Cleo Skirtalong Day 3: Pockets and Side Seams

Cleo Skirtalong Day 3

Welcome to Day 3 of the Cleo Skirtalong! If you’re just joining us, see all of the skirtalong posts here.

Today we’ll attach the pockets and sew side seams. Note that these steps differ for Views A and B. We’ll start with View A, so if you’re sewing View B, scroll down!

Step 2. Attach and sew pockets (View A)

Align curved edges of POCKETS and FRONT SKIRT. With 1/4″ seam allowance, stitch pockets to front skirt along curved edge. It’s important to note here that this is the only time you’ll use a 1/4″ seam (the rest of the pattern uses a 1/2″ seam allowance).
Cleo skirtalong

Here’s a closeup of that curved seam:

Cleo skirtalong

Clip seam allowances, being careful not to clip through the stitches. Press the seam allowances and pockets away from the skirt.

Cleo skirtalong

Next, I recommend understitching the curved seam. Unfortunately it’s hard to get a good photo of this (I’ll put that on my tutorial to-do list), so you’ll just have to give it a try based on my written instructions.

To understitch, first press open the seam, pressing the seam allowances towards the pocket piece (so: away from the skirt). With the garment right-side up, stitch 1/8″ away from the pocket seam lines (this is the actual understitching, and it keeps the pocket lining inside the pocket), through the pocket and both seam allowances (so: 3 layers). Then flip the pockets to the wrong side and press. It should now look like this:

Cleo skirtalong

Note that the understitching is white in the photo above, and is not visible from the outside of the skirt. You can also just topstitch the pocket curves after pressing them if you’d prefer!

Next, fold the pockets up (basically you’re folding them in half) so that their lower edges line up with the top edge of the front skirt. Press, making sure the tops and sides are lined up with the skirt.

Sew just the inner edges of each pocket together (white dashed line in the photo below), but be careful to sew only through two pocket layers and not through the skirt — you’re just closing the inside of the pocket! Finish those seams; I’d recommend either a serger or a zig zag stitch. Then align pocket edges with sides and top of skirt again and press.

cleo sewalong day 3

Now baste the top and outside edges of the pockets to the skirt 1/4″ from edge (pretend that inner pocket seam is already sewn in the photo below…ahem. oops!). This step is important to hold the rest of the pocket in place while you sew the skirt together.

Cleo skirtalong

Here’s how the View A pockets should look from the inside (left) and outside (right) at this point:

Cleo skirtalong

I finished my inside pocket seams with my serger, but a zig zag finish works just as well. Check out the Seam Finish Appendix in the back of the pattern for my favorite seam finishes.

Step 3. Sew side seams (View A)

Now grab your BACK SKIRT pattern piece. Pin and sew front skirt and back skirt together along sides.

Cleo skirtalong

Not shown: Finish side seams as desired (zig zag or serge). Press seams toward back skirt.

Cleo skirtalong

Step 2. Attach pockets (View B)

Pin one pocket to each side of the front skirt with right sides together, aligning pockets at notches.

Cleo skirtalong / attach pockets view B

Cleo skirtalong / attach pockets view B

Sew pockets to skirt with 3/8″ seam allowance. Note that the seam allowance is 3/8″ here, but will be 1/2″ for the rest of the pattern. Finish these seams as desired, only along pocket (the side seams will be finished later). I’ve finished the seam below using a zig zag stitch.

Cleo skirtalong / attach pockets view B

Now it’s time to add the pockets to the back skirt! Before you do this, place the edges of the back and front skirt next to each other and make sure the pockets are lined up. I often find that even when I mark my dots and cut my notches, they can still be a little bit “off.”

Cleo skirtalong / attach pockets view B

Once you’re sure they’re lined up, pin and sew the pockets to the back skirt using a 3/8″ seam.

Press all of the pockets away from the skirt pieces. Understitch seam allowances to pocket by stitching through the pocket and seam allowances 1/8 away from the seam you just sewed (in the photo below, it would be just to the right of the seam).

Cleo skirtalong / attach pockets view B

Step 3. Sew side seams (View B)

Pin the front and back skirts together, lining up the pockets at the sides. Sew the sides together from the top of the skirt to the first dot, around the curved edge of the pocket, and from the second dot down to the hem.

