Jess’ brussels washer Rose shorts

Another day, another Rose post! We continue to celebrate the versatility of the Rose pattern with Jess’ shorts. This pair is made from Brussels Washer Yarn Dye by Robert Kaufman. This is a lovely blend of 55% linen / 45% rayon that is easy to care for (machine wash & dry!) and easy to sew.

While this particular color is sadly no longer available, there are still some gorgeous options in the yarn dyes, as well as the [non yarn-dyed] Brussels Washer collection.


Jess chose to use the inverted pleats on this pair. I’ve included a bunch of different pleating and gathering alternatives in the Rose pattern, and I recommend trying different ones when you make yours! I went into some more detail about gathers vs. pleats in this post.

A few reliable sources for Brussels Washer:
Fancy Tiger Crafts: Regular / Yarn Dyes
Imagine Gnats
Ewe Fibers
Stonemountain & Daughter

Find resources, inspiration, and everything Rose-related on the Rose Page. Just need the pattern? Find it in my shop!

Have you made a pair (or three…) of your own Rose pants or shorts? Share them and get inspired at #mbrrose!

Rose pants in viscose-linen

viscose-linen rose pants

Rose pants can be made out of a pretty wide variety of fabrics for different looks and textures! Here we have a couple of pairs sewn from viscose-linen. This fabric has been VERY HOT on the Apparel Sewing Internet for the past year, so both Jess and I wanted to try it out for Rose pants, being both super comfortable, apparel-appropriate, and easy to find both at fabric shops and online. I also used it to sew the yellow Emerald dress sample for Making Magazine.

viscose-linen rose pants

Jess used the “rust” color, and I used “caramel.”

Rose pants in viscose linen

This fabric is easy to care for (machine wash and dry) and incredibly comfortable. It has an elegant drape too, but due to the slubby texture, it’s not difficult to manage while sewing, the way some slippery rayons can be. (note that the terms “viscose” and “rayon” mean the same thing)

Sewing Rose (or any garment, for that matter) out of this fabric does require some adjustments we wanted to tell you about. It has more than the usual amount of stretch for a woven fabric, so it has a tendency to “grow” while you sew it. For both of us, it stretched out quite a bit while sewing, especially along the curved crotch seams (basically, be careful with any curved or bias-cut seams), so when we were finished the pants felt at least a size too big.

viscose-linen rose pants

As a result, Jess (who has a 36.5″ hip and made a size S) narrowed leg at inseam, shortened rise, and reduced width at center back by taking in the top section of the back crotch seam. On my pair (I have a 41″ hip and made a size L), I took in in 1″ along both side seams from back pant pieces and waistband (so 2″ total), reduced back crotch curve by 1″ by taking in the back inseam at the crotch and inner thigh. I’m pretty sure I would also have taken up the hem if I were not so tall (I’m 5’8″).

I think the big question left unanswered yet is “should you go down a size in this fabric?” and I’m REALLY tempted to say yes, especially if you are between sizes. However, since this is — as of this writing — still untested, if you decide to do so, I must remind you to proceed with caution.

For those who would prefer to stay on the safe side and cut your fabric out according to your size, use the adjustments you made to your muslin and be prepared to make some tweaks. We also highly recommend in all cases that you baste all seams (except pockets) and adjust fit as you go — there are instructions for checking fit throughout the pattern to remind you to do this — this is always immensely helpful whenever using a new-to-you fabric.

With fabrics that have so much give, it’s always a good idea to hold off on hemming right away as well. Once you’ve done everything but hem, hang them up for a day or two, then try them on once more and sew your hem.

viscose-linen rose pants
viscose-linen rose pants

You may be left wondering: why the heck would I use this fabric if it may requires so much tweaking?? The answer is because these pants are so freaking comfortable you can sleep in them. This fabric is just the dreamiest thing to wear, and any hateful thoughts I may have mentally pointed in its direction when adjusting the fit of my pair have since magically disappeared. Sometimes, the problem solving involved with sewing garments is justified by the end result. I feel like a million bucks in these pants.

