Ack! More new fabric! Plus TIERED LINEN SKIRT

This came in the mail last week. My fabric stash is experiencing exponential growth before my very eyes. So I decided I needed to made some rules:

Rule 1: May only cut into one new project once another WIP has been finished
Rule 2: May only buy fabric when equal amount of fabric has been used up (scraps don’t count)
Rule 3: If cannot follow rules 1 or 2, find new bigger house for fabric stash.

So far I’ve been pretty good about only sewing my WIPs but it’s not great blogging as it’s mostly the boring stuff or stuff I got stuck on for some problem or another. But I am resolved!!! And very motivated, since I haven’t sewn anything for the new baby yet and I really really want to.

So since I finished the Octotunic (that was a WIP on my list), I got to start another project, a tiered linen skirt from Amazing Mae’s Tutorial which was so fun and easy I have to pass this along:

The pattern was from Traci of Amazing Mae who really is Amazing because she pumps out stuff like nobody’s business and it’s all cute, including this awesome tutorial. I made mine out of a nice lovely chocolatey linen from Sew Mama Sew with the hopes that it would function as a maternity skirt. Turns out my belly is too big/low, so it’s going to have to wait a little longer to be worn, but with the elastic waist it’s perfect for lounging around in the summertime. I had to change it a little (my strips were 10.5×23, 6×35, 6×42, 6.5×50) and was too lazy to do the drawstring but otherwise it’s the same great skirt. Timewise, it took me an afternoon and an evening to complete (would have taken me an afternoon if I didn’t have a toddler on Nap Strike that day). Put that woman on your subscription list and don’t look back!

UPDATED 4:45 PM: I realized I forgot to mention what the lovely fabric is up top there…I take it for granted since I’ve been drooling over it for the last few months that some of you may not have ever seen it before. It’s called Far, Far Away by the fabulous Heather Ross and it’s selling out very very quick as this is (I’ve heard) the last line of fabric she will be designing/selling. I’ve seen it at Sew Mama Sew and a bunch of Etsy fabric shops, so do a search for it and buy some right quick!


I’m really sorry about the name. I just couldn’t resist. And I’m probably the last person on the planet to hear about “octomom” or whatever, having gotten my first pedicure in eons last week. I know I can’t be the only person who only gets their celebrity news by reading ten issues of Us and People on the rare occasion that they visit a salon. And lest you think I’m some sort of Gentlewoman of Leisure, getting manis and pedis on a whim while an au pair pushes my toddler around the park, I’d just like to say that my getting a pedicure is more an act of community service than anything else since I can no longer comfortably reach my toes. Strangers were starting to look away in horror as I passed on the street. In addition to learning who/what “octomom” was (if you don’t know, please don’t bother) I also learned that no one else goes to the salon at 6 pm on a Friday night (Mr Rae was watching Elliot). Sad, but at least I got all of the magazines to myself.

Enough of that. Here’s today’s FO, evidence that I am chipping away at the Mendocino in my stash slowly but surely. This one almost made it onto the Spring Top Week roster but I couldn’t get it finished on time:

: : Pattern Process : :
This began as the back of this top and the front of this top. Neckline, armholes and waist width later got adjusted for various reasons (Arm: you need more room if you add a long sleeve; Neck: you need more room if you’re going for a boatneck look; Waist: you need more room if you get knocked up), resulting in a finished product that no longer really resembles any of those beginning tops.

The neck thingy (what IS that called?) was just a trace of the neckline about 4 inches or so wide, with a longer portion in the middle for the slit. I sewed the right side of the neck thingy to the wrong side of the shirt, then clipped the edges and corners, flipped the whole thing around to the outside, and sewed it down.

Oh the arms: the bane of my existence! I didn’t have a good “arm” pattern anywhere, so I had to draft these bell-shaped ones out myself, resulting in many, many reject muslin arm pieces on the floor of my sewing room and multiple tearouts.

In the end, the urgency of knowing that the top would not fit me if I tarried too much longer was enough motivation to get it finished. Here’s one last pic, in which I’m starting to resemble another large sea creature…

The Clock is Ticking

I’m spending way too much time staring at this delicious fabric that arrived via post last week. I can’t help it. It’s just so beautiful. And the plans in my head: green for a shirt/PJ’s/baby-pris for Elliot, Navy for a Mr Rae dress shirt, yellow floral for a purse/bag for me (I’m pretty sure I need more of those), red for a swing top, natural floral for another McCalls 5388 for me (Presser Foot had such great versions I think I need to try another one)…and on, and on…

: : Do you think Anna Maria Horner called it “Good Folks” to distract us from the fact that it is PURE EVIL? : :

But as I look around the room I count at least nine projects that are in piles waiting to be finished, more than twice that waiting to get cut, and almost every piece of fabric in my current stash wants to get turned into something that’s still in my head. I wonder: how long, if I could sew full time and not just a few hours a day (during naps and after bedtime) would it take me to whittle all of this down to nothing? Maybe half a year? Who knows.

