Lace Easter Dress

Lace Easter Dress

It’s not unusual for me to get really excited about sewing something, do most of the work, hit a hurdle of some sort, and then quit the project altogether. That almost happened with this dress which I started at the end of last summer. I started with my Gemma pattern, which I lengthened and cut in two layers (lace and white jersey knit) and managed to sew together at the neckline, armholes, and side seams. Then I decided it needed a waistband and that’s where the project stalled.

Lace Easter Dress

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago, when I picked it up again, added the waistband — when you have two layers this is as simple as sewing two lines of stitches and threading elastic between them — and hemmed it. I make that sound quicker than it actually was; it took me a few tries to get the waistband location right, but now I have a lovely dress for spring! Whyeeeeee did I wait so long to finish it?!? Sometimes I scratch my head at my own self. But at least it’s finished, and damn if it felt good to cross this project off the WIP list.

Lace Easter Dress

I find most of my lace here in Michigan at Field’s fabrics, which is a West Michigan chain that carries both quilting and apparel fabric. I think I bought at least three other laces, so look for more handmade lace clothing in my future.

Lace Easter Dress

Loominous boho dress

Loominous Dress with Ties

Check out my new spring dress!! It’s so cheery and fun. This boho-inspired dress is the second pattern hack I’ve made with Loominous fabric (the first being my Josephine with tassel ties). I love this “Treasure” print. So much that I also made a Cleo skirt in the black colorway. I also seem to have a thing for ties, which look cute open:

Loominous Dress with Ties
Or tied in a bow…

Loominous Dress with Ties

Or knotted! All cute. Still thinking I might add tassels to the ties (again), though. What do you think? Can a wardrobe have too many tasseled garments? A question I wrestle with at night.

Loominous Dress with Ties

To make this dress, I started with my Ruby dress pattern, modified the yokes and added shortened Josephine sleeves and neckline binding with ties.

I added 3/4″ to the center front of the front Ruby yoke and cut two instead of one on the fold. I also flattened the bottom of both of the yokes as shown below. Before attaching the yokes to the body of the dress, I folded and stitched down the front edges of the front yokes, tacked them together at the bottom, and then sewed as directed in the pattern.

Adjusting Ruby yoke pieces

Adding the Josephine sleeves was fairly simple since they have a gathered area at the top, so I just gathered them until they fit the armholes, attached them, and then sewed the side seams. I shortened the sleeves by about 4″ and then hemmed them up with a 2″ hem allowance. I also centered the gathers on the back yoke more than usual; you can see this in the photo below.

Loominous Dress with Ties

Josephine with Tassel Ties

Josephine Top with Tassel Ties

Josephine Top with Tassel Ties

How long have you been reading this blog? Long enough to remember how much I love a good bit of pattern improv? Maybe you love it too! The desire to mix it up (constantly) is really what drives me to create patterns that are not only distinct, but work well as blank templates. I just love a pattern I can make over and over again yet never end up with the same thing twice. At first glance the Josephine Sewing Pattern might not seem like a great blank template, being limited in some ways by the pleating detail on the front which lends it a very distinct look and feel, but as soon as you lose the tucks on the front it turns into an entirely different animal.

Josephine Top with Tassel Ties

Josephine Top with Tassel Ties

For this blouse, I dropped the hemline in the center to create a shirt-tail hem, like Beatrix or Gemma, extended the bias binding to create ties and added tassels, and gathered the neckline instead of pleating the bodice. The result is a silhouette with more ease (3″ more, in fact) than the original pattern and an overall look that’s quite on-trend, especially in this dreamy Loominous fabric designed by Anna Maria Horner.

Josephine Top with Tassel Ties

Josephine Top with Tassel Ties

Here’s how to modify the Josephine Pattern to get this version!

