Summer cropped tops

These four tops have been my most-worn this summer, not just with the high-waisted jeans shown here (eco toothpick from JCrew… it really has been quite a cool summer) but also other high-waisted handmades such as Rose shorts and my white silk noil Cleo skirt, not shown. First up: a cropped Gemma tank.

fabric: Double gauze Atelier Brunette, purchased Oak Fabrics
pattern: Gemma tank (see also:tutorial for cropping Gemma)

Next up, three cropped Emerald tops, turns out this is the boxy cropped top of my dreams. The first one I just cut the pattern horizontally about 10 inches below the armhole, then hemmed it up:

cropped Emerald top / made by rae

Fabric: Alexia Abegg’s Sienna rayon, purchased from Imagine Gnats
Pattern: modified Emerald Dress, available in Making Desert issue

This one was the first Emerald top I made out of green double gauze, not cut on the bias as the pattern indicates, just on grain. This one gets rumply and wrinkled when it’s washed which is how I wear it. I curved the hem which got a bit tricky to turn so for the next one one, I drafted a curved hem facing piece.

Fabric: Kobayashi double gauze, purchased at Pink Castle Fabrics
Pattern: modified Emerald Dress, available in Making Desert issue

cropped Emerald top / made by rae

Fabric: Avery slub viscose-linen, purchased from Shop La Mercerie
Pattern: modified Emerald Dress, available in Making Desert issue

The top version will definitely be included in the pattern when release it in the pattern shop; since it released as a dress pattern this past spring in Making, it’s been quite popular and we’ve had a bunch of requests to release it as a standalone pattern. Once we’ve satisfied the Making contract period we would be happy to release this on its own. For now, you’ll have to buy a copy of the magazine to get the pattern!

PS. Read more tips and info about that slub linen blend (one of our faves!) in this post!

Short sleeved Jade tee

I just got back yesterday from the most lovely visit to Austin where I rented a house with some girlfriends and spent the weekend knitting, chatting, relaxing, and eating great food. After that I drove to Waco to see my sister and her family for a couple of days. Texas was absolutely gorgeous — the wildflowers were blooming and everything was warm and green — and I got to wear this new short-sleeved Jade tee that I made for the trip. Most of my Jade tees have been long or 3/4-length sleeves, so I thought the shorter sleeve would be better for hot weather (the Jade pattern comes with 4 sleeve lengths).

Jade tee / made by rae

The striped fabric is a rib knit that I purchased at La Mercerie a few months ago. I love following shops with a smaller, more curated collection of fabrics (I find it less overwhelming), but the key is to watch their newsletters for new fabrics, since some of the fabrics — like this one — tend to go out of stock faster than others.

I’m starting to really love my rib knit Jade tees the most. My navy long sleeved striped rib-knit one was easily one of my most-worn items this past winter. The rib fabric has a soft and stretchy quality without the thinness of a super-stretchy jersey, which tend to adhere to every wobble and wrinkle of my body. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Just sometimes you like a tee to smooth out your fluffy bits a bit rather than showing off every nook and cranny, y’know?

I’d love to sew a few more short sleeve tees to go with my Rose pants, which is our newest, soon-to-be-released pattern! If you want to sew yourself a few Jade tees, you can find the pattern in my shop.

Roscoe Blouse

Yet another item from the “things I made this summer and am just now putting on the blog” list, this Roscoe blouse is definitely a favorite new top for me. I frequently wear it with jeans now that the weather is cooler, but I also wore it quite a bit this summer with the off-white silk noil Cleo skirt shown in this post.


The pattern is the Roscoe Blouse by True Bias, and I used a semi-sheer rayon that I purchased from IndieSew. I often nail-bite about buying rayon fabric because of the questionable environmental impact of rayon production, but I never hesitate to buy it from IndieSew because the fabrics are overstock (learn more about the sustainability of overstocks in this super informative post by IndieSew). And also, can we get a “hell YEAH!” for Cloud9 who is now producing environmentally-friendly rayons? The new Business Class line from Jessica Jones is great — it has “Boden Work-wear” written all over it.

Roscoe blouse / made by rae

I’ve seen quite a bit of discussion online about sizing for this pattern. Kelli designed this blouse to be super roomy, and recommends you select super flowy fabrics to make it. I think whether you decide to size down to something a bit less roomy is up to you, but I really like it like this and if I could do it again, I’d choose the same size (which, by the way, I chose based on measurements as instructed). I can’t remember now off the top of my head which size this was but I think it was either the 10 or 12, but as you can see from these photos, it’s very roomy (and I like it that way!).

Roscoe Blouse / made by Rae

I really love this boho style — it reminds me of a more-flowy, less-fitted version of my gathered Josephine with tassel ties. Unlike that top, this pattern has a raglan style sleeve and no center front seam, but I can see making many more of this style. I really love the solid copper version Meg just made and posted on her Instagram last week, so maybe I’ll try something solid next time!

