Flannel Baby Pants

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Hugo has been wearing his many pairs of cotton Big Butt Baby pants and they always get tons of compliments (how could they not with such a cute model?). I wanted to make him a couple warmer pairs out of the new Fanfare 2014 flannels for winter, so I picked these two elephant prints with a grey solid rear panel.

Elephant Big Butt Baby PantsElephant Big Butt Baby Pants

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The sewing pattern is my Big Butt Baby Pants Sewing Pattern, which is designed with enough room for cloth-diapered booties. It’s so fun to give the pattern another go with another kiddo; when I designed it back in 2010, Clementine was my little pattern tester!

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I made one small mod to the pattern here which is so easy to do and yields such a cute result: instead of sewing the entire hem, leave a small gap along the top of the folded hem allowance for an elastic casing. Then thread 6-8″ of half inch wide elastic through the casing, overlap the ends of the elastic and stitch them together (try on baby first) to get a snug fit around the ankle, and stitch the casing shut. I’m a big fan of the elasticized cuff lately (moon pants anyone?).

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Hugo is NOT actually walking yet, despite how these pics may appear — Karen was holding his hands just above the shot, though he does LOVE to stand up. I’m hoping he will refrain from walking until he is a bit older like his siblings (they both walked at 15 months). What do you think the chances of that are? A mama can hope, right?

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Scaffold Quilt

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My first line of fabrics, Fanfare, reprinted this fall and included a line of coordinating flannel solids. As soon as they arrived on my doorstep I felt they deserved their own quilt, the combination of these solid pastels seemed just right. I love plus patterns in quilts, and I wanted the pluses to run into each other a bit (inspired by this design, though I’m not sure…is that a quilt? Or a piece of art? not sure). The result is that the narrow bands remind me of scaffolding.

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When it comes to making quilts, I enjoy the piecing but I am not a huge fan of the actual quilting bit (by which I mean the stitching through the layers to hold everything together), so the quilting was pretty spare: just a simple stitch-in-the-ditch type situation along the narrow bands to form an allover tic-tac-toe stitching pattern. I also like how the back turned out — four simple squares to complement the front — not too boring, but not too fussy.

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As far as creating the quilt top, I think anyone with basic piecing skills could replicate this — it’s 16 blocks, and the smaller squares are 6.5″ and the narrower strips are 2.5″ wide. The final quilt is maybe about 60″ square? Dunno — didn’t measure and didn’t do the math.

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Anyway, I love how modern and uncomplicated this turned out. Baby quilts are my favorite kind of quilt — pretty quick to piece together, easy to quilt (no long-arm needed, though I do use a walking foot), and they make great gifts (this one in fact is headed to a cousin’s new baby). Aren’t flannels the perfect cosy fabric?

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Welcome to the world little Penelope!

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We (as in, Hugo and myself, we come as a package deal now that he has decided not to take a bottle…waaaah!!! But that is another topic for another time) are back after a few weeks of vacation. Or sort of vacation. First, we went to Texas. I flew out last-minute last week to go help my sister Elli and her husband Joe with her newly hatched and unexpectedly early Penelope Wren!!! See my cute new little niece??? Sidenote for those who are just joining: Elli works as Chief Officer of Pattern Production (COPP, yes I just made that title up) here at Made By Rae. You can see more posts about her here and here.

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She is such a cute little button.

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Penelope was born four weeks early and weighed 5 pounds 5 oz so there were some concerns with jaundice for the first week and now she has some reflux issues, but otherwise she has been healthy and fine. She eats like a champ and is gaining weight swimmingly. The birth was smooth (and drug-free, go Elli!!!) — it helped that Elli was in labor denial and wrote off her contractions as intense Braxton-Hicks for the better part of a day. One just doesn’t expect to be a month early, so that was understandable, but then it was kind of intense when she finally realized she was having a baby roughly an hour before she had the baby. Penelope is Elli and Joe’s first baby so they’ve had the usual crash-course in sleepless nights and paranoia, but they are settling in and are already fantastic parents.

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Elli and Penelope!

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I thought Hugo was small, but then I picked up Penelope and nearly threw her at the ceiling because she was so light by comparison. I’m now of the opinion that he’s a bit of a chunk. A cute little chunk.

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So then, after Texas, we came back and our family went and stayed at a beach house on Lake Michigan for a week. That was last week. It was so ridiculously cold for a week at the beach in August; usually in Michigan it is so oppressively hot and humid that the Lake is just the ticket. I found our rental on Craigslist and it had some issues but overall it was beautiful and gorgeous and brand new and the perfect thing to get our family together for a nice stay-in-one-place vacation. You can see some pics from the lake in my Instagram feed, @madebyrae. It’s really nice to be back home now though.

