Jess’ Polka Dot Isla

Polka dot knit Isla

Last summer, Jess came to Ann Arbor for what we call a “workaway” — a week of intense work here in Ann Arbor at my studio (Jess and I live in separate states, so our work is always remote), eating out, playing with the kids, and general cousin-bonding hangout time. That was when we were developing the Isla Pattern, and we made several tops that week. This one for Jess came out especially well; we’d been tweaking the armholes and bodice length, and this was one of the first that fit just right.

Polka dot knit Isla

Polka dot knit Isla

We snapped some photos before Jess left, and then we launched the pattern, and then it got really chilly (we could delve into my angst over never being able to release seasonable patterns, but let’s not get into that right now), so I put these pics on hold. Now that warm weather is here, it seems like the perfect time to post this cute little top.

I’ve been rounding up my favorite summer patterns and your makes in a “Summer Wardrobe” newsletter series over the past few weeks, which has been really fun. Today I sent out the Isla edition, which featured a bunch of your Islas from the #islapattern tag on Instagram (you can see a bunch more on my Made by YOU with Made by Rae Pinterest board as well). You can see past issues of my newsletter or sign up if you’d like!

Polka dot knit Isla

Fabric: Cloud9 Fabrics interlock knits “spots” in citron. Cloud9 sent me this fabric so I could see what their interlock fabric was like (super soft!) when I was designing Sidewalk.

Polka dot knit Isla

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Isla Dress in Sidewalk Knit

Isla Peplum in Sidewalk Knit

Aww yeah is it Spring yet? This dress is definitely screaming “SPRING” to me! It’s an Isla Dress made with the “Prize Garden” floral print from Sidewalk, my line of knits for Cloud9. This print has been really popular and it’s definitely one of my favorites. Also: cute with my cropped cardigan, no?

Isla Dress in Sidewalk Knit

Isla makes a great template for this showy print.

Isla Dress in Sidewalk Knit

The Isla sewing pattern is the first women’s pattern I designed for knit fabrics. I’m thinking about doing a sewalong for Isla this spring. But I don’t know…Cleo would also make a really fun spring sewalong too. What do you think?

Isla Peplum in Sidewalk Knit

Marble Dyed Isla Top

Isla Peplum

This marble-dyed fabric is fun, isn’t it? This is another Isla top that I wear all the time, even though it was meant to just be a studio sample. We wanted to test if the Isla pattern could be sewn entirely on a sewing machine instead of a serger, and it turned out great! The stitch I prefer to use when sewing knits on with my machine is a zig zag stitch, and I usually set the length a little longer (3-4 mm) and the width pretty narrow (1-1.5 mm). I don’t have an exact number for these because it helps to try it on a sample and play around with the width and length a bit. Every fabric can be a little different.

Isla Peplum

This particular fabric is a rayon jersey that I bought online at a shop that I found on Instagram (unfortunately I haven’t had great luck with the fabrics from that shop so I can’t recommend it), and since I didn’t realize when I purchased it that I should hang dry rayon jersey, it’s since gotten a bit pilly (read more about rayon jersey care via this post). But it’s not too bad for a sample.

made by rae | tie dye Isla top

You can see from these photos if you look carefully, especially at the second one, that this top has some bunching under the arm. I really didn’t notice the issue in my first few Isla samples — they were rayon jersey and therefore super-stretchy — but when we sent the pattern to testers, everyone’s photos came back with big wrinkles at the armpit and the comments were that it felt too tight. So we widened the armholes as a result. I love how testing really helps eliminate problems from a pattern. Anyway, I think it’s kind of fun to hear about the process, hopefully you do too!

Isla can be made as a dress or as a top and is available in my pattern shop.

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Bamboo Shibori Isla

Shibori Isla Top

Look, a new Isla top for me!

Shibori Isla Top

I bought this bamboo shibori from Fancy Tiger Crafts in the summer when we were churning out Islas in the studio. It’s a 95% bamboo rayon / 5% spandex  jersey that is so flowy and comfortable!! Fancy Tiger still has it in stock (this is navy) as well as a lovely gunmetal color (Shop link here. Full disclosure: FTC has been a sponsor of this blog in the past, also: Jaime and Amber are friends). Hart’s Fabric also has something very similar (maybe even the same?) in a few other colors; I ordered a couple yards of the indigo color from them. The faux-shibori thing is pretty hot right now!

Shibori Isla Top

This fabric was a bit more expensive than your average rayon knit, and the quality definitely shows in person. I’m already impressed with how it feels and how little it has pilled up just during wear. Confirming yet again my theory that paying more for knits is worth it.

