Jade is here!

Please welcome my newest pattern, Jade! Designed for knit fabrics and featuring mix and match necklines and sleeves, this pattern will allow you to create tees for every season. Jade is the perfect layering piece for any wardrobe!



I’ve always viewed my women’s patterns as a collection, and in recent years when we released the Luna pant and the Cleo skirt, I’d find myself wishing I had a tee pattern to pair with them. This design seemed like a natural compliment to these two patterns especially.

The boatneck tee has always been one of my favorite knit designs. I’ve worn a steady stream of boatnecks in various styles and sleeve lengths since college. I always seem to gravitate toward them; there’s something super sexy about how it compliments the shoulders and draws your eye to the collarbone. They also seem to play well with every single cardigan I’ve ever owned.

Jade Tee sewing pattern

Four sleeves
I think you’ll love all of the sleeve options that come with this pattern! Each one has been carefully tested so you can pick whatever length you need for the season: short, elbow-length, 3/4-length, and long sleeves.

Jade Tee Boatneck sewing pattern / View A

Two necklines
Jade began as a boatneck-only concept, but recently I purchased a RTW ballet-top tee that had a scoop back neckline, and I knew I had to incorporate something similar for Jade, and so we added a subtle scoop front and scoop back neckline that became the “ballet” neckline, or View B of the pattern. We’ve included a separate facing finishing technique for the ballet neckline and optional facing pieces for View A, should you prefer that method to the unique self-finishing method that will be default for View A.

The beauty is in the details
For me the beauty of this pattern comes down to the details: the four sleeve length options, the wide but not-too-wide boatneck, the subtle scoop of the ballet back, the curved hem with a wider (so it won’t roll) hem, and both a self-finishing or a separate facing option for the neckline depending on your preference.

Jade Tee Sewing Pattern / View B ballet neckline

Mix and match
I’ve already started playing around with mixing and matching the necklines and sleeves; you could try a ballet front with a boatneck back (like the teal tee, second image from top), or a boatneck front with a ballet back (like the rose tee, top image), and of course the sleeves  work with any neckline combination you would like.

Go even further with Isla + Jade
The Isla pattern block was used as a starting point for Jade, which means also that Jade and Isla are interchangeable: Jade’s sleeves can be added to the Isla armholes (I know many of you are already excited about this from this post!!) and the Isla skirt can be attached to Jade, which I can’t wait to show you more of in future posts. You can purchase both Jade and Isla PDFs as a bundle here!

Print-at-home and copyshop files included
Jade is currently available as a digital sewing pattern in my shop. Your download link will include print-at-home pattern pieces as well as copy shop files (in both A0 and US formats), just like the rest of my women’s digital patterns.

Yardage and Materials
I’ve put together a Jade Page where you can find all of the blog posts and resources related to this pattern, plus all the charts for sizes, finished measurements, and yardage.


Share your photos!
I’d love to see what you make with this pattern! Please use the hashtags #mbrjade#madebyrae, or #raemademedoit share your photos! I also have a Made by Rae group on Facebook now, so if you’d like to be a part of the sewing community there, please request to join!

Posted in jade, knits

Do you need a serger?

As we get closer to launching Jade, my next pattern for knit fabrics, I thought I’d recommend my (new-ish) serger for those of you looking for a good recommendation. I know it can be a bit overwhelming to wade through all of the options and figure out how much is reasonable to pay. There’s also something quite intimidating about the multiple cones of thread on top and the fact that it has knives (insert silent scream emoji).

Juki MO654DE / serger recommendation from made by rae

I’ve been asked whether you really need a serger to sew knits, and I know that it’s all the rage to say that you can sew knits without a serger, but once you’ve tried it, you wonder why anyone would ever want to. Every knit sewing book and pattern I’ve ever read dedicates a section to patting you on the back and saying you’ll be just fine with a standard machine…but if you’re on the fence and you’re not on a super tight budget, I strongly recommend that you GET ONE. I might even say that if you are on a budget, saving up for a serger makes more sense to me than spending that money on knit fabric, since you can easily harvest knit yardage from thrifted or second hand garments and then you’re off to the races.

