Bias Binding, Gemma Tank, Made By Rae Patterns, Sewing

2017 Me Made May Makes Part 1: Four Cleo Skirts and Two Gemma Tanks

This past May, I set myself a challenge to make several skirts using the Made By Rae Cleo skirt pattern. I had already made three versions so I knew that the fit was perfect and the construction relatively simple and I wanted to experiment with different fabrics. I fell in love with two beautiful cotton lawn fabrics from the Aria collection by Kelly Ventura. This fabric is called Brushed Peony and it is still available. I also decided to make a couple of new Gemma Tanks in solid colors to go with the skirts. I chose a Cambridge yellow lawn to go with these two skirts.img_2182I cut Mediums in both the skirt and tank and added a bit to the length for the tank as I am tall. I don’t actually lengthen the pattern, I just eyeball it and add about an inch to an inch and a half. I cut view B of the Cleo shortened to just below the midpoint of the knee which I find is the best length for me.img_0052-1In preparation for the bias binding, I cut bias strips of the leftover lawn and also some wider strips on the grain to use as a hem facing for the two skirts.img_0206-1Both fabrics were great to work with. Not too slippery but very light and flowy. To save time since I was planning on making several skirts, I eliminated the pocket. I actually love the pockets on the Cleo skirt but since I almost always wear a lab coat at my job as a nurse practitioner, I never use skirt pockets since I have large built in pockets already. I wouldn’t recommend this for most sewists because the pockets are a great design feature.img_2183Since I was making more than one, I basically sewed each step and then repeated the step on the next skirt, etc. They came together pretty quickly. Finished skirt #1 below in Brushed Peony.img_2644-1And as worn on the last day of Me Made May. I had been waiting to finish the yellow tank top to wear with it but alas, it is still awaiting the bias binding which is generally the fate of most of the Gemma tanks I have sewn. My sewing room becomes a Gemma Tank way station until I have the time to sew that last step. I had finished my new white double gauze Gemma, however, and it goes with everything, as seen below.img_4925The second skirt is another print from that same line. I might love it even more. I did the same thing, no pockets and yellow hem facing using the same strips.  img_2671-1And as worn on day 2 of Me Made May with a cotton-linen blend Gemma Tank that I made last year. It also goes with everything. img_0252-1Some pictures of the hem binding process below. This is my go-to approach to binding. It is quick and I love the look of the contrasting hem facing. I also find that having the seam that joins the hem and the hem facing as my guide enables me to have a nice even hem. Every aspect of the hem is machine-sewn so very quick.img_0209

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img_0214I hadn’t planned to make the Cleo below but I happened on this fabric at Joanne on sale and really liked it. I wasn’t sure at first what to make with it and considered making a new Bianca Dress but in the end, I decided I loved the striped fabric for a skirt. img_2640-1I used a lightweight white cotton batiste for this hem facing and matched the stripes on the side seams. I cut the waistband across the grain for more visual interest as I did when  I made this Loominous Cleo. I ended up with extra fabric since I had bought 4 yards and cut a Gemma Tank as well thinking that it would be great with jeans. It wasn’t until after I was sewing and had both projects laying out on my ironing board that it occurred to me that I could also try wearing them together to create a dress out of separates. I also found that when I had the yellow bias strips next to the skirt that the grey and yellow looked great together. I am dying to see how all of these skirts and tops mix and match. I just need to finish the bias binding on the Gemmas (story of my life!) Some process pictures below. I used french seams for the Tank because I expect this fabric to fray. I plan to use the white batiste for the bias binding as well using this method. While I was making the grey striped Gemma, I also cut out and actually finished a Gemma from white double gauze which I love and have worn several times. I used the batiste for the bias binding and to face the hem. It might be my favorite garment that I made this month. It is certainly the most versatile. You can see the striped skirt and the white double gauze Gemma in action below. They work well together. I like the crinkly look of the double gauze with the linen-y look of the striped fabric.

