CRAFT-ish podcast guest

Hi hi!! Happy Friday! I just wanted to let you know that I’m a guest today on Vickie Howell’s CRAFT-ish podcast. Vickie has had a successful career as an author, teacher, and blogger (among other things) in the DIY and knitting world, and her podcast explores many aspects of the creative industry with guests who are artists, entertainers, and authors, so I was honored when she asked me to be a guest. Our conversation focused on my journey from physics teacher to blogger and pattern designer, with topics such as the role of feminism in my career choices, working with a team, and how the internet is still the “Wild West” when it comes to sewing patterns, free stuff, and etiquette. I had so much fun talking with Vickie that we kept talking after the show was finished recording — she just had so many interesting questions and issues that she kept bringing up! Like many of you (and me), Vickie has been working as a creative entrepreneur online for a long time, and it’s so interesting to reflect on how things have changed over the years in the online craft space. I hope you’ll listen to the episode and let me know if you have any additional thoughts or questions. Thanks for having me, Vickie!


It’s also my birthday today, woot woot big thirty NIIIINE! Usually Mr Rae and I go out for dinner on my birthday and this year I want Elliot and Clementine to come along too. I’ve always enjoyed my kids, but now that they’re getting older, it’s fun that they’re getting old enough to hang out and talk, so I think it will be fun; we don’t normally take them to nice restaurants. Steak and Shake is their favorite place on earth, so an elevated gastronomic experience is usually not worth it. Hugo is staying home with a babysitter (he’s kindof a nightmare at restaurants right now), but someday I’m sure he’ll be invited along too!

Have a great weekend!!

At the lake

Lake Michigan, July 2016

Lake Michigan, July 2016

Lake Michigan, July 2016

Lake Michigan, July 2016

Lake Michigan, July 2016

Lake Michigan, July 2016

Lake Michigan, July 2016

My sisters and I are at a cottage on Lake Michigan this week with our families. It’s turned out to be a lovely week, weather-wise, which in Michigan can be a bit of a gamble, so the kids have been down at the beach every day, sometimes multiple times. Our cottage is not fantastic, but it’s not horrible if you think of it more like camping than staying in a beach house. It’s rustic. It’s not a huge surprise we end up with something less than perfect, though, as we usually wait too long to book our rentals. This year we have a dishwasher that doesn’t work, a tub that won’t drain, and two ticks found in one baby’s bedroom. Maybe one of these years we’ll get lucky and find the Perfect Beach Rental that we want to keep coming back to year after year. Right?

Anyway, the weather is good, so we are spending quite a bit of time reading outside or down at the beach. Marvelous, beautiful Lake Michigan. It amazes me how instantly entertained my children are with the beach. I’m biased since I grew up near this lake, but you really can’t beat it: fresh water, clean sand, cool breezes, waves, and gorgeous sunsets. It’s a good place to get away.

I’ll be back next week to introduce you to my new favorite sewing pattern!

Birthday Week

Hugo's 1st birthday

We have two birthdays in our family this week. Hugo turns TWO tomorrow (I know, whuuuuut.) and Elliot will be NINE on Friday *silently sobs.* In addition, the past two weekends in a row we’ve attended at least two birthday parties for classmates of Elliot and/or Clementine, and next weekend looks to be the same. Lately it seems like every weekend is a string of never ending birthday parties for classmates, which means I am constantly at Toys’RUs, buying gifts and cringing at the “girl” aisle (Clementine: “How about this makeup set, mom?” Me: “That is not an appropriate gift for a six-year-old, please put it back.”).

I’m conflicted about whether or not it’s wise to let my kids go to all of the parties they get invited to, so usually I end up just saying yes. On the one hand, I think it’s awesome that other parents throw amazing birthday parties for their kids, and it gives us something fun to do on the weekend. I never seem to find the time to plan a well-designed and organized at-home party, and I lack the pre-planning prowess (or desire to spend $$$) to book a bounce/trampoline/laser tag venue, so I’m also always a bit awe-struck when I bring my kids to these types of parties. When did her mom (or dad, but it’s almost always the mom) find the time to pull it all together? Where on earth did they find matching streamers/plates/cake toppers/pin-the-tail-on-the-fill-in-the-blank to coordinate? I also don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings if they really hoped my kid would come (which happened once with one of Clementine’s friends), although typing this now I realize that’s not a really great reason.