Rose pants - made by rae

One other note about this fabric. While it is widely available at many of our favorite apparel fabric shops, most shops use different names to identify it (a personal pet peeve, but moving on…). If you’re a shop that carries this fabric, feel free to leave a comment with a link to your listing so we can add you to this list:

Ewe Fibers – Viscose-linen
Blackbird fabrics – Viscose-linen noil (note: NOT the viscose-linen slub!!!)
Stonemountain and Daughter – Mora Slub
Shop La Mercerie – Avery Slub linen blend
Sewing Studio – Grace Viscose & Linen

I hope this post has been informative and helpful. If you have sewn something with this fabric or try it for Rose, be sure to weigh in with your thoughts so we can hear what you think!

The Rose pattern is available in my shop. Rose pattern information and yardage can be found on our Rose page.

Posted in Jess, Rose
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Jess’ silk noil Rose + Gemma set

silk noil Rose and Gemma set

Hi all! Jess here, sharing a Rose Pants + Gemma Tank combo that I’m loving. The fabric I used is silk noil in teal blue that we got from Ewe Fibers here. This silk is easy to care for (machine wash and dry!), easy to sew, and incredibly soft and comfy.

I’ve made three versions of Rose now: one in each length, and each in a different fabric. Throughout this process, I’ve learned a ton of lessons, and this particular Gemma/Rose combo presented the biggest challenges, but possibly the most rewarding results!

silk noil Rose and Gemma set
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When I cut out these pants, I had just finished making a super-drapy viscose/linen pair that required a lot of width reduction and rise adjustment. I mistakenly assumed that the same adjustments would be necessary for this silk noil, so I preemptively took 1/2″ off the width at the hip and took in the back inseam by about a 1/2″ to narrow the leg and reduce the rise. This was *not a good idea*! When I basted the seams and tried the pants on before adding the waistband, the rise was too low in the back, and there was not enough ease at the hip. 

Thankfully, I was sewing at the studio with Rae, and she helped me carve out the back rise seam to make a little more room in the seat. Then I reduced the side seam allowances, which bought me a bit of ease in the hip. My next mistake was to attach the waistband without basting first. I could barely pull them on over my hips! So again, I had to undo some seams and reduce the waistband seam allowances. I was surprised that adding the waistband made such a difference, but I believe that the interfaced front waistband stabilized the fabric and removed the little bit of ease I had actually retained.

Lessons Learned:

1. Don’t make adjustments until you’ve tried on the garment! I have a good set of working pattern pieces because I made a muslin out of a stable, non-stretchy cotton. I should have trusted those pattern pieces and used them without any changes when I tried a new fabric.

2. Only make one change at a time, and try on between adjustments. I didn’t make one change at a time, which resulted in not knowing which alterations made a difference.

3. Baste baste baste! Even though it feels like more sewing, if you use a basting stitch to sew all your initial seams, it’s super easy to try something on, make quick changes, and pull out the basting threads. Once you have a good fit, you can use a regular stitch and finish your seams with full confidence that you won’t have to take all those tedious stitches out later.

silk noil Rose and Gemma set

Now for the Gemma top! I’m probably Gemma’s biggest fan. I have a closet full of them, and I wear them all year around. Now that I’ve finally discovered high-waisted pants and shorts, one of my favorite modifications is to crop Gemma (here’s a tutorial), which I did here. Since I’ve made a thousand of these tanks, I didn’t try it on before I hemmed it. And guess what? *It was a bad idea*! It looked great with jeans, but the whole idea was to wear this tank with the matching Rose Pants, and the hem was just too low to look good.

So, another lesson learned: 

If you’re going to make coordinating garments, try them on with each other before finishing them. In this case, moving the hem up an inch made this combination actually wearable. And now I have a sweet new outfit! 

silk noil Rose and Gemma set

Ready to make your own combo like mine? Grab the patterns in the shop:
Rose Pants
Gemma Tank

And you can always get some inspiration on Instagram with these handy tags: #mbrrose / #gemmatank / #madebyrae

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
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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.

