Green maxi skirt with pockets

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Check out my new green maxi skirt! It’s basically a long variation of two other shorter skirts I made with pockets this year (this one and this one). I wanted to see what would happen if I used a more flowy fabric instead of the quilting cotton. And it’s DEFINITELY flowy. And full. I feel like a giant green goddess when I wear it. But it’s very summery and comfortable.

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I found this fabric in the shirting section at Haberman Fabrics here in Michigan. It seems lighter than a shirting, though; I think it probably falls into the voile or lawn category (I talk more about garment fabrics in this post). I love that it has a silky sheen to it and it’s very lightweight…one of those fabrics that you just have to feel. It’s lovely.

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As far as the pattern goes, more than a few people have already asked me if I can turn this skirt into a pattern or a tutorial of some sort, but I’m struggling with that a bit because it’s made-to-measure, so there really aren’t any pattern pieces. It’s basically four rectangles (six if you make it with pockets, eight if you make it with the contrast band at the bottom), so it’s far easier just to figure out how big those rectangles are based on your measurements and cut them out with a rotary cutter and ruler rather than waste time and paper taping together giant rectangular pattern pieces. So is it a pattern? Ummm? Right now it’s a set of instructions and diagrams and a worksheet. So it’s almost a pattern, just without any pattern pieces. A printable tutorial? Anyway, for now it’s just a class I’m teaching in person (this Thursday at Pink Castle, woot!!), until I figure a way to make it into something more widely available. Your thoughts are welcomed.

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Unfinished Ruby Dress

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I’m doing something today that I don’t usually do: posting pictures of an unfinished sewing project. Couldn’t help it: I was so excited about how it looked when I tried it on that I had to snap a few pictures. In fact, all of the seams on this dress were basted, so it’s reeeeally unfinished. The fabric on the main part of the dress is Tule by Leah Duncan (which I posted about here), and the yoke is a grey chambray, I think by Robert Kaufman. LOVE how these two fabrics look together! The pattern, just in case you missed this post, is my coming-soon Ruby Dress and Top Sewing Pattern.

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I like to baste things together when I want to test out a pattern but I’m not sure it will fit — it goes ten times faster if you baste all of the seams, and then if you want to tear it apart and substitute a different-size pattern piece, or take out the side seams or something, it’s super easy. In this case we changed the pattern pieces a bit post-testing to take out a bunch of extra ease because many of the testers found it too baggy. I wasn’t sure it would still go on over my hips, but it was fine!

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Anyway…”Unfinished Ruby” is probably a good theme for this week. We’ve been working so hard on the pattern, but it’s just not finished yet. Elli’s been putting the finishing touches on the pattern pieces and instructions, and I finally picked a color scheme for the PDF layout this morning (which seems so dumb, but for some reason this time around I was really hung up on the style). It’s nearly ready. I feel like I keep saying that, though. Oh well. It’s not worth stressing out about, it will be ready when it’s ready. We’re a meticulous crew around here! We like to make sure everything is just right!!!

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The pattern is a nice, easy beginner pattern. No bust darts, just some gathering, simple seams. I shot some video yesterday to show how to make the dress with a lined yoke for those who will want to try a slightly more intermediate construction method than the pattern calls for (the pattern has a bias tape finish for the armholes and neckline). I’m guessing many people will like the lining method a lot. So we’re getting there. I hope you’re excited!! Thanks for your patience if you’ve been waiting.

