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!!

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My Isla Dress Class on Creativebug!

Hey hey! Today my Isla Dress & Top launches as an online class on Creativebug, woot woot! Isla is the third and final women’s garment that I’m launching with Creativebug this year, joining my Gemma tank and the Cleo skirt as part of the “Sewing Essentials” series.

For those of you unfamiliar with Creativebug, it’s a subscription-based site that creates online workshops with all kinds of designers and creators (knitting, sewing, painting, weaving, baking, etc). I’m continuously amazed at how seamlessly they edit down my hours of blah blah into a cohesive class, not to mention the quality of the video and attention to detail.

Unlike Gemma or Cleo, Isla is designed for knit fabrics, and I cover some knit sewing basics in the class. If you need more information on the materials you’ll need for Isla, check out my Isla page, and if you’re intimidated by knit fabric, here are some recommendations with links to shops to get you started.The class includes the downloadable print-at-home pattern in nine women’s sizes (XXS – XL and plus sizes 1-3).

As an added bonus in this class, I cover sewing Isla with striped fabric, since so many knit fabrics feature stripes. I show how to make some bodice adjustments for striped fabrics (the bottom of the bodice is normally curved to accommodate the bust) and demonstrate how to cut the skirt on the cross-grain for some fun horizontal/vertical stripe play, as shown in the white and navy-striped dress sample (modeled here by Ayrika, who works at Creativebug!).

As you can see from the photos, Isla can be made into a dress or a top, and has a gathered peplum or skirt, depending on which one you choose. The skirt is gathered and attached with elastic thread using a technique called shirring, so if you’re unfamiliar with that technique (or want to know where to find elastic thread), check out my shirring tutorial here.

If you prefer, you can also skip the shirring altogether and use a traditional gathering technique, though I do recommend attaching the skirt using a serger to avoid stretching out the waist seam if you take this approach.

You can follow this link or click on any of the photos in this post to see the class outline, watch the class preview, and sign up. Creativebug is a subscription-based website, so you get access to all of the classes with your subscription, and you can start with a free trial if you’re not already signed up.

I hope you enjoy this class!!! It’s been really fun to see how many of you have enjoyed the classes so far. Remember to post what you’re making online too!

Double Gauze boat shorts and Charlie tunic

Hugo Double Gauze Charlie Tunic

As you’ve probably noticed from my posts this week, I’ve got shorts on the brain. That’s mainly because Hugo and Elliot wear nothing but shorts all the time now that it feels like the tropics here. I’ve also had at least three people ask me in the past week if you could turn Luna Pants into shorts (the answer: YES!) so I’ve also been thinking about how best to share a quick how-to on that too.

Hugo Double Gauze Charlie Tunic

This little pair of shorts has really held up remarkably well for being a) white and b) double gauze. They’re size 3 Parsley Pants that I shortened (<- tutorial there) and we’re on our second summer of them fitting Hugo. Also on my list of future things to post about: double gauze. The name is so intimidating but it’s such a comfy fabric to wear and really not that hard to sew!!

Double Gauze boat shorts

The Charlie tunic (which I modified slightly with a curved hem) is now too small, but these two really made a cute combo while they both still fit.

Hugo Double Gauze Charlie Tunic

Hugo Double Gauze Charlie Tunic

Most of Hugo’s clothing this summer is handmade hand-me-downs from when Elliot and Clementine were four and I made a ridiculous amount of their clothing (esp. for Celebrate the BOY, summer edition, which probably no one even remembers anymore, but also these helicopter pajamas, and these red pants of Clem’s got shortened into shorts too). It’s been a real joy to pull those out and reminisce about little four-year-old Elliot or Clementine wearing them. WAAAH they grow up so FAST!

Hugo Double Gauze Charlie Tunic

Interestingly, I do find the handmade stuff is standing up better than the store bought stuff, not only because I think I make it last better, but also because the handmade stuff seems more timeless. The (small amount of) store-bought stuff we bought for Elliot when he was this age already looks somewhat dated.

