Mint Stripe Isla Dress

Mint striped Isla Dress

Here’s a fun dress version of my Isla Sewing Pattern that I made while we were testing the pattern! This fabric is a super-stretchy striped cotton lycra jersey — very similar to the fabric used for my Aztec Isla Top — that I purchased on the cheap, and like that top, is now pretty pilly from washing. Le Sigh. Note to self: wash inside out and line dry! Or better yet, buy better quality knits!!!

Mint striped Isla Dress

Since this dress was sewn, I changed the bodice pattern pieces a bit so that they’re contoured at the bottom instead of straight (to accommodate busts), so the curve at the waistband would now cause the stripes to intersect with the skirt at an angle if you tried making it with a stripe. One of those situations where I had a tradeoff when making the pattern. I will post how to cut the pattern if you’re using striped fabric soon, but in a nutshell, you need to straighten out the bottom of the bodice pattern pieces, and then line the bottom edge up carefully along the stripes. Another small difference with this version is that I used a narrower band for the arms and neckline: I cut the arm and neckbands 1.5″ wide instead of the 2″ wide bands that the pattern includes.

Mint striped Isla Dress

Looks pretty cute with my Dansko clogs!

mint striped Isla Dress / made by rae

This dress definitely reads more “spring” than fall, but I am a big aqua fan so I will wear this any time of year. I think with some leggings, boots, and a big chunky cardigan, I can make it work!

You can see more versions of Isla over on my Isla Page, or purchase the Isla sewing pattern in my shop!

Posted in isla

Aztec Isla Top

Isla Sewing Pattern

Isla Sewing Pattern

This Isla is one of my favorites. Shhhh don’t tell my other Islas! It was meant to just be a whip-it-up-quick sample (read: don’t look too closely) to check the original pattern before we started working on grading it almost a year ago, but I’ve ended up wearing it quite a bit because it’s just ridiculously comfortable. The fabric is a lightweight lycra jersey with some with 4-way stretch that I purchased from Girl Charlee last year (full disclosure: Girl Charlee is a past sponsor of this blog), so it’s super stretchy and swingy. Knit fabrics with lycra or synthetic content can be a little harder to sew with than more stable knits like interlocks, but they are definitely very forgiving when it comes to fit. Unfortunately, this print is no longer available, but I think the other cotton lycra fabrics from Girl Charlee would probably behave similarly.

My big mistake with this top is that I threw it in the dryer, so it’s pilled up a bit, which fortunately you can’t really see because of the black background. You can prevent pilling in knits that have synthetic content by washing them inside out on gentle cycle and then line drying them. I honestly did not know about the line-dry thing until very recently when I read this fantastic article on IndieSew (full disclosure: IndieSew carries my sewing patterns) that not only talks about caring for rayon jersey (scroll down to the bottom), but also has a great section about how the quality and type of the knit affects the fit of the garment. This is a must-read if you gravitate toward stretchy knits.

Isla Peplum

I pretty much nailed the neckband. See how smug I look in the photo below?

Isla Sewing Pattern

The Isla Sewing Pattern comes with both a top and a dress option, and is now available in my shop!

Posted in isla
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Isla Sewing Pattern is HERE!

Isla Sewing Pattern from made by rae

You guys! My newest pattern, Isla, is here!! Isla is designed for knit fabrics and has a fitted bodice with a gathered skirt attached at the natural waist to make either a dress (like my Observer Dress) or a peplum top (like my Strawberry and Yellow Striped peplum tops). As you can see, I’ve been sewing this design for years, so I’m excited to add this pattern for knits to the pattern collection!


Skills for Isla
I know that sewing knits can make some of you nervous, so I want to assure you that the construction for Isla is not complicated. Sewing this garment requires basic knit-sewing skills, with some fun and clever techniques thrown in. Here’s a quick overview:

  • Basic knit seams: Shoulders and side seams can be sewn with a regular sewing machine set to stretch stitch or zigzag, or with a serger.
  • Neck and armbands: The scoop neckline and armholes are finished with folded bands that come together amazingly quickly. I’ve never shared this technique on the blog before, and I think you’ll love how easy it is and how great it looks.
  • Gathering knits: Elastic thread is used to gather and attach the skirt to the bodice with a technique called shirring. If you’ve never done this before, you can check out my helpful Shirring Tutorial for some photos and tips, OR you can use alternate techniques for gathering. Allie at Indiesew has shared two super tutorials for gathering knits: the floss method and the elastic method that you should definitely check out if your machine refuses to shirr!
  • Hemming: hemming is the final step, so check out some great tips in my hemming knits post!

