My #2018MakeNine Fail

It’s the New Year! I spent a bit of time on Instagram yesterday and my feed is already filling up with everyone’s #MakeNine sewing plans. It’s so exciting to plan new projects for the year, isn’t it? I love seeing the patterns people have picked out. #MakeNine is a great way to make sewing goals because choosing just nine projects for the year is so very manageable and attainable. Or at least it should be. Unless you’re me and you’re looking back at your list from last year, ahem.

Originally was going to just throw this post up on the blog as a “hey look I only made 2 things on my #2018MakeNine!” so those of you who killed your lists last year could feel amazing and superior (hee…but really, that’s great!) and those of you who didn’t manage to make yours could feel better, like a hey let’s be real, it’s OK hashtag life type thing. But after listening to this week’s Love to Sew Podcast with Elise Cripe* about making goals for the new year, I decided to dig in a little bit and see what I can learn from. Considering I only managed to make just TWO of the nine things on my #2018MakeNine, I’m pretty sure I can glean at least one or two takeaways.

For reference, here’s what I had on my list:

2018 make nine / made by rae
my 2018MakeNine list

( I also posted about this list earlier on the blog (#2018MakeNine Plans) if you want a pattern-by-pattern breakdown)

Of those nine, I managed to make this technicolor Wiksten Haori Jacket (previously the “Wiksten Oversized Kimono Jacket,” the pattern name has recently been changed for better accuracy and cultural sensitivity):

wiksten kimono jacket / made by rae

And this Roscoe blouse:

Cue sad trombone? Or not? On its surface it really does seems like kind of a fail. However, I totally love those two garments (that jacket is probably my “most-worn make” of 2018), and life is really too short to beat myself up over a to-do list that doesn’t completely materialize.

It’s also worth noting that it’s not a situation me only making those two things this year and nothing else. I made scads of things, they just weren’t things on that list (and it’s also worth clarifying that for the purposes of this post, I’m talking about things I sew for fun, not the things I have to sew for the business, though admittedly that’s not exactly a clear-cut line). Nine is definitely still a manageable quantity for me; I do not need to create a #MakeFour (hee).

Looking at the disconnect between setting the goals and achieving the goals, I have a few observations that perhaps you too will find helpful.

First, I never would have guessed how much knitting I would end up doing this year. This greatly cut into my leisurely sewing time (Note to self: add knitting projects to this year’s list if you make one). I probably would have made more of these things if I hadn’t gotten so hooked on knitting starting in July after my knitting retreat.

Second, I failed to anticipate how spontaneous and unpredictable my leisurely sewing always is. I love making a to-do list, I just don’t always love to stick to said list. I’m not sure there’s any solution to this issue aside from quitting list-making altogether (nah) or resolving to be OK with whatever happens.

I also forgot how much longer it would take me to sew a brand new pattern than one of my own patterns, which I know will fit (so: no need to make a muslin) and barely need to read the instructions for, and will therefore choose readily when faced with unanticipated time to sew. I actually started almost all of the patterns: all have been purchased and/or printed, most have been traced, and I even managed to get as far as a muslin for the Fringe dress. A few of the projects had unanticipated hiccups that stalled them (never found the “perfect fabric”) or canceled them (unresolved body-love issues, anyone? Bathing suit, I’m looking right at you).

Finally, I didn’t anticipate how much sewing I would do for my kids. I made quite a lot of things for them, most of them not blogged or posted online. These included a bathrobe, tank tops, shorts, and dresses for Clementine, as well as a handful of shirts and pants and shorts for the boys. While this type of sewing isn’t exactly my “dream-sewing,” it’s still deeply satisfying as kid- sewing is quick, easy, and practical.

Anyway, just taking a few minutes to run this brief analysis of the why and how of my “fail” — if you can even call it that — is already helping me see how to simplify my goals for this coming year and create a to-make list that’s a bit more realistic and achievable. Meanwhile, I’m celebrating all of the other things not on my list that I *did* make this year (including a dozen Jade tees and dresses that I wear all. the. time.) and really looking forward to a fun year of making in 2019!!!

