Short sleeved Jade tee

I just got back yesterday from the most lovely visit to Austin where I rented a house with some girlfriends and spent the weekend knitting, chatting, relaxing, and eating great food. After that I drove to Waco to see my sister and her family for a couple of days. Texas was absolutely gorgeous — the wildflowers were blooming and everything was warm and green — and I got to wear this new short-sleeved Jade tee that I made for the trip. Most of my Jade tees have been long or 3/4-length sleeves, so I thought the shorter sleeve would be better for hot weather (the Jade pattern comes with 4 sleeve lengths).

Jade tee / made by rae

The striped fabric is a rib knit that I purchased at La Mercerie a few months ago. I love following shops with a smaller, more curated collection of fabrics (I find it less overwhelming), but the key is to watch their newsletters for new fabrics, since some of the fabrics — like this one — tend to go out of stock faster than others.

I’m starting to really love my rib knit Jade tees the most. My navy long sleeved striped rib-knit one was easily one of my most-worn items this past winter. The rib fabric has a soft and stretchy quality without the thinness of a super-stretchy jersey, which tend to adhere to every wobble and wrinkle of my body. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Just sometimes you like a tee to smooth out your fluffy bits a bit rather than showing off every nook and cranny, y’know?

I’d love to sew a few more short sleeve tees to go with my Rose pants, which is our newest, soon-to-be-released pattern! If you want to sew yourself a few Jade tees, you can find the pattern in my shop.

Essex Linen Rose Pants

When I announced late last summer that we would make a pants pattern, we were in the very early stages of the pattern development. I decided I wanted to be as transparent about the process as possible, since I think most people don’t realize just how long it takes to take a pattern from concept to launch. I thought maybe every few weeks I could hop on the ol’ blog and post a little status update. ISN’T THAT HILARIOUS?

I didn’t realize then how hard it would be to post communications on a regular basis on what was happening with this pattern. If you had called me up on the phone at any given point I could easily have told you what we were doing — it’s not a big secret — but it turns out that the work of developing a pattern, running a business, and also attempting to be a present mama of three is quite enough for one person, at least it is for me, let alone try to send out Rose updates to the blog and newsletter on top of all that. It does seem rather obvious as I type it out.

At any rate, the last time I posted an update on Rose, we had graded the pattern into nine sizes, and I was just beginning to sketch diagrams and write instructions. Fast forward to this week: we’ve completed one round of testing and are nearly finished with Round 2 with a smaller group to test out the small set of tweaks we made after Round 1. Elli has digitized most of the diagrams, we’ve written and edited the instructions, and Karen graded the pattern with an additional two sizes (up to a 59″ hip). Though we don’t have an exact launch date, I am hopeful that it will be some time in April, as these will definitely be a fantastic pattern for spring and summer.

Essex linen rose pants / made by rae

With that in mind, I thought I’d post pics of this latest pair of Rose Pants that I’ve made for myself, made with Essex linen by Robert Kaufman. This particular fabric is from Carolyn Friedlander’s Polk line (Carolyn wrote this post showing many of the fabrics in the line sewn up into garments). I love this print and we’ll see how wrinkly these get (as they are 100% linen), though as a mama of three I don’t much care much about wrinkles nor do I have the time or inclination to iron anything once it’s sewn (I do press like a maniac as I sew, just not once it’s finished). The Internet Wrinkle Police will just have to live with that (you think I am joking but I have received so many snarky comments over wrinkles in photos. You would not even believe how many folks there are out there who think it’s their business to weigh in on wrinkles).

Here’s a closeup of the fabric, as the print is a bit hard to see in some of my pics here (I took a few of these with my phone on a cloudy day and I think my 8S has a crappier camera than the 6S I had before).

Rose pants closeup

This is the “cropped” view of the pattern, which also has a full length and shorts option. I hope you’re as excited as I am for this pattern — we’ve had some great tester versions (that you can see a number of these already on Instagram under #mbrrose if you want a peek) that we’ll be sure to post here as the launch gets closer.

Meanwhile, I’m on spring vacation with the family in Seattle this week visiting my parents. We’re going to go to the Space Needle (a request from Elliot, who turned 12 (!!!) yesterday) and visit Bainbridge Island this week; should be fun!

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Works in progress

I’ve been thinking about mistakes. One of the many lessons I learned while training to be a teacher was this:

Mistakes are required.

