Pattern update: Rose pants!

Just wanted to give you an update on the pants pattern I’ve been working on this fall! The working name for this pattern is currently “Rose” as in the flower (my late grandmother’s favorite), and I love that the name “Rose” is both strong and feminine. Plus it’s consistent with my pattern naming history in that it’s botanical (“Parsley, Geranium”), a female name (“Bianca, Josephine”), and/or a color (“Jade, Ruby”).

After the striped Loominous pants (shown above) I made this summer got such an incredible response on Instagram, I decided to work on a pattern for it. The concept behind these pants is similar to my Cleo skirt design (flat front waistband, elastic back waistband, super comfortable), but in a pant rather than a skirt. I also wanted a super high rise, wide leg, and multiple lengths. After the initial prototype, Karen made pattern pieces in my size and I tested them out with this fun gold floral print from my recent line, Fanciful. I thought these were pretty cute!

Note that this fabric is quilter’s cotton, so it worked nicely as a sample muslin but could also be a fun summer pant. Since there’s very little drape, it behaves similarly to actual muslin fabric and is therefore helpful for finding and fixing fit issues. Here’s the back view so you can see the elastic in back.

Next I tried a much different fabric, and also played around with a longer length, for those of you who would prefer to have a long pant pattern. The inseam length on this brown pair is 32″ which is really a “tall” (I’m 5’8). I’m planning to include a cutting line for the more standard length (30″ inseam), as well as an easy guide so that if you need less or more length on the inseam it will be super easy to get the correct length.

I was really happy with how these turned out — I love this slub linen/rayon blend fabric (posted more info about it here, by the way, if you’re interested in sources). which made these pants incredibly dreamy and comfy.

Last week, I made another pair out of yarn-dyed Manchester cotton. Like quilter’s cotton, this fabric has very little drape and will probably get pretty wrinkly, but I wanted to try and see if a kick-pleat would work as nicely as four separate outward-facing pleats (like the ones above have). What do you think?

Currently we have the pattern graded into all nine sizes (that’s our extended women’s size range) but the pieces need a few more edits before it will be ready for testers. Meanwhile, I’m starting to sketch diagrams and write the instruction steps this week. Fun, fun!!! Tentative launch is set for early next spring.

I’m really excited to bring another fun pant pattern to the sewing pattern market — Luna has been a huge success and I hope you’re excited about Rose, too. Which view is your favorite so far? Do you prefer the separate pleats or the kick-pleats? Any other ideas you want to share? We’re always open to feedback and it’s fun when a great idea gets incorporated into a new pattern.

PS. If you’re interested in reading more about how we make a pattern here at MBR, check out my behind-the-scenes post from last week!

Behind the scenes: making a sewing pattern

In the past, I’ve kept most of the details about my pattern production behind the scenes, but I got such a huge response to the pants prototype I posted a few months ago on Instagram that I thought it would be interesting to try to be more transparent about the progress of this pattern from the beginning (in truth, however, this isn’t really the “beginning,” since I started working on this pattern last spring). In order to do that, I think it makes the most sense to give you a general idea of what exactly goes into making a Made by Rae pattern, who does it (surprise: it’s not all me!), and how long it generally takes.

From sketch to pattern pieces

Normally, the pattern-making process begins more than a year before launch, sometimes just with a sketch, sometimes with a prototype that may or may not end up resembling the final pattern. I then sew any number of samples to try to eliminate as many fit issues as possible before I have Karen produce pattern pieces in my size, which is usually somewhere around a M or L on our size chart, depending on the current size of my body. Karen and I usually go back and forth on the pattern piece edits for a while, and once we’re happy, it gets graded into multiple sizes for testing.

Instructions and other details

Through this entire process, I am also deciding on how many views/lengths we’ll offer with the pattern (if any), coming up with a name for the pattern, sketching diagrams, and writing an overview of the instructions. Once we have the bones in place, Jess works on writing the detailed instructions out in a Google doc, step by step, and Elli works on digitizing the diagrams in Illustrator. Eventually Elli takes the instructions and diagrams and put them together in InDesign to produce a visually beautiful layout. Other details like cover photography, copyshop files, yardage, and cutting diagrams come later. It’s an intricate process that involves juggling many different things at many different times. 

