Geranium Expansion Pack: the hem band

made by rae GXP hem band

I’m particularly fond of the hem band as a design detail and have made many Geranium Dresses with this easy-to-add element, so it only made sense to include it as one part of the Geranium Expansion Pack.

One way to add the hem band is to use a solid fabric, like I did here on this newborn sample by adding a teal double gauze to draw out the blues and greens in this lovely floral Liberty lawn:

Geranium XP - hem band

Another way to incorporate the hem band is to use a coordinating fabric, like I did for this Ice Cream Birthday Dress for Clementine:

Ice Cream Dress for Clementine

Ice Cream Dress for Clementine

One thing to note is that the hem band definitely adds length to the skirt, so if you add it to the top-length Geranium, you won’t have a top anymore; you’ll end up with something that’s almost more dress- or tunic-like in length, like this one shown below from my collaboration with Cloud 9 back in 2013 to feature the Tsuru fabric line.

Tsuru Geranium

You can read more about the dresses and that project in this post: Tsuru + Geranium

Tsuru Geranium

(I personally love the extra drama that the length adds, but if you want to preserve the original length of the garment, it’s quite easy just to shorten the skirt pattern piece before cutting it out)

Here’s another dress from that Cloud 9 collaboration (from this post: Taking flight) with the dress-length skirt.
Taking Flight

Taking Flight

Finally, another option is to use the same fabric for the hem band, but turn the print sideways to produce a contrast effect, like I did for the striped dress in the bodice extension post.

Adding a hem band is so easy, and it’s even easier since we’ve taken the guess-work out of it with pattern pieces that are perfectly proportioned and designed to fit both the View A and View B skirts. I hope you’ll have fun and experiment with adding this element to the Geraniums you make!

Visit the Geranium Expansion Pack Page to see all blog posts related to this pattern, or head to the shop to purchase a Geranium Dress Expansion Pack for yourself!.

Geranium Expansion Pack: the bodice extension

made by rae GXP bodice extension

In this post I want to introduce you to the bodice extension, a new pattern piece included in the Geranium Expansion Pack. The bodice extension is probably the easiest element in the expansion pack to add, and I love how it really transforms the dress into something more sophisticated and “grown up,” which i think you’ll love, especially if you’re making this dress for an older child.

To help you visualize what the bodice extension does, I made two Geranium dresses for Clementine in the same size, one with and one without the lengthened bodice:

Geranium XP - bodice extension

As you can see, the one on the left has the bodice extension added, and the one on the right is the original bodice. For both, I started with View B of the original bodice, which has the faux cap sleeve. Both have the top-length skirt from the original pattern. I added the hem band to the one on the left to make it into a longer dress.

See how the hem of the skirt is lower on the left? Something to consider when you add the bodice extension is how the entire length of your dress will change; the one on the right is tunic-length, and works nicely with leggings, pants, or shorts underneath, while the one on the left (even without the hem band added) is definitely a dress, even though I used the top-length skirt for both.

Geranium Expansion Pack - bodice extension

Here are some photos of them on Clementine, so you can see the difference when worn.

Geranium Expansion Pack - bodice extension

Geranium Expansion Pack - bodice extension

Geranium Expansion Pack - bodice extension

As you can see, Clementine loves her new Geraniums. Diva much?

Geranium Expansion Pack - bodice extension

Here’s a look at the back. You can either add an additional button, or just spread the buttons apart if you add the bodice extension:

Geranium Expansion Pack - bodice extension

Geranium Expansion Pack - bodice extension

Geranium Expansion Pack - bodice extension

Here’s another side-by-side look at the bodice extension. For our cover shoot, we made the pink dress with the bodice extension, and the gold dress without. I love how it looks with sleeves and the neck bow!

