Shorts with pom poms

shorts with pompoms / made by rae

Started these last year as part of a larger Pants-Shorts Experiment (an experiment that included two pairs of shorts, a fitted cropped ankle pant, and a pair of flared corduroy pants, none of which ever got photographed or blogged, but also, I might add, eventually produced the Luna Pants pattern, so it wasn’t entirely in vain). I was torn about whether or not to add the pom poms. On the one hand I had seen a handful of very cute shorts featuring pom pom trim on Pinterest and I am a huge fan of poms for any occasion so count me in. BUT. When your thighs don’t have extra space between them (I think it goes without saying that mine don’t), the idea of a row of pom poms betwixt one’s legs becomes a more interesting concept. My sister Elli suggested there might be chafing. I decided to go for it. I finished these in time to bring them to Palm Springs, but the weather just wasn’t warm enough that weekend to wear them, so beyond trying them on, I really haven’t had a chance to take them for a spin. I’m waiting for warmer weather. Will report back. Does this seem like a bad idea to you?

PS. Fabric = Field Study voile by Anna Maria Horner

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Holiday Skirt

bespoke double gauze skirt with pleats

I can’t believe that it took me this long to post this skirt to the blog. I actually sewed and wore this skirt for a completely different holiday this year (though I think it would be entirely appropriate for New Year’s Eve): Valentine’s Day. Which also happens to be my anniversary. There are pros and cons to having the Valentine’s Day anniversary, trust me. One of the pros is that I can sew myself a red skirt for my anniversary date night and I will match nearly everyone else at the restaurant. Or is that a con? I’m not sure.

The fabric is a lovely Bespoke double gauze from Cotton and Steel that I purchased from Fancy Tiger (a sponsor of this blog) earlier this year. Words can’t describe how awesome and bright this red is. The fabric actually seems to glow on its own, as if it had it’s own internal source of energy. Skirt fusion? I know that isn’t really possible.

bespoke double gauze skirt with pleats

After wearing the skirt out for one evening, however, I decided there was far too much fabric in the back. The elastic waistband was producing a poofy effect that I was not happy with. So I tore out an entire side seam in order to fix it, which included un-sewing a serged lining and inseam pockets, which was a total pain in the ass (one of the cons of designing a ridiculously complicated fold-over pleat skirt that is also lined), and the short version of the story is that it took me a long time to fix. If I’m honest, there’s still a safety pin holding the elastic in place on one side. Let’s move on. Now it’s fixed and isn’t that what matters.

bespoke double gauze skirt with pleats

bespoke double gauze skirt with pleats

The front waistband is folded over, box-pleated, and then stitched down for a flat-front effect. The lining inside hides the folded edges. Now I’m realizing I should have taken a picture of that because it was an architectural triumph. The back is just gathered with elastic, and also has a folded edge at the top; I think this is what is referred to as a “paper bag waist” though I’ve never understood why, and now, typing this, I’m not even sure if that’s even right.

bespoke double gauze skirt with pleats

I used the tiny bit of light the sun gave us this December to shoot these photos, so they’re super low-res and they feel a bit dark, just like this season feels to me. Which is why I treasure the bits of light that come here and there this time of year, when the days are short and cold: when the sun peeks out of the clouds for a moment, having my kids home (and playing nicely together for five minutes, even) for winter break, celebrating the birthday of Christ, and the hope of the New Year.

And of course, knowing that you, dear readers, care enough to stop by and read for a few minutes, buy a pattern to sew something beautiful for yourself or someone else, or leave a kind comment is a source of great light, and joy, and encouragement to me. Thank you for being here, and for your support. I cherish this space because of you.

Happy New Year!

