Let’s talk about size range!

Not all of my sewing patterns come in the same size range, which is definitely confusing to people and something I’d love to remedy. However, as it seems unlikely we’ll be able to accomplish that in the near future, I thought it would be helpful to post some information about our women’s pattern sizing. And look! Elli made a handy infographic to make it easy to see at a glance the evolution of our size range and which patterns come in which sizes.

Many of you are aware that my latest pattern, Rose, comes in a larger size range than any of our previous patterns. Rose has gotten a fair amount of attention for having a more inclusive range, and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Rose has been our most successful women’s pattern launch to date.

Here is the size chart (11 sizes) we began using this year (2019) beginning with Rose:

I’ve noticed that many people aren’t aware that the size range we began using in 2016 included plus sizes (up to roughly a US size 24). Gemma was the first pattern to be released in this range. We have begun working to update our older patterns as well, starting with Ruby, which we released in this new nine-size range in both print and PDF early last year.

Here is the size chart (9 sizes) we began using in 2016 (Gemma, Isla, Cleo, and Jade come in this range):

And here is the original women’s size range (2012-2015) — patterns in this range include Washi, Beatrix, Josephine, Bianca, and Luna:

If someone stumbled across an older pattern in the original size range (like Washi or Beatrix), it makes sense that they would assume that ALL of our patterns have the same range. Until we manage to update all of the patterns, this will continue to be confusing. It’s also a bit of a vicious cycle — if people assume that all of our patterns come in a limited size range, we don’t get included in plus sized pattern roundups and it’s harder to get the word out that we have more sizes, which also means the updates don’t sell as well.

Happily, we’re currently working on grading both Luna and Washi into the newest range, and adding a bodice piece for fuller busts to Washi (similar to what Gemma, Beatrix, and Josephine already have). Because Washi is my oldest women’s pattern and has been in print since 2013, figuring out the logistical issues of re-releasing this pattern is definitely going to be an challenge. But I really want to be able to provide a wider range of sizes for those of you who would like to sew this beloved pattern (and Luna!), and I’m committed to this project. Stay tuned.

In the interest of transparency, one of the questions that I still can’t answer is whether the investment of increasing size range for older patterns (that is, grading, testing, updating and reprinting) pays off. We’ve only managed to update one pattern (Ruby) so far, but I suspect that that a re-release will never be as exciting as a new pattern launch. Fewer people talk about it, or share online, and despite our best efforts to let people know, it is understandably less of a big deal. My guess is that the most sustainable path forward will be to continue to intersperse pattern size updates with new pattern releases. We’ll see how it goes with Washi and Luna.

I’d like to say thank you to the awesome sewists who shared their body measurements online using the #sewmysize hashtag earlier this year. Knowledge is critical, and knowing what sizes we weren’t reaching allowed us to depart from using the size data we were using before and add more sizes to our size chart. Voices matter, and the amplified conversations around size inclusivity have been important to this change for us.

Many people have expressed appreciation for the new sizes. It’s encouraging to hear that feedback, and I am also very aware that we still have a lot of work to do, and that there are still people who are outside of the current range who would love to sew for themselves. While I certainly wish I had done things differently from the start, the best I can do is try to do better moving forward.

Thank you to those of you who helped post about and spread the word about our new size range and previous size updates. And if you didn’t know about it before, know that we are working hard to make more of the patterns fit more of your beautiful bodies!

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Jess’ brussels washer Rose shorts

Another day, another Rose post! We continue to celebrate the versatility of the Rose pattern with Jess’ shorts. This pair is made from Brussels Washer Yarn Dye by Robert Kaufman. This is a lovely blend of 55% linen / 45% rayon that is easy to care for (machine wash & dry!) and easy to sew.

While this particular color is sadly no longer available, there are still some gorgeous options in the yarn dyes, as well as the [non yarn-dyed] Brussels Washer collection.


Jess chose to use the inverted pleats on this pair. I’ve included a bunch of different pleating and gathering alternatives in the Rose pattern, and I recommend trying different ones when you make yours! I went into some more detail about gathers vs. pleats in this post.

A few reliable sources for Brussels Washer:
Fancy Tiger Crafts: Regular / Yarn Dyes
Imagine Gnats
Ewe Fibers
Stonemountain & Daughter

Find resources, inspiration, and everything Rose-related on the Rose Page. Just need the pattern? Find it in my shop!

Have you made a pair (or three…) of your own Rose pants or shorts? Share them and get inspired at #mbrrose!