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Striped Maxi Dress

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  • I cut and sewed this dress yesterday. It was on my Summer Sew list and I figured I’d better get moving.
  • Knit garments can be made really quickly when you own a serger. This dress has four seams, so it was like lightning.
  • I love it when things you’ve been putting off take almost no time to throw together.
  • I’ve never felt the maxi dress was much of a friend to the sewing mama…it really makes a poor effort to hide the post-partum belly, bearing in mind that my “baby” has just turned four, ahem. And then, horizontal stripes…
  • You better believe I am sucking it in for these pictures. Big time.
  • More info on the knit I used in this post.
  • I tried to line the stripes up, I really did. I swear there is some rule in the universe that if Rae Tries to Line Up Stripes They Will Not Line Up and when Rae Doesn’t Try They Will Magically Align.
  • Also let’s just ignore the fact that I cut the back with the stripes in the opposite order than in the front.
  • This pattern was taken from the Alabama Chanin Studio Sewing and Design book, though I did not sew anything here by hand, and I eliminated the front and back seams by placing that edge of the pattern along the fold.
  • Jamie Christina also has a fantastic maxi pattern if you’re looking for one.
  • We are going to a Great Wolf Lodgey place this weekend with Mr Rae’s family. I have never been to one before. I think it will be fun. I will be sporting my new maxi dress with pride.
  • What’s on your summer sew list yet? It’s time to get moving on it before it’s too late!

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Tomato Rayon Top, for me

A couple of weeks ago when I posted my favorite fabrics for clothing, I mentioned that one of them was rayon challis. Today I wanted to show you a top I made with one of Anna Maria Horner’s Field Study rayon challis prints.

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I designed this top pattern for myself a couple of years ago and have used it twice since then to make two other variations that you might remember: the first version was this Liberty Top, and the second one was this pink voile tunic. It definitely satisfies my criteria for an awesome pattern — flattering fit, no zippers, easy to sew…so it’s no surprise I keep coming back to it. I already have another one in my head to sew up soon!

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But let’s talk about the rayon challis. One of the reasons I love wearing this top is because the fabric is SO. FREAKING. AMAZING. I love how it flows, is easy to sew with, and washes nicely. It’s silky without being slippery, lightweight without being sheer. LOVE IT. In fact, I just ordered a bunch more from Anna Maria’s shop the other day so I can make more out of it. It’s just a great garment fabric for blouses and dresses.

One thing I want to mention about sewing my own clothes is that it always seems to be a bit of a process; if I want to end up wearing the things I make, I often have to tear out, redo, or edit. They don’t just magically materialize — but that’s part of the fun for me, the fact that it’s a bit of a puzzle to solve. Here’s a photo of the original length of this top, so maybe you can see what I’m talking about. (I actually made this top for the Spring Top Sewalong back in April, but then disliked the length, so it’s been sitting on a shelf for a couple of months.)

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As soon as I saw that picture, I could see it was too long. It’s not terrible, just not great. Have you ever looked at a photo of yourself and realized something looked unflattering on you? I just felt like it wasn’t hitting in the right place. So I shortened it and now…much better!

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I guess sometimes it can be frustrating not to have something come out perfectly the first time…but maybe that’s just a personal thing. Do you like to edit? Or do you prefer when things sew up exactly as planned?

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Yellow Striped Peplum

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I mentioned earlier this week that I had made more than one peplum top; this one was supposed to be the “muslin” version of the Briar Rose peplum, since this yellow striped knit is a rather inexpensive (maybe $6/yard?) knit and therefore seemed like a small loss if things went horribly awry compared to cutting right into the Briar Rose jersey. I mean, here’s how I think about it: $6 on a top is ridiculous; it’s about a coffee and a half at Starbucks, and there was a fair chance it would be pretty cute. Sewing is like that; sometimes you have to take a bit of a risk and just hope for a nice result. Personally I think that makes things more exciting. Since knit fabrics don’t exactly have the equivalent of “muslin” (I talk about making a muslin in this post), I often test out a pattern on an old tee that has made it into the thrift pile or use less expensive material.

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This top differs slightly from the other one because I used just one piece for the skirt (the entire 50″-something width of the fabric), instead of the two 44″ pieces I used for the strawberry version. And now, looking at the photos, I think I might actually like this width better (*bangs head against wall at the thought of tearing out the strawberry skirt to make it narrower*). So I guess I should check with you guys first; it DOES look better with the less-poufy skirt, right?