The fourth Cleo skirt that I made this month is this green and cream skirt which was inspired by a Ruby Dress posted on Instagram. I really loved the old fashioned feel of the fabric. I wore it this month with my blue Gemma but I know the white double gauze Gemma will be great with it and I am looking forward to trying other combinations. I have a black lawn Gemma that is all sewn and ready to go and just needs the bias binding. (a theme). So finishing the tanks will be my focus this month.img_2654I did actually finish a Gemma Tank that had been mostly finished since last summer (just needed the bias binding). Ironically, when the yellow bias strips were on my ironing board, they were also right next to this Allison Glass Gemmaimg_0086-1 and I realized that the yellow would make a great contrasting binding for this tank so I finished it img_0087-1and wore it on a quick visit to New London with my husband.

I am actually glad I didn’t finish it last summer because I might not have thought to use the yellow and I am really happy with it!img_3077-1 I love this tank with my khaki Pocket Skirt and with denim and white jeans. I know it will get a lot of wear. I made several other garments in May and will be posting details over the next several weeks. And now I have so many new ideas after seeing the beautiful hand sewn garments that were posted by fellow sewists all last month. So much fun. Thanks for reading!

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Gemma Tank, Made By Rae Patterns, Pearl Shift, Ruby Dress Pattern, Sewing, Washi Dress Pattern

Me Made May 2017

This is my third year of participating in Me Made May, in which home sewers/sewists from all over the world pledge to wear me-made garments all month long and most post them on social media. This year I decided to try to not only wear a garment that I had sewn each day but to try to wear something different each day-no repeats. I mostly succeeded. I did have one day when I didn’t post-although I had worn a handmade tunic that day, my mother in law was in the hospital, and a picture on social media was the furthest thing from my mind. I ended up with more than 31 posts because there were several days when  I wore a second outfit in the evening. I did have a couple of repeats and those were instructive. I wore my blue linen-cotton Gemma Tank, my newly made white double gauze Gemma Tank and my khaki Cali Faye Pocket Skirt more than once. They are the solid colored basics that I need to sew to fill in the gaps among all the patterns. Those will be things that I will sew this summer.

I wore what I normally wear but I did think more about planning something new for each day whereas I normally repeat easy to wear garments over and over again (such as my Isla dresses which I wore all winter.) It was actually fun to wear something new each day and to realize how many things I have sewn that I love to wear. This is really amazing considering that I only started sewing my own clothes a little over two years ago. I actually could probably go another 2 weeks without repeats. I have many beautiful summer dresses that I didn’t wear because May was really cold where I live in Connecticut. I will look forward to wearing them this summer when I warm up.

A blogger friend commented on my instagram that it looked as though I was doing an all Made By Rae Me Made May and it is true that hers are the patterns I use the most. I did though wear three Green Bee Pearl shifts that I have made and loved and my Pocket Skirt. I do think about sewing pattern from other pattern designers and even tried sewing a pattern for a knit shirt that I was really excited to wear-the Piper top by Christine Haynes-but then after sewing it (I didn’t make a muslin) the fit was way off. So I end up going back to the tried and true. It is amazing how a pattern can be made so many different ways that it doesn’t seem like the same dress. Just look at all the Washi’s in the pictures below. For more thoughts on sewing a handmade wardrobe using a couple of tried and true patterns, you can link to a post on that topic here.

I sewed several new garments this month: a Ruby dress, four Cleo skirts, several Gemma Tanks and a pair of Luna pants. I will blog about them later this month. My biggest project this month was finishing a hand quilted queen size quilt which is a gift. It took hours over many years and particularly this month but as of this writing, it is done except for a label which seems like a miracle. I decided not to spend time doing any blogging or reading of books this month in order to get it done and it is huge relief to have finished it and I look forward to sharing details after I give it to the recipients.

Here are my daily pictures basically grouped by week. I have included links to posts with details where possible. For people new to sewing, I would highly recommend the Made By Rae Beatrix Sewalong which is a series of blog posts that Rae Hoekstra created when she launched the Beatrix Blouse. I learned so much by sewing each step and following the instructions in her blog. My very first posts on this blog are from that sewalong and you can see my progress from there. The things I learned from that experience have stayed with me. I also highly recommend her tutorials and videos which I link to in my individual posts for each garment.