How-to: Josephine with Tassel Ties

  • Cut out the A/B bodice using the View C cutting lines (unless you are extremely busty you won’t need the C/D bodice. Skipping the tucks creates additional ease, so even if you’re pretty large-busted, there will be enough ease in the pattern that you won’t need the larger cup size. Check the finished measurement chart and then add 3″ to the FM for bust if you’re not sure!).
  • Drop the center of the hem a few inches when cutting out the pattern to create a shirt-tail shape. Draw an S shape with chalk before cutting, remembering that the hem line needs to intersect center front and sides at a right angle.
  • Gather the neckline edge along the pleated areas with elastic thread (see my shirring tutorial) or with basting stitches. I also gathered a couple inches in the back as well. See photo below:

Josephine Top with Tassel Ties

  • Follow the instructions for View C, but add the sleeves as if you were making View B. I also used elastic thread to gather the sleeve caps and ends of the sleeves…it’s just SO. QUICK. !!!

Josephine Top with Tassel Ties

Josephine Top with Tassel Ties

  • After sewing the center seam, press and fold under, then stitch down the edges of the center front extension, since the edges won’t get enclosed by the tucks like they usually are.
  • When binding the neckline, extend the bias binding past the center front edges to create ties, then stitch it shut and add a couple tassels to the ends (I like Liesl’s tassel tutorial over at Creativebug. I used DMC embroidery floss for these)

And that’s it! Wear and enjoy!

Josephine Top with Tassel Ties

Please let me know if you try this version of Josephine. I’d love to see how yours turns out!

For even more Josephine variations, check out the Josephine page. You might also like this version with with release tucks, or this one with release tucks and sleeves!

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!! 

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

Observer Maxi Dress

Observer Washi Maxi

Observer Washi Maxi

I’m so excited to be a part of the Observer fabric blog tour today! I’m showing off this lovely voile indigo-shibori print from my dear friend April Rhodes’ latest line of fabric for Art Gallery fabrics, Observer. After having a chance to try shibori dyeing in Palm Springs earlier this year, I was so excited when I saw this print in the lineup! This print really looks like it could have been hand-dyed.

Observer Washi Maxi

I felt that a print of this scale deserved a garment large enough to show it off, so a maxi dress was a natural choice. Jess had made a boatneck maxi version of the Washi Dress last summer that I absolutely loved (I haven’t blogged it yet, but I will!), and I really wanted to copy that design with this fabric, so we used the same pattern adjustments for mine.

Observer Maxi Dress

I realize it is a bit crazy to call this a Washi Dress, since it bears so little resemblance to its Mother-Garment, but the Washi dress pattern pieces were indeed the starting point. I’ll share tips on how to modify the Washi Dress bodice so you can make your own boatneck version when I post Jess’ dress. Stay tuned!

Observer Washi Maxi

The bodice of the dress is lined, and since any voile with a light background is fairly sheer, I do wear this with a slip (note to anyone else dreaming up garments with this lovely print!). Another option would be to line the skirt, but that creates more bulk, so I opted for just the bodice lining.

I’ve always loved Art Gallery’s fabrics, and this voile is so lovely and silky and light that wearing it is a dream. This fabric would also be absolutely perfect for pillows or breezy curtains or a gathered skirt. I would die to have a sheet set out of this print!!

Observer Washi Maxi

One other little thing to add: since there is some symmetry in this print, strong angular lines, and alternating light and dark areas (love!!), I personally prefer not to center the axis of the print directly over the central axis of the body; in other words, placing the print off-center seems like a good idea so that certain areas don’t get accentuated accidentally…ahem. This can be an issue when you’re trying to wear any large-scale print, so keep that in mind! You’re welcome.

Washi Boatneck hack

The entire Observer collection from April is absolutely brilliant, and includes a handful of knit fabrics as well as a great selection of quilting cottons. April also sent over one of the knit prints from the collection to, so if you come back this afternoon for my Observer Bonus Round you can see the dress I made out of that one too! PS. I was feeling a bit like an overachiever, and almost didn’t post both, but then yesterday Christine posted two outfits for her stop on the tour, so that just goes to show that I’m not. Or we both are. Probably the latter.

Truly, though, one of the things I love about April’s designs is how clearly you can see April’s aesthetic shine through them. She is a talented and passionate artist who pours her heart and soul into her art, and it’s so incredibly inspiring to see her clear point of view communicated in her beautiful collections. I’m so grateful to call her a friend. Thanks so much for inviting me on your Observer tour, April!

