Geranium Expansion Pack: the collar

made by rae GXP collar

Let’s talk about the collar! This adorable element included in the Geranium Expansion Pack is both sophisticated and sweet. I love that it looks fantastic both in a contrast fabric, and in the same fabric as the rest of the dress. It also works beautifully with or without sleeves (personally, I think the faux cap sleeve + collar is ridiculously cute, and a great option if you want to try the collar for the first time and want to keep it simple).

Geranium XP

The collar has a lovely subtle curve in the front and is divided in the back to accommodate either a zipper or buttons. Like the sleeves, the collar is tidily sandwiched between the lining and the outer bodice for a truly professional finish.

Geranium XP - collar (back)

It think the collar is really cute with the gathered long sleeve, below. When made in the same fabric as the main dress, it’s really great:

Geranium XP - gathered sleeve with collar

But I also love the drama that making it in a contrast fabric adds:

Geranium Expansion Pack - collar + zipper

I sewed this little sample to test out how the collar would work with the zipper, and it turned out really nicely. I’ll post more about this little flamingo sample (which is a size 2) in the zipper post, so you’ll also get a chance to see this sample inside-out!

Geranium XP - zipper

Geranium Expansion Pack - collar + zipper

Geranium Expansion Pack - collar + zipper

And finally, why not try a solid on solid collar and dress? So lovely in this sample Rachel sewed for our cover shoot!

Geranium Expansion Pack sewing pattern

Level of difficulty
The collar is fairly easy to sew; it’s four collar pieces, sewn together in pairs, turned right side out, and basted to the bodice before adding the lining. As long as you can sew a smooth curve, the biggest difficulty might be turning and pressing it right-side out, so we’ve made sure to include some hints to help you along. I think you’ll find it’s quite easy to add the collar if you have some sewing experience!

Visit the Geranium Expansion Pack Page to see all blog posts related to this pattern, or buy the Geranium Expansion Pack now in my shop!

Geranium Expansion Pack: the gathered sleeve

made by rae GXP gathered sleeve

A gathered sleeve was the first long sleeve I ever experimented with adding to the Geranium Dress, and I knew it had to be a part of the Geranium Expansion Pack! I love the softer look that the the little gathers at the shoulder adds to the dress, and it’s even easier to add than a fitted sleeve!

Geranium XP - gathered sleeves

The gathered sleeve comes with three length options: short, elbow-length, and long. The long sleeve has a gathered elastic cuff, while the two shorter lengths are hemmed without gathering, though you could definitely add elastic to those, too.

Here’s the short gathered sleeve, in the tiny newborn size:

Geranium XP - gathered sleeves

I love the elbow-length gathered sleeve, which creates a lovely bell shape!

Geranium XP - gathered sleeves

And finally, the long gathered sleeve with the elastic cuff:

Geranium XP - gathered sleeves

For our cover sample, we combined the gathered sleeve paired the neck bow, the longer bodice (bodice extension), as well as a zipper in the back (not shown), and the result is absolutely lovely in this rose-colored double gauze.

Geranium Expansion Pack sewing pattern

You can see the contrast between the fitted sleeve and the gathered sleeve in the photo below. The gathered sleeve is wider than the fitted sleeve throughout the arm, but not too wide. I worked hard on this sleeve to try to get the width just right!

Geranium Expansion Pack sewing pattern

Choose a lighter fabric for the gathered sleeve
One thing I’d like to emphasize is that the gathered sleeve looks best when sewn in lighter fabric weights, such as lawn, voile, or lightweight double gauze or linen, just to name a few options. The gathers and extra width will make it stand out pretty dramatically if sewn with a heavier fabric like quilting cotton, so take that into consideration when you select your fabrics.

A beautiful finish, inside and out
Just like the fitted sleeve, the sleeves are sewn to the bodice before adding the lining, so that the finished sleeve is tidily sandwiched between the lining and the outer bodice for a truly professional finish. For more details and photos, see the fitted sleeve post LINK.

Level of difficulty
I find the gathered sleeve to be easier to add than the fitted sleeve, because the gathers allow you to adjust the sleeve easily to the size of the armhole. It’s a great place to start if you’re new to sleeves!

