Last minute cow.

Yes, those are Elliot’s training pants. I’d like to say they’re clean but…yeah.

Dana’s going to spit out her coffee when she sees this because the other day when we were chatting I was all “blahdeeblahdeeblah, I NEVER make my kid’s Halloween costumes, blahdeeblahdeeblah!”  You know, acting like I was too busy to waste time making something that only gets worn once or twice. Well now I’m just a big fat liar. The cow flannel that a friend gave me last year when her mom was throwing away fabric was just too irresistible I guess. And wouldn’t you know, that Martha and her hat pattern … it has these side seams that are just perfect for sewing in ears.

If you are doing some last-minute Halloween sewing and want to make one of your own, you’ll have to enlarge it: the pattern prints for me at 6 inches wide without seam allowances (so 12″ total), so for an 18″ head I printed at 150%, you can figure out how much you need to enlarge by dividing 12/(head circumference) and multiplying by 100 to get the % you need. Then don’t forget to add seam allowances, the pattern is actually made for felt and therefore doesn’t include them.

The body was a trace of a snowsuit without the feet. I added a zipper in the back for easy in/out.

Posted in holidays

Free! Rae’s Basic Newborn Pant Sewing Pattern

There is little else more rewarding than a quick easy sew that is at the same time not boring. Baby pants are, in my opinion, one of those projects. I love to make colorful baby pants in fun fabrics as a respite from the bevy of pastels that inevitably dominate the newborn wardrobe.  Plus they give that baby something to wear with the drawer full of cute onesies.

These newborn baby pants are basically a tiny version of my super-simple and versatile Parsley Pants pattern for kids aged 2-10. You can take a look at that pattern here, or just click on this pretty button:


Meanwhile, this free Newborn Baby Pants pattern is for those of you who just need something super-duper easy and quick, a definite beginner pattern. Besides the Big Butt Baby Pants, this is my other can’t-live-without-it baby pants pattern. It’s so simple its scary, and I’m betting that many of you already have something like this in your pattern collections. If you’re just beginning to sew, it’s a great place to start. There are plenty of lovely tutorials for making baby pants out there that involve tracing (which is, of course, one of the best ways to get a good fit), but sometimes you want a pattern you can just print out and use, especially if it’s a gift and you don’t have baby pants on hand to trace. I hope you’ll find this one useful and handy.

This pattern is sized for a newborn in cloth diapers so it’s super-roomy especially for disposable-diapered babies. The finished height is about 11.5″ tall. And I’ll let you in on a little secret: it’s actually just as wide in the hip as my 6-12 month B3Ps, so these might also work as a capri for an older baby, even one in cloth diapers. Furthermore, if you want a bigger size you can always add a little length to the bottom of the pant leg (to make a taller leg) or raise the waistband an inch or so (for a higher rise).  If you’re really loving the simplicity of this pattern, take a look at the Parsley Pants Pattern for kids 2-10. You can see from the picture above that I sometimes vary this pant by adding contrasting trim and pockets.  I’ll show you how to do that in a subsequent post, but for now let’s just start with the basic newborn pant:

A sewing pattern and tutorial by Rae Hoekstra

Please read this first:
I’ve made this pattern available for free with the intent that it be used for personal (not-for-profit) use and that it be accessed here at Made By Rae and not copied or distributed elsewhere.  Please link back to this post to your heart’s content, but please don’t post this pattern, the tutorial or any of the images below on your own website. If you borrow any of the images above (that’s fine), please link back and give clear and proper photo credit. Thanks!


Step-By-Step Sewing Instructions:
1. Print and cut out pattern pieces and tape together along dotted line.

2. Cut out two pant panels on the fold. Mark the leg seam and center seam edges (I cut a little tab along the edge of the leg seam as I was cutting).

3.  Open up each piece and line the two pieces up with their right sides facing:

4. Sew the pants together along just the center seams with a 1/2″ seam. Make sure you don’t sew all the way down the leg, just the center seam!

5.  Trim center seam to 1/4.” Open up pants and press seams apart.

6.  With center seams lined up and pants still inside out, sew inner leg seam from cuff to cuff with a 1/2″ seam.  Trim to 1/4″ and press seam.