Jade Tee Sewing Pattern / made by rae

How about you? Did you make a #MakeNine list last year? How many things on that list did you manage to check off? What’s on your list for next year? Tell me what you’re most excited to make!

*Highly recommend this episode. Here it is again if you want to listen: Love to Sew Podcast with Elise Cripe

#2018MakeNine plans

We’re halfway thru February, which means it’s the perfect time to post about my sewing goals for 2018, right? LOL. I hope this post will encourage any of you who worried if it was already too late to post your #2018makenine lists (answer: never too late). I’m here to tell you that you can post your list whenever you want and still not miss the party. And if you’re just now hearing about #2018makenine, check out Rochelle’s post. She’s the brains behind this low-pressure, gentle sewing challenge and explains it better than I could.

As will come as no surprise to anyone, I always have a to-sew list a mile long, but it’s often things I need to sew for my kids or versions of my own patterns or new pattern ideas. Which kind of qualifies as half “work.” Hence, I wanted to be more intentional this year about not only having a more realistic list, but taking time to sew things with other designer’s patterns that I already own, something I don’t usually find a whole lot of time for. I enjoy learning new techniques or creative construction tips from other patternmakers, and I’m excited to try out these great designs from some really talented indie designers.

Here is my list for 2018:

2018 Make Nine

1 // Willamette Top by Hey June

Adrianna has so many great patterns! This one’s a favorite and I’ve seen so many cute versions this year online.

2 // Wiksten Tova by Wiksten

I’m embarrassed at how long I’ve owned this pattern and yet have never made one. This one was one of the first great indie sewing patterns, no?

3 // Carolyn Pajamas by Closet Case

Anything with piping immediately sucks me in and I’ve got the perfect cotton lawn for this one.

4 // Stasia Dress by Sew Liberated

Buying Stasia the minute it was released was a no-brainer for me and I’m excited to give this one a try.

5 // Roscoe by True Bias

I knew it was meant to be when I saw a fabric I had already purchased at IndieSew in Kelli’s Roscoe fabric inspiration post. I cut the pieces out last week for a blouse and can’t wait to start sewing.

6 // Maritime Shorts by Grainline

Also embarrassed at how long I have owned this pattern; my friend Megan wore a couple really great pairs of handmade Maritime shorts at Squam this fall and reminded me that I really need to pull it out again. I was thrilled to discover the other day that I had already printed out and trimmed down all the pattern pieces.

7 // Abigail Swimsuit from Ohhhh Lu Lu

This is gonna be a bit of an experiment as I’m hoping to print my own swim fabric through Spoonflower. But I’ve sewn a handful of swimsuits before and this one looks good!

8 // Wiksten Oversized Kimono Jacket from making magazine

I bought the #4 Lines issue of Making Magazine mostly for this pattern, and Jenny also has plans to release the pattern on its own in her shop soon. I’ve already started sewing this one from an amazing fabric I picked up at Dry Goods a couple years ago (here are some WIP pics on Instagram) and can’t wait to finish it!

9 // Fringe Dress by Chalk and Notch

I met Gabriella briefly in San Francisco in December and have loved watching her patternmaking star rise this past year. This pattern was the smash hit of the summer and there are so many good versions online. I’ve made my muslin already and I’m ready to start cutting.

Are you participating in this challenge? Have you made any of these patterns yet?

PS. Seeing Made by Rae patterns make it onto your #2018makenine lists was so very lovely and encouraging to me.

A Very Important Announcement

Greetings, sewwy people! Elli and Jess here. This blog has been officially commandeered by Rae’s team. It is our solemn duty to inform you that today Rae is celebrating a milestone birthday. We won’t say which one, but it might just rhyme with “schmorty.”

To prepare you for this momentous occasion, you may have noticed that we arranged for the moon to block out the sun for a couple minutes earlier this week. We hope you appreciated our efforts and had a nice time.

