2011 November

Archive for November, 2011

30 Nov 2011

Holiday Wren, a Tutorial

6 Comments Tutorials, Wren Dress

In honor of the holiday season upon us, we were inspired to refashion our Wren Dress into something a bit more elegant. It only takes  a few tweaks to the paper pattern and a few yards of silk to turn this sweet dress into a tailored, sophisticated gown.  What’s more, the contrasting band lends itself to a number of fun color combinations.

So, here’s how you do it.  First, trace off your basic pattern pieces in the required size.

Next, slash a 1 1/2″ horizontal Band from the Front pattern piece perpendicular to the center front line.  In this case I positioned the top of this Band approximately 2″ down from the underarm point.  Then extend the pleat lines vertically across the new Top Front piece. Repeat these steps with the Back pattern piece.

You’ll see in the above picture that the Band is much shorter than the original width of the garment.  To get this, you must fold out the amount of the pleats. Once this is completed, add a 1/2″ seam allowance along both long edges of the Bands to accommodate the seam allowances of the finished Bands. The easiest way to do this is to retrace the original pieces onto bigger pieces of paper, then draw in the seam allowances.

I didn’t make any changes to the Sleeves, so once you’ve made these changes to the Front and Back pieces, you are ready to cut your fabric.  In addition to cutting out separate the Sleeves and the Top and Bottom Front and Back pieces in you main fabric, you will need to cut out the Bands in a contrasting fabric as well.

Using the newly extended pleat guidelines, pin the pleats on the Top Front and Top Back pieces in place.

Secure these pleats by basting across them at the edge of the Facing, at the fold line, and at the bottom of each pattern piece as shown below for the Top Back pieces. Press the pleats down.  Repeat for the Top Front piece.

As directed in the pattern instructions, sew the Sleeves to Top Front and Top Back pattern pieces at the raglan seam line.

Pleat the Sleeves in a similar manner as the Top Front and Top Back. Press.

Fold the facing down so that the fold line becomes the neckline, as explained in your pattern instructions.  Press.

Attach the Bands to the corresponding Top Front and Top Back piece.  (Sorry for all these overexposed photos!)

For the zipper, I felt it was easiest to sew it in at this stage so that it only opened across the Band and the Top Back pieces in order for the gathers on the Back Bottom pieces (see the next step) to look more even.  Importantly, I didn’t have any trouble later fitting this opening over my daughter’s head.  PS–make sure to leave a tad more than 1/2″  of the Band out of the zipper so that you can sew it to the Lower Back with 1/2″ seam allowance.

One of the last steps of your revised Wren Dress is to gather the Front and Back Bottom pieces before sewing them to the Bands.

To start, sew a basting stitch across the top edge of the Front and Back Bottom pieces.  Pull on the bobbin thread of the basting stitches to gather these pieces until the top edges match the length of their corresponding Bands. With the gathers spaced evenly across the seam, sew the Bottom pieces to the  Bands. Press the seam allowances open.

Here’s what the inside of the dress looks like right before I sewed the Sleeves and side seams closed.

All that’s left now is to hem the Dress and hem and add the elastic in the Sleeves, all as detailed in the pattern’s written instructions. You may also want to topstitch the facing down by “stitching in the ditch” of the raglan seams.  Since the pleats are done differently in this version of the Wren Dress than the original, I found that the facing has a tendency to “pop out.”  Also, to get the extra fullness in the Sleeves, I like to push the elastic hem of each Sleeve up the arm slightly to cause the Sleeve to balloon out a bit.

Have fun with this version of the Wren or as you embark on your own reconstructions!  Just a friendly reminder to post your creations/variations in our Flickr group!

Happy sewing!
~ Carla

24 Nov 2011

A Heartfelt Thank You & Giveaway

6 Comments Chickadee Blouse & Skirt, Eider Tunic, Kestrel Coat, Of Note, Raven Hoodie & Pants, Starling Dress & Shirt, Wren Dress

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Carla and I have many things to be thankful about this year, Charlotte being one of them.  So we thought a special shout-out to you, our readers, followers, customers and fellow sewing enthusiasts, is particularly in order today.

We also wanted to highlight some of your wonderful fall Charlotte creations from around the www.  To see even more, head on over to our Flickr group.

Skirt As Top + Pattern Giveaway!

