Fanciful top with bell sleeves

made by rae fanciful top

I sewed a fun top out of one of the prints from my newest line of fabrics, Fanciful for Cloud9 (I introduced the collection on the blog here if you want a look at the entire line). Since the line is quilting cotton and I don’t typically love using quilting cotton for garments, I thought it was worth having a quick discussion about that. 

There are some patterns that can work quite well with quilting cottons, if you know what to look for and expect. Generally, patterns that don’t require too much drape (so they have a bit of structure), and patterns that don’t require too much stretch. Second, not all quilting cottons are equal. I find that some companies have thicker quilting cottons that aren’t suitable for most garments at all. Cloud9’s quilting cotton tends to be lighter than most (Art Gallery is another company that has a fairly light and almost silky quilting substrate), so I don’t mind wearing garments out of them, given the right pattern. Of my patterns, these work pretty well with quilting cotton:

I want to be clear, however: while I think you can make lovely garments with quilting cotton, I definitely prefer other fabrics (check out my favorite apparel fabrics post for some ideas); quilting is obviously what this fabric is intended for. 

So why did I make this top? Partly, I just can’t help myself — I was inspired by this beautiful print and wanted to see it in a bell-sleeved top. And because the bell-sleeves are rather structured and the top is somewhat tailored, it’s actually quite comfortable! Will I wear it alllll the time? Probably not, but I could see myself wearing it out for dinner or on a date. Would I love this even more in a more flow-y fabric? Definitely. It’s still fun for me to see my designs sewed up into a garment…because garment sewing is my happy place. 

A few pattern notes

I used the same pattern pieces (from my Beatrix pattern) and bell sleeve as for this white bell-sleeved blouse, but this time used facings at the neckline instead of lining. Also handy if you want to recreate this look:

And now for some pics of me in my top!

made by rae fanciful top
made by rae fanciful top
made by rae fanciful top

PS. I love it with the off-white silk noil Cleo skirt I sewed earlier this year!

Fanciful fabric is here!

made by rae for cloud9 - fanciful fabric

I’m so excited to announce that my latest line of fabrics, Fanciful, is now in shops!! Fanciful is printed on quilting cotton that is 100% organic from Cloud9 Fabrics.

Here’s a glance at all 10 prints in the collection:

Fanciful is my fifth fabric collection and is an homage to blooms and blossoms. You may remember that my previous fabric collections were designed primarily for children, but I wanted to do something a little more grown up this time around, and this collection was inspired by my late grandmother, Grace, who loved flowers of all kinds. She loved dressing up in bright floral prints, owned a rather impressive collection of floral teacups and teapots, and had a staggering number of artificial flower arrangements. She loved all of her children and grandchildren so much, and I miss her dearly. She died four years ago last week, so it seems like an entirely appropriate time for Fanciful to launch.

made by rae fanciful fabric

Fanciful is now available at many shops around the world. You can use the shop finder for US shops on the Cloud 9 website:


I’ve already made a couple of things from Fanciful (sneak peeks above), and have some more ideas up my bell sleeve (sorry, I couldn’t help it). What would you make with these prints?

I’m always thrilled to see photos of your projects with my fabric pop up on social media! If you make something, please share it with the tag #fanciful_fabric. If you work at a shop that carries this line, post a pic and tag it on Instagram so we can share!

Posted in fanciful

Peach button up shirt for Elliot

We had family pics a few weeks ago, and, feeling inspired, I started making shirts for the boys ahead of time. This peach shirt for Elliot was one of them. Because I generally want everyone to coordinate (but not match) in family pics so that the clothing won’t distract the eye but rather fade into the background, I went with this lovely soft shot cotton in a pale peach hue. I made sure he approved the fabric ahead of time so that it had a chance of being worn again.

He didn’t end up wearing this shirt for the pics (which is fine!), but I love how it turned out anyway. I think the color is amazing with his hair. 

on the dock at our cottage last week

I’ve been wanting to design some boys’ sewing patterns for a while, but other projects have always gotten in the way. With this shirt, I wanted to keep the pattern as simple as possible yet still make it distinct and easy to get on and off. First, there’s no collar, an addition to most “dressier” boys’ patterns that ends up being a bit time-consuming; instead, I used bias binding. Second, no button placket or sleeve facing pieces; the cuffs and plackets are all built into the main pieces. And yet, there are still details like pockets and shoulder epaulets that make it look professional.

I’m not going to promise this will turn into a sewing pattern, but I am interested in knowing if there’s interest for a boys’ summer pattern capsule. Let me know if you think this is something you would like to see developed, or if you think there are already enough patterns for boys’ shirts out there!