Testing, testing

Testing itself usually takes an addition month or two, depending on how many rounds of testing we do, and how long it takes to incorporate changes we make after testing. Jess manages testing, and that takes a ton of work, from recruiting testers, communicating with them, gathering their feedback into a spreadsheet, evaluating which tester comments will result in adjustments or edits, and compensating testers, just to name a few things that involves.

One thing that tends to save us a bit of time before pattern launch is that we never simultaneously released a print version of a pattern at the same time as it launches in PDF version. This helps eliminate risk (printing costs thousands of dollars, and we like to audition the pattern in PDF before taking the plunge and printing it) but also allows us to concentrate on a single format (digital) instead of having to also work on the print layout, which is completely different than the PDF layout and often involves multiple rounds of physical proofs. One day I think it would be awesome to launch a pattern in both print and digital at the same time (y’all have said you love a print pattern, I hear you), but for now this is what works for us.

How long does it take?

So, how long does all this realistically take? Hypothetically, if all of us involved in production (me, Jess, Karen, Elli) were completely focused on a single pattern, we could probably get it launched in about three months, from the moment we decided to work on it to when it went live. In reality, this is not a super realistic estimate, since we are almost always working on other projects (getting a previous pattern into print, overhauling branding, teaching Creativebug classes, running the pop-up shop) concurrently, so we are almost never putting 100% of our time into one pattern. This is by both by design (it’s easier to have a multi-person team working on more than one project at a time so we don’t get bottlenecks) and by necessity (kids or dogs get sick, one or all of us go on vacation, have a personal crisis, someone (ahem, Rae) gets distracted, etc.). In the case of a pattern like Luna, we took about four months, but Gemma took about six months, so it definitely varies from pattern to pattern.

For the current pants pattern, we recently took about a month off because Making magazine asked us to contribute a pattern to their upcoming summer issue (yay!! and stay tuned for more on that!!), but we’ve also been working on updating our print pattern covers, promoting Fanciful, and other random projects this fall, all things that take time away from pattern production. In the case of the Making pattern, it was an opportunity that I almost said “no” to, because I knew that it would mean putting the pants project on hold, but ultimately decided I really wanted to do. I try to weigh the pros and cons of every project before saying yes to something that might put the brakes on a passion project like the pants, but admittedly it’s not always an easy decision, and also, let’s be honest, I have a problem with saying yes to things I shouldn’t (note: I 100% do not regret saying yes to Making…I just mean in general).

Ok. If you’ve stuck with me this far, you get a medal. I could probably write a whole blog series just on working with a team and what everyone does, but hopefully this still gives you an interesting look at the pattern making process. As usual, I am happy to answer any questions you might have, so leave a comment if I missed anything you were wondering about!

For my next post, I’ll show you some pics of the current pattern-in-the-works samples (pants) I’ve made so far, so stay tuned!!


Clementine at the lake

hello, friends!!! It’s been awhile.

I unplugged most of last week with my family at a cottage in Northern Michigan on Glen Lake near Sleeping Bear Dunes. It was lovely. Not entirely relaxing, exactly, as taking 3 kiddos on vacation is never really…relaxing ūüė¨…but still. That area of Michigan is breathtakingly beautiful. We did bunches of hiking and sight-seeing, and I stole enough moments reading books, handstitching, working on puzzles, and sitting by the fire at night to make it feel like a vacation.

Staying off my phone and computer was probably the biggest factor toward making it feel like a real vacation. On two other trips this summer — a knitting and hiking retreat in Colorado on my own, and then in Montreal with Mr. Rae — I posted on Instagram through the trips. I SO love to share bits and pieces when I travel — the beautiful sights, the new places — and I love seeing other people post when they travel too; it’s so inspiring! But it’s also hard to be completely in the moment and relaxed if there’s a little voice in the back of your brain constantly saying “ooh that would be fun to share!” It feels like a bit of a mental drain, and I find Instagram especially to be particularly draining. I don‚Äôt know if it‚Äôs my personality or if I just need to find a groove, but sometimes I find even putting up one post to be overwhelming. And sometimes not. So all that to say, stepping away was good for me.

This week the kids are back in school (yay for post-Labor-Day school starts!!), so I’m planning our fall projects here at MBR and getting back into the work routine. Hugo is going to preschool five days a week now, so that’s a shift from our previous 3-day schedule. I’m not sure I’ll work full time yet, though. I have thoughts on that, maybe I’ll write more about that later.

