Lotus Pond Maxi Dress

Lotus Pond Maxi Dress

In the spirit of posting handmade summer clothing before the snow falls, here’s another one I finished this past summer: a rainbow maxi dress for Clementine. This was one of those ideas I had in my head from the moment I designed the fabric; I intentionally included rainbow shades in this line for just such a purpose. For those who don’t know, this is my recent line for Cloud 9 Fabrics, Lotus Pond, which shipped last spring and can still be found here and there in shops. The pattern is a mashup of the Flashback Tee (I cut it off a couple inches below the arms and skipped the sleeves) and the Rainbow Dress Tutorial, with an extra tier of fabric added in to make it longer. I think I may have also added an inch to each tier, height-wise, but I cut it out right after Lotus Pond first shipped in spring of 2014, so I can’t actually remember.

Lotus Pond Maxi Dress

It fits her with enough room for a little twirl!

Lotus Pond Maxi Dress

Lotus Pond Maxi Dress

Silly girl.

Lotus Pond Maxi Dress

Evidence she’s always been silly:

(from this post, just in case you were wondering)

You are one

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I can’t believe that you are ONE. Your birthday was on Sunday so I made you this little dress shirt for the party out of my snail fabric, and I can’t believe how grown up you look!!

You are the sweetest, snuggliest little baby with a silly sense of humor and great conversational skills. I hear you upstairs when you wake up from your nap, heatedly debating foreign policy (or is it your preference for bananas over apples perhaps?) with Curious George in your crib. We can’t understand any of the words, but the way you use inflection and tone is quite dramatic. When Daddy reminded Clementine on Sunday morning that it was your birthday, she said, “Can he talk now?” As if it could happen, just like that, overnight. You’re making progress though, with your noises and your baby signs.

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We discovered a first tooth early last week. Check that one off the milestone list. But crawling…welll. That Butt Scoot is probably going to have to do it, because the two times you tried to get into a crawl position, you landed flat on your face on the hardwood floor and you haven’t tried it since.

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I love you my little Hugo! Happy Birthday!!!

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please don’t post or reuse photos of Hugo. Thanks!

Fabric: Snail Trail from Lotus Pond (still available — and on sale — here at HoneyBeGood, one of my sponsors. Be quick though, not much left!!)

Pattern: I drew this pattern myself, though after I put it all together I realized it’s almost exactly the same pattern as the Sketchbook Shirt by Oliver+S, so buy that one if you want something similar!

Meadow Blossom from sketch to fabric

Here’s another sketch that turned into a Lotus Pond print. Can you recognize the print in this sketch?

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The idea for this design came from a simple comment that Michelle Engel Bencsko made when we were planning out the collection (Michelle is co-owner and art director at Cloud9 Fabrics; I am a licensed Cloud 9 Collective designer); she mentioned that it would be nice to have a large-scale floral to round out the collection. So I sketched out the design above, and she loved it. Then I took the design into Illustrator and turned it into a digital design, added some colors, and sent this back:

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I also sent this yellow version to Michelle. I love to play around with the colors and see what happens!

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Then Michelle took the basic design and made it into the cascading floral repeat that became the final design, which is good because this kind of repeat is a bit of a challenge, and I’m still a bit of an Illustrator newbie. I just love how the flowers cascade across the width of the fabric, which you can see below in this photo from Cloud9’s Instagram feed:

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(photo courtesy of Cloud9 Fabrics)

We landed on a bold blue and white background for this one, and it’s one of my very favorite prints in the whole collection!

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If you liked this post, you might enjoy my other sketch-to-fabric post, Lotus Drop Sketch to Fabric!

Lotus Drop from sketch to fabric

I love creating designs for fabric; it’s totally a dream come true to have my designs manufactured into fabric that I can actually sew with. The process of putting together a complete collection of fabrics from a handful of sketches is something I’m really fascinated by. I have always loved to see artists present their process from sketch to final fabric design (Tula Pink is one fabric designer who posts about her process quite often; check out this post and this post, SO AMAZING!). Although my initial sketches aren’t nearly as intricate or artistic as Tula’s (honestly, most my original artwork falls solidly into Doodle Camp), I thought it would be fun to show you some of my first sketches from my line, Lotus Pond, so you can see how a concept evolves as it goes from sketch to final design. Maybe you find this as fascinating as I do!!!

So here’s where it usually starts for me: a sketch. Do you recognize the Lotus Drop print that this one is eventually going to become?