Kristin of skirtastop is graciously hosting a pattern giveaway to accompany her first Clever Charlotte project–the Kestrel Coat.  She even gives us a mini-tutorial on how to modify (i.e. simplify) the sleeves from 2 pieces to 1.  While you’re there, be sure to enter the giveaway by leaving a comment on her blog by this Sunday. Gobble gobble!

Charming Charm Stitch

A great eye for fabrics is just one of Laura’s many sewing talents.  She seems to produce new looks on her blog in her sleep.  So far, she’s sewn up 2 Chickadee skirts and 2 Raven Hoodies!  See them all on her blog and make sure you check out her great online fabric store for a lovely selection of Japanese imports and other designer fabrics.  [PS She's got a 10% off sale going on right now.]

Madame Mother of 5

Nicole of Down Under has sewn up every one of our spring/summer patterns at least once for her (count them 4!) daughters and has many well-photographed tutorials to go with each look.   She just finished up 2 posts detailing different ways  to line our Starling Dress and she’s already scheming her look for the Kestrel Coat.  So stay tuned and visit her site often!

Queen of the Flies

Melanie from Queen of the Flies tries her hand at the Eider Tunic.  She does tiny prints so well, the Eider was a perfect choice for her.  Seems Melanie has also learned the critical photography skill of candy bribes for photo shoots!

Thank you all for a great inaugural year and have a great Thanksgiving!

Happy Sewing!
Erin, Carla and Charlotte

17 Nov 2011

Once Upon a Thread, What Big Eyes You Have

4 Comments Finch Shorts & Top, In the Workroom, Inspiration, Raven Hoodie & Pants

It is possible that my choice of Little Red Riding Raven Hoodie for Once Upon a Thread is a bit obvious, but with all of the recent renditions of Little Red Riding Hood popping up, I just could not help but give this little girl an update too, Clever Charlotte-style of course. (Click here if you missed Carla’s OUT look earlier this week)

So, here’s my modern inspiration:

[left] [middle] [right]

And here’s my finished look:

What sealed LRRH as my choice was a certain vintage curtain that I purchased 10+ years ago at the antiques fair in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The fabric is double faced with a red and white damask pattern. I’ve been looking for the perfect use for it since I found it, and I knew immediately that it would look great as our Raven Hoodie with faux fur trim. To complete the wintery look, I chose a heavy creamy velveteen to make a pair the Finch Shorts.

I made a few basic changes to the Raven and Finch patterns–nothing too tricky, honest.

First, I added the aforementioned fur trim to the hood of the Hoodie. To do this, I first sewed one long edge of the trim in between the main and lining layers. Once the Hoodie was turned to the right side, I turned the other long edge of the trim to the inside of the hood, tucked in the short ends and hand sewed everything to the lining layer to secure it in place.  This was the first time I have sewn with faux fur and, but for a short coughing fit caused by the small amounts of fur that floated into the air after cutting the material, it was remarkably easy to work with.

In lieu of the pattern’s waist ties, I used a satiny ribbon at the top of the front center opening to tie the neck closed–again, the ties were sewn sandwiched between the Hoodie’s two layers before flipping it to the right side.

For the Hoodie’s lining, I used the backside of the curtain fabric which had been woven in the reverse.  I had to get creative with my cutting as the curtain was badly faded in certain areas, presumably from hanging in the sun for who knows how many decades.

For the Shorts, I skipped the side and front tabs and added a creamy grosgrain ribbon along the side seams for a tuxedo’d, tone on tone look (inspiration here).  (In case you were wondering, I sewed the sides of the shorts first, so that I could sew on the ribbon before sewing the crotch seams.)  I also used buttonhole elastic in the back waistband and lined the waistband in an off-white Duchess silk.

So here are some more shots:

Is that the big bad wolf lurking about? Nope, just Lola, our Soft Coated Wheaton Terrier:

See the versatility of this outfit? It is just right for work…

and play…

I am pleased as punch how this look came together, as was Nora.  I think this look has “visit with Santa” written all over it–which unbelievably, is in just a few weeks!

Happy Sewing!
~ Erin

PS In case you’d like to know, Nora’s shirt is from Target and her super-comfy and stylish boots are by Kenneth Cole Reaction available from Nordstrom’s.

