Let’s talk about size range!

Not all of my sewing patterns come in the same size range, which is definitely confusing to people and something I’d love to remedy. However, as it seems unlikely we’ll be able to accomplish that in the near future, I thought it would be helpful to post some information about our women’s pattern sizing. And look! Elli made a handy infographic to make it easy to see at a glance the evolution of our size range and which patterns come in which sizes.

Many of you are aware that my latest pattern, Rose, comes in a larger size range than any of our previous patterns. Rose has gotten a fair amount of attention for having a more inclusive range, and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Rose has been our most successful women’s pattern launch to date.

Here is the size chart (11 sizes) we began using this year (2019) beginning with Rose:

I’ve noticed that many people aren’t aware that the size range we began using in 2016 included plus sizes (up to roughly a US size 24). Gemma was the first pattern to be released in this range. We have begun working to update our older patterns as well, starting with Ruby, which we released in this new nine-size range in both print and PDF early last year.

Here is the size chart (9 sizes) we began using in 2016 (Gemma, Isla, Ruby,Cleo, and Jade come in this range):

And here is the original women’s size range (2012-2015) — patterns in this range include Washi, Beatrix, Josephine, Bianca, and Luna:

If someone stumbled across an older pattern in the original size range (like Washi or Beatrix), it makes sense that they would assume that ALL of our patterns have the same range. Until we manage to update all of the patterns, this will continue to be confusing. It’s also a bit of a vicious cycle — if people assume that all of our patterns come in a limited size range, we don’t get included in plus sized pattern roundups and it’s harder to get the word out that we have more sizes, which also means the updates don’t sell as well.

Happily, we’re currently working on grading both Luna and Washi into the newest range, and adding a bodice piece for fuller busts to Washi (similar to what Gemma, Beatrix, and Josephine already have). Because Washi is my oldest women’s pattern and has been in print since 2013, figuring out the logistical issues of re-releasing this pattern is definitely going to be a challenge. But I really want to be able to provide a wider range of sizes for those of you who would like to sew this beloved pattern (and Luna!), and I’m committed to this project. Stay tuned.

In the interest of transparency, one of the questions that I still can’t answer is whether the investment of increasing size range for older patterns (that is, grading, testing, updating and reprinting) pays off. We‚Äôve only managed to update one pattern (Ruby) so far, but I suspect that that a re-release will never be as exciting as a new pattern launch. Fewer people talk about it, or share online, and despite our best efforts to let people know, it is understandably less of a big deal. My guess is that the most sustainable path forward will be to continue to intersperse pattern size updates with new pattern releases. We’ll see how it goes with Washi and Luna.

I’d like to say thank you to the awesome sewists who shared their body measurements online using the #sewmysize hashtag earlier this year. Knowledge is critical, and knowing what sizes we weren’t reaching allowed us to depart from using the size data we were using before and add more sizes to our size chart. Voices matter, and the amplified conversations around size inclusivity have been important to this change for us.

Many people have expressed appreciation for the new sizes. It’s encouraging to hear that feedback, and I am also very aware that we still have a lot of work to do, and that there are still people who are outside of the current range who would love to sew for themselves. While I certainly wish I had done things differently from the start, the best I can do is try to do better moving forward.

Thank you to those of you who helped post about and spread the word about our new size range and previous size updates. And if you didn’t know about it before, know that we are working hard to make more of the patterns fit more of your beautiful bodies!

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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

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Pattern progress: Rose pants!

UPDATE: The Rose sewing pattern is now available!

BUY ROSE NOW

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!!

lately

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!

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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?

 

 

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#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.

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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.

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A Very Important Announcement

Greetings, sewwy people! Elli and Jess here. This blog has been officially commandeered by Rae‚Äôs team. It is our solemn duty to inform you that today Rae is celebrating a milestone birthday. We won‚Äôt say which one, but it might just rhyme with ‚Äúschmorty.‚ÄĚ

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:

RaeCrawling
[Seersucker overalls sewn by Mom]

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

BabyRae
[Pink sweater knitted by Grandma B]

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

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

Rae continued being cute for quite some time….

RaggedyAnn
[Raggedy Ann costume + matching doll sewn by Mom]

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

HeartTee
[Flashback tee inspiration sewn by Mom]

Fashion milestones included matching seersucker rompers:

HeartRompers
[Rompers sewn by Mom]

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

HappyGiraffe
[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:

BabyKrick
[Quilted vest sewn by mom]

None of us were immune to the stenciling craze:

familypic
[Dad’s suit not sewn by Mom]

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

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

Then it got bigger:

TurtleBread
[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:

8thGrade
[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.

HOPPIEST OF SCHMIRTHDAYS, RAE! WE LURRRRVE YOU.

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!

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