You can purchase the Roscoe blouse in print or PDF version from the True Bias shop. 

Esme Kaftan

Esme kaftan / made by rae

Today’s post is dedicated to those of you who, like me, still wish it were summer. I can’t be the only person who saw the amazing Nani Iro kaftan on the front of Lotta Jansdotter’s book, Everyday Style, and immediately hit the “BUY NOW” button a few years ago when it was published. This cotton lawn version of the kaftan pattern was meant to be my muslin. I started it shortly after I bought the book, but somehow the project got hung up in the hemming phase (as many of my projects sadly do) and got tossed in the “to hem” pile for over a year at least.

Esme kaftan / made by rae

This summer, in anticipation of our yearly cottage trip, I pulled it out of the pile again, hoping to hem it before we left. I ended up hand-hemming and tacking down the facings last week while were at the cottage, which made for a great project to relax with on the mornings where the kids were getting in a little screen time so we could have a bit of quiet first thing in the morning. Hand-hemming is an underrated activity, amiright?

Esme kaftan / made by rae

On our last full day at the cottage, we headed to Good Harbor Bay on Lake Michigan and I had Elliot and Mr Rae snap some pics of it on the beach. It was cloudy but the air was warm and the water was cool but calm. It’s decided: cloudy days are the best beach days.

Esme kaftan / made by rae

The fabric is a lightweight woven I picked up at IndieSew a couple years ago, and it really is the perfect fabric for a coverup if you can accept some wrinkles (and I can) as part of the happy evidence of a well-loved and worn garment. While it certainly doesn’t have the visual WHAM of the Nani Iro kaftan on the front cover of the book, I don’t happen to have four yards of Nani Iro just sitting around, so I think I’ll just use this one for a summer at least.

Esme kaftan / made by rae

One thing to note is that the front slit did go down to the bust dart for my size, meaning that if you planned on wearing this to sashay your way through the grocery store or farmer’s market, you might wear something underneath or want to add a button to the middle of the slit (or not? You be you). I contemplated this for a time, but ended up leaving it; I rather like the low slit over a bathing suit, and if I decide to wear this around town, I’ll put a tank top underneath.

This book has other great patterns besides the kaftan. I haven’t made any others, but the pants and the coat, among others, are still on my to -sew list. As they were drafted by Alexia Abegg, they are sure to be quality sewing patterns and not the (?) that you sometimes get with book sewing patterns. Lotta’s laid the book out in the most ingenious way — the way she adds swatches and sketches, styles the patterns in multiple fabrics, and adds her lovely narrative writing on top makes for a book worth having in your sewing library. 

Esme kaftan / made by rae

PS. If you want you can check out the #everydaystylebook tag on Instagram for more great things other people have made from this book.

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!

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.

Grid Jade + Isla Dress

DIY Grid Dress / Jade + Isla Sewing patterns

I’m in la la love with this Jade/Isla hybrid (tutorial here!) dress. It’s made of a brushed poly jersey which is really soft and incredibly stretchy. Wearing it becomes a classic #secretpajamas situation. I also am quite fond of this grid. The grid trend seems like it’s been around for a few years now but show no signs of abating; I’d love to find something similar in a linen as well. I bought the jersey here a few months ago, but it looks like it may be out of stock at the time of this writing.

DIY Grid Dress / Jade + Isla Sewing patterns

The amount of things this print coordinates with is ridiculous, like this geo scarf:

DIY Grid Dress / Jade + Isla Sewing patterns

or all of my cardigans.

DIY Grid Dress / Jade + Isla Sewing patterns

and every single necklace I own.

DIY Grid Dress / Jade + Isla Sewing patterns

and my yellow chair.

DIY Grid Dress / Jade + Isla Sewing patterns

I used the boat neckline from Jade with the 3/4-length sleeve, and I made a slight adjustment to the Isla skirt length (lengthened it, plus shhh don’t tell anyone I haven’t hemmed it yet!), but otherwise I made it as shown in the Jade + Isla tutorial. You can’t see how long the skirt is in most of these photos because the day I took these pics it was so cold I had jeans on underneath hee. But you can see the hem if you look carefully in a few of the pics.

DIY Grid Dress / Jade + Isla Sewing patterns

Next up: my Jade + Isla maxi dress!

Isla with sleeves + woven skirt

Isla Dress with woven skirt

Sometimes I wish I had more time to show you all of the concepts and variations a pattern goes through before it’s finally released. Originally I thought the Isla pattern would have sleeves, and even went so far as to make this mint striped version with sleeves (I later removed them). As the pattern developed, I decided that Isla needed to be a Presto pattern (basic design, streamlined instructions), and so I tossed the sleeves, which were going to require a fair amount of tweaking and developing on their own yet before I could sign off on them. But in the back of my head I thought, my next knit pattern will have sleeves, and if it does, I want them to work with Isla, too.

So after Isla launched, I started playing around with the sleeve pattern pieces again. By last November, we had it graded and in multiple lengths, and I made this version of Isla with sleeves and a woven skirt.