Finish seams as desired (I used a serger, but you can use a zig zag or even a french seam for this seam). Press the pockets toward the front of the skirt.

Cleo skirtalong / attach pockets view B

Cleo skirtalong / attach pockets view B

That’s all for today! We’re going to break for the weekend, then come back on Monday to assemble and attach the waistband.

Go to Day 4

How are your skirts coming along? Feel free to leave comments & questions here, on Facebook or on Instagram! And we’d love to see your photos (use the #cleoskirt tag)!

Cleo Skirtalong Day 2: Cut out and prepare pattern pieces

Cut out your pieces / Cleo Skirtalong

Welcome to Day 2 of the Cleo Skirtalong! If you’re just joining us, see all of the skirtalong posts here.

Today it’s time to get to the fun stuff, starting with cutting out all of the pieces you need to sew Cleo!

The first thing you should do is fold the fabric in half on your cutting surface, lining up the selvage edges of the fabric as best you can. Gently smooth out any creases or wrinkles with your hands so that the two layers are completely flat. You should already have pressed your fabric with an iron, but if you need to do that to remove any remaining wrinkles, do that now.

Lay out all pattern pieces before cutting
I recommend that you lay out all of your traced pattern pieces on the fabric to visualize where they will go before you do any cutting. This also helps you make sure you have enough fabric before you start to cut. Line up the grainline arrows on the pattern pieces so they are parallel to the fabric fold/selvages.

Place your traced pattern pieces on the fabric as shown in the suggested cutting diagrams in your pattern. The cutting diagrams are found on pages 6 (View A) and 12 (View B) of the PDF, and on pages 4 and 5 of the printed pattern.

cut out your pieces

Time to cut!
Once you have your pattern pieces arranged the way you want them, pin your pattern pieces to the fabric or use pattern weights to hold them in place. Then carefully cut out your pieces, through both layers of fabric. I like to use a rotary cutter and mat because it goes quickly, but fabric shears are fine too.

You’ll also want to cut a piece of 1.25″ wide elastic using the chart provided on page 2 (PDF) or 12 (print).

Finally, cut out one front waistband from lightweight fusible interfacing.

For View A, you should have 1 front skirt, 1 front waistband, 1 front hem band, 1 back skirt, 1 back waistband, 1 back hem band, and two pockets, plus interfacing for the front waistband and your piece of elastic.


Remember to cut notches wherever they are indicated! This will make sewing the skirt easier later. Here’s the front waistband, for example, which has three notches on its lower edge:

Cleo skirtalong

For View B you should have 1 front skirt, 1 front waistband, 1 back skirt, 1 back waistband, and four pockets, plus interfacing for the front waistband and your piece of elastic.

For View B, sometimes I like to use a lining fabric for my pockets instead of the main fabric. My favorite lining fabric is cotton lawn, and I often use off-white or white.


Again, make sure you have the notches added to help you attach the pockets later:

Cleo skirtalong

Then using a fabric marker or chalk, add the two pocket dots to each side of the skirt pieces, above and below the pocket notch (note that this is not shown; we added the dots to the pattern pieces after I took these photos)!

Prepare the waistband and hem bands
Use your iron to attach the fusible interfacing to the front waistband according to the manufacturers instructions. I recommend putting a piece of muslin between your iron and interfacing, always.

Then press the front and back waistbands in half lengthwise down their centers to create a crease. That will become the top of the waistband. Then press 3/8″ toward the wrong side along the top edge of both waistband pieces.

Cleo Skirtalong: prep waistband

Finally, press the hem band pieces in half down their centers (View A only, not shown).