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Fabric: I ordered this stripe (along with some other amazing garment fabrics) from Dry Goods Design, though I’ve seen this particular stripe in a few other knit shops online. So it may be pretty easy to find. It seems to be a pretty popular fabric, since I also spotted it on Jessica’s bio pic, and I know my friend Emily has made a Flashback Tee for Penelope because we wore them on the same day. That is a hilarious picture, by the way; do make sure to click over and look at it.

The arms are bound with a peachy-pink knit which I personally think looks pretty cool juxtaposed with the golden yellow. Probably not the most traditional color combination, but I like it.

In other news…

I got my first real samples of my new flannel line, Fanfare, from Cloud 9 today, and I’m uber-excited to start sewing with them! It’s supposed to ship to stores next month. You can see a peek at the bundle I got in this Instagram pic.

Clementine’s birthday party is this weekend; she’ll turn 4 next Tuesday (CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!?!). Here’s the post from her birthday last year. I want to finish a new birthday dress for her tomorrow but I’m not sure if I’ll have time. And I should also probably figure out what to do for her party, eh? *facepalm*

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Strawberry Peplum Top

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I have really been on a top-sewing kick lately, and my latest creation is this knit peplum top with the recently-released Briar Rose jersey, which I may or may not have procured directly from Windham with a slightly pushy email. AHEM. The important thing is, they were kind enough to send me a couple of cuts of the strawberry jersey, one of which I have slated for a dress or PJs for Clementine, and the other which I whipped into this lovely top. Briar Rose jersey is now available in many fabric shops, including a few of the sponsors of this blog (see the sidebar or bottom of post).

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The pattern…hmm. Now, where did I even get this pattern from? I think it began as a regular tee pattern that I extended slightly in the shoulders to create a small built-in cap sleeve, and then cut off at my natural waist. The skirt part is just two 10″ rectangles of fabric that I cut from selvage to selvage, then gathered and attached to the top with elastic thread in the bobbin of my machine. Using elastic thread in the bobbin (usually called “shirring”) when you attach the skirt has the advantage of helping to prevent the top from stretching out where you attach the skirt (nifty, eh? Don’t you love it when you learn something?). This seems to be a problem of mine whenever I sew a gathered anything to a piece of knit, so I’m happy to have found a solution.

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I bound the armholes and neckline with a strip of navy blue jersey, thinking that would “grow it up” a little bit. Admittedly, this is a print probably intended for children’s wear, but has that ever stopped me in the past? NAH.

I had to fiddle with the height of the skirt a bit — it felt a little high to me because my legs are so long and I have such a short torso, but when I lowered it so it was closer to my hips, it felt frumpy. So, lesson learned: the peplum style looks better on me when I use my natural (high) waist.

I think you could create a very similar version of this top if you cut off Kristin’s Scoop Top and added a skirt. The Scoop Top is another built-in sleeve tee pattern that I’ve been meaning to try. It has a slightly less fitted sleeve than this top, but I think it might work!  And if you’re looking for tips and tricks for sewing with knits, be sure to check out my knit posts.

Are you a fan of the peplum? Big trend lately. I have to admit that when I first saw it, I said no way. Yeah, just like with the skinny jeans. Clearly I am not a trendspotter; it always takes me a bit of time to warm up to new things. But once I do, I go all out. In fact, this is my second peplum top; I’ll have to show you the other one soon!

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Blue Rayon Staple Dress

***And the winner of the Staple Dress printed pattern is . . . TAMMY, who wrote “I’ve seen this dress around on different blogs. I’d love to have my own copy. Thanks for the chance!”  Congrats, Tammy.  Happy sewing to all! ***

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Today I’m participating in the Staple Dress Blog Tour that’s been happening all week long to celebrate the fact that the Staple Dress pattern is now in PRINT! The tour wraps up today over here and at Sew Caroline, so thanks for stopping by! I’m so lucky to know April Rhodes (the designer of the Staple Dress) in real life; she is such a dear friend. She has to be one of the sweetest and most authentic human beings on the planet. In addition to a huge heart, she has a great passion for sewing, and she is clearly focused on creating lovely, basic patterns so that others can share her passion, as well.

