Gingham Gemma

It’s almost December and therefore sweater weather, so it may seem strange to post about a Gemma Tank, but this top is something I find myself wearing quite a bit these days, under cardigans of course. I find I prefer sleeveless tops to sleeved tops when I’m wearing a sweater, because I don’t like that bunchy feeling you get when you try to stuff a shirt sleeve into a sweater sleeve; it makes me really twitchy and uncomfortable. Much like Clementine when she’s putting on her socks in the morning and doesn’t like how the sock seams feel in her shoes and then throws a fit and is late for school. What was I talking about?

Gemma tank

Here is is, sans cardi:

Gemma Tank

If this fabric looks familiar, it might be because this is the third (and final, I’m now out of yardage) garment I managed to squeeze out of this navy gingham  I picked up at Purl Soho. The other two things I made were this cute little Charlie top for Hugo and a Pearl shift for me. I like how the bias around the neckline pops out because of the gingham.

Gingham Gemma Tank

To be completely truthful this tank isn’t exactly the same as the Gemma pattern, because the pattern changed a bit as I worked on it and this was one of the earlier versions I made. The shoulders are a bit wider on this one than they are on the final pattern — I felt like the broader shoulders were a bit frumpy, so I narrowed them — and I eventually settled on two necklines for the final pattern, one a bit higher than this one, and one a bit lower.

Gemma is available in my pattern shop, comes in both A/B and C/D cup sizes, and looks great under winter cardigans!!!

Posted in gemma
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Staystitching is Important

staystitching

Attention, everyone, this is a sewing PSA. Staystitching is a garment-sewing technique that is really important. I am sharing this with you because when I started sewing, many years ago, I did not know what staystitching was, but even if I had, I probably would have skipped it. Now that I am older and wiser, I want to share this nugget of wisdom with you.

If you’ve ever sewn one of my women’s patterns (specifically for woven fabrics, such as Ruby, Beatrix, or Gemma), you may have noticed a step that instructs you to staystitch, followed by the words “IMPORTANT: DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP.” I’m guessing most people ignore this, mostly because if I didn’t know better, I probably would.

I’ve mentioned before that my mom taught me how to sew, but knowing how stubborn and headstrong I was as a child,* I doubt once she communicated the fundamentals to me that I spent much time listening to any further details. Details like: be careful about skipping steps that might initially seem unnecessary, because you may regret it.

In addition, my younger sister Elli took a 4-H sewing class from a very strict and anal retentive seamstress, and her experience left a strong impression on me. I remember the jumper she was working on taking her the better part of a year to complete, which seemed like utter torture to me. It made sewing seem so un-fun. As a result, I took an alternate approach with a more carefree sewing attitude: skip all but the most essential steps, and see what happens. In some cases, I discovered it didn’t really matter that much (three rows of gathering stitches vs. two or even in some cases — GASP — ONE.), but in other cases, I’ve discovered that taking a little extra time to add a seam finish or in this case, staystitch, can make a big difference.

*I can picture my mom thinking, “Just as a child…?” as she reads this.

So…what IS staystitching?
Staystitching is a line of stitching added to the edge of a piece of fabric (often along a curved edge such as a neckline or an armhole, but not always) that stabilizes the fabric so that it won’t stretch out while it’s being sewn. Additionally, if you’re making a piece of clothing, staystitching prevents the edges from stretching out if you try it on to check fit. The staystitching lines in the photo below are around the armholes and neckline of my chambray Gemma tank.

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How and when do you staystitch?
To staystitch an edge, sew along the edge of the fabric, about 1/8″ away from the edge, using a normal straight stitch. Earlier patterns of mine said “using a regular length or slightly shorter than normal length stitch,” but I’ve since decided that a shorter stitch actually stretches out the fabric too much, so I now recommend a regular length stitch such as 2.5-3 mm.

