Gold Dot Knit Dress

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I should have considered the fact that this shade of nudey-beige is NOT the most flattering shade on me before buying yards and yards of this dotted knit last spring, but I was drawn like a magpie to those gold dots and I just couldn’t resist. In fact I broke a number of my own “rules for buying knits,” as it ended up being more sheer than expected (I didn’t request a swatch), and it was pretty cheap, which seemed great until I realized I was starting to get a pilly knit dress. Why oh why did I think it would be different this time? Two words: GOLD DOTS.

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I also should have remembered that I’m at least a whole size larger than I was last summer when I decided to add a longer skirt to the same pattern I used for the Strawberry Peplum Top. As a result, I now have a really cute dress that is waaaay too tight on the top half. But it has GOLD DOTS!! Even with a tank top underneath it shows EVERY line of my bra, which you can see in the last picture of this post, and is pretty embarrassing. I keep wearing it though. Despite the pilling and sheerness and the fact that this project was probably Not A Win. I think we all know why.

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On the plus side, the pink scarf (JCrew, two seasons ago) does two things for this dress: it covers up some of the sheerness and tightness, and it adds some delicious color to the ensemble.

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I love the aqua flower necklace (found locally at a gift shop in Kerrytown) with it too, but I need to figure out a solution to the “skin-tight” problem if I’m going to wear this without the scarf in public, as you can see above. One possible solution is to just wear the baby in a carrier over it, like I did to a wedding a couple weeks ago. After all, babies make great accessories.

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Beach Goddess Maxi + tutorial

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So I made myself a new maxi dress for the beach! It makes me feel super glamorous. It’s made out of flowy cotton rayon which also makes it incredibly comfortable. The other great thing about this dress is that I made it with just one 1.5-yard piece of 54″ wide fabric. AND it was super quick to make, which is just the right speed for me these days; it’s gotta be fast otherwise it just won’t happen.

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The basic idea is that you cut the fabric into two rectangles, sew the sides together, leaving the bottom 18″ unsewn for slits, sew with elastic thread in a big spiral around the top portion (shirring tutorial here), and then finish the hem and slits. The only thing that’s a bit time consuming is the shirring; you go through about four bobbins worth of elastic thread, so that requires some serious concentration because sewing around and around a tube of fabric a bajillion times is not the most mentally stimulating activity. I should have put on some TV. I just finished binge-watched all five seasons of Breaking Bad on Netflix, which is so good and awful at the same time. It was like watching a wreck happen, I just couldn’t look away. If you do not like violence do not ever watch that show. It’s downright horrifying. And addicting. But awesome. Anyhoo.

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I’ve mentioned before that this cotton rayon challis is one of my favorite fabrics of all time. Pink Castle has a few of the Free Spirit rayons in stock, including this one, and I found a few at Pink Chalk too (both of these shops sponsor my blog). In addition to being really comfortable to wear, the cotton rayons also cinch up like a dream when you do the elastic shirring.

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I sketched out some basic instructions just in case you wanted to make one yourself; I’m pretty sure that this would fit just about anyone, but if you’re pretty small (XS or S) you might want to narrow the pieces by a few inches so that it doesn’t just slide right off of you. I’m wearing a women’s size large these days and it fits perfectly.

And my handy-dandy tutorial for elastic shirring can be found here:

shirring with elastic thread

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Lotus Drop Tank Dress

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Hey look it’s a new tank dress for ME! sewn with Lotus Pond (the orange print is called “Lotus Drop”) and a stretchy grey heather knit jersey. I made up the tank pattern and then just gathered the skirt (two rectangles with pockets cut into the sides) to the bottom of the tank. Want a handy tip for this? Use elastic thread in the bobbin when attaching the skirt to the top — this helps prevent the knit from getting all stretched out. You could even do this with a store-bought tank and a couple yards of fabric.