I am not sure if going forward I will post daily during Me Made May to the extent that I did this year. It did require a big commitment from my family members who got up early to take pictures. The first two days, I tried using a selfie stick and it really didn’t work. I just couldn’t smile and get a good picture without someone on the other side of the camera. I am really grateful to my daughter and my sweet husband who really got in the spirit and made 7 am photo sessions fun. He has been my champion, so supportive along this sewing journey. Couldn’t have done it without him!

Here are the outfits. I recommend all of the patterns you see here. They are terrific and any one would be a good place to start sewing.

Week 1 clockwise from the lower left hand corner: Washi XP , (that picture on day 1 was really dark. To get a better sense of this dress, just click on the Washi XP link to see better pictures in the blog post), a Gemma Tank and Cleo Skirt (to be blogged,) Ruby Dress, Isla Dress, Pearl Shift, double gauze Ruby Blouse, Beatrix-Pearl Tunic and in the center: a new Gemma-Pearl Tunic which I just love. I have two more cut out and ready to sew. I will post a how-to later this month.

Week 2: Isla Dress, linen Pearl Shift, Cali Faye Pocket Skirt with a new Gemma Tank (Alison Glass fabric, to be blogged), Plaid Gemma Tank refashioned from a Goodwill men’s shirt, Gemma Tank, Washi Dress, Cleo Skirt and white double gauze Gemma Tank (to be blogged-I will add links to these posts once written). In the center, one of my favorite pictures from the month: a Beatrix Tunic (picture on the beach in New London where I spent a couple of really nice days with my husband mid-month).

Week 3: Cleo Skirt (to be blogged), Washi Dress, Isla Dress, Washi Dress, Pearl Shift, Ruby Dress along with some bonus sewing room shots. 

Week 4: Gemma Tank, double gauze Washi Dress, Beatrix Tunic, Bianca Dress, Isla Dress, another Bianca Dress, a Gemma Tank and in the center, my new Luna Pants and double gauze Gemma Tank (to be blogged.) You can link to another Luna Pants post here.

Week 5:  from the bottom left: Gemma Tank, double gauze Washi Dress, double gauze Ruby Blouse, Loominous Bianca dress, me with my photographer and a picture of some of my Cleo Skirts (to be blogged!)

Bonus Pictures:  close up of my new Alison Glass Gemma Tank, some pictures of my new double gauze Gemma Tank which may be the most useful thing I made this month and some pictures I took on the days when I wore my Luna pants which are great sewing clothes. You can link to my two Luna posts here and here.At about day 10, I almost stopped posting. I started to get a feeling of being a little overexposed. But I have been so inspired by other friends on instagram who post beautiful garments and who inspire me to try new things that I persevered and I am glad I did. It is wonderful to have this record of all of the beautiful clothes I have sewn and enjoy wearing and I heard from many people on instagram that my posts inspired them to try sewing these patterns and that really made it worth it.

Happy Sewing everyone and thanks for reading!

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Made By Rae Patterns, Sewing

Arizona Cleo Skirt

I don’t have all of April Rhodes’ fabrics but I have many and have used them to make some garments I really love such as a Washi dress with sleeves, this Ruby dress, two pairs of Luna Pants, a Gemma Tank and a Cleo skirt. I am so happy with the green Washi with sleeves that I made with the beautiful fabric below imageand this navy Ruby dress and Gemma tank made in the other colorway of the green fabric, both of which I made and wore last summer.

