Gold Dot Knit Dress

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I should have considered the fact that this shade of nudey-beige is NOT the most flattering shade on me before buying yards and yards of this dotted knit last spring, but I was drawn like a magpie to those gold dots and I just couldn’t resist. In fact I broke a number of my own “rules for buying knits,” as it ended up being more sheer than expected (I didn’t request a swatch), and it was pretty cheap, which seemed great until I realized I was starting to get a pilly knit dress. Why oh why did I think it would be different this time? Two words: GOLD DOTS.

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I also should have remembered that I’m at least a whole size larger than I was last summer when I decided to add a longer skirt to the same pattern I used for the Strawberry Peplum Top. As a result, I now have a really cute dress that is waaaay too tight on the top half. But it has GOLD DOTS!! Even with a tank top underneath it shows EVERY line of my bra, which you can see in the last picture of this post, and is pretty embarrassing. I keep wearing it though. Despite the pilling and sheerness and the fact that this project was probably Not A Win. I think we all know why.

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On the plus side, the pink scarf (JCrew, two seasons ago) does two things for this dress: it covers up some of the sheerness and tightness, and it adds some delicious color to the ensemble.

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I love the aqua flower necklace (found locally at a gift shop in Kerrytown) with it too, but I need to figure out a solution to the “skin-tight” problem if I’m going to wear this without the scarf in public, as you can see above. One possible solution is to just wear the baby in a carrier over it, like I did to a wedding a couple weeks ago. After all, babies make great accessories.

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Lotus Pond Lickety Split Prezzie

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I should really be paying my mom and mom-in-law, because they are two of my biggest promoters. They both carry around bags I’ve made for them, show off the fabric I’ve designed, buy the magazines that feature my work, pass out Made By Rae postcards and tell their friends about my blog. So it was really more of a marketing ploy more than anything else that I gave my mom-in-law this Lickety Split Bag for her birthday a couple weeks ago. Actually, come to think of it, it was my mom’s idea when I mentioned it was coming up! Gotta love that. Anyway, my mom-in-law was excited to get it; the last bag I made her was starting to wear out so it was perfect timing. Fabric is from my line for Cloud9, Lotus Pond.

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Beach Goddess Maxi + tutorial

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So I made myself a new maxi dress for the beach! It makes me feel super glamorous. It’s made out of flowy cotton rayon which also makes it incredibly comfortable. The other great thing about this dress is that I made it with just one 1.5-yard piece of 54″ wide fabric. AND it was super quick to make, which is just the right speed for me these days; it’s gotta be fast otherwise it just won’t happen.

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The basic idea is that you cut the fabric into two rectangles, sew the sides together, leaving the bottom 18″ unsewn for slits, sew with elastic thread in a big spiral around the top portion (shirring tutorial here), and then finish the hem and slits. The only thing that’s a bit time consuming is the shirring; you go through about four bobbins worth of elastic thread, so that requires some serious concentration because sewing around and around a tube of fabric a bajillion times is not the most mentally stimulating activity. I should have put on some TV. I just finished binge-watched all five seasons of Breaking Bad on Netflix, which is so good and awful at the same time. It was like watching a wreck happen, I just couldn’t look away. If you do not like violence do not ever watch that show. It’s downright horrifying. And addicting. But awesome. Anyhoo.

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I’ve mentioned before that this cotton rayon challis is one of my favorite fabrics of all time. Pink Castle has a few of the Free Spirit rayons in stock, including this one, and I found a few at Pink Chalk too (both of these shops sponsor my blog). In addition to being really comfortable to wear, the cotton rayons also cinch up like a dream when you do the elastic shirring.

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I sketched out some basic instructions just in case you wanted to make one yourself; I’m pretty sure that this would fit just about anyone, but if you’re pretty small (XS or S) you might want to narrow the pieces by a few inches so that it doesn’t just slide right off of you. I’m wearing a women’s size large these days and it fits perfectly.

And my handy-dandy tutorial for elastic shirring can be found here:

shirring with elastic thread

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Thoughts on life with a baby at 3 months.

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My little angel baby is 3 (and a half…forgive the time lag since I took these photos) months old. Man, I know I’m biased, but is this kid the cutest baby EVAR or WHAT? Don’t answer that. It’s so textbook it’s hilarious: I can’t stop staring at him, smiling at him, and cooing at him. I’m completely smitten. I remember being worried that having a third baby would feel a little “been there, done that,” but the miracle is that it doesn’t feel that way at all. You fall in love all over again, and it even feels new again, if perhaps a bit less surprising as with the first.

