Wherein Rae eats a little crow

I’m going to have to take back some of my words here, because look what fits???

I will concede that the pattern DOES actually fit a 0-3 month old, as my babe is (a rather large) 2 months and the top fits quite nicely. It works over a onesie since it’s a little cold outside, which is fine because that solves the V-neck issues as well…

And what’s even better than a cute baby dress? A SMILE. Something we’ve been seeing alot of around here lately, and how fun is this?

Happy Weekend everyone!

Here, fishy fishy fishy!

Finished this week: A pair of summer tops for me and Elliot…too bad it’s already fall!

For Elliot I modified the basic boy’s collared shirt with a placket and mandarin collar (here’s the you-can-do-it tutorial), and added two pockets low down; I know it looks a little odd but this way he can stash his matchbox cars in there.

And here’s mine:

(I tried to do a cute mother-son photo shoot but most of the pictures are of him squirming out of my arms…)

I spent a couple of naps messing around tension, stitch length, and how tight to wind the elastic thread on the bobbin and I think I finally figured out the shirring thing! Hooray! Victory is mine!!! This has got to be the easiest top in the universe, it’s basically a tube of fabric that you shirr (is that a verb?) for about 8 inches down (or so) and then plop a pair of ties onto. I serged the bottom and top with a rolled hem so the most time-consuming thing about the whole deal was pulling out the extra shirring; I originally did about 10 inches which was too much. The Mendocino Sundress pattern came from Heather Ross, as did the fabric. This is the Mendocino line which you’ve seen on this blog before (click on the Heather Ross label at the bottom of this post to see more). I shortened the pattern so it’s a top, not a sundress.

I think it makes a great post-partum top, and doesn’t everyone have a little flab around the mid-section they’d like to hide? I would imagine this looks good as a maternity top too.
The funny thing about the shirred top is when it’s off, it’s actually narrower than the toddler shirt:

And here’s my little man showing his off for the neighborhood:

Bonsai! Rae’s New Fall Bag.

Here’s my newest bag. I’m calling it the “Bonsai Bag”*

I’m really digging orange right now, and these colors really get me in the mood for fall. The ties even look like little leaves. Since it’s pretty much felt like autumn all summer long here in the Midwest, I’m not experiencing the usual shock to the system, round of denial and all the wishing that summer would last just a little longer. No way man. Fall, bring it on! Stop messin with me already.

I’m really interested in your feedback on this bag. I can’t tell if it works or if it’s too much. I tend to go over the top with stuff, and I’m aware that the orange poms might qualify as Too Much. But I saw a bag in an Anthro catalog with pom-poms around the top a while back (not there any more) and ever since then I’ve wanted to make a bag with them. Does it help to know that I also wanted to put orange poms around the neckline of the unicorn top, but restrained myself? I’m not sure.

This fabric (Good Folks fabric by the lovely Anna Maria Horner) lent itself perfectly to a little hand embroidery (you can just see the orange stitches in the pic above). I already have plans for another one; I’m imagining so many options for the center panel — maybe some more embroidery on a solid background (birds? trees? an owl?), quilting, applique, or another showcase fabric? It makes my brain hurt thinking about what you could do with this if you had one of those fancy embroidering sewing machines (I don’t). And instead of the pom-poms, maybe some ric-rac or a ruffle…

I can see this with metal hardware too…maybe those silver rectangle thingies?

I really like the size of this one; it’s pretty large so it holds lots of stuff. I made it with a magnetic snap but I think it would work better with a recessed zipper. I took pictures while I made it, so I’ll put this out there like I usually do: if there’s enough interest in this I can make a pattern available. Meanwhile I’m on to bigger projects. I really really need to finish Elliot’s quilt before it starts to cool off outside.

*the name was my seester Elli’s idea. It makes no sense but I like it. And I love that it reminds me of that ridiculous show Banzai! which was completely insane but the Mr Shake Hands Man segment still makes me laugh when I think about it….

Real Women wear Unicorns

Thanks for the encouragement over the baby outfit — it was nice to know I’m not the only one who couldn’t hack the pattern (though now I’m living in constant fear that the great AB herself will stumble across the post and read it and have her feelings hurt…mortifying). I’m going to try and mess with the waistband and neckline a little to see if I can get it to fit as a 6-12 month or 12-18 month sized top. The bloomers I fear are a loss, but I’m sure someone I know will procreate again soon and odds are decent (49%, I believe) that effort will produce a girl.

