2011 December

Archive for December, 2011

31 Dec 2011

A New Year’s Sale

Comments Off Shop News

What better way to celebrate the start of 2012 than with a Fabric & Notions Sale?  Now through Jan 22d, you can get up to 30% off on all fabric, notions and One-Click Sewing Kits in our shop.

Plus, for those of you signed up for our email updates, a special offer for further savings will be emailed out in just a few days–so be sure to sign up on the top right sidebar if you have not already!

Looking forward to many fun projects in 2012!

Happy Sewing!
~ Erin

24 Dec 2011

Merry Merry

Comments Off Of Note

Happy sewing,

~ Erin, Carla & Charlotte

22 Dec 2011

Last minute holiday crafting

Comments Off In the Craft Room, Tutorials

Yep, that’s right–it’s been a true crafting affair around these parts, some projects even involving NO SEWING MACHINE. Can you even imagine?

Carla has been busy whipping up a fun holiday skirt for her daughter…

and some hand-sewn felt ornaments based on a few she found on Pinterest. Wouldn’t these be fun to make with older kids?

I cooked up two ornament wreaths shown above to hang on the windows in the dining room.  I took advantage of some last call sales on holiday decor to stock up on the bulbs, got out the hot glue gun and voila!  Only 2 hours later I was ready to snap the final photos.
Here’s the step by step breakdown on making the wreaths.

Select color-coordinated bulbs in varying sizes (1.5-2.5″ in diameter).  In the case of the smaller wreaths I made, I found some larger beads (.5-1″ in diameter) to use to fill in the gaps between the bulbs.  Since you’ll be layering the ornaments, you could use some less than perfect (eg “ugly”) bulbs on the base layer without much showing through. I estimate I used about 50 bulbs for each small wreath, plus another 20 or so beads to fill in gaps.

You will also need the aforementioned glue gun and a wreath base.  I used green styrofoam wreaths and covered them with 2″ wide strips of fabric.  (I was using up fabric, so ended up with the multi-colored look you see below.)  Though you won’t see much of the underlying wreath, enough will show through so that you’ll want it to look presentable.  Tie a short piece of string around the wreath through which you can later feed the ribbon.  Note, it is much easier to do this at this stage rather than after you’ve started affixing the bulbs.

Glue on the largest bulbs first–be cognizant that you evenly distribute them around the wreath, taking care also to evenly distribute colors and textures.  I applied the hot glue to the bulb, then placed the bulb on the fabric.  Man, did that glue set up the second it made contact with the fabric, so be sure to know exactly where you want each bulb before applying the glue.

Once you have the base layer of larger bulbs, start working the smaller bulbs in and around the larger bulbs.  I tried to nestle the “necks” on the bulbs underneath (eg toward the fabric).  I thought it could be distracting if they all faced up, though I did leave a few facing upward for variety.

As you glue, it is important to step back and look at your wreath as it takes form to make sure you’ve kept symmetry among the quadrants and to fill any noticeable gaps.  I also found it helpful to hang the wreath in its intended spot in the window temporarily so I could see it in context. I modified some bulb placements based on the fact that the wreath sat lower than eye level and, if standing close to it, you look upon the wreath at a downward angle.  Based on this, I added more bulbs on the inside bottom of the center opening.

Not bad for a morning’s work.  I think I may make a few of these next year for the kids’ bedroom doors–what do you think?

Happy crafting!

~Erin & Carla

PS Just in case you were starting to think that Carla and I are impervious to failure, I present to you Exhibits A and B, When Holiday Crafts go Terribly, Terribly Wrong:

18 Dec 2011

An Or-Kestrel Coat

4 Comments In the Workroom, Kestrel Coat

Doesn’t this Kestrel Coat look ready for a night to the symphony?  Though the name itself is a bird fitting to the Clever Charlotte girl who wears it, I have always fancied the name because it conjours in my mind a night on the town via open carriage (a la an 18th century opera coat).

Anywho, I have been itching to show you this latest Kestrel Coat that I sewed for Art Walk at Murray Hill Bolt & Spool a few weeks ago. The coat features two beautiful fabrics from Nan’s shop–a gorgeous teal wool coating paired with an Anna Marie Horner’s “Little Honey” voile. Both were tremendously rewarding to work with and made for a tremendously rewarding finished coat.

Living in a northern climate, wool coating has been something I have been wanting to sew with for some time. It was unexpectedly forgiving to work with–it didn’t unravel and took to the coat’s shaping fabulously. I was worried it would be a little thick to gather at the back and sleeves, but my fears were unfounded. The wool produced a very structured garment but not at the cost of comfort–the coat still drapes smoothly and isn’t stiff at all. The cotton voile is a great choice for the lining as it has a very smooth, light hand that facilitates getting the coat off and on, even over bulky winter sweaters.

The seams of the coat were a little bulkier than they would be with, say, a corduroy, but I dare say even the topstitching went smoothly.  See here, you can see one of the collars with topstitching and other without.  Makes quite a difference, wouldn’t you say?