I actually bought extra yardage of the green and navy fabrics as back-up for when I wear the dresses out which I consider good planning.  Although the fabric is quilting cotton and relatively inexpensive, it is easy to work with and the feel of the fabric is very soft and lends itself to garments you want to wear. I first bought the fabric below from the Arizona line because I liked the geometric design and I thought it would make a good Beatrix blouse but when Rae came out with the Cleo Pattern, I thought it would be fun to see how the pattern worked with gathers. I think it is great as a skirt.I sewed this at the same time that I sewed my Fringe Cleo as I have found it is not a lot more work to make two of a garment than one.  I sewed the hem with my machine using a hem facing, as I do. I used a lightweight white cotton batiste to face the hem because I thought the black lines might show through the white of the fabric if I just turned the hem up using the patterned fabric.I used three inch strips. Details of this hemming method in my prior Cleo posts. It is my go-to, quick method and it works well for me.I sewed the back of the waistband on the machine as directed but sewed the last bit of the front waistband by hand.  I get nervous sewing in the ditch when the fabric is gathered and prefer to finish that last bit by hand. I used the batiste for the pocket as well. There is something so satisfying about a crisply ironed finished pocket. Rae’s instructions are very clear and the skirt is relatively easy to construct but is very polished looking when sewn. It makes me want to sew all the skirts!Here in Connecticut it is technically spring but not quite the weather for this skirt but soon! I have some white double gauze and I am thinking that a sleeveless Josephine blouse would be great with this skirt. It is on my (very long and growing) to be sewn list.

My blog is not monetized and I derive no benefit if you click on the links. I provide links to resources that I find helpful and I hope you do too. Happy sewing!

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Bias Binding, Made By Rae Patterns, Sewing, Washi Dress Pattern

Snowday Sewday: WashiXP and Fringe Cleo Skirt

It snowed in Connecticut this week and the highways were closed. A perfect day to finish some sewing projects! I finished a Washi XP and a Cleo Skirt.The Washi XP is an expansion pack that enables you to make more versions of the Made By Rae Washi Pattern. It gives you many options for customizing your dress. I made the sleeveless version with a big bow. I had cut this dress out last summer when I wanted to use the fabric to bind this baby quilt and had to cut the dress out first to make sure I had enough left for the binding. And then it sat as WIPs tend to do. The Cleo Skirt below was planned from the minute Rae announced that she would be releasing a skirt pattern. I bought this Fringe fabric when I saw the great skirts that April made in both a child and adult version. But while I waited for the skirt pattern to be released (and it was worth the wait) I thought about how great this fabric would be for a pair of Luna Pants (which I sewed last summer) and I ended up buying more for the skirt. I am not sorry.Because this is quilting cotton, it is a bit poofier than say, voile or double gauze. But I have decided to embrace the poof. I love this skirt!It is great right now with boots and tights and it is going to be great this summer with a black tank top. Or this blue Gemma I made last summer that goes with everything. I used another fabric from April Rhodes as a hem facing.I used 3 inch strips. I find this is easier and gives me a nicer finish than a traditional hem. It is also more fun.Dress hanging on the front door before hemming and before I sewed the waistband down on the inside of the front waist. I hand sewed the front part because stitching in the ditch with all those gathers made me a bit nervous. Hand sewing was fast and I was happy with the results.This was a quick sew and the quilting cotton was really easy to work with. Next up, I have versions planned in voile. Pocket in process below. Rae’s instructions are really clear.Next up was the WashiXP. This is not much more work than the regular Washi. I love this fabric from Cotton and Steel. It is quilting cotton but a bit heavier in feel and it drapes really nicely. I have made several dresses with Cotton and Steel quilting cotton that I wear all winter with leggings and a sweater. In this version, the front bodice is in two pieces that are then sewn together to enable you to attach the ties for the bow.This fabric was also really easy to work with, a great thing for the first time you sew a pattern. I also have some Cotton and Steel rayon that I have planned for this pattern but I wanted to sew it first using a fabric that would cooperate.Again the step by step directions are easy to follow.This version of the Washi uses elastic with a casing instead of shirring with elastic thread although you could do either. I ended up machine basting the casing from the wrong side so I could be sure to line it up correctly and then used the basting stitches to guide me when I sewed it in place from the right side. This worked really well for me and was pretty quick.I hand basted the last part of the collar sewing where you sew in the ditch from the right side of the fabric. This kept the collar in place and enabled me to iron it well before sewing so I got a nice result.Here is the dress before I sewed the bias binding on to the armholes. The fit is spot on and I love the bow. Selfie arms below.I decided to use some of the last of my Cotton and Steel floral lawn for the armholes. I love this fabric. One of my favorites. I have a sleeveless Beatrix Blouse cut out of this ready to sew for summer. I need another snowday!It makes the binding so much more enjoyable when you love the fabric. I love the pops of color.Especially the mustard and olive green.I like to turn my binding under so just a hint of the binding fabric shows. I spent a lot of time sewing bias binding last summer when I sewed many Gemma tanks and this is my favorite binding method.Inside of dress below with collar.Finished dress in hallway picture (front door pictures don’t work in blizzards.)Inside view. I didn’t have enough of the floral for the hem so I used a Cotton and Steel lawn in a pink color that harmonizes with the floral.And as worn. Yes it was cold but worth it for the photo. These are both great patterns and I have many more versions planned for spring which is supposed to be here in just five days! 