On the other hand all of these birthday celebrations, when added up, seem excessive. Again, I want to be clear: it’s not any ONE party in particular, but collectively, when every weekend you are transporting kids to yet another party, that it starts to feel like too much. I can remember a handful of birthday parties from my own childhood, but I know for sure it was not this many, or this frequent. And when I know full well I have absolutely no intention of doing anything similar for my own kids when their birthday rolls around, it also seems a bit cruel to subject my kids to a taste of the Party They Will Never Have (“See that bounce castle Johnny’s dad rented for his party? Don’t get your hopes up, Elliot!”).

Anyway…we’ll be celebrating this week with cake from a box, maybe some balloons, and as many birthday streamers as I can manage to get to stick to the wall (stupid Low-VOC eggshell paint!!). We had a birthday party with family members last weekend, so it’s going to be pretty low key. I think the important thing is that my kids feel loved and celebrated, even if I don’t (can’t? won’t?) throw a big shindig or shebang. I would love to hear your favorite ways to celebrate a kids’ birthday (especially if it’s quick and easy)! I also would love to hear from those of you who don’t have children, because I remember attending birthday parties for kids before I had children and thinking they were utterly hilarious.

P.S. Photo at the top of post is Hugo, totally hopped up on cupcakes last year when he turned one. Don’t you love it?

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Hugo’s Nursery

hugo nursery 1

I made new curtains for Hugo’s nursery recently using the clementine print from my baby wale cord line for Cloud9, Small World. This gives me an excuse to show you Hugo’s room before I go and totally change it up. I’m itching to get him out of that crib, and the plan is to bring Clementine into that room now that he’s no longer waking up during the night. Well, he does, but he usually just fusses a bit and goes right back to sleep. Both Elliot and Clementine were already out of their cribs by his age (22 months).

Plus, dare I say it? I want to start potty training as soon as possible. Clementine had basically potty-trained herself by this age and Elliot was trained when he was 2 1/2. I’m not one of those Pullups parents. I made it through two children without ever purchasing a single Pullup. So we’ll see how this goes. Pulling my hair out in a year, most likely. Some of you are already thinking oh dear she has no idea how much harder it will be with that third child. Or will it be easier? I have no idea. At any rate, the potty is ready and waiting (not pictured).

Here’s a bunch of pics!
hugo nursery 2

hugo nursery 3

hugo nursery 4

hugo nursery 5

hugo nursery 6

hugo nursery 7

I’m already excited about making this room into a boy/girl shared room, I think it will be cute, even if Clementine insists on taking all of her Frozen posters with her. Stay tuned.

Details: Rug from Dwell Studio / Wall Prints from the Kid Who (they’re Ingela Arrhenius) / Side table from IKEA / Rocking chair from Sprout / Hugo’s outfit blogged here.

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Made in 2015

1 made by rae 2015

At the beginning of last year I had a ridiculously long list of things I wanted to sew. I also had a baby who was less than a year old who was still nursing, but he had just started daycare part-time so I could smell freedom on the horizon. There’s something about having next to no time for yourself that makes the brain go nearly crazy with ideas, am I right? He was sick a lot from day care, I was driving back and forth to nurse him during the day so I didn’t get much done, and I still couldn’t figure out how I was going to make this 3-kids thing work, so I was frustrated. Instead of throwing myself into despair (OK…so that’s not exactly true, I wrote a long rambling blog post entitled “The Struggle is Real” which I never had the guts to post because I was afraid it might come off as too self-pitying), I put all the ideas for sewing projects onto a piece of paper and hung it up on a door in my studio.

2 made by rae 2015

As the year progressed, I found moments to sew, so I started a second list, entitled “2015 Makes,” and hung it up next to the “Ideas for Sewing in 2015” list (see the pic at the bottom of this post?) so I could chart my progress. In previous years my blog has been the primary way that I log my projects, but after years of blogging I think I’ve finally realized that it will always be impossible to get *everything* on the blog and it isn’t going to get any easier with a toddler (and honestly, last year I still was grappling with whether or not it was still really worth it to blog, with Instagram and Facebook and all — but my thoughts on that will have to wait for a different time).