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I usually send a small set of sketches to Michelle Engel Bencsko (co-owner and art director at Cloud9 Fabrics; I am a licensed Cloud 9 Collective designer). Usually these sketches relate to each other in some way, sometimes they do not. Michelle sifts through them and gives me feedback on the direction the collection could go. “Let’s go with this pond theme!” she might say. Sometimes it’s two directions but we haven’t decided which one is better yet. Sometimes a sketch is based on a conversation I’ve had with Michelle about a print idea that is still needed (“do you have a turtle?”). Once we have a theme for the line picked out, I take the sketch and put it into Illustrator. At this point I usually try to pick some colors too so I can visualize what the print will become. Here is what that sketch turned into:

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Here’s another color variation I delivered (can you see the resemblance to the final print yet??). You can see that at this point, the concept was a band of lotus blossoms that might work for a border print (something printed along the selvage of a fabric), but not an all-over design.

Lotus Repeat emerald

Once a handful of sketches have been digitized, Michelle and I work on tweaking the colors and pattern. The tweaking stage is a back and forth process, which I really love! Some fabric designers just deliver an entire line, complete with repeats, to the art director, but I personally appreciate having the feedback and being able to bounce ideas back and forth. Michelle is a fabric designer herself, so she has tons of fantastic ideas about where a print could go, but she is always great about saying “how about this?” and hearing when I do or don’t like an idea. If she has a strong sense that it will not be successful, I put the brakes on a concept; I trust her expertise and keen design sense. The idea of stacking the blossoms on top of each other instead of in a grid actually came from Michelle, and as soon as I saw it, we both knew it was the right direction!

image via Cloud9 Fabrics

Then it was just a matter of deciding which color(s) to go with for this print. We ended up choosing blue and orange for this design, and called it “Lotus Drop.”

image via Cloud9 Fabrics

This is just a small glimpse into the process — obviously it’s much more complicated in reality than what I’ve described. Coordinating the colors and prints in the entire collection once the prints are digitized is a HUGE job that takes a great deal of time and coordination between Michelle and me. It’s impossible to tease apart the work on one print from the work on the entire collection, because as a collection evolves in the design process, the individual prints are evolving as well. And then of course the colors need to be translated from computer screen to the fabric, which is another story altogether.

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Do you enjoy getting a peek into the process? I think it’s fun to see where a single design starts and ends! If you liked this post, I might show you a few more!

Reversible First Day Top

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Waaaaay back last spring, when I was still in a post-baby fog, I asked my friend Dana of MADE if I could help test her First Day Dress and Top pattern with some Lotus Pond, hoping to include it in the Lotus Pond Extravaganza. It’s taken me this long to finally post about it, which is somewhat embarrassing, but on the other hand is a great example of why blogging when you have a baby is tough.

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I love Dana’s design because it has a great fit and can be made super simple (or with sleeves and a peplum skirt, which is also super cute) — in this case I wanted to make a simple A-line top with no sleeves that could be reversible. The top came together like a breeze and fits like a glove (Dana actually addresses the fit in the pattern — in order to get this fantastic fit, you do have to put your arms over your head to get it on because it’s not designed with a ton of ease, but Clementine doesn’t seem to mind at all).

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I made one side with the blue diamond print, and the other side with the yellow snails from my line of quilting cottons, Lotus Pond.

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It wasn’t the actual construction of the top that held up the entire make-photograph-post process. It was Clementine (is anyone surprised??). First, she refused to wear it as anything other than pajamas, which made it difficult to photograph. Then, when she finally agreed to put it on for photos, she would only wear it with the diamond-side out. So I got photos of one side in July, but not the other. Finally, last month — IN SEPTEMBER — after I bribed her with a marshmallow, she put it on snail-side-out. And here we are, nearly five months after it was completed, with a blog post about it. OY.

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One thing I do want to mention that you can see in the photo below is that if you leave clothing made with quilting cotton in a heap of clean laundry, they will get wrinkly. However, I’ve found that if you yank them out of the dryer right after they are washed and hang them up, they look nice and smooth. Little tip there for ya if you make garments with quilting cotton (thanks, Karen, for teaching me that one!!). This wouldn’t be a post about Clementine without a few zany photos, so here ya go:

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Fabric: Lotus Pond is still available in shops if you look around — as of this writing, a few of my sponsors have it in stock (Fat Quarter Shop and HoneyBeGood both have nice selections yet, and Fabricworm has a couple prints left, including the blue diamonds).

Pattern: The First Day Dress and Top Sewing Pattern is available from Dana as a PDF, and comes in sizes 2-10.

