2012 September

Archive for September, 2012

26 Sep 2012

Olivine Dress Tutorial, Chapter 1, with Video!

Comments Off Olivine Dress, Tutorials

Someone around here got a new iPhone a few weeks ago and is quite excited to start posting some sewing videos. What better time to start than the present, with the first installment of our Olivine Dress tutorial?

Today I cover a few preliminary matters, then move on to assembling the Main Skirt, complete with pleating and pockets. Chapter 2 shows you how to pleat the Main Front Bodice and attach the Bodice Lining. Chapter 3 will cover the zipper and other finishing steps.

Please note that I am not planning a step-by-step breakdown of the entire pattern. Rather, I’ll highlight many of the steps and zero in on some of the trickier parts in greater detail. I should also add that I will probably take some steps out of order from the written instructions.

Before jumping in to the tutorial, however, I think there is a critical, often overlooked first first step to sewing any pattern:

So grab yourself a hot cup of tea, some animal crackers (my favorite!) and settle in to give your pattern instructions a good read. Or, at least, a hearty skim-through. I’ll wait…

Ok, with that out of the way, let’s get started!

Fabric Selection:  Here are the fabrics I am working with:

The gray and chartreuse green taffetas are my main and contrasting fabrics, respectively. These have a lot of body, which will hold the creased folds on the skirt and bodice nicely and will add fullness to the skirt. The gray fabric has a tone on tone flocked floral/bow motif for a nice, subtle touch of “flair”. For the lining, I chose the cotton polka dot fabric you see here, which is a standard quilting weight. A cotton lawn or voile or any other lining fabric that would feel nice against delicate skin would work here too.

Seam Finishing: Since the Olivine Dress is fully lined, you wouldn’t ordinarily need to be so concerned with finishing all your raw edges. However, since the taffetas tend to unravel quite readily, this was a good opportunity to dust off my serger. You’ll see  in these photos that I serged most of the edges on the taffeta pieces before I started sewing them together.

I used a continuous piecing method that made the process go fairly quickly since you just feed in pattern piece after pattern piece and cut apart the chain once you are done serging all the edges on one side. Cut the pieces apart and finish them the same way on the second side, and so on. Note that I turned off the knife on my machine so I was sure to not trim away any of the seam allowance.

Taking the 15-20 minutes to finish the edges at the start not only saves me a lot of time later, it has the added bonus for you at home to be able to see the edges more clearly in my photos. :)

The Main Skirt’s Front Panel: Now, on to the main event. There are a lot of pieces to the Main Skirt–and yes, unfortunately, that mean a lot of cutting.  But totally worth it, I think!

The front of the Main Skirt has 7 pieces. Lay them out in order first, then start sewing them together along their long, straight edges (let’s assume right sides together unless I say otherwise, OK?).

Now let’s pleat the skirt.  Here’s where the video comes into play!

[Ok, so what did you think of the video? Helpful? Confusing? Am I gigantic bore? Let me know!]  

In case you need to see it in static mode, those are my skillful hands below pinching and pleating the first and third pleats…

Here’s the front panel now pleated and basted:

The Skirt’s Back Panel: There are four Main Skirt Back pieces, which are sewn together in pairs like so:

Now you may be wondering, “Charlotte, what is up with those funny little trimmed corners at the bottom of some of the skirt pieces?”  Those are intended to help fold up the bottom hem when the dress is assembled.  See how the lower part of the seam joining these Skirt Back pieces sort of pops up a bit?  It makes pressing the seam allowances a little tricky, but you’ll understand why they are there later.

Sew the Pockets:  Here is what the Skirt Back panel looks like with the Pockets sewn on either side seam at the waist:

Clip to the stopping point at the bottom of the seam (indicated by the dot on the printed pattern), then press the Pockets outward, away from the skirt.  Do the same with the Front Skirt panel of the Main Skirt:

Complete the Main Skirt: Line up the two Skirt Back panels with the Front, with the Pockets opened out to the side, and sew around the Pockets, then down the side seams of the Back + Front.  


This photo shows how I’ve basted the Pockets to the top waistband of the Front Skirt panel, and how I’ve pressed the seam allowances below the Pocket open.


Press all your seams well and set the Main Skirt aside, you are done for now!

It’s probably about time for another cuppa tea, so go put the kettle on.  The Bodice tutorial will be coming up next.

Happy Sewing!


24 Sep 2012

Olivine Dress Kits in the Shop

Comments Off Of Note, Olivine Dress, Shop News

The Olivine Dress Kits have been posted in the shop for those of you planning ahead for the holidays or needing a special birthday girl dress.

The kit is available in two sizes (2T-4T and 5-8) and currently features the fabrics in our cover look: a wonderful, eggplanty dupioni silk and the lovely Liberty of London Tana Lawn print, Becci. Here’s a better shot of that Liberty fabric, which has a great mix of red, fuchsia, and blue and adds such a nice contrast to the purple.

