Reversible First Day Top

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Waaaaay back last spring, when I was still in a post-baby fog, I asked my friend Dana of MADE if I could help test her First Day Dress and Top pattern with some Lotus Pond, hoping to include it in the Lotus Pond Extravaganza. It’s taken me this long to finally post about it, which is somewhat embarrassing, but on the other hand is a great example of why blogging when you have a baby is tough.

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I love Dana’s design because it has a great fit and can be made super simple (or with sleeves and a peplum skirt, which is also super cute) — in this case I wanted to make a simple A-line top with no sleeves that could be reversible. The top came together like a breeze and fits like a glove (Dana actually addresses the fit in the pattern — in order to get this fantastic fit, you do have to put your arms over your head to get it on because it’s not designed with a ton of ease, but Clementine doesn’t seem to mind at all).

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I made one side with the blue diamond print, and the other side with the yellow snails from my line of quilting cottons, Lotus Pond.

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It wasn’t the actual construction of the top that held up the entire make-photograph-post process. It was Clementine (is anyone surprised??). First, she refused to wear it as anything other than pajamas, which made it difficult to photograph. Then, when she finally agreed to put it on for photos, she would only wear it with the diamond-side out. So I got photos of one side in July, but not the other. Finally, last month — IN SEPTEMBER — after I bribed her with a marshmallow, she put it on snail-side-out. And here we are, nearly five months after it was completed, with a blog post about it. OY.

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One thing I do want to mention that you can see in the photo below is that if you leave clothing made with quilting cotton in a heap of clean laundry, they will get wrinkly. However, I’ve found that if you yank them out of the dryer right after they are washed and hang them up, they look nice and smooth. Little tip there for ya if you make garments with quilting cotton (thanks, Karen, for teaching me that one!!). This wouldn’t be a post about Clementine without a few zany photos, so here ya go:

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Fabric: Lotus Pond is still available in shops if you look around — as of this writing, a few of my sponsors have it in stock (Fat Quarter Shop and HoneyBeGood both have nice selections yet, and Fabricworm has a couple prints left, including the blue diamonds).

Pattern: The First Day Dress and Top Sewing Pattern is available from Dana as a PDF, and comes in sizes 2-10.

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Please do not pin or reuse photos of Clementine that show her face — I’ve included some cropped photos without her face in this post and you are welcome to pin or reuse those. Thanks!

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Striped sweater for the Hugonaut

I’m an annual knitter. This means that about once a year, when it gets cold, I see some cute sweater float across my Pinterest feed, and I pull out my knitting needles and chubby thread I mean yarn and try and remember the difference between a knit and a purl. Usually this involves watching video tutorials on the Purl Bee and getting my friend Giedra who is an experienced knitter to re-teach me the long-tail cast on again, which she patiently does, year after year. I know to those of you who don’t knit this may sound like I have some sort of mastery of the art, but trust me when I say my knitting skills are rudimentary at best.

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Then I begin the process of improv-knitting a sweater for the lucky, lucky child who will be this year’s new handmade sweater recipient. And when I say “improv-knitting” that is just a fancy way of saying that I make it up as I go. And yes you are right if you are thinking (as well you should) that it would make all kinds of sense to actually follow a pattern written by, you know, a knitting professional or something but here’s my general problem: it’s usually been about year since I logged into my Ravelry account (for you who don’t knit — this is THE epicenter of online knitting information. Sadly, Ravelry has no sewing-equivalent, though many have tried) so I’ve forgotten the password, so why bother trying to reset it when I could just make something up? And how am I going to find the perfect hooded sweater pattern that uses exactly the gauge yarn I have picked out? Better just to wing it. This always seems to make perfect sense at the time.

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There are a number of problems with this approach as you might have already guessed. Number one is that improv knitting almost always results in a sweater that does not fit. Clementine is JUST NOW growing into the pink and yellow number I made for her three years ago. Though that was crochet, but the general approach was still the same. And Hugo, as you may be able to see in these photos, is already busting out of the tiny sweater I made for him last winter like a delicious little baby sausage.

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Mmmm. Baby sausage.