I got my first serger (a Brother 1034D, shown below) back in 2009, but my new favorite is the Juki MO654DE (shown at top of post), which I upgraded to a couple years ago, though it’s definitely still not pricey (it’s about $340 on Amazon at the time of this writing) when you look at the range of sergers out there.

Brother 1034D serger

When I got the Brother serger, I was unsure if I would possess the mental capacity to figure out how to operate it, so I went cheap and simple. This is, incidentally, why I still end up recommending this one to people; it really is a nice machine for someone who wants to learn how to use a serger with pretty small investment. I struggle a little bit with this, though, because I normally don’t subscribe to the “buy cheap stuff just to try it out” approach to purchasing in general, since it’s not nice to the earth and clutters up my life, but on the other hand, my Brother lasted quite a long time and is still going, so it definitely isn’t a disposable purchase. Mine is still in fairly good working condition, and that’s with pretty heavy use for almost a decade. I’m just reaching a point where I can tell it wasn’t meant to be used to the extent that it has, if that makes sense. It’s getting temperamental, even after being serviced, (differential feeds don’t seem to work well, tension iffy, etc), and it’s also VERY NOISY, though to be fair it was pretty noisy from the get-go. Like, can’t carry on a conversation while you sew, noisy. The new Juki, on the other hand, is really quiet, and the action is sooooo smooth. I’ve used it for over two years and it’s still just so very lovely.

Note: I chose the MO654DE over the MO644D (which is cheaper that one’s designed for only lighter to medium weights and I wanted it to work with all weights of fabric)

overlock seam sewn with serger

Just in case you need a bit of an intro, a serger is a machine that creates a multi-thread overlock stitch around the edge of the fabric as it sews, using two (but sometimes just one) needles and at least three (but usually four or more) cones of thread. It goes only forward, not in reverse, and it has a pair of knives that trims the seam as it sews. It also has two feed dogs under the presser foot that can be adjusted to go different speeds to can prevent the fabric from stretching out or gathering, which is especially handy for sewing knits.

What I use my serger for:

  • ALL knit sewing. I sew all my knit seams with the serger, with the exception of neckbands or ribbing, which I always baste on first with a sewing machine to make sure it’s even.
  • Finishing edges of delicate and loose-weave fabrics before prewashing. Before I throw my new fabric in the wash (and I always prewash any fabric that will become a garment if I intend to machine-wash it, to prevent shrinking), I like to finish the raw edges so they won’t tangle and fray as they get tossed around in the machine. Usually I just use the zig zag stitch on my sewing machine over the raw edges. For fabrics like linen or double gauze, a serger is nicer because it finishes the raw edges very securely with the four-thread overlock stitch.
  • Finishing edges of delicate or loose-weave fabrics after cutting/before sewing. Similarly, if I’m sewing something really delicate, I sometimes run the cut pieces through the serger to finish all the edges before I start sewing. This helps prevent the edges of the fabric from stretching out while they’re being sewn, similar to stay-stitching.
  • Seam finishing for woven garments. I love a good seam finish (see this Super Seams post for a few examples/tutorials), and it’s super fast to run a seam through the serger after first sewing the seams on the machine (note: I don’t use the serger to sew the seams for woven clothing, though I do for knits). I was recently asked via email why not just sew all woven seams with the serger (a great question!) and the reason is that with woven garments, you often need to be able to adjust fit even after sewing seams, and that is really difficult to do once you’ve sewn a seam with a serger.

Since I use my serger constantly, I’m happy to have one I really love. It’s become an essential part of my process for sewing clothing and I can’t imagine sewing without one. Do you have a serger you love? And if you have any questions about sergers, I’m happy to answer them in comments!