One last note: the shorts are also handmade; I used my Parsley Pants pattern (shortened to a 4″ inseam) and added square patch pockets to the sides. 


Clementine at the lake

hello, friends!!! It’s been awhile.

I unplugged most of last week with my family at a cottage in Northern Michigan on Glen Lake near Sleeping Bear Dunes. It was lovely. Not entirely relaxing, exactly, as taking 3 kiddos on vacation is never really…relaxing 😬…but still. That area of Michigan is breathtakingly beautiful. We did bunches of hiking and sight-seeing, and I stole enough moments reading books, handstitching, working on puzzles, and sitting by the fire at night to make it feel like a vacation.

Staying off my phone and computer was probably the biggest factor toward making it feel like a real vacation. On two other trips this summer — a knitting and hiking retreat in Colorado on my own, and then in Montreal with Mr. Rae — I posted on Instagram through the trips. I SO love to share bits and pieces when I travel — the beautiful sights, the new places — and I love seeing other people post when they travel too; it’s so inspiring! But it’s also hard to be completely in the moment and relaxed if there’s a little voice in the back of your brain constantly saying “ooh that would be fun to share!” It feels like a bit of a mental drain, and I find Instagram especially to be particularly draining. I don’t know if it’s my personality or if I just need to find a groove, but sometimes I find even putting up one post to be overwhelming. And sometimes not. So all that to say, stepping away was good for me.

This week the kids are back in school (yay for post-Labor-Day school starts!!), so I’m planning our fall projects here at MBR and getting back into the work routine. Hugo is going to preschool five days a week now, so that’s a shift from our previous 3-day schedule. I’m not sure I’ll work full time yet, though. I have thoughts on that, maybe I’ll write more about that later.

Anyway, here are a few more things I wanted to share with you…

Due to an overwhelming response on Instagram, these pants are going to be the next pattern I start working on. Stay tuned.

We added new PDF copyshop files to some of the children’s patterns in the shop! Parsley Pants, Moon Pants, and all of the Geranium patterns now come with pattern pieces in a copyshop format as well as (the original) print-at-home files. Check out this post on how to use a copyshop file if you need more info.

I watched “Iris” on Netflix the other night and I think Iris Apfel is my new style icon. Seriously, this lady is way cool.

I got a couple scarves from the Scarf Shop as presents for my birthday (I turned 41 on August 26). I love the colors and the wool cloud scarf is going to be perfect when the weather gets cold.

After binge-watching Season 10 of RuPaul’s Drag Race (I also watched season 8 and 9 when we were in Montreal — they’re on Canadian Netflix), I think I am officially obsessed. I love the colors, the design, the over-the-top-ness of it all.

I have two books to recommend:

My sister Kricket gave me Goodbye Vitamin for my birthday and I really enjoyed it. It’s a moving story about a woman who goes home to take care of her aging father who has Alzheimer’s. It’s well-written, funny, heartbreaking, hopeful.

I’m probably the last person to read this book, but Crazy Rich Asians was fun. Full of great nonsense and a super fast and fluffy read (I also just saw the movie…I think I liked the book better).

Have a fantastic weekend, everyone!

Posted in updates

Hugo’s backpack

Hugo's backpack / made by rae

Since it’s Back To School time again, adorable backpacks made with my Toddler Backpack Pattern have been popping up in my feed, so I thought I’d share these photos of Hugo with the original backpack I designed the pattern from (it used to be Elliot’s). I took these over a year ago but he still LOVES putting it on his back and parading around.

hugo's backpack / made by rae

I love that lots of you are sewing cute little backpacks for your cute little cuties! It’s a fun way to make a backpack that is custom and unique, and since it’s possible to make this pattern for older kiddos too, it’s not just limited to toddlers or preschoolers (when we updated this pattern a few years ago, we included easy instructions for making it large enough for school-aged kids and 8.5×11 binders).

hugo's backpack / made by rae

hugo's backpack / made by rae

hugo's backpack / made by rae

hugo's backpack / made by rae

The canvas fabric I used for this backpack is now long gone and out of print, but the pattern is available in my shop!

Toddler Backpack Sewing Pattern – $8

Posted in backpack

Summer snapshots

summer snapshots        summer snapshots

Ah summer! I love summer. I love sitting back and watching all the plans I had to scramble to put together all spring slowly unfold into a lovely, full summer of activity. I’m not one to sit around and relax, so there’s a certain satisfaction to this process each year, and like anything, it seems like something you get better and better at as time goes on. It’s no small feat to engineer an entire summer of child-care and activities — camps, babysitter, swimming lessons — and still find time not only to work part-time but also relax a little bit, let me tell you. In fact, this past spring was pretty stressful, I’m not going to lie. But that’s a story for another time.