Visit the Geranium Expansion Pack Page to see all blog posts related to this pattern, or buy it now in my shop: Geranium Expansion Pack

Geranium Expansion Pack: the fitted sleeve

made by rae GXP fitted sleeve

Since the Geranium Dress was released in 2013 we have had so many requests to release a sleeve. The original pattern comes with a faux cap sleeve and a flutter sleeve, but for cooler weather it’s definitely nice to have something longer. People have been drafting their own sleeves or using a sleeve from another pattern for years, but that’s not a great option for everyone. Requests for a long sleeve were definitely what got the ball rolling on the the Expansion Pack.

Fitted sleeves

The fitted (or straight) sleeve comes with three length options: short, 3/4-length, and long. “Fitted” here means that the sleeve cap fits cleanly into the armhole without any gathering. The Geranium has a generous armhole, so there’s plenty of room for comfort and full range of motion, with a clean look. (Of course we couldn’t stop with just one type of sleeve, so I’ll talk about the fitted version now, and introduce the gathered sleeve in the next post.)

Here’s the long fitted sleeve, sewn up in the teeny tiny newborn size (so remember: the proportions will look different in larger sizes):

Fitted sleeves

There’s a generous hem allowance on the longer two lengths, so you can let it out as they grow or fold up a smaller hem for the extra long-armed kid, but it’s also ridiculously easy to shorten these if you want to play around with an elbow-length or something in between the lengths we’ve provided. Here’s what the 3/4-length sleeve looks like in the smallest size:

Fitted sleeves

Note: I originally cut the orange sample sleeves above at elbow-length, before we decided on a 3/4-length. I added extra fabric at the end to make it the exact proportion that it would be for the 3/4-length, producing a seam line (or cuff effect) where the hem stitching would be. So, if you make this length, you will have a stitch line instead of a seam line in that location.

Kitty Geranium with a sleeve

As you can see, the 3/4-length looks a bit different on a bigger kid, in this case, Clementine at age 5 (previously blogged here).

Kitty Geranium with a sleeve

Finally, the short sleeve adds another warm-weather option to the Geranium!

Fitted sleeves

A beautiful finish, inside and out
The sleeves are sewn to the bodice before adding the lining, so that the finished sleeve is tidily sandwiched between the lining and the outer bodice for a truly professional finish. In fact, that’s one of the things I love most about the way it’s constructed: it almost looks the same inside as it does on the outside. Did you even notice that the dress in the photo above is inside-out? Here’s a closer shot, below.

Geranium XP - fitted sleeve, inside out

How hard is it to add the fitted sleeves?
Because of the way the sleeve seams are sandwiched inside the lining, it may be challenging, so we’ve included lots of detailed instructions and diagrams to walk you through it. I’d recommend making the pattern without sleeves first if you’re new to sewing, but if you’re a confident beginner (you know who you are!!), you can do it!! Just work carefully and put a little trust in the instructions to get you where you need to go. The sleeves are the number one reason we’ve given this pattern the “advanced” level rating in the shop, so keep that in mind when you’re designing your dress.

Combining the fitted sleeve with other elements
All of the sleeves can be combined with other elements in the expansion pack and options from the original pattern for a completely unique look. Here, it’s combine with the pleated skirt from the original pattern and the collar from the expansion pack.

Geranium Expansion Pack sewing pattern

Finally, here are the two long sleeves (gathered, left, and fitted, right) so you can see how they compare.

Geranium Expansion Pack sewing pattern

Visit the Geranium Expansion Pack Page to see all blog posts related to this pattern, or buy it now in my shop: Geranium Expansion Pack

Geranium Expansion Pack is here!

Geranium Expansion Pack sewing pattern

The Geranium Dress has become a staple in countless girls’ wardrobes in the years since we launched it, and with good reason: it’s easy and quick to sew, it’s versatile and comfortable, and has a great fit. And now, the possibilities for Geranium are virtually endless. Introducing the Geranium Expansion Pack, a new add-on for the original Geranium sewing pattern!

BUY NOW

Please note that the Geranium Expansion Pack is not a standalone pattern — it is a supplement to the Geranium Dress.