 

Bespoke Double Gauze Pearl Dress

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This lovely double gauze has been sitting on my shelf for months while ideas for what it would eventually become percolated through my brain. I purchased it in a double-gauze-buying-binge from Fancy Tiger (a fantastic shop that also sponsors my blog!) earlier this year. I loved this stripe print so much (see: this top and these pants) that I decided I wanted to try it in this red/peach/blue colorway. Last week I suddenly pounced on it and it was all cut-it-out one night and sew-the-placket the next afternoon and then there were a few days of sewing french seams that felt like forever and then the hemming and it was done. It’s so satisfying (and rare) when it all falls together in a few days and I can walk away with something that looks great and fits nicely. Having a good trusty pattern that you can jump in with that doesn’t require fitting is half the battle to be sure: this one is the Pearl Dress by Green Bee Patterns (also one of my blog sponsors!! look at me with the sponsor mentions today), again, I am really enjoying making these. I added the henley placket option this time and while I think it might be a bit tricky for the beginner, even with double gauze it really wasn’t too bad.

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Double gauze is just dreamy (and the Cotton and Steel double gauze seems to be especially soft). I’ve said this so many times before, but wearing double gauze is like wearing pajamas. It might also even look like I’m wearing pajamas but I really couldn’t care it’s so comfortable. And personally I like the slightly rumpled look it gains as its worn; I was careful to steam this one before taking photos and not wear it around like I usually do. I got a comment recently from someone on a social media platform which will remain unnamed pointing out the wrinkles in my photos and asking if I ever press my garments when I sew them which of course I do, I press like a maniac while I’m sewing. I really don’t mind constructive critique when it’s kindly delivered, but this commenter also couldn’t resist mentioning that “many of us have been discussing the rumpled nature of your garments” which then made me feel like I was back in middle school and “they” were all over on the other side of the playground, talking smack about me. Believe it or not though, it was a good thing to hear, because the truth is that 100% cotton clothing does get wrinkly, and yes, I could stand to pay a little more attention to that in my photos, so it’s all good. I just need to photograph things before I start wearing them all over the place which will require some self control. Hey, upping my professional game a little bit can’t be a bad move.

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Let’s talk about the french seams (shown above). I realized right away that it would be necessary to do some major seam finishing on this thing because raw edges on double gauze fray something fierce. My go-to option is to use a serger to finish seams, because it’s fast, but somehow I got it into my head that french seams would be better (read my Super Seams post for a few other favorite seam finishes). Which they are, but I’m gonna be straight with you, with double gauze they were a total bitch to sew. French seams on set-in sleeves, for instance. French seams on inseam pockets. And the trimming of all those little tiny threads every time. I persevered and now I LOVE it, but there were moments, let me tell you. Thank goodness for Jane Eyre on Neflix.

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Anyway, I don’t want to scare anyone off double gauze — if you mind your seam finishes and cut carefully it’s actually quite wonderful to sew with, despite how the name might sound (am I right that the word “gauze” freaks people out?), and once sewn it is wonderfully forgiving, fit-wise, as well. IP information In fact, the loose weave creates a more generous fit so you could easily go down a size; my double gauze garments usually fit larger and looser than identically-cut garments in more stable fabrics (voile, lawn, for example). It’s also breathable for summer and layers well for fall, all in all I highly recommend sewing with double gauze (it’s one of my Five Favorite Fabrics, in fact). As you can see in the photo above, I’ll probably be wearing it with skinny jeans quite a bit this fall, and I can picture this with a big chunky sweater. Bring it, fall!!

By the way, you can find all kinds of double gauze fabrics at the following links from my fantastic sponsors: Jones and Vandermeer (a brand-new-to-me sponsor with all kinds of great apparel fabrics, welcome!!) /  Fancy Tiger  / Fabricworm / Fiddlehead Artisan Supply

and the Pearl Dress sewing pattern can be found at Green Bee Patterns, of course!