Jess makes: Cobalt Isla Dress

Navy wool Isla Dress by Jess

Hi all! Jess sneaking in to send you into the weekend with a little spring inspiration. This wool jersey Isla Dress is perfect for seasonal transitions. It’s light and drapey, and I was surprised to find that the wool is noticeably warmer than cotton jersey of a similar weight. I’ve worn it with a cardigan and tights all winter, and now it feels good on its own with sandals or clogs.

Navy wool Isla Dress by Jess

I got this cobalt wool jersey from Imagine Gnats close to two years ago. Full disclosure: it took this dress awhile to make its way into regular rotation because every time I wore it, I would turn slightly blue from the fabric. Now that I’ve washed it several times, though, it’s stopped letting off dye, and I love wearing this dress. (I think I was supposed to hand wash this, but it washes wonderfully on a cold, gentle cycle, and I hang it to dry).

Navy wool Isla Dress by Jess

Isla was our first knit pattern for women, and we’re currently in testing phase for Jade, a knit boatneck tee whose sleeves will fit into Isla’s armholes! We’re so excited about all the places we’ll go with that combo.

Navy wool Isla Dress by Jess

Ready to sew your own Isla? Pick up the pattern PDF in the shop.

See more Islas under the tag #islapattern and right here on the blog!

Bitmoji Jumpsuit

Rae here: This post is going to take a little bit of explaining, especially if you don’t know what Bitmoji is. The short explanation of Bitmoji is that it’s a keyboard for your phone (like emoji) where you build a cartoon version of yourself (you can customize hair, face, glasses, clothing, etc) so you can then send hilarious Bitmoji-generated images to others in texts and chats. I will also add that it is endlessly entertaining and addictive, and a huge time-suck, so consider yourself warned.

What does Bitmoji have to do with sewing? This is Jess’ story of how she was inspired to sew by her cartoon self’s wardrobe, and her Bitmoji came to life. Jess works as General Manager here at Made By Rae, and loves to sew things for herself. 

Jess' Bitmoji Jumpsuit

Here’s Jess:

I never considered sewing myself a jumpsuit until I put one on my Bitmoji and had an immediate puzzling sensation that I can only characterize as wardrobe envy. She exudes casual, yet put together! She can do all her ridiculous power moves, ride a unicorn, *and* diligently do her homework, all in her comfy and versatile jumpsuit! After discovering this outfit, my Bitmoji never looked back, and I enjoyed living vicariously through her. And that felt like enough.

Bitmoji mosaic

Then one day, I was perusing the knits at Stitch Sew Shop (my local-ish fabric purveyor), and couldn’t figure out why that olive green bamboo jersey in the knits section looked so familiar. I knew I hadn’t sewn with it before. But it kept whispering my name, intoning “Here’s your opportunity to go places you’ve never gone before!” And that’s when I remembered. my. bitmoji. I snatched up a few yards, rode my unicorn (ahem, the DC Metro) back home and pre-washed that stuff with great haste.

By the time my roomie Shonnie — who is well acquainted with my Bitmoji — got home from work that day, the yardage had already tumbled dry and was draped in a sultry cascade over the banister, awaiting, you know…

Shonnie: “Girl. What’re you gonna do with that olivey green fabric?”

Jess: “Jumpsuit.”

Shonnie: [Falls over laughing. Can’t speak for several minutes.]

I used the Sallie Maxi-Dress and Jumpsuit from Closet Case Patterns, which is pure delight. It’s beautifully laid out, well written, and has great instructional diagrams. The pattern has options to mix and match a tie-shoulder tank or a kimono tee on top; and pants or skirt on the bottom. The top is fully lined for both options, which makes for a tidy finish.

Let’s just say this pattern really made some dreams come true for me.

