Archive for 2012

21 Dec 2012

Holiday Tidings

6 Comments Kestrel Coat, Olivine Dress


As a continuation of my post last week, I wanted to show you what else I’ve been sewing this holiday season–specifically, matching Christmas outfits for my girls! I created these dresses from the Olivine dress pattern, using the only the lining pieces (Lining Front Bodice, Back Bodice, Lining Front, Skirt Back) instead of the outer pleated pattern pieces. Omitting the pleats and the sleeves from the Olivine sped up my sewing and, gratefully, freed up more time for Christmas shopping and eggnog sipping.

As you surely know by now, the green collars are separate pieces created from our Peridot look. The patch pockets at not part of the original Olivine pattern but were added because my girls have a pocket obsession and I thought the dress itself needed more of that lovely green velvet. Styling the dresses over a simple white long-sleeved t-shirt gives it all a seamless look.

The dress fabric was the find of the century… one gem in a sea of aging polyester from a little old lady’s house Erin and I raided a few years back.  It is a cotton pique embroidered with green starbursts.  I scored about 5 yards, and had just enough left over from other projects to create these two dresses.  The green works perfectly with the velvet and the season.

In addition to the dresses, I had a few moments to put together a new Kestrel Coat, featuring the same wonderful velvet.

The only modification I made was turning the two-piece sleeve into a one-piece, again in the interest of time.  The coat has been worn nonstop since it came off the assembly line and every time my daughter wears it I think I really need to make an adult-sized version of this coat.  Maybe in the new year….

Happy holidays to all and happy sewing!




14 Dec 2012

The Collar Project: Snow Queen

1 Comment Inspiration, Peridot Blouse and Ankle Pants

Hello! Here’s yesterday’s Collar Project post today! A camera malfunction caused most of my completed project photos to be null and void when I tried to download them last night, so I had to re-shoot today. Then, of course, my willing model yesterday (Miss N) wasn’t so willing today, so desperate times ensued…come check it out.

For this, our final Collar Project collar, I’ve created a layered collar from felt. I played around with several color options before this particular combo struck me as completely perfect. Its crystalline combination rather reminds of the Snow Queen from the Nutcracker. I still have to devise a more suitable garment over which to wear it, but I think it would be divine over a fluffy cream angora sweater, don’t you?

For the materials, I used a cream 100% wool felt from FeltontheFly and a heathered blue wool blend from GiantDwarf. I added silver machine embroidery using a metallic thread* from Coates & Clark.

* A note about working with a metallic thread: I hadn’t sewn with metallic thread before and I would hardly consider myself an expert now–but here are a few pointers from my experience: 1. use a regular cotton/poly thread in the bobbin, 2. lighten your machine’s tension, and 3. sew very slowly. If you go too fast, the thread begins to shred at the eye of the needle.

I modified the standard collar pattern from the Peridot pattern in a few ways–

First, I trimmed down the basic Peridot pattern piece for the collar (see photo #1). Since I was working with felt, I did not need to finish any edges. Hence, I could cut off the seam allowance on the outside portion of the collar. I took off more than 1/2″ in some places because I wanted a slimmer overall look. Note that I kept the SA on the inside curve because I was going to sew both layers together along this curve.

Next I cut out the pattern in two pieces (rather than on the fold for a joined piece) in order to create a more classic silhouette–see further below for how I sewed the points together.

Finally, I created a new scalloped piece for the top layer (see photo #2-3). I had to play around a bit to get the right shape. To ensure that the top and bottom layers would have identical inside curves, I created a copy of the main layer, then sketched out the scallops on the copy, before cutting it out of the felt (#4).

I love to play around with the different embroidery stitches on my machine (though this would have been an ideal project for hand embroidered details too). I kept the outline stitches on the top layer simple, but chose a blanket stitch for the bottom layer. After outlining the bottom layer with the blanket stitch, I trimmed the edge closer to the finished stitched edge (not reflected in the photo below).

Sew the two layers together along the inside curve, with the right side of the top layer against the wrong side of the bottom layer. Trim the seam allowance to 1/8″, then flip the top layer to the right side of the bottom layer and press. Repeat for the second half of the collar.

Next, sew the left and right pieces together by overlapping the two sides by about 1/2″ with the top layer opened up. You may be able to see the stitched triangle (right, below) that secures the two halves together.

I used the final top stitching along the finished, inside edge to also secure the brown grosgrain ribbon in place in between the two layers.

Finally, select a fun embellishment for the center front of the finished collar. I really wanted something silvery for this collar, but could only find this button–it’s fine but not as elegant as I had in mind. 

So, I swapped out the button for this cute mini bow. I can imagine many additional fun ways to embellish this look.

Did I mention I had trouble securing the assistance of my usual model?  So, I improvised with my own neck! Who says littles should have all the fun?  (I swear that I could not find a shirt or sweater with a good neckline, can you tell?)

Oh, and in case you were wondering if I have a complete head, I thought I would throw in the gratuitous self portrait–might as well show off my new glasses + haircut ;)

I’ll be back this weekend with a wrap up post for our Collar Project. I hope you’ve enjoyed all the great ideas brought to you by our guest bloggers these past 2 weeks!

Happy Sewing!


12 Dec 2012

The Collar Project: a Beaded Glittery Flannel Number

2 Comments Inspiration, Peridot Blouse and Ankle Pants

Today’s Collar Project guest is a gift to fabric hoarders –er, fabric lovers. Laura’s Charm Stitch shop features all sorts of fabric goodness, including a delightful collection of Japanese makes and models: Nani Iro, Echino, Yuwa and Kokka, to name just a few.

But more than just her love of fabrics, Laura features really unique, one-of-a-kind projects on her sewing and craft blog. One project in particular that I am coveting is her girl’s Celestial Dress, by which she pays homage to one of my favorite designers, Alabama Chanin.  Here she borrows another one of Alabama Chanin’s technique–beading!