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Sometimes I have to pinch myself that I get to sew with my own fabric designs. Wheee! Can’t wait to see what everyone else is making with their Lotus Pond!! (add to Instagram with tag #lotuspondfabric or to the Lotus Pond Flickr Pool!!!)

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Who wore it best?

Hee. Today it is TOTALLY CRACKING ME UP to juxtapose these two photos like they do on the “Who Wore It Best? ” page in those trashy mags that are always piling up at salons:

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Pink and orange stripes? CHECK! Vaguely behemoth in nature? CHECK!

I am so on trend, it’s unbelievable.

[my striped rayon top via this post]

[Emilia Wickstead's dress via Style, also this pin]

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Am giant festive candy cane

I have been sick in bed all weekend with flu, but I’m feeling a bit better today so I’m propping the ol’ bones up in bed to post some pics of my newest version of Josephine. Having the flu right before Christmas totally stinks, but it looks like I may be better by Christmas so I’m gulping tons of tea and trying to rest. Elliot had the flu last week and so I’m crossing all fingers and toes that Clementine won’t get it over Christmas. Both Mr Rae and I got flu shots this year, but we hadn’t taken the kids in to get theirs yet (parents-of-the-YEAR!!!), though as you can see a whole lot of good it did me, so I guess now we have to see if her stubborn little immune system holds out for us.

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In my head I’ve been calling this top the Candy Cane Top, because the brightly striped rayon reminds me of one of those fruity candy canes — which, truth be told, I’ve always preferred to the peppermint kind — and with the pregnant belly I definitely look like a giant piece of striped candy. As you can see I am getting to be quite large now at 24 weeks preggers. Of course I edited out most of the pictures that show my double chin.

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The pattern for this top is the soon-to-be-released Josephine Sewing Pattern, in a tunic length without the longer sleeves. I was originally going to make it sleeveless but then Tashina (my adorable college-aged studio assistant who lately has me listening to a whole lot of Katy Perry; you can see a pic of her here) was pressing the armholes and suggested it might look good with a small sleeve of some sort, so I added the pointed cap sleeve from the Washi Dress Expansion Pack. Yes, I am spoiled rotten to have a studio assistant who sews for me. Between Tashina and Karen I hardly have to lift a finger anymore. But isn’t that what being pregnant is supposed to be about? ALL PART OF MY MASTER PLAN.

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One other mod to the pattern is that I included some wicked big slits on the sides (the sleeveless view of Josephine includes both side and front slits, but this one is even bigger), which I think was a good move considering the stripes, length and lack of longer sleeve; it breaks it up a bit. As far as wearing it in the winter, I’ve always found sleeveless or cap-sleeved tops to be easier to layer with sweaters, and because my body temp currently runs about 65 degrees hotter than everyone else around me anyway it’s perfect. I daydream about wearing this in summer with cut-offs and sandals too. *Sighs*

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Anyway, the pattern should be ready soon. And by soon I’m sure you already know that means we’re giving it the old anal-retentive treatment over here as usual so as soon as we can release our collective claws out of the thing. Which is never really “soon,” but you know what I mean…

Have a happy and HEALTHY Christmas! Non-germy hugs and kisses!!! – Rae

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Ruby with a washi sleeve

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One of the most common questions I got when the Ruby Dress pattern came out this summer was “can you add a sleeve to it?” It was hard for me to say “not yet!” but I knew that we had two new gathered sleeves coming out in both the Washi Expansion Pack and the Josephine pattern (we’re working on it!) that would work nicely with Ruby. I finally had a chance to test the Washi XP sleeve out on this Ruby top (fabric is Anna Maria Horner’s Field Study rayon challis) and it worked great!

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I love a gathered sleeve because the generous fit means it’s comfortable, and it’s easy to sew because it will fit just about any armhole. Because I love to mix and match when I sew for myself, rather than making the same thing over and over (hence Washi XP), it made sense to design a sleeve that will be interchangeable with all of my patterns. At some point I would like to make an ungathered, fitted sleeve too, but I really prefer the gathered sleeve right now. Anyway, this is one step closer to my dream of creating a portfolio of women’s patterns that all work well together so you can make endless variations.