Bitmoji jessica in jumpsuit

Jess' Bitmoji Jumpsuit

Bitmoji jessica in jumpsuit

Jess' Bitmoji Jumpsuit

Bitmoji jessica in jumpsuit

Jess' Bitmoji Jumpsuit

Bitmoji jessica in jumpsuit

Jess Bitmoji Jumpsuit

I can also act like a flesh-and-blood human in my jumpsuit:

Jess jumpsuit

(via Instagram)

I came across Heather Lou’s pattern hack & tutorial to make a shorts version with the kimono tee top, so I think that’ll be my next move with this pattern. I’m always a season off, so I bet I’ll finish them just in time for Thanksgiving or something.

Rainbow

Ciao for now, everyone!
Thanks for letting me crash the blog, Rae.

xo, jess

Posted in Jess
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Jess’ Bianca Dress with Contrast Facing

Made By Rae Bianca Dress

Made By Rae Bianca Dress

One of my patterns that never really got its time in the spotlight is Bianca, which launched just months after Hugo was born three years ago. It’s a lovely pattern for summer sewing, and this dress version from Jess that features the facings on the outside and contrast hem has always been one of my favorites.  Bianca also can be made as a top, and is best suited to fabrics with drape or a looser weave, like this Nani Iro double gauze (a collection from a few years back). The contrasting facings and hem bands are Kaffe Fassett shot cottons purchased from Hawthorne Threads.

The Bianca PDF pattern includes tips for how to make the facing visible the way Jess did for this version, and she added the contrast hem bands for a fun variation.

Made By Rae Bianca Dress

Here’s how to add the hem bands:

  • The finished hem band on this dress is 3″ tall. For the same proportions as shown here, remove 2.5″ from the hem of  both the front and back pattern pieces. Bianca has a slightly curved hem, but it’s way easier to add a contrast band if the hem is a straight line, so measure 2.5″ up from the bottom edges of each pattern piece, connect those with a straight edge, and slice along that line.
  • For the hem bands, cut two rectangles out of contrast fabric that are 7″ tall, one as wide as the front and one as wide as the back.
  • For Step 6 in the pattern sewing instructions, choose option B to sew side vents, and sew the seam allowances as directed for a “Clean Finish.”
  • Fold each hem band in half lengthwise with right sides together and sew along the short ends of each hem band with a 1/2″ seam.
  • Trim the corners, turn each band right side out, and use a point turner to push out the corners. Press.
  • Pin hem bands to front and back hems of the dress with raw edges together (two layers of hem band, one layer of dress), and sew together with a 1/2″ seam. Finish these edges with a serger or zigzag stitch.
  • Press seam allowances up (toward dress) and top stitch 1/4″ above the seam you just sewed to hold the seam allowance in place.

Made By Rae Bianca Dress

Alternate instructions: View B of the Beatrix Pattern has detailed instructions to attach hem bands in a slightly different way, so you can refer to those steps if you have Beatrix in your pattern library.

Made By Rae Bianca Dress

Made By Rae Bianca Dress

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Selecting fabrics for Gemma

Orange Gemma Tank

Gemma tanks are a great summer staple, and we at MBR have been been putting ours into heavy rotation now that the weather’s warming up. Jess has easily made more Gemmas than I have, and I dare say has become a bit of an expert at selecting good fabrics for this pattern, to the point that I might even be a wee bit envious of hers (all I’m saying is she’s lucky she’s a size smaller than me otherwise they might start to disappear).

Orange Gemma Tank

Jess is general manager here at Made By Rae (she is in charge of wholesale, coordinates pattern testing, serves as project manager, and answers a ton of email), and she does a lot of sewing both for work and for fun. Jess made this particular Gemma tank with Robert Kaufman Manchester cotton in Poppy, a looser weave medium-weight cotton that has turned out to be a really comfortable Gemma.