I just started my very last (hurrah!) graduate class for my masters degree last Monday. I’m so excited to be finished with that I could yodel. I’ve renewed my teaching certificate for another five years. We began renovating the basement last week to make more room for Elliotta (my MIL’s nickname…cute, eh?) upstairs. I’ve got so many irons in the fire and so little time. I feel like I’m on the Countdown to Baby.

That’s all. Just wanted to share my excess of fabric and deficit of time.

In search of the perfect sunhat

[Unrelated but necessary: I just have to say a big thank you to everyone for all of your kind comments and for supporting my shop by purchasing the Buttercup Bag Pattern — I have been really overwhelmed by the reaction – WOW!!! Thank you so much!]

I’ve been working on tweaking the pattern for the sunhat Elliot wore last summer. He’s too big for the old one and as we’ve started playing outside more the need for a new one has become pretty urgent, as this item of clothing represents the one piece of his wardrobe he will most likely wear every single day this summer.

The pattern is as usual my own design, based (I’m sure) on some kid’s at the playground that I looked at and thought “I can do that!” It turned out to be harder than I thought; the 4 top pieces are pretty tricky to curve correctly, and the brim turned out super-floppy the first time, so I streamlined it a little more this time around.

The fabric is Funky Monkey on the outside and brown twill on the inside. I interfaced all of the brim pieces to give it shape, and the straps snap together at the bottom.

The second version came out looking more like a safari hat than the bucket hat look I was going for, but you take what you get with this sort of project (read: too lazy to go back and change it). I’ll probably raise the brim a bit more for version two if I ever get around to it so it looks less like a helmet on top.

Let’s review my criteria for perfect sunhat:

  • no brand name on outside
  • machine washable without looking all wrinkly
  • chin strap (I have yet to meet the child who will keep a hat without a strap on for more than 5 minutes)
  • not boring (this eliminates about 95% of all store-bought sunhats for boys)

More astute observers will recognize this as a monkey “backpack” that has a leash attached. We got ours at Target and I think the brand is Eddie Bauer. All I can say is, I don’t use it much (because lucky lucky me Elliot’s not a Bolter) but when I do, I get more comments from Joe Public than on anything else, let me tell you.

Here’s my baby last summer in the pool with the first version I made; you can see the brim is quite different. It’s a little sad for me to look at these pictures…my little baby is such a little boy now!


The votes have been checked and tallied and the results are in! Congratulations to Astrid from Denmark who won the most votes for her beautiful striped top! Yaaaay!

Astrid made this lovely top from an Ingelise (so sad for me that it’s in Danish!) pattern with lightweight striped cotton and white linen for the yoke and covered buttons. You can see her excellent craftsmanship in some of her pictures (photos from: Astrid’s Flickr):

I love the button detail and the top is just perfect for spring with its airy sleeves and subtle colors. This was one of my favorites so it was fun to see it move into the final ten and then win! And how about that adorable baby! (:

If you haven’t had a chance to go over to Connecting the Dots yet, it’s a lovely place to read about Astrid’s sewing projects and family life (did you know that ducks say “RAP” instead of quack in Danish?). She also has a link up to Onion patterns which I think will be my next European pattern addiction (although I’m not sure anything can touch Ottobre).

Astrid will be receiving a copy of the Toddler Backpack Sewing pattern and some other goodies from me for her prize.

Thanks again to all of you who entered the contest; congratulations to the runners-up, and a very big congratulations again to Astrid!

Mother’s Day Buttercup Bag Remix

This week I’ve been messing around with the Buttercup Bag pattern for Mother’s Day presents. As many others have mentioned, I feel the original version is a bit on the small side (while I think it’s nice that it works from a fat quarter and is fab if you usually carry a small purse, it’s a wee bit small when your normal purse contents include a cloth diaper, a sippy cup, and a change of 2T clothing). So I tried out a couple different enlargements for Mom H (above) and Mom O (below) for Mother’s Day…I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out.

: : I like the shape here; I might try this again with a longer strap worn by the waist : :

Both were made with Amy Butler fabrics on both outside and inside and interfaced completely with flannel (I use a flannel sheet that accidentally got bleached in one corner and is no longer usable). I also interfaced the top parts of both purses with heavy-weight fusible interfacing.

