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!

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!

Two more ruffled Gemmas

2 Gemmas with ruffle hems

The ruffled Gemma is clearly now my favorite Gemma Tank mod. I made myself two more with leftover fabric from other projects, and I’m super happy with how well these are going with my cardigans, my favorite winter layering piece, as it’s still quite cold here in Michigan.

Peach Gemma with Ruffle

2 Gemmas with ruffle hems

The first one is a blush tencel rayon twill from IndieSew; the fabric was left over from these Luna Pants. Yes…I see that you Quick Thinkers out there have already realized that I now have the option to wear head-to-toe peach, complete with ruffle in the middle. I am going to resist the urge to do so, for two reasons: 1) that would look ridiculous, as I myself am a light shade of peach and 2) I had a bad faux jumpsuit experience once. Fool me once, as they say…

2 Gemmas with ruffle hems

Second, a ruffled Gemma in a delicious cotton ikat from Stone Mountain and Daughter. I am happy that this one matches just about everything, as it is refreshingly neutral. I could really use a few more neutral wardrobe items to go with all of the colorful stuff I already have, so this one is going to be a great coordinating piece.

Gemma with ruffle hem

2 Gemmas with ruffle hems

If you’ve got the urge to make one of these for yourself, you’re in luck! The How to add a Ruffle to Gemma tutoria will help you make your ruffled Gemma dreams come true.

The Gemma Sewing Pattern is in my shop if you need the pattern:

and be sure to check out the Gemma Page for pattern info and other Gemma-related tutorials.

Reversible Wiksten Kimono Jacket

wiksten kimono jacket / made by rae

If it’s possible to have a coat crush, this is it for me. The Real Deal. The Wiksten Oversized Kimono Jacket is the first thing I get to cross off my makenine list this year! I’m super pleased that I was able to stretch out enough of this amazing blanket fabric that I purchased from Dry Goods Design in Seattle a couple years ago to make it work. I bought it thinking it might become a blanket poncho or coat of some sort, so I’m also happy that this pattern, which is from the Making Magazine Lines issue, came along when it did, otherwise I probably would have sat on it for another who knows how long.

wiksten kimono jacket / made by rae

The pattern calls for 3 yards of fabric for the outer and for the lining (I think? It’s too late in the afternoon for me to be looking these things up), and I knew because of the super-wide width on this fabric that I would probably be able to make the 2 yards I had bought work, but I couldn’t bear to hide one side of it with a lining. So instead I flat-felled all of the seams (check out my Super Seams post if you want a quick tutorial) so that the entire thing would be reversible. Besides flat-felling the seams, the other modification was that I had to hem up the bottom edge before adding the collar, as the lining usually finishes this when you attach it.

Array

wiksten kimono jacket / made by rae

The only hitch to this plan was attaching pockets to the same spot on both sides of one piece of fabric, but I think I accomplished this fairly well with two slightly different-sized pockets and some matching thread. What’s that thing they say in sewing? If you can’t see it from 3 feet away it doesn’t exist? Yeah, that. If you look closely you can tell they’re smaller and lower on one side, but who has the time.

wiksten kimono jacket / made by rae

If I look smug AF in these photos about this coat it’s because its freaking amazeballs, but I can’t really take credit for any of it except if you count how ridiculously lucky I was to score this fabric when I did. I keep posing in front of the mirror and taking selfies on my camera with a fierce expression. It’s so frightfully vain. The only bad thing about this coat is that I truly cannot decide which side is better: the side with the “H”s or the side with the Chevy-plus thingies??

wiksten kimono jacket / made by rae

For those wanting to find this exact fabric, I am sorry to say that you are probably out of luck. However, if you Insta-stalk shops like Dry Goods or Fancy Tiger or IndieSew or Stylemaker that source deadstock or jobber fabrics, you’re likely to run into something amazing of your own someday. Signing up for their newsletters always helps.

wiksten kimono jacket / made by rae

As for the pattern, Jenny plans to release a version of this pattern soon in the Wiksten shop (and it sounds like there will be more than one view, including a more slim-fitting option?), so you can either grab a copy of Making Magazine Lines now, or you can soon purchase it directly from her.

wiksten kimono jacket

wiksten kimono jacket / made by rae

Have a wonderful weekend! It looks like the terribly cold weather plans to hang on a little longer so I can wear my jacket around town. And maybe strut a little bit.

wiksten kimono jacket

Blackwood Cardigans

Blackwood Cardigans

I’ve made a handful Blackwood Cardigans since purchasing the pattern from indie designer Helen’s Closet last spring (shown here with my gingham Gemma Tank and below, my rayon challis maxi Washi Dress). So this post is part of my new ongoing series called “Made Last Year but Forgot to Blog.” When I first wrote that I was half joking but now I think I am dead serious.

Blackwood Cardigans

This gold one was intended to be the muslin. It started as an organic jersey in a sad shade of orange-gold (see below) that I had purchased from Near Sea Naturals (now Organic Cotton Plus) years ago and never liked. The color just wasn’t my jam, which of course is the risk you take when you order solid-colored fabric online. I must mention that for me, most of the time the will-I-like-this-color gamble pays off; in this particular case it did not.

Blackwood Cardigans

HOWEVER. As you can see from the “after” pic that follows, this was a situation quickly remedied with an exciting trip through the wash with a packet of Aztec Gold iDYE:

Blackwood Cardigans

And now voila I loves it muchly.

Blackwood Cardigans

The first time I wore it I sat in blueberry jam. This is of course one of the (very few) down-sides of having a toddler.

Blackwood Cardigans

However that does not stop me from wearing it.