Shibori Isla Top

And finally, here’s how I’m wearing my Islas as the weather cools off: under a cardigan. The perfect fall combo.

Shibori Isla

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Two Islas in Sidewalk

Sidewalk knits

I thought you might enjoy seeing these Isla tops that Jess sewed up for the Quilt Market booth last spring! These two prints are called Fancy Steps and Lawn Ornament, and are both part of my new collection for Cloud9 Fabrics, Sidewalk, which will be printed entirely on knit fabric. I’m very excited about this.

Sidewalk knits

We had a whole section of the Cloud 9 booth dedicated to Sidewalk at the spring show, and we thought it would be fun to show off a couple of the prints with some women’s tops, since the whole line reads “kid” in general, but I think can work for the imaginative or young-at-heart adult.

Sidewalk knits

The sample fabric ended up not being the real Cloud 9 knit; we had to rush order the prints from Spoonflower because we hadn’t even gone through a round of strike-offs yet (those are the samples from the mill that they use to check colors), so there really wasn’t any “real fabric” ready for sample sewing. But Michelle and Gina were so excited about the collection that they wanted to preview it at Market anyway. As a result, these sample tops are a bit stiff and not quite the right colors, a combination of the digital printing, not prewashing the fabrics because we didn’t want them to fade, and the fact that this particular interlock had a pretty low degree of stretch. But that’s how that goes. I do think it’s interesting that many of the clothing samples at Quilt Market are simply not wearable at all, period.

Sidewalk knits

Sidewalk is coming to a shop near you in November. For more peeks at this line, including a look at the Quilt Market booth, check out the sidewalk fabric tag on Instagram.

The Isla sewing pattern can be sewn as either a dress or a top, and is available now in my shop!

Mint Stripe Isla Dress

Mint striped Isla Dress

Here’s a fun dress version of my Isla Sewing Pattern that I made while we were testing the pattern! This fabric is a super-stretchy striped cotton lycra jersey — very similar to the fabric used for my Aztec Isla Top — that I purchased on the cheap, and like that top, is now pretty pilly from washing. Le Sigh. Note to self: wash inside out and line dry! Or better yet, buy better quality knits!!!

Mint striped Isla Dress

Since this dress was sewn, I changed the bodice pattern pieces a bit so that they’re contoured at the bottom instead of straight (to accommodate busts), so the curve at the waistband would now cause the stripes to intersect with the skirt at an angle if you tried making it with a stripe. One of those situations where I had a tradeoff when making the pattern. I will post how to cut the pattern if you’re using striped fabric soon, but in a nutshell, you need to straighten out the bottom of the bodice pattern pieces, and then line the bottom edge up carefully along the stripes. Another small difference with this version is that I used a narrower band for the arms and neckline: I cut the arm and neckbands 1.5″ wide instead of the 2″ wide bands that the pattern includes.

Mint striped Isla Dress

Looks pretty cute with my Dansko clogs!

mint striped Isla Dress / made by rae

This dress definitely reads more “spring” than fall, but I am a big aqua fan so I will wear this any time of year. I think with some leggings, boots, and a big chunky cardigan, I can make it work!

You can see more versions of Isla over on my Isla Page, or purchase the Isla sewing pattern in my shop!

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Aztec Isla Top

Isla Sewing Pattern

Isla Sewing Pattern

This Isla is one of my favorites. Shhhh don’t tell my other Islas! It was meant to just be a whip-it-up-quick sample (read: don’t look too closely) to check the original pattern before we started working on grading it almost a year ago, but I’ve ended up wearing it quite a bit because it’s just ridiculously comfortable. The fabric is a lightweight lycra jersey with some with 4-way stretch that I purchased from Girl Charlee last year (full disclosure: Girl Charlee is a past sponsor of this blog), so it’s super stretchy and swingy. Knit fabrics with lycra or synthetic content can be a little harder to sew with than more stable knits like interlocks, but they are definitely very forgiving when it comes to fit. Unfortunately, this print is no longer available, but I think the other cotton lycra fabrics from Girl Charlee would probably behave similarly.

My big mistake with this top is that I threw it in the dryer, so it’s pilled up a bit, which fortunately you can’t really see because of the black background. You can prevent pilling in knits that have synthetic content by washing them inside out on gentle cycle and then line drying them. I honestly did not know about the line-dry thing until very recently when I read this fantastic article on IndieSew (full disclosure: IndieSew carries my sewing patterns) that not only talks about caring for rayon jersey (scroll down to the bottom), but also has a great section about how the quality and type of the knit affects the fit of the garment. This is a must-read if you gravitate toward stretchy knits.