Each of my three baby experiences has been so different. Not so much because the babies themselves were so different — they have all been fairly easy babies — but because I am different. With Elliot I was fresh off of a seven-year science teaching stint that was so mentally and emotionally challenging that by comparison the days with a newborn felt lonely and unproductive. It’s hard to remember how happy or content I was, but guess I must have felt disconnected and a bit directionless, because I started the blog. I remember feeling like I just needed to find something to DO (you know, besides take care of an infant full time. HAH).

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With Clementine, my blog was a new business and it was getting pretty demanding. It felt like anyone who had any audience was picking up ad networks and sponsors and beginning to see that they could make money just by blogging. The digital patterns I had made while I was pregnant with Clementine while Elliot took his afternoon naps were selling well enough that I felt like I was thinking about business stuff all. the. time. I had to constantly check email to make sure my patterns got emailed out on time. I had to keep sewing. Keep blogging. Put the kid in front of the TV. Keep making new patterns. My brain was so busy with ideas and information, but with a toddler and a newborn every day needed an outing or playdate or I would go crazy. The result was that I had next to no free time to act on any of my ideas. It was like “Attack of the Busy Brain!” all the time, and it was pretty frustrating.

With Hugo (see he is SMILING???), I at least have the benefit of knowing what to expect; knowing that it is kinda boring sometimes, knowing that I’ll feel unproductive, and knowing that it will be a while before I can really dig in and work again, and that all of that is OK. I’m still in the thick of it. As I type this, I’m at my studio, and Hugo is napping underneath my cutting table in the next room (scratch that; he just woke up, so now he’s nursing). I go downtown to my studio for a few hours each week, not because I think I’ll get anything done, but because it’s just good to get out of the house and putter around in this place that feels like something I’ve built from the ground up. Low expectation seems key.

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The blog, the patterns, my overflowing inbox, the new website (!!!) we’re working on…the work is all still ever-present, and if I think about it too much it stresses me out, but I have to keep reminding myself that it’s just not that important. And I think I’m happier for it, at least I feel more at peace with my life. Some days I can hardly contain my joy at how wonderful this life I’ve been given is — I am so thankful to God for my healthy children, Mr Rae, who is just the best mate I could ever ask for, and the fun thing that “Made By Rae” has become. Other days I want to pull my hair out and I feel like a monster when I yell at my kids because they’re dorking around instead of putting their shoes on or getting ready for bed.

I want to write, but phantom blog posts just end up circling in my head instead of getting onto the page. I want to sew ALL THE THINGS, but the block of sewing time never materializes. But I know like everything about having a baby, things change so quickly, but work will always be there if I want it. And if it’s not — for isn’t that what all bloggers fear? that if we step away from what we have built with our blogs that it will all disappear into thin air? — that everything will still be just fine.

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Made for my kids

Made For Kids 2014

It’s JULY! and that means that Made For Kids Month is officially over! This challenge was really fun! I went easy on myself and told myself it was OK if I didn’t get a photo of my children wearing handmade every day, not only because they had a few days when they were less than cooperative, but also because they didn’t actually wear handmade clothing EVERY day, which is fine. It also revealed some holes in their wardrobes (for instance, Elliot wears these red Parsley shorts almost every day, so it might be time to either make or buy him some more shorts). A no-pressure challenge was just about the right speed for me right now. Anyway, I managed to catch a photo of my kids wearing handmade every few days, so about a third of the time. Not bad for a mom with a newborn, right? How did you guys do? If you put together a round-up of your month, please post a link in comments so we can all take a look!

Made For Kids 2014

For more information on what this Made for Kids thing was all about, you can see my intro post HERE. Special thanks to Liesl for being such a fun co-host (you can see her Made for Kids posts right here, and her final roundup here), and thanks to everyone who played along! It was so fun looking at the #madeforkidsmonth tag on Facebook, Flickr, and Instagram and seeing all your kids in handmade!

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Made for Kids Month June 2014

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Rapunzel Outfit for C

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I went on a bit of a Lillestof buying binge a couple months ago; one purchase was the Ninja print for E that I posted about last week, and I also picked up this absolutely adorable Rapunzel print for C from Simplifi along with a few other prints. I think with busy prints it’s best to use a simple pattern, so I decided to make a couple of short-sleeved Flashback Dresses.

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Please feel free to pin any of the cropped photos in this post, but please do not pin or reuse photos that include Clementine’s face. Thanks!

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The Flashback Skinny Tee Pattern comes in sizes 0-5 AND 6-14. I also used my tutorial for short-sleeves, and the tutorial for turning it into a dress.