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So you can see that I took these photos a while back, when I was about 12 weeks pregnant…not much of a belly to show for myself there yet! (Now? There’s no hiding it)

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To add a Washi XP sleeve to Ruby (and this will work with the Josephine sleeve as well), you simply sew the entire dress or top together up to the side seam step, then gather the top of the sleeve between the marks and sew it to the armhole. Once the sleeve is attached, you can finish the side seams and hem the dress and sleeve, and you’re done. Pretty simple! It’s a bit more difficult to add a sleeve AND a lining for the Ruby yoke, but it can be done. If you really want to try this, you might want to email me first so I can send you a little step-by-step.

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By the way, probably the second most common question I get about the Ruby is “can it be made with knits?” We added knits to the list of recommended fabrics for the main part of the Ruby, but not the yoke, with the idea that the yoke really shouldn’t be made from knits unless it’s a super-stable (non-stretchy) knit. It makes sense right? If your yoke stretches out, the whole top is going to look kinda saggy. So the answer is, yes, Ruby can be made with knit fabrics, but shoot for less stretchy knits like interlock or jerseys with less stretch to avoid getting a saggy yoke and armhole.

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Washi Dress Expansion Pack is Here!

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Please read my download/printing instructions if you have never purchased an instant download pattern from me before. Thanks!

Washi Dress Expansion Pack PDF – $14

When the original Washi Dress Sewing Pattern was released over a year ago in August 2012, I was blown away by the response to the pattern. BLOWN. AWAY. Washi was the first women’s pattern I ever released, with the idea that I wanted to produce a flattering dress pattern for women that would work with cottons and not just apparel fabrics. I had no idea so many people would like it. I still sometimes have to pinch myself over how many of you have purchased the pattern, how many Washis have been made and are being worn out there, and how great it looks on so many different figures! I really have to give you, dear readers, credit for pushing me to put it out there in the first place. Your feedback and encouragement fueled my decision to go for it, and this is really going to sound cheesy, but I don’t think I would have done it without you.

When I started making variations on Washi last year that included sleeves and collars and bows and linings (see below for a roundup of all of them), you asked for those too. The patterns I work on have always been driven by reader demand — I mean, why spend time working on anything other than the ones you guys are crazy about? — so I’m happy to finally be able to say that the long-awaited Washi Expansion Pack is NOW AVAILABLE as a separate add-on so you can create so many more great options with your original pattern!!! Woot woot! *does Kermit Arms*

The Washi Expansion Pack is a PDF SUPPLEMENT to the original Washi Dress pattern (which is currently available in six women’s sizes, in both PDF and print) and will allow you to make a number of new Washi variations using a combination of original pattern pieces and new expansion pack pattern pieces.

PLEASE READ THIS: This pack is not a stand-alone pattern, in other words, you will need both the expansion pack AND the original pattern to be able to create the looks included. You can also purchase them together below.

We’ve divided all of the new variation possibilities up into three views, all of which can be made as either a dress or tunic. Of course they can be combined as well; for instance, if you wanted the sleeve from View B and a big bow from View A. Here are the basic views included in the Expansion Pack:

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View A: A sleeveless variation with a big bow; this view features an easy back elastic casing for those who would prefer to skip the shirring in the original pattern.

In addition to the base yardage for the original Washi Dress (see size and yardage charts on the Washi Page), you will need:
• 1/2 yard additional yardage for the large bow pieces and armhole bias strips
• 1/2 yard of 1″- or 1.25″-wide elastic for back

For this view, I recommend that you select a fabric with a bit of structure, such as quilting cotton, a linen blend, or cotton voile/lawn. High-drape fabrics such as silk or rayon may produce a more shapeless result around the neckline, since the bow folds over itself around the neck to form a collar.

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View B: A sweet version with sleeves and little bow!