7.  Fold 1/4″ over at waistband, press.

8.  Fold another 1/2″ over at waistband, press again.

9. Decide which side of the pants will be front and which will be back.  Starting at the back, sew around the folded section to form a waistband casing.  Leave a 1″ gap for elastic at the back.  I also put in a ribbon hanging tab for Mr Rae at this point to help him tell front from back, but honestly it doesn’t really matter.

10.  Cut waistband elastic from 1/4″ or 3/8″ wide elastic (Length = [waist of baby +1″] 13″ is usually fine for a newborn baby)

11. Using a safety pin or bodkin, thread elastic through waistband.

12. Overlap ends of elastic by about 1/2″ and zigzag stitch back and forth a few times to secure. Tuck elastic inside waistband and stitch waistband shut.

13. Fold under 1/4″ at bottom of cuff:

14. Fold another 1/4″ under at the bottom of cuff and sew down.  Repeat for other leg.

Put those pants on your baby and admire! As usual, if you find any mistakes here or anything that needs clarifying, will you please let me know?  Enjoy!!!

Click here for a tutorial on how make the pockets (they work on the B3Ps too as well as a boatload of other things) and add the trim at the cuff.

Click here for the Parsley Pants Pattern — a bigger kids’ version!

Posted in patterns

Quilt in progress

Far Far Away II Quilt, originally uploaded by madebyrae.
Just couldn’t resist showing off this quilt. I’m quite smitten with it so far. The fabric is Far Far Away II by Heather Ross (I think I may have mentioned her once or twice on this blog…?) and the sashing is a rather uncooperative 100% linen whose beauty makes up for the trouble. I just love the muted palette of this line!
UPDATED: Just noticed that my friend Laura (we met at Vermont Sewing Weekend) has a boatload of FFAII in her etsy shop Mira and Westie so if you’re in need of some FFAII you can get it there (as well as a number of other fantastic sewing shops)!

UPDATED AGAIN: Wow! Laura’s offering a 10% discount on Far Far Away II to my readers, for all custom orders just mention “RAE” with your convo request, good through November 30! Go to: Mira and Westie to see the fabrics.

Posted in quilting

Craft Meetup Alert!

UPDATED: I’m closing reservations now since I have a limited number of space/tables and we’re full for the evening!  Please catch us next time…we’d love to have you join us!!! 

Just wanted to invite everyone to an event I’ve JUST decided to host along with my friend Karen of Pattern’s By Figgy’s. Karen and I met online earlier this year and in person this summer. Last week I mentioned I thought it was time for a local sewing meetup.  She probably had no idea how spontaneously I would act on that idea. So. Our first meetup will be next week Thursday, November 4 from 7-10 PM at Trinity Church of Livonia. It will be a child-free evening of sewing and crafting and hopefully snacks. I actually feel very strongly about the snack part.

If you live within driving distance of Livonia, Michigan come join us to sew, knit, craft, or just hang out with fun crafty people and see the latest shade of Karen’s hair (last checked: purple. At last sighting her ears were still a little purple too). Bring a crafty project to work/procrastinate on (Warning: we will probably ooh and ah over it). Also, I really even hate to mention this but Christmas is coming and it’s time to get started on those handmade gifts…

We will provide: comfy chairs, tables and outlets/cords for sewing machines, ironing board/iron, cutting mat, possibly some snacks.

Bring your own: crafty project, sewing machine if applicable, snacks to share if you like. 

RSVP: If you think you might be able to come (no strong commitment required, just a sincere interest), email me no later than Wednesday, November 3 so I can give you directions and provide you with any other details you might need.

And if you can’t make it this time, don’t worry, we’ll have another one soon! Let me know if you have ideas for other locations or a more clever name for our group. Please share this post with anyone else you think would be interested (see new leetle sharing buttons at the bottom of this post or use the image above). I’d love help getting the word out. See you next week!

Posted in events

Floral Squareneck Baby Blouse

I am waaaay behind on blogging all the stuff I’ve been sewing.  Last week I had a fire under my rear or something and just couldn’t stop.  So this week you get to hopefully (?) see the fruits of my labor. I know this is going to sound dumb but I also think I’m getting faster at sewing. I think it’s probably like anything that you practice, you just get a little more efficient the more you do it?  Anyway, here’s one of the finished products:

I know I say this alot but I’m still not completely sure I like this one. It all started with a “I-could-make-that!” moment at Janie and Jack recently (here’s the top I was looking at).  I knew I had this faux-Liberty floral print by Alexander Henry and thought it would work for a knock-off.  I was drawn to the square neck in particular.