Are you sewing shorts this summer? For you or for kiddos?

Trace and Make: Shorts Pattern

I’ve taught a number of trace and make classes over the years, including my Trace and Make Tee and Leggings class for kids over on Creativebug, so I think it’s a pretty useful thing to know how to do. Tracing existing garments to create a pattern really helps you understand the architecture of garments, how clothes are built. It’s also handy when you want a pattern for something but can’t find the right one, or have a well-fitting garment you want to replicate.

In this post, I’ll show you how to make a simple shorts pattern — just one pattern piece — from an existing pair of shorts. You can also use this method for other types of garments, and since it’s based on something that already fits, there’s no guessing on the size you need.

DIY trace and make shorts / made by rae

There are a few caveats to tracing clothes to make patterns that I’d like to mention before we start. First, be aware of the ethical pitfalls: don’t use a traced pattern to create a pattern or product you intend to sell. That is using someone else’s work for profit, and unless you have permission to do this, it’s not OK. Do the work, my dudes. I’ve traced and recreated plenty of garments over the years for myself or my kids, but when I create new patterns to sell, I don’t use tracings; I draft new patterns from scratch or base them on my own existing blocks. Also, be aware that the “it’s OK to trace as long as it is for personal use” philosophy may still be viewed by some as too lax; there are some who believe that tracing is under NO circumstances acceptable.

Another thing: tracing is fairly time-consuming and detailed work, requiring a fair amount of fiddling/adjustment, so if there’s already a sewing pattern for the thing you’re tracing, consider supporting the artist who already put time into creating that pattern for you. Tracing is great, but it’s not perfect; sometimes a sewing pattern that’s been tested is even better.

Since I first posted this tutorial (as part of the upcycle men’s shirts into kid shorts tutorial, Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree Shorts), I created the Parsley Pants sewing pattern for kids, along with an easy tutorial for making Parsley shorts, so you might want to give that one a try if you’re in market for a simple pants/shorts pattern!

OK, let’s get started!

Tools you’ll need:
clear quilter’s ruler
white butcher paper or large-sheet packing paper

Step 1: Find a pair of shorts
Find a pair of shorts that fit your child. The shorts should have elastic either halfway or all the way around the waist. Flat-front shorts with elastic in the back are fine.

Step 2: Trace the back of the shorts
Fold the shorts in half down the center so that the back side of the shorts is facing out. Place the shorts on a large piece of butcher or packing paper, and overlap the halves of the shorts as evenly as possible, lining up edges carefully and flattening the shorts as best you can. Take a marker and trace as closely around the bottom, inseam, crotch curves, and top edge of the shorts as possible.

DIY trace and make shorts / made by rae

DIY trace and make shorts / made by rae

Stretch out the elastic as much as you can to get the true shape of the shorts along the top, and make marks at the side so you’ll know where to place the shorts on the paper when you trace the other side.

DIY trace and make shorts / made by rae

Step 3: Trace the front of the shorts
Now fold the shorts down the center so that the front side is facing out. Line the sides of the shorts up with the marks you just made. Repeat the tracing steps for the back.

DIY trace and make shorts / made by rae

DIY trace and make shorts / made by rae

Step 4: Check that the pattern is wide enough at the waist
Before we move on, we’re going to do a little size-check. Measure across the top of the shorts, double that number, and make sure that it’s at least 2” bigger than the hip measurement of your child (measure with a flexible measuring tape around the widest part of their bum). If the waist width is too close to their hip measurement, it’s going to be a squeeze to pull it on, so if it’s too small, draw the pattern wider at the center front or center back until it’s large enough.

DIY trace and make shorts / made by rae

Example (above): I measured the waist edge on the pattern to be about 13” wide, so the finished shorts will measure twice that, or 26” around the waist before the elastic goes in. Since my son’s hip measurement is 24,” there will be 2” of extra room.