PS. Please don’t pin or use photos of Penelope, thanks!

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Little Romper Thingy for the Drool Machine

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This was a spur-of-the-moment project (inspired by this little romper on Pinterest).  As with the dress in the last post, sometimes when I wing it it works, sometimes it’s a disaster, and sometimes it just needs some tweaking.

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please feel free to pin this romper but don’t pin any photos of Hugo — thanks!

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I drew the pattern for this free-hand-style and cut and sewed most of it in less than an hour. The only step that took a bit more time was adding the snap placket to the inside of the legs.

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This fit is a wee bit wide in the neck — he’s showin’ a little baby shoulder — and could use a little tweaking. Next time I’ll just make the neck smaller and narrower and add more length to make more room for his cloth diapers. The yellow striped knit was left over from this Flashback Tee I made for Clementine last fall — that’s the great thing about baby sewing projects, they take almost no fabric so it’s not a huge investment if it doesn’t work out. Wouldn’t a little micro-pocket look cute too?

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I’m completely helpless when it comes to editing photos of Hugo. I can’t delete any. Even looking at this post I realize there are roughly four shots that all probably look the same to everyone else, but to me are so nuanced in expression they all needed to be included.

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Thoughts on life with a baby at 3 months.

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My little angel baby is 3 (and a half…forgive the time lag since I took these photos) months old. Man, I know I’m biased, but is this kid the cutest baby EVAR or WHAT? Don’t answer that. It’s so textbook it’s hilarious: I can’t stop staring at him, smiling at him, and cooing at him. I’m completely smitten. I remember being worried that having a third baby would feel a little “been there, done that,” but the miracle is that it doesn’t feel that way at all. You fall in love all over again, and it even feels new again, if perhaps a bit less surprising as with the first.

Each of my three baby experiences has been so different. Not so much because the babies themselves were so different — they have all been fairly easy babies — but because I am different. With Elliot I was fresh off of a seven-year science teaching stint that was so mentally and emotionally challenging that by comparison the days with a newborn felt lonely and unproductive. It’s hard to remember how happy or content I was, but guess I must have felt disconnected and a bit directionless, because I started the blog. I remember feeling like I just needed to find something to DO (you know, besides take care of an infant full time. HAH).

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With Clementine, my blog was a new business and it was getting pretty demanding. It felt like anyone who had any audience was picking up ad networks and sponsors and beginning to see that they could make money just by blogging. The digital patterns I had made while I was pregnant with Clementine while Elliot took his afternoon naps were selling well enough that I felt like I was thinking about business stuff all. the. time. I had to constantly check email to make sure my patterns got emailed out on time. I had to keep sewing. Keep blogging. Put the kid in front of the TV. Keep making new patterns. My brain was so busy with ideas and information, but with a toddler and a newborn every day needed an outing or playdate or I would go crazy. The result was that I had next to no free time to act on any of my ideas. It was like “Attack of the Busy Brain!” all the time, and it was pretty frustrating.

With Hugo (see he is SMILING???), I at least have the benefit of knowing what to expect; knowing that it is kinda boring sometimes, knowing that I’ll feel unproductive, and knowing that it will be a while before I can really dig in and work again, and that all of that is OK. I’m still in the thick of it. As I type this, I’m at my studio, and Hugo is napping underneath my cutting table in the next room (scratch that; he just woke up, so now he’s nursing). I go downtown to my studio for a few hours each week, not because I think I’ll get anything done, but because it’s just good to get out of the house and putter around in this place that feels like something I’ve built from the ground up. Low expectation seems key.

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The blog, the patterns, my overflowing inbox, the new website (!!!) we’re working on…the work is all still ever-present, and if I think about it too much it stresses me out, but I have to keep reminding myself that it’s just not that important. And I think I’m happier for it, at least I feel more at peace with my life. Some days I can hardly contain my joy at how wonderful this life I’ve been given is — I am so thankful to God for my healthy children, Mr Rae, who is just the best mate I could ever ask for, and the fun thing that “Made By Rae” has become. Other days I want to pull my hair out and I feel like a monster when I yell at my kids because they’re dorking around instead of putting their shoes on or getting ready for bed.

I want to write, but phantom blog posts just end up circling in my head instead of getting onto the page. I want to sew ALL THE THINGS, but the block of sewing time never materializes. But I know like everything about having a baby, things change so quickly, but work will always be there if I want it. And if it’s not — for isn’t that what all bloggers fear? that if we step away from what we have built with our blogs that it will all disappear into thin air? — that everything will still be just fine.

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Fanfare for Baby!

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Fanfare for Baby Hugo!

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Pants: Big Butt Baby Pants in Fanfare flannel + yellow Shot Cotton. Perfect for his cute little cloth diaper bum.