PS. If you can find a local Juki dealer (you lucky ducks in Columbus have Sew to Speak), it’s so worth it if you can purchase a machine at a shop that will also be able to service it. Plan for the inevitable.

PPS. If you want a more thorough review of the Juki, check out Heather’s post.

Where to find knit fabrics

how to find knit fabric

One question I get a lot is where to find knit fabrics (actually: any apparel fabric — but let’s stick to knits for now). Lacking a local fabric shop that carries apparel fabrics is a common issue for many of you, so I’d like to recommend some knit fabrics that would be great for Flashback, Isla, or my upcoming pattern, Jade, and where to find them online and locally.

TOP LEFT: Dana cotton modal jersey (“Dana” by Robert Kaufman)
description: light weight jersey, 55% cotton, 45% modal rayon, a bit of stretch (not super stretchy), soft and light
notes: this one doesn’t have lycra so it doesn’t have much stretch,, but it’s nice and soft and light and has a nice drape. I’d recommend for Jade but maybe not for Isla (due to stretch)
source: Imagine Gnats

TOP CENTER: Striped tencel jersey
description: silky, light weight, super stretchy (4-way stretch), tons of drape
notes: Tencel is an eco-friendly form of rayon, so it has the silky and super-stretchy properties that bamboo rayon and other rayon jersey would have, without the possible horrific processing chemical by-products
source: La Mercerie

TOP RIGHT: Cotton-Lycra jersey (“Laguna” by Robert Kaufman)
description: light weight, usually has a 95/5 cotton to lycra ratio (also called cotton-spandex, same thing), good stretch and strong recovery, curls at edges
notes: Allie of Indie-Sew once described C/L as the quilting cotton of knits; it’s easy to work with and easy to find because manufacturers like Robert Kaufman (“Laguna knit“), Art Gallery, and Cotton and Steel all print their knits on C/L blends.
source: Pink Castle Fabrics

MIDDLE LEFT & RIGHT: Double brushed poly spandex Jersey
description: suuuuper stretchy (4-way stretch), medium weight, thicker than tencel jersey but with similar drape and stretch, very soft (“brushed”)
notes: this stuff really feels like secret pajamas, and it’s very forgiving to work with; I will add the caveat that it’s unlikely to be the most eco-friendly material out there. I can’t wait to show you what I made with that grid jersey!!
source: Raspberry Creek &  Imagine Gnats

MIDDLE CENTER: Indigo cotton-lycra jersey
description: medium weight, lycra gives it nice stretch  curl at edges
notes: when I found this indigo slub knit at Fancy Tiger (see below) it was like spotting a unicorn in the wild; I am always on the look out for slub knits but haven’t been able to find very many out there despite slub being pretty popular in ready-to-wear garments (my favorite JCrew tees are slub knit). Let me know in comments if you have a favorite slub source!!!
source: Fancy Tiger Crafts

BOTTOM LEFT: Stretch bamboo rayon jersey (Telio)
description: light weight but somewhat heavy (I know that sounds like a weird combo but it’s true), super stretchy (4-way stretch), somewhat shiny, silky
notes: While I did not love the solid Telio bamboo jerseys (I made a ton of Jade samples out of various solid colors) because they showed every wrinkle and line from my body and undergarments and were impossible to photograph, I did like the heather gray one shown above (I’m wearing it here). I really love the softness and stretchiness of bamboo knits, but I try to source them from places that sell overstock or deadstock, due to the horrific environmental impacts of the manufacturing process for bamboo rayons.

BOTTOM CENTER: Striped organic interlock (by Cloud9)
description: 100% organic cotton, medium weight, stretchy, soft
notes: so lovely and soft, due to the lack of lycra, this knit has less recovery and is less suited for leggings, for example, as it tends to grow a bit as you wear it until you throw it back in the wash, however, I couldn’t miss a chance to toot the Cloud9 horn a bit as I LOVE this new striped knit they have out, and it’s the same interlock that my Sidewalk knits are printed on (note: NO ATTEMPT TO BE UNBIASED HERE!). See yesterday’s Flamingo tee post as well.