14 Nov 2011

Once Upon a Thread, Take Too

Comments Off Chickadee Blouse & Skirt, Community, Inspiration

Erin and I weren’t quite ready to be done with Halloween so we have taken up the Once Upon a Thread challenge over at No Big Dill this week:

For those of you not already familiar with “OUT”, the challenge is to make clothes inspired by children’s literature.  We’ve added our own requirement to incorporate our own Clever Charlotte patterns in the chosen look (of course!).  Erin’s look will be coming up later in the week.

One series on high rotation in our household is Mo Willems’ Knuffel Bunny (one, too, and free).  Recreating Trixie’s eclectic look was a no-brainer for my daughter, Evie.

To recreate Trixie I had to venture no further than my own fabric stash.  I pulled an off-white quilters cotton with a little paisely print to use for our Chickadee skirt.  After cutting it out, the skirt took me less than a half hour to sew (it is extremely easy!).

The long sleeves of the ‘undershirt’ is made from this bizzare mesh knit with embroidered plastic circles that came from the now defunct Haight Ashbury fabric store where I used to work.  Full disclosure:  I didn’t make a shirt–I just made a tube to slide over each arm…Cheating?  Not when you have two young children, a small business, a household to run, and an endless list of holiday sewing to accomplish.

The green T-shirt is from Target. Since it’s hard to find a short sleeve shirt in Cleveland in November, I had to hem the sleeves of a long sleeve shirt.   The star fabric on the shirt also came from the stash.  Due to a non-functioning zig-zag stitch on my machine, I used a straight stitch to adhere it to the shirt. The Knuffle Bunny sidekick and leggings came from Evie’s own stash.

Evie makes a great Trixie, no?


Happy sewing!


PS don’t miss Design Mom’s recent interview of Mo Willems!

10 Nov 2011

Sewing the Eider Tunic Yoke

1 Comment Eider Tunic, In the Workroom, Tutorials, Uncategorized

As promised earlier this week, we’ve put together a tutorial for attaching the yoke of the Eider Tunic to the body of the garment.  Hopefully these photos help you better understand the process.**

**Please ignore the fact that the Yoke is already sewn to the Body– the pictures were taken a bit late.**

Here we have positioned the right side of the Yoke [here, the printed fabric] to the wrong side of the body of the Tunic [the mauve corduroy].   It may seem odd, but matching right side to wrong side is critical to the success of the Yoke attachment. Once the layers are aligned around the neckline, snip the seam allowance a full 1/2″. Again, this may seem strange since you are nearly snipping into the viewed part of the garment… just take care that you do not snip beyond 1/2″.

This photo shows in more detail how the garment will move at the snipped point. Snipping enables you to get the machine needle right in the crux of the Yoke opening.

Sew from the snipped point up the center front, around the neckline and back down the other side of the center front. Your start and finish points should be nearly the same point.

After trimming the seam allowance of the seam just sewn to 1/8″, flip the Yoke over the body so that the wrong side of the Yoke is then positioned against the right side of the Tunic.

Use a point turner to get crisp points where the center front of the garment meets the neckline. Because you have already pressed the seam allowance along the lower edge of the Yoke under 1/2″, you are nearly ready to top stitch the Yoke in place. Taking care that the Yoke lies flat along the body along its entirety, pin the lower edge of the Yoke to the body and topstitch.

Good luck and happy sewing!


08 Nov 2011

An Eider Duo

2 Comments Eider Tunic, In the Workroom

We’re back with some more looks from our new collection.  These are some before school shots of the Eider Tunic we sewed up for our girls last week.  Carla’s version is a great colder-weather version in a mauve corduroy (the same source as our dark teal corduroy).  The solid corduroy provides a nice backdrop for the patterned fabric used for the contrasting yoke and waist tie–

The version I sewed for Nora uses two of the fabrics from our fall collection–the Etchings fabric in mustard and the white herringbone for the yoke.  I like how the white shirting fabric visually breaks up the intensity of the mustard fabric.  For an added pop, I used a woven blue ribbon.  Unfortunately, in my haste, I didn’t zigzag the ends of the ribbon to prevent it from fraying, so Nora spent most of her morning at preschool shredding it.

I am putting together a quick pictorial about attaching the yoke to the tunic and will have that ready for you little later this week.


Happy Sewing!

~ Carla and Erin