Second version:

Blackwood Cardigans

Made from a sumptuous silky cream bamboo french terry that I found at Simplifi. Loved it so much I started wearing it before I had a chance to attach the pockets, which is really its only failing (someday I swear one day I will take a half a minute and sew the damn things on).

Blackwood Cardigans

I did shorten the pattern for this version owing to a shortage of fabric, something that happens frequently to me as I often buy fabric with no project in mind and end up guessing as to how much I will need. Shortening the pattern was easily accomplished by cutting halfway between View A and View B on the bodice pieces, and shortening the neckband accordingly (I wanted a little more length than View B, which ends at the high hip). Aside: the orange and white dress in these photos is a sleeveless maxi Washi Dress that I blogged about here.

Blackwood Cardigans

The pattern is a frequently-worn favorite for me; I love it and highly recommend. It’s super easy to sew, and the length and style are really quite perfect, especially if you dislike sewing buttons. And don’t take my word for it — the Blackwood Cardigan was named one of Pattern Review’s Top Patterns for 2017! Woot woot, Helen!

Last but not least, a Blackwood made for my momma for her birthday with the floral print from my line of fabrics for Cloud9, Sidewalk knits:

Blackwood Cardigans

She’s gotten lots of fabulous compliments on it, and it matches just about everything. Double win! Need to get some modeled shots of it on her, right?

Piper Top

Green fleece Piper Top

The Piper Top pattern by Christine Haynes is a super quick make. The shape and collar give it a fun 60’s vibe, like something Audrey would have worn with black pencil pants and flats, you know?

Green fleece Piper Top

I chose this green Malden Mills fleece (which I pick up locally at Field’s, a Michigan chain) because I wanted something super cosy for winter, as it gets down to negatives here quite frequently, and I like how the fleece gives the pattern more of a structured, sweater-like appearance. I didn’t quite think through the 3/4-length sleeves combined with my ridiculously long arms, so I added a little cuff to the ends of the sleeves to lengthen them a bit after trying it on mid-sew and deciding I could use a little more length (and warmth) there.

The shoulders on the pattern are angled more than most, so if you have square shoulders as I do, you may want to tilt the shoulder angle a bit, which is what I did (remember then to open up the neckline so it doesn’t get too small!). I also have fairly broad shoulders, so next time I may do a broad shoulder adjustment…but…it usually doesn’t matter too much with knits due to their stretch unless you’re super picky about fit, drag lines, etc. I find it’s a delicate balance when making ones own clothes: you start to notice fit issues that you’d normally just ignore in your RTW clothing…this “Sewing Tunnel Vision” is both a blessing and a curse, I suppose. I have to be careful not to get too picky or I’d never get anything finished.

Green fleece Piper Top

This Piper been keeping me nice and cosy all winter! You can find the Piper PDF sewing pattern in Christine’s shop.

PS. I really loved this Love to Sew Podcast where Helen and Caroline interviewed Christine!

Nani Iro Matcha Top

Nani Iro Matcha Top - made by rae

I made another one! This time I made the Matcha Top (pattern by my dear friend Meg of Sew Liberated) with this beautiful Nani Iro double gauze that I impulse-bought last summer from Jones and Vandermeer (great shop for both double gauze and Liberty, by the way, also a former sponsor, full disclosure) in what might have seemed at the time like a moment of weakness but as you can clearly see now and time has revealed to me was really just a moment of serendipity, as it’s now a frequent flyer in wardrobe miles. I can’t decide if the base color of this cloth is a pale grey or a pale lavender, but I don’t think it matters, it’s a lovely print. Some of the flowers even sparkle.

Nani Iro Matcha Top - made by rae

What makes this Matcha especially special is that I made it at Squam, in Meg’s class, which was really fun. You might ask (as a fellow a Squam-mite, who already knew I was a fairly experienced sewist did, upon learning I had signed up for the sewing class) why i would take a sewing class, as someone who has already taught her fair share of sewing classes herself. And I would tell you that I have made the delightful discovery of finding that I still love to learn, so I try to seize every opportunity to take other peoples’ classes, because I always learn something new. I’d even go so far as to say that I’m better now at learning — as a teacher — than I ever was as a student.

Nani Iro Matcha Top - made by rae

Nani Iro Matcha Top - made by rae

And guess what?? I learned something new! Never fails. It was great. In addition to enjoying Meg’s instruction, having an entire day to sew for myself, and having the lovely experience of sitting next to Charlotte who had the best English accent and made the best table mate ever, I learned how to sew a Hong Kong seam finish:

Nani Iro Matcha Top - made by rae

In retrospect I can’t believe I’d never done this before; I’m positive I’d seen tutorials online for the Hong Kong finish, but I’d probably skimmed them and thought, “now THERE is something I do NOT have time for!” I suppose I thought it was too fussy or fancy or something but now I can’t believe how easy it was. It turned out to be different than I had imagined so now I’ll be adding it to All the Things. Perhaps there’s just something about having someone show it to you in person, you know? Meg is of course an excellent and patient teacher, so of course there was nothing intimidating at all about it.

Nani Iro Matcha Top - made by rae

Pretty rad, right?

Nani Iro Matcha Top - made by rae

I find — and tell me if it’s the same for you — that if I have high expectations for exactly what I want to accomplish or learn in a class, I often end up kinda stressed out or even disappointed by myself.  
It always seems to be when I approach a situation with a more open attitude (like “maybe I’ll learn something cool today!”) that I come away with the most. An open mind is really key. A curious spirit is also helpful. And of course it doesn’t hurt when you’ve got a fantastic teacher, either.

Nani Iro Matcha Top - made by rae

The Matcha Top Pattern can be found in the Sew Liberated pattern shop. You can also Instastalk other great versions online by going to #matchatoppattern.