Anyway, here are a few more things I wanted to share with you…

Due to an overwhelming response on Instagram, these pants are going to be the next pattern I start working on. Stay tuned.

We added new PDF copyshop files to some of the children’s patterns in the shop! Parsley Pants, Moon Pants, and all of the Geranium patterns now come with pattern pieces in a copyshop format as well as (the original) print-at-home files. Check out this post on how to use a copyshop file if you need more info.

I watched “Iris” on Netflix the other night and I think Iris Apfel is my new style icon. Seriously, this lady is way cool.

I got a couple scarves from the Scarf Shop as presents for my birthday (I turned 41 on August 26). I love the colors and the wool cloud scarf is going to be perfect when the weather gets cold.

After binge-watching Season 10 of RuPaul’s Drag Race (I also watched season 8 and 9 when we were in Montreal — they’re on Canadian Netflix), I think I am officially obsessed. I love the colors, the design, the over-the-top-ness of it all.

I have two books to recommend:

My sister Kricket gave me Goodbye Vitamin¬†for my birthday and I really enjoyed it. It’s a moving story about a woman who goes home to take care of her aging father who has Alzheimer’s. It’s well-written, funny, heartbreaking, hopeful.

I’m probably the last person to read this book, but Crazy Rich Asians was fun. Full of great nonsense and a super fast and fluffy read (I also just saw the movie…I think I liked the book better).

Have a fantastic weekend, everyone!

Posted in updates

Summer snapshots

summer snapshots        summer snapshots

Ah summer! I love summer. I love sitting back and watching all the plans I had to scramble to put together all spring slowly unfold into a lovely, full summer of activity. I’m not one to sit around and relax, so there’s a certain satisfaction to this process each year, and like anything, it seems like something you get better and better at as time goes on. It’s no small feat to engineer an entire summer of child-care and activities — camps, babysitter, swimming lessons — and still find time not only to work part-time but also relax a little bit, let me tell you. In fact, this past spring was pretty stressful, I’m not going to lie. But that’s a story for another time.

Here are some snapshots from our summer so far!¬†It wouldn’t be summer without a visit to the lake (Lake Michigan)…

summer snapshots

summer snapshots

summer snapshots

summer snapshots

summer snapshots

the splash park…

summer snapshots

summer snapshots

running through the sprinkler…

summer snapshots

and camping!

summer snapshots

We went camping last weekend and it was hands-down the MOST RAIN we have ever gotten while camping. It rained pretty much non-stop from the time we got to the campsite Friday evening until we left Sunday morning. Luckily there were a few breaks in the rain to swim in the lake!!

summer snapshots

summer snapshots

summer snapshots

summer snapshots

And Hugo and I try to get to a park on my days off work (right now that’s Tuesdays and Thursdays).

summer snapshots

This weekend, Clementine turns NINE — can you believe it?! seems like just yesterday I was posting her birth announcement — and then we’re dropping off the kiddos at Grandma’s (Hugo) and sleepaway camp (Elliot and Clementine), so Mr Rae and I can go to Montreal for a few days just the two of us. I’m so excited!! I’ve never been to Montreal and I’ve heard it’s absolutely lovely.

summer snapshots

If you follow me on Instagram you might have noticed that I took a trip to Colorado for a knitting retreat a couple weeks ago — that was really fun too. I’ll try to post pics of that trip soon!

I hope you’re having a wonderful summer, too! What have you checked off your summer to-do list so far?



Posted in updates

Some thoughts for the new year

I’ve been slowly easing into¬†2018 rather than hitting the ground running, as you might have noticed from my¬†lack of¬†posts this past two months. Taking a break, evaluating new ideas and last year’s accomplishments, spending some time to collect myself. Considering that many people post their end-of-year roundups in December, it’s easy to feel like you’re already behind by the time the new year rolls around if you do this.

Studio clipboards

However, I recently stumbled across¬†this post, which contains some¬†good writing about pacing your life¬†to match¬†the rhythm of the season. I wholeheartedly endorse the idea that winter should be more about cozying up and relaxing than¬†galloping off to execute¬†a million new plans, especially when you live in a cold place like Michigan. It¬†also¬†reaffirms my long-held suspicion that Labor Day is a¬†more appropriate¬†New Year’s Day, something I’ve privately been observing¬†for the past few years. I’m happy to report that it¬†works rather nicely, especially¬†considering¬†seasonal rhythms. Who’s with me?

