My week at Creativebug

my week at creativebug
I spent the week before last in San Francisco filming for Creativebug, a video streaming DIY/educational website that features all kinds of amazing artists showing you how to make stuff (it’s subscription-based, but they have a free two-week trial). Which makes me one of those artists, too. Which feels a little crazy.

my week at creativebug

that’s my set! fun, huh? I love these little swatches of my fabrics

my week at creativebug

I should back up a little bit. I’ve been a subscriber on the Creativebug site for years, and I may have even been one of the first users, though I’m not sure. Heather Ross first introduced me to the site when I was in New York for her Fabric Design workshop; over cocktails one evening she mentioned she had been filming for them, and she was clearly very excited about it. “You should do it, Rae!” she said. I remember feeling incredibly flattered that she would say that, but I didn’t think that would EVER happen; the Creativebug artists (Heather, Anna Maria, Natalie Chanin) were definitely in a league above my own (sidenote: ultimately I think it is useless to think this way, but hey, this is my blog, so you get my insecurities along with the rest, which, let’s face it, is mostly shameless self-promotion anyway). I signed up right away. Even from the beginning, the video was super high quality and fun to watch. The videos are really beautiful, the content is great, and the artist intro clips are one of my favorite things about the site (and, incidentally, are free to watch; you can click on any artist on the instructor page to see their intro).

my week at creativebug

So when Creativebug actually contacted me last summer about filming a kids’ clothes class series, I was excited. Still, I wasn’t sure it would really happen. For one thing, I found the whole idea of standing up in front of a camera crew absolutely terrifying, and I wasn’t sure I would be able to go through with it. Another thing: they would realize I was just a self-taught sewing imposter with a blog sooner or later, right? Fast forward to last week: after months of work and discussion, I was in San Francisco, looking at a studio with my name on the door.

my week at creativebug

my week at creativebug

Filming ended up being really fun. I was definitely nervous at first, and it was hard, but I had two camera guys (Matt and Brian) and an artistic coach (Christine) in the room with me the entire time, and they were incredibly positive and encouraging. They’d brainstorm with me first about what to say and how to say it, and then they’d yell “ACTION!” There was no teleprompter (another surprise for me). Everything was filmed completely off the cuff, but it makes sense: it comes off more conversational and less stiff that way. I knew I was messing up and nervous, but they were super patient, total pros.

my week at creativebug

my week at creativebug

I was not prepared for how LONG it would take to film something that takes me less than a half hour to sew. Like, all day. Start, stop, freeze (so they can zoom in), OK, go ahead and say that again. I’m glad, because there’s so much footage they should be able to edit it down to something that conveys what I was trying to say with some degree of lucidity, but still, when they said I would need four days to film I thought, oh well, at least I’ll have a bunch of free time to putz around the city! Insert laughing-crying emoji here. Hilarious. I ended up filming right up until about 5:30 on Friday afternoon.

my week at creativebug

One thing I thought was cool was that nearly everyone I met at Creativebug was also an artist in some other way. Many of them were working on artistic projects on the side or on weekends in addition to their full time job at Creativebug. The entire place has a really fun and (at the risk of sounding really cheesy) creative vibe as a result. They are clearly having a good time and enjoy working with each other. You get a sense for this when you look at the Meet the Team page on their website, but seriously, what a fun place to work.

my week at creativebug

I filmed three classes which will be released some time in April as a multi-part class called “Sewing for Little Ones.” The focus is sewing clothes for babies and kids geared toward beginners, so it starts with basic sewing and pattern-reading, and goes from there. The classes are a series, with each class building on the one before so that when you’re finished you have a set of skills and techniques for sewing baby and kids clothes, and there will even be some free pattern templates thrown in there as well. I’ll post some more details when the launch date gets closer. I’m also supposed to get an affiliate link so that if people subscribe from my blog I earn a small commission but I haven’t gotten that yet (so WAIT until I do heeee!!).

my week at creativebug

One thing I really loved about doing this project is how much it pushed me and made me grow. It was such a change of pace for me, so different from Normal Life with three kids, and I don’t even think I realized how much I needed something like that until it was all over. For one thing, it’s been ages since I’ve even been on a plane without my kids. Just the plane ride was like a spa vacation, and going back to my quiet hotel room at the end of the day without having to fix dinner or do dishes was a real treat, I’m not gonna lie. It was hard for me to be away from my family all week, but it was good for me to have a week to remember who I am as a professional, as an individual, and an artist, without the distractions and constant tasks of home or the little hands and voices always at my side. Before I left, I just wanted to get it over with so I could be back home. And now, I’m really happy I did it and if I get a chance to do it again I will snap it up. It was an awesome way to start the new year.

my week at creativebug

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Aztec Drapey Cardi

aztec cardi

Wendy Ward is a UK pattern designer who caught my attention earlier this year on Instagram. Wendy designs sewing patterns and sells them in her shop, MIY Collection, in both digital and print formats, has a great blog, and has written The Beginner’s Guide to Dressmaking. She also owns MIY workshop where she teaches garment sewing classes and workshops that look really amazing. The MIY pattern that first caught my eye was her Drapey Cardigan; it has all of the elements of a comfortable draped cardigan with enough finishing that it doesn’t end up looking sloppy. When Wendy first reached out to sponsor this blog, I decided this would be a great way to feature her pattern shop so I ordered it immediately (I also ordered her book but haven’t had a chance to try anything yet). At roughly the same time, Allie of Indiesew released a fall fabric collection that included this awesome aztec-inspired knit and I was lucky enough to purchase 3 yards of it before it sold out in like 5 minutes. So I’m exaggerating, but it did sell out wicked fast.

