Red Rover Backpack for Hugo

This was supposed to be for his first day of Kindergarten but when you realize you want to make your kid a new backpack the day before school starts, that is simply not a realistic goal. I finished it this past weekend, though, just in time for week four.

Made by Rae Backpack Sewing Pattern

I love this little backpack sewing pattern (designed for Elliot TEN YEARS AGO and I’m pretty sure it was the very first PDF pattern I ever sold in my shop. can you even believe?!), but it’s not exactly something you can whip up in an afternoon. It’s not necessarily all that difficult at any given point, but there are a lot of pieces and steps to get through (straps, piping, quilting the bottom piece, the zipper, etc), so it’s always been one of our more “advanced” designs. One of the things I love about it, though, is that if you can stay focused and stick with it, you get this amazingly crafted backpack at the end. Never ceases to leave me with a sense of immense satisfaction at the end result.

Made by Rae Backpack Sewing Pattern

Currently the Toddler Backpack Pattern includes pattern pieces for a smaller “toddler” size, with instructions to easily modify the pattern for bigger kids; it also does not currently include any pocket pieces, but over the years we’ve seen lots of you add pockets of various shapes and sorts, and we’ve always thought it would be great to add pocket options to the pattern if we ever updated it again. We’ve worked a bit recently on new pattern pieces for the larger school-aged-kid size as well as some new pocket pattern pieces, so this backpack for Hugo was a bit of a test run to see how everything worked, with the additional experiment of trying out the laminate* as an additional experiment (it was tricky, not gonna lie, see notes below). While I wouldn’t expect the new pattern pieces anytime soon (we’re still in the thick of updating size range for two of our womens’ patterns), it was fun to try them out on this backpack and get some idea of how they might work.

Made by Rae Backpack Sewing Pattern

A few notes:

  • I used fusible fleece to reinforce the outer panels, with limited success. You have to be pretty careful using an iron on the laminate (I put a piece of butcher paper between the iron and the laminate surface to prevent it from melting).
  • I couldn’t find my teflon foot, so I used strips of washi tape on the underside of my presser foot and along my throat plate so that the laminate wouldn’t “stick” while I was sewing it. Painter’s tape also works well for this.
  • Pattern mod: added a front pocket with a magnetic snap (this pattern piece will be added if/when we ever update this pattern)
  • Pattern mod: added an elasticized water bottle pocket on the side. This seems like something most kids need, so we’ll have pattern pieces for that in an eventual update as well. Mine came out a wee bit shorter than I think it should have been, but it’s perfect for the mini-Kleen Kanteen that Hugo uses.
  • I used a separating zipper because it was the only red zipper I had and that ended up being a bad idea because if you accidentally unzip it all the way to the end, it can be a bit hard to get it back together. Don’t recommend. Oops!

Made by Rae Backpack Sewing Pattern

*About the fabric: this “Red Rover” design originated with my Small World corduroy collection for Cloud9 back in 2015. The dog design was so popular that it was the first one in the collection to sell out, so we added it to the Sidewalk knit collection (in a slightly different size and colorway), and later Cloud9 decided to add it to their organic laminate collection, which is a nice waterproof alternative to oilcloth in that you don’t have all of the toxic off-gassing (just google it).

Anyway, I finished it this past weekend so he’s been carrying it to school all week and he seems to like it so far. Especially the attention it gets him. It’s heavier than his previous one — the “school-age” size definitely feels oversized for a kindergartener — but it had to be this big to fit his homework folder (please don’t get me started on homework in kindergarten, I will rage.), so there you go. Happy dog backpack, happy kid.

Made by Rae backpack pattern

PS. This backpack pattern is available in my shop! It currently comes with easy instructions for modifying the smaller sized pattern pieces to a larger, school-aged size backpack like the one shown here.

Fanciful Rose Pants

made by rae - rose pants in fanciful fabric

When I’m experimenting with a new pattern I often make samples using a basting stitch; it makes the sewing go faster and allows me to adjust the fit really easily as I go. I baste the seams and pin the hems, and often I don’t finish one sample before I move on to the next one to experiment with some new variable.

This pair of cropped Rose pants was one of those samples. I cut and basted them together one day last fall when we were working on some aspect of the pattern. I used this gold quilting cotton print from my recent line for Cloud9, Fanciful, and as the weather got colder, I lost the motivation to finish them. However, when the weather started to warm up a couple months ago, I pulled them out and sewed them up properly.

made by rae - rose pants in fanciful fabric

I’m happy to report that I think quilting cotton actually works quite well for Rose if you want a pair of lightweight pants or shorts for warmer weather. I’ve discussed some of the issues you should consider when sewing garments with quilting cotton before, so check out this post (also Fanciful garment, interestingly!) for that discussion.