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Gingham Pearl Dress

gingham pearl shift

Earlier this spring I spent a lovely weekend at Camp Stitchalot teaching garment sewing and fitting to about twenty awesome ladies along with Christine Haynes, Alexia Abegg, and Karen LePage, three of the best co-teachers I could ask for. It was an absolute treat to watch these ladies teach, not to mention how fun it was to meet, sew, and hang out with the rest of the retreat participants. The weekend focused on garment-making so we chose the Pearl Shift from Green Bee Patterns (the pattern company owned by Alexia and her mom Michelle, also a sponsor of this blog!), because we felt it would be a great template for anyone interested in sewing clothes for themselves. And by that I mean that it seemed simple enough to construct in a weekend (not fussy), yet features many of the things you often find in a typical women’s sewing pattern (bust darts, a set-in sleeve, etc). Anyway, to prep for the weekend we all set about making Pearl Shifts for ourselves, and this was one of the first versions I made, and is still one of my favorites. I always get compliments when I wear it out of the house!

Gingham Pearl Dress

I found the navy gingham at Purl Soho after Erin posted about it on Instagram and immediately purchased it in three colors, including the navy. I included the zipper, though one of the great things about this pattern is that it can also be made sans zipper as a pullover dress. The other thing that’s a wee bit different (that you probably wouldn’t even notice, but I’m pointing it out anyway just in case there are any eagle-eyed readers out there) is that I made facings for the neckline; the pattern includes a bias trim instead which is just as lovely. Oh! And I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention that there are options on the pattern for a henley neckline, a scallop boatneck neckline, and two sleeve lengths. Awesome!

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You can purchase the Pearl Dress from Green Bee Patterns either in digital format (now!) or print format (preorder, ships in a few weeks)!

Sparkly tote with piping

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Look, a fun tote! This is what I take with me every time I leave the house lately. The outside is Ruby Star Sparkle canvas by Melody Miller; I believe this was the last line she designed for Kokka before founding Cotton and Steel, and just in case you can’t see from the photos, it does have metallic ink across the top band so it’s ever-so-slightly-sparkly. 

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Melody gave me a few fabric samples from that line at Camp Stitchalot two whole years ago and I’m embarrassed it took me this long to make something with this. Once I actually started it, it was really easy. I didn’t use a pattern; it’s just a bunch of rectangles sewn together. 

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It ended up quite long and narrow, so I always end up fishing around in the bottom of it for my keys and wallet. I guess I wanted to finish it more than I wanted to add pockets, but at least I had the good sense to add a magnetic snap (here’s my magnetic snap tutorial, if you’re interested). It’s also the perfect size for my laptop, which was a happy accident. 

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To make it a little more exciting than a plain tote bag, I added some pink piping, because piping makes anything look 100% better, in my opinion.  I have a piping tutorial, if you’re interested. The lovely gold lining is a linen I found at Bolt in Portland when I was there for Quilt Market a few springs ago.

 

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Men’s Shirt with a Color Map Surprise!

Pantone Negroni / made by rae

I made this Negroni shirt for my brother-in-law for Christmas. Ross is an architect and as such, a designer who has a great appreciation and understanding of color. Once when he was looking around my workspace he spied a big Spoonflower fabric color chart that was on the wall and mentioned that it would be neat to have an entire shirt out of it. When I ran this idea past my sister Kricket (his wife) a couple of months before Christmas, she suggested kindly that it might be nice just to have color chart ACCENTS rather than the whole garment. I still think a shirt made entirely of color swatches and corresponding hex codes would be really awesome, but if Kricket didn’t want to be seen in public with him when he was wearing it then that would make said shirt considerably less practical.