Which is to say many things, one of which is is that the best way to learn a thing is to make the mistakes. Someone else can tell you a thing many times, but the lesson of trying the thing and messing it up is far more effective. Making mistakes, learning from them, trying again. This is how we grow, gain knowledge, become experts, become better humans. This is not so easy, though. Mistakes are uncomfortable. But perhaps it is only when we learn to sit with discomfort that we truly grow.

I don’t tend to love January as the beginning of the year (I’ve talked about this before — September is my preference), and in the past I’ve been not so great with setting intentions and following through. That “one little word” thing that people do hasn’t really resonated for me, for reasons that are becoming more clear to me as time passes. But recently, a message started repeating itself, over and over, louder, stronger, as I have tried to open my eyes and ears and really listen and understand what I need to learn:

Bloom where you are planted.

As I’ve tried to think about what exactly this means, it is becoming more and more apparent to me that this is something I must actively work to do. Accepting the mistakes as part of the process.

In some ways, this sweater is like a plant: it’s growing bigger and bigger, and it’s green. The analogy is imperfect; my plants grow without my direct work, though in my defense I do put in at least a bit of effort, but recently while researching the best way to propagate the monstera plant which is currently attempting to take over my living room, I stumbled across this line in a blog post that stopped me in my tracks:

Plants (like people) grow and grow, but they don’t (like people) always grow the way you want them to.

I can’t stop thinking about that line. In some ways, people are like plants. If there is something about our humanity we can count on, it is that we will continue to grow, even without our direct effort. The mistakes are inevitable. Trying to grow into better humans seems to be the collective challenge.

my unwieldy Monstera

As I grow this sweater, I think about all of the mistakes it contains, some corrected, some not. I think about how even the act of learning how to knit a sweater is changing me, growing me. I am changing, I am learning, and this sweater is a tangible piece of physical evidence that it is happening.

This wasn’t really why I started knitting, but then, when do we truly understand when we start to learn a thing how much we will really end up learning? This is the gift of creating. This is why the color green is really speaking to me right now.


This is why my sweater is like a plant, is like me. We are all creations. We are all works in progress.

Pattern: Nurtured Sweater by Drea Renee Knits / Yarn: Scout by Kelbourne Woolens


My #2018MakeNine Fail

It’s the New Year! I spent a bit of time on Instagram yesterday and my feed is already filling up with everyone’s #MakeNine sewing plans. It’s so exciting to plan new projects for the year, isn’t it? I love seeing the patterns people have picked out. #MakeNine is a great way to make sewing goals because choosing just nine projects for the year is so very manageable and attainable. Or at least it should be. Unless you’re me and you’re looking back at your list from last year, ahem.

Originally was going to just throw this post up on the blog as a “hey look I only made 2 things on my #2018MakeNine!” so those of you who killed your lists last year could feel amazing and superior (hee…but really, that’s great!) and those of you who didn’t manage to make yours could feel better, like a hey let’s be real, it’s OK hashtag life type thing. But after listening to this week’s Love to Sew Podcast with Elise Cripe* about making goals for the new year, I decided to dig in a little bit and see what I can learn from. Considering I only managed to make just TWO of the nine things on my #2018MakeNine, I’m pretty sure I can glean at least one or two takeaways.

For reference, here’s what I had on my list:

2018 make nine / made by rae
my 2018MakeNine list

( I also posted about this list earlier on the blog (#2018MakeNine Plans) if you want a pattern-by-pattern breakdown)

Of those nine, I managed to make this technicolor Wiksten Haori Jacket (previously the “Wiksten Oversized Kimono Jacket,” the pattern name has recently been changed for better accuracy and cultural sensitivity):

wiksten kimono jacket / made by rae

And this Roscoe blouse:

Cue sad trombone? Or not? On its surface it really does seems like kind of a fail. However, I totally love those two garments (that jacket is probably my “most-worn make” of 2018), and life is really too short to beat myself up over a to-do list that doesn’t completely materialize.

It’s also worth noting that it’s not a situation me only making those two things this year and nothing else. I made scads of things, they just weren’t things on that list (and it’s also worth clarifying that for the purposes of this post, I’m talking about things I sew for fun, not the things I have to sew for the business, though admittedly that’s not exactly a clear-cut line). Nine is definitely still a manageable quantity for me; I do not need to create a #MakeFour (hee).

Looking at the disconnect between setting the goals and achieving the goals, I have a few observations that perhaps you too will find helpful.