To celebrate the actual anniversary of Rae’s birth, we thought you might enjoy having a peek into Rae’s handmade childhood. *cue twinkly sound effect and wibbley flashback graphics*

Rae started life as a pretty cute baby with an astonishing amount of hair. Most kids are as bald as watermelons at this age:

[Seersucker overalls sewn by Mom]

She existed on the planet for a couple of years, siblingless:

[Pink sweater knitted by Grandma B]

And then, THANK GOODNESS, Elli was born. Rae was understandably delighted.

[Blue smocked dress sewn by Grandma B. Elli is the one with no hair.]

Rae continued being cute for quite some time….

[Raggedy Ann costume + matching doll sewn by Mom]

[Rae’s jumper sewn by Mom; Elli’s dress sewn by Grandma B]

[Flashback tee inspiration sewn by Mom]

Fashion milestones included matching seersucker rompers:

[Rompers sewn by Mom]

Rae celebrated her book debut with an embellished geranium-esque corduroy jumper:

[Pretty sure Mom made this one too]

Then Kricket was born! We suspect she was conceived specifically for the purpose of wearing our fabulous hand-me-downs:

[Quilted vest sewn by mom]

None of us were immune to the stenciling craze:

[Dad’s suit not sewn by Mom]

The 80s hit their stride. Hair started to get big:

[Rae in pink; Elli in purple. Dresses sewn by Mom, of course]

Then it got bigger:

[The itchiest wool jumper ever, sewn by Mom from upholstery fabric intended for office chairs. Turtle bread by Rae.]

Before we knew it, Rae and her sleeves graduated from 8th grade:

[Dress sewn by, you guessed it, Mom]

We will leave Rae here because she is now a teenager and, as such, will refuse to wear anything handmade for about a decade. Then the cycle will begin again

We feel pretty darn lucky to have Rae as a sister / cousin / bosslady, and we’re so glad she started sewing! Here’s to at least rhymes-with-schmorty more years of creativity, inspiration, and online fellowship.


XoxoxoxoxoX Elli & Jess

Wanna give Rae a little birthday love? Head on over to Facebook or Instagram and leave a note or a virtual high five!



You are my sister

Many of you know what a huge influence Heather Ross has had on the sewing community and (if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time) on me. I am honored to call such an inspiring and talented artist my friend. She’s crazy funny as well. But here’s what I want to tell you: Heather’s twin sister, Christie, has been diagnosed with breast cancer and lacks proper insurance to pay for her treatments. This sort of financial burden could be completely devastating for their family. Heather has organized an event and auction at Hart’s Fabrics in Santa Cruz to help raise money to pay for Christie’s treatments.


If you have a moment, please click over to Heather’s blog to read her post about it, learn more details about the event, or simply leave your words of support. Tee shirts, signed posters, and tickets (both tickets for the event and raffle tickets for those who are not in California) are available through Heather’s webstore. Please consider supporting this event; it would mean so much to me and to Heather. Thank you, friends!!!

Persimmon Skirt with covered buttons

And another project just for me, this red gathered skirt with covered buttons and pockets.



Made with a very breezy-flowy Kaffe Fassett shot cotton in the color called Persimmon. It’s pretty lightweight but with a slip and black tights I think I’ll be able to make it work through at least October.


If you click on the picture above you can really see the two colors of thread in the weave. I love the visual textures that shot cottons have just from those two different colors.



Covered buttons make me happy. Not when I’m making them. Just when I’m looking at them later.

I’m sure I’ve said this before but I feel that sewing apparel for myself in solids tends to be more rewarding; the items are more likely to find something in my wardrobe to coordinate with (like the top I’m wearing in the pictures above from Anthro). BUT it’s always really hard to buy solid fabrics online, since you can’t feel the drape or thickness. So I try to stick with fabrics I can predict, and I’m always happy with the KF shots (the fabric here was purchased from Pink Castle, a quick check shows a few more here at Charmstitch). They are almost sheer and have a really nice drape and are really soft. I also love this men’s shirt Novita at very purple person made for her husband out of the same fabric!


