You are one

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I can’t believe that you are ONE. Your birthday was on Sunday so I made you this little dress shirt for the party out of my snail fabric, and I can’t believe how grown up you look!!

You are the sweetest, snuggliest little baby with a silly sense of humor and great conversational skills. I hear you upstairs when you wake up from your nap, heatedly debating foreign policy (or is it your preference for bananas over apples perhaps?) with Curious George in your crib. We can’t understand any of the words, but the way you use inflection and tone is quite dramatic. When Daddy reminded Clementine on Sunday morning that it was your birthday, she said, “Can he talk now?” As if it could happen, just like that, overnight. You’re making progress though, with your noises and your baby signs.

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We discovered a first tooth early last week. Check that one off the milestone list. But crawling…welll. That Butt Scoot is probably going to have to do it, because the two times you tried to get into a crawl position, you landed flat on your face on the hardwood floor and you haven’t tried it since.

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I love you my little Hugo! Happy Birthday!!!

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please don’t post or reuse photos of Hugo. Thanks!

Fabric: Snail Trail from Lotus Pond (still available — and on sale — here at HoneyBeGood, one of my sponsors. Be quick though, not much left!!)

Pattern: I drew this pattern myself, though after I put it all together I realized it’s almost exactly the same pattern as the Sketchbook Shirt by Oliver+S, so buy that one if you want something similar!

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Moon Pants Sewing Pattern update

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Every time we work on a new pattern I think “That one won’t take long!” and then…it always does. Every time. Not for any particular reason, though the fact that Elli and I both had babies last year and so now we each only work about 10 hours a week is probably the biggest factor. A ton of tiny details go into making a good sewing pattern, even a simple one, so it always ends up looking easier than it is. So as a way of updating you on our progress, I thought I’d post a bunch of photos of our almost-here-Moon-Pants! Here’s Clementine in her Moon Pants with a couple of different Flashback Tees:

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I bribed Clementine with a lollipop last weekend to get her to pose for the camera in her moon pants again (see Stylo posts 1 / 2 / 3) and she really rocked it. She went all out. It definitely helped that I put Let It Go on the stereo full blast. And even though I told her she only needed to wear them with t-shirts (so the waistband would be easily visible in the photos), she insisted on putting on ALL THE OUTFITS, including the Pierrot and Charlie Tunics that match. Which is of course in my head is how I always imagine they will be worn, like a fun complementary mix-and-matchy wardrobe. So there was this outfit:

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and this one:

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I love these pants paired with sandals for spring or summer. And red is always fun, especially when it doesn’t exactly match.

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When will the pattern be ready? Elli is almost finished with the final layout and I’ve just finished sewing the final check-everything-over samples (here’s a peek at one in voile), so I’m shooting for an April 1 launch. Cross your fingers and your eyeballs and maybe it will be even sooner! And now I’m sad that I didn’t include a photo of Clementine with her eyes crossed, because whenever a camera is aimed at Clementine there is ALWAYS a photo of her with her eyes crossed. I want to hit POST instead of going and looking for one, so you’ll just have to wait. OH WEELLLL!!!

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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

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11 months old gaaaah!!

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He’s actually already 11 1/2 months because his birthday is March 22 which is now less than two weeks away *freaks out a little bit.* I know all parents say this, but where did that year go? It’s so weird to be staring down that milestone. Meanwhile, this past month has been better than the last; we’ve all been healthier overall and Hugo seems to be getting the hang of eating finger foods (video clip here) and even taking a bottle now, which is nice.

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Hugo goes to daycare a couple days a week now, and he seems to really like it. It’s great for me to have some baby-free time to get some work done, and at the same time still feel like I have plenty of time at home with him. I’m still just trying to keep my mindset in Baby Mode and work priorities as low-commitment as I possibly can. I’m trying to protect these baby days as much as possible, so it doesn’t bother me too much that work stuff keeps piling up like crazy. I just don’t have much time for it right now. Oh darn. Peeps are gonna have to chill if they need something. The only thing that makes me a little sad is that I have no new fabric collections in the works right now; I would love to do another one and I’ve been sketching a little but not enough to really put a collection together. Art is really fun.

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Oh was this post supposed to be about Hugo?? Right. OK, so the word of the month for this little guy: SCOOT. He can’t crawl yet but he’s figured out how to do a funny little seated butt-scoot that is getting him around the floor quite nicely. I discovered rug burn on his ankles and the sides of his lower legs the other day and realized it’s because he’s scooting so much. It’s time to put up the baby gates and go around the house and put stuff away. Yesterday he ate a bunch of bright pink Play-Doh when I wasn’t looking. I have no idea how much he actually managed to get down before I got to him, though I’m guessing I’ll be able to tell just how much once it comes out the other end in beautiful glowing pink terds. I am going to need to keep a better eye on him. and thank goodness it was just Play-Doh.