Observer-Fabric-Tour

You can find the whole list of stops on the Observer fabric tour here, or see what’s happening on Instagram. Noodlehead is the next stop on the tour on Monday, September 26. I can’t wait to see what Anna’s dreamt up for Observer!

Loominous Ruby and the sad tale of a jumpsuit gone awry

Loominous Ruby Top

You may remember that earlier this year I made a pair of Luna Pants from this very same fabric. One day by chance I folded those pants on top of a pair of dark skinny jeans and fell in love with the combination of the green with the denim and realized “I think I need a top from that fabric too.”

Loominous Ruby Top

Considering how ridiculously comfortable the pants were, it was a no-brainer to buy more fabric (Loominous by Anna Maria Horner) to make a simple summer top. And considering Ruby is possibly the quickest and easiest of all of my women’s patterns to make, that was a no-brainer too.

Loominous Ruby Top

This top was part of my Spring/Summer Handmade Wardrobe planning sketch (I blogged about that here), so now I can cross that one off the to-sew list.

Loominous Ruby Top

At some point in the process — I don’t exactly remember when — it occurred to me that these two things (top, pants) could be combined to make a faux jumpsuit without the obvious disadvantages of a real jumpsuit (I am referring, of course, to the difficulties one might encounter trying to use the restroom, among other things). Once the thought was there, it was impossible not to act on it. Photographic evidence:

Loominous Faux Jumpsuit

I’m not sure why it never occurred to me that I would look like a giant green leprechaun. And the glasses and the shoes really did not help at ALL…geez. Perhaps with a different color (black?) things would have been different, but I think it is safe to say that I Will Not Be Caught Dead wearing this ensemble out of the house.

I thought you would get a kick out of the photo, though.

Shorts with pom poms

shorts with pompoms / made by rae

Started these last year as part of a larger Pants-Shorts Experiment (an experiment that included two pairs of shorts, a fitted cropped ankle pant, and a pair of flared corduroy pants, none of which ever got photographed or blogged, but also, I might add, eventually produced the Luna Pants pattern, so it wasn’t entirely in vain). I was torn about whether or not to add the pom poms. On the one hand I had seen a handful of very cute shorts featuring pom pom trim on Pinterest and I am a huge fan of poms for any occasion so count me in. BUT. When your thighs don’t have extra space between them (I think it goes without saying that mine don’t), the idea of a row of pom poms betwixt one’s legs becomes a more interesting concept. My sister Elli suggested there might be chafing. I decided to go for it. I finished these in time to bring them to Palm Springs, but the weather just wasn’t warm enough that weekend to wear them, so beyond trying them on, I really haven’t had a chance to take them for a spin. I’m waiting for warmer weather. Will report back. Does this seem like a bad idea to you?

PS. Fabric = Field Study voile by Anna Maria Horner

New knit maxi dress

Hey look I made a new maxi dress! This is technically my first “make” for 2016.
knit maxi dress

This dress is great but the thing that really makes you go WOW is the fabric, which I found at a Field’s (a local fabric chain) in West Michigan. It’s a cotton baby rib that has been dyed, and it wasn’t super great fabric because it was full of little holes which I had to try and (sometimes unsuccessfully) cut around in order to cut out this dress, but I still love it anyway. The pattern is something I made up (I made a similar one before, but that pattern needed so much tweaking I started over this time). It could be a candidate for an upcoming Presto pattern, we’ll see. I have so many ideas it’s hard to decide what should really happen and what should not. I’ve worn this with a sweater and leggings and boots, but it was perfect in Palm Springs a couple weekends ago, too.

knit maxi dress 1

knit maxi dress 2

These pics are not up to my usual standards but at least you can get a general idea of how it fits. The first pic is cracking me up. Caption should be: “why oh why is it still February?” Seriously, when will I have natural light so I can take better photos again? I used a filter because the color of the dress comes through a little truer than it did originally in the photos; in real life it is a dark salmon pink, almost a clay color, if that makes sense. The dyed areas are a deep navy blue. It’s really beautiful in person. Looked good with my gold toes in Palm Springs too.

knit maxi dress : sandals