First, I never would have guessed how much knitting I would end up doing this year. This greatly cut into my leisurely sewing time (Note to self: add knitting projects to this year’s list if you make one). I probably would have made more of these things if I hadn’t gotten so hooked on knitting starting in July after my knitting retreat.

Second, I failed to anticipate how spontaneous and unpredictable my leisurely sewing always is. I love making a to-do list, I just don’t always love to stick to said list. I’m not sure there’s any solution to this issue aside from quitting list-making altogether (nah) or resolving to be OK with whatever happens.

I also forgot how much longer it would take me to sew a brand new pattern than one of my own patterns, which I know will fit (so: no need to make a muslin) and barely need to read the instructions for, and will therefore choose readily when faced with unanticipated time to sew. I actually started almost all of the patterns: all have been purchased and/or printed, most have been traced, and I even managed to get as far as a muslin for the Fringe dress. A few of the projects had unanticipated hiccups that stalled them (never found the “perfect fabric”) or canceled them (unresolved body-love issues, anyone? Bathing suit, I’m looking right at you).

Finally, I didn’t anticipate how much sewing I would do for my kids. I made quite a lot of things for them, most of them not blogged or posted online. These included a bathrobe, tank tops, shorts, and dresses for Clementine, as well as a handful of shirts and pants and shorts for the boys. While this type of sewing isn’t exactly my “dream-sewing,” it’s still deeply satisfying as kid- sewing is quick, easy, and practical.

Anyway, just taking a few minutes to run this brief analysis of the why and how of my “fail” — if you can even call it that — is already helping me see how to simplify my goals for this coming year and create a to-make list that’s a bit more realistic and achievable. Meanwhile, I’m celebrating all of the other things not on my list that I *did* make this year (including a dozen Jade tees and dresses that I wear all. the. time.) and really looking forward to a fun year of making in 2019!!!

Jade Tee Sewing Pattern / made by rae

How about you? Did you make a #MakeNine list last year? How many things on that list did you manage to check off? What’s on your list for next year? Tell me what you’re most excited to make!

*Highly recommend this episode. Here it is again if you want to listen: Love to Sew Podcast with Elise Cripe

Your makes 2018

You’ve sewn a staggering amount of handmade stuff with my patterns this year! I’m seriously blown away by all of the fantastic things you’ve posted online or sent to me directly in my inbox. As a result, we’ve featured so many of your makes this year in my email newsletters, posts on Instagram, and on Facebook.

I thought it would be fun to round them all up into a blog post for those of you who prefer to digest your MBR content via the blog or a blog reader. In no particular order, here are the delightful makes we featured from you this year (please note that not all of these were made in this calendar year, but rather featured this year; also please accept my apologies if we missed anyone — it was a LOT of photos to go through)!

above, top left: Mac @macsmakespace | right: Hannah @heritageninja 
bottom left: Kelly @hellomister | right: Anna @noodlehead531

Let’s start with some delightful Cleo skirts!

above, top left: Katie @cablesancalico | right: Katie @katielewisstudio
bottom left: Sarah @incompletestitches| right: Whitney @whitneyknits

(for more Cleo inspo, check out the hashtag #cleoskirt)

Mac of @sewalteredstyle / these photos posted here

Next up, some fantastic Ruby tops and dresses! We expanded the size range of Ruby — up and down — this year in both PDF and print; a big thank you to our fantastic Ruby testers (some of them featured below) as well!

top left: Megan @joyfulemon  |  right: Carly @carlyrm
bottom left: Julie @juliehoch5 |  right: Ellen @handmade3d
top left: Karie @karie_twokwikquilters  |  right: sparkyjoneshats
bottom left: Cherie @youandmie |  right: Jaclyn @jaclynp
top left: Natalie @sewhungryhippie  |  right: Jaclyn @jaclynp
bottom left: Mary @francesmakes |  right: Joan @joan.in.stitches

Jade Tee & Isla Dress

My new pattern this year was the Jade Tee (the Jade Tees shown below were also featured in the Jade Tee Tester Roundup):

And of course, you wasted no time combining it with it’s sibling pattern, Isla, into some fantastic knit dresses:

above, left: Morgan (via Facebook) | Right: Jade @jadevanluitgaadren
Julie @nursebean82, one of our Jade testers, made a bunch of fantastic Isla dresses with Jade sleeves!
left: Katte @mothertotem| center: Natalie @sewhungryhippie
| right: Claire (via facebook)

