Made By Rae Patterns, Sewing

Heritage Rayon Challis Beatrix Dress

When I first saw this beautiful April Rhodes fabric last summer, I knew that I wanted to make something with it. Red is not normally a color I gravitate to. Most of my handmade garments are blue or yellow but I loved the fabric so I bought a couple of yards. I thought it would be perfect for a holiday garment (tree close-up with ornament made 25 years ago when my daughter was in preschool, sob.)

Then life got busy, as it usually does. I teach nursing students for 12 weeks in the fall in addition to my regular Monday-Friday job and there isn’t time for much sewing. That gave me a lot of time to think about what to make. This summer I made this dress.

I liked the general shape of the dress but the shoulders and neckline didn’t fit me well: too loose in the neck and too tight in the shoulders. I decided to try using the Beatrix Blouse pattern by Made by Rae as the starting point to make a loose dress that was similar.  I had made the Beatrix several times and knew that the shoulders and bodice fit perfectly. I thought if I cropped it and added a gently gathered skirt that I would end up with a dress I would really enjoy dressing wearing.

I first made the  Beatrix when the pattern was released. It was one of the first patterns I sewed after the Washi Dress and I learned a lot in the process because Rae did a series of blog posts that walk you through making the pattern from start to finish. I learned so much going through that process. She literally explained how to tape the pattern, how to take your own measurements and how to make adjustments for your body type. I learned so many great sewing techniques. When I first made the blouse, the medium fit pretty well with a couple of inches added to the length (I am 5’9″ with a very long torso) but there was a bit of gaping at the neckline. Rae told me how to do a hollow chest adjustment and once I did that, the fit was perfect. It is a really subtle adjustment but it makes all the difference. I just fold a tiny bit of the pattern at the center front and then shift it back once I cut the neckline.

When I cut the bodice out for this project, I put one of my Beatrix blouses on and then figured out where I wanted the bodice to end and the skirt to start which was just under the rib cage. I marked the spot with a pin and then drew a line on the pattern pieces to match that bodice length after adding 1/2 cm for a seam allowance. I folded the pattern piece on that line and cut out the shortened front and back bodice in both the rayon and in the cotton batiste that I planned to use for the bodice lining. I cut out the pieces before Thanksgiving and then they sat on my ironing board until January. But that’s ok. Sometimes you have time and energy to sew and sometimes you don’t. I did a lot more reading than sewing this fall. Reading on Christmas Day below. Such a good book. The ear muffs were my given to one of my daughters. I was just borrowing them. They are actually really warm and cozy though a bit flashier than my usual style.

After the holidays I went back to work and did a long drive the weekend after New Year’s Day,  taking my daughter back to school. Finally, the second weekend in January, I had time and energy and finished the dress. img_8464Pictures of sewing the bodice below.

I realized that I cut the back lining piece too wide so I just sewed a center seam to take out the excess. I like to top stitch around the neckline so that everything lies flat.

I sewed the shoulder seams together for both the bodice and lining, sewed the pieces together at the neckline, gathered the sleeves and attached them and then used Rae’s burrito or sausage method to line the bodice. Then I sewed the side seams of the sleeves and the bodice side seams.

I used the skirt from the Isla pattern as a template to cut out the front and back skirt pieces.

I added 2 inches to the width of the back skirt piece because I am bigger in the back than the front and I thought the dress would flow more nicely with a bit more gathered fabric in the back. I did this when I made my  Isla Maxi Dress I was really happy with it. I marked the back skirt piece with two pins and front piece with one pin because they were so close in size that I was afraid that I would mix them up. Then I gathered the front and backs, sewed the two skirt pieces together using french seams, lined up the center front of the bodice with the center of the front skirt and did the same on the back and sewed the bodice to the skirt. I turned the bottom edge of the lining under and hand sewed the lining to the seam that joins the bodice to the skirt in the same manner that Rae shows in her Washi tutorials.