And that’s it! I think you’ll find that sewing Isla is achievable even if you are relatively new to knit sewing! But if you’d like a nice easy project to practice your knit skills, why not try my free Knit Baby Leggings first? or check out my Knits Page for more knit sewing info!

Isla joins the Luna Pants and Gemma Tank in my “Presto Patterns” collection. The idea behind Presto patterns is that they are simple and easy to make, drafted and tested with the same level of care as the rest of my patterns, but include more abbreviated instructions (read more about Presto patterns in this post). This also means that you get the Isla pattern at the bargain Presto price!!

Isla Dress and Top

Isla is available as a PDF sewing pattern, which includes print-at-home pages as well as copy shop files (in both A0 and US formats), just like the rest of my women’s digital patterns!

More Info
I’ve put together an Isla Page where you can find all of the blog posts and resources pertaining to Isla. In the Isla shop listing, you’ll find additional photos, plus all the charts for sizes, finished measurements, and yardage.

Share with us!
I’d love to see what you make with the Isla Pattern! Please use the hashtags #islapattern#madebyrae, or #raemademedoit on Instagram and Twitter to share your photos, or post pictures of your finished tops and dresses to the Rae Made Me Do It pool in Flickr and see what others have made! I also have a Made by Rae group on Facebook now, so if you’d like to join and be a part of the sewing community there, please request to join!


Sewing with knits

sewing with knits

As I get ready to launch my Isla sewing pattern for knits, I thought it would be nice to point you to some knit sewing resources here on my blog! You can find a list of everything mentioned in this post on my Knits Page.

First, I would highly recommend taking a look at the KNITerviews (that’s a link to the intro post, and a full list of posts can be found here). In those interviews, I asked bloggers about their experiences and tips for sewing with knits. I can’t believe how many people have told me that they learned how to sew with knits using the KNITerviews!

Second, check out the Trace and Make T-Shirt and Leggings class I taught in my Sewing for Little Ones course on Creativebug (affiliate links). If you like learning from videos, I think you’ll love this class. Making clothes for kids is gratifying because they come together so quickly, and it’s great practice to learn skills without using up adult-sized quantities of fabric! The class introduces the following beginner knit skills: sewing a basic seam, different types of knit fabrics, and how to measure the amount of stretch.

I also did a few supplementary blog posts under the category Stretch Yourself: Sewing with Knits in which I dispensed some of my own knit sewing wisdom. There’s a few posts there that you might find helpful, including a tutorial series on Knit Necklines (two binding techniques + adding a neckband), and a post with Tips for Hemming Knits that many people have found useful.

Finally, I wrote a few posts about shopping for knits online and my favorite knit fabrics, though you may find that some of the links in the second one are a bit out of date. I’ll try to post a few more of my favorite knit fabrics soon!!!

PS. Did you get this month’s issue of Seamwork? It has a great article on how to fit knit garments, for those of you who want to advance your knit-fitting skills!!

Posted in knits

How to use a copy shop file

how to use a copyshop file

All of my PDF sewing patterns for women’s garments are now available in print-at-home and large-scale format for printing at a copy shop. I haven’t seen much discussion or explanation about copy shop files in the blogosphere, so I thought I’d provide some information about what copy shop files are and why we use them, and I’ll give you some pointers about how to go about getting them printed if you’re new to this! Also, if you’ve purchased a pattern from me in the past and would like a copy shop file, I’ll let you know how to go about getting one.

General copy shop info

My digital patterns have always included pattern pieces that are formatted in “tiles” so that you can print the pattern pieces on a regular household printer, then tape them together to assemble the pattern pieces. A copy shop file, on the other hand, is formatted so that the pattern pieces are all on one giant page. The file must be sent to a print shop to print the pieces at full size, so you end up with a wide-format piece of paper with all the pattern pieces on it, like the one shown above.

