Nani Iro Matcha Top

Nani Iro Matcha Top - made by rae

I made another one! This time I made the Matcha Top (pattern by my dear friend Meg of Sew Liberated) with this beautiful Nani Iro double gauze that I impulse-bought last summer from Jones and Vandermeer (great shop for both double gauze and Liberty, by the way, also a former sponsor, full disclosure) in what might have seemed at the time like a moment of weakness but as you can clearly see now and time has revealed to me was really just a moment of serendipity, as it’s now a frequent flyer in wardrobe miles. I can’t decide if the base color of this cloth is a pale grey or a pale lavender, but I don’t think it matters, it’s a lovely print. Some of the flowers even sparkle.

Nani Iro Matcha Top - made by rae

What makes this Matcha especially special is that I made it at Squam, in Meg’s class, which was really fun. You might ask (as a fellow a Squam-mite, who already knew I was a fairly experienced sewist did, upon learning I had signed up for the sewing class) why i would take a sewing class, as someone who has already taught her fair share of sewing classes herself. And I would tell you that I have made the delightful discovery of finding that I still love to learn, so I try to seize every opportunity to take other peoples’ classes, because I always learn something new. I’d even go so far as to say that I’m better now at learning — as a teacher — than I ever was as a student.

Nani Iro Matcha Top - made by rae

Nani Iro Matcha Top - made by rae

And guess what?? I learned something new! Never fails. It was great. In addition to enjoying Meg’s instruction, having an entire day to sew for myself, and having the lovely experience of sitting next to Charlotte who had the best English accent and made the best table mate ever, I learned how to sew a Hong Kong seam finish:

Nani Iro Matcha Top - made by rae

In retrospect I can’t believe I’d never done this before; I’m positive I’d seen tutorials online for the Hong Kong finish, but I’d probably skimmed them and thought, “now THERE is something I do NOT have time for!” I suppose I thought it was too fussy or fancy or something but now I can’t believe how easy it was. It turned out to be different than I had imagined so now I’ll be adding it to All the Things. Perhaps there’s just something about having someone show it to you in person, you know? Meg is of course an excellent and patient teacher, so of course there was nothing intimidating at all about it.

Nani Iro Matcha Top - made by rae

Pretty rad, right?

Nani Iro Matcha Top - made by rae

I find — and tell me if it’s the same for you — that if I have high expectations for exactly what I want to accomplish or learn in a class, I often end up kinda stressed out or even disappointed by myself.  
It always seems to be when I approach a situation with a more open attitude (like “maybe I’ll learn something cool today!”) that I come away with the most. An open mind is really key. A curious spirit is also helpful. And of course it doesn’t hurt when you’ve got a fantastic teacher, either.

Nani Iro Matcha Top - made by rae

The Matcha Top Pattern can be found in the Sew Liberated pattern shop. You can also Instastalk other great versions online by going to #matchatoppattern.

Matcha Top

Matcha Top

Earlier this spring my friend Meg of Sew Liberated released the Matcha Top pattern and I had that thing in my shopping cart and downloaded before you could say Matcha. I loved the versions that Meg had posted on Instagram, and the combination of the collar, center front slit, and roomy design just seemed like the perfect pattern for spring. I used a rayon I found at Indiesew, so it’s incredibly comfortable, and between that and the great design, it’s become one of my favorite tops to wear!  Even in hot weather it looks great with shorts, though this is how I wore it most of the spring:

Matcha Top

I found the pattern to be quite easy to sew with the possible exception of the collar which is understandably less “beginner” than the rest of the top, but I’ve sewn a fair amount of collars before and didn’t find it to be difficult.

Matcha Top

In the photo below you can see how much ease the pattern has, which is why I think fabric choice is really critical for this pattern. If you tried making it in a poplin or quilting cotton, I don’t think it would work. Meg made some great fabric recommendations, including double gauze (one of my favorites) and also some great loose-weave ikats, and I’d love to try both of those for a subsequent version.

Matcha Top

After sewing the collar on the first time and finding it too tight (I later realized I had traced it incorrectly — Hugo was probably pulling on my leg or something), I ended up using a collar from a larger size to help widen the back; normally the collar would be closer to the neck than what you see in these pics, but I like it this way too. Next time I will use the correct size and just add a bit of width between the two back notches for my broader-than-normal shoulders. Meg also recommends using a smaller collar to widen the gap between the two sides of the collar, which could be really cute too.