Pattern is a bunch of rectangles with pockets thrown in. Took my waist measurement, did a little Maths (you’re welcome for that link), and POOF! *OK not really*


How does she always manage to do that? It’s hard to keep the toddlers out of the pictures around here.

It’s a MIRACLE I tell you I made BREAD!

This is completely unrelated to sewing, but I am so excited I have no choice but to share. I want to shout it from the rooftops. I have finally made not one but four successful loaves of bread. Yes, the kind you eat and make sandwiches with. Stop rolling your eyes and get excited with me. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaay! Kermit arms everyone! Yes you!!

Photographic Proof. Exhibit A:

This may seem rather silly, but to truly understand how big this is for me you need to know how poorly my many, many attempts over many, many years at baking bread have been. Deflated, dense, or weird and beery, you name the Bread Failure, I’ve had it. Then I’d take a break for a year or so but eventually read a blog post, someone saying “Its SOOO easy to make bread!” or stumble across a recipe in a book and get sucked in and try it again. I actually amaze myself a little when I think about how persistent I’ve been despite my pathetic track record. Perhaps delusions of someday becoming Martha blinded me to reality. In my head, I’ve always been just a loaf of bread away from becoming the woman who makes her own yogurt and whole grain snacks for my kids before hopping on my thrifted bicycle with side baskets to go pick up the organic CSA box from the Farmer’s Market. The only thing in that previous sentence that is true of me is that I own a bicycle, and that I occasionally go to the Farmer’s Market. I’m trying to think if I’ve ever actually ridden the bike TO the Farmer’s Market, and again, it’s hard to even tell if the time I am picturing actually happened or was just a daydream of my Amazing Self.
Exhibit B:

Amy Karol has blogged a number of times about her positive results with Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day, but I pretty much wrote that off immediately because come on the woman is so very nearly Martha, totally in a different tier of capability than me (she makes her own deodorant for crying out loud). Honestly I was dubious that her results could be due to anything other than her general Amazingness. I am happy to report that this is not the case. I believe I have (despite forgetting several steps and not even using the baking stone they recommend) managed to make four loaves of bread, all of which have disappeared within a day of being made. I offer to you visual proof that this book is pretty stinking awesome (see Exhibits A, B, and C). My sister Kricket and her husband Ross came over the other day for dinner and they were shocked, shocked I tell you that the loaf of bread they were consuming was not only made by me but was also easy. And I can’t even believe I’m about to say this because it sounds so cheesy but I think the recipe/technique offered by this book is very nearly foolproof.

Exhibit C: (Mr Rae is starting to make fun of me when he sees me photographing my bread. He’s definitely impressed though. Or so he claims.)

Without giving too much away because that would not be cool, the basic concept is that you mix up a batch of wet dough that is enough for multiple loaves and store it in a covered container in your fridge. Then you just pull off the amount of dough you need when you need it and bake it. No kneading, no kidding. And though it’s a wee bit more complicated than what I have just outlined here, it is most definitely easy. The first few chapters outline the basic concept/tools/recipe and then the rest of the book is full of variations, including desserts (!) that are all built off of the basic recipe. If you’ve been burned by Bread Failure like I have, you owe it to yourself to go get this book from your library. But not from MY library, because I’ve got their copy and plan on renewing it as many times as necessary until the copy I ordered the other day arrives. Hneh-hneh-hneh, booyah!

So let’s debrief. Am I the last one to the party with this? There must be other fans of this book unless there’s some other bread craze I’m missing. And then, the question I’m really interested in: what’s your Amazing Self like? I know I am not the only person who has this. Do you think it’s better to set your expectations low so that you don’t get depressed when Amazing Self never materializes, or is it better to set high goals? I go back and forth on this.

So. Excited. Can. Hardly. Breathe.