A few weeks ago, bolstered by having Mr Rae home and the fact that my belly was no longer ginormous (although a bit woobly and second trimester-esque), I pulled together this unicorn top with some of the Far Far Away from my stash. It’s McCall’s 5388, a fave here at Made By Rae and this version (View D) was even easier as I decided not to add the sleeves, bringing the number of pieces I had to cut down to a wee four. Also, this may seem a bit counterintuitive, but fall is coming, and sleeveless looks better under cardigans. I used bias tape (that bright orange they carry at JoAnn happens to match this colorway perfectly) and lace to finish the armholes, and I took out the usual 1 inch from the center of the yoke, as it is notoriously wide.

I decided to pintuck and pleat rather than gather the front, so I alternated pintucks with pleats from the center. Each pintuck was 1/8″ and each pleat was 1/2.” This was a little tricky with the double gauze fabric, but it turned out pretty well.

I love the idea of making a smocked sundress like this one out of this fabric too (yes I sortof stole the name for this post from that pic)…oh, woe is me, if only I could figure out how to smock properly! One of these days I will beat my machine into submission and then it will be victorious smocking! smocking! smocking! all the way I tell you.

: : closeup of neckline and pleat details : :

: : someone may have gotten a wee bit crabby during this photoshoot…good thing her pants matched : :

Backpack Madness!

From the sudden increase in toddler backpack pattern sales over the last couple of days, it seems many of you have decided it’s time to sew your kiddo a backpack so they can be stylin’ as they hop off the bus. Be sure to post them to the Toddler Backpack Pool (along with modifications, suggestions, and the fabric you used) so that we can all enjoy your handiwork!

Photo Cred (as with Spring Top Week, I assume that you’re OK with having your picture up on my blog if it’s in the pool; if not, please let me know ASAP!):
1. Toddler Backpack, 2. IMG_0412, 3. Toddler Backpack, 4. DSC_0505, 5. Toddler Backpack, 6. Toddler Backpack, 7. Backpack Front, 8. Front, 9. toddler backpack back view

Posted in backpack

Empire-Waisted Baby Top and Bloomers

UPDATED: This dress did actually end up fitting!  Hooray!

I’ve been dreading this post because I’m afraid I’m going to have to roast this pattern. This is the (so-called) “Easy Empire-Waist Top” from Little Stitches for Little Ones by the amazing Amy Butler. The top is in my opinion, absolutely adorable on paper, which is why I chose to make it in the first place, but it was an absolute nightmare to construct. I’m not sure if I just can’t read pattern instructions without pictures or what, but I kept reading and re-reading the instructions and scratching my head, trying something, tearing it out, trying it again…

Furthermore, I’m afraid it’s sizing is questionable at best, as my rather large newborn doesn’t look like she’ll fit into the 0-3 month size anytime in the next year (hence no baby-in-the-outfit pic, sorry folks). And if/when it does ever fit her, I’m a little concerned about that V-neck. Currently it goes nearly down to her bellybutton, so the Child Decency Police may cite me for a violation unless I can find a baby tank top to go under it.

The bloomers, on the other hand, are too small. They never really fit over my cloth-diaper-butt-baby, although they were also sized 0-3 months. Sad. I think this might be my fault…I may have done the waistband incorrectly, having reached a point where I was no longer actually reading the instructions. I got frustrated when they called for folding under the bottom hem 1.5″ when there wasn’t even that much fabric on the inner leg seam, begging the question: did anyone test this pattern before publication? Or am I just remedial? Because that’s how I felt after spending more time on this outfit than I have on any top I’ve made for myself in the last year. The long and the short of it is that currently this outfit is slated for nursery wall-decor at best. It’s got a high “awwww” factor, low practicality factor.

Fabric: Mendocino by Heather Ross
Modifications: Added elastic casing all the way around the top, shortened arms by 2 inches (didn’t have enough fabric), and shortened skirt by a few (can’t remember exact anymore) inches.