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I printed out the first eleven months of “month-by-month” photos the other day — just one more and we’ll have a set of twelve! Crazytown.

please don’t pin or reuse photos of Hugo! Thanks!

PS. The squirrel pull toy is by Kid O / Orange diaper by BumGenius

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The post where I go a little #fangirl on Cloud9

Yesterday was a pretty unproductive day; besides keeping the baby fed, clothed, and happy (a feat which should not be underestimated, I realize, yet somehow feels oddly dissatisfying as far as checking things off the to-do list), I ended up staring off into space most of the day due to a serious case of Busy Brain. Busy Brain is just what I call having too many ideas + the inability to focus or execute on any of them, a negative side effect of having an overactive creative mind, and it can be paralyzing and frustrating. Since I began assessing and diagnosing this malady in myself, I have learned that many other creative people share it as well.

However, during one of Hugo’s naps, I did manage to listen to Abby Glassenberg’s latest podcast which is an interview with Gina Pantastico and Michelle Engel Bencsko of Cloud9 Fabrics. I swear this has got to be the best While She Naps podcast Abby has ever done; I really, really enjoyed this one. I’ve been trying to figure out if I feel this way only because I’m completely biased (I am a Cloud9 Collective Designer) but I truly believe it’s more a testament to Michelle and Gina’s amazing story plus Abby’s awesome interviewing skills. This is a modern success story about two talented and ambitious women, taking a leap of faith and starting this really cool company. I loved getting a look behind the scenes in this interview.

Years ago, long before Cloud9 Fabrics or Made By Rae, I was a faithful reader of Michelle’s blog, Cicado Studio, which no longer exists online as far as I can tell. I remember when Michelle announced that she and Gina were starting Cloud9, and I remember being so freaking excited over the concept of an organic fabric company and even more excited that their designs were so modern; at that time it seemed like every organic textile was required to be the color of undyed hemp. I also remember the note on their brand new Cloud9 website that said, essentially “Hey guys, we’ve gotten a ton of requests but we can’t take on new designers at this time; we’ve got our hands full with this whole starting a new business thing, so we’re going to start with our own designs and see where that takes us!” and I remember feeling a little bit disappointed. Maybe you didn’t know this, but before I ever dreamed of designing sewing patterns, I dreamed of designing fabric.

In 2012, when I finally got my shit together enough to patch together a rough fabric design portfolio and bring it to the first Quilt Market I ever attended, I showed my designs to a small handful of people, including Melody Miller and Rashida Coleman-Hale, who encouraged me to bring them to Michelle at Cloud9. I don’t think I would have ever had the nerve to approach her out of the blue unless those two had pushed me to do it, and for that I am eternally grateful to them. I felt my aesthetic was a dead match for Cloud9, but to have others affirm that was really encouraging. And even though nothing really happened right away, I understand now — after listening to Michelle talk about what she looks for in new designers — that just putting myself on their radar was the first (very important) step. It wasn’t about the portfolio (I will readily admit, my portfolio pretty much sucked), it was about introducing myself and my work. Almost a year later, after working together on a Tsuru-Geranium collaboration, Michelle decided I might be a good fit as a Cloud9 designer and the rest is history.

I still have to pinch myself sometimes when I see my name on the selvage of my fabric along with Cloud9. My designs are printed on real fabric that is sold in real fabric stores. It’s such a huge thrill and I feel so immensely lucky. Being a fabric designer has also legitimized my brand and my business in a way that making digital sewing patterns never really could; I’m not sure I anticipated that happening but it certainly is true. My mom can walk into Pacific Fabrics and tell the lady at the cutting counter that her daughter designed that fabric (even if that lady couldn’t care less, true story). There’s something about that that makes me feel just a little bit happy and proud. I imagine this must be similar to how authors feel when they finally hold an actual book in their hand; the thing they have been working on virtually for so long finally turning into a physical reality.

Anyway, Hugo is upstairs complaining loudly because his nap is over and I’m still typing away, so I’ll wrap it up by saying this: I love working with Gina and Michelle. I love Cloud9’s modern look, the company ethic, their cool story, and the fact that they are both so down to earth and I highly recommend listening to their While She Naps podcast interview with Abby!

And: more on my latest Cloud9 fabric collection, Small World, soon!

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