Now you’re ready to attach the pockets!
Go to Day 3

Where to buy Cleo in print

Made By Rae Cleo Skirt Sewing Pattern
The Cleo skirt pattern is now available in print! Find a stockist here:


Blue Bar Quilts – Middleton, WI

Bolt Fabric Boutique – Portland OR

Cool Cottons – Portland, OR

Domesticity – Baltimore, MD

Fiddlehead Artisan Supply – Belfast, ME

Hartford Stitch – West Hartford, CT

Hawthorne Threads – online

Imagine Gnats – online

Indiesew – online

Knit & Bolt – Minneapolis, MN

Lola Pink Fabrics – Lafayette, LA

Maker Mountain Fabrics – Ben Lomond, CA

Nido – Burlington, VT

Sew Special Quilts – San Antonio, TX

Sew To Speak – Worthington, OH

Thread Lab – Menonomie, WI

Three Little Birds – Hyattsville, mD


Fabric Spark – East York, ON

Knit Stitch – London, ON


Selvage – online

Interested in carrying Made By Rae paper patterns in your shop? Visit our wholesale page to sign up!

Posted in Cleo

Cleo Summer Showcase, Part 2

Last week, the most gorgeous set of Cleo skirts were posted by a set of talented ladies for the Cleo Summer Showcase. I rounded up the first half of the showcase last Wednesday (see: Cleo Summer Showcase, Part 1), and today I’m happy to be rounding up the second half of the showcase.
Cleo Summer Showcase

Fleurine at Sew Mariefleur always has amazing scenic photos to go with her gorgeous makes, and her Cleo skirt post is no exception.
Darci of darcisews, top right, is wearing her latest Cleo right into her third trimester!
I love Sienna’s (bottom left) ikat woven Cleo! She has another Cleo in her recent feed: @notaprimarycolor.
Amy Nicole, bottom right, shared her chic outfit made out of vintage fabric over on her blog, Amy Nicole Studio.

Cleo Summer Showcase

Bettina of Stahlarbeit (above) made two lovely versions, one of them an almost-floor-length maxi. I love how she styled hers with three new handmade tops to make for a handful of outfit combos!

Cleo Summer Showcase

Kten of Jinx and Gunner, top left, made a wispy beach outfit with a lengthened maxi Cleo.
Indiesew’s Allie, top right, styled her rayon Cleo with clogs and a tank for a perfect combo of classy and comfy!
Emily, bottom left, made this gorgeous rayon version that she shared on her blog, My Crafty Little Self.
Whitney Deal, bottom right, created a perfectly summery cotton lawn version; read more on her blog.

Thank you to all of the creative women who participated in our showcase — I’m so excited about all of the different looks and styles represented in the skirts they made.

Now for a Sewalong!

I’m posting a step-by-ste Cleo Skirtalong starting this Wednesday to show you how to sew this pattern. I’ll have lots of handy tips, photos, and more resources lined up to share. I hope you’ll join me!

Get more details in the skirtalong intro post.

Cleo is also now available in printed form in shops!! So if you’d prefer a printed copy of the pattern, you can find a list of stockists here.

Posted in Cleo

Cleo Summer Showcase, Part I

It’s time to take a look at the Cleo Summer Showcase so far!

Update: here’s Part 2

I’m so inspired by all of the amazing skirts that these lovely women have made and posted already this week. And honestly, overwhelmed and honored that so many people agreed to be a part of this little showcase. Thank you to everyone who has participated so far!!

Let’s start with a roundup from Monday’s showcase guests:

Cleo Summer ShowcaseVicky of Sewvee, top left, made this colorful and cheerful Cleo. I love that umbrella too. See more pics in her blog post!
Erin of Hungie Gungietop right posted this lovely pink Loominous skirt and styled it with a cute aqua belt. See more pics on her blog.
Natalie of Hungry Hippie Sews rounded up all of her Cleo skirts on her blog, including this beautiful rayon version that she made (bottom left). Natalie was one of our Cleo testers and has made a bunch since the pattern launched!
Teri of Fa Sew La (bottom right) added a fantastic waist tie to her cheerful floral rayon Cleo. Head over to her blog for more details.

Here are the Cleo skirts from Tuesday’s showcase guests:
Cleo Summer ShowcaseTori of the The Doing Things Blog posted TWO absolutely lovely Cleos, top left and bottom left. More pics on her blog!
Kate English, top right, added some width to the waistband (love it!) and styled it to perfection.
Meredith of Olivia Jane Handcrafted, bottom right, chose a large-scale gingham and cut the pockets and hem bands on the bias for a great self-contrast effect. See details and closeups on her blog.
Lindsay, bottom center, shows how a slightly heavier fabric (canvas!) works nicely for Cleo too!