I usually make a hem facing but I thought it might make the hem more stiff since the rayon was so lightweight so I just turned up the hem twice and sewed a line of stitches using a matching thread. It came out fine. I have yet to hand hem a garment. I am sure there will be a time when I feel I should but I have gotten this far machine hemming with good success. And that was it. It was a pretty quick sew. I like that the dress has shape from the darts but is also loose and flowey. I think it can be dressed up and down. I have already worn it to church and I have plans to make it again. I have this rayon which I think would be perfect! This isn’t the first time I lengthened the Beatrix. I have also made two tunic length Beatrix’s that I love. One seen below last summer on the beach. You can read details about those here and here. I highly recommend the Beatrix pattern and Rae’s Beatrix sewalong posts and her videos demonstrating the bodice-lining technique.

More pictures of my new red dress below. You can tell it was windy.

I had the perfect sweater in my closet. Never get rid of a cardigan, that’s my motto. I want to sew the Blackwood Cardigan by Helen’s Closet this year. I think it will be perfect in a sweater knit over this dress worn with jeans.

Perfect with denim.

I love the fit through the bodice.

I highly recommend this pattern!

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Sewing with Knits for Little Ones

img_7799I went back to school in my 40’s to become a nurse practitioner. It was a long journey that included many detours, the most significant of which was taking a job as an inpatient oncology nurse. I started working as an RN  when I needed to support my family while still in school in my Masters’ program and have worked at the same hospital first part-time, then full-time, then part time for over ten and a half years.

There is much I could say and write about and may some day but one of the best things about working as a nurse in the inpatient setting was the opportunity to work so closely with and become friends with so many amazing women (and men, but mostly women) who do this incredibly hard work with so much love. I have had a lot of jobs but none with this level of camaraderie. The work is so intense and you rely on each other to such a great extent that you become family.

Emily and I started our nursing careers together. When I found out that she was having her first child, I got busy sewing.

I have made baby quilts as gifts but this little one already had several so I decided to try sewing a knit outfit. I was inspired by this one by Erin.  The pattern, by Rachel of Stitched Together is a free download. It is a straightforward pattern with clear instructions. I made a hat to go with it from the Green Bee Patterns Modern Baby Set. I want to sew the rest of the Green Bee layette garments when I have more time. They are so cute! But I thought the sleep sack would be great for easy diaper changes in those first few months when it feels as though that is all you are doing. I also hoped it would fit this little guy for a while. The fabric is from the Blake collection by Carolyn Friedlander. It is nice and soft and easy to work with. This was such a fun little sew. I am not yet a grandmother but plan to be ready when the time comes. This was entirely sewn on my regular sewing machine. One of my sewing resolutions is to spend some time getting acquainted and actually using my serger. I took a great class last year at The Cloth Pocket which I highly recommend but haven’t had the time to practice what I learned. This will be the year.

Some pictures of the project in process. img_7794

img_7793I love the knot at the top of the Green Bee hat.

And now for the baby pictures. I mean seriously can you stand how cute this little guy is?img_8451 Hat close-up.img_8449Working on baby planks here.img_8450 I am not yet a grandmother, but I plan to be ready when the day comes. img_8453Happy baby! img_8448 One yard of fabric. One afternoon. Go make some baby clothes friends. Instant happiness!

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Nursebeansews 2017: Year-End Round Up

It is harder than usual for me to write my year end round up post because I have barely sewn since August and I miss it! But inspired by Helen to join Gillian’s #SewingTop5 post challenge, I am looking back over 2017 and seeing a lot of garments I sewed and wore and love. Five of my #BestNine Instagram posts this year were garments I sewed in 2017: A pair of Luna Pants made with a lightweight woven Ikat fabric and a Gemma Tank in white double gauze which are perfect together: Close-up of top below: The other three top five posts were dresses made with the Isla Pattern which is one of my most-sewn and is definitely my most-worn pattern this year. I made 9 versions this year! It was so exciting to have mastered sewing with knits.