Step 5: Make sure the inseam is the same length on both front and back
The shorts have to match up along the inside of the leg (inseam), so measure that distance on both sides and make sure it’s the same. If it’s not, lengthen one of the sides to match the length of the other.

DIY trace and make shorts / made by rae

When you’re finished you should have something similar to the outline below. The taller side is the back of the shorts.

DIY trace and make shorts / made by rae

Step 6. Add seam allowances to the pattern
Take your ruler and add ½” around the outside of the center and inseam edges of the pattern. Add 1 1/2” to the top for the waistband casing, then add 1″ or more for the hem allowance along the bottom edge.

Note: In this photo you don’t see the hem allowance along the bottom edge of the pattern. I originally created this pattern as part of my Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree shorts tutorial, which upcycles men’s shirts, so it uses the finished edges from the shirts for the hem. If you want to use this pattern to make additional pairs of shorts or you are using new fabric for this tutorial, definitely add at least 1” for hem allowance to the bottom of the pattern.

DIY trace and make shorts / made by rae

Now you’re finished making your pattern! You’re ready to cut out your fabric and sew some awesome shorts woot woot!!!

Want to see how to sew them together? Check out this post for a how-to:


How to sew shorts

It’s summertime — hurrah!!! — and that means it’s shorts time. Shorts are fun and easy to sew, both for kids and grownups alike. When I stumbled across this little infographic I made a few years back for a different post, I thought it was worth a repost for those of you who might be interested in getting into the shorts sewing game!

To make shorts like these, you’ll need a shorts pattern (see pattern notes below), fabric, and some waistband elastic (I like 1″ wide for kid shorts; 1.25″ wide for adult shorts), as well as basic sewing supplies like a sewing machine, pins, scissors, and a safety pin.

how to sew shorts / made by rae

First, cut out two mirror-image pieces from your fabric using your shorts pattern — each piece will become the left and right sides. The pics below are from when I made a couple pairs of Parsley Shorts for Clementine a few years ago.

how to sew shorts

Step 1: First, you need to sew the center (“crotch”) seams, for both the front and back. This is done by placing the two pieces of the shorts together and sewing the front and back curved edges.

how to sew shorts / made by rae

Step 2: Sew the legs together: open up the pant, pin the center seams together, and sew up one leg and down the other. This seam is also called the “inseam.”

how to sew shorts / made by rae

Step 3: For basic pants or shorts, an elastic waistband can be made by folding and pressing the top edge 1/4″ towards the inside of the shorts, folding another 1-1.5″ down, and then stitching along the lower fold to form a casing for the elastic. Then you thread the elastic through the waistband, stitch the ends together, and close the hole. I always put a little piece of folded ribbon in the hole before I sew it shut so my kids can tell front from back when they’re getting dressed.

how to sew shorts / made by raehow to sew shorts / made by raehow to sew shorts / made by raehow to sew shorts / made by rae

Step 4: Hem the bottom of the shorts by folding and pressing 1/4″ twice towards the inside of the shorts and then stitching that second fold down. You can make a wider hem by folding 1/4″ and then 1,” or replace the 1″ with whatever width you want!

how to sew shorts / made by rae

how to sew shorts / made by rae

Pattern notes
To make shorts that are this quick and easy, it helps if you’re working with shorts that are made of just two pieces of fabric (so: a single pattern piece). Here a couple of options if you’re looking for a simple shorts pattern:

double gauze shorts

I made this cute pair of double gauze shorts for Hugo using the Parsley pattern and he loves them. They’re white, so they attract a lot of dirt, but the double gauze is soft and has held up surprisingly well over two summers.

PS. You might also like my Super Seams post, to make shorts that will last!