In addition to the base yardage for the original Washi Dress (see size and yardage charts on the Washi Page), you will need:
• 3/4 yard additional yardage for sleeves, bow facings and bow
• 1/4 yard (or small piece) lightweight fusible interfacing
• 2/3 yard 1/4″-wide elastic for sleeves (if you want a casing)
• elastic thread for shirring the sleeves (if you want your sleeves shirred at the cuff) and back

For this view, lightweight or high-drape fabrics such as silk, voile, lawn, 100% linen, or rayon work well, because of the gathered sleeve and skirt on this version. Fabrics with more structure won’t gather as nicely and will “stand up” more at the sleeve cap. If you do choose to make this version with a structured fabric, you may want to reduce the width of the sleeve by 1⁄2″ to 1″ at the fold to prevent the sleeve cap from looking too full at the top.

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View C: A Peter Pan collar version with optional pointed sleeves and two great collars to choose from. This view also includes pattern pieces and detailed instructions for a bodice lining (you can see videos on this technique here as well)!

In addition to the base yardage for the original Washi Dress (see size and yardage charts on the Washi Page), you will need:
• 1/2 yard additional yardage for collar and optional pointed cap sleeves
• 1 yard fabric for bodice linings (or less; size M and smaller may be able to fit the pieces side-by-side on 1/2 yard)
• 1/2 yard lightweight fusible interfacing
• 1/2 yard 1″ or 1.25″-wide elastic for back

For this view, I recommend that you select a medium weight fabric with a bit of structure for the collar, such as quilting cotton, a linen blend, or poplin. Lightweight or high-drape fabrics such as silk, voile, lawn, 100% linen, or rayon may make it harder to get a nicely shaped collar. The collar is designed to roll a bit at the neckline, rather than sit completely flat against the dress, so structure helps.

The 49-page Expansion Pack eBook Includes:

  • full-sized pattern pieces for linings, bows, collars, and two different sleeves, as well as an adapted bodice piece (with different armholes for sleeveless or sleeves, and a new front center seam that could potentially be adapted for nursing!)
  • 26 pages of rock solid full-color instructions along with plenty of tips and hints
  • a special two-page “Seam Finishes Appendix” with instructions for my favorite seam finishes

One of the best things this pattern pack has to offer is clear, step-by-step instructions on how to add all of these new features to your Washi Dress. While the original pattern was intended for confident beginners, it’s safe to say that the techniques in the expansion pack are intermediate to advanced, but I think you’ll find enough here to help hold your hand through the entire process. And of course, you know how to reach me if you ever need to email with a question!

OK, are you ready for Washi XP?!?!

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Washi Dress Expansion Pack PDF (does not include original pattern) – $14

And now for more Washi XP inspiration!

I’ve featured all of the variations available in this expansion pack in the past on my blog along with a few others that are similar. Here are the versions I’ve made, along with a few notes, so you can make each one for yourself:

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Top Row:
Pale Pink Linen Top – this features the curved peterpan collar of View C, with the addition of an extra pleat in the bodice (pleat not included in the expansion pack).
Time for Tea Dress – View C from the expansion pack, with curved collar and no sleeve.
Liberty Tie Top – a tunic featuring the big bow and bias bound armholes from View A. The bow piece has been shortened just to tie in a knot.

Middle Row:
Tsuru Washi with a Bow – View A from the expansion pack
Hello Pilgrim! – this dress pre-dated the Washi Dress, but a similar look may be achieved by using a shortened big bow from View A and the cap sleeve from the original Washi Dress pattern, or the pointed cap sleeves of View C in the expansion pack.
Ruby Star Washi Dress – this was the first Washi Dress I made with sleeves; this link provides a tutorial with a free pattern piece for a full sleeve; please note that the sleeve in View B of the Expansion Pack is narrower and has a more tailored fit than the sleeve I used for my Ruby Star Washi.