Isla Peplum

I pretty much nailed the neckband. See how smug I look in the photo below?

Isla Sewing Pattern

The Isla Sewing Pattern comes with both a top and a dress option, and is now available in my shop!

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Isla Sewing Pattern is HERE!

Isla Sewing Pattern from made by rae

You guys! My newest pattern, Isla, is here!! Isla is designed for knit fabrics and has a fitted bodice with a gathered skirt attached at the natural waist to make either a dress (like my Observer Dress) or a peplum top (like my Strawberry and Yellow Striped peplum tops). As you can see, I’ve been sewing this design for years, so I’m excited to add this pattern for knits to the pattern collection!

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Skills for Isla
I know that sewing knits can make some of you nervous, so I want to assure you that the construction for Isla is not complicated. Sewing this garment requires basic knit-sewing skills, with some fun and clever techniques thrown in. Here’s a quick overview:

  • Basic knit seams: Shoulders and side seams can be sewn with a regular sewing machine set to stretch stitch or zigzag, or with a serger.
  • Neck and armbands: The scoop neckline and armholes are finished with folded bands that come together amazingly quickly. I’ve never shared this technique on the blog before, and I think you’ll love how easy it is and how great it looks.
  • Gathering knits: Elastic thread is used to gather and attach the skirt to the bodice with a technique called shirring. If you’ve never done this before, you can check out my helpful Shirring Tutorial for some photos and tips, OR you can use alternate techniques for gathering. Allie at Indiesew has shared two super tutorials for gathering knits: the floss method and the elastic method that you should definitely check out if your machine refuses to shirr!
  • Hemming: hemming is the final step, so check out some great tips in my hemming knits post!

And that’s it! I think you’ll find that sewing Isla is achievable even if you are relatively new to knit sewing! But if you’d like a nice easy project to practice your knit skills, why not try my free Knit Baby Leggings first? or check out my Knits Page for more knit sewing info!

Presto!
Isla joins the Luna Pants and Gemma Tank in my “Presto Patterns” collection. The idea behind Presto patterns is that they are simple and easy to make, drafted and tested with the same level of care as the rest of my patterns, but include more abbreviated instructions (read more about Presto patterns in this post). This also means that you get the Isla pattern at the bargain Presto price!!

Isla Dress and Top

Isla is available as a PDF sewing pattern, which includes print-at-home pages as well as copy shop files (in both A0 and US formats), just like the rest of my women’s digital patterns!

More Info
I’ve put together an Isla Page where you can find all of the blog posts and resources pertaining to Isla. In the Isla shop listing, you’ll find additional photos, plus all the charts for sizes, finished measurements, and yardage.

Share with us!
I’d love to see what you make with the Isla Pattern! Please use the hashtags #islapattern#madebyrae, or #raemademedoit on Instagram and Twitter to share your photos, or post pictures of your finished tops and dresses to the Rae Made Me Do It pool in Flickr and see what others have made! I also have a Made by Rae group on Facebook now, so if you’d like to join and be a part of the sewing community there, please request to join!

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Observer Isla Dress

Array

Last week I posted this photo on Instagram to show off the new Ellesquare pincushion that Karen gave me for my birthday, and I got so many comments asking for more details on the dress. Here’s a much better look!

Observer Isla Dress

In my last post, I shared a woven maxi dress made with fabric from the Observer fabric collection by my friend April Rhodes. Observer also has a few prints on jersey knit, and this dress was made with one of these. It’s incredibly comfortable and perfect for every day. The Art Gallery jersey knits have a lovely amount of stretch!

Observer Isla Dress

This dress pattern is called Isla, and it will be my next sewing pattern to launch. I’ve been sewing versions of this pattern for years, yes, literally years, so I’m really excited to be able to finally make it available. As you can see it has a simple bodice with a gathered skirt that attaches at the natural waist. Isla can also be made as a top instead of a dress.

Update: the Isla Dress & Top Pattern is now available! buy now

Observer Isla Dress

If you want to be the first to know when the pattern is ready, sign up for my email updates! I’ll be sharing the first peek at other versions of Isla, along with a preview of Cleo, my other upcoming pattern!

Observer Isla Dress

(It passes the Teacher Test!)

Observer Isla Dress

Observer-Fabric-Tour

For more info and links to the Observer fabrics, you can check out my previous post, which was also part of the Observer fabric tour!  All of the Observer fabric tour stops are listed here, and you can also check out the posts on Instagram!

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