3 made by rae 2015

I also started photographing some of the finished projects against a plain wall since getting pictures of worn clothing on my kids and myself is also something I have to be more realistic about; it’s just tough to do. I didn’t get pictures of everything on my “Made in 2015” list, but it still gives me a sense of accomplishment. You might recognize some of the things in these photos, I only found time to blog some of them so some of them you’ve never seen before. And while it would have been nice if I could have written “I made this!” posts about all of these things, I’m OK with how it all went down; this has been a year about letting go for me. I also want to make sure you know that other hands helped make some of this stuff as well (Karen and Tashina), so that’s something else to consider when looking at these projects.

4 made by rae 2015

In addition to sewing and blogging some things I made, I managed to launch three patterns this year; Moon Pants for kids; and Beatrix and Luna Pants for women. We even had a sewalong for Beatrix. All of this would not have been possible without the stellar team that backs me up: Elli, Jess, Karen, and Tashina (who has just launched her own jewelry business!!) and Tashina’s replacement, Melissa. Their hard work behind the scenes has allowed me the privilege of staying home with Hugo three days a week while still keeping the MBR machine running. Nobody can do it all, least of all me, and I’m so grateful to have these awesome people to have my back.

sewing list : made by rae 2015

I’m also grateful for all of you who have read, commented, and supported my shop and business this past year. Thank you so much for reading! Feel free to leave a comment if you want details on anything pictured here; I’m happy to answer or point you toward the right post if applicable.

Here’s to another year (and a new list) of sewing! Oh, and here are a few previous year-in-review posts if you’re interested: 2012 / 2013 / 2014

Our family Christmas pics

kids christmas 2015 christmas 2015 picChristmasPic2015Christmaspic

It’s hopeless to try to get all of my wiggly little monkeys to look at a camera and smile at the same time, but I’m still really happy with how these turned out. Also: patting myself on the back that not only managed to get them taken but even mailed a few out. The last time we had professional(ish…I had my assistant Melissa snap these) photos of all five of us was when Hugo was a week old, so it was time.

If you celebrate Christmas, I hope yours is wonderful and full of laughter and love. If you don’t, I hope you aren’t too annoyed by people wishing you a Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays to you all!

xoxo, Rae


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this week


halloween: How much do I love that Clementine’s Elsa costume has been finished since last Christmas? Or that Hugo fits into the Cow Costume this year? Or that Elliot decided against being Minecraft Steve (which was likely going to end up with me last-minute-papier mache-ing a box for that big block head and then E blindly tripping around all night because he has a box on his head) and instead decided on “Mad Scientist?” Anytime I can Prime a miniature lab coat, a pair of welding goggles, and some hair gel and have a Halloween costume, I am a happy lady. I don’t love to make Halloween costumes, although I do love to look at them once I’m done slaving over them, for example, this one.

pants: I’ve named the new pants pattern “Luna Pants” as a nod to the fact that they’re a bit like a lady’s Moon Pant. They’re graded, the first draft of the instructions are finished, and we’ve gone through the first round of testing, so I’m happy with how this one’s coming along. I’m also really excited because I think they’re going to be AWESOME in knit…more testing needed, but I’ll report back. I’m hoping to show you some of the fun versions I’ve been making here on the blog soon (one of them shown above). Hoping it will be ready in a couple of weeks!

travel plans: as it cools off even more here in Michigan, I’m really excited about two trips I’m planning to warmer places. In a couple of weeks, I’m taking Clementine and Elliot to Disneyworld. It’ll be their first time going to Disney, and it’s also first time I’ve taken them on a plane without Mr Rae so I’m a little nervous. Honestly though flying anywhere without Hugo sounds like a piece of cake.

I’m not gonna lie, the whole Disney vacation thing is a little insane. I feel like I’ve been taking a bizarre crash course trying to plan this trip. FastPasses, MagicBands, trying to get groceries delivered to our hotel, figuring out the dinner reservation system, the whole place seems to operate on a totally different set of rules and it’s a little weird…I don’t know. Jury’s out on this one, guys.