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Made By Rae Patterns, Sewing

Loominous Cleo

I was lucky to have the chance to test Rae Hoekstra‘s new skirt pattern the Cleo. I have had so many skirt ideas but didn’t have a pattern I loved so I had been waiting for this one for some time. I have loved all the checked and striped versions that Rae has made and when I saw this beautiful fabric from the Loominous line by Anna Maria Horner, I knew it would be perfect. I love the stripey, checked feeling of the fabric and the different patterns within patterns that are going on in the weave. I have also been loving yellow and blue lately.img_5226The biggest decision for me when thinking about skirts is the length. The floral skirt below is the unhemmed View B that I sewed as a pattern tester and I think it is just about the right length. Rae subsequently added several inches to View B for the final Cleo pattern but since most of my height is in my torso, I am happy with the shorter length. I made my Loominous Cleo 1.5 inches longer than my test skirt to allow for the hem. I ended up finishing the hem with a facing so I probably didn’t need the extra inch.
img_4234I loved this contrasting yellow woven fabric from the same fabric line (Loominous 2) and decided to use it on the inside of the waistband and to face the hem. It gave the waistband a bit more structure to construct it this way. In cutting the pattern pieces, I decided to cut the main skirt pieces perpendicular to the grain to have the stripes feel more horizontal than vertical. I cut the waist band with the grain in order to give it some contrast (also possibly more slimming? Hard to tell.) I am really happy with the way it turned out. Waistband in process below.
img_5203Inside of waistband close-up with under stitching seen below.
img_5199I cut the pockets with the grain because that made the best use of the fabric I had left after cutting the main pieces. One could also cut contrasting pockets but I only had a half a yard of the yellow.img_5213I under stitched along the seam where the pockets are sewn to the skirt. img_5215I love the juxtaposition of the shapes and stripes.
img_5210I finished my seams with a simple zig zag stitch. I bought a serger this fall but haven’t yet had the time to figure it out. One of my 2017 goals!
img_5216Picture of the inside of the waistband after inserting elastic below. This was a quick skirt in a day sew.
img_5221Hem facing being sewn below. I use the seam line as a visual guide when I fold up the hem facing. I used 3 inch strips.
img_5220The 3 inch strips enable me to sew my hems using the edge of the metal plate on my sewing machine as a visual guide to line up the bottom edge of the skirt.  img_5223Hem facing below.img_5224 I added a label as an afterthought right next to the side seam-I had already sewn the rest of the waistband when I thought to do it- because the colors match pretty well. This is the inside of the skirt after being washed and not ironed so a bit wrinkled. 
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I was on my way out the door to work but I had my husband take a couple of pictures.  I had washed the skirt and it is a bit rumpled but you can get a feel for the fit. That is a Gemma tank that I am wearing with it which is a great combination for summer.img_5246-1I  took the pictures with ankle high boots but switched boots after I saw the pictures. I decided that I like the skirt with taller boots or sandals given the length of the skirt. img_5257I probably will make the skirt an inch shorter next time but I am overall very happy with it. It will be perfect for spring and summer months. I have plans for several more Cleo’s in this voile, this lawn and this chambray and have this great fabric by April Rhodes cut out and ready to sew. I sewed a Medium although my measurements put me between a Medium and a Large. The skirt is relatively full and I am happy with the fit. I didn’t make any other adjustments other than sewing it in a shorter length. The fabric is from The Cloth Pocket, which is a wonderful store to visit in person or online. I basically want to buy everything they stock. I highly recommend this pattern and can’t wait to make more!

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