As I neared the point of adding the bias tape to the neck it started to feel a little “Crazy Aunt Maude” and I started to doubt myself. Then I decided just to go over the top with it and add the red Anna Maria Horner voile. The effect is a top that is a wee bit too busy even for me, Queen of All Things Bright and Crazy. Perhaps this is all par for the course with the sort of stuff people are sewing for little girls these days, but to put things in perspective I think everyone should read Liesl’s posts on selecting fabric for children’s clothing.  One of the things that resonated with me about those posts was that I find even though I like really bright fabrics, they don’t always work for clothing, especially baby clothing. This print might be better off in a quilt or on a shirt for me, no?

But that’s not going to stop me from adding a pair of red cords.  Heh. Heh.

I took a dress pattern from Ottobre magazine (on page two of this issue) that I used for C’s Christmas outfit last year and redrew the neck, reworked the pleats and lengthened the sleeve. OK, so it’s almost a new pattern but not really.  And I don’t know if Finnish babies are just naturally ginormous or if it’s just me but I don’t ever seem to be able to nail the right size with Ottobre. Even though the size I traced last year was supposed to fit her at 3-6 months, I’m still using it now and she’s almost 15 months old. And it’s still a bit big, more like an 18 month size (I know!?).

It is so incredibly difficult to get clear pictures of the ever-in-motion young Clementine, so we’re settling for these. Here she is with my mom:

Fold-up-and-Snap Bib Tutorial!

My fold-up-and-snap bib tutorial’s up at Sew Mama Sew today!  This is a truly handy invention. I saw a vintage fold-up bib on friend’s toddler a few years ago and the idea stuck with me…it’s just so much better than a regular bib. Perhaps I should remind those of you who aren’t in the trenches with toddlers right now: when they eat, more food usually ends up on their lap and on the floor than actually in their mouths. This bib has a pocket that folds up to help catch crumbs, and when you’re ready to wash it you just unsnap the pocket (the fold-up part) over the trash and throw it in the wash. Or you can leave it un-snapped during the meal for more toddler-body-coverage (think: applesauce). 

I put hand-sewn snaps on this bib to show you don’t need any special equipment to make this, but you could easily replace these with pressed snaps, buttons/buttonholes, or velcro tabs.  I backed this bib with chenille but you could recycle an old terry cloth towel or some other absorbant fabric for the back as well.  I’ve found that dark or busy fabrics make the best selection for the front.  I had no idea that banana could leave such crazy stains until I had children (I know, right?!? Who would have thought?).  Head to SMS for the bib tutorial.  

And here’s a peek at something else I finished the other day:

I love that little Sleeping Beauty. Can you guess what this will become? More pictures to come.

Posted in tutorial

Bonsai Bag Sewing Pattern!

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The Bonsai Bag Sewing Pattern is a digital PDF sewing pattern. The Bonsai Bag is a medium-sized tote perfect for showing off a favorite fabric, a quilted panel or an embroidery sample. The pleated outer panel helps frame the center with optional contrast trim such as pompoms, ric-rac, piping or lace. This fully lined bag includes an inner pocket and a magnetic snap closure. Detailed instructions are also included for a recessed zipper closure. Tied handles and decorative rings add a fun and professional look.

with ric rac trim and pink baby wale corduroy outer panel
with a quilted center panel and no trim (fabric: Denyse Schmidt Katie Jump Rope)


Purse: 11” tall x 14” wide

Straps: about 24” when tied, includes rings and tabs

with a magnetic snap closure (I added an extra pocket on this bag)
instructions are also included for a recessed zipper closure


Detailed step-by-step instructions

Instructions for two types of closures: magnetic snap AND recessed zipper

Full color diagrams and photos illustrating each step, including multiple views of select steps

Handy “Instruction Cheat Sheet,” a brief one-page summary of the steps so you don’t have to print entire file for reference