BOTTOM RIGHT: Organic striped baby rib knit
description: 100% organic cotton rib knit, medium weight, stretchy, soft
notes: similar to organic interlock, above, but even more stretchy due to the 1×1 rib weave (2×2 ribs are also nice!). Again, not suited for leggings, but have a nice comfortable ease
source: Organic Cotton Plus

Ready for a closeup?

Double brushed poly jersey:

double brushed poly jersey

These Art Gallery jerseys weren’t shown in the swatch section, but this Isla Dress was made with the bottom one, and the photo gives you a good idea of the curl you get with Cotton/lycra jersey:

Art Gallery cotton-lycra jersey

Organic baby rib knit:

organic cotton baby rib knit

Indigo Cotton/lycra jersey:

Striped Tencel Jersey:

More knit sources
In addition to the sources listed above, a few more places I like to hunt for knits:*
Hawthorne Threads (big selection, cotton lycra and cotton modal jersey, interlock)
Indie Sew (great curated source for overstocks! rayon spandex jerseys, rib knits)
Simplifi (all organic!! interlock, cotton lycra jersey, hemp lycra jerseys)
Stone Mountain and Daughter (huge selection of every kind of knit you could imagine)

*Please note that this list is nowhere near comprehensive NOR is it unbiased as some of these shops were previous sponsors of this blog and/or carry my patterns and/or Cloud9 knits which is the company that licenses my designs. However, I think the best way to do posts like this is probably to keep them simple and do them frequently, rather than try to maintain a current comprehensive resource list.

Learn more
If you’re not that familiar with knit fabric or shopping online, consider taking my Creativebug Trace and Make Tee and Leggings class where I dive into knit fabrics, stretch, and how to sew knits, or check out this “Rae talks about shopping for knits online” post, which covers some basic online shopping tips and information about types, weights, and swatches you might find helpful.

I also like these two posts from Oliver+S: types of knits and where to find knits, and this article all about jersey from IndieSew.

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!

Issie Top in Sidewalk Knits

Issie Top in Sidewalk knits

We’ve had a bit of extra yardage from my Sidewalk Knits kicking around for a while, so when Suz of Sew Pony emailed to see if I’d like to try out her new Issie Top pattern for kids, I was excited to try it out with the little shoe print. If you’re not familiar with the Sew Pony brand, it’s got a great lineup of children’s sewing patterns that each have unique details. I especially love that they often have a bit of a retro vibe to them. In this case, however, I thought Clementine would fall for the shoulder ruffles on this cute tee (she did).

Issie Top in Sidewalk knits

Issie Top in Sidewalk knits

I’ll take a minute so you can recover from the shock of how old Clementine looks in these photos. It feels like she’s aged a million years in the last year. She’s definitely grown like a weed — she’s almost as tall as Elliot, who is 2.5 years older than her!!

Issie Top in Sidewalk knits

Issie Top in Sidewalk knits

After a brief warming up period with this top, where she refused to wear it for a couple months and I decided I’d never get a photo of her in it, ever, she tried it on (finally!) and now wears it every week. Welcome to the on again off again relationship that is sewing for my 8.5 year old daughter. I am happy that the size 9 that she measured in the pattern last fall still fits her with plenty of room, so I think she’ll be able to wear it for at least another year. Yay!! for kids’ clothes that fit for a long time, especially handmade ones, amiright?Issie Top in Sidewalk knits

Suz just launched the Jeune Twin Set, a lovely skirt and top pattern, so check that one out! She also kindly offered readers of this blog a 10% discount on the Issie pattern with the code ISSIEBYRAE10.

You can find the Issie Top pattern in the Sew Pony shop!

Flashback Tee for Hugo

Flashback Tee for Hugo

Hey! This little monster turned three last week. THREE! Can you believe it?

