for Hugo

Flashback tee + parsley pants for Hugo

I’ve been adding elastic to the cuff (like I did with these Big Butt Baby pants awww tiny baby Hugo alert!!) because I think it’s cute when they’re cinched in at the ankle. I also added some tags — gifted to me from past sponsor Custom Labels 4U — to the waistbands and neckband of the tee. I don’t know why I didn’t start doing this sooner; it’s so helpful to know the size of handmade stuff, and I love having my logo tag in there too. I did previously use a handful of size labels I bought from an Etsy shop (you can see them in this post ACK another adorable Hugo post!!!); those were also great but weren’t woven and so those ended up curling up after washing which made them harder to read. Super handy though, no matter what you do.

Flashback Sidewalk Hugo tee - labels

New clothes for Hugo

My one complaint with these tags is that Hugo does have pretty sensitive skin and the edges of the logo tags are a bit scratchy (I don’t notice this with the size tags), so I think next time I’ll try putting them on the outside instead of inside the garment; maybe at a side seam or something.

Flashback tee + parsley pants for Hugo

He is perpetually sick and rosy-cheeked these days, poor babe. I love love love this age so much — he is saying the most ridiculously adorable things to us, every day, but I also hate how he is sick all of the time. It can be so trying. I had terrible sleep last night because he slept in our bed all night and was up coughing at regular intervals.

Since I took these pics a couple of weeks ago, I painted the wall behind him with chalkboard paint (so fun!! here’s a peek) and cut his hair (which you can see in this post). And, my Sidewalk knit fabric is now in shops! Here’s a list of Sidewalk stockists if you want to pick up some for yourself. Be sure to add the #sidewalkfabric hashtag if you post pics to social media because I would really love to see what you’re sewing for yourself with these knits!

Where to buy Sidewalk knits

Sidewalk Knits by Rae Hoekstra

I’m so excited to announce that my new collection for Cloud9 Fabrics is now shipping to retail shops. Sidewalk is a line of twelve designs printed on 100% organic cotton interlock knit.

I previewed the line in June with this post, and have since shared quite a few other projects made out of Sidewalk; check out all those posts here on the blog and find more on Instagram under the tag #sidewalkfabric.

Wondering where to get your hands on your favorite prints? Here’s a list of places to start shopping:

Brick & Mortar (US)
Crafthouse (Lincoln, NE)
Fabricate (Boulder, CO)
Fancy Tiger Crafts (Denver, CO) (also online)
Gather Here (Cambridge, MA) (also online)
Harts Fabrics (Santa Cruz, CA) (also online)
Janie Lou Quilts (Kirkwood, MO) (also online)
Michael Levine, Inc (Los Angeles, CA) (also online)
Modern Domestic (Portland, OR) (also online)
Modern Makers (Kansas City, MO)
Oklahoma Quilt Works (Oklahoma City, OK) (also online)
Pennington Quiltworks (Pennington, NJ) (also online)
The Cloth Pocket (Austin, TX) (also online)

Online (US)
Fabricworm
A&A Cotton Creations
Hawthorne Threads
Imagine Gnats
JAQ’s Fabrics
Jones & Vandermeer
Peek-a-boo
Raspberry Creek Fabric
Truly Bella

Canada
Fabric Spot (shop online)
Spool of Thread (Vancouver, BC)

UK & Europe
Bizzy and Boo Fabrics
The Village Haberdashery (London)
M is for Make
Dawanda (Germany)

Cloud9 has a handy tool on their site that you can use to find out which retailers stock specific fabric collections! You can find the list of shops that carry Sidewalk HERE. International readers: find more shops in the UK and Europe HERE.

What are YOU going to make with Sidewalk? I can’t wait to see your projects!!

Lace Holiday Dress

Lace Holiday Dress

Look! I sewed myself a dress for the endless number of fancy holiday soirees/parties I’ve been invited to!! KIDDING. So much kidding. My holidays are so low-key these days, what with it being impossible to find a babysitter on New Year’s Eve, and the fact that most of the family get-togethers I go to involve ordering pizza and drinking box wine and chasing around a toddler. So…not a lot of fanciness in my future. Womp-womp, toddler mama, so lame. It doesn’t matter though, I am happy with this dress, and I swear, I will find somewhere to wear it out. I love it with this wooden scissor pendant (below) that Wendy sent me, though there’s something kind of fun and funky about putting bright yellow (above) with it too, don’t you think?