Here are two favorites, the first with fabric by Maureen Cracknell: and this version in fabric by April Rhodes:and here is the Maxi version which is lovely to wear in the summer with sandals and in the fall with boots. If I had to choose, this would be my favorite make of 2017.I also made new versions of favorite TNT (tried and true) patterns. I made a new version of the Bianca Tunic in beautiful Loominous fabric: a new version of the Ruby blouse in a teal double gauze which became one of my most-worn garments, a new version of the Washi dress with a bow, using the Washi XP expansion pattern,  and some tunic length Gemma tanks which were perfect for summer. I sewed the Rumi tank, seen here with another Cleo skirt and then maxified it, which turned out to be a great success. The maxi dress was a surprise hit that I wore many times over the summer. It was the perfect traveling dress. I was a pattern tester for the first time and participated in a blog tour and Instagram showcase for the Made by Rae Cleo skirt and sewed many, many skirts. It was really fun to experiment with different colors and fabrics. Here is a favorite. All told, I sewed 40 garments, most of them, like this MBRx2 garment (pattern and fabric by Rae) I will continue to wear and enjoy.

It is really amazing to me that less than three years into my garment sewing journey, I have basically replaced most of my wardrobe with hand-sewn garments. I participated in Me Made May again this year and was able to post every day without repeating any outfits which is really amazing to me.

My biggest sewing accomplishment for 2017, however,  wasn’t a garment. Link here to read about the sewing project that took 20 years.

I am looking forward to sewing some new- to-me patterns in 2018 and plan to start off the year with the Blackwood Cardigan  and the Lander Pants which I think will be perfect together. I have seen so many great versions of both on Instagram where, by the way, you can now follow hashtags. The perfect way to get inspired. I also plan to finally sew the Hudson Pants and the Ogden Cami. I have a feeling that I won’t be able to sew just one.

Link here to my 2016 and 2015 year end posts and head over to Gillian’s blog to see all the other great SewingTop5 posts!

Wishing a wonderful new year and happy sewing to all in 2018!

 

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Nursebean Reads 2017

This year I read a lot of books (76 to date) and many were really great but nothing touched this one which I read at the beginning of the year. I read it in a day and was so impressed by the writing and moved by the narrative. I understand it is also great on audio. I plan to re-read it soon. Just stunning.

 

I have tried to group the rest in order of awesomeness. These next six were beautifully written books that touched me emotionally, made me think and in some cases, made me laugh out loud. These were the books that really rose to the top for me. Goodbye Vitamin was probably my favorite but I loved them all.

 

This next group of nine were also really enjoyabe novels that ranged in themes and writing styles but all were stories I lost myself in and became very engaged by. Highly recommended.

More terrific reads below.  I enjoyed them all. My taste ranges from more literary fiction to smart chick-lit and all of these were good reads for me.

Memoir is one of my favorite genres and I read a wide variety this year, all of which I enjoyed. I re-read Travels with Charlie which I think is going to be a book I will return to again and again. 

I listened to All the Pretty Horses on audio and plan to re-read it this year. The writing is beautiful.

I read this book by Michael Lewis which I found fascinating.

And this excellent book of essays.

 

And I read some classics. These two stood out for me. I really enjoyed my first Henry James novel and I listened to Emma narrated by Juliet Stevenson. She is an excellent narrator and is helping me make my way through the classics. I am partway through Middlemarch which is also terrific but LONG. Finishing it will be a goal for 2018.

 

 

Right now I am 100 pages into this classic which I had never read but was inspired to read by one of our children who is reading it for school.

So far it is really enjoyable. Especially in this beautiful edition which I bought years ago at a bookstore in Maine.