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Clever Charlotte patterns have long dominated my to-sew lists. When Erin asked me if I would like to participate in the Collar Project series I knew it was perfect timing to whip up a quick holiday accessory from the Peridot pattern. Because what kind of lady turns down the opportunity to make something for her daughter to wear that is delightfully festive and girly?

I knew I would use a delicate Nani Iro flannel with glitter dots from last Fall’s collection. On the reverse side I chose a Velveteen print from Anna Maria Horner’s LouLouThi collection. Because the project is very quick and simply constructed, I was able to embellish the glitter polka dots with glass chop and bugle beading from the Alabama Chanin shop. Using beads and button thread, the polka dots became a background for showing off some interesting stitch techniques. While hand-sewing is no easy task for the hasty sewer, it is a nice break from the frantic holiday chores that seem to fill my date book lately.


  • large contrasting scraps of fabric
  • two 12″ ribbons
  • chop and bugle beading
  • Coats and Clark button thread
  • beading needle
  • lightweight fusible interfacing (for any wide weave or flimsy fabric)
  • chalk marker
  • any of the Alabama Chanin books for beading application reference
  • Peridot Blouse and Ankle Pants with detachable collar


Prepare cut front and back fabrics from collar pattern. Attach fusible interfacing to any lightweight fabric that will be embroidered/embellished. With the chalk marker draw the seam allowance (1/2″) around the perimeter to keep beading away from the sewing machine’s path.

Refer to an Alabama Chanin book for tips on embellishing the fabric and polka dots with bead work. Embroider away!

Follow Clever Charlotte’s instructions for attaching the ties and finishing the collar. Easy as 1-2-3! 

For a similar look try a solid fabric and any of the glitter paints from Martha Stewart’s new line of paints applied with a pouncer (see our recent dress for a tutorial). I would love to see it made it in Jersey with raw edges and top stitching. Who’s up for that?

11 Dec 2012

The Collar Project: Knit Chick(adee)

5 Comments Chickadee Blouse & Skirt

We’re truly mixing it up with today’s Collar Project. An, of StraightGrain, gives us a taste of her European styling with the Chickadee Blouse!  She’s sewing knitting, if you can get your mind around that one, piped with my all time favorite Liberty print (Mitsi).  

Unlike the Peridot Blouse, the collar on the Chickadee is sewn into the neckline, but as An shows us, don’t let that stop you from playing around with the design and materials of the collar.

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Hello everyone! I’m An from StraightGrain, and I’m honored to guest post here at Clever Charlotte. When Erin invited me to her Collar Project, I took the opportunity to finally make something which had been on my wishlist for a long time: the Chickadee Blouse. I decided to remix this gorgeous assymetrical blouse by using a hand-knitted piece for the collar.

My original plan was to knit a piece especially for this project, but some very busy weeks at work forced me to use a knitted piece from an unfinished project which had been lying around for over a year.

Here is how I made the collar. First, I cut the upper collar pieces out of interfacing, and ironed them on the wrong side of the knitted piece. Next, I cut out the pieces, stitched them together, and stitched the piping on the edge. Then I just followed the regular instructions for assembling the blouse.

I made the blouse in a taupe linen, and for the collar I used a light blue/greyish 100% cotton thread (Phildar). The Liberty of London piping is from La Droguerie (bought here).

This was first time I used a hand-knitted detail, but definitely not the last!

Thank you, Erin and Carla, for having me in this inspiring series!

~ An

10 Dec 2012

The Collar Project: Holiday Cheer

2 Comments Inspiration, Peridot Blouse and Ankle Pants

Seeing all these variations on the Peridot Collar has me inspired! With the holiday season closing in, I decided this was a perfect opportunity to double up on my sewing efforts for my girls.  I’ll be separately blogging about the dresses and coordinating Kestrel Coat later this month.   

For an elegant, Christmas look, I chose a green cotton velvet at our favorite local fabric shop and a variety of silver beads from my stash   To make sure my embroidery was centered on the front of the collars, I marked the stitch lines using a permanent pen 1/2″ in from the cut lines on the wrong side of the velvet pieces (I would recommend using a disappearing ink or hand basting if using a thinner fabric). Using these stitch lines as a guide, I hand sewed the small beads in the form of snowflakes on the front of the collars.  This step took no time at all, but there was some mild frustration threading that painfully small beading needle.

I underlined the collar (no interfacing because of the weight of the velvet) in a plain white cotton and followed the basic assembly steps for the Peridot pattern, omitting the ribbon ties.  Once the collars were sewn, flipped and pressed, I sewed on large hooks and eyes to close the fronts.

 The back view–

 With the action that these collars will see, I think I need to add some snaps to secure them to the dresses!

Happy Sewing!


07 Dec 2012

The Collar Project: Around the Internets

1 Comment Inspiration, Peridot Blouse and Ankle Pants

We have a break in The Collar Project schedule today so I thought I would share some additional collar looks that I have been collecting from here and there. May these be additional inspiration for you!

I’ve mentioned before that the detachable collar is a great way to use small amounts of treasured fabrics, like Liberty.  To use even less, use a different fabric for the underside of the collar (which isn’t typically seen when worn).  Here is a ready to wear version from Claudine & Compagnie featuring Liberty Tana Lawn:

Or perhaps you have some small print vintage fabric on your stash that you would like use:

Crochet and knitting have long been applied to decorative collars. Here is a lovely one in classic cream and black crocheted by One Sheepish Girl using a free pattern created by Lulu Loves:

For a less traditional look, there is this one by Good Night, Day (found via Fringe Association). I think this would look nice over a coat too.

Until Monday, happy sewing!

~ Erin