(UPDATE: Jade is now available in my shop, and the sleeves are fully interchangeable with Isla!)

Isla Dress with woven skirt

Isla Dress with woven skirt

The woven skirt itself deserves a little explanation. The Isla pattern is intended to be made entirely out of knit fabric, but since there’s plenty of ease in the skirt, you can really substitute a woven fabric for the skirt if you want. I even increased the width (this skirt was made with a 1 yard piece of 54″ cotton-linen blend, which I cut down the middle and turned sideways, so the skirt pieces ended up roughly 10″ wider than the pattern piece, each) and it still worked.

Isla Dress with woven skirt

This fabric is a print designed by Melody Miller from Ruby Star Sparkle, a now out-of-print collection from her years as a Kokka designer. Some of you might remember that this is not the first time I have cut a Melody Miller panel on the cross-grain so I could use the raw selvages for the hem of a skirt — the first time was when I made this pre-pattern Ruby prototype out of the arrow print.

Isla Dress with woven skirt

You might wonder how and when someone might wear such an interesting dress. Here’s one way I like to style it in a kind of fun bohemian way:

Isla styled to slay

Hopefully you can see that using a woven fabric instead of knit for the Isla skirt can open a whole new world for this pattern, so if you’re thinking of trying this, do it!! It’s fun! And if you’re wondering where you can get the sleeves, stay tuned! Jade, my next pattern, will have sleeves that you’ll be able to add to Isla for some awesome mix and match possibilities.

UPDATE: Jade is now available in my shop, and the sleeves are fully interchangeable with Isla!

How to sew Ruby with a divided yoke

how to sew Ruby with a divided yoke / made by rae

I promised this tutorial last May when I first posted the rose colored Ruby with divided yoke shown below, and since then I’ve had more than one email asking when it would be posted. I guess that makes this a long-awaited tutorial. Sounds pretty special, doesn’t it? I think it is special! It’s a great way to mix up an already super-versatile pattern (Ruby) with a new look.

Rose Ruby with divided yoke

To make Ruby with a divided yoke, you need to line the yoke and assemble the main part of the top in a slightly different order, something I demonstrate in my Ruby with a lined yoke videos, and I’ll refer to the video series for the assembly of the main part of the top rather than walk you through the entire process here. Because of this, it helps if you’ve made a Ruby with a lined yoke, but is not required. Note to beginners: I’d really recommend trying the basic pattern first before attempting either lined mod!

Step 1. Cut Yokes
You’ll need FOUR front yokes, because instead of cutting on the fold, you’ll be adding 1/4” at center front (CF) to accommodate the slit in the front. So take your front yoke pattern piece, add 1/4” at CF, and cut four (so: two sets, one for the lining, one for the outer).

Cut TWO back yokes on the fold, one for the lining and one for the outer

Step 2. Sew yokes together at shoulders
With right sides together, sew each yoke together at the shoulders. Each back yoke will be sewn to two front yokes. Now you have two yokes, one for the lining, and one for the outer.

Step 3. Sew yokes together
Starting and ending 1/2” from the bottom edge of each yoke (it helps to mark this with chalk or fabric marker), sew the yokes together along the neckline and armholes.

Step 4. Turn yoke right side out
Press the armhole and neckline seams, clip them, and then turn the yoke right side out and press again.

Next, fold back the lining along each of the three bottom edges and pin it away from the edge so that it won’t get in the way when you attach the yoke to the main part of the dress/top.

How to sew Ruby with a divided yoke / made by rae

Step 5. Assemble the main dress/top
Sew the front and back of the MAIN dress/top together along the side seams, press and finish the seams. Next, finish the armholes with bias binding attached to the outside and then flipped and stitched to the inside. NOTE: I demonstrate how to do this in this video (skip ahead to 3 min 30 sec to see this).

Finally, gather the top edges of the main dress/top as instructed in steps 3 and 4 of the pattern to prepare to attach it to the yoke.

Step 6. Attach yoke to main dress/top
Pin the back outer yoke to the back main dress/top, matching edges and notches, and pull on the gathering threads until the two are the same size. Distribute gathers evenly and then sew together with a 1/2” seam. Repeat for the front, makin sure that the two front edges are lined up right next to each other. I usually backtack a few times where the two edges meet when sewing this seam.

Clip the seam allowance of the main dress/top at center front right up to — but not through — the seam line (very important!). Press front and back yoke seams towards the yoke.

Step 7. Fold down lining and hand stitch
Fold the lower edge of the lining so that it just covers the yoke seams you just sewed. The trickiest part of this will be at the center front, where the seam allowances need to separate at the notch you clipped. Pin and then stitch by hand in place to finish.

. . . . . . . .

You can see more pics of this Ruby in action over at this post. All of the Ruby tutorials and mods can be found on the Ruby page, and you can buy the Ruby sewing pattern in my shop!