 

 

There were several highly hyped books that I didn’t love. I think reading is so personal. I listened to fewer audio books this year than last as work was busier, although I highly recommend the Joshilyn Jackson books on audio. She is an actress as well as a writer and they were terrific.  I listened to more podcasts than books this year. I am loving From the Front Porch which is produced by The Bookshelf in Thomasville, Georgia. Episode (#143) about the short story has inspired me to set a goal of reading one collection of short stories a month in 2018. It goes along with a goal I have to be a bit less rushed in my life.  We will see how I do with that one!

Here are the short story collections I plan to read.

I love that this came with the books I ordered for my 2018 reading challenge.

 

I find when I read short stories, there are more sentences that I want to underline so decided to buy the books in paperback (I usually read library books or buy them inexpensively when they are on sale for my kindle) but there is something so nice about talking to real people and getting a box of new books in the mail. I also bought myself a Shelf Subscription and am looking forward to a monthly surprise in the mail.

What did you read and love this year?

 

 

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Summer Reads and Sews 2017

If there is anything better than a week at a cabin in Maine with a stack of books, I don’t know what it is. img_7448This September, I was lucky to be able to do just that. img_7392I did a bit of hiking and a bit of swimming and a lot of reading. img_7362After a crazy summer with a lot of weekends working, it was just what I needed. img_7420So beautiful! img_7407My happy place. img_7387Now I am in the thick of my crazy fall schedule during which I continue my 5 day a week full time Nurse Practitioner job, teach nursing students all day Saturday (6:30 AM to 6 PM) for the 12 week fall term and work a couple a of 12 hour shifts a month (on Sundays) at my second job as an inpatient oncology nurse. Phew. I am tired just writing this. So no sewing is happening now. But I find that reading for fun is the one thing I have energy for during this busy season and quiet reading is the perfect antidote to stressful days. I have not read as many books as last year (this time last year I had read almost 100 books) but I have read some really good ones in the last few months so am sharing those and a late summer sewing project that I really enjoyed.

Here are the books.

The Interpreter of Maladies. I was late to the party reading this. I got it as an inexpensive kindle deal (I subscribe the MMD daily email and have gotten tons of great books very inexpensively, highly recommend.) The characters were well-drawn and the stories engaging. The writing is beautiful. Loved it.

The Bright Hour is amazing. Beautiful, beautifully written, funny, heartbreaking. One of my favorite reads this year not to be missed.

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I am a huge fan of Catherine Newman’s books, blog and recipes. This is a middle school reader kids’ book that this middle aged mom loved. I read it on a plane ride home from Denver and it was perfect. Highly recommend for all ages and especially for fans of Ikea and this book (which was one of my favorite childhood books given to me by one of my favorite Aunts; lucky me I have 6: Aunts not books).

I really enjoyed the next book which takes place in New York City during the 2008 financial crisis and shows the impact of that event on an Upper East side family and the  immigrant family  that depend on them for their livelihood. I lived in New York for many years and so really enjoyed the setting and came to care for the characters. Well written, compelling. Highly recommend.

The Enchanted April is an older book that I had heard about and I am pretty sure that there is at least one movie based on the book. I also got this from the MMD kindle deal email quite a while ago but hadn’t gotten around to reading it. It was delightful. The setting (Italy) was lovely, I enjoyed the characters and the writing. A perfect escapist, gentle book. Highly recommend.

I read The Age of Miracles because of a WSIRN recommendation. I happened upon it at the library and really enjoyed it. It is set in the future and describes an environmental crisis and repercussions that play out over time as told through a teenage girl and boy’s experiences. It was compelling. The story and the writing drew me in. Highly recommend.

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Dreamland Burning was also a MMD recommendation. Though technically a young adult book, I really enjoyed the story, characters and setting. Both of these books were quick reads that drew me into the narrative which is often just what I need.

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I love Jan Karon’s Milford series. I read all of them years ago and recently dipped back in to some of the newer titles when I saw this one last year at the library. Like meeting up with an old friend. I love escaping into her stories.

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This has been on my to read list for several years. I have been a big fan of Roz Chast’s cartoons for years and this didn’t disappoint. Just read it.