The print itself is really fun and I got a “Wow. I like your pants! They’re so….FLORAL!” from the checkout guy at Kroger when I was buying groceries the other day (me: “Thanks! I made them myself!”).

made by rae - rose pants in fanciful fabric

The “fit-as-you-go” technique is something you can also do when making a muslin or sewing a pattern for the first time. Jess discussed the virtues of basting your seams to “fit as you go” in this post, and I’d encourage you to check it out if you’re unfamiliar with that technique.

Meanwhile, I’m wearing these babies with the bounty of other gold things in my closet — it seems to be my color of choice lately (here, here). One recent make is this this cropped top version of the Emerald dress that I made with leftover fabric from the sample I made for Making magazine (see it here).

made by rae - rose pants in fanciful fabric

We do intend to release an expanded version of the Emerald dress later this year as a standalone pattern (currently it’s available as a dress in Making magazine); it will include all 11 sizes in our new range in addition to this cropped top option, which I totally adore. My top versions of Emerald have definitely been in heavy rotation this summer. Not sure I will wear it with these pants — it’s a LOT of gold, even for me — but it’s kindof fun, right?

made by rae - rose pants in fanciful fabric

For more about Rose, check out the Rose page, get inspired by all the amazing Rose pants and shorts on Instagram, or buy the Rose pattern in my shop!

Fanciful dress for Clementine

made by rae fanciful dress for clementine
made by rae fanciful dress for clementine

When my Fanciful yardage arrived I asked Clementine if there were any prints that she wanted to wear, and this pale pink print was her favorite. I designed this overlapping back bodice using Geranium as a base pattern, thinking it would be cute to have a black bow in the back. I originally thought this might work as a tutorial or new pattern, but while I was sewing it, it I discovered that the overlap presents an issue with the lining at the spot where the two layers overlap, so if this design is to become anything I’ll have to try it without the lining instead. All that to say: this isn’t a pattern or tutorial; more experimentation is needed.

I still think it’s a fun piece to show off this understated print, which might go unnoticed amongst the more exciting prints in this collection. You can see the entire collection here, and Fanciful is in shops now!

PS. Read my thoughts about sewing garments with quilting cotton.

made by rae fanciful dress for clementine

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!

Fanciful fabric is here!

made by rae for cloud9 - fanciful fabric

I’m so excited to announce that my latest line of fabrics, Fanciful, is now in shops!! Fanciful is printed on quilting cotton that is 100% organic from Cloud9 Fabrics.

Here’s a glance at all 10 prints in the collection:

Fanciful is my fifth fabric collection and is an homage to blooms and blossoms. You may remember that my previous fabric collections were designed primarily for children, but I wanted to do something a little more grown up this time around, and this collection was inspired by my late grandmother, Grace, who loved flowers of all kinds. She loved dressing up in bright floral prints, owned a rather impressive collection of floral teacups and teapots, and had a staggering number of artificial flower arrangements. She loved all of her children and grandchildren so much, and I miss her dearly. She died four years ago last week, so it seems like an entirely appropriate time for Fanciful to launch.

made by rae fanciful fabric

Fanciful is now available at many shops around the world. You can use the shop finder for US shops on the Cloud 9 website:

FIND A SHOP

I’ve already made a couple of things from Fanciful (sneak peeks above), and have some more ideas up my bell sleeve (sorry, I couldn’t help it). What would you make with these prints?

I’m always thrilled to see photos of your projects with my fabric pop up on social media! If you make something, please share it with the tag #fanciful_fabric. If you work at a shop that carries this line, post a pic and tag it on Instagram so we can share!

Flamingo Boatneck Tee

Flamingo Boatneck

Update: the Jade Tee Pattern is now available! buy now

Pretty soon I’ll be introducing my next pattern for women, Jade, which is a knit t-shirt pattern. Here’s an early prototype that I made last spring with the flamingo print from my interlock collection for Cloud 9, Sidewalk. As a grown woman, I wasn’t sure I could pull off a flamingo tee, but I rather like it. If you’re looking at your screen and giving this the side-eye, perhaps flamingos are just not your thing LOL??

Flamingo Boatneck

The “pink” in this flamingo fabric (if you can call it that) is really more of a neon coral. One of the surprises for me with this knit collection is how bright this hue came out. At first I wasn’t completely sold, but within days of making this tee I discovered that I already owned multiple things that matched and coordinated, including a pair of neon striped socks and my watermelon Baggu tote (shown above). MEANT TO BE? I THINK SO. Since then this shade of coral has done nothing but grow on me.