Staple Dress in PRINT

Staple Dress (back cover) in print

The Staple Dress has been a HUGE hit this year, and it’s easy to see why: April’s directions are easy to follow; she adds helpful hints along the way; and the pattern pieces are well-designed, with just the right amount of ease. It’s obvious she worked hard to achieve a great fit here. I’m thrilled that there’s been such a great response to this pattern, and I’m even more excited about the new patterns she has coming!

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Today I wanted to show off my latest Staple Dress creation (you can see the top I made for Spring Top Sewalong here) and give away one print version of the Staple Dress pattern, as well, since April so generously offered to send a pattern to one of you, you lucky readers, you (UPDATED: THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW OVER)!

This dress was made with a clearance rayon I randomly found at a tent sale a few years ago for $2/yard. It’s a polyester rayon (not cotton like the rayon challis I talk about in this post from earlier this week), so it’s not quite as soft and lovely and flowy as the cotton rayons, but I just couldn’t pass up this print. Have you ever had that moment where you’re staring at a fabric, and you can’t decide whether the print is really awesome or completely ugly? Yeah, that. But I’m so glad I didn’t pass it up, because about a year later the eighties decided to come back, and now this kind of thing is totally hot again. Who knew? (Not me. I’m the person who scoffed when I saw skinny jeans come back into style. *ducks and looks sheepish*)

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Anyway, I personally think the Staple Dress looks amazing in rayon, since the flowy nature of the fabric helps give it a great silhouette, and I love how this turned out! It will be perfect for a date night since it’s a wee bit scandalous on me in the Length Department, which means Mr Rae thinks it’s perfect (Note to self: you are roughly 2 feet taller than April. Plan accordingly next time and add a few inches). It’s not TOO short, because I almost always wear my dresses with leggings or skinny jeans underneath, so that’s probably how I’ll wear this one more often than not once the weather cools down again.

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I made the pattern with the hi-lo hem option (there’s also a straight hem), which I love; the dress went together like a breeze, and I even surprised myself a bit by sewing French seams on the entire thing — yes, even around the pockets. Extra nice.

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Okay, by now you’re like, when will this girl stop blathering on and tell me how I can win a pattern already? Fine, FINE! Here you go: Leave one comment (and one comment only!) by 9 PM Eastern on Sunday July 14th for a chance to win a printed copy of the Staple Dress. We’ll randomly select a winner and contact them via email. April has generously offered to ship internationally, so readers with an email address and a postal address are free to enter. Void where prohibited, of course. (UPDATED: THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW OVER.)

You can find the print version of the Staple Dress on April’s website.

And here are all of the stops on the Staple Dress blog tour for you to enjoy:

Mon. July 8th:  Aneela Hoey –  Comfortstitching
Tues. July 9th: Katy Jones - I’m a Ginger Monkey
Wed. July 10th: Jeni Baker - In Color Order
Thurs. July 11th: Julie Herman - Jaybird Quilts
Fri. July 12th:  Carrie Bloomston - SUCH Designs
Sat. July 13th:  Caroline - Sew Caroline & Rae - Made By Rae
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Flying Cranes Skirt for Quilt Market

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Thanks for all the love on my arrow dress, you guys!!! I’m so glad you liked it. Here’s another garment I made to wear around in Portland for Quilt Market, a skirt with pockets from my friend Rashida Coleman-Hale’s Tsuru line for Cloud9 that’s out right now. If you saw all of my Tsuru Geranium Dress posts a couple months ago, so you already know how much I love this line of fabric. Now you’ll get to see all of the fun stuff I’m making for myself with the yardage Cloud9 sent me as a thank-you for that collaboration. This one features the “1000 Cranes” print that has been so popular.