Most pattern designers who include copy shop files with their digital patterns include two different copy shop files: one for 36″-wide paper (used in the US) and one for A0 paper (used everywhere else in the world), which is 84.1 cm by 118.9 cm.

Pros and Cons

There are plenty of advantages to a copy shop file! Most people prefer not having to tape pattern pages together, so a copy shop file is an obvious choice for someone who wants a digital pattern that isn’t available in print. Some people don’t have home printers, and even if you do, with a copy shop file you don’t have to use up your own paper, ink, and tape. Printing at a copy shop can also be quicker than ordering a print pattern and waiting for it to come in the mail. And for pattern designers, it’s nice to be able to offer a large-format option without having to invest thousands of dollars into printing a paper pattern. Finally, I think copy shop files are easier to store: you just fold or roll up the sheet and store it like you would a roll of wrapping paper for future use.

The disadvantages to copy shop files are mostly related to the extra cost and inconvenience. It’s probably going to cost at least $10 (and in some cases, over $20, especially for complex patterns that have many pieces) to get an adult-sized sewing pattern printed at a copy shop, so you have to factor that in when considering how much you will spend on a digital pattern. If you have to add an extra $10 or $15, that definitely bumps up the cost. You also need to factor in the additional time it will take to send your file to the copy shop, and then go pick it up when it’s ready.

Overall, however, I think it’s pretty clear that a copy shop file is nicer and easier to store than a print at home pattern.

How to get it printed

Here’s a screenshot of what my download page looks like:

Made by Rae download page

If you’re going to use one of my copy shop pattern files, you’ll need to download both of the files shown above at home. The print-at-home file (top, image above) contains the sewing instructions, which you’ll need even though you won’t print the pattern pieces at home. Print the instructions at home, or follow them from a tablet of computer while you’re sewing.

Do a little research first

To get copy shop pattern pieces printed, it pays to do a little research in your area for local print shops. Do a web search, then call around or check their websites to find out what their rates are. You can also usually email them a file and ask for an estimate before you commit to printing it. I go to Kollosos, a locally-owned print shop near my studio in downtown Ann Arbor. Their rates are reasonable, so it costs me about 50% less than the big copy center chain (rhymes with Gingkos) to get a pattern printed there. I would strongly encourage you to search around first for the mom and pop shop rather than the big chains; chances are good you’ll find a much cheaper option.

You’ll probably have a choice about paper and print quality, so be specific: ask them to print it at 100% scale, in black and white (color will cost bunches more) and on the cheapest paper they have. Once they’ve opened the file, they should be able to tell you exactly how much it will cost before you get it printed.

Let me reiterate: look for the locally-owned print shops!! There is a very good chance you’ll get a better price than at a national chain.

Ready to print?

Depending on the business, you’ll have an option to email or upload the file to a print shop’s website. Or you can save the file to a flash drive and deliver it in person. Remind them that you need the file printed at 100%.

All my patterns are for personal use only, and are marked with my copyright information.  If a printer tells you they can’t print a file because of my copyright, you can draw their attention to the note on the file where I’ve indicated that it’s ok for them to print a copy of the file for your personal use.

CHECK SCALE: Most importantly, before you take it home, make sure to measure the scale box on the copy shop printout with a ruler to check the scale before you use it; copy shop employees make mistakes too!!!

Trace, don’t cut!

Once you get your pattern printed, use it the same way you would use any pattern. I always just trace the size(s) I need so that I never have to cut into the printout. To store my copy shop printouts, I roll them up like posters, label them and keep them standing up in a box in my studio. An alternative would be to fold them up and file them with your tracings and instructions that go along with the pattern.

Learn more about how I organize my patterns here.

Finally, if you purchased one or more of my women’s (PLEASE NOTE: I only have women’s copy shop files available at this time!) patterns before the copy shop files were available and you would like the large-format files, please use my contact page or email me at rae(dot)made(at)gmail(dot)com with a proof of purchase (this could be the order number, the order confirmation email, or forward your receipt or download email) so we can look it up and send you a fresh download link that includes the copy shop files.