He’s such a hoot. This really is the cutest age, I swear. I feel like I’m constantly writing down the hilarious things he says. And he’s still small enough that he’ll wear all the clothes I make for him (unlike his older siblings, who naturally have their own opinions, sometimes strong, about the things I sew for them. Ahem, CLEMENTINE. *coughs*). He definitely has his favorites though, and this Flashback Tee is one of his current favorites.

Flashback Tee for Hugo

I’m sure it helps that this rib knit is crazy soft. I made this tee from the leftovers from this tank dress, so yes, that means we can be (and are often) outfit twins. I never manage to snap a pic on the days we’re both wearing them at the same time, though. You’d think I was busy or something…hahah.

Flashback Tee for Hugo

Flashback Tee for Hugo

Flashback Tee for Hugo

Pear shirt for Hugo

Pear shirt for Hugo

I’ve been experimenting with a few new knit fabrics since Isla (my first women’s knit pattern) was launched a few months ago. Knits can be so different and I wanted to have some (new) good ones to recommend. I’d been eyeing Alison Glass’ solid jersey for Andover for awhile, so I bought a few different colors from Alison’s shop. These have a relatively low amount of stretch (reminds me of those “beefy Ts” we used to wear in the 90s); I first made an Isla top out of the navy color and it came out a bit on the tight side, although it was really cute. Next I decided to try something less fitted, so I used the brighter blue and lime to make a more loose-fitting raglan-style turtleneck top for Hugo, and that worked out even better!

Alison glass knits

I really like how the bright blue and lime hues looked together, so I thought it would be cute to add a little pear detail to the front. Karen was sweet enough to hand-stitch it on for me at the last Sew Ann Arbor sewing night we had at the studio. Isn’t it sweet?

Pear shirt for Hugo / made by rae

Pear shirt for Hugo

I got him to sit and pose for some rather nice photos (above), but the ones I love the most of him in this shirt are the ones shown below…they’re not as “clean,” but they capture more of our life at home…a bit of the daily mess, Clementine’s supercape (similar to the one I made Elliot, scroll down in that post), a red “Hugo” name tag someone (probably Clementine) stuck on him, as if we would forget his name. And the expression here is just priceless to me.

Pear shirt for Hugo / made by rae

Pear shirt for Hugo / made by rae

Also, this one is great:

Pear shirt for Hugo / made by rae

Anyway, I do love the AG knits; definitely recommend, and do keep in mind that you want to use them on projects that have more ease built in, so they don’t turn out too tight.

Hope you’re having a lovely week!

Flamingo Robe

flamingo robe / made by rae

Hello! Happy New Year! I ended up taking a bit of a blogging/screen break for the past couple of weeks, which was really quite nice because it gave me more time for reading (finished Everyone Brave is Forgiven last night, so good!!), board games with kids, friends, and family (PANDEMIC!!! SO good!), and some drawing and painting (maybe more fabric designs this year…who knows?), among other things. I really feel like it gave me a lovely break, like I have a bit more mental space now or something. I didn’t completely cut off, just kept my phone off/away/silent more than the usual. I know it’s all the rage to “quit” your phone and that’s fantastic too, but I also don’t think that’s completely necessary. Everything in moderation and all that.

flamingo robe / made by rae

I don’t generally do “Christmas sewing.” Ever since I nearly suffered a mental break one year I’ve managed to lower my sewing expectations for Christmas year by year so that the past few years I’ve ended up with nothing on my “Christmas-to-sew” list, which is liberating. Of course then two weeks before Christmas this year I started working on a kimono-style robe using my new Sidewalk flamingo print and realized halfway through that it would make a fantastic present for my sister Kricket, whose name I had drawn for our sibling gift exchange. So I guess I did do some Christmas sewing, though I personally think if you don’t realize you are doing Christmas sewing it really shouldn’t count.