Geranium Expansion Pack sewing pattern

Level of difficulty
The bodice extension pattern pieces are taped to the bottom of the original bodice pieces before cutting them out, making it by far the easiest element in the expansion pack to incorporate. You can also slide the extension down for more of a drop-waist effect, or up if you want something in between. This adjustment is something that is easy to do (even if you don’t own the expansion pack), but I thought that it would be a nice addition to have these pattern pieces to make it super easy. They produce a really nice proportion, and you’ll love how this simple addition can really transform your Geraniums!

Visit the Geranium Expansion Pack Page to see all blog posts related to this pattern, or buy the Geranium Expansion Pack in my shop!

Geranium Expansion Pack: the collar

made by rae GXP collar

Let’s talk about the collar! This adorable element included in the Geranium Expansion Pack is both sophisticated and sweet. I love that it looks fantastic both in a contrast fabric, and in the same fabric as the rest of the dress. It also works beautifully with or without sleeves (personally, I think the faux cap sleeve + collar is ridiculously cute, and a great option if you want to try the collar for the first time and want to keep it simple).

Geranium XP

The collar has a lovely subtle curve in the front and is divided in the back to accommodate either a zipper or buttons. Like the sleeves, the collar is tidily sandwiched between the lining and the outer bodice for a truly professional finish.

Geranium XP - collar (back)

It think the collar is really cute with the gathered long sleeve, below. When made in the same fabric as the main dress, it’s really great:

Geranium XP - gathered sleeve with collar

But I also love the drama that making it in a contrast fabric adds:

Geranium Expansion Pack - collar + zipper

I sewed this little sample to test out how the collar would work with the zipper, and it turned out really nicely. I’ll post more about this little flamingo sample (which is a size 2) in the zipper post, so you’ll also get a chance to see this sample inside-out!

Geranium XP - zipper

Geranium Expansion Pack - collar + zipper

Geranium Expansion Pack - collar + zipper

And finally, why not try a solid on solid collar and dress? So lovely in this sample Rachel sewed for our cover shoot!

Geranium Expansion Pack sewing pattern

Level of difficulty
The collar is fairly easy to sew; it’s four collar pieces, sewn together in pairs, turned right side out, and basted to the bodice before adding the lining. As long as you can sew a smooth curve, the biggest difficulty might be turning and pressing it right-side out, so we’ve made sure to include some hints to help you along. I think you’ll find it’s quite easy to add the collar if you have some sewing experience!

Visit the Geranium Expansion Pack Page to see all blog posts related to this pattern, or buy the Geranium Expansion Pack now in my shop!

Geranium Expansion Pack: the gathered sleeve

made by rae GXP gathered sleeve

A gathered sleeve was the first long sleeve I ever experimented with adding to the Geranium Dress, and I knew it had to be a part of the Geranium Expansion Pack! I love the softer look that the the little gathers at the shoulder adds to the dress, and it’s even easier to add than a fitted sleeve!

Geranium XP - gathered sleeves

The gathered sleeve comes with three length options: short, elbow-length, and long. The long sleeve has a gathered elastic cuff, while the two shorter lengths are hemmed without gathering, though you could definitely add elastic to those, too.

Here’s the short gathered sleeve, in the tiny newborn size:

Geranium XP - gathered sleeves

I love the elbow-length gathered sleeve, which creates a lovely bell shape!

Geranium XP - gathered sleeves

And finally, the long gathered sleeve with the elastic cuff:

Geranium XP - gathered sleeves

For our cover sample, we combined the gathered sleeve paired the neck bow, the longer bodice (bodice extension), as well as a zipper in the back (not shown), and the result is absolutely lovely in this rose-colored double gauze.

Geranium Expansion Pack sewing pattern

You can see the contrast between the fitted sleeve and the gathered sleeve in the photo below. The gathered sleeve is wider than the fitted sleeve throughout the arm, but not too wide. I worked hard on this sleeve to try to get the width just right!