Last month I intentionally took a¬†break from posting or starting new projects, since I was filming with Creativebug the first week in¬†December, and then we were traveling as a family to Seattle for Christmas, where I also taught a class at Dry Goods. I intended to return to posting¬†in¬†after the new year but I have to admit, it’s been tough to get my momentum back. Nevertheless, taking a step back¬†is good. It forces me to think carefully about why I do what I’m doing, rather than just barreling¬†forward because that’s what I’ve always done, and to reflect on the past year’s accomplishments.

There’s something quite pleasing about writing down your accomplishments, and once I’d made a list, I thought perhaps you might like to see it too. Understandably not all of you stay glued to your screens waiting for my latest post (and good thing too…imagine the wait!), so here¬†is a rundown of¬†some of the things we did here at MBR last year:

Gingham Cleo skirt

The Cleo skirt pattern was our first new pattern¬†launch,¬†which we followed in¬†summer with the Cleo showcase (aka blog/IG) tour, a Cleo sewalong and the Cleo print pattern launch.¬†Spending that much time on Cleo throughout the year meant¬†we didn’t develop any summer or fall patterns, but I still think it was a good decision. It really helped¬†focus attention¬†on Cleo, which took a little while to gain momentum, as some patterns do.¬†The¬†effort paid off; Cleo grew more popular as the year went on, and it was really fun to see so many people making and rocking their own versions of it and including it on their #2018makenine lists.

Cleo in print

Putting Cleo into print also gave me an opportunity to give the print pattern covers a little facelift. I replaced the teal border with white, and for Cleo we introduced a stapled instruction booklet rather than the fold-out sheet. I think both formats have their advantages and disadvantages (the main disadvantage of the stapled booklet being cost), but I really like it and will definitely consider using it on future print patterns.

Big geranium in print

We also used the new cover design for a print launch of Geranium in bigger sizes (kids’ 6-12) and for a reprint of the Geranium in baby/toddler sizes (0-5).

The Geranium Expansion pack was¬†our other new pattern¬†launch for 2017, and I had fun working with Rachel Kovac, who did the sample sewing and photography for that shoot. I¬†had been feeling dissatisfied with my own product photography¬†and felt it was time to hire it out to a professional. Having had admired Rachel’s photos and blog for many years, I asked if she’d be interested in working with us. Gratefully she said yes, and I’m so happy that she made time for this project. The dresses turned out so beautifully, and the photos were fantastic.

Geranium Expansion Pack sewing pattern

We also had a lovely showcase tour for Geranium Expansion Pack in the fall. I’m grateful to the talented women who participated for their lovely contributions to the tour.

GXP tour roundup

Interestingly, the release of the expansion pack also fueled a rise in sales for the original Geranium pattern,¬†which ended up being our top pattern seller for 2017, making it the first year in quite a while that a children’s pattern has been beat out¬†a women’s pattern for shop sales (though Cleo was a close second).

GXP samples

Other projects from this year include:

….the Starry Sky Skirt in Making magazine (a basic gathered¬†skirt in both children and women’s sizes¬†which I¬†am considering selling in the shop),

…the Sidewalk knit showcase (many of these knits are still available, by the way — I just saw the flamingos in Annie’s shop yesterday),

…a reboot of the Buttercup Bag pattern, which is now available in two sizes for free when you sign up for my newsletter,

Pop up shop

…we had a quick¬†pop-up pattern shop through my shop website (usually we don’t ship patterns direct-to-customer from my studio) in September,

…I traveled to San Francisco for a week to shoot three of my women’s patterns with Creativebug in December. I’m excited to reveal those to you when they launch this spring; I think it’s going to be awesome for those of you who enjoy having video tutorials as a resource to help you sew!!

…I posted two¬†Beatrix’s for the fall Stylemaker tour,

…and I went to Squam¬†for the first time.

That’s not all; there are still a number of projects we started but haven’t finished. I’m excited to share those with you, too.