Pantone Negroni / made by rae

I don’t usually make a habit of sewing dress shirts for all the male members of my family for Christmas because that would be crazy and insane, but this year — and for the past couple of years — we’ve been picking names instead which makes giving gifts less stressful, and this year I had Ross’ name. I’ve found year by year that my list of things to sew before Christmas gets shorter and shorter, which I attribute to my getting wiser and wiser with age. One year (I forget which, having largely blocked it out due to the trauma associated with the memory) shortly after I had Elliot, the Hoekstra family decided to have an entirely Handmade Christmas, which ended up being ridiculously stressful. I tried to sew amazing one-of-a-kind gifts for everyone and ended up nearly suffering a nervous breakdown. I still love the idea in theory, but have since realized that kind of gift giving requires one to start making in May or June, and not, shall we say, in December, as I am apt to do, being a Procrastinator with a capital P.

Pantone Negroni / made by rae

Pantone Negroni / made by rae

Back ’round to the topic at hand. Without anything else on the to-do list, I found that whipping up this shirt before Christmas was quite fun. It took me a few evenings put together to finish the entire thing (and yes, I was sewing on buttons the morning of our gift exchange, so sue me), but when it was complete I felt quite proud. The recipient seemed quite pleased and I hope it proves as wearable as it is attractive.

Pantone Negroni / made by rae

The Negroni sewing pattern by Colette Patterns is one of my favorites for men (and as far as I’m concerned, still one of the only good indie men’s sewing patterns). I’ve made it many times for Mr. Rae and find it to be a relatively quick and easy project each time. It does not have a collar stand so it is definitely more of a casual shirt than dress shirt, but Mr. Rae prefers that anyway. The herringbone Chambray Union is from Robert Kauffman and has just the right amount of stretch to be comfortable. The buttons came from hmmm I don’t remember, I’ll have to look that up if anyone is interested. Procuring the color chart fabric could be a bit of a challenge; I had this chart printed up at Spoonflower but I have no idea where I got the original image from, which also means it probably wasn’t a legal use (oops). Spoonflower does have a nice color map though that could do quite nicely. For the inside of the cuffs, yoke, and undercollar, you need less than a yard anyway.

These days it seems easier and easier to find fun fabrics that I want to turn into men’s shirts. I have a nice pile of prints waiting to turn into more Negronis for Mr Rae or dressy-ish shirts for Hugo and Elliot, but alas my free sewing time is pretty scarce these days. Maybe someone will start a men’s dress shirt cutting service for sewists — you pick a fabric and they cut out the pieces in the size you need and mail them to you. Wouldn’t that be nice??

Pantone Negroni / made by rae

Sleeping Beauty Super Tote

Hey look I made a Super Tote! This ultra-popular pattern is from Anna of Noodlehead and turns out it’s the perfect size for a me-bag-slash-diaper-bag. When I saw this version that Gail made I knew I wanted to try a version with the piping and bust out some Heather Ross Far Far Away sleeping beauty canvas I’ve been hoarding forever. Well, since 2009, which in Blog Years is forever. You know it’s only a matter of time until they reprint this line, and I still have a huge pile of it sitting around begging to be made into something. So: Super Tote! And: it matches my rain boots! That was a happy coincidence, since I’m not usually a huge purple fan. But for some reason when I was pregnant last year I went through a purple phase.

Super Tote Far Far Away canvas by madebyrae

My only regret with this project was I wish I had added the (recommended) stiffer interfacing. I used quilt batting for all of the layers but I wasn’t sure I wanted to use fusible interfacing on my precious Far Far Away canvas so I skipped it. Looking back I think it would have made the bag stand up and look a little sharper, but that’s OK. Next time.

Super Tote Far Far Away canvas by madebyrae

It took me a long long time to make this only because I kept setting it aside for higher-priority projects. That’s one drawback of being a pattern designer is that I end up with next to no time to make anyone else’s patterns. Wah-wah. On the other hand, I kind of suck at making other people’s stuff anyway because I usually end up hacking it or “improving” on it because I always try to change something (that is more a testament to my personality than the quality of the pattern in question, by the way). The fact that I did NOT change anything about the Super Tote pattern is a testament to it’s fineness. Especially fine: this nice zipper closure at the top:

Super Tote Far Far Away canvas by madebyrae

I’ll be taking this tote with me to Austin next week; our whole family is headed to Texas to visit my new niece in Waco and then head over to Austin so I can make a stop at QuiltCon on Saturday (you can find me at the Stitch Lab booth on Saturday afternoon around 3pm if you want to stop by and say hi!) and teach a Buttercup Bag workshop at Stitch Lab on Friday that is SOLD OUT, wooot I am super excited! (But: there are spots open in a couple of Stitch Lab fabric printing and screen printing workshops yet next weekend, so check those out if you’re going to be in the area).