Complete set of full-sized pattern pieces (print out and attach together before cutting)

Hints and tips for sewing the Bonsai Bag


  • 1/3 yard of fabric for center panels
  • 1/3 yard of fabric for straps (if using the same fabric as pleated outer panel, you’ll need 2/3 yd total)
  • 1/4 yard of bottom-weight fabric (corduroy, linen, twill, home dec) for pleated outer panel and ring tabs
  • 1/2 yard of lining fabric
  • 1/3 yard canvas, flannel, or heavy-weight fusible interfacing (such as Decor Bond) for reinforcing center panels and straps
  • one magnetic snap and two 2” squares of fusible interfacing (only if using magnetic snap)
  • OR one 14” zipper
  • one package of four plastic purse rings (you could also use metal or wood rings here)
  • 1/2 yard of trim such as pompoms, ric-rac, or lace

Remember to prewash your fabric!

Purse rings can be found at your local craft superstore:

A quick note about pompom trim: I prefer to use the kind where the pompoms are closer together because you get a fuller look around the center panels.  To tell the difference, look at the way the pompoms are attached to the base of the trim: if the two strands are separate (top) the poms will be further apart; if the two strands are together (bottom) the poms will be closer together.


The Bonsai Bag was featured on the following posts:

Bonsai! Rae’s New Fall Bag (you can see me holding the bag in this post)

Return of the Bonsai Bag

And see what others have made in the Bonsai Bag Photo Pool (submit your pictures here!)

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Felt Letters for Clementine’s Room

Yesterday I finished these felt letters for Clementine’s nursery. They had been sewn and stuffed months ago but I had this idea that they would all hang individually from the tension wire that holds up her curtains and then when I tried it and realized they would spin around and half of the letters would be backwards I gave up and for months there’s been a hanging “Cle” in her room with a backwards “e.” The solution ended up being a strand of clear thread which runs through the letters and is looped at the ends so it can hang from nails.  And now I’m so geeked about how cool this turned out that I look for excuses to wander into the nursery and stare at it.

I will freely admit that the idea for these letters was not mine. I saw similar letters featured in Small Magazine last year and now it is driving me nuts that I just wasted a half hour looking for the page I saw them on and can’t find it. Anyway they are from an etsy shop called MiCiMaLand that sells them in double cool Learn-to-Spell sets like this one.  At the time they also offered custom name sets ($2/letter if I remember correctly) but now it looks like they’ve stopped selling them and if I had had half a brain I would have just ordered a set from them instead of trying to make them myself.  I waffled about it for awhile but in the end the Dutch Girl in me just had to add it all up and decide that $20 for all TEN letters of Clementine’s name was too much to fork over and by gum I could just make those myself. Kicking myself now, thinking about how long it took to cut out each of those letters and then stitching and stuffing them by hand…did I mention there are TEN letters in her name? This is a classic example of the should-I-make-it-or-buy-it inner debate going awry. And if you are thinking $34 for a full set of hand-stitched letters is too much, you should think again.

If you have a child with a sensible short-lettered name, you might yet decide you want to make your own set.  For those of you who are still nodding, here’s a brief how-to.


1. Buy some nice brightly colored wool felt (here or here are nice, feel free to share your favorite sources in comments).  Acrylic does not look as nice but go ahead if you must.

2. Print out the name using a large font.  Block letters work well. Mine were Cooper font size 400 in Word.

3. Place a piece of felt over each printed letter and hold it up to a window so the light shines through.  Trace the letter onto the felt with disappearing ink or with a light pencil.

4. Cut letters. I put two layers of felt together and cut them out two at a time.

5. Whipstitch the two layers together around all the edges.  For letters that have holes in the middle (like e, b, d), stitch around the holes first, then do the outside of the letter.

You can see the stitches pretty clearly in the picture above. Uneven stitches add to the handmade charm of these letters (repeat after me).

6.  Leave a hole open so you can stuff the letters.  Don’t over-stuff them or the stitches will pull out.  Too much stuffing also makes them bend oddly…you don’t want that!

7.  Sew the letters shut.

8. Using clear quilting thread or fishing line, thread the letters together, tying the ends of the thread into loops for hanging.  Hang and enjoy!