Here are some snapshots from our summer so far! It wouldn’t be summer without a visit to the lake (Lake Michigan)…

summer snapshots

summer snapshots

summer snapshots

summer snapshots

summer snapshots

the splash park…

summer snapshots

summer snapshots

running through the sprinkler…

summer snapshots

and camping!

summer snapshots

We went camping last weekend and it was hands-down the MOST RAIN we have ever gotten while camping. It rained pretty much non-stop from the time we got to the campsite Friday evening until we left Sunday morning. Luckily there were a few breaks in the rain to swim in the lake!!

summer snapshots

summer snapshots

summer snapshots

summer snapshots

And Hugo and I try to get to a park on my days off work (right now that’s Tuesdays and Thursdays).

summer snapshots

This weekend, Clementine turns NINE — can you believe it?! seems like just yesterday I was posting her birth announcement — and then we’re dropping off the kiddos at Grandma’s (Hugo) and sleepaway camp (Elliot and Clementine), so Mr Rae and I can go to Montreal for a few days just the two of us. I’m so excited!! I’ve never been to Montreal and I’ve heard it’s absolutely lovely.

summer snapshots

If you follow me on Instagram you might have noticed that I took a trip to Colorado for a knitting retreat a couple weeks ago — that was really fun too. I’ll try to post pics of that trip soon!

I hope you’re having a wonderful summer, too! What have you checked off your summer to-do list so far?



Posted in updates

Pink Ruffle Concoction

Made By Rae pink concoctionMade By Rae pink concoction

I posted a pic of this top on Instagram during Me-Made-May and kept getting questions about the pattern, but it requires a bit of explanation so it seemed appropriate to write about it here. This top started as a possible spring pattern prototype that never went anywhere. It all started when I was making this ruffled Gemma top; I was mid-sew when I put on the bodice and threw the big ruffled skirt piece over my shoulder and then accidentally caught a glimpse of myself as I walked past a mirror. I really liked the ruffle over the shoulder…and hence this top was born.

Made By Rae pink concoction

I drafted the front and back center pieces off of Gemma (rotated the side darts so they angle towards the bottom corner), attached a giant ruffle all the way around, and then included two side pieces under the arm that extend under the ruffle and curve up and meet at the belly button (you can’t really see these, but imagine it a bit like flower petals).

Made By Rae pink concoction

The first attempt was horrible and I just looked like a giant ruffle dumpling, so I added a single line of elastic shirring at the sides to help cinch it in and give it a bit more tailoring if you can even call it that.

Made By Rae pink concoction

It worked. Now I look like a pink butterfly! Wheee!

Made By Rae pink concoction

The fabric is a rose (almost mauve-ish?) double gauze that I had purchased for one of the dress samples for the Geranium for big kids (sizes 6-12) cover shoot when we put the pattern into print last summer. You can get a glimpse of the dress in the gorgeous cover shot by Rachel Kovac here. Rachel’s daughter Tia is modeling it in the photo. Rachel’s blog is Stitched Together.

I do really love double gauze so much. It’s just so dreamy and comfortable to wear, and I love that it always looks a bit soft and rumpled.

Made By Rae pink concoction

In the end, the side panels engineering issues were enough to put me off developing this pattern further; plus it got the side-eye from Elli and Jess when I showed them the initial photos. Maybe if I come up with a better solution this could really turn into something, but I have so many ideas that I’m totally OK when something just becomes a top for me to wear. It’s all part of the creative process, no?

Do you enjoy getting a little peek into what happens when a pattern idea goes nowhere? Well, not quite nowhere…but you know what I mean.

Jess Makes: Cleo skirt with side zipper

Here’s a modified version of the Cleo Skirt that I’ve been wearing a ton lately. Instead of using elastic, I gathered the back skirt to fit into a flat waistband, and added an invisible side zipper. The great news is that adding a zipper doesn’t even interfere with the View A pocket!