Geranium Expansion Pack sewing pattern

Choose a lighter fabric for the gathered sleeve
One thing I’d like to emphasize is that the gathered sleeve looks best when sewn in lighter fabric weights, such as lawn, voile, or lightweight double gauze or linen, just to name a few options. The gathers and extra width will make it stand out pretty dramatically if sewn with a heavier fabric like quilting cotton, so take that into consideration when you select your fabrics.

A beautiful finish, inside and out
Just like the fitted sleeve, the sleeves are sewn to the bodice before adding the lining, so that the finished sleeve is tidily sandwiched between the lining and the outer bodice for a truly professional finish. For more details and photos, see the fitted sleeve post LINK.

Level of difficulty
I find the gathered sleeve to be easier to add than the fitted sleeve, because the gathers allow you to adjust the sleeve easily to the size of the armhole. It’s a great place to start if you’re new to sleeves!

Visit the Geranium Expansion Pack Page to see all blog posts related to this pattern, or buy it now in my shop: Geranium Expansion Pack

Geranium Expansion Pack: the fitted sleeve

made by rae GXP fitted sleeve

Since the Geranium Dress was released in 2013 we have had so many requests to release a sleeve. The original pattern comes with a faux cap sleeve and a flutter sleeve, but for cooler weather it’s definitely nice to have something longer. People have been drafting their own sleeves or using a sleeve from another pattern for years, but that’s not a great option for everyone. Requests for a long sleeve were definitely what got the ball rolling on the the Expansion Pack.

Fitted sleeves

The fitted (or straight) sleeve comes with three length options: short, 3/4-length, and long. “Fitted” here means that the sleeve cap fits cleanly into the armhole without any gathering. The Geranium has a generous armhole, so there’s plenty of room for comfort and full range of motion, with a clean look. (Of course we couldn’t stop with just one type of sleeve, so I’ll talk about the fitted version now, and introduce the gathered sleeve in the next post.)

Here’s the long fitted sleeve, sewn up in the teeny tiny newborn size (so remember: the proportions will look different in larger sizes):

Fitted sleeves

There’s a generous hem allowance on the longer two lengths, so you can let it out as they grow or fold up a smaller hem for the extra long-armed kid, but it’s also ridiculously easy to shorten these if you want to play around with an elbow-length or something in between the lengths we’ve provided. Here’s what the 3/4-length sleeve looks like in the smallest size:

Fitted sleeves

Note: I originally cut the orange sample sleeves above at elbow-length, before we decided on a 3/4-length. I added extra fabric at the end to make it the exact proportion that it would be for the 3/4-length, producing a seam line (or cuff effect) where the hem stitching would be. So, if you make this length, you will have a stitch line instead of a seam line in that location.

Kitty Geranium with a sleeve

As you can see, the 3/4-length looks a bit different on a bigger kid, in this case, Clementine at age 5 (previously blogged here).

Kitty Geranium with a sleeve

Finally, the short sleeve adds another warm-weather option to the Geranium!

Fitted sleeves

A beautiful finish, inside and out
The sleeves are sewn to the bodice before adding the lining, so that the finished sleeve is tidily sandwiched between the lining and the outer bodice for a truly professional finish. In fact, that’s one of the things I love most about the way it’s constructed: it almost looks the same inside as it does on the outside. Did you even notice that the dress in the photo above is inside-out? Here’s a closer shot, below.

Geranium XP - fitted sleeve, inside out

How hard is it to add the fitted sleeves?
Because of the way the sleeve seams are sandwiched inside the lining, it may be challenging, so we’ve included lots of detailed instructions and diagrams to walk you through it. I’d recommend making the pattern without sleeves first if you’re new to sewing, but if you’re a confident beginner (you know who you are!!), you can do it!! Just work carefully and put a little trust in the instructions to get you where you need to go. The sleeves are the number one reason we’ve given this pattern the “advanced” level rating in the shop, so keep that in mind when you’re designing your dress.

Combining the fitted sleeve with other elements
All of the sleeves can be combined with other elements in the expansion pack and options from the original pattern for a completely unique look. Here, it’s combine with the pleated skirt from the original pattern and the collar from the expansion pack.