Looking back on a full, productive year, I feel an immense gratitude to all of you for your encouragement and support. Thank you for showing up and sewing my patterns and sharing what you make with the rest of us. It inspires others, encourages me more than you can know, and it propels me forward. Without your energy and enthusiasm for making, my work would not exist, and I feel very lucky to be able to do something I love so much and grateful for the opportunity to help you sew things you love.

Thank you, friends! May your 2018 be even better than you hope for.

Posted in updates

While She Naps podcast

Hey friends! Just a little note to let you know that I’m sponsoring this week’s While She Naps podcast.¬†I listened to the episode¬†yesterday while I was running/walking (I’m getting back into shape using a Couch to 5K workout schedule, so I’m taking it sloooow), and I really enjoyed Abby’s interview with guest Jennifer Judd-McGee. Have you ever heard of her? She’s an amazing artist and I loved hearing her story. It’s a good one!!


I’ve also got a special discount set up for While She Naps listeners, so head over to While She naps,¬†listen to the podcast, and get the¬†discount code for my shop.¬†Many of you know that I rarely do sales or discounts, so take advantage of this one while it lasts!!

You can subscribe to Abby’s podcast on iTunes¬†or Stitcher.¬†I listen to all my podcasts with my¬†Podcast app (for iPhone). I also recommend subscribing to¬†Abby’s newsletter¬†if you are a creative entrepreneur; she¬†always has the scoop on the latest stories and tools for handmade business owners.


CRAFT-ish podcast guest

Hi hi!! Happy Friday! I just wanted to let you know that I’m a guest today on Vickie Howell’s CRAFT-ish podcast. Vickie has had a successful career as an author, teacher, and blogger (among other things) in the DIY and knitting world, and her podcast explores many aspects of the creative industry with guests who are¬†artists, entertainers, and authors, so I was honored when she asked me to be a guest. Our conversation focused on¬†my journey from physics teacher to blogger and pattern designer, with topics such as the role of feminism in my career choices, working with a team, and how the internet is still the “Wild West” when it comes to sewing patterns, free stuff, and etiquette. I had so much fun talking with Vickie that we kept talking after the show was finished recording — she just had so many interesting questions and issues that she kept bringing up! Like many of you (and me), Vickie has been working as a creative entrepreneur online for a long time, and it’s so interesting to¬†reflect on how things have changed over the years in the online craft space. I hope you’ll listen to the episode and let me know if you have any additional thoughts or questions. Thanks for having me, Vickie!


It’s also my birthday today, woot woot big thirty NIIIINE! Usually Mr Rae and I go out for dinner on my birthday and this year I want Elliot and Clementine to come along too. I’ve always enjoyed my kids, but now that they’re getting older, it’s fun that they’re getting old enough to hang out and talk, so I think it will be fun; we don’t normally take them to nice restaurants. Steak and Shake is their favorite place on earth, so an elevated gastronomic experience is usually¬†not worth it. Hugo is staying home with a babysitter (he’s kindof a nightmare at restaurants right now), but someday I’m sure he’ll be invited along too!

Have a great weekend!!


I love Mondays so much!!! Monday is a fresh start, with a brand new set of days stretched out before you that are going to be really awesome. I don’t get the “I hate Mondays” thing. Personally, I like Mondays even more than weekends. Isn’t that crazy? Yay for crazy! UPDATE: Now it’s Tuesday because I didn’t get this posted yesterday because I got distracted, big surprise there (I like Tuesdays slightly less than Tuesday, Monday has usually disappointed me a bit).

Jess in studio

Last week was really busy and fun because Jess (there she is, above!) came to Ann Arbor to work with me at the studio, so I worked more than usual. 2.5 days is about my usual. Jess and I did lots of sewing, worked on a new pattern, and took lots of photos. We had a sewing night on Wednesday at the studio that was jam packed and totally fun. Mr. Rae ended up being out of town again so I was also pretty exhausted from also keeping three children fed and clothed, so I didn’t really find any time to post on the blog (oops…still need to figure out that whole “editorial calendar” concept…or not…whatever), but I’m really excited to show you all of the things we worked on!

And then, the weekend…Jess flew home on Friday. We dropped Elliot off at camp for a WEEK¬†(ack!! we¬†miss him!). We drove to West Michigan to hang out with my in-laws. We went to the Downtown Market in Grand Rapids for lunch one day. We swam in the pool (except for Hugo, who still won’t get more than his feet wet). Mr Rae and I had a date night. We went out to the lake to see a sunset. We went to a birthday party for my niece. And then we drove home. I probably need to relax a little or something. Sometimes I feel like life is pretty crazy. But at least it’s not boring, right?