Here’s a  how-to:

  • Cut out Front Skirt, Back skirt, and View A pockets according to pattern.
  • Cut out *two* Front Waistbands out of fabric (no back waistband)
  • Cut two Front Waistbands out of interfacing
  • Press and interface BOTH waistband pieces as directed for the front waistband in Step 1 of pattern
  • Attach and sew View A pockets as directed in Step 2
  • Choose which side you want your zipper on, then only sew the side seam of the *opposite* side.
  • Gather front and back skirts as directed in Step 4
  • Prepare waistband as directed in Step 5, but only sew together at one side. Try it on by putting it around your waist and pinning it together 1/2″ from the ends to make sure it will fit (adjust length if necessary)
  • Attach the skirt to the waistband, matching side seams and adjusting skirt gathers to fit the front and back waistbands. Your skirt should look like this:

  • *TRY YOUR SKIRT ON* at this point, you’ll want to make sure the waistband fits you just right, and that it stays where you want it on your waist. Safety pin the open side of the waistband 1/2″ from the edge. Adjust your seam allowance if necessary!
  • Now you’ll install a zipper. I used an 8″ invisible zipper and just followed the package directions. I placed the top of my zipper at the fold in the waistband, with the 1/2″ of zipper tape extending past the fold. Here’s a good tutorial if you need a little guidance.
  • Once the zipper is installed, you can sew the rest of the side seam.
  • To finish the waistband, follow the directions in Steps 7-8; you can sew the whole waistband down at one time here because you don’t need to add elastic! Hand stitch the waistband for a tidy finish at the zipper.
  • Hem skirt as directed, and you’re done!

This version of Cleo has a couple of other modifications: it’s a mashup of the View B length with View A pockets, and the skirt is a good bit more full than the pattern calls for.

First, I cut out my pockets so that I could use almost all the rest of the fabric for the skirt. Instead of folding the fabric in half and cutting pockets out of two layers, I just cut them out separately, end to end, along one selvage of the fabric.

For the front and back skirt pieces, I followed the View B length of the pattern pieces, but made them each the full width of the fabric that remained after cutting out the pockets. (This rayon is 54″ wide, so the finished width of this skirt is well over 90″!)

I’ve had this Anna Maria Horner rayon stashed away for quite some time now (as evidenced by its total unavailability on the internet), and I’m so glad I finally got around to making a Cleo Skirt with it. Sometimes the simplest design is the best use for a lovely bold print like this; and rayon is simply delicious for a Cleo. Let us know if you try it yourself!

Use the tags #cleoskirt #raemademedoit and #madebyrae to share your creations on Instagram. We’d love to see them!

Posted in Cleo, Jess
1 Comment

Pink and white striped Isla

Made By Rae Isla Dress / PDF pattern

I’m a mother of three and reliable coffee spiller, so I’m not sure why my recent knit sewing streak has included three dresses (see also: Exhibit A / Exhibit B) that are basically white? I guess I just love wearing white, even if it’s hard to keep clean. We use lots of Oxy and stain stick over here.

This striped Isla dress is a spin-off of the other one (shown below) that I made as a sample for my Creativebug Isla class, which is white with navy stripes — fabric from LaMercerie — and which I very nearly absconded with after trying it on when we were finished shooting. Still kicking myself for not buying enough of that fabric to make a second one, really. I love a wider stripe — there’s so many striped knits, but there’s something pretty lovely about putting some space between those stripes, don’t you think?

Isla Dress Class / Creativebug

The sample looks super cute on Ayrika though, no? SO CUTE!!!

As mentioned in my last post, with striped fabric you do have to modify the way you cut out the bodice, slightly; the bodice is usually curved at the bottom to allow for the bust, but it’s pretty easy to modify the bottom edge for stripes, as I demonstrate in the video. And for the skirt on this dress, I cut the fabric on the cross-grain so that the stripes would be vertical (again, something I demonstrate in the class, just in case you need a bit of hand-holding!)

Adjusting Isla for stripes

One of the great things about a basic knit dress is that it goes with freaking everything, from jean jackets to cardigans. Here are my favorite ways to wear it:

Made By Rae Isla Dress / PDF pattern

Made By Rae Isla Dress / PDF pattern

Made By Rae Isla Dress / PDF pattern

Finally, a note about the fabric: I found this in the sale section at Stone Mountain and Daughter, so I don’t exactly know what this is but I suspect that it is a rayon or bamboo jersey. Rayon knits are usually pretty thin, super stretchy, and have a certain weight to them. I normally cut the Isla bodice a little longer for my height (I’m a couple inches taller than what I drafted the pattern for, 5’6”), but not when I use rayon jersey, since the weight of the skirt usually pulls the bodice down, making it longer, on its own.

My Isla class is now available on Creativebug, or you can find the PDF pattern in my shop!!

Posted in isla