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I loved Hourglass. The writing was so beautifully crafted. The way she wove the story. Loved it. I now want to go back and read her other work. Highly recommend.

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This was our book club’s book for October and it was fantastic. It is a satire, it deals in such an interesting way with issues of race and culture and it had me looking up tons of cultural references so that I could really understand it. It will make you laugh and cringe and think really hard about some tough issues. Such a creative piece of writing. Highly recommend.

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I listened to this classic on audio and will definitely go back and re-read it for all of the beautiful writing. I have plans to read the rest of his books in the new year when my schedule eases up.

I am a big Louise Penny fan so I downloaded her latest book the day it came out. Enough said. If you don’t know this series, check them out. They are terrific.

I learned about this one from Tsh whose podcast The Simple Show is one of the four I never miss (the other three are this one, this one and this one.) I really enjoyed reading this book by a British author who moves to Denmark for a year when her husband gets a job at Lego. So much fun to read and really interesting to learn more about what living in a Scandinavian country is like. ( I have never been to Scandinavia but it is on my list of places I would love to go.) A lot of fun and the perfect cozy winter read.

Again an inexpensive kindle purchase, I got this title from the MMD Summer Reading Guide. I know that there are mixed reviews but I enjoyed it more than I expected to. It is not great literature but it is a good escapist book with a bit of a mystery and a twist. It kept me reading.

And this is what I am reading now in these crazy stressful days. It is perfect. Small doses of quiet, intelligent, thoughtful observations. I know I will come back to them again and again.

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I did sew one thing in August which ended being the perfect thing for my travels: a maxified version of the Christine Haynes Rumi tank that I cut out pretty much free form by extending the line of the tank top pattern piece down the full length of the two yard piece of teal knit fabric that I learned about from Erin. Here is my tank version in the same terrific knit in black. I cut a straight 10 but then shortened the straps so that it wouldn’t be too low cut.img_6468

Back view: img_6471You can see the tank as worn in my Cleo post. I will be making it again and have navy fabric already purchased and ready to go for next summer. It is also the perfect handmade yoga top.

After cutting and sewing I ended up trimming the width of the maxi version a bit here and there because it was wider than it needed to be. It was not a very scientific process, I just sewed a second seam inside the first side seam that I sewed and then cut off the excess. img_7287I didn’t hem it and I like it better un-hemmed. I was happy enough with the dress but wasn’t in love with it until I went shopping in my closet and found this orangey cardigan which goes perfectly with the teal. img_7280Amiright? Now I love it.img_7279I wore this combination all through the month of September and I can’t wait to make more versions but they will have to wait for spring. I do have plans to sew one project later this month though. A dear friend had a much waited for baby boy so I have a couple of knits washed and ready to go to sew this (I am linking again to Erin whose projects always inspire me.) I can’t wait to have  a free day to sew them up. Meanwhile I am enjoying wearing the many garments I have sewn over the past almost three years and planning spring sewing projects and more Maine getaways.img_7435

What are you sewing and reading lately?

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Reading and Books

Nursebean reads: August 2017

I have not been reading as many books as last year. Work has been really busy and I have been doing a lot of sewing and I have had a harder time finding things that really grab me. But this month, I have read four books so far that have been really good reads. They are all really different. No real theme here. The first is The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James.  I decided last year that I want to read more classics and have slowly been making progress toward that goal.

This is actually the first Henry James book I have read but it won’t be the last. I really enjoyed the writing, the character development, the settings (Rome, the English countryside). I did end up feeling as though I wished I were in college and had the opportunity to discuss it with a  couple of smart students or hear what  a professor might say about the book and the author. I ended up googling it and saw a piece that referenced this book which is now on my summer reading list. To be continued.