Very soon I’ll be leaving Mr Rae and the kids and going to Blueberry Hill Sewing Weekend. For those of you who haven’t heard of it yet, it’s a weekend of sewing hosted by fabric designer extraordinaire Heather Ross. The workshop involves sewing in a barn, eating good food, cocktail hour, endless supply of chocolate chip cookies, ack!  Not only is the workshop, which lasts a weekend and is hosted at a bed and breakfast in Vermont, the coolest idea ever, I also to get to meet one of my favorite fabric designers, the amazing Heather Ross *dying of excitement*  And if that wasn’t enough, a few months ago Heather announced that Liesl Gibson, designer of Oliver+S fame, is going to be leading the workshop too. And oh yes then just the other day she casually informed us in an email that Denyse Schmidt will be there too. I’m terrified I’m going to spend the entire weekend immobilized by Sewing-Celebrity-Paralysis.

the book that inspired the workshop (minus dust cover)

For those wondering, this year’s two workshops are already full, but last year I kept a close watch on Heather’s blog and she announced the following year’s workshops pretty early in the fall.

Now I need to plan: what fabric to bring, what projects to work on?  Obviously I’ll bring the book, but much careful planning will be required.  I may have to charter a cargo plane to fly my fabric stash to Vermont to avoid having to make any serious decisions about what to bring.  Should I sew baby stuff so the fabric takes up less space or clothes for me since it’s MY vacation, or should I just sew cloth napkins so I don’t have to concentrate too hard on anything?  Just in case, you know, my brain stops working from Sewing-Celebrity-Paralysis? 

I got Mr Rae to procure an autographed copy as a Christmas Prezzie…awesome paper, eh?

And this is so pathetic I hardly want to ask, but what am I supposed to wear?  If you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time you know that almost every item of clothing I make for myself (see here, here, here, here, here) is from Heather’s fabric. So the question is, am I going to look like a total loser/stalker if I spend the whole weekend bedecked in Heather Ross fabrics?  Tell me the honest truth.

Seriously though, one of the reasons I am so excited about this is that it seems like events where you actually meet and sew with other crafters and bloggers are few and far between.  The current big events are things like Quilt Market (more of a supplies/fabric focus) and BlogHer Conferences (more of a business of blogging focus there) or Renegade (an art fair thing).  But there’s nothing really for US.  They even have a sock summit for knitters for crying out loud.  Right now there’s a Sewing Revolution going on right under everyone’s noses. So I demand a Sewing Bloggers Conference!!! It could have sessions led by all kinds of sewing bloggers, how to put in a zipper, how to attach piping, how to draft a pattern, how to take good pictures of your sewing. What do you think?  What other sessions shall we offer? What shall we call it? I think Detroit is a nice central location.  Can you come?

For now though, can’t wait to head to Vermont, will report back soon!

Oceana Tote for Craft Hope

If you want a chance to own the Oceana Tote (blogged here and pictured below), it’s headed over to the Craft Hope shop (virtually that is) to help Doctors without Borders in Haiti.  According to the Craft Hope website, it takes about 24 hours for them to post each item, so if you’re interested you’ll have to watch and pounce.  And maybe this is overly ambitious, but I’m pricing it at $80.  I figure it can’t hurt to aim high since the entire purchase = a donation. 

If you think you would like to donate something to Craft Hope, the instructions are here.
Related: Some of you have emailed asking if you may use my patterns for Craft Hope donations, and the answer is yes.  Please feel free to use my patterns for the Haitian relief efforts, and honestly any other humanitarian cause.  No need to ask there, I say!

My boys

I don’t usually include much in the “family life” department on the ol’ bloggityblog, but since there’s been no sewing this week, I thought I’d share this picture from Father’s Day a few weekends ago. Elliot helping Mr Rae assemble a grill at Uncle Don and Aunt Sara’s (“Zahzee’s”) house. (picture by Aunt Zahzee)

Have a Happy Weekend!