Jess makes: Lawn Washi with a Bow

It’s been a good long while since we shared any Washi Dresses here on the blog! I made this summery Expansion Pack version out of Heather Ross’s collection for Windham Fabrics, Sleeping Porch. Printed on a lawn substrate, this is the perfect fabric for a summer dress because it’s so lightweight and soft.

Washi with a bow / Jess makes

Isn’t this bow magical? Rae had to tie it for me before we took the photos, then I carefully folded up the dress and didn’t touch that perfectly-tied bow until I finally had to give in and wash it. (Bonus: Watch how Rae ties a bow so it won’t tilt HERE!)

Washi with a bow / Jess makes

This dress has all the elements of View A of the Washi Expansion Pack:

  • Large bow at neck
  • Bias-bound armholes
  • Elastic Casing in the back
  • Pleated front skirt

If you’re not a big fan of shirring, it’s nice to remember that you can use a simple elastic casing along the back the way I chose to do here. And of course I never skip the pockets when making any version of the Washi Dress.

Washi with a bow / Jess makes Washi with a bow / Jess makes

Washi with a bow / Jess makes Washi with a bow / Jess makes

Ready to sew your own? Here are the Washi Dress original pattern and the Washi Expansion Pack. If you don’t have either pattern yet, you can purchase them as a bundle!

If you need some inspiration, it’s always fun to take a look at the Washi Page here on the blog. There you’ll find links to every blog post featuring this beloved pattern, along with size charts, yardage charts, and some other helpful resources.

We’d love to see all your Washis! Share them on Instagram with the hashtags: #washidress , #washixp , #raemademedoit and #madebyrae.

Heather Grey Jade Tee

grey Jade tee / made by rae

This Jade tee probably wins the “most worn” award for me because of its versatility. A heather grey tee goes with everything. Due to my personal weakness with prints, most of my Luna pants and Cleo skirts benefit from the presence of a calm, rational tee to balance everything out, and this tee works nicely like that. Not that there’s anything wrong with print overload. I can be 100% on board with print overload.

But as you can see this is not that.

jade tee sewing pattern / made by rae

I also really like this tee paired with a solid skirt, like this Cleo I made with cream silk noil (via Stone Mountain and Daughter).

grey Jade tee / made by rae

I purchased that beautiful shell and leather necklace from my former assistant, Tashina, who since graduating has started her own jewelry business that incorporates found objects in nature along with her native heritage. She’s headed off to Tish School of the Arts this fall (congratulations, Tashina!!!) where I am sure she will continue to develop her already amazing artistic skills. I get SO MANY compliments on this necklace. Love it.

grey Jade tee / made by rae

The scoop neckline in back is nearly identical to the one in front (both are subtle, not super-scooped, but you could definitely add more scoop if you wanted — just remember to lengthen the facing pieces if you do this).

grey Jade tee / made by rae

I sewed a small folded piece of twill tape under the back of the neckline to help me remember front from back. The sleeves are drafted differently in front than in back, so while you probably wouldn’t notice if you put it on backwards, I like to mark it anyway.

jade tee - back neckband tag

This fabric is a super stretchy bamboo jersey, just like the orange and yellow tees I posted earlier. Unlike those two, the heathered knit is less shiny and does a slightly better (though still not fantastic) job of hiding bumps from undergarments, etc. I found it at but since I’m not 100% recommending it, I also put a number of other heather grey fabrics in the Jade Fabric Inspiration post, so you might try one of those out if you’re interested in reproducing this look.

grey Jade tee / made by rae

The Jade Tee sewing pattern is available in my shop!

Rose Jade + Isla Maxi Dress

DIY Jade + Isla maxi dress / made by rae

It’s difficult for me to resist immediately creating spin-offs and mods for a new pattern even while I’m still working on it, and I totally did that with Jade; if you follow me on Instagram you might have noticed that I’ve been posting two Jade+Isla dresses for quite some time already (the Rose one here and the Grid Dress I posted earlier this week). I just can’t help myself. It’s tough, because even before I’ve launched a pattern I want to start posting all my mods, but then it starts to feel like I’m getting ahead of myself. Anyway, I posted the (incredibly easy) tutorial for combining the two patterns this week, including some details on how to make this maxi version, so now I feel like I can finally unleash this dress on you.

