Our summer, in numbers

I think this summer might be trying to swallow me up, whole. Trying to describe it feels too big, words fail me.

Here is our summer so far, in numbers. In no particular order.

(3) pools
(6) lakes
(1) sprinkler park
(2) camping weekends
(2) camping weekends with rain
(1) trip to Mackinaw island
(8) miles biked around Mackinaw
(1) house painted
(1) new car (traded in our 12-year old car!)
(7) nights for Elliot and Clementine at sleepaway camp
(3) nights in Traverse City with Mr Rae
(3) “Grandma Camps”
(10) years old (happy birthday, Clementine!)
(2) board game nights with family friends
(1) West coast road trip planned, yet to come
(?) cousins played with (too many to count)

a few more:

(3) fevers
(1) Lyme Disease scare
(1) case of Pertussis
(1) case of pneumonia
(7) prescriptions for antibiotics
(1) chipped tooth
(5) missed days of sleepaway camp, b/c sickness

Ah, this full life. It certainly feels like too much sometimes. Amidst all of it, though, I feel so, so grateful.

And also I’d kinda like a medal.

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Rose pants for Cassie

One of the best things about my job is getting to work with so many amazing women. Cassie worked for me as a studio assistant over the past couple of years while she was studying at the University of Michigan. My studio is on central campus, so it has been really convenient for students just to pop over for a few hours here and there between classes; you may remember Cassie’s sister Melissa, who worked for me before Cassie (in addition to working in the studio, she modeled for the Gemma and Luna shoots), and Tashina before that.

Cassie graduated in May with her degree in public health (congrats!!) and is headed off to DC this fall to start a fellowship (waaah!!). I was way behind schedule on this project, but we managed to squeeze in a Rose photo shoot before she leaves Ann Arbor. It was so fun to custom-fit and then photograph Cassie in her Rose pants. I love how they turned out, and so does she!

I made her Rose pants with inverted front pleats; this is one of the pleating options offered in the pattern instructions.

As far as adjustments: I added 1/2″ to both front and back rise, and 2″ to the length, based on comparing her inseam, outseam and rise measurements to the finished measurement chart in the pattern (note: there is an “adjusting fit” section included in the pattern which goes into detail on how to add length to both rise and length in the pattern instructions if you’re interested in how to do this). For reference, Cassie is 5’9.5″ – though I want to be careful to point out that height is really not the best indicator of whether you need to add length or rise.

I also graded sizes between Cassie’s waist and hip size since they fell into two different sizes on the sizing chart. I want to discuss this briefly because I know that many of you have a smaller waist size than hip size and may be interested in some tips for making this easy adjustment on your own Rose pants.

As with all pant patterns, you should choose your starting size using your hip or largest circumference (size charts for Rose can be found on the Rose page). Normally when blending two pant sizes, you would simply trace from the larger size line at the hip to the smaller size line at the waist. However, because of the way that the pattern pieces are designed for Rose, it can be a bit tricky to grade between waist and hip because that’s where the slash pockets are positioned on the front pattern piece.

Instead, I’d recommend grading between sizes on the back pant ONLY, and using the smaller size for both the waistbands (front and back). Then for the front pant, use the larger size, but pleat the front pants down to the size of the smaller waistband during Step 5 (this means making the pleats a bit bigger, which is quite easy to do; just remember to check the front widths carefully after pleating as the instructions remind you). I hope it goes without saying that tracing your pattern pieces is a key part of all of this — NEVER cut into your pattern printout unless you are absolutely sure!

If you don’t like the idea of larger pleats in front, one other option is to gradually shave off a small bit of width from the top corners of the front pant pieces from just above where the pocket meets the side seam to the waist. This will effectively grade between sizes without having to mess with the pocket.

No matter what you do, remember that since Rose is a pull-on pant (or short), you do have to be careful when grading down to a smaller waist size since you risk not being able to pull them on over your hip if the waist is too small.