Geranium Expansion Pack sewing pattern

Finally, here are the two long sleeves (gathered, left, and fitted, right) so you can see how they compare.

Geranium Expansion Pack sewing pattern

Visit the Geranium Expansion Pack Page to see all blog posts related to this pattern, or buy it now in my shop: Geranium Expansion Pack

Geranium Expansion Pack is here!

Geranium Expansion Pack sewing pattern

The Geranium Dress has become a staple in countless girls’ wardrobes in the years since we launched it, and with good reason: it’s easy and quick to sew, it’s versatile and comfortable, and has a great fit. And now, the possibilities for Geranium are virtually endless. Introducing the Geranium Expansion Pack, a new add-on for the original Geranium sewing pattern!

BUY NOW

Please note that the Geranium Expansion Pack is not a standalone pattern — it is a supplement to the Geranium Dress.

Geranium Expansion Pack Sewing Pattern

Sizes included
The original Geranium pattern is sold in two ranges: baby and toddler (0-5T) and kid (6-12y). This expansion pack includes both of those ranges, for a total of 14 different sizes included. You can purchase the expansion pack on its own, or select an option to purchase it along with one or both size ranges of the original Geranium pattern.

Geranium Expansion Pack sewing pattern

So many possibilities
It only made sense to add even more features to Geranium, which is a great blank template for building upon, and is already so versatile. The obvious starting point — and probably your most-emailed request, ever — was to add a long sleeve, but I didn’t want to stop there. I’ve included a collar, neck bow, double-fold hem band, a longer bodice, a sash, two new sleeve types (each with three different length options), as well as instructions for adding a zipper. I think you’re going to love all of the possibilities. When I did the math to try and figure out how many different dresses you could make by combining features from the original pattern and the expansion, it was literally in the thousands.

Geranium Expansion Pack sewing pattern

The Expansion Pack is an à la carte pattern; that is, it doesn’t have a “View A” or “View B.” Instead, each element (such as the collar) has its own set of instructions so you can mix and match your way to any combination you like for a completely custom dress. The instructions have road maps — yes, we literally added road map signs — to help you sew everything in a sensible order, no matter what elements you wish to incorporate.

geranium expansion pack

Level of difficulty
The original pattern allowed you to build your sewing skills, and the expansion pack will help you learn even more advanced techniques, with the same detailed instructions and diagrams you’ve come to depend on from my patterns. Some of the elements in the expansion pack are beginner level, but most are intermediate (the neck bow, for example) or advanced (the zipper), so we are giving the entire expansion pack a difficulty rating of “advanced” in the shop. Please don’t let that intimidate you; time and time again we’ve heard from people who have made my patterns having never sewn a garment before who have found the instructions to be incredibly easy to follow and helpful. I’ve also added a recommendation to the general instructions for beginners to try just one element at a time before combining more than one.

Geranium Expansion Pack sewing pattern

I was thrilled to be able to work with Rachel of Stitched Together (@stitchedtogether) on this project for the photography and sample sewing. I’ve been admiring Rachel’s work for years and was so happy that she was able to sew these dresses for her gorgeous daughters and take the amazing photographs you see here.

Geranium Expansion Pack sewing pattern

I’ve always thought her photos were breathtaking, and combined with her fantastic sewing skills, the result is beyond what I could have hoped for. I’m so glad that Rachel was so willing and excited about this project — she has five children and homeschools them, in addition to sewing and writing for her own blog — and I’m honored she found time to fit this into her already very busy schedule. Thank you, Rachel!

Geranium Expansion Pack sewing pattern

Geranium Expansion Pack sewing pattern

Over the next few days, I’m going to introduce you to each of the elements that is included in this expansion pack, one by one, so I can talk a little bit about each one and give you a closer look at the options. I’ve also got fantastic testers who have made the most amazing versions and I can’t wait to show you what they’ve done with this pattern. I’m really just so excited to finally have this ready for you. I can’t wait to see what you do with this pattern expansion!!!