You want to know what the craziest thing is though? I haven’t told my kids we’re going yet. I have it in my head to completely surprise them. Right now my plan is to tell them the night before that they’ll need to get up early and get on a plane for a surprise trip, but let them figure out where we’re going as we travel. I haven’t worked out the exact surprise-reveal details yet, but they still don’t suspect anything as far as I can tell, SO SHHHH DON’T TELL THEM!!!

I’m also VERY EXCITED because I signed up for for Heather Ross’ Sewing and Craft Weekend at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs next January and MY MOM is coming too!! It’s been a long time since I took a “me” trip so I’m looking forward to just sitting back, relaxing, and sewing with mom and a bunch of other fun people. Weaving and Fabric Dying with Heather and Anna Maria and Annabel Wrigley? Yes Please. By the way I think there are still some spots open if you’re interested…it’s gonna be super fun!!

Best thing about traveling to warm places? I can still sew myself some summer clothes.

listening: I added London Grammar and Wet to my Mellow Sewing Playlist on Spotify and I totally recommend looking them up if you’re looking for some new music. Both groups feature amazing female lead singers, remind me of Feist, and have a beautiful, haunting sound that seem perfect for fall. Maybe if I could actually figure out how to post my playlist here you could listen to it…geez Rae you are such an old lady sometimes *facepalm*

watching: this week Mr Rae had to work every evening (yeah, bummer. it happens sometimes), so I watched Grey Gardens and The Theory of Everything. Both movies have been on my to-watch list, but not on his, so that worked out nicely. Both are based on true stories and sent me straight to Wikipedia to read more. I love it when that happens. Of course, as a former physics teacher I knew plenty about Stephen Hawking’s work and that he had ALS, but the movie is much more about his relationship with his first wife. Highly recommend that one!! Grey Gardens was really fascinating (and good) too.

Have a happy weekend, and a safe Halloween to those of you who will be trick-or-treating!

PS. Can you believe how big my kids look in that photo above?? I took that picture last weekend when we were playing at a nearby school playground. They are growing tooooooo faaaaaaast!!!

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Happy Friday, friends!! Here’s what I’m up to lately:

For the past…hmmm quite a long time, actually, I have been slowly working on drafting and then sewing pants. I’m on a mission to make myself some pants that are comfortable and cute for fall. I put together a Pants board on Pinterest so you can see some of my inspiration. You can see a little sneak peek above, I’ll try to post more pics of my progress soon! Also shown in that pic: I got some new Danskos for fall (they’re called “Thea” just in case you’re interested)! I love that tealy-green color.


I also bought myself a sleeve board for pressing. It makes pressing kid pant legs, sleeves, and other narrow tubular stuff so much easier. I’m looking forward to finding even more uses for it. That’s kind of a silly thing to post about, I guess, but maybe some of you who sew clothing might find it handy!

I also joined Periscope last week. Periscope is a new social media app that allows you to do live broadcasts from your phone; viewers can comment and add hearts so it’s very interactive, but the videos disappear after 24 hours so it also feels a bit Snapchatesque because it’s very impromptu, unedited, and temporary. This week I got up the courage to do two broadcasts (one from home, talking about my current work/home situation, and one from my studio, doing a little tour) and so far I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I feel brave for doing something that was really hard, and so many people responded positively to it and that was very encouraging. On the other hand, I felt frustrated that Periscope didn’t have a better way to deal with annoying commenters; there were a few people who joined the broadcast who posted annoying comments (and in one case, a really offensive word), and I wasn’t really prepared for that so I didn’t block them soon enough…anyway, that part was a bit of a bummer and a lot of people who were watching felt bad. But you know what wasn’t a bummer? Seeing how many people joined, gave me hearts, and said nice things and that they enjoyed it. So that was really fun. (Oh! I’m @madebyrae if you want to find me on Periscope!)