flamingo robe / made by rae

Alas I cannot provide you with a pattern for this robe (a common request when I posted a pic of it — above — on Instagram), as I made up the pattern based on a tracing of another robe I own that is similar in overall shape. Maybe some of you have kimono-style robe patterns you could recommend in comments? You can see (from the clip on the shoulder) that the robe was still a WIP when I took this photo. I later added pockets, and I had to tear out, redesign, and resew the neckline facing in the back a few times until I got the shoulder right.

flamingo robe / made by rae

Closeup detail. Eagle-eyed readers will notice that I managed to keep part of the selvage with my name on it visible in the sleeve seam. A signature of sorts. This pic probably conveys the true color of the background best, though the flamingos look darker here than they are in real life.

flamingo robe / made by rae

And the finished robe!

flamingo robe / made by rae

Kricket seemed v. pleased with it when she opened it up on Christmas Day, so I feel this was a job well done. But also a bit of remorse for not keeping it for myself. But not really. But maybe a little bit.

flamingo robe / made by rae

If you’ve got a hankering to sew up some Sidewalk knit of your own, you can head over to my blog post about where to find Sidewalk knits, or check out the shop finder on the Cloud9 website. Sidewalk is shipping now and is perfect for a cosy winter sewing project! Please share your pics with me if you sew something with Sidewalk! The #sidewalkfabrics tag is useful on social media.

Hugo’s Pencil Shirt and Fleece Parsley Pants

Flashback tee + parsley pants for Hugo

Here’s my little monster in a few new things I’ve made for him recently: a Flashback Tee in Sidewalk interlock and some fleece Parsley Pants. It could hardly have escaped anyone’s notice that now we both own knit pencil tops (here’s mine)…which means a pretty awesome photo shoot needs to happen soon. Twinsies with a toddler, YEAH!

Flashback tee + parsley pants for Hugo


Flashback tee + parsley pants for Hugo

I love making Parsley Pants in fleece since it adds a bit of stretch and makes them super cosy to wear. I made two pairs for him: the blue pair he’s wearing in these pics, and a green pair which are a lovely quality Mill End fleece and therefore even more cosy. The green ones I accidentally pressed with the iron on the cotton setting (oops!) and melted, so I had to put in a separate waistband. Which actually looks really cute, though it’s more work.

Flashback tee + parsley pants for Hugo

Flashback tee + parsley pants for Hugo

I’ve been adding elastic to the cuff (like I did with these Big Butt Baby pants awww tiny baby Hugo alert!!) because I think it’s cute when they’re cinched in at the ankle. I also added some tags — gifted to me from past sponsor Custom Labels 4U — to the waistbands and neckband of the tee. I don’t know why I didn’t start doing this sooner; it’s so helpful to know the size of handmade stuff, and I love having my logo tag in there too. I did previously use a handful of size labels I bought from an Etsy shop (you can see them in this post ACK another adorable Hugo post!!!); those were also great but weren’t woven and so those ended up curling up after washing which made them harder to read. Super handy though, no matter what you do.

Flashback Sidewalk Hugo tee - labels

New clothes for Hugo

My one complaint with these tags is that Hugo does have pretty sensitive skin and the edges of the logo tags are a bit scratchy (I don’t notice this with the size tags), so I think next time I’ll try putting them on the outside instead of inside the garment; maybe at a side seam or something.

Flashback tee + parsley pants for Hugo

He is perpetually sick and rosy-cheeked these days, poor babe. I love love love this age so much — he is saying the most ridiculously adorable things to us, every day, but I also hate how he is sick all of the time. It can be so trying. I had terrible sleep last night because he slept in our bed all night and was up coughing at regular intervals.

Since I took these pics a couple of weeks ago, I painted the wall behind him with chalkboard paint (so fun!! here’s a peek) and cut his hair (which you can see in this post). And, my Sidewalk knit fabric is now in shops! Here’s a list of Sidewalk stockists if you want to pick up some for yourself. Be sure to add the #sidewalkfabric hashtag if you post pics to social media because I would really love to see what you’re sewing for yourself with these knits!