I used the Go To Leggings pattern for the leggings that my friend Andrea sent over years ago (thank you Andrea!!!) and they are fantastic. I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to finally make them, but I’m so glad I did; the fit is excellent and leggings are SO easy to make! They are a little long on C because she’s tall so I went up a size, but she can just grow into them.

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Fanfare for Baby!

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Fanfare for Baby Hugo!

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Pants: Big Butt Baby Pants in Fanfare flannel + yellow Shot Cotton. Perfect for his cute little cloth diaper bum.

Crib Sheet: made using Dana’s Crib Sheet Tutorial (I had to modify the dimensions a bit because the flannel shrinks down to about 41″ wide)

Changing Pad Cover: this is a FREE printable tutorial that I put together last summer, available from the Cloud9 website!

Nursery Prints: by Ingela Arrhenius; I found them here. Wall color is Sherwin Williams Waterfall.

Fun news: Fanfare is being REPRINTED in MORE COLORS and will be available later this summer! You can sneak a peek here, and I’ll post pics of my new samples soon!!!

More pics of the baby. I can’t resist.

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Fanfare for Baby Hugo!

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Summer is for Josephines and Rubies

Some hot and steamy days are ahead of us, so I wanted to share some of my favorite summery renditions of my Josephine and Ruby patterns.

Even though we released the Josephine Tunic & Blouse when hot weather was the furthest thing from my mind, View C has instructions to make a sleeveless top with side vents. Jaime from Fancy Tiger Crafts made a gorgeous version out of Cloud9 Fabrics’ Palos Verdes Voile.

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Terri at Fa Sew La has made a bunch of Josephines already! Here’s her sleeveless one:

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As the mercury rises, I’ve rekindled my love for the Ruby Dress & Top pattern. It sews up so quickly, and it’s versatile: wear it with shorts or a skirt, or enjoy it on its own as a light, breezy dress.

Sarah made this bright and cheery dress and blogged about it here.

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I love the bold prints paired with solid yokes on all of these:

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Above, Top Left: I Sew You Sew’s Ruby top with a Washi Expansion Pack [shortened] sleeve!
Top Right: Meagan blogged about her top here, and put a nice curved Wiksten Tank hem on it. Nice mashup!

Bottom Left: Spencer’s dress
Bottom Right: Katie’s dress

Have you made any summery Rubies or Josephines? Share them with us on Instagram with hashtags #rubydress and #josephinepattern, or in their Flickr photo pools!

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Ninja Boy!

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He’s my little Ninja. Er…I guess not so little anymore? Medium-sized Ninja?

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The kid is always throwing punches and kicks and generally bouncing off the wall. I’m not sure where all the energy comes from but it seems to be infinite. So a NINJA Flashback Tee (with short sleeves and a shoulder mod) seemed perfect. Paired here with some blue twill Parsley Pants that were oh-so-simple to sew: just the basic pants with an elastic waistband and a “tuxedo” stripe with a scrap of fabric my friend Chris gave me at the Weekend Sewing Retreat last fall stitched down the side. There’s also a quick tuxedo stripe tutorial at this post, but it’s also one of the many options included in the Parsley Pants Pattern.

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After talking about how awesome Lillestof knits are in my favorite knits post, I figured I should put my money where my mouth was and actually sew with them to see what all the fuss was about. Um, yeah. They’re awesome. Lovely amount of stretch, very soft, wash well, don’t fade. LOVE. Definitely worth the extra dollars in my opinion, and trust me, I’m a sucker for cheap knits too so I think I know what I’m talking about. I got this ninja print at Simplifi but you can find more sources for Lillestof in that favorite knits post.

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Maybe I’m feeling nostalgic today, but it gets me a little choked up when I think about how many of you “know” this kid. Like, you’ve read for years and watched him grow up, and make his silly faces and poses and be a goofball (you need to go look at at that Hansel post if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s kinda my Opus) in more than one post, and even though it’s through the screen, you feel like you have a sense of his personality, you know? I suppose some people could get creeped out by that but the glass-is-half-full me thinks it’s pretty fun that so many of you can enjoy his great personality. On the other hand, I am acutely conscious of the fact that he’s never had a say about (or even really comprehend the concept of) having his face be so familiar to literally millions of people. I’ve started talking to him about that, because I think he’s old enough to start understanding what that means. Someday he may ask me not to put his pictures on my blog and I will say OK, but at least for now he’s having fun.

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Please don’t pin or repost pictures of Elliot. Thanks!

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