I listened to the audio of Born a Crime which was recommended by Anne Bogel and also by my daughter and son-in-law. I mostly liked it very much. I learned quite a lot about South Africa and it was entertaining and shocking in parts and funny in parts. I am not a TV watcher so didn’t know Trevor Noah but I am glad I listened to it. I got this Joshilyn Jackson book on audio from a daily kindle deal ( I get tons of great books from the Modern Mrs. Darcy daily emails.) I really enjoyed it and it was great on audio. Smart, Southern chick-lit which I would not normally think was my genre but I was drawn into the story and will definitely be getting more of her books on audio. She reads them herself. She is an actress and does a great job as a narrator. I was pleasantly surprised.

I got this next book recommendation from Catherine Newman. I love her writing, her recipes, her books and her book recommendations. This was a smart, funny read. I highly highly recommend it. What are you reading lately?

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Bias Binding, Sewing

Tucks and Dots: my take on the Stylish Dress Book Dress E

img_6982These dotty little ladies are one of my favorite fabric designs from Cotton and Steel although there are so many wonderful designs that it is hard to choose. I bought several yards of this fabric knowing that I would definitely make a Gemma Tank top from this fabric at some point but the Dress E from the Stylish Dress Book has been on my radar for a long time and this fabric seemed to me to be perfectly suited to the style so yesterday I took the plunge.

Making this dress requires a commitment. First you have to buy the book, then you have to buy Swedish Tracing Paper in order to trace your pattern which is actually not for the faint of heart because multiple pattern pieces overly each other. It is doable but not necessarily easy. The pattern pieces do not include seam allowances, my bust size put me between size 10 and size 12 and most of the posts I had read about this dress said that it ran big. I didn’t know what to do. Of course I could have made a muslin which would be the smart thing to do but I decided to just plunge ahead. As it turns out, hem allowances are also not included in the pattern pieces, you have to add them. Needless to say, I didn’t realize this until after I had cut out my fabric. So although I thought I had been so smart to add 2 inches for my 5’9.5″ height, I actually hadn’t really because there was no hem included on the pattern to begin with. Yikes!

I also struggled a bit with the tucks especially since the front bodice seemed so wide despite taking about an inch out of it when I cut it out. I ended up just starting at one end of the bodice and sewing 1 inch tucks every 2 inches across the bodice which gave me 9 seams instead of the 5 that the pattern calls for. They are not completely centered but you really have to look closely to see. Amazingly, it worked out pretty well. I might even like it better than the original. I didn’t end up using the neck facing because with all my changes, I thought it probably wouldn’t work so I used my favorite bias binding (oxymoron alert) technique. I also used a hem facing, which had been my plan but in light of the extra short hem-less pattern piece, was now a necessity and used facings for the sleeves because I didn’t want them to be too short. I used one of the Cotton and Steel basics fabrics that I used for the bias binding of my Octopi Gemma Tanks. I also added an inch to the length of the back bodice and took about 3 inches out of the width of the back skirt. I could definitely cut out more width front and back. It is full! I think if I made this again, I might sew my tucks down one more inch to match the length of the back bodice since I have such a long torso and to control some of the volume. I actually would probably cut out some of the volume altogether. I cut a 12 with seam allowances for the sleeves and arm scythes and the shoulders were still tight even though the neck gapes a bit. It is my opinion that different pattern makers have different body types that they primarily design for and I am so spoiled making Made by Rae designs that almost always fit with perhaps a minor tiny tweak. So I think that I will try using the Josephine Pattern that I have had forever and never made and reverse the tucks and see if I can make something similar that fits better through the upper chest and shoulders for my swimmer’s shoulders and 5’9″ frame. Pictures of my work in process and finished dress below. Tucks and bias binding of neckline:img_6985Hem facing:img_6989Sleeve Facing:img_7002 and close up of finished sleeves: img_7001Finished Dress on Place of Honor (front door)-note the fullness:img_7003 Back of Dress (full, very full):img_7008 and as worn. Front: img_7083Side:img_7065and back: img_7043I think this ended up being one stylish dress! img_7089

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