Crib Sheet: made using Dana’s Crib Sheet Tutorial (I had to modify the dimensions a bit because the flannel shrinks down to about 41″ wide)

Changing Pad Cover: this is a FREE printable tutorial that I put together last summer, available from the Cloud9 website!

Nursery Prints: by Ingela Arrhenius; I found them here. Wall color is Sherwin Williams Waterfall.

Fun news: Fanfare is being REPRINTED in MORE COLORS and will be available later this summer! You can sneak a peek here, and I’ll post pics of my new samples soon!!!

More pics of the baby. I can’t resist.

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Fanfare for Baby Hugo!

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The baby is 2 months old already. Whaaaaaat?!

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I figure it’s about time for a HUGO UPDATE! He’s now…um…about 2 and a half months old, so here are the photos I took of him when he turned 1 month and 2 months old. I especially like that first one where he is cross-eyed. In my head, I was going to post awesome weekly photos of him in his handmade clothes on my blog with updates on his developmental milestones, you know, in between all of the other amazing things I was sewing for my other kids. BWUAH HAH HAH HAH HAH!!! That’s a good one.

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In reality, he grew out of most of the newborn stuff I made him before I could take any pictures (WHEN did THAT happen?), I haven’t sewn much at all, for anyone, and I’ve forgotten to write down most of the cool things he’s been doing like chewing on his hand and smiling at us and that one week when he started crying real tears instead of just making a lot of noise and it just about broke my heart.

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I only slept about 4 hours last night (which is actually pretty strange because overall he’s been doing quite well at night) so I really can’t think of anything else interesting to say because my brain is just going MORE COFFEE MORE COFFEE MORE COFFEE right now, so I think that may have to be it for this post. XOXO, Rae

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*Please don’t repost/pin pictures of Hugo. Thanks!*

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Snail Trail Sleepsack for Hugo

We are big fans of the sleepsack around here. All three of my children needed a good snug swaddle to sleep for any decent amount of time. Plus our doctor mentioned multiple times at Hugo’s early checkups that we should NOT use a basic blanket to swaddle, that instead we should always use the velcro swaddler, so there you go. They’ve gotten plenty of use by our clan. So this free snuggler pattern from Lotta Jansdotter‘s Simple Sewing for Baby book on Make magazine’s site (that first link goes to something called a Craft podcast, but the free pattern is there…yeah, I’m confused by that too) seemed like the perfect way to pair some of the plain white Fanfare flannel I had in my stash with some new Lotus Pond snails!

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The snuggler is easy to use, it’s just a matter of folding the two outer flaps over each other; your baby’s legs go in the pouch portion at the bottom.

Snail Trail Sleepsack

Snail Trail Sleepsack

Snail Trail Sleepsack

I should note that I didn’t find the free pattern to be completely intuitive; I had some issues piecing the pattern pages together (an issue that would, admittedly, have been a non-issue if I had actually purchased the book rather than downloading the free version…you get what you pay for am I right??) and the instructions took us a few thinks to get right, but once it was together it made total sense and I think the design is totally adorable. So there’s that for my 2-cent review. Most importantly, Hugo will sleep in it, so clearly he likes it too!

This snail fabric is one of the prints from my new line of fabrics for Cloud9, Lotus Pond! To see all the posts from our Lotus Pond Extravaganza, click HERE.

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Little Color Book for Hugo

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One of the joys of living in Ann Arbor is the sewing and blogging friends I get to see on a regular basis at monthly Sew Ann Arbor sewing meetups. Many of those friends have turned into people I hang out with In Real Life, and Emily of Emmmylizzzy (and @emmmylizzzy on Instagram) is one of those pals. Her daughter Phoebe and my Clementine are the same age and love playing together. You might also remember that daughter Phoebe helped Clementine model a legion of Tsuru Geranium Dresses last spring…they were so cute together!

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Emily made this adorable color book as a baby gift for Hugo, and I just love it. Had to show it to you, because it’s such a great way to use scraps, and such a fantastic baby gift idea!! Many of these scraps are from my own past sewing projects; I often bring my scraps to sewing meetups for the quilters to take and Emily was clever enough to collect a bunch and incorporate them into this book.

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One hilariously tragic thing you might have seen if you follow Emily on IG is that after she had completed it, her youngest daughter Penny found it and drew with a marker on the ENTIRE THING….ACK!! Luckily it all came out in the wash and you can’t even tell it happened; I would have never noticed it. Can you imagine though?? I would have cried.

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Elliot and Clementine have already identified a number of scraps that look familiar to them…do you see anything YOU recognize?

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Such a fun idea, right??? Thanks for the awesome gift, Emily!

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