Some linkadoos:

I was really flattered that IndieSew asked if they could include my Beatrix sewing pattern as part of their fall collection. They just finished hosting a fun blog tour to feature the patterns and there was some mighty cute stuff in the mix. I really love what IndieSew is doing; rather than just selling third-party (other peoples’) PDF patterns, Allie makes an effort to actively promote the work of the designers, as well as produce awesome blog content like tutorials and information on different types of fabric to support those of us who want to sew clothing. I also love her story about how she got started.

My friend Anna just posted about the arrival of Knitting Season, and I feel like I’m getting the knitting bug too. Maybe this is the year I will knit myself a sweater???

Loved this post from Colette about supporting small/indie business.

Oop! Hugo just woke up so I’ve gotta go! He has a new tooth (#5) as of this week and has been a wee bit out of sorts as a result. Here’s a pic of him from the orchard we visited after school on Wednesday; the kids love sticking their heads through the big wooden shapes so I can take their pictures…it’s become an annual September tradition!


Have a great weekend!

What are my WIPs telling me?

Elliot and Clementine are back to school as of yesterday. Woooooohoo. I crave the beginning of school not because I want to see less of my kiddos, but because I love the feeling of turning over a new leaf (I do miss them, but honestly I think the structure of the school schedule is good for all of us after the many many weeks of vacation). The start of the school year is a chance for a new start. Forget New Year’s. A set of resolutions in the dead of winter when you’re still full from Christmas cookies. Who came up with that dumb idea? September is the time for new beginnings, I say!!! Even if I am at the same time sentimental about the end of summer.


I knew I would have a few days this summer when all three of my children would miraculously end up in camps or daycare at the same time when I would have a chance to work, and my goal for the summer was mainly to work on finishing up a long list of my unfinished projects. My assistant Tashina finished college and moved away at the end of July (waaah!!!), and Karen, the other person who works with me in Ann Arbor was home with her daughter for the summer, so it was a fine chance to work by myself for a bit. Sadly, that list of things to finish seems only to have grown. I think I just completely lack the ability to hunker down and focus on anything anymore. At any rate, I managed to take a few pictures of the WIPs (works in progress) I have lingering on my sewing table that are still taunting me as this school year begins. I was thinking that maybe if I had them visually in one place, I would be motivated to finish them, but…


What really is the point of trying to cajole myself into finishing things I’m dragging my heels on? I don’t like to waste time or fabric, so that part of me hates to just give up on something, even if it goes to the thrift store so someone else can repurpose it. But from an artistic standpoint I feel like I should intuit some meaning from the things that cause the most serious procrastination. If I’m not passionate about it then should I even be wasting time on it at all? Maybe I should just move on to the things I really truly want to do. I always liked Nancy Pearl’s approach to books: read the first 50 pages and if you’re not hooked, walk away. And that Magic Art of Tidying Up lady has a similar philosophy: rid yourself of the things in your home that don’t make you happy, seriously just throw it all away. That axe-it-all attitude is awfully appealing to me, as a philosophy for life in general as well as around my house (of course I’m only about half way through that book so the question of what happens if it doesn’t make me happy but I need it anyway, like my toothbrush or the toilet plunger? hasn’t been covered yet, hopefully she will address that because that’s my biggest question so far). When you’re a creative person, the non-passion-inducing projects are things like “why did I just lose an entire afternoon rooting around Quickbooks because it won’t freaking sync with my Paypal properly #?@!?!” Unfortunately, it can’t all be fondling fabrics and sewing the beautiful things. I can’t toss stupid dum dum Quickbooks out the window. Much as I might like to. But I could definitely be better about tossing away sewing projects that induce malaise.


Moving on. I have some fun ideas planned for this new season, but it’s like a suspense novel over here, even I have no idea which ones if any will come to fruition. I’m keenly aware that even with Hugo in daycare two days a week, my life as a mother of three will always be somewhat of a hindrance to professional progress. Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not whining, I choose it, and love it, it just is what it is. I’m just saying, it’s still fair for me to feel mildly jealous of the sewing bloggers who prolifically post lined jackets and trendy rayon jumpsuits betwixt fun updates on their latest pair of handmade Ginger Jeans. Meanwhile, I’ll be dutifully plugging away at my humble pile of WIPs. Maybe you can guess what some of them will become? And what do you think, is it better to power through and finish the things you start on principle, or just pursue the projects you love?

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