DIY Jade + Isla maxi dress / made by rae

I designed the pattern with the intent that it would combine easily with Isla, and all along I had this idea that maybe it would be easy to make a maxi dress version as well (Isla comes with a knee-length skirt as well as a peplum skirt, but not a maxi skirt). I’d been pinning floor-length floral knit dresses for the past year (like this one), so when I saw this fabric I knew it was destined to become a Jade+Isla maxi dress. OH! also this striped maxi dress…so dreamy. Tell me if you ever stumble across a super-wide width stripe knit, please.

DIY Jade + Isla maxi dress / made by rae

The fabric is brushed poly jersey purchased from Raspberry Creek; I don’t see it there anymore but they have a few other fabulous florals that are very similar. One thing about it of note is that it has a ton of vertical stretch, so I ended up having to shorten both the bodice (by 1″) and the skirt (by 2″). I think in a normal cotton lycra jersey I wouldn’t have needed to shorten it at all, but because the fabric is so stretchy and a bit heavy, it was too long and was catching under my feet when I first tried it on. Just another friendly reminder that all knits behave differently, and trying it on while you sew is always the way to go!

DIY Jade + Isla maxi dress / made by rae

I decided to leave the neckline facing visible (in the ballet view, the instructions have you flip it to the inside and stitch it down, but there’s a note that you can do it this way if you prefer), mostly because the fabric was so stretchy that the neckline was quite big and I didn’t mind a little extra fabric there. I topstitched around the neckline using a double needle, and it looks really nice.

DIY Jade + Isla maxi dress / made by rae

I’ve been wearing this dress all over the place and I get tons of compliments on it, even though I would say it’s not my usual style (it feels a little more country boho chic to me, maybe? I do love florals though). The maxi length skirt is really fun, and to top it off it’s super comfortable. Definitely a new favorite!

Want to make one of your own? Find the tutorial for Jade + Isla on my blog, and the patterns are both available now in my shop!

Your Jade Tees!

It’s been really fun to see how excited everyone has been about the Jade pattern; thank you everyone for such an enthusiastic response! What really gives me the most joy is seeing the tees you’ve all been making with the pattern pop up online every day. It’s fantastic to see all of the creative ways you make this pattern your own.

Before the pattern launched, I sent a handful of advance copies to some people whose blog and IG feeds I love. Here are a few of the great Jade tops they made, along with others that have been popping up on Instagram under the hashtag #mbrjade.

At top of post, Anna at Noodlehead made a lovely storm blue version using Dana knit (check out my knit fabric recommendations, which include the Dana knit), which you can read all about over on her blog!

Next up, Meg of Cookin’ & Craftin’ shared her navy Jade on her blog as well, and rocks it with her Jenny overalls here!

More beautiful Jades in both solids and florals — it’s really a toss up for me whether I like it more in a standout floral, or as a wardrobe blender in a solid color.

above, top left: heatherandthepugs right: buzzmills

bottom left: lucyslifejourney  right: lindsayinstitches

Jessamy managed to make herself a sweet Jade even though she’s in the middle of a move! Check out her feed at @jessamyb!

Nancy of milkpillowblog has been totally on fire and has made multiple Jades; check out her IG feed for more pics (including a dress mod she made). Here she is in her mermaid Jade, and in another Jade under Burnside Bibshere!

And finally, with summer finally here, this short-sleeved tee from amy.makes.things is just perfect, don’t you think? I love that she combined the ballet front with the boat back necklines too.

Are you sewing a Jade tee this weekend? Jade makes a fantastic summer tee and sews up in no time at all, and don’t forget to share your photos if you do!

The Jade tee sewing pattern is available now in my shop!

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