: : Is there more belly here or more bag? : :

: : Hey check out that spring top! : :
I decided to try covered buttons for Mom H’s version (above); I love how they turned out all professional-like, and of course they match (finding two large buttons in my button box that match is rare and cause for celebration). I used some of the aqua dotted material left over from the Mendocino top I made last week. Covered button kits are sold for a couple bucks at my local chain fabric store and require no special tools, by the way (huge plus there).

For Mom O’s version I tried a recessed zipper. I found a tutorial Craftster where someone had made an enlarged Buttercup Bag with a recessed zipper, but it was so complicated I just gave up trying to understand the instructions and just winged it.

So some of you are wondering, “How big are they, Rae?” Well I will tell you: I enlarged the pattern by 129% for both versions (I had read a few places that people had tried a 30% increase and it worked out well. In fact, I noticed in the Featured Creativity Sew, Mama, Sew had up yesterday that one the projects was Kate’s Buttercup Bag which she had enlarged by 130). Additionally, on the longer version I added 2 inches of length (plus an extra 1/2″ on the lining for the zipper), and hacked off a little more than 1/2″ from each side of the top piece, so the pleats were also a bit bigger.

Here’s a few comparison pictures (the yellow version above is the original pattern) so you can see the size difference. I know it’s hard on the bottom two, but look at my hands for scale.
And below you can really see the size difference between Mom O’s bag and the original pattern piece, although you can see that it wasn’t that much wider after I trimmed the top pieces, but definitely a lot longer:

So I’d say that’s a win for Mother’s Day prezzies this year. Yay! If you’re still scrambling for a present idea there’s still time to make one before Sunday!


From 9 am-12:15 pm Thursday morning my voting software accepted names but no votes. Unfortunately this means that if you cast your vote during this time it was not counted. Please vote again if you fall into this category!

Voting is working again now and I have been assured by my VP of Programming that it is working correctly. I am so, so sorry for the inconvenience.

If you are unsure if you voted before or after 9 am, feel free to email me and I will let you know!!!


Here are the winning tops from each of the ten groups in the Spring Top Week vote held earlier this week:

Row 1, left to right:
Layla, Kate, Brittney, Kate, Carrie
Row 2, left to right:
Sinje, Kelli, Cheryl, Meg, Astrid

Congratulations to those who won the first round! And even if you’re seething with jealousy, be sure to check out their blogs and leave them nice congratulatory messages.

So before I post the link for the final round of voting, let me clarify a few things:
I’m asking for a name and email address for each vote cast in the final round so that I can verify votes if needed and more easily delete duplicate votes (one vote per person, obviously). This is also to avoid potential votes cast by ones toddlers and/or cats and/or spambots. If you are casting a vote, you should be old enough/sentient enough to have an email address (although…do spambots have email?). Anyway, please know that I would never share your information with anyone or use it for anything other than voting data.

Voting ends Friday 11 pm (eastern time)


(Update: Voting is working again as of 12:20 pm, I have been assured by my VP of Programming that it is working correctly now; unfortunately if you voted b/w exactly 9 am-12:15 am your name was entered but your vote was not counted…ack! I am so, so sorry for the inconvenience; please vote again if you voted this morning. If you are unsure if you voted after 9 am, feel free to email me and I will let you know!!!)

Isn’t it exciting (despite somewhat major glitches?) May the best top win!

SPRING TOP WEEK: Get out the vote!

UPDATE: VOTING IS NOW CLOSED. THANKYOU FOR YOUR INPUT!So it’s time for you to vote on the tops from last week to choose this spring’s BEST TOP from our showcases! Here they are again if you’d like to look back: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. They are also pictured on the voting page.

ROUND ONE DEADLINE: Tuesday, 11 pm (Eastern time)

There were 100 tops entered in Spring Top Week last week (I know, how weird is that?), so for the first round of voting you will be able to pick one top each from ten groups of ten. I will take the final ten winners and the final round of voting will be Thursday and Friday.

The tops have been randomized and unlabeled. However, you can click on each of the images for more detail. By the way, you do not have to vote for all ten groups if you don’t want to (just find the one top you want and go for it).


UPDATE: Um, how can I say this kindly? It looks a wee bit suspicious when certain votes are cast, let’s say for example, in rapid succession for, let’s say, the same top. Remember that I can see the voting data, in a spreadsheet, as it comes in…please don’t make me eliminate your top from the running!

Feel free to steal either of these buttons to post on your blog or send to your friends and family; remember to remind them that they have until Tuesday night to vote for you, also remember to tell them which top(s) are yours (Group 2, Top B, for example).

Thanks to all of you who worked so hard on your tops and made Top Week such a great hit! Also a great big thank you to Mr Rae for putting together all the images and programming the poll for me (that was a ton of work when he really didn’t have time to spare). *Smooch*