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!

Blush Crush

Luna Pants / Pink Rayon

Words can’t express how in love I am with these pants. I made them with my Luna Pants pattern and a flowy pink rayon twill and they are wicked comfy. Hashtag secret pajamas. I bought the rayon from Indiesew earlier this year but it is now sadly out of stock. Allie stocks such delightful fabrics that I can hardly resist buying at least some yardage every time she releases a new fabric collection. When I made these pants a few weeks ago it was still “summer” in Ann Arbor, so I took some photos with my Gemma tank and Ruby top (and the worst haircut I have probably ever had). Now it’s cooled off quite a bit so I’m wearing them with a camel colored wool cardigan instead (see my post Blush + Bronze for an ode to my current favorite color combination). And obviously NOT SANDALS. You get the idea.

Luna Pants / Pink Rayon

Luna Pants / Pink Rayon

Hmm what else is there to say about these…I just love how fabric choice can completely transform a pattern. In this case, the flowy rayon dresses them up so that I could easily see wearing these out with a silk top for dinner and/or a date. I was definitely inspired by a couple of the photos on my Luna Inspiration boards, though for some reason all of the flowy-rayon-type pants in that post are paired with heels. You will never see me wearing Lunas with heels. You will probably never see me wearing heels, period; that just seems like a disaster waiting to happen. Hooray for being uncoordinated and awkward and therefore fully flat-footed at all times!!!

Luna Pants / Pink Rayon

You can find the Luna pattern in my shop, and I highly recommend trying it with some rayon if you can find it!

Luna Pants / Pink Rayon

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Isla Sewing Pattern is HERE!

Isla Sewing Pattern from made by rae

You guys! My newest pattern, Isla, is here!! Isla is designed for knit fabrics and has a fitted bodice with a gathered skirt attached at the natural waist to make either a dress (like my Observer Dress) or a peplum top (like my Strawberry and Yellow Striped peplum tops). As you can see, I’ve been sewing this design for years, so I’m excited to add this pattern for knits to the pattern collection!


Skills for Isla
I know that sewing knits can make some of you nervous, so I want to assure you that the construction for Isla is not complicated. Sewing this garment requires basic knit-sewing skills, with some fun and clever techniques thrown in. Here’s a quick overview:

  • Basic knit seams: Shoulders and side seams can be sewn with a regular sewing machine set to stretch stitch or zigzag, or with a serger.
  • Neck and armbands: The scoop neckline and armholes are finished with folded bands that come together amazingly quickly. I’ve never shared this technique on the blog before, and I think you’ll love how easy it is and how great it looks.
  • Gathering knits: Elastic thread is used to gather and attach the skirt to the bodice with a technique called shirring. If you’ve never done this before, you can check out my helpful Shirring Tutorial for some photos and tips, OR you can use alternate techniques for gathering. Allie at Indiesew has shared two super tutorials for gathering knits: the floss method and the elastic method that you should definitely check out if your machine refuses to shirr!
  • Hemming: hemming is the final step, so check out some great tips in my hemming knits post!

And that’s it! I think you’ll find that sewing Isla is achievable even if you are relatively new to knit sewing! But if you’d like a nice easy project to practice your knit skills, why not try my free Knit Baby Leggings first? or check out my Knits Page for more knit sewing info!

Isla joins the Luna Pants and Gemma Tank in my “Presto Patterns” collection. The idea behind Presto patterns is that they are simple and easy to make, drafted and tested with the same level of care as the rest of my patterns, but include more abbreviated instructions (read more about Presto patterns in this post). This also means that you get the Isla pattern at the bargain Presto price!!

Isla Dress and Top

Isla is available as a PDF sewing pattern, which includes print-at-home pages as well as copy shop files (in both A0 and US formats), just like the rest of my women’s digital patterns!

More Info
I’ve put together an Isla Page where you can find all of the blog posts and resources pertaining to Isla. In the Isla shop listing, you’ll find additional photos, plus all the charts for sizes, finished measurements, and yardage.

Share with us!
I’d love to see what you make with the Isla Pattern! Please use the hashtags #islapattern#madebyrae, or #raemademedoit on Instagram and Twitter to share your photos, or post pictures of your finished tops and dresses to the Rae Made Me Do It pool in Flickr and see what others have made! I also have a Made by Rae group on Facebook now, so if you’d like to join and be a part of the sewing community there, please request to join!


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Gemma…as a DRESS!

Gemma Dress!

I’m pretty excited about this one! I love to hack patterns, and the simplest hacks are sometimes the best hacks. Since releasing the Gemma sewing pattern last month, I’ve wanted to try making it into a dress (the basic pattern is a tank). My pattern hacks don’t always work, so I was happy that this one worked out nicely!

Gemma Dress

Gemma Dress!

Gemma Dress!

I chose this light blue Anna Maria Horner voile that has been sitting in my stash for years and years. It’s a bit sheer on its own, so I wear a short slip underneath. I think it also looks great with a belt and this purse that I got for my birthday!

Gemma Dress!

There is more than one way to extend a bodice pattern so that it is longer. In this case, I wanted to keep the “S” shape at the hem, but exaggerate it more so that it had a better proportion relative to the dress and didn’t just look like an accidental uneven hem. I started by tracing the basic Gemma pattern, front and back. Then I extended the side seams from the hip by 11,” extended the Center Front by 13,” and connected them with an “S.” Since I also wear a larger size on my lower half than my top half, I ended up having to bump the hip out by 2″ to accommodate my large-ish derrière (my bodice size is medium). You can see all of this in the photo below, which is the front pattern piece, but of course I also did the same to the back.

how to turn the Gemma Tank into a dress

I wore it out for sushi with Mr Rae and Elliot and Clementine for my birthday dinner a couple of weeks ago when the weather was still seriously hot. For fall, I’ll just add leggings and/or skinny jeans and a sweater.

Gemma Dress!

What do you think? Do you like Gemma as a dress? I’d love to know if you give it a try!

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