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Please do not pin or reuse photos of Clementine that show her face — I’ve included some cropped photos without her face in this post and you are welcome to pin or reuse those. Thanks!

Lotus Pond Lickety Split Prezzie

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I should really be paying my mom and mom-in-law, because they are two of my biggest promoters. They both carry around bags I’ve made for them, show off the fabric I’ve designed, buy the magazines that feature my work, pass out Made By Rae postcards and tell their friends about my blog. So it was really more of a marketing ploy more than anything else that I gave my mom-in-law this Lickety Split Bag for her birthday a couple weeks ago. Actually, come to think of it, it was my mom’s idea when I mentioned it was coming up! Gotta love that. Anyway, my mom-in-law was excited to get it; the last bag I made her was starting to wear out so it was perfect timing. Fabric is from my line for Cloud9, Lotus Pond.

Lotus Pond + Green Bee shorts and top

Anya Top and Shorts by Green Bee

Anya Top and Shorts by Green Bee

Oh heyyyy there. Look who got aNOTHER new outfit! Clementine is sporting the Anya Top & Shorts from Green Bee Patterns (the same ladies who designed C’s Sally Romper HERE). This top is a great project to mix and match some Lotus Pond! Here we have sleeves in the orange Lotus Drop print and the bodice is the pinky peach Fluttering Fields. I just love these prints together.

Anya Top and Shorts by Green Bee

We made the shorts out of Interweave Chambray, a lovely line of cotton chambrays from Robert Kaufman (I also LOVE the Union Chambrays which are flowier and perfect for dresses and tops). Clementine wasn’t sure the shorts and top matched until I convinced her that the shorts are the same color as the antennae on the butterflies. *phew* close call there. In retrospect, we could’ve made the bows out of one of the top fabrics, eh? But anyway, can you even handle these shorts? The bows! The gathers! Too darn cute.

Anya Top and Shorts by Green Bee

Pattern notes from Jess:

This was another really fun sewing experience for me, with a little more challenge than the Sally Romper. I’d call this an intermediate pattern, with a couple of tricksy elements that take a little bit of precision and skill. Based on Clementine’s measurements, I traced the pattern for the height of size 5 and the width of size 4. This worked just fine; the only thing I had to watch was to be consistent in transferring markings to the fabric after cutting.

The shorts were a total breeze to make, and the bow cuffs are so slick and easy! I’ll definitely be incorporating bow cuffs into future projects (now taking suggestions on how to wear shorts like that without looking like a child).

In the next couple of photos, you can see where my greatest challenges were.  I just couldn’t get the back button placket to lie flat, which is probably partly due to my inexperience and partly due to a tricky construction. With some practice, I think I’d probably get it right (and THIS is why we make muslins, right?) After I sent the outfit to Rae, they did some remedial work at the studio and just look at that placket now. And hello, cute buttons!

Anya Top and Shorts by Green Bee

The top has an inset sleeve construction that was new to me. It allows for some really fun colorblocking, but you have to be careful and patient to put it together. Sewing the sleeve on is a bit tricky because you have to turn two sharp corners and pivot the pattern pieces to match as you go. But as long as you keep the seam allowance perfectly even throughout and pin each section as you go it turns out fine!

Anya Top and Shorts by Green Bee

One of my favorite things about Green Bee patterns is that they use really sharp finishing elements. They suggest using a serger or zigzag stitch to finish all exposed seam allowances before sewing any pieces together, so the inside of the garments all look really nice. Additionally, the sleeves on this top (and a lot of their other patterns) aren’t simply folded and hemmed: they have cuff facings! This does add a pattern piece and a couple of extra steps, but the result is a stable, crisp cuff, and you could even use a contrast fabric for just a little barely-visible fun detail.

Anya Top and Shorts by Green Bee

You can see the entire line of Green Bee sewing patterns over at the Green Bee Shop, and to see all the posts from our Lotus Pond Extravaganza, click HERE.

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.

Lotus Pond Extravaganza

We are winding down on the Lotus Pond projects! Here’s Very Shannon modeling her amazing Ruby Dress. So springy and pretty, and I love the print combo!

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We’ve certainly been having lots of fun with Lotus Pond around here! If you’ve made any Lotus Pond stuff of your own, we’d LOVE to see your photos on Instagram with the hashtag #lotuspondfabric or in the Lotus Pond Flickr Pool! More photos are sure to crop up in future roundups too, so stay tuned for more inspiration.