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The other problem is that I often start these projects mid-September with great zeal and motivation but then lose steam, forget how to knit, have to reteach myself how to knit, and then end up finishing them in late spring, or more often, the following year. Timing. If I lived in Iceland this wouldn’t be a problem. And actually this summer was so cold that he did end up wearing it a bit in July (JULY?!?!), so all was not lost. But soon this little sweater will be on its way to cousin Penelope. Lucky thing.

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I used Shepherd’s Wool yarn which is made here in Michigan (yay!). You can see the sweater I was inspired by here (I think mine turned out better ahem), and if you use Pinterest you can follow my Someday when I am a knitting superstar Pinterest board to see what other ambitious projects I intend to recreate. My “knitting” blog category contains my other mostly ill-fitting knitting projects.

Please do not pin or repost pictures of Hugo. Thanks!!!

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Josephine with sleeves, BABY.

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I would love to think that people read my blog simply for the merits of my (always perfectly and never excessively punctuated or parenthesie’d, and of course I never make up words or unusual spellings, that would just be silly) exquisite writing skills, not to mention my glorious and always well-executed (and never slap-dash or messed up) sewing skills, but who am I kidding there’s probably a rough 50% of my blog readership that are just here for pictures of my kids. Having a baby this year has more than quadrupled my readership. OK I’M TOTALLY KIDDING that’s actually NOT TRUE AT ALL —  but wouldn’t that be funny if it were? Like: Rae, we think your sewing and ramblings are OK, but what this blog really needs is more BABY. SHOW US MORE BABY. !!! Still, I can never be too sure that my own set of merits and winning personality (and not my ability to procreate) produces the faithful readership I enjoy, dear readers, but you won’t hear me complaining.

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At any rate, when Hugo decided he was done entertaining himself with his toy bar during the roughly 30 seconds I thought I had to snap a few pictures of this new Josephine top with my phone the other day, I figured it wasn’t such a bad thing if he made an appearance. Maybe that was his plan all along. Sneaky thing. Always has to hog the spotlight. As you can plainly see he is a shameless DIVA for the camera:

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This is the second Josephine top I’ve made with the tucks partially sewn (the first was this sleeveless rayon one), and I still maintain this is probably one of the most brilliant modifications I’ve made to the pattern so far. One simply sews the pleats as far as one wants them — it helps to mark them first of course — and leaves the bottom portion unsewn. The result is roomy and comfortable and looks quite fetching if I do say so myself.

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I also decided to curve the hem on this one so I carved it out like a shirt-tail hem, which worked insofar as it produced the more casual look I was going for, but ended up a wee bit too short on the sides. When I raise my arms over my head, anyone in the vicinity receives a full view of my post-baby muffin top (and I think the only thing worse than a muffin top is the actual *term* “muffin top”)….THE. WORST. ACK!!! Oh well, I will just keep my spontaneous baby dance party moves on the more conservative side then, which means NO KERMIT ARMS today. Sorry Hugo.

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OH! The fabric is a lovely lightweight cotton with a loose weave that has colored threads running throughout; I procured it online from Guthrie and Ghani, a UK-based sewing shop owned by Lauren from the Great British Sewing Bee; she carries a lovely assortment of apparel fabrics (including this fabric, which is still available in the voiles and lawns section as of this writing).  The pattern can be purchased as a PDF in my shop, right here.

Well then, I think that about sums it up. Clearly I am a bit too slaphappy to be trusted with a keyboard and the Internets today, so I’ll be hitting publish then before I start having second thoughts about editing for the sake of coherency or the appearance of sanity. Who needs THAT? Have a great weekend everyone!

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Farewell, Summer Roundup

Well, the kids are back in school and pumpkins are popping up all over Pinterest. It’s just starting to cool off here in the Midwest. I feel like Summer took its time getting started this year, so maybe it’s just gonna hang on for awhile. Here are some of my favorites from the Rae Made Me Do It Flickr Pool to celebrate summer’s last hurrah.