As for when to staystitch, I think there are two schools of thought. The stricter approach is to staystitch edges after you cut out your fabric pieces, but before you do any sewing. I feel this is only necessary when sewing with a really unstable or slippery fabric. The other approach, which I prefer, is to staystitch any curved edges such as necklines or armholes after shoulder or side seams are sewn, but before facings or bindings or sleeves are attached. I take this more moderate/less strict approach because in most cases, woven fabrics are stable enough to sew some of the seams before staystitching without stretching out the garment significantly. Additionally, staystitching goes much faster when you can do a whole armhole in one go, instead of, say, having to staystitch the front armhole separately from the back armhole due to the shoulder seams having not yet been sewn.

That said, I can appreciate that some sewists would disagree and say that it’s better to be safe than sorry. I almost always favor the quick and easy sew, as long as it doesn’t sacrifice good construction technique.

I’ve probably utterly confused some of you, and if that’s the case, my recommendation would be just to try staystitching the next time you sew a piece of clothing. It definitely make more sense if you’ve got the garment in front of you, to be sure.

So, what say ye? Are you a Die-hard Staystitch-er? Or do you play it fast and loose and skip it? Have I convinced anyone to change your short-cutting ways?

Green Striped Cleo Skirt

Cleo Skirt | View B

Oh Nani Iro double gauze, how I love you so. I sewed this delightful fabric into a Cleo skirt (the sewing pattern I’m currently working on, yay!!) earlier this summer. I la-la-love it. Double gauze is so crazy comfortable and soft, and these stripes look like they were painted on by hand. This skirt has inseam pockets which seem more and more critical to me in a garment the more I sew, plus a flat-front with elastic-back waistband, so it’s quite comfortable to wear. New favorite skirt alert!

Cleo Skirt

The “midi” length falls below the knee, resulting in something that gives me strong flashbacks of the skirts my mother wore to church in the summer back in the 80’s along with a large perm and sandals, even more so when I wear it with my chambray Gemma tank. I am admittedly confused by the word “midi.” Has this word been around a very long time? It seems to have popped up in the last couple of years, and the first time I heard it I had to look it up. I suppose I risk sounding incredibly stupid by admitting that, but there it is.

Cleo Skirt

This version will be “View B” of the Cleo skirt pattern, with View A sporting cut out pockets and a band along the hem ala the Flying Crane skirt. If you got my fall pattern preview newsletter back in September, you’ll have seen a more thorough description plus more photos of Cleo already (you can sign up for my email updates here, by the way). If not, rest assured you’ll see more posts of this pattern very soon!

Cleo Skirt

Let me tell you how long it takes to make a sewing pattern: forever. I previewed this skirt pattern on Instagram back in February (though I’ve been working on this design since early 2013…yes, 2013), and if you asked me in February when this one would be ready, I probably told you late spring. But then there was Gemma, and Isla, and now I’m serious, this pattern will happen next. I do feel a bit badly since I know some of you have been excited for this pattern for a long time and probably feel a bit impatient. If so, you have a good sense for how long it takes me to make a pattern. So I have a question for you: do you prefer when pattern designers surprise you with a design once it’s ready so that you can sew it right away? I feel like a lot of the big indie pattern designers keep everything very secret until they are absolutely ready to a launch. Or do you enjoy seeing the designs while they are in progress? As a sewing pattern consumer, I can see benefits to both approaches, but as a pattern designer I wonder if it would be better if I took the Super Secret approach. What do you think?

Posted in Cleo
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Monaluna Flashback with skirt

It’s Friday, friends. And what a week. Let’s talk about something fun, like this cheerful knit top I made for Clementine!

Monaluna Flashback with skirt

I started with my Flashback Skinny Tee pattern in a size 7/8 (how is she so big? WAAAAAH *weeps into coffee cup*), cut off the bodice halfway between the armpit and the hem and added a gathered skirt to the bottom. I made the skirt twice as wide as the bodice and about 11″ tall. Everything else is exactly the same as the original Flashback pattern (cuffs, neckband, fit, etc). I’ve made Flashbacks with skirts before (here and here), but as dresses instead of a top.