The other day we were discussing this tank, and that led to a discussion about our favorite fabrics for Gemma, because ultimately the ones made with fabrics that are more comfortable will get worn, and the ones that aren’t, won’t. That seemed like a great topic to share on the blog, as I know many of you are also sewing Gemma tanks of your own (check out #gemmatank for some great examples).

Orange Gemma Tank

Fabric choice is one of the most important factors if you want to end up with a comfortable garment, especially when you are working with woven fabrics (knits are, by their nature, usually more comfortable to wear, but Gemma is designed for wovens). Here are a few things to consider when selecting fabric for Gemma:

  • a fabric with a looser weave tends to be more comfortable than tighter weave.
  • a fabric with a lighter weight tends to be more comfortable than heavier weight
  • a fabric with more drape tends to be more comfortable than fabric with less.

Every fabric has some degree of each of these characteristics (weave, weight, drape), as well as other characteristics that have less impact on comfort, but in general, I find these useful when choosing fabrics for Gemma.

Orange Gemma Tank

Here are some more fabrics to consider making your next Gemma out of:

double gauze – while it’s not super drapey, it’s fairly lightweight and has a very loose weave, to the point that you might even need to go down a size. Double gauze frays quite easily (so seam finishing is a must!), but the darts are easy to get to lay smoothly and it’s actually quite manageable to sew with, due to the stabilizing effect of the two layers. Manufacturers include Kokka, Andover, Monaluna, Cloud9, and Cotton and Steel.

shot cotton – also lightweight and with a looser weave but very little drape, this is a nice option if you can find it (as far as I know, Kaffe Fassett is the only one who designs shot cottons). I love the depth of solids due to the different colors in the warp and weft threads. Manufactured by Free Spirit.

cotton lawn / voile – lawn has the advantage of being widely available in many different prints due to an increased number of manufacturers producing it in recent years, and it is light weight. Be careful when using lawn for Gemma, however, as some of the lawns (looking at you, Cotton and Steel) are very tightly woven and less lightweight than others, and even have a bit of a silky sheen to them, making it less comfortable to wear and a more difficult to sew the dart smoothly without a noticeable pucker at the end. Manufacturers include Windham, Andover, Robert Kaufman, Liberty of London, Free Spirit (under “voile”), Cloud9, Monaluna, and Cotton and Steel.

chambray – most chambray is medium-weight, fairly tightly woven, and has very little drape, so in general I would avoid it for Gemma. However, the fabrics under the category “union chambray” produced by Robert Kaufman have become popular in recent years because they are lighter, drapier, and even have a bit of stretch to them. Manufactured by Robert Kaufman

rayon / rayon challis – a synthetic fiber that drapes beautifully, the quality will determine how easy it is to sew with, but one thing to consider (and one that I need to do more research on, frankly) is that rayon production can be pretty horrid for the environment; rayon tencel is the most eco-friendly rayon. Manufacturers include Free Spirit and Cotton and Steel.

batiste – in the past year Cloud9 (the organic fabric company that produces my fabric designs), has begun producing a fabric on a new “batiste” substrate for them; it’s loose-weave and light, so it’s almost a single gauze, but it’s less sheer than gauze. The prints they’ve released so far on batiste are quite lovely; however, it’s best to choose prints with darker backgrounds if you use this fabric for Gemma as they are still pretty sheer.  Manufactured by Cloud9.

Orange Gemma Tank

And now, a note about quilting cotton (dum dum DUMMMMMM): It’s not a great fabric for Gemma (or garments in general, really). I know…there are so many awesome prints, but it’s not going to be as comfortable to wear as the fabrics listed above. Even the quilting cottons that are lighter weight (like the one I made with Alison Glass’ Handcrafted fabric) end up looking great on the hanger but not so great to wear. I’d recommend QC for making a wearable muslin, but that’s pretty much it. Sorry.

Orange Gemma Tank

Do you have a favorite fabric for Gemma? Let us know in comments! You might also want to check out this post: My top five fabrics for clothing.

The Gemma Sewing Pattern is available as a PDF in my shop.

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