Next up, some of your fabulous Beatrix tops:

above, top left: Meg @cookinandcraftin |  right: Mac @macsmakespace
bottom left: Lindsay @momowool | Kim Stonemountain blog 

The toddler backpack is another oldie-but-goodie from the kids’ pattern collection. Some of these cute versions even feature added pockets and extra details not in the pattern — you guys are so creative!!!

above left: Brittany Woiderski | right: Jenny Teo

above, top left: Lindsey @penandpaperpatterns | top right: @casalinga_creativa
bottom left: Brittney @brittneylaidlaw | bottom right: Cherie @youandmie

Two more classic kids’ patterns are the Flashback tee and Parsley pants:

top left: Lindsay @lindsayinstitches| right: Jane @buzzmills
bottom left: Diana @bi.o.ka | right: Kim @helloyouitsme
linen parsley pants / made by rae
above: Sarah @makemoremud

above, top left: Rachel @rachelstitchedtogether | right: Kristin @skirtastop
bottom left: Brittney @brittneylaidlaw | right: Lauren @rhapsodyfiber

Of course, the Geranium Dresses you made this year were incredible. Seeing all of the bows and collars and sleeves and other extras we put out last year with the expansion pack come to life made them that much more magical!

above, top left: Delia @deliacreates | middle: Monica @sasaloo.living | right: Sarah @whistlingirlknits
bottom left: Marta @martamoosh | middle: Whitney @whitneyknits | right: Kelly @athreadthatbinds
above: Samantha (via Facebook)
above, top left: Delia @deliacreates |right: Anna (via Facebook)
bottom left: Dianna @diannamartin | bottom right: Amanda @winlowoaks

It’s always exciting to see what you do with my fabrics. Here’s a couple of beautiful quilts made with my Fanciful fabric, which released this year:

above, left: Lou @imstudiolou | right: Nicole @modernhandcraft

Check out this pair of adorable baby sunsuits:

left: Linda @sewlindasews | right: Rachel @rachelstitchedtogether

I also couldn’t resist sharing my friend Meg’s awesome handmade Washi dresses and Cleo skirts, styled to perfection:

above: Melissa @clutteredcurator

It’s always fun to see what you do with the Washi pattern, too, from classic Washis to versions you’ve made using the expansion pack.

right: Chase @blacksquirrelberkeley
above, top left: Katie @katiekortmanart | right: Sarah @sarah.a.robinson
bottom left: Marissa @slabtownslubs | right: Lucie @nelliefromthefarm

Katrina Rodabaugh, author of the recently-released book “Mending Matters,” made a particularly special hand-dyed version of the Washi dress this year. The embroidered details, thoughtful process, and modifications she made to the pattern (which she shared over at @katrinarodabaugh) were a great reminder to savor the process of making.

Check out these awesome collars:

left: Shannon @littleluvins | right: Sonia @soniarearose
bottom left: Sarah @sarahgoldenart | bottom right: Allison @allisonehs

And even more Washis I love:

Washi Dresses / made by rae
Left: Grace @beyond_measure_UK | right: Ashley @sassafrasgirl
bottom left: Marissa @slabtownslubs | (See my IG post for tagged sewists)
above, top left: Kjerste @waxandwool  | right: @thequilterstrunk (sewn and modeled by Natasha @housefulofstitches)
bottom left: Mary @seemaryquilt | right: Ali @ali1ali_ 

THE PATTERNS

Here are all of the patterns/tutorials featured in this post.

Women’s

Cleo Skirt
Washi Dress / Washi Dress Expansion Pack
Beatrix Top
Ruby Top & Dress
Jade Tee
Isla Dress

Children’s

Geranium Dress / Geranium Expansion Pack
Parsley Pants
Flashback Tee
Toddler Backpack
Baby Sunsuit (free tutorial!)

Thank you to everyone who shared their makes and tagged me — I just love seeing everything you make with the patterns! It’s truly wonderful to have hard evidence that you’re using the patterns to sew clothes for yourselves and your mini humans rather than letting them languish in your download folders. It also helps ease my anxiety re: state of the planet to think that every piece of handmade clothing is potentially one less thing you’re buying from the insidious fast fashion machine that is destroying the environment and enslaving other humans. So well done and thank you, everyone!!

As always, please share your photos and tag me so I can see them (@madebyrae or #madebyrae)!

Here’s to another great year of making, my friends!

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