Bottom Row:
Another Washi Dress with a Big Bow – features the big bow of View A and the sleeves from View B in a dress version.
Pink Washi Top with a Little Bow – View B from the expansion pack
Bird Dress with Pointed Collar and Sleeve – View C from the expansion pack, with pointed collar and sleeve.

Be sure to check out all of the lovely Washi Dresses in the Flickr pool, and add your own photos too!

abria cardi / washi tunicThe lining of my chambray Washi dressDotty Chambray Washi Front View 1The Floradora Washi DressLemon Tree Washi DressMade by Rae Washi Dress

I hope you will enjoy this new expansion pack and have a ton of fun with it! I hope to do a tutorial specific to the collar (View C) very soon, but let me know if you have other Washi-XP-related requests. Enjoy!!!

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My (handmade) maternity style

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Happy Monday everyone! Today I thought I’d show you how the ol’ handmade wardrobe is translating into maternity clothing. I’m now about 5 months along, so the baby bump is definitely starting to cramp my style, wardrobe-wise. Some of my tops and pants are starting to go into storage because they’re too short or too tight. But I’ve found a few things that are working!!

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I was a bit surprised to find that the two shorter skirts I made with elastic waists this year (this one and this one) still fit pretty nicely, mostly because they have elastic in the back half of the waistband so I can push them down to my hips. Normally I wear them at the waist, but I think they look cute this way too! The green maxi skirt, not so much. Oh well.

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Ruby is working so far; I like to belt it up high and wear it with leggings and a sweater.

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My aqua double-gauze Washi is comfortable and cute yet too!

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The striped maxi dress I made this summer is great with a sweater and boots too. Hope I don’t stretch it out too much. Yikes!

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And I think Josephine is actually really cute. I love this one so much! The rayon fabric is so comfortable. The belt clearly has to go way up above my waist, but that’s OK.

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I haven’t added the usual bit of length to the front of anything yet; I think that I may eventually have to add the extra 1″-1.5″ length in front if I make any dedicated maternity clothing (I haven’t really yet). But if I do, I’ll be sure to let you know how it works out. I also want to try some of the maternity patterns that are out there — I know Megan Nielson has a bunch and Sew Liberated has a nice looking pair of skinny jeans that you can add a maternity panel to. Do you guys have any maternity pattern favorites to recommend?

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Red Chambray Late Lunch Tunic

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About a month ago, Liesl of Oliver+S launched her new line of women’s patterns for fall under the Liesl + Co. brand. She sent over advance copies of the new patterns so I could give them a try, and this one, the Late Lunch Tunic, caught my eye because I knew it would be perfect for hiding my ever-growing baby bump!

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I’m super excited for Liesl as she expands her already high-quality pattern offerings to include not only children’s but also women’s. Liesl is known for writing exceptional patterns, and these live up to the standard we’ve come to expect from her; they include carefully written, clear instructions as well as helpful additional information (such as how to perform a bust adjustment on the pattern pieces) along with her expertly drawn pattern pieces. Any of the others would be excellent additions to the home sewist’s pattern collection as well.

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I chose a red chambray for the tunic after seeing the cover shot for the pattern in a grey chambray; I’d also love to try this in a lighter-weight fabric, but this one drapes quite nicely. And although the tunic definitely has the potential to accommodate a larger pregnancy belly, I like that it really doesn’t read “pregnant,” in fact up until about this week you really couldn’t tell I was preggers while wearing it (these pics are a couple weeks old). A definite plus for anyone wishing to hide extra waist-smooshiness for sure. Here’s my best attempt to show baby bumpage:

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I think it looks great on me, but I think I could probably drop the yoke just a bit yet because I think it”s hitting me a little higher than it’s supposed to (just judging from the cover shot, at least? Maybe I just need to go up a size?). It also looks great on the fuller-busted as well (check out this full-bust-adjusted version by Robin Bobbin, I think it may be my favorite version of the tunic that I’ve seen so far).

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You can purchase the Late Lunch Tunic, along with Liesl’s other new women’s patterns, in digital form over on the Liesl + Co. page on her website!

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