Lace holiday dress

The thing that makes me swoon about this dress is not the design, which is fairly straightforward (I mixed up some patterns, including Isla, the Washi sleeve, and used the neckline from Astoria), but the natural-toned stunning stretch lace fabric.  I impulse-bought 2 yards of it from Anita at Sew to Speak quite a while back, so it’s not available anywhere anymore as far as I know. It took me a long time to figure out what to make with it owing to its sheerness (I’m wearing it with a full length nude slip in these pics), but I finally took the plunge and went for it. Stashbusting, yeah!

Lace holiday dress

This fabric was not easy to sew with, I’m not gonna lie. I used my serger to finish all of the edges before sewing them together so they wouldn’t ravel, and even then I had to go back and darn a few spots where the fabric started to come apart. I finished the neckline with fold-over elastic, and used the lowest ruffle on the bottom edge of the fabric as the hem for the skirt and sleeves so I wouldn’t need to hem it.

Lace holiday dress

Anyway, here’s hoping for some fun date nights soon so I can wear this baby out!

Full disclosure: MIY Collection/Wendy Ward and Sew to Speak are both past sponsors of this blog. I think they are awesome and would not have mentioned them in this post if I thought otherwise!! 

Handmade hand-me-downs: Oliver+S PJs

Oliver + S Pajamas

Oliver + S Pajamas

Usually the things I make and post on my blog are brand sparkly new, fresh off the sewing machine, photographed, and then posted for you to see, and for me to look back and remember later. But lately many of handmade things I made for Elliot in the earlier days of this blog have been reappearing as they now fit Hugo, years later still proving their value. The things that were made well (admittedly not all of them) have lasted many washes, and though most have stains and others have been tossed, it gives me so much joy to see these old friends again. Not only because of the memories they bring back to me of little Elliot, but because it confirms for me why — even though they grow out of them so quickly — it is worth it to sew clothes for my kids. The time and toil it takes to make these things is sewn up into a garment that holds the love and thoughts you had for that child as you made it, a blessing of sorts, that then surrounds them as they wear it. And while buying my kid’s clothing is easier and almost always cheaper, especially when I consider my time, it is not the same. I was probably harried and overwhelmed when I made these little pajamas, home with a toddler Elliot and baby Clementine all day every day, but I’m still so very glad I found patches time to make them. Even more so because I absolutely remember how therapeutic sewing was for me back then.

Oliver + S Pajamas

Oliver + S Pajamas

You might recognize the pajamas that Hugo is wearing in these photos as one of Liesl Gibson’s earliest Oliver+S sewing patterns, the Bedtime Story Pajamas. I’ve learned many wonderful tips and techniques from Liesl’s patterns, including this one. It’s elegantly simple in design, and so cute. I made this little set for Elliot back in 2010, and I think they’re still just as adorable on Hugo as they were on Elliot when I first made them.

Blue Pajamas for Elliot

Just for kicks, here’s Elliot wearing them when he was just a bit older than Hugo is now. Slight family resemblance. I’ve been keeping Hugo’s hair shorter because I’m afraid if I don’t, I won’t be able to tell them apart in photos someday. Hugo keeps pointing at old pictures of Elliot and saying “Dat’s Hugo!”

Blue Pajamas for Elliot

I don’t think I ever posted these on the blog when I first made them. I looked and didn’t find anything, though that doesn’t mean much. This blog is now so old that even I don’t remember everything I posted on it anymore. Well. On that note, time for bed!

Buggy Neenah Turtleneck

Bug Neenah Turtleneck

New knit turtleneck! New glasses! I thought it would be fun to try one of my new Sidewalk knits in a grown up turtleneck. I used another Seamwork pattern, Neenah, which is a dress pattern, and shortened it at the waist to make it a top instead of a dress (inspired by Katie’s post). This “Bug’s Life” print definitely reads “kid” but I love it. I am not beneath wearing kid prints. See also: my pencil Astoria top.

Bug Neenah Turtleneck

I made the neckband wider (2″) to accommodate both my very large head and the fact that this fabric is interlock and therefore less thin/stretchy than other knits you might normally use for this pattern. I actually think it would have looked better with the narrower turtleneck, but I’m not sure I could have handled all of that fabric close around my neck. Am somewhat claustrophobic and never liked turtlenecks as a child for that reason.

Sidewalk knits / neenah turtleneck / made by rae

Given that we are fully into snowy weather here in Michigan, I have been wearing the heck out of this thing. I do love the medium thickness of interlock for warmth and of course Cloud9’s knits are super soft and lovely. And, I’m very excited to finally be able to say that Sidewalk is now shipping to shops. I just this morning saw it pop up in Annie’s Instagram feed, for those of you who are in the UK, and I’m sure more shops will follow soon. I’ll post a list of the shops carrying Sidewalk soon so you know where to find it!

neenah turtleneck / sidewalk knits / made by rae