Geranium Expansion Pack Sewing Pattern

Sizes included
The original Geranium pattern is sold in two ranges: baby and toddler (0-5T) and kid (6-12y). This expansion pack includes both of those ranges, for a total of 14 different sizes included. You can purchase the expansion pack on its own, or select an option to purchase it along with one or both size ranges of the original Geranium pattern.

Geranium Expansion Pack sewing pattern

So many possibilities
It only made sense to add even more features to Geranium, which is a great blank template for building upon, and is already so versatile. The obvious starting point — and probably your most-emailed request, ever — was to add a long sleeve, but I didn’t want to stop there. I’ve included a collar, neck bow, double-fold hem band, a longer bodice, a sash, two new sleeve types (each with three different length options), as well as instructions for adding a zipper. I think you’re going to love all of the possibilities. When I did the math to try and figure out how many different dresses you could make by combining features from the original pattern and the expansion, it was literally in the thousands.

Geranium Expansion Pack sewing pattern

The Expansion Pack is an à la carte pattern; that is, it doesn’t have a “View A” or “View B.” Instead, each element (such as the collar) has its own set of instructions so you can mix and match your way to any combination you like for a completely custom dress. The instructions have road maps — yes, we literally added road map signs — to help you sew everything in a sensible order, no matter what elements you wish to incorporate.

geranium expansion pack

Level of difficulty
The original pattern allowed you to build your sewing skills, and the expansion pack will help you learn even more advanced techniques, with the same detailed instructions and diagrams you’ve come to depend on from my patterns. Some of the elements in the expansion pack are beginner level, but most are intermediate (the neck bow, for example) or advanced (the zipper), so we are giving the entire expansion pack a difficulty rating of “advanced” in the shop. Please don’t let that intimidate you; time and time again we’ve heard from people who have made my patterns having never sewn a garment before who have found the instructions to be incredibly easy to follow and helpful. I’ve also added a recommendation to the general instructions for beginners to try just one element at a time before combining more than one.

Geranium Expansion Pack sewing pattern

I was thrilled to be able to work with Rachel of Stitched Together (@stitchedtogether) on this project for the photography and sample sewing. I’ve been admiring Rachel’s work for years and was so happy that she was able to sew these dresses for her gorgeous daughters and take the amazing photographs you see here.

Geranium Expansion Pack sewing pattern

I’ve always thought her photos were breathtaking, and combined with her fantastic sewing skills, the result is beyond what I could have hoped for. I’m so glad that Rachel was so willing and excited about this project — she has five children and homeschools them, in addition to sewing and writing for her own blog — and I’m honored she found time to fit this into her already very busy schedule. Thank you, Rachel!

Geranium Expansion Pack sewing pattern

Geranium Expansion Pack sewing pattern

Over the next few days, I’m going to introduce you to each of the elements that is included in this expansion pack, one by one, so I can talk a little bit about each one and give you a closer look at the options. I’ve also got fantastic testers who have made the most amazing versions and I can’t wait to show you what they’ve done with this pattern. I’m really just so excited to finally have this ready for you. I can’t wait to see what you do with this pattern expansion!!!

Geranium Expansion Pack sewing pattern

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Cleo + Josephine

Cleo Skirt

As the weather warms up, I’m excited about this combination of Cleo and Josephine. I’ve noticed that when I design a pattern, it’s often because I have a hole in my wardrobe for a certain type of design. I’m also thinking about how it will work with the other things I’m already wearing, which tend to be previous designs I’ve sewn. I love the idea of being able to create a handmade capsule wardrobe with my patterns, so being able to wear Josephine and Cleo together is so satisfying. My assistant Melissa is modeling them here beautifully.

Cleo Skirt

This version of Josephine is View C of the pattern made up in a lightweight swiss dot, and has proven to be one of my favorite wardrobe basics to make. It has enough interesting details (the pleats, the center slit) to make it a perfect match for a solid fabric, especially one that is a bit sheer like this one. The Cleo Skirt is View A made up with two Robert Kaufman lawns, a print from London Calling, and a Cambridge solid in a color that I think has since been discontinued (lipstick), since I no longer see it on their website, but if you do a quick web search you’ll still find it for sale in some shops as of this writing.
Cleo Skirt

This gives me a chance to further profess my love for lawn as an apparel fabric. This spring there have been so many good collections printed on lawn, and the fact that so many manufacturers, including Robert Kaufman, have been adding great lawn prints and solids lately (such as Friedlander lawn) only makes me more excited. Sleeping Porch by my friend Heather Ross for Wyndham is another favorite. I’ve been sewing with a few of her prints and can’t wait to show you what I’ve made! If you’re wary of sewing garments or scared of “apparel fabrics,” you will love how easy lawn is to work with. Quilters take note. Honestly I think lawn should just replace quilting cotton.