Monaluna Flashback with skirt

This awesome fabric is a Monaluna knit in Groovy Lotus and I love how it has a very Scandinavian-esque vibe, kind of like something you would find in Hanna Andersson. I’ve always loved the feel and modern designs of Monaluna fabrics (owner Jennifer Moore is a friend and so lovely), so I almost can’t believe this was the first time I sewed with one of the knits. Verdict? Nice and soft, nice amount of stretch, yet still very easy to work with. Love that it’s 100% organic, too! So nice that I went out and bought a bunch more from her shop last month when she had a knits sale (hint: get on the shop email list!).

Monaluna Flashback with skirt

Monaluna Flashback with skirt

And here is my little goofball illustrating her favorite poses:

 

Monaluna Flashback with skirt

Some serious walk-off fodder here.

Monaluna Flashback with skirt

And…cross-eyed. That’s my little lady.

Monaluna Flashback with skirt

Have a wonderful and relaxing weekend, everyone!

Sidewalk Flashback Tees

Here’s a little more Sidewalk cuteness for you today! These Flashback Tees are all samples that Jess sewed up for last spring’s Quilt Market. As with the two Isla samples I posted last week, the designs were printed on Spoonflower fabric so we would have samples in time for the show, which means that they are a little different from the final prints. I think the most noticeable difference in color is that the samples have a more citron yellow, while the final prints definitely have a more sunny yellow. The sample fabric also ended up being less stretchy and soft than the Cloud9 interlock, so they worked nicely for photographs even if they won’t end up being worn.

Sidewalk Flashback tee

Hugo is wearing the Flashback Skinny Tee in size 2T in the “Bus Stop” print with “Art Class” collar and cuffs. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to include a bus print in this knit collection for Hugo. He gets excited and yells, “Oh!! BUS!!” whenever he sees buses drive by.

Sidewalk knits

Made by Rae Sidewalk knits for Cloud9 Fabrics (Fall 2016)

This Flashback is made with the “Red Rover” print with cuffs and collar in “Off the Trail,” a print that features cute little snakes. It’s a little crazy with the snakes as contrast, but oh well. Red Rover originated as a print in my Small World corduroy collection, and has been so popular that Cloud9 also released it on cotton laminate this fall (raincoats, anyone?) and now it’s making its reprise on interlock for Sidewalk with black instead of blue as the secondary color. Made by Rae Sidewalk knits for Cloud9 Fabrics (Fall 2016)

The “Bug’s Life” print in white and green makes for a pretty cute little shirt, too! I think this would be perfect for a pair of pajamas!

Flashback Skinny Tee in Sidewalk Knits

Sidewalk is my new line of interlock knits for Cloud9 Fabrics. It will be be shipping to retail shops soon!

Blush Crush

Luna Pants / Pink Rayon

Words can’t express how in love I am with these pants. I made them with my Luna Pants pattern and a flowy pink rayon twill and they are wicked comfy. Hashtag secret pajamas. I bought the rayon from Indiesew earlier this year but it is now sadly out of stock. Allie stocks such delightful fabrics that I can hardly resist buying at least some yardage every time she releases a new fabric collection. When I made these pants a few weeks ago it was still “summer” in Ann Arbor, so I took some photos with my Gemma tank and Ruby top (and the worst haircut I have probably ever had). Now it’s cooled off quite a bit so I’m wearing them with a camel colored wool cardigan instead (see my post Blush + Bronze for an ode to my current favorite color combination). And obviously NOT SANDALS. You get the idea.