Here’s some other random stuff and linkadoos for you to enjoy today:

Thank you to everyone who has purchased my newest pattern, Gemma!! I’m thrilled so many of you love it! I’m excited to post some tutorials for Gemma techniques, tips for fitting Gemma, and some ideas for variations soon.

Posted in updates


lately : made by rae

Life has been crazy and busy lately. Mr Rae and I have both¬†been traveling a lot¬†since the year began,¬†and Hugo was¬†super-sick (again) this week with an ear infection, cough, and hives (that was so. not. fun), so¬†I’ll be really happy when (if?) things settle down a little bit. Our¬†anniversary was Sunday and we have yet to celebrate it, but that’s OK.¬†We’re both a little meh about our Valentine’s Day anniversary anyway, since we can never get a reservation or a babysitter¬†without thinking at least month in advance (not my style, big surprise there haha), but I’m sure we’ll figure out a great way to celebrate. We’re both currently dreaming of a European vacation (he was in Germany last week, and loved Munich, so I think a trip through Paris, Munich, and Venice would be spectacular, don’t you think?). Here are a few¬†other things on my Rae-dar:

last week…Jess came and worked at the studio (see pic, above, we look like twins, don’t we?) and it was a real treat¬†to have her here in Ann Arbor for a few days. She usually works for me remote from Missouri, which works out great, but it¬†was¬†really nice¬†to¬†be face to face instead of communicating over email and skype all the time. We worked on a new skirt pattern (see bottom left pic, above), among other things.

this weekend…I’m heading to Columbus, Ohio¬†to attend¬†Midwest Craft Con¬†tomorrow and Sunday. Super excited to meet some new crafty people and learn new things!

upcoming class at Dry Goods: I’ll be teaching a¬†Luna Pants class at Dry Goods Design in Seattle on April 1st, and there are still¬†spots available¬†if you want to join us! Super excited to¬†see their new space in Pioneer Square, and of course, spend some time with¬†my parents. Somewhat late-to-the-game but related: Did you read that¬†terrifying PNW-earthquake article last summer in the New Yorker? Ack.

finally finished…knitting a¬†Latte Coat for Hugo (top right), just in time for the sub-freezing temps to end, of course. Knitting is my side-hobby. Apparently¬†I’m not the only one feeling the knit-bug;¬†at our¬†Sew Ann Arbor sewing night last week (bottom right pic), nearly everyone was knitting or crocheting. It was great! (PS¬†join us sometime if you’re local!)

fabric lust: really really excited about the Yucca (voile!) and Lore fabric lines by Leah Duncan for Cloud9, due out next month. Envisioning Luna Pants and dresses and skirts galore.

want to make…Carolyn Pajamas by¬†Closet Case Files pattern, Roscoe Blouse by True Bias,¬†Sylvie Dress by Christine Haynes. These would all be so great for spring!

want to knock off…this Tea Collection dress for little girls (and this one) with a quilted bodice is SO¬†adorable. Could make something similar¬†with some solids (maybe these?)¬†and the Geranium pattern?

washi dress sewalong…is¬†currently in progress over on Instagram, hosted by @trulymyrtle¬†(find all posts under the #washidressSAL tag)¬†Who’s sewing along? It’s never too late to join in! (Pattern here, by the way)

new favorite recipe:¬†I made this Curry Squash Soup last week (yes, I surprise even myself¬†sometimes and cook a meal) and it was so yummy. Perfect thing for the cold days we’ve been having here in Michigan.

want to up your garment-sewing game?¬†My friend Deborah of Whipstitch is putting together an monthly sewing¬†club for people who want to learn new techniques called The League of Adventurous¬†Dressmakers that looks like a ton of fun. Registration is open until the end of the month and Deborah¬†asked me to help spread the word¬†before registration ends (soon!);¬†definitely¬†check it out if you’re interested!

more eye candy:¬†Amy Butler released Issue 3 of Blossom Magazine last month and it’s stunning. Now I want to go to Morocco.

That’s enough for now…wishing you all a wonderful, relaxing weekend!!

Posted in updates