Matcha Top

I’m actually also taking Meg’s Matcha class at Squam this fall, so I’m really excited that I’ll have a chance to make another version and learn some tips from Meg. Squam is something I’m just really excited about, period. I’ve wanted to go for years, and this fall is their last one and I managed to squeeze myself in after getting on the waistlist. It looks like it’s going to be amazing!!! And that reminds me, I need to go buy my plane tickets yet…

Starry Sky Skirt – Making Magazine no. 3

Starry Sky Skirt

I am so honored to have been asked to contribute to Making magazine’s third issue, Dots, which is out this spring. For those of you not familiar with Making, it’s a themed print magazine that includes sewing, knitting, handwork, and all sorts of other craft-related articles, patterns, and tutorials all compiled in the most beautiful layout. The magazine is the work of Carrie Bostick Hoge of Madder, who serves as both its editor, designer, and chief photographer. This issue’s theme is “Dots;” issues one and two are Flora and Fauna. All are visually stunning.  I love how Making brings together so many areas of of craft together; there are tons of patterns and tutorials alongside articles that include recipes and interviews and stories about makers in such an artistic format.

Making magazine no. 3 dots

Starry Sky Skirt for Making Mag

photo above by Carrie Bostick Hoge / @maddermade

I first became familiar with Carrie’s work through Quince and Co, one of my favorite yarn companies. Carrie designed a number of knitting patterns for Quince that are available in the Quince shop that I’ve admired and purchased over the years. I was so honored to be asked to contribute alongside of so many other talented artists and makers. My friend Anna Graham blogged here about the wallet pattern that she contributed for the issue.

Starry Sky Skirt for Making Mag

photo by Carrie Bostick Hoge / @maddermade

Starry Sky skirt
The project I contributed to the magazine is a tutorial for a simple gathered skirt called the Starry Sky Skirt. A simple gathered skirt is — as my friend Erin said recently when she posted one on Instagram — the “gateway drug to the sewing world,” and it’s certainly a lovely thing to throw together two rectangles of fabric and add a waistband. But although I’m certain many people have written tutorials for the basic gathered skirt before, something I felt was still missing was specific length and width dimensions for gathered skirts for a broader range of humans; not only children’s sizes but also all the way up to adult sizes (including plus). The pattern includes dimensions all the way from a children’s size 1 (12 months) all the way through the nine women’s sizes my patterns currently span, which is to say, from a waist size of 19″ to 45.” The skirt is designed to hit roughly at the knee, and has length built into the hem for extra adjustability and height differences. I love having these dimensions at arm’s length; it takes the guesswork out of making a quick skirt for me, which means it’s an even easier project to whip out in an hour or so, and of course I’ve provided step by step instructions to help even the beginner tackle this project. If you have the magazine I hope you’ll find this useful for making piles of simple skirts for yourself and little ones!

Starry Sky Skirt

The fabric
When Carrie first told me the theme was Dots and shared her inspiration board with me, I was inspired to create a skirt out of dark fabric with lighter dots scattered over it like a starry sky. Initially I thought I might try to figure out a way to stamp a solid blue fabric to get the desired effect, but when Carrie mentioned she had two double gauze fabrics that might work already in her stash, I was really excited. The fabric she sent for me to make the women’s skirt is a now out-of-print Nani Iro double gauze, and it’s absolutely gorgeous, don’t you think? I’ve already received a number of emails asking where to find this fabric, and regrettably I don’t think this particular print is available any longer, but I do recommend checking out Jones and Vandermeer, Miss Matatabi, and Red Beauty Textiles if you want something similar. All of those shops are places that carry a nice selection of Nani Iro and I’ve purchased from all three of them in the past.

Starry Sky Skirt for Making Mag

photo by Carrie Bostick Hoge / @maddermade

I also love the reversible dotted double gauze (above) that Carrie sent; I was able to make two children’s skirts for the shoot, one with the blue on the outside and one with the white (below) on the outside. They made an adorable pair (see top photo).

Starry Sky Skirt for Making Mag

photo by Carrie Bostick Hoge / @maddermade

Making Magazine issue 3 is now available online from the Making shop, as well as many other local yarn and fabric shops. Here in Ann Arbor you can pick up a copy at Spun in Kerrytown.

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!

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