Finally, here are the Cleo showcase posts for today:
Cleo Summer Showcase
Julie at Nurse Bean Sews (above) is so prolific that this is actually just a part of her entire Cleo skirt collection! Head over to her blog to see the rest of her Cleos and to see how she styles them with her handmade tops!

Cleo Summer Showcase

Melissa at A Happy Stitch made a couple of versions (top left, bottom right), which you can see more of in her blog post as well. Sidenote: I love how Cleo keeps popping up in Loominous fabric…it really is a wonderful fabric for clothing. And Lauren of Lauren Durr Design used a brilliant border print for a stunning effect (bottom left, top right). I love how she used the hem band to extend the yellow area of the print.

The variety of skirts and styles represented here really speaks to the versatility of this pattern. I really enjoy seeing how different people can create completely different looks with the same pattern, don’t you? We’re halfway through the showcase, so stay tuned for even more Cleo loveliness!

Cleo Summer Showcase

I’m very excited to announce that next week I will be hosting a Cleo Summer Showcase here on the blog and on Instagram to feature the Cleo pattern for summer! A bunch of fantastic people, including Cleo pattern testers, Instagrammers (is that a word?) and bloggers are going to to help me to show off this lovely summer skirt pattern.

The Cleo Summer Showcase will be followed by a Cleo Sewalong, which will coincide with the launch of the print Cleo pattern (yay!!!). I’m so excited to add Cleo to the list of print patterns we offer at independent shops, so look for the announcement and list of shops in my newsletter next week (you can sign up here if you aren’t already subscribed).

Here is a list of the makers and bloggers who will be participating in the Cleo Showcase next week:

Cleo summer showcase

july 31
vicky / @sewvee /
erin / @hungiegungie /
natalie / @sewhungryhippie / hungryhippie sews
teri / @teridodds1 / fa sew la

august 1
tori / @thedoingthingsblog /
lindsay / @lindsayinstitches
meredith / @thefooshe /
kate / @kate.english

august 2
melissa / @ahappystitch /
julie / @nursebean82 /
lauren / @laurenddesign /

august 3
fleurine / @mariefleurine /
bettina / @stahlarbeit /
allie / @indie_sew /
darci / @darcialexis /
emily / @mycraftylittleself /

august 4
whitney / @whitneydeal /
sienna  /@notaprimarycolor
amy nicole / @amynicolestudio /
kim / @pitykitty
kten / @jinxandgunner /

I’m so very grateful to all of these lovely people for participating in our Cleo pattern showcase! It’s going to be so fun to see all of their inspiring Cleo makes. I hope you will enjoy it too!

You can find the Cleo sewing pattern in my shop.

Jess’ Bianca Dress with Contrast Facing

Made By Rae Bianca Dress

Made By Rae Bianca Dress

One of my patterns that never really got its time in the spotlight is Bianca, which launched just months after Hugo was born three years ago. It’s a lovely pattern for summer sewing, and this dress version from Jess that features the facings on the outside and contrast hem has always been one of my favorites.  Bianca also can be made as a top, and is best suited to fabrics with drape or a looser weave, like this Nani Iro double gauze (a collection from a few years back). The contrasting facings and hem bands are Kaffe Fassett shot cottons purchased from Hawthorne Threads.

The Bianca PDF pattern includes tips for how to make the facing visible the way Jess did for this version, and she added the contrast hem bands for a fun variation.

Made By Rae Bianca Dress

Here’s how to add the hem bands:

  • The finished hem band on this dress is 3″ tall. For the same proportions as shown here, remove 2.5″ from the hem of  both the front and back pattern pieces. Bianca has a slightly curved hem, but it’s way easier to add a contrast band if the hem is a straight line, so measure 2.5″ up from the bottom edges of each pattern piece, connect those with a straight edge, and slice along that line.
  • For the hem bands, cut two rectangles out of contrast fabric that are 7″ tall, one as wide as the front and one as wide as the back.
  • For Step 6 in the pattern sewing instructions, choose option B to sew side vents, and sew the seam allowances as directed for a “Clean Finish.”
  • Fold each hem band in half lengthwise with right sides together and sew along the short ends of each hem band with a 1/2″ seam.
  • Trim the corners, turn each band right side out, and use a point turner to push out the corners. Press.
  • Pin hem bands to front and back hems of the dress with raw edges together (two layers of hem band, one layer of dress), and sew together with a 1/2″ seam. Finish these edges with a serger or zigzag stitch.
  • Press seam allowances up (toward dress) and top stitch 1/4″ above the seam you just sewed to hold the seam allowance in place.