Rose pants in viscose-linen

viscose-linen rose pants

Rose pants can be made out of a pretty wide variety of fabrics for different looks and textures! Here we have a couple of pairs sewn from viscose-linen. This fabric has been VERY HOT on the Apparel Sewing Internet for the past year, so both Jess and I wanted to try it out for Rose pants, being both super comfortable, apparel-appropriate, and easy to find both at fabric shops and online. I also used it to sew the yellow Emerald dress sample for Making Magazine.

viscose-linen rose pants

Jess used the “rust” color, and I used “caramel.”

Rose pants in viscose linen

This fabric is easy to care for (machine wash and dry) and incredibly comfortable. It has an elegant drape too, but due to the slubby texture, it’s not difficult to manage while sewing, the way some slippery rayons can be. (note that the terms “viscose” and “rayon” mean the same thing)

Sewing Rose (or any garment, for that matter) out of this fabric does require some adjustments we wanted to tell you about. It has more than the usual amount of stretch for a woven fabric, so it has a tendency to “grow” while you sew it. For both of us, it stretched out quite a bit while sewing, especially along the curved crotch seams (basically, be careful with any curved or bias-cut seams), so when we were finished the pants felt at least a size too big.

viscose-linen rose pants

As a result, Jess (who has a 36.5″ hip and made a size S) narrowed leg at inseam, shortened rise, and reduced width at center back by taking in the top section of the back crotch seam. On my pair (I have a 41″ hip and made a size L), I took in in 1″ along both side seams from back pant pieces and waistband (so 2″ total), reduced back crotch curve by 1″ by taking in the back inseam at the crotch and inner thigh. I’m pretty sure I would also have taken up the hem if I were not so tall (I’m 5’8″).

I think the big question left unanswered yet is “should you go down a size in this fabric?” and I’m REALLY tempted to say yes, especially if you are between sizes. However, since this is — as of this writing — still untested, if you decide to do so, I must remind you to proceed with caution.

For those who would prefer to stay on the safe side and cut your fabric out according to your size, use the adjustments you made to your muslin and be prepared to make some tweaks. We also highly recommend in all cases that you baste all seams (except pockets) and adjust fit as you go — there are instructions for checking fit throughout the pattern to remind you to do this — this is always immensely helpful whenever using a new-to-you fabric.

With fabrics that have so much give, it’s always a good idea to hold off on hemming right away as well. Once you’ve done everything but hem, hang them up for a day or two, then try them on once more and sew your hem.

viscose-linen rose pants
viscose-linen rose pants

You may be left wondering: why the heck would I use this fabric if it may requires so much tweaking?? The answer is because these pants are so freaking comfortable you can sleep in them. This fabric is just the dreamiest thing to wear, and any hateful thoughts I may have mentally pointed in its direction when adjusting the fit of my pair have since magically disappeared. Sometimes, the problem solving involved with sewing garments is justified by the end result. I feel like a million bucks in these pants.

Rose pants - made by rae

One other note about this fabric. While it is widely available at many of our favorite apparel fabric shops, most shops use different names to identify it (a personal pet peeve, but moving on…). If you’re a shop that carries this fabric, feel free to leave a comment with a link to your listing so we can add you to this list:

Ewe Fibers – Viscose-linen
Blackbird fabrics – Viscose-linen noil (note: NOT the viscose-linen slub!!!)
Stonemountain and Daughter – Mora Slub
Shop La Mercerie – Avery Slub linen blend
Sewing Studio – Grace Viscose & Linen

I hope this post has been informative and helpful. If you have sewn something with this fabric or try it for Rose, be sure to weigh in with your thoughts so we can hear what you think!

The Rose pattern is available in my shop. Rose pattern information and yardage can be found on our Rose page.

Posted in Jess, Rose
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Jess’ silk noil Rose + Gemma set

silk noil Rose and Gemma set

Hi all! Jess here, sharing a Rose Pants + Gemma Tank combo that I’m loving. The fabric I used is silk noil in teal blue that we got from Ewe Fibers here. This silk is easy to care for (machine wash and dry!), easy to sew, and incredibly soft and comfy.

I’ve made three versions of Rose now: one in each length, and each in a different fabric. Throughout this process, I’ve learned a ton of lessons, and this particular Gemma/Rose combo presented the biggest challenges, but possibly the most rewarding results!

silk noil Rose and Gemma set
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When I cut out these pants, I had just finished making a super-drapy viscose/linen pair that required a lot of width reduction and rise adjustment. I mistakenly assumed that the same adjustments would be necessary for this silk noil, so I preemptively took 1/2″ off the width at the hip and took in the back inseam by about a 1/2″ to narrow the leg and reduce the rise. This was *not a good idea*! When I basted the seams and tried the pants on before adding the waistband, the rise was too low in the back, and there was not enough ease at the hip. 

