I think I might have a problem

I visited Shiisa Quilts in Bloomington Indiana last weekend as part of my life-goal of visiting every brick and mortar quilt shop in the continental USA before I die (kidding. sortof…) and let me tell you, it did not disappoint. Owner Janet has stocked her shop with fabrics and sewing patterns by some of my favorite designers (Oliver+S, Figgy’s, Craft Apple).  I ended up walking out with this:

Those mermaids by Heather Ross? DIED when I saw those. And the Anna Maria Horner? Can’t ever have enough of that. And the Jay McCarroll prints?  I happen to have it on good authority that there will be another Boy Month coming up in February.

So here’s the question I struggle with personally: at what point does buying fabric stop being a normal thing and venture into problem territory (specifically a Fabric Addiction)? I’ve met plenty of people who laugh about how their closet is jam packed with fabric or not being able to shut their sewing room door but it always seems relatively harmless. I myself have enough fabric to last me at least a year (two?) if all I ever did was sew. But is this healthy? It makes me feel better to compare myself to the extreme: Deborah over at Whipstitch used to buy up fabric by the bolt for her personal stash. But at least she started a fabric shop to offload some of it and divert attention from the fact that she is a Certifiable Fabric Nutcase (Love you Deborah!!!). Where does that leave me?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue.  I’ve tried making rules for myself but it might help me to have a better definition of True Fabric Addiction. Is it having too much fabric to fit in a dresser?  Your sewing closet?  More fabric than you can sew up in a year? Your lifetime?  Finding that small rodents have begun to nest in your stash? I need answers. And from the looks of my sewing room, sooner would be better than later. I don’t want to end up on a Dateline special.

So how much fabric do you have? Do you have rules for yourself to prevent yourself from going off the deep end?

Notice how that fabric is neatly serged? I learned that awesome tip from Lindsay at The Cottage Home; I can’t believe how nicely everything washed up with just a little extra time spent serging the edges before washing.  No more tangly mess in the dryer. If you’re wondering how I could have gotten this far in sewing without knowing this and are just now realizing how daft I really am, please just smile and nod.

You can find Shiisa Quilts on facebook right here.  And guess what, yours truly finally figured out how to make a Made By Rae FB page too *does little victory dance* so you can follow me there if you want.

Big Butt Baby Pant Trickiness

I have been so thrilled by the response to the Big Butt Baby Pants Sewing Pattern.  Overwhelmed really.  It’s hard to explain to people who aren’t a part of the online sewing scene how supported I feel by everyone who reads my blog, sends me an encouraging email, or buys a pattern. So I just need to share that here and say thanks. And then on top of that you guys post your pictures which is just so much fun for me to see. It just blows me away.  I mean, how awesome are these?

Row 1: 1. Linen big butt baby pants, 2. kcwc 2, 3. Liberty for Target Big Butt Baby Pants, 4. Big Butt Baby Pants,
Row 2: 5. Deer Butt, 6. KCWC: B3P pants close-up, 7. Big Butt Baby Pants Back view, 8. big butt baby pants and kimono set,
Row 3: 9. babypants4, 10. Her ginormo-booty makes me laugh, 11. open open open, 12. big butt baby pants,
Row 4: 13. 031, 14. big butt baby pants by Made by Rae, 15. Baby pants, 16. Rae’s Big Butt Baby Pants 12m – 2T

As more and more of you have made these, I’ve gotten a few (very sweet) emails asking how to get that crotch to be less wonky.  For those of you who have made these pants, you probably know what I’m talking about.  If you haven’t made them, there’s sometimes a bit of puckering at the bottom of the rear panel. It really doesn’t show up once the pants are on the baby, but it’s still a little annoying.  Here’s a picture of a pair I posted earlier this year that illustrates what I’m talking about:
 see it there, that little pucker at the crotch?
As I worked on samples for the pattern, I found I was able to solve this problem just by stretching the fabrics out a little while sewing the leg seams (as explained in the pattern), but that doesn’t always seem to work for everyone.  So I wanted to put together a quick post to show you a method that might help avoid that crotch wonkiness altogether. You’ll need to own the Big Butt Baby Pants Pattern for this to make any sense, so open up your PDF, grab your pattern, or buy one here!

This fix involves a slight change in how you sew the rear seams, which is the very first part of the sewing instructions. Turn to page 3 to where it says:

Sew Rear Seams

In step 1 of the pattern there is a diagram which shows you how to line up your panels by overlapping the dots. Go ahead and line up your panels just like that.
HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL NEED TO CHANGE: There’s also an arrow in that same diagram pointing to the very edge of the center of the rear panel (right where it lines up with a corner of the main panel) that says “Start Sewing Here” and we’re NOT going to do that. So just ignore that pesky little arrow.
Instead, skip the first 1/2″ from the edge (shown in red in the new diagram below) and start stitching at the black dot (see below), sewing up toward the waistband as shown by the black dashed arrow in the diagram below and rotating the rear panel as indicated in the pattern.  Repeat for the other rear seam.
Leaving that 1/2″ unsewn at the bottom of the rear seams is going to give the rear edge alot more flexibility when it comes time to sew the leg seam.  Here’s how the bottom of the rear panel will look (more or less) once you’ve sewn and topstitched both rear seams:
The rear seams shown from the right side (above) and wrong side (below)
I got a little too close to the edge on the right seam in the picture above; I probably should have started a little further up, but whatevs.
Now you can continue sewing the front seam and leg seam as instructed. You should find that you have enough flexibility to be able to sew the leg seam without puckering. Note that the edges might not line up as smoothly in shape this way as the corners stick out a little more.  It’s still very important to center the front seam on the center of the rear panel so that everything lines up properly, and it never hurts to pin excessively:
One more thing: make sure that as you sew the leg seam that you “catch” all the ends of those rear seams. Since they now begin 1/2″ away from the edge and the leg seam allowance is 1/2″, this shouldn’t be difficult, but if you don’t you’ll get little holes at the ends of the seams.  Here’s what it should look like when the leg seam is finished:
You can see that I didn’t catch the top stitching on the left rear seam, but that’s OK since I got the seam itself.

If you find that sewing the rear seams like this makes the front of the pants longer than the back or vice versa (causing there to be a little extra on one side at the cuff), just trim it off so that it’s even.  Occasionally when the top fabric stretches more than the fabric on the bottom, I end up with a little extra, and that’s what I do. Campy? Yes. But that’s how I roll, people.

I do want to say though that this usually only happens when my rear seam allowances are a little off.  In this case the legs did come out the right length (yay!):

at this point you would finish the pants up as instructed in the pattern
the finished product (these were also blogged here)
I really hope this helps some of you create a better-looking pair of baby pants. Feel free to leave a comment on this post if you have other helpful hints or information others would find useful.
And as always, please add your pictures to the Big Butt Baby Pants Flickr Pool so we can all enjoy your cute creations!

Lickety Split Mini-Bag with Grey Owls

I am highly distractable. I am not the sort of person who plugs away at a project until I finish it before starting something new (unless someone is breathing down my neck) because while I’m working on one thing, I’ll look over at a piece of fabric that is just begging to be turned into another project and I’m onto something else. So while I DID putter a bit on the Bonsai Bag Pattern this week, I also spent an afternoon making a mini-Lickety Split Bag (one of my PDF sewing patterns; you can buy it here or up on the sidebar if you want/need it).

The fabric is Alexander Henry’s Spotted Owl in grey.  I have the pale blue colorway too but the grey seemed perfect for fall.  I also have a seester who had a birthday who I suspected might like this. But I might need to make a few more of these bags so she can pick her favorite, you know, like a multiple-choice-birthday gift.  Making gifts for fambly is tricky because I have a tendency to make things based on my taste and not necessarily theirs. So options are always good.

Just so you can see the difference between the actual Lickety Split Bag and this version, here they are side by side. Even though you can’t tell in this picture, the straps are actually the exact same length (I think the knots are a little different) but the body of the mini version is shorter and narrower.

can you believe I made these from the same pattern?

A quick how-to:

  • I used my Lickety Split pattern and with the following changes to the main pattern piece: chopped off the bottom 2.5″ of the pattern piece and the middle 2″ and tossed those two pieces.
  • The remaining pattern piece was cut along the line for the horizontal pocket placement as shown, creating the two pieces labeled C and D below (click photo to enlarge).
  • The center piece labeled “C” was cut on the fold where indicated, with an additional 1/2″ seam allowance added on the taller side of the pattern piece (right side in photo).
  • The strap piece labeled “D” was cut on the fold with an additional 1/2″ seam allowance on the shorter side of the piece (left side in photo).
  • The pockets were cut as wide as each section and 16″ tall.  Each pocket was sewn together by folding in half lengthwise with right sides facing and then sewing across the bottoms (leaving the sides open). Then turned the pockets right-side out, and placed them 3″ from the bottom of each panel and sewed across the bottoms to fasten securely to each panel. Then basted the pockets to the panels along the sides and then sewed all the panels together.
  • I topstitched each seam with a double row of stitches.
  • I added a button loop (a 2″ strip folded into a 1/2″ strip and sewn along both edges), and two buttons, one inside and one outside so it can be fastened when reversed.
  • The lining pieces are cut just the same as the outside and then the bag is assembled exactly the same as the instructions indicate.

If you make one, be sure to add it to the Lickety Split Photo Pool!

Pink Bonsai Giveaway ends tonight!

Just a leetle reminder that the giveaway for the Pink Bonsai Bag ends TONIGHT at midnight EST!  To enter to win this bag, make a donation to the Neighborhood Service Organization of Detroit for just $5 or more (each $5 enters you once) and select “Made By Rae entry” from the drop-down menu.  And I probably shouldn’t even say this but not very many people have entered this giveaway so far, so your chances of winning this one are really good!!!

To read more about NSO’s services for the homeless and others in need, you can go to the original giveaway post from earlier this week or NSO’s website.  And don’t forget I’ll be giving this one away next week:

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