Making pattern adjustments to custom-fit a pattern to your body is something that takes some patience. I started work on a pant-fitting guide for Rose this spring, and I’ll be honest, I got a little overwhelmed trying to put it together before the pattern launched, but I still hope to finish it once I have a bit more work time (summer, y’all!) and make that available soon.

In the meantime, hopefully this gives you an idea of some basic adjustments that are pretty straightforward to execute. It was really fun to experiment with this cute pink pair.

And seeing how excited Cassie was about her new pants was seriously the absolute best. Can’t wait to see what she does next (in her fabulous pants. of course)!!

PS. For fabric, I used the same favorite viscose-linen blend we’ve been posting repeatedly about — read more in this post!

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!

My favorite fabrics for Rose pants (and shorts)

fabric for rose pants

Choosing fabric is a fun part of sewing up a new pattern, but fabric can have such a huge impact on fit (see this post for evidence) that if you miss the mark on fabric selection it can really make or break a pattern for you. Two garments made with the exact same pattern pieces but different fabrics can fit so differently (remember Jess’ post?) that it can be hard to know where to start, especially if you’re worried about the pieces fitting correctly in the first place. I know this can be stressful, especially if you’re new to sewing garments, so I wanted to provide some suggestions just in case you didn’t know where to start.

Here are five fabrics we’ve successfully made Rose pants or shorts out of, along with a few notes to help you in your fabric selection process.

1// Silk Noil (100% silk)

rose pants in silk noil

This fabric was an instant fave from the moment I sewed my first Cleo skirt with it last year. Meg got me into this fabric from Stone Mountain and Daughter (a number of other shops sell it as well; see list at bottom of post). It has a slightly nubby texture, is not at all shiny (it seems similar to what we used to call “raw silk”), is super soft, has tons of drape, and best of all, it’s machine washable (and can go in the dryer on low); just be careful as some of the colors may bleed when washed.

2 // Brussels Washer (linen-rayon blend)

rose pants in brussels washer linen

Jacqui was the first of our testers to try this cotton/rayon blend from Robert Kauffman, and Jess’ shorts sealed the deal: this fabric is PERFECT for Rose, plus it’s a fairly affordable option and widely available. Win-win.

3 // Essex (cotton-linen blend)

essex linen rose pants

This fabric has less drape than most of the other options in this post, but it still has a lovely weight for pants or shorts like Rose, as well as a softness that seems to get better with every wash. My light pink cropped Rose pants are made with Essex. I love that Robert Kaufman (the company that manufactures Essex) also offers some prints on the Essex base-cloth (shown above), as well as yarn-dyed options.

4 // Slub viscose-linen (linen-rayon blend)

rose pants in viscose linen

We discussed the pros and cons of this fabric at great length in this post, but it’s still one of our very faves due to its awesome drape, softness, and slub texture. Note that it goes by a number of names; see that post for names/sources.

5 // Loose-weave cottons (ikat, Loominous)

rose pants in loominous

This is a slightly less defined category, but when it comes to summer pants and shorts, you can’t go wrong with a soft, loosely woven cotton. The handwoven ikat cottons from India that have grown super popular in the past couple of years are a great example, so are the Loominous cotton collections from Anna Maria Horner. Both of these have similar behaviors: mid-weight but breathable, 100% cotton, loosely woven (as opposed to poplin, quilting cotton, or lawn), and soft. Avoid cotton gauzes and double gauzes for pants, however; the weave is a bit too loose for pants, and won’t stand up over time like more durable cotton fabrics will.

Where to buy:
You can also find some or all of these fabrics at Fancy Tiger Crafts, Ewe Fibers, Dry Goods Design, Imagine Gnats, Stonemountain and Daughter, and Shop La Mercerie; Blackbird Fabrics and Needlework Hamilton are great Canadian apparel fabric sources.

Finding the right fabric for a project can make the difference between loving something you’ve made and having it end up in the back of your closet. What are your favorite fabrics to sew pants or shorts with?

The Rose sewing pattern can be purchased in my shop. Check out the Rose page for more posts about this pattern!

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’ve 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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