Flamingo Boatneck
Also: works with my vintage GAP Jean Jacket. Is it too early to call something I purchased in 2001 “vintage?” I really hope not.

Update: the Jade Tee Pattern is now available! buy now

Jade will have an elbow-length sleeve — the length will be a bit shorter than this one — and one of the necklines will be this boat neck style. This version has a visible neckband, and I decided to finish the boat neckline in a completely different way for the pattern (I think you’ll love it!), but there is an optional binding piece so that if you like this you can still make it this way too. We also redrafted the sleeve cap after this version so I think you’ll find that there is substantially less underarm wrinkling in the final version, but it’s not bad for a prototype. Definitely wearable. Can’t wait to unveil more details on the final pattern for you soon!

Flamingo Boatneck

You can follow the Jade hashtag #mbrjade on Instagram to see more peeks at this pattern and tester versions (there’s quite a few already), and sign up for my newsletter here if you want to know right away when this pattern is ready!

Update: the Jade Tee Pattern is now available! buy now

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!

Sidewalk Showcase Finale!

Today I’m wrapping up the Sidewalk Showcase, an online showcase featuring my Sidewalk knits collection for Cloud9 Fabrics, with a few more fantastic makes from some of my favorite makers online!

Vanessa of LBG Studio made a Waterfall Raglan for her daughter. She looks so cute in her new top, doesn’t she?

LBG Studio sidewalk showcase

Meredith over at Olivia Jane Handcrafted made such sweet coordinating Bus Stop outfits for her two older kids. This is just one of the three adorable garments she made — check out her blog for the others. This guy is slaying me with his cheeks. Adorbs.

sidewalkteefromOliviaJane

And finally, Sara of Made By Sara self-drafted this gorgeous dress for her daughter out of the Prize Garden print. Check out her post with even more photos on Instagram.

Made by Sara sidewalk dress

And just in case you missed my recent Sidewalk posts, I made undies for Hugo...

Sidewalk Undies

and posted my Prize Garden Isla Dress:

Isla Dress in Sidewalk Knit

Looking for more Sidewalk knits inspiration?

Thanks for following along with our Sidewalk tour! Are you excited to make something fun with these knits?

Undies!

Undies for Hugo

Sidewalk Undies

Undies for Hugo

I went on an undie-sewing binge for Hugo a couple weeks ago and whipped these babies out assembly-line style. It was so very satisfying. Plus omg the cuteness. I used three prints from my Sidewalk knit line for Cloud9, some black and lime baby rib knit obtained some time in the past from who knows where, and a yellow interlock knit (on the bug ones) from Cloud9’s debut knit collection, which is quite possibly the best yellow hue I’ve ever found in a knit fabric. It’s just a really lovely shade of yellow with a hint of green and a slightly unsaturated quality that makes it look great with nearly every other shade of yellow even if it’s not a perfect match. Plus their solid interlocks are super duper soft.

Sidewalk undies

If sewing your kids’ underwear falls solidly into the “Why would I ever sew that?” category for you, let me give you a few reasons why it’s worth trying:

  1. They take very little fabric. Like next to none.
  2. They come together remarkably fast, especially if you use a serger and sew more than one pair at the same time
  3. So much cute for for such a tiny little sewing project
  4. These make potty-training more fun!

Speaking of potty training, Hugo is now done with diapers, woooohoooo hallelujah for that. I decided to bite the bullet after Christmas, and as should be expected it hasn’t been all clear sailing (we still have accidents, pullups at night which I swore I would never do), but overall he’s on board with the concept and has been excited about both his new green potty chair and his new underwear. His parents are thrilled to be done with diapers forever. Yeehaw.

Sidewalk Undies

Just a few notes about the pattern: I used the Little Fishies Undies pattern, which I bought a print copy of years ago from Bonnie of Fishstick Designs. She’s since discontinued direct sales, but it is available as a PDF from Girl Charlee. I like the gender-neutral, simple design and I’ve made a handful of these for all three kids over the years and they fit well. Probably one of the best features is the waistband has elastic encased inside it so they stay up really well. Plus the way that they are cleverly constructed hides the waistband seam between the lining and outer layer so it’s smooth on the inside of the waist and comfortable for the wearer.

Sidewalk Undies

I clearly took way too many photos of these undies. I’m gonna just decide to be OK with that.

Sidewalk Undies