Made By Rae Bianca Dress

Alternate instructions: View B of the Beatrix Pattern has detailed instructions to attach hem bands in a slightly different way, so you can refer to those steps if you have Beatrix in your pattern library.

Made By Rae Bianca Dress

Made By Rae Bianca Dress

Posted in Bianca

Selecting fabrics for Gemma

Orange Gemma Tank

Gemma tanks are a great summer staple, and we at MBR have been been putting ours into heavy rotation now that the weather’s warming up. Jess has easily made more Gemmas than I have, and I dare say has become a bit of an expert at selecting good fabrics for this pattern, to the point that I might even be a wee bit envious of hers (all I’m saying is she’s lucky she’s a size smaller than me otherwise they might start to disappear).

Orange Gemma Tank

Jess is general manager here at Made By Rae (she is in charge of wholesale, coordinates pattern testing, serves as project manager, and answers a ton of email), and she does a lot of sewing both for work and for fun. Jess made this particular Gemma tank with Robert Kaufman Manchester cotton in Poppy, a looser weave medium-weight cotton that has turned out to be a really comfortable Gemma.

The other day we were discussing this tank, and that led to a discussion about our favorite fabrics for Gemma, because ultimately the ones made with fabrics that are more comfortable will get worn, and the ones that aren’t, won’t. That seemed like a great topic to share on the blog, as I know many of you are also sewing Gemma tanks of your own (check out #gemmatank for some great examples).

Orange Gemma Tank

Fabric choice is one of the most important factors if you want to end up with a comfortable garment, especially when you are working with woven fabrics (knits are, by their nature, usually more comfortable to wear, but Gemma is designed for wovens). Here are a few things to consider when selecting fabric for Gemma:

  • a fabric with a looser weave tends to be more comfortable than tighter weave.
  • a fabric with a lighter weight tends to be more comfortable than heavier weight
  • a fabric with more drape tends to be more comfortable than fabric with less.

Every fabric has some degree of each of these characteristics (weave, weight, drape), as well as other characteristics that have less impact on comfort, but in general, I find these useful when choosing fabrics for Gemma.

Orange Gemma Tank

Here are some more fabrics to consider making your next Gemma out of:

double gauze – while it’s not super drapey, it’s fairly lightweight and has a very loose weave, to the point that you might even need to go down a size. Double gauze frays quite easily (so seam finishing is a must!), but the darts are easy to get to lay smoothly and it’s actually quite manageable to sew with, due to the stabilizing effect of the two layers. Manufacturers include Kokka, Andover, Monaluna, Cloud9, and Cotton and Steel.

shot cotton – also lightweight and with a looser weave but very little drape, this is a nice option if you can find it (as far as I know, Kaffe Fassett is the only one who designs shot cottons). I love the depth of solids due to the different colors in the warp and weft threads. Manufactured by Free Spirit.

cotton lawn / voile – lawn has the advantage of being widely available in many different prints due to an increased number of manufacturers producing it in recent years, and it is light weight. Be careful when using lawn for Gemma, however, as some of the lawns (looking at you, Cotton and Steel) are very tightly woven and less lightweight than others, and even have a bit of a silky sheen to them, making it less comfortable to wear and a more difficult to sew the dart smoothly without a noticeable pucker at the end. Manufacturers include Windham, Andover, Robert Kaufman, Liberty of London, Free Spirit (under “voile”), Cloud9, Monaluna, and Cotton and Steel.

