2012 May

Archive for May, 2012

31 May 2012

One Hour Dress

4 Comments In the Workroom

I got a manic sewing attack on Memorial Day morning to make my girls new dresses for the afternoon’s outing to the pool.  For several months now I’ve wanted to try shirring with elastic bobbin thread and recently added some to my collection.

This dress idea is not an original, nor is this tutorial.  In fact, I just googled elastic bobbin thread and came up with numerous shirring tutorials, but I thought I’d give my readers my impression of elastic bobbin thread:  IT’S AWESOME!  I can’t wait to shirr everything in my wardrobe. I’m already planning a top or dress for myself out of my gorgeous new silks from my trip to the NYC garment district last week.

After talking to a few of my fellow sewists about elastic bobbin thread I was left with conflicting opinions whether to wind the elastic tightly or loosely around the bobbin.  I first tried loosly, and while it shirred well, there was not enough gather to the stitch.  After tightly winding the bobbin thread, stretching the elastic to nearly its full extent, I found the shirring much stretchier and more to my liking.

I started each dress with sewing a tube of fabric.  The larger dress for my 4 yr old is approximately 40″ in circumference.  She wanted a long dress to make her feel more royal, so the length I used was also about 40″, including the amount needed to accomodate a self-facing in the bodice.

While it’s hard to tell with the print (above), I folded the tube down to the wrong side of the fabric about 1/3 of the length.  The folded edge became the edge closest to the neckline.

After the bobbin was wound and loaded, I adjusted the stitch length on my machine to a basting length.  I found a longer stitch length worked better for shirring.  My first line of sewing was positioned approximately 1″ from the folded edge, with two additional stitch lines: one 1/2″ above the first and the second 1/2″ below the first.  The first stitch line provided a nice guide to the other two.  I eyeballed my stitchlines and a slight wonkiness does not show in the finished dress.

After shirring the upper chest I realized I needed another seam to bring the dress in at the waist.  At about 1/2″ above the edge of where the facing ends I sewed another band of stitching around the circumference of the dress. *Note:  sew on the right side of the fabric!  I forgot to do this at first and was left with elastic thread visible on the front side.  Dumb mistake, Carla!

Making the thin straps was a cinch using a technique I discovered long ago… using welting or another type of cording to pull the strap through to the right side.  

If you don’t already know how to do this, begin by sandwiching a piece of cording between the right sides of a fabric strip. Using a zipper foot for best results, sew along the top of the fabric strip to secure the cord sandwiched in the middle, then pivot and sew alongside the cord down the length of the strap.

Trim the seam allowances on the strip, then tug gently on the cord to pull the fabric through itself to the right side. Remove the stitches securing the cording to the strap (or cut the cord off if you have sufficient length in the strap) and press.

I made long straps so I could tie them at the shoulder.  Position each of the four segments, two at the front and two at the back (on either side of that vertical seam).  I moved the back straps a bit closer to the centerline of the dress so that they would be less likely to slide off those wee shoulders, but as you can see in the first photo above, I still fought that battle.

The girls LOVE their new dresses.  Now how much longer can I dress them alike and get away with it….?

Happy Sewing!

~ Carla

24 May 2012

Flutter Blouse Pattern on Sale–and Digitally Available!

1 Comment Patterns

Did you know that you can get the entire Spring 2012 issue of Stitch magazine digitally, including our Flutter Blouse pattern??  The complete issue is 50% off now through 5/28/12, so now’s your chance!

Buy it here!


16 May 2012

Vintage May PJs

12 Comments In the Workroom, Raven Hoodie & Pants

Vintage May by Skirt as Top and Craftiness is Not Optional

 Have you been following all the Vintage May fun over at Skirt as Top and Craftiness is Not Optional?  I just couldn’t resist joining in the fun with a little vintage sheet project that I already had planned for Nora’s summer wardrobe–light and airy PJs for hot summer nights.

I love working with old sheets–surprisingly, they have a soft drape that makes them ideal for billowy projects, like skirts, full tops and, of course, pajamas!  I also keep the uglier ones on hand for muslins.

I actually used two different sheets for this project–both are incredibly soft to the touch, though the colors on one set have been substantially worn out. Luckily, the contrasting scalloped trim at the top of the flat sheet was still in great shape, so I was able to salvage that for the deep cuffs on the pants.

The pants are a cropped version of the Raven Pants, sans front pintucks but with slightly widened legs.  I kept the basic waistband, but modified it to add a drawstring tie in the front. There’s still elastic in the back WB, but I attached two fabric ribbons to each end of the elastic and secured them at the side seams by stitching in the ditch.  The ties are pulled out the front WB through a buttonhole I added before attaching it to the pants.

The elastic does most of the work to keep the pants on, but the drawstring is there to for a little extra security and a fun splash of color.  

The top is this pattern from a Japanese sewing book (the name of which eludes me): 

It uses bias tape to finish the edges around the neck and straps.  Very neat and tidy, though I found it to be very tricky when finishing the armholes–I am still not sure I got it right.  I also guessed at the Nora’s size because I couldn’t figure out the size chart.

I love the illustrations in these books–so darn precise, which is good with the text nearly all in Japanese (thankfully, numbers are not–you have to add in seam allowance and it can differ within a garment).

Anyways, here’s my version up closer:

I love the print on these sheets–a unique color and good mix of big and small flowers.

Do you have any Vintage May projects lined up this month?

Happy Sewing!


02 May 2012

New Labels in the Shop

1 Comment Patterns, Shop News

Just a quick note to say that we’ve received our new woven clothing labels.  These are the same that are included with our patterns–but you can now buy extras in our shop!

By the way, if you recently purchased a pattern from us that did not have a label–we apologize that we were temporarily out.  Send us an email at: contact@clevercharlotte.com and we’ll gladly drop one in the mail for you!

Here’s a shot of one of the newly-designed labels sewn into the Finch Shorts I finished up last weekend…

Happy Sewing!