Back to this lovely outfit. Here’s a few shots from the back:

Cleo Skirt

Cleo Skirt

Which sewing patterns do you love to combine together for spring and summer? Do you have any favorites?

Cleo Skirt

Posted in Cleo
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Rose Ruby with Divided Yoke

Rose Ruby with divided yoke

Rose Ruby with divided yoke

I always get a little overwhelmed in spring with all the new things I want to sew; clothes for kids, clothes for me, all the ideas and designs in my head, all the new patterns online getting me inspired. It happened again this year: last month I felt really overwhelmed by work and life, and it wasn’t great, and I can’t say I figured out a great way to deal with it so this isn’t a personal victory story or anything like that. However, I managed to attack a few things on my WIP pile, including a Ruby top with a black lawn yoke and pink voile bottom that I had started just after Hugo was born, tried on, decided that I looked like a cow in it (oh ye post partum body issues, le sigh…), and abandoned. I took off the black yoke, sewed a new divided/lined yoke from the pink main fabric, and hemmed it so it has a cropped length (about a 3″ hem allowance instead of 1″). Can’t believe how much more I love this thing now.

Ruby with divided yoke

Rose Ruby with divided yoke

Rose Ruby with divided yoke

Rose Ruby with divided yoke

The fabric is Pickering Voile from Dry Goods Design, and it’s super sheer and fairly wrinkle resistant. They won’t have it anymore, but if you keep an eye on that shop, I promise you’ll find some gem apparel fabric. The rose pink works well with my white jeans (I got fistbumped by a homeless lady the other day who told me they were — and I quote — “White, tight, and right”) and my decades-old Gap jean jacket. Oh and my new haircut! So easy! So quick to dry!! Looks good with my glasses!!! Haircut for the win.

Rose Ruby with divided yoke

I’ll post a how-to for the divided yoke Ruby soon. Meanwhile you can check out my past Ruby posts and tutorials on the Ruby Page, or just get yourself started with the Ruby pattern from my shop.

Anyway, I hope you’re full of spring sewing mojo! But if you’re suffering from Spring Sewing Idea Paralysis, try taking something off the WIP pile instead. It might work for you too!

How to crop the Gemma tank

How to make a cropped Gemma Tank / made by rae sewing patterns

As promised, and just in time for some fun weekend sewing, here’s a tutorial to show you how to turn your Gemma tank into a cropped tank, as seen in Jess’ fantastically popular Cleo / Gemma outfit in this post. I’ve included an original Gemma tank in the pic above at right so you can see the difference between the original tank and the cropped version. If you need the pattern, you can buy it in my shop.

The best way to figure out how much to crop off the bottom of the pattern is to make an original Gemma (or at the very least, a muslin) first, so you can make sure you have the right size and bust size. Gemma comes with both an A/B and C/D front bodice piece for each of its nine women’s sizes. Once you’re happy you have the right size, you can use your pattern tracings to make new modified pattern pieces (Not sure how to trace a pattern? Check out this great tutorial where we show you how to trace a pattern!) . Try your Gemma on and determine how long you would like the cropped version to be.

You will need:

  • The Gemma tank sewing pattern, traced in your size
  • Straight edge and pencil (clear quilter’s ruler is helpful)
  • Additional Swedish tracing paper (see this post for sourcing STP)

How to crop the Gemma pattern

Step 1. Decide how long you want your cropped version to be
Try your Gemma (or Gemma muslin) on and determine how long you would like the cropped version to be. Measure down the side seam from the armpit to where you’d like your cropped hem to land. You may find it helpful to fold under the hem of your Gemma to visualize what it would look like cropped, mark this distance at the side seam with chalk, and then measure the distance.