Geranium Expansion Pack sewing pattern

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Cleo + Josephine

Cleo Skirt

As the weather warms up, I’m excited about this combination of Cleo and Josephine. I’ve noticed that when I design a pattern, it’s often because I have a hole in my wardrobe for a certain type of design. I’m also thinking about how it will work with the other things I’m already wearing, which tend to be previous designs I’ve sewn. I love the idea of being able to create a handmade capsule wardrobe with my patterns, so being able to wear Josephine and Cleo together is so satisfying. My assistant Melissa is modeling them here beautifully.

Cleo Skirt

This version of Josephine is View C of the pattern made up in a lightweight swiss dot, and has proven to be one of my favorite wardrobe basics to make. It has enough interesting details (the pleats, the center slit) to make it a perfect match for a solid fabric, especially one that is a bit sheer like this one. The Cleo Skirt is View A made up with two Robert Kaufman lawns, a print from London Calling, and a Cambridge solid in a color that I think has since been discontinued (lipstick), since I no longer see it on their website, but if you do a quick web search you’ll still find it for sale in some shops as of this writing.
Cleo Skirt

This gives me a chance to further profess my love for lawn as an apparel fabric. This spring there have been so many good collections printed on lawn, and the fact that so many manufacturers, including Robert Kaufman, have been adding great lawn prints and solids lately (such as Friedlander lawn) only makes me more excited. Sleeping Porch by my friend Heather Ross for Wyndham is another favorite. I’ve been sewing with a few of her prints and can’t wait to show you what I’ve made! If you’re wary of sewing garments or scared of “apparel fabrics,” you will love how easy lawn is to work with. Quilters take note. Honestly I think lawn should just replace quilting cotton.

Back to this lovely outfit. Here’s a few shots from the back:

Cleo Skirt

Cleo Skirt

Which sewing patterns do you love to combine together for spring and summer? Do you have any favorites?

Cleo Skirt

Posted in Cleo
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Rose Ruby with Divided Yoke

Rose Ruby with divided yoke

Rose Ruby with divided yoke

I always get a little overwhelmed in spring with all the new things I want to sew; clothes for kids, clothes for me, all the ideas and designs in my head, all the new patterns online getting me inspired. It happened again this year: last month I felt really overwhelmed by work and life, and it wasn’t great, and I can’t say I figured out a great way to deal with it so this isn’t a personal victory story or anything like that. However, I managed to attack a few things on my WIP pile, including a Ruby top with a black lawn yoke and pink voile bottom that I had started just after Hugo was born, tried on, decided that I looked like a cow in it (oh ye post partum body issues, le sigh…), and abandoned. I took off the black yoke, sewed a new divided/lined yoke from the pink main fabric, and hemmed it so it has a cropped length (about a 3″ hem allowance instead of 1″). Can’t believe how much more I love this thing now.

Ruby with divided yoke

Rose Ruby with divided yoke

Rose Ruby with divided yoke

Rose Ruby with divided yoke

The fabric is Pickering Voile from Dry Goods Design, and it’s super sheer and fairly wrinkle resistant. They won’t have it anymore, but if you keep an eye on that shop, I promise you’ll find some gem apparel fabric. The rose pink works well with my white jeans (I got fistbumped by a homeless lady the other day who told me they were — and I quote — “White, tight, and right”) and my decades-old Gap jean jacket. Oh and my new haircut! So easy! So quick to dry!! Looks good with my glasses!!! Haircut for the win.

Rose Ruby with divided yoke

I’ll post a how-to for the divided yoke Ruby soon. Meanwhile you can check out my past Ruby posts and tutorials on the Ruby Page, or just get yourself started with the Ruby pattern from my shop.

Anyway, I hope you’re full of spring sewing mojo! But if you’re suffering from Spring Sewing Idea Paralysis, try taking something off the WIP pile instead. It might work for you too!