aztec cardi

The knit did end up being much heavier than I anticipated, so the result is less a “drapey” cardi, and more almost of a structured jacket. But I still love it. It’s incredibly flattering in the back and I love the waterfall effect and fold-over collar in the front. The construction is clever — you use double-folded bands to finish almost all of the edges, which makes sewing much easier — and I love how finished it looks from both outside and inside.  This was the first time I had ever used the triple step zig-zag stitch on my machine and it worked great.

aztec cardi

aztec cardi

The only thing I didn’t totally love about the finished result was the sleeves. In this fabric I think the sleeve would be nicer if it were shorter, or even 3/4 length. The sleeve pattern pieces are incredibly long (and I have crazy long monkey arms), but I think if it had been sewn up in a lighter/drapier fabric, they would work nicely because they’d scrunch up more and contribute to the overall drapey effect. I also ended up lowering the sleeve cap because, again, the fabric was too stiff and pointed out at the shoulders. Again, an issue that using a normal weight knit would probably solve, but it still looks fantastic in this heavier knit.

aztec cardi

I really want to try this pattern again (and again and again) in a lighter weight knit; I can see this being a closet staple in grey, black, navy, and a stripe. Ah, for more time in the day.

The Longley Drapey Cardigan is currently available in print format from the MIY Collection Shop. MIY is a sponsor of this blog, but the choice to purchase and post about this pattern was my own.

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Luna Pants: a flat-front experiment

In an earlier post, I shared my plans to make a pair of Luna Pants — my most recent pattern release — with a flat-front waistband, rather than gathered all around as the pattern directs. Well, I’ve tried it. They look pretty nice on the hanger, don’t you think? Especially because you’re probably already mesmerized by the awesome Anna Maria Horner Helios print in those deep moody colors. And yes, the fabric is a flowy rayon challis, which I purchased from Fabricworm (one of my blog sponsors).

flat front Luna Pants
What you don’t see on the hanger, however, is that they are a lot less awesome when worn, due to what I’m lovingly referring to as “the jodhpur effect.” Exhibit A:

Pegasus Luna Pants
Ok wait now, that doesn’t look so bad? Esp with those cute black booties. Try again, Rae. Exhibit B:

pegasus luna pants

Hmmm, still not terrible. Are you sure this was an experiment that went horribly awry? Exhibit C:

pegasus Luna Pants

AH GAH MAKE IT STOP. THE HIPS!!! THE HIPS!!!!

pegasus luna pants

OK, so I’m kidding. It’s not horrible, but it’s not great. Here’s my assessment of what’s happening: usually, the excess fabric stored in the gathers of the pants (the ease) is distributed evenly around the body. I added that ease to the pattern for a reason, so it would look relaxed and so the pants would be comfortable. But when you make the front of the pants flat, all of the ease gets shoved to the back of the pants, and it’s too much ease in one area. The sides flare out behind the pockets and you get a bad case of Spare Hips. No good.

flat front Luna Pants

Anyway, I’ll show how I did it, for those of you who are interested. I started by drawing a line on my front facing pattern piece half-way between the notch and the side seam edge (red line, above). I then cut the facings as usual (shown at bottom) but cut a piece of interfacing using the red line instead of going the full width of the facing (shown at top). Then I fused the partial interfacing to the front facing,

flat front Luna Pants

and sewed them into the pants as the pattern directs. The idea here being that the flat portion would just be a portion of the front pant (because the front pant is wider than my front waist, I didn’t want it to wrap around to my back).

flat front Luna Pants

The next step when you make the pants is to press the waistband up and understitch it, which I’m not sure many people know how to do, so let me show you that step. To understitch, you press the seam allowances and the facings upward, away from the pants, and sew through all of the layers together 1/8″ away from the seam (so you’re sewing the facing to the seam allowances, which helps keep the facing inside the pants). You can also trim the seam allowance at this point to remove bulk, which you can see in this photo as well.

flat front Luna Pants

The next step is to press the facing back inside the pant and stitch it down. Instead of stitching all the way around, I left just the interfaced portion open to create a casing around just the back and front sides for the elastic, and then threaded the elastic through (I didn’t know how much so I just started with a little more than my half waist measurement).

flat front Luna Pants

Then I stitched the elastic down at one side, tightened it until it fit nicely, and stitched the other end down. I had quite a bit of extra elastic (below), which I then trimmed off.

flat front Luna Pants

The last step was to stitch down the lower edge of the front waistband. You can see the understitching along the top edge of the facing in the close-up below.

flat front Luna Pants

Finished, back view:flat front Luna Pants

Finished, front view:

flat front Luna Pants

Looks pretty good.
flat front Luna Pants

Just doesn’t look as great when I wear it.

Anyway (and if you’re still reading at this point, wow, go YOU, if you were here I would make you a banana sundae!), I don’t think a flat front waist is completely impossible. I think with some fiddling I might be able to get this right. But I think it involves actually removing some of the ease from the pattern instead of pushing it all to the back, or even moving the side seam forward so that the pockets fall directly under the ends of the flat front, if that makes sense. If you made it to the bitter end, thanks for reading, and let me know if you try it, OK??

By the way, the Luna Pants Pattern can be found in my shop. It looks fantastic without a flat front, if I do say so myself.

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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!

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Our family Christmas pics

kids christmas 2015 christmas 2015 picChristmasPic2015Christmaspic

It’s hopeless to try to get all of my wiggly little monkeys to look at a camera and smile at the same time, but I’m still really happy with how these turned out. Also: patting myself on the back that not only managed to get them taken but even mailed a few out. The last time we had professional(ish…I had my assistant Melissa snap these) photos of all five of us was when Hugo was a week old, so it was time.

If you celebrate Christmas, I hope yours is wonderful and full of laughter and love. If you don’t, I hope you aren’t too annoyed by people wishing you a Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays to you all!

xoxo, Rae

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