chambray – most chambray is medium-weight, fairly tightly woven, and has very little drape, so in general I would avoid it for Gemma. However, the fabrics under the category “union chambray” produced by Robert Kaufman have become popular in recent years because they are lighter, drapier, and even have a bit of stretch to them. Manufactured by Robert Kaufman

rayon / rayon challis – a synthetic fiber that drapes beautifully, the quality will determine how easy it is to sew with, but one thing to consider (and one that I need to do more research on, frankly) is that rayon production can be pretty horrid for the environment; rayon tencel is the most eco-friendly rayon. Manufacturers include Free Spirit and Cotton and Steel.

batiste – in the past year Cloud9 (the organic fabric company that produces my fabric designs), has begun producing a fabric on a new “batiste” substrate for them; it’s loose-weave and light, so it’s almost a single gauze, but it’s less sheer than gauze. The prints they’ve released so far on batiste are quite lovely; however, it’s best to choose prints with darker backgrounds if you use this fabric for Gemma as they are still pretty sheer.  Manufactured by Cloud9.

Orange Gemma Tank

And now, a note about quilting cotton (dum dum DUMMMMMM): It’s not a great fabric for Gemma (or garments in general, really). I know…there are so many awesome prints, but it’s not going to be as comfortable to wear as the fabrics listed above. Even the quilting cottons that are lighter weight (like the one I made with Alison Glass’ Handcrafted fabric) end up looking great on the hanger but not so great to wear. I’d recommend QC for making a wearable muslin, but that’s pretty much it. Sorry.

Orange Gemma Tank

Do you have a favorite fabric for Gemma? Let us know in comments! You might also want to check out this post: My top five fabrics for clothing.

The Gemma Sewing Pattern is available as a PDF in my shop.

Posted in gemma

Fancy Dress for Clementine

Clementine's Pink Daisy Bow Dress

Clementine (the other day): “Mom, I’m not a Fancy Girl.”

Me: “What’s a Fancy Girl?”

C: “Well, you know, there are some girls at school who always wear the fancy clothes, like dresses with tights, and fancy shoes, and they like pink and purple and stuff?”

Me (in my head): “There are kids who go to elementary school in tights?

Me (outloud): “Oh, right. So that’s not you? What kind of girl are you then?”

C: “Well, I’m like, a Cool Girl.”

Me: “Ahhh. What’s a Cool Girl?”

C: “Well, you know how I like video games? And I like blue and aqua and other colors, not just pink and purple?”

Me: “Yeah. I love that about you.”

C: “So, that’s like, a Cool Girl. You know that pink dress you made me for Easter, with the bow and the flowers?”

Me: “Yeah?”

C: “That’s what a Fancy Girl wears.”

Me (laughing): “OK. Got it. Wait! There are blue flowers on it??”

C: (rolls eyes)

Clementine's Pink Daisy Bow Dress

Yes, it’s pink and it’s pretty fancy, but she wore it for Easter, and even though she likes blue better, I happen to know she still wears a lot of pink. So I’m not going to write this dress off yet. But even if she never wears it again, I pretty much died of cute when she put it on the first time and danced around like a fairy. I’ll just hold that memory in my heart while I sew her a pair of blue skater punk shorts this summer, right?

Clementine's Pink Daisy Bow Dress

Clementine's Pink Daisy Bow Dress

Clementine's Pink Daisy Bow Dress

Clementine's Pink Daisy Bow Dress

But she’s definitely less “this:”

Clementine's Geranium with Bow

And more “this:”

Clementine's Geranium with Bow

My weird little monster.

Clementine's Geranium with Bow

Fabric: Cotton lawn by Cotton + Steel, designed by Melody Miller

Patterns: Geranium Dress + Geranium Expansion Pack (zipper, bow, and gathered elbow-length sleeve). I used the selvage-to-selvage width of this fabric for the skirt, resulting in a fuller skirt.

PS. This dress gave me a chance to try putting the zipper together with the sleeves (these are the gathered elbow-length sleeves) from the Geranium Expansion Pack. I was v. pleased at how this turned out; I’ve never been a big zipper fan — quick and easy is my personal sewing motto, and surprise! zippers don’t usually fall under that category — but I’m really in love with how this looks. More info on the zipper can be found in the GXP zipper post.