Let me try and redeem myself a little here. I would like to go on the record as saying that Amy Butler is truly worthy of admiration. She not only “single-handedly changed the quilting fabric industry”, but is truly responsible for inspiring my current obsession with fabrics and sewing. If it hadn’t been for her first line (Gypsy Caravan, of which I am still hoarding select pieces), I might never have started sewing all this stuff in the first place. Since then I have obviously become an avid fan of many other wonderful fabric designers (Anna Maria Horner and Heather Ross currently tied for first place as faves), but AB still holds a special place in my heart. I just can’t get behind her patterns as much as her fabrics.

That said, I would love to see/hear about examples of success with this pattern. It’s a shame it doesn’t seem to work for me. It MUST have worked for someone else out there. Besides, I really do think it’s lovely. And since an infant never wears anything for more than a week, maybe that’s all that matters?

My old JCrew shirt = Newborn Hat and Pants!

** Disclaimer: I have actually started sewing a leetle-leetle bit, but I would like to stress that these past couple of projects were sewn BEFORE Clementine arrived a couple weeks ago. Please know that I spend most of my time nursing and napping. And then maybe eating ice cream. OK, and reading blogs. The last thing I want to do is give any new mothers (or anyone, for that matter) out there a complex about their lack of productivity. I also should mention that Mr Rae is on like a month of paternity leave/vacation, which is totally wonderful and a luxury not all new moms have for which I am very very thankful. Right now he is downstairs playing video games while Clementine sleeps on his chest. And I just came back to this post after a starting it a couple days ago and realized that last sentence was still true. Hee. **

This was Clementine’s coming-home outfit:

I made the hat and pants from an old JCrew shirt that was too short and tight and had a white collar too nasty to thrift. I keep forgetting to take before pics of my refurb projects. Here’s a pic of the shirt after I cut the arms off for the pant legs:

I really just guessed at the length of the pants and it turns out they’re too long, but whatevs, it’s not like she’s walking yet, right? Hahaheehee, all of the sudden that struck me as really funny. (Hormones.)

The hat was made with this pattern from Martha Stewart.

I enlarged the pattern so that it was 7 inches across, and made two, one for the lining and one for the outside, adding a 1/4″ seam allowance to the bottom edge. The flower on top is just a circle that I serged all around and then pulled it’s center through the top of the hat seam and sewed in place. Easy peasy!

I love this expression. So funny. That’s how I looked most of my teen years. She seemed peeved that she had to leave the hospital. And who could blame her?

Itty Bitty Dress for Clementine

Thank you so much for all the congratulations! It’s so fun to hear from so many of you all at once, especially those of you who usually lurk! I love seeing so many familiar names; know that I read and appreciated all of your kind words, even if I’ll never be able to respond to them all (and forgive me for not really trying at this point…).

We are having so much fun with Clementine; she’s so snuggly and sleepy all the time. I know it only gets better, but this stage is so much fun too. These are hazy days for us; the time slips by, we don’t know what day it is and there’s lots of napping. So great.

It seemed only natural when I knew I was having a girl that I should try out that baby dress pattern. Finally, a chance to actually TEST it (heh…OK, so I’m kidding; I had made a couple as gifts before). So I made the smallest size with a few modifications:

  • Skirt dimensions: I used 6″x17″ rectangles instead of the pattern specified 9″x18.”
  • Bias Trim: I folded a strip 2.5″ wide in half, sewed it to the bottom hem of the skirt, pressed the seam underneath upward and topstitched it down. This way the folded edge is on the bottom of the skirt and you don’t have to do any hemming.

Fabric: Amy Butler’s Midwest Modern

Pattern: Itty Bitty Baby Dress (and check out The Photo Pool for more inspiration)

Fit: When I wrote the pattern, I said that it was designed “to fit a preemie or small newborn (about 7 lbs) right from birth.” That was a guess. Now while I agree that this would fit a 7-lb baby, I think it would be way too big for a preemie; this fits Clementine just about perfectly right now, and she’s a little over 8 pounds (she spit up about half a pound the first day, having spent about 15 minutes total making her exit from the womb…). I’m not sure it would fit a 9-lb baby, but we’ll see!

The result is a dress that is shorter; almost a top really, so I thought I’d just pair it with a pair of pants. Since it’s summer, the pants never made it on:

Bonnie’s got a nice (free!) pattern/tutorial for super-cute matching bloomers that I’ve been meaning to try; I also purchased her Little Fishies Undies pattern and can’t wait to make undies for Elliot! Right now the sewing machines are sitting dormant; maybe in a few weeks I’ll be able to start sewing again…