I made the coat in a size 3T (my daughter’s short arms probably warrant a shorter sleeve, but I took it to be a perfect opportunity to let a little of the lining peek through).  Since both my fabrics were extra wide (about 54″), I needed only about 1 yard of each (slightly more for the wool since I chose to make both sides of the collar in the wool).  I used 5 silver filigree buttons from our shop for the front.

Interested in sewing up a Kestrel Coat of your own? Nicole of Mother of 5 has just put together a step by step tutorial for the coat on her blog, so be sure to check it out!
Happy Sewing!
~ Erin


12 Dec 2011

Bow, Bow, Bow… Merry Christmas!

Comments Off In the Craft Room

A couple weeks back I was searching Pinterest for some ornament/holiday craft ideas and came across a great idea to repurpose magazine pages into beautiful bows for holiday presents.  Here is one of my attempts using an Ansel Adams photo spread in National Geographic Magazine.  Cool, eh?

Then, a thought: would this work with fabric scraps? I first tried it with felt, which ended up being too thick on the base and didn’t sit nicely atop a package. Then I tried some cotton-silk fabric.  Because this fabric is rather drapey, I stiffened it by fusing two layers together (wrong sides facing) using Pellon Wonder Under.  This not only stiffens the fabric, it also prevents fraying and makes the fabric double sided.

From the double layer of fabric, I cut 1/2″ wide strips using a rotary cutter and straight edge.  I trimmed three strips to approximately 10″ in length, three to approximately 7″ in length and one to about 4″.

Taking the first of the longest strips, I twisted it on itself to make a figure 8.

Note, it doesn’t matter if the tails of the strip are above or below the center of the strip, but the tails should overlap each other by about 1/2″. Set the first figure 8 aside and repeat twice more for the longer strips.

Overlap these first three figure 8′s, offsetting them as shown below. Secure the three figure 8′s with a couple of stitches using a needle and regular sewing thread.  You could probably use Fabri-tac and glue them, but I think stitching is speedier.

Again, make three more figure 8′s with the 7″-long strips (and ignore that this photo has two strips remaining).

Overlap the three 7″ figure 8′s and then nest them in the center of the 10″ figure 8′s. (Sorry, I didn’t grab a shot of this, but you can see the nestled figure 8′s in the final photo.)

In the center of the bow that is forming, make a simple loop with the shortest fabric strip and secure it with a few more stitches to the center of the bow.

Pull the needle through all layers (six figure 8′s and a single loop) to the back of the bow and make a knot to hold it all together.

Experiment with different strip widths, lengths and fabric combinations.

Here I’ve also used a peacock blue silk taffeta cut on the bias and a cotton organdy that I tore on the grainline.

Have fun making beautiful packages.  Hmm… maybe one of these will end up as an embellishment on one of our dresses….

Happy crafting!

~ Carla


PS Have you entered Nicole’s Giveaway for a Kestrel Coat pattern yet?

09 Dec 2011

Charlotte Goes to Art Walk!

1 Comment Chickadee Blouse & Skirt, Kestrel Coat, Of Note, Raven Hoodie & Pants

Last weekend was the Murray Hill Art Walk in Cleveland’s Little Italy neighborhood.  We were delighted to be invited to present a trunk show at our friend Nan’s shop, Murray Hill Bolt & Spool located in the Old Schoolhouse.  If the flattery in the invitation wasn’t enough to make us giddy, we were positively ecstatic to see the Clever Charlotte looks that Nan put together.

In the year since it opened, Nan’s shop has become one of my favorite places in Cleveland.  It is always bright and sunny, even when the weather outside would dictate otherwise.  The charm of the space is equaled by the quality and variety of the fabrics–you will find something for every sewing need here:  Liberty cottons, fantastic wools, linens, corduroys and other apparel fabrics, fine silks, velvets and gorgeous ribbons for fancier occasions, fun quilters cottons and lots of lots of sewing books and patterns.

The looks that Nan put together from our patterns really showcase her taste in colors, fabrics and design details.  Doesn’t this flannel shirt version of the Chickadee Blouse look positively cozy?  She paired it with the Chickadee Skirt fashioned in an olive-y~brown corduroy and lined in a fun tiny floral print. The Kestrel Coat to the right of the Chickadee is in black velveteen with a very sophisticated gray/yellow damask print quilters cotton.  Devine!

Now for the first look above–Nan’s creativity really shows through here, no?  She’s used green grosgrain for the contrasting tie on the navy Raven Hoodie.  LOVE how she’s carried the ribbon through to the pockets and pantlegs on the coordinating pink corduroy pants.  Isn’t this a perfect 3-season look?? So fresh and girly.


Carla and I also had plenty of our own looks on hand to show off this weekend.  Remember this one?

We’ve got one more Charlotte look to share with you next week and then some non-apparel Christmas-related projects.  Thought we’d change it up a bit before the holidays.

PS Be sure to visit Nicole’s blog this weekend for a Kestrel Coat giveaway!

Happy Sewing!
~ Erin