Luna Pants / Pink Rayon

Luna Pants / Pink Rayon

Hmm what else is there to say about these…I just love how fabric choice can completely transform a pattern. In this case, the flowy rayon dresses them up so that I could easily see wearing these out with a silk top for dinner and/or a date. I was definitely inspired by a couple of the photos on my Luna Inspiration boards, though for some reason all of the flowy-rayon-type pants in that post are paired with heels. You will never see me wearing Lunas with heels. You will probably never see me wearing heels, period; that just seems like a disaster waiting to happen. Hooray for being uncoordinated and awkward and therefore fully flat-footed at all times!!!

Luna Pants / Pink Rayon

You can find the Luna pattern in my shop, and I highly recommend trying it with some rayon if you can find it!

Luna Pants / Pink Rayon

Bias Binding Tutorials

bias binding tutorials

There are lots of ways to sew a bias binding to finish a garment, so I’ve put together a series of tutorials to walk you through three of my favorite options! You’ll see these demonstrated on my Gemma sewing pattern, but you can use these techniques for any necklines, armholes, or hems that you please! Click on the photos below for each tutorial.

bias binding traditional

bias binding topstitch

bias binding tutorial, french method - Made by Rae blog

And here’s a bonus if you need some hints for making your own bias binding:

how to make bias binding

http://www.made-by-rae.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/bias-binding-tutorials-made-by-rae.png
bias binding tutorials | made by rae blog

Gemma…as a DRESS!

Gemma Dress!

I’m pretty excited about this one! I love to hack patterns, and the simplest hacks are sometimes the best hacks. Since releasing the Gemma sewing pattern last month, I’ve wanted to try making it into a dress (the basic pattern is a tank). My pattern hacks don’t always work, so I was happy that this one worked out nicely!

Gemma Dress

Gemma Dress!

Gemma Dress!

I chose this light blue Anna Maria Horner voile that has been sitting in my stash for years and years. It’s a bit sheer on its own, so I wear a short slip underneath. I think it also looks great with a belt and this purse that I got for my birthday!

Gemma Dress!

There is more than one way to extend a bodice pattern so that it is longer. In this case, I wanted to keep the “S” shape at the hem, but exaggerate it more so that it had a better proportion relative to the dress and didn’t just look like an accidental uneven hem. I started by tracing the basic Gemma pattern, front and back. Then I extended the side seams from the hip by 11,” extended the Center Front by 13,” and connected them with an “S.” Since I also wear a larger size on my lower half than my top half, I ended up having to bump the hip out by 2″ to accommodate my large-ish derrière (my bodice size is medium). You can see all of this in the photo below, which is the front pattern piece, but of course I also did the same to the back.

how to turn the Gemma Tank into a dress

I wore it out for sushi with Mr Rae and Elliot and Clementine for my birthday dinner a couple of weeks ago when the weather was still seriously hot. For fall, I’ll just add leggings and/or skinny jeans and a sweater.

Gemma Dress!

What do you think? Do you like Gemma as a dress? I’d love to know if you give it a try!

Jess’ Rayon Gemma Top

jess's tomato rayon gemma

Look!! Jess made this awesome flowy Gemma tank out of Field Study rayon which I would steal but it’s not my size. I am also coveting her hair. Moving on. She used the french binding method (tutorial at that link!) to finish the neckline and armholes without adding an extra seam allowance (more details on that in the tutorial). You can see here how the straps come out narrower as a result.

jess's tomato rayon gemma

This is Jess doing her “Rae” impression, below. Har har.

jess's tomato rayon gemma

I love this view of the back here:

jess's tomato rayon gemma

If this fabric looks familiar, I made a Bianca and a Washi maxi dress out of the same print. Do we love it or what? It really is great, and so comfortable.

Rayon is one of my favorite fabrics for sewing garments because it is super comfortable to wear, and if you buy higher quality rayon (Free Spirit and Cotton and Steel are two manufacturers I like) it’s actually quite easy to cut and sew. The same is not true for cheap rayon though…no fun!!

jess's tomato rayon gemma

The Gemma Tank sewing pattern is available in my pattern shop, and you can access all three binding tutorials from the Gemma Page if you need them for future reference!

Posted in gemma
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