This amazing Geranium Dress  that Klari made:
kokka geranium

Rachel sewed this beautifully simple linen Geranium Dress and posted about it on her blog, Stitched Together.
Geranium Tunic

Buzzmills blogged about these yellow-piped Parsley Shorts:
parsley shorts

And these Parsley Shorts are blogged on From Whole Cloth (nice print matching on the pockets there!).
Let's Drive Shorts

And this Ruby Top posted by Spool Fabric Shop is so pretty! I’ve loved Leah Duncan’s Meadow fabric line from the get-go, and this is such a perfect combo.
Meadow Ruby Top

Have a great weekend, all!

O+S Sailboat skirtHandcrafted ruby 2Handcrafted ruby 1Lilla 6Lilla 69Lilla 68Lilla 101Geranium Dress in CorduroyGeranium Dress in Embroidered Corduroy 2Geranium Dress in Cotton + SteelGeranium Dress in Cotton & CorduroyGeranium Dress is Embroidered Corduroy

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Sparkly New Pattern Shop!!

I introduced my new blog design yesterday, so it’s time to show off the NEW SHOP! I’m extra-pleased (and sidenote: can we talk about the word “chuffed” for a moment? I’ve been seeing my UK friends using that one all over the place, and it means “pleased,” right? I love that word!!!) with how the shop turned out. It was the main focus of the web overhaul; in other words, the blog makeover was a happy extra, but the real beef of this project was the shop…and I’m so thrilled with how it turned out!!!

new shop!!

SO. Here are some features of the new shop that I think you will love:

1 // Helllooooo Fancy Front Page! You can get to the blog with the “latest post” section. New PDF patterns are just below the nifty slideshow (woo hoo!) and if you’re searching for women’s, children’s, freebies, accessories, it’s all easy to find on the sidebar. You can also search by difficulty on the sidebar.

2 // Each pattern has its own page with multiple photos and tons of information. The little colored buttons indicate the difficulty of a pattern.

new shop!

3 // The three blue tabs contain some useful stuff:

  • The DESCRIPTION tab gives an overview of the pattern and its features + a reminder that it is DIGITAL (you wouldn’t believe how many people don’t realize this)
  • The MATERIALS tab has a materials list, and links to the size, yardage, and finished measurement charts
  • The MORE tab has a list of the related blog posts so you can see more examples and read more about the pattern on my blog!

new shop!

4 // You can also find the pattern’s photo pool gallery with user-submitted projects at the bottom of the pattern page. Fun for seeing what everyone else is making!

Dropdown Menu

5 // For products that have more than one size available (like Flashback Tee and Geranium), you can select the size you want (or both!) from the drop-down menu.

Charlie PDF Bundle

6 // Bundles — like the Charlie Bundle and the Washi Bundle have their own listings.

7 // Many will be happy to know that we now take credit card payments in addition to Paypal!

I’m sure there are more features that I’m forgetting, but at least that gives you a little tour! Do you like it??

One decision that I made (pretty early in this project) was to keep the BLOG at the main made-by-rae.com URL, and put the SHOP at shop.made-by-rae.com. It has become pretty standard when you sell anything on the internet to put your shop at the main URL and then put the blog off to the side, but I didn’t want to do this. My blog is the heart and soul of what I do and I want that to show. Maybe that’s a poor business decision on my part, but…the patterns are great but they’re just a way to support my true passion which is sewing for myself and my kids. Having a business can be — quite frankly — a bit of a drag (all that bookkeeping! quarterly taxes! expense/income analysis! accounting fees!! NEED I SAY MORE?), so while I do almost constantly dream about new patterns to put in the shop, I still spend plenty of time gazing at my fabric stash and sketching new things to sew. All this to say…I decided to keep the blog at made-by-rae.com instead of sidelining it…probably didn’t need a whole paragraph to say that but…OH WELL! Thanks for stopping by to see my new shop!

I want to give a HUGE thank you to Aeolidia, and especially Christine and Shoshanna for me to helping execute what I’m sure was a much more ambitious project than anyone anticipated. The folks at Aeolidia were kind, patient (I did go and have a baby about halfway into the project, so that slowed things down considerably), and a true pleasure to work with. I highly recommend them if you are interested in taking a website/blog/shop to the next level. I also really need to thank my lovely coworkers Jessica and Elli for all of the hard work they put into updating the new blog and shop as well!

Finally…you can find me on: InstagramFacebookPinterest, and Twitter.

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