And here are some other things I’ve made with felt for you to peruse should you feel so inclined:

Rae pretends she can quilt (and shares a quick quilting tutorial)

Disclaimer: I am not a Real Quilter. I have never taken a quilting class before, nor do I have any other kind of training in the quilting department besides that which my mother dispensed in the rare moments I actually listened to her. I certainly did more eye rolling than listening as a general rule, so what sewing knowledge I was able to get through my stubborn head can only be attributed to her, not me, and is laudable indeed.

With that said, I like to make quilts because I have found them to be pretty intuitive on their own. With very little expertise one can produce a very satisfying end product. Add to that the fact that they are quite simply the best way one can use multiple fabric prints or colors in one place.  I especially like to make baby quilts because they are small and quick and double as play blankets as well as bedding.

So despite the fact that I am a complete Quilting Imposter, I managed to pull together a tutorial for a baby quilt that is quite nice over at Sew Mama Sew.  It’s up today so you can head over there to see it: Crayon Box Quilt Tutorial. This quilt is very similar to the one I made for Clementine last year although hers was 6×7 squares and this one is 6×6.

If you follow Sew Mama Sew at all, you’ll know that many amazing quilters have contributed their expertise in the form of Sew Mama Sew Tutorials. They include but are certainly not limited to: Elizabeth of Oh Fransson!, Alissa of Handmade By Alissa (and founder of Modern Quilt Guild), and Ashley from Film in the Fridge (who I had the pleasure to meet this summer in Vermont!).  If you have time you should visit their blogs. They are Real Quilters and I have learned oodles from them and I am sure you will too.

I think the perspective I can offer as a completely untrained quilter is that there are ways to “cheat” (or as Amy Karol would say, “bend the rules”) when it comes to quilting.  These cheats don’t result in  award-winning heirloom quilts but for small projects like this one (that will probably get beaten up anyway), I’m quite sure it doesn’t matter.  Plus it makes me love quilting just a little bit more when I can make a nice-looking quilt quickly without toiling over it for eons.

So in addition to the tutorial, I wanted to share another trick I use to bend the rules here on the blog, which is that I bind my quilts using the backing instead of making separate binding. I’m sure this has all Real Quilters Gone Before rolling over in their graves, but it makes me feel pretty smug/clever. Here’s a quick tutorial:


This is a tutorial to show you how to use the fabric on the back of a quilt to bind it off.  Most quilts have a separate strip of binding that goes around the outside of the quilt.  Here I’ll show you how to take the backing and fold it over the edge of the quilt to finish it.  This works best for small baby or doll quilts. 

Note: the Crayon Box Quilt Tutorial for the quilt top shown in the instruction photos below was first posted over at Sew Mama Sew. The quilt pictured above is the Storytime Squares Quilt which is available as a free pattern download/tutorial on my blog.

Step 1: After quilting the layers of your quilt together, trim the batting along the outside of the quilt right to the edge of the quilt top.

Step 2: Trim backing (the yellow plaid fabric in my photos) to ONE INCH all the way around the quilt.

Step 3: Starting near a corner and working clockwise around the quilt, fold the backing in half so that its raw edge is lined up with the edge of the quilt top (it will now be 1/2″ wide).  In the photo below, I have folded the edge on the left:

Step 4: Fold backing one more time along the edge of the quilt top so that it overlaps the quilt top by 1/2″.  Pin in place.

Step 5: Mark a diagonal line at the corner.  The base of the line should start where the corner of the quilt top is (under the backing) and end 1″ from the corner along the raw edge.

Step 6: Fold backing along line

Step 7: Fold the backing in half again (I drew a line in the first photo with marker so you can see where) to line up raw edge with edge of quilt top.

Step 8: Fold backing over again at the quilt top edge so that it again overlaps the quilt top by 1/2.” Repeat this method all the way around the quilt until you have the entire quilt backing folded and pinned.

Step 9: Stitch close to edge of backing around entire quilt to finish.

In the photo above, you can see that your quilting lines will be visible past the stitching for the binding since they go all the way to the edge of the quilt top. As long as my stitching blends in with the quilt backing, I don’t sweat this too much, but if you don’t like how this looks you can pull out those threads and knot them where you want them to end using a needle.

Ta-daaaah!  Finished quilt!