Flying Cranes skirt

I made a similar skirt earlier this year in a gorgeous floral print by Liesl Gibson (who I got to see again at Quilt Market this year!! LOVE Liesl; she is such an amazing person). I loved that skirt so much I needed to make another one! This one is less full, as you can see below, but still pretty swingy. It’s such a simple design and is so comfortable that I can tell I’m going to be wearing both skirts a ton this summer with tank tops and sandals. The pockets are, in my opinion, what makes this skirt a win. I *heart* pockets so much. The pale pink band on the bottom was a later addition; it was a bit short to begin with, and my legs take up roughly 2/3 of my total height…so it needed a little more length at the bottom in order to be decent.

Flying Cranes skirt

I really didn’t intend for the boots and kneesocks to be a part of the ensemble, but it was cold in Michigan a couple days ago when I took these pictures, and I had put on the kneesocks to keep warm, and I put on the boots to take out the trash, and…voila, awesome outfit. So I wore it with kneesocks in Portland this weekend, because it was actually rather cool. Fun, fun!!

Flying Cranes skirt

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Arrow Dress for Quilt Market

I just arrived in Portland today for Quilt Market! Quilt Market is a trade show for the quilting and sewing industry to show off new fabric lines and products to shop owners and press. In addition to seeing The Fabrics (one of my favorite reasons to go!), I get to meet tons of great people who are all passionate about sewing. This may be strange for me to say as someone whose business is almost entirely online, but there is still absolutely NO replacement for meeting people face-to-face and talking shop in person. I have gotten invaluable advice, feedback and information at each Quilt Market I have attended, and this has really helped me grow my leetle business (which feels less and less “leetle” every day, actually). The other fun thing about Quilt Market this time around is that Cloud9 will be previewing Fanfare, my new line of flannels (coming in August), which I am BEYOND thrilled about, AND all of the Tsuru Geranium Dresses are here on display as well. Yay!!!

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One thing that’s been really fun is making things to wear on the floor when I go. Almost exactly a year ago I was stitching up the very first Washi Dress in Rashida‘s awesome washi tape fabric the night before I left for my first ever Quilt Market. It wasn’t until I wore the dress to a Quilt Market event last spring and got so much positive feedback from everyone that I realized that maybe I should try to do a women’s pattern. When I got home, I started working like crazy on it. That’s where I was a year ago, pre-Washi-hype. It amazes me sometimes to think about that, in retrospect. It’s a little crazy, actually, how much has happened in a year, and I have to tell you that I feel nothing but gratefulness to all of you guys, for how you received that pattern and helped make it a success.

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The Washi Dress is a pretty hard act to follow, but I did make a few new things to wear to Quilt Market this year, including this cute little dress that I wanted to show you today. Melody brought some samples from her new line for Kokka, Ruby Star Polka Dot, to Camp Stitchalot a couple weeks ago, and I ended up swiping a little over a half a yard of this awesome arrow print. I’ve been dying over this design (and, if we must be truthful, the whole line) ever since I first saw Melody’s sneak peeks on her Instagram. It’s debuting at this Market, so don’t worry…you will see tons of pictures of this in my Instagram feed. I’m also completely in love with the ridiculously awesome Staple Dress April made for Melody from the blue version of this print, too. Maybe Melody will wear them at the same time, and we can be twinsies. !!!

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Anyway, when I realized I had just enough fabric to cut it down the middle and make a little dress out of it, I was suddenly crazy-inspired to design something super simple that would really show off the print. I wanted the lace yoke to be see-through, so I didn’t line it, just bound all the edges with off white voile. There are no closures, so it just pulls on over my head, but it’s roomy enough that it works. I hope this does the print justice. I also left the selvage visible at the bottom on purpose so that people could see Melody’s name and the name of the line, and I la-la-LOVE how that looks! That idea was totally a brainchild of my Michigan homegirls at the last local meetup, where I started working on it. You guys are awesome for suggesting that I leave it;  I’m so glad I did!

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This is way more leg than I will ever probably show with this dress, ACK. Hot-cha-cha, you guys {*a little embarrassed*}. I think I will be wearing it with skinny jeans underneath instead. What do you think? Do you love this print as much as I do?

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