Super Tote Far Far Away canvas by madebyrae

So, since it’s our first time in Austin and we have three kids in tow, I would really love some suggestions for places to go and eat while we’re there. Mr Rae will be on the town with all three kids for a couple of days while I’m at QuiltCon so he ESPECIALLY appreciates any advice you can give!!

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Josephine in Yellow Double Gauze

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I know many of you are focused on “kid sewing” this week (you can check out the Kid’s Clothes Week blog for all the fun), and I did manage to finish a couple of matching pajama sets for my kids yesterday using some cute Fanfare fox flannel! But because my blogging always runs a week or two behind my sewing, instead of cute kiddos today, you get another lovely top for ME.

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This is a Josephine top, made with the same yellow double gauze that I used for Clementine’s birthday dress. I absolutely adore this shade of yellow, and I still have another yard of the fabric left so you’ll probably see at least one more thing made out of it. Double gauze is a soft, double layered loose-weave cotton fabric and I’ve sewn many things with double gauze (you can see some in this post on my favorite garment fabrics) because I love how soft it is. This double gauze is made by Lecien, but Kokka is the most widely available manufacturer of printed double gauzes that I know of. This pattern is one of two women’s patterns I’m working on for fall; the other is the Washi Expansion Pack which I’ve been showing examples of for the past week or so. I previewed the tunic view with a wider sleeve in this preview post a few weeks ago.

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The cleverest thing about this pattern (if I do say so myself) is that the end of the darts are hidden behind the first pleat, which makes them uber-easy to sew. The Washi Dress has an angled dart that can be difficult to sew without little puckers at the end (I know, I know, I need to do a tutorial on that!!!), but this one, this one is practically foolproof I tell you. Those of you who are well-endowed in the bust area will also be happy to know that we are making a bodice piece that has a large bust dart (for C/D cups) as well that will be interchangeable with the smaller A/B bodice you see here on me.

The other thing that’s different about the top view is the small elastic casing that you can see in the photo above. This is optional — you might want to omit it if you planned on tucking the top in, for example — but I think it produces a nice flattering fit for wearing it untucked.

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The Josephine Sewing Pattern is coming soon…right after the Washi XP. Can’t wait!!

Another Washi Dress with a big bow

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I think the title pretty much sums it up. This is a Washi Dress that I made last winter, but I just added sleeves to it last week (it had a ruffle around the armhole that was really not working, just trust me on this one). I like the deeper colors of this striped voile for fall, and adding a sleeve makes it even more fall-esque. Perfect for leggings and boots with a big gray cable knit sweater (note to self: purchase gray cable knit sweater). This voile is part of Anna Maria Horner’s Innocent Crush fabric line.

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This bow is in fact even wider than the bow that will come with the soon-to-be-released Washi Expansion Pack (more details on that in this post); the voile was so lightweight that I thought I’d push the limit a bit and see how wide I could get away with. The result is very fun, if you like a big bow. Do you think this is TOO big for a big bow? I don’t think we have quite reached that point yet, but then again I’m always one for a big statement. For contrast, see this post for the “standard” big bow width I chose for the expansion pack.

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I’ll be heading out to Texas at the end of this week for Quilt Market and a visit to my sister Elli of course, so now it’s time to decide which of my Washi Dresses to pack. Or figure what else I should try and make last-minute before I go! Should be fun.