Thankfully, I was sewing at the studio with Rae, and she helped me carve out the back rise seam to make a little more room in the seat. Then I reduced the side seam allowances, which bought me a bit of ease in the hip. My next mistake was to attach the waistband without basting first. I could barely pull them on over my hips! So again, I had to undo some seams and reduce the waistband seam allowances. I was surprised that adding the waistband made such a difference, but I believe that the interfaced front waistband stabilized the fabric and removed the little bit of ease I had actually retained.

Lessons Learned:

1. Don’t make adjustments until you’ve tried on the garment! I have a good set of working pattern pieces because I made a muslin out of a stable, non-stretchy cotton. I should have trusted those pattern pieces and used them without any changes when I tried a new fabric.

2. Only make one change at a time, and try on between adjustments. I didn’t make one change at a time, which resulted in not knowing which alterations made a difference.

3. Baste baste baste! Even though it feels like more sewing, if you use a basting stitch to sew all your initial seams, it’s super easy to try something on, make quick changes, and pull out the basting threads. Once you have a good fit, you can use a regular stitch and finish your seams with full confidence that you won’t have to take all those tedious stitches out later.

silk noil Rose and Gemma set

Now for the Gemma top! I’m probably Gemma’s biggest fan. I have a closet full of them, and I wear them all year around. Now that I’ve finally discovered high-waisted pants and shorts, one of my favorite modifications is to crop Gemma (here’s a tutorial), which I did here. Since I’ve made a thousand of these tanks, I didn’t try it on before I hemmed it. And guess what? *It was a bad idea*! It looked great with jeans, but the whole idea was to wear this tank with the matching Rose Pants, and the hem was just too low to look good.

So, another lesson learned: 

If you’re going to make coordinating garments, try them on with each other before finishing them. In this case, moving the hem up an inch made this combination actually wearable. And now I have a sweet new outfit! 

silk noil Rose and Gemma set

Ready to make your own combo like mine? Grab the patterns in the shop:
Rose Pants
Gemma Tank

And you can always get some inspiration on Instagram with these handy tags: #mbrrose / #gemmatank / #madebyrae

Rose inspiration

I really love the wide leg, high-waisted pant trend. Today I’m sharing some of the images that inspired me when designing the Rose sewing pattern. Not all of these are exact-matches for Rose’s design; in fact you’ll probably notice that very few of them are, because I often find the colors, silhouettes, lengths, fabrics, prints, and outfit styling more inspiring than the actual garment details. I’ll try to share some of my thoughts about these (I’ve numbered them to make them easier to reference), but in the end, the way an image hits one person is always a bit different than the way it it hits someone else. Here’s hoping you’ll find some sewing inspiration here as well!

Rose inspiration collage

I’m going to start with my most colorful set of images, since I’m a bold-colors kind of gal. Mara Hoffman’s high-waisted pant designs (1,3,7) have certainly been a huge inspiration to me. Imagining striped and solid colored fabrics for Rose (and how about a solid, matching top as well?) was a huge source of inspiration. I also someday hope to exactly copy those pink striped pants and complete the look with a white button-down and sweet hat (2). I love the combination of a striped knit top paired with floral pants (5), and that gauzy fabric in the yellow pleated pants looks perfectly dreamy (4). Who else wants to figure out how to add a center front zipper like that electric yellow pair with me (8)?

Now for some more neutral looks…

Several of the high-waisted pant and shorts images in this post have waist-ties (10, 13, 16), which is something I plan to explore soon — I currently have another Rose cut out and sitting next to me on the table along with a waist-tie…stay tuned. The dressy looks here are also great (12, 15); that all-black (navy?) outfit (15) is fantastic with the sleeveless turtleneck and some neutral accessories. I’m really drawn to rust (11, 14) and golden brown (9) fabrics; perhaps a linen would create those looks. And the lighter fabrics (10, 13, 16) are perfect for warm weather. The long white pants in (16) with that ruffled yellow top (Ogden cami? or Gemma with ruffle?) is such a summery look.

In this collage, more solid-color outfits that really shine (18, 19, 22), and a couple that incorporate denim or chambray fabrics into the look (23, 24) for a more casual vibe. The patterned Ace and Jig fabric (17) and vertical stripes (20) are fairly neutral yet fun. That cinnamon pair (21) really reminds me of the long brown Rose pants I wear all the time!

Finally, I want to draw your attention to the various lengths. Floor-skimming (20, 21) can be beautiful for a dressier or more dramatic style. If you’re sewing a cropped version of Rose, consider how different the cropped lengths are in the bottom right two images (22 and 25). 22 is mid-shin, while 25 lands right at the ankle; both are fantastic. I want to encourage you to play around with length — everyone’s proportions are unique, so the “perfect length” is really up to you!

The Rose pants and shorts sewing pattern is available now in my shop!

Posted in Rose
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