Step 2. Draw the new hemline on your pattern
Measure this distance from the armpit along the side seam of the BACK BODICE pattern piece and make a mark. Then use your straight edge to draw a line perpendicular to the fold line (“finished hem,” shown in red). We measured down 7 1/2″ inches from the armpit for this version. This is quite short, so you may want to start with 8-1o inches instead just to be on the safe side, especially if you have a long torso. Remember that you can always trim it shorter, but you can’t add length once you’ve cut it.

Step 3. Add a hem allowance
Draw a cutting line parallel to the finished hem and label it “cut here.” The distance between your two lines will be your hem allowance. In this case, I added 2 1/2″ so that I could fold the bottom edge up 1/2″ first, and then another 2″ for a nice wide hem. A wider hem allowance also gives you a little more flexibility to try it on and get the length just right!  This will be where you cut your fabric when cutting your cropped tank (see tank in photo, left).

Step 4. Straighten the side seam along the hem allowance
Draw a vertical line between your two horizontal lines at the side seam. Cutting your fabric along this line will straighten the side seam and make it easier to fold up the hem allowance when you’re hemming the tank. Bonus points if you can get your line to mirror the angle above the hemline.

How to make a cropped Gemma

Note that both of your horizontal lines should hit the center of the pattern at 90 degrees; it helps to use a clear quilter’s ruler when drawing them to insure that this is the case.

How to make a cropped Gemma

Step 5. Transfer hem and cutting lines to front bodice
Now put your front and back bodice together, matching them up at the bottom and sides (not at the top! the front bodice has a dart that adds extra length to the side seam above the lines you drew), and transfer your lines to the front bodice just as you did for the back bodice.

How to make a cropped Gemma

And again, make sure they intersect center front at a 90 degree angle:

How to make a cropped Gemma

Step 6. Cut out your tank 
Now you’re ready to use your pattern pieces to cut out a front and a back from your fabric as shown in the instructions. I find it works well the first time to fold under the pattern piece at the “cut here” lines to try them out. Once you are happy that you’ve gotten the right cropped length, make a new tracing of the pattern with crop lines so that you can use that one for your cropped versions moving forward.

Step 7. Sew it together
You’ll sew the tank together as instructed in the pattern, but note that to hem this version of Gemma, you’ll fold and press 1/2″ and then another 2″ (or whatever hem allowance you chose) toward the wrong side along the bottom of the tank, and then stitch along the first fold.

I can’t wait to see your cropped Gemma tanks! Please use the #gemmatank and #raemademedoit tags on social media to share your creations. Happy sewing, everyone!

Bird’s Eye View Gemma + Cleo

Bird's Eye View Gemma + Cleo

I’ve always thought the Cleo skirt would look awesome in a border print, so when Jess and I first laid eyes on the “Viewfinder” print from Sarah Watson’s recent collection, Bird’s Eye View for Cloud9 Fabrics, we knew it would be perfect for Cleo. We asked Cloud 9 for a couple of yards which they graciously sent over (thank you, Cloud 9!) and Jess sewed up this awesome cropped Gemma and Cleo skirt combo for herself. My jaw dropped to the floor when I saw these together. It’s just perfect, so chic, and I love the way that Jess cut these so that the Gemma has the larger-scale portion of the print, and the Cleo has the smaller-scale portion with the cactus.

Bird's Eye View Gemma + Cleo

Jess looks ridiculously adorable in this outfit. I’m pretty jealous, not gonna lie.

Bird's Eye View Gemma + Cleo

Bird's Eye View Gemma + Cleo

Bird's Eye View Gemma + Cleo

Sewing details

  • Both skirt and top were cut on the cross grain (that is, the pattern pieces were laid out on the fabric such that the grainline arrows were perpendicular to the selvage rather than parallel as is standard).
  • The solid orange waistband and back detail are made from Cloud9’s Cirrus Solids in the colorway Clementine
  • The armhole and neckline binding was applied using the french method (I wrote a tutorial for that method) without seam allowance added, resulting in a narrower shoulder.

Bird's Eye view Cleo + Gemma

We’ll post a quick how-to showing how to make a cropped Gemma soon — it’s a super fun and easy mod that I think you’ll love!

Posted in Cleo, gemma
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