Look for additional Olivine kit options from us soon featuring more colors of silks and Liberty fabrics!

On a related note, I am working on the Olivine Dress tutorial I mentioned a few weeks ago. It will highlight some of the trickier parts of the construction. Look for that to begin this week!

Happy Sewing!


09 Sep 2012

Shop Update + In the Garden

Comments Off Jasper Vest and Jodhpur Pants, Olivine Dress, Patterns, Peridot Blouse and Ankle Pants, Shop News

Thank you for your enthusiasm for our new Fall collection! I am happy to report that the patterns are now in the shop and ready for pre-sale orders.  To celebrate, our older pattern collections are on sale for 20% off for the next two weeks, so now’s the time to pick up some of the earlier looks that have been on your list.

A quick note about the pre-orders: we anticipate shipping out new styles the week of 9/17.  All orders that have any of the new patterns will be held until the new looks are ready.  If you want to get something more quickly, we ask that you place a separate order.  As always, you’ll enjoy our low shipping rates on all orders.


With those announcements out of the way, Carla and I wanted to share some recent photos of our little ones wearing the cover looks so you can get a feel for the fit and the design details we have included with each pattern.  

The Olivine Dress has 3 pleats on the bodice that match up with the 3 contrasting pleats on the skirt to create a sunburst effect.  [PS Look for the fabric kit for this cover look to be in the shop later this week.]

Here’s a little shot of the pleated side panel on the Jasper Jodhpurs:

In addition to the asymmetrical zipper on the front of the Jasper Vest, we’ve included an option to gather the back of the Vest to bring it in a little at the sides. We’ve covered the gathering with a two-buttoned tab, harkening back to our Finch Shorts.

We also added some contrasting pocket stitching on the front of the Vest for a little added interest. You can see a little of it here. Again, completely optional.

Here’s a close up of the ankle placket of our aptly-named Peridot Ankle Pants.  

For the button loops, the Peridot pattern uses braided button loop tape with elastic loops spaced 1″ apart (such as that used on bridal gowns). The tape typically comes in black, white and off-white.  You can pick some up in our shop when you order the pattern. And while you are at it, pick up a Peridot Covered Button Kit that includes the ten 5/8″ buttons called for by the pattern + the button making tool. Easy peasy!

Glitter shoes not included, though wouldn’t it be great if they were?

And one last parting shot of those wonderful Olivine pleats.  I am working on a full tutorial of this dress for all of you, coming up soon.  I think this will be a great way for any of you who may be leery of sewing pleats to see just how simple they can be!

A note about sizing: these clothes are all sewn in our 3T size except for the Jasper Jodhpur Pants, which are a 2T.  You can see that Miss E is quite a bitter taller than my Miss N, even though they are only 6 months apart. Both girls are 4 years old: Miss E is a 4T in most RTW sizes and Miss N is a 3T (2T in some pants).  So as a general rule, I’d say these patterns run slightly larger than commercial sizing.

We hope you’ll hop on over to the shop and check it all out!

Happy sewing!


05 Sep 2012

Introducing Our New AW2012 Collection!

11 Comments Design Updates, Patterns

We are excited to share Clever Charlotte’s three new looks for fancy affairs, school, and play! Look for a separate announcement in the next several days when the patterns are ready for pre-sale.

So, without further delay–

1. Olivine Dress:  Our signature dress–lots of pleats really make the Olivine Dress sing and will have your little girl twirling on the dance floor.  Have fun selecting a special fabric (like the Liberty Tana Lawn we’ve used here) for the contrasting skirt pleats and pockets!

2. Peridot Blouse & Ankle Pants:  There is no shortage of special detailing in our Peridot Blouse & Ankle Pants–the detachable Peter Pan-style collar can be modified in any number of ways to embellish the Blouse or a ready-to-wear dress or sweater in your little girl’s closet. The accompanying skinny Pants have a row of 5 buttons at each ankle. We’ve styled them here with covered buttons in a contrasting fabric, but this is the perfect opportunity to use other decorative buttons in your stash.

3. Jasper Vest & Jodhpur Pants: The modern lines of our Jasper Vest & Jodhpur Pants are perfect for boys and girls. The Vest has an asymmetrical zipper up the front.  We show it here with a gathered back and buttoned tab (harkening back to our Finch Shorts).  We think the Vest is a fun accent piece for any outfit as well as a warm, practical layer for chillier days. The Pants have an elastic back waist and pleated side panels that lend a comfortable feel of European styling. 

We hope you like the new looks as much as we do.  Here are a few other close-up shots of each new pattern in the collection.  

We hope you’ll pin the looks you like on Pinterest!

As noted above, we’ll be announcing the start of pre-sales soon–with a special offer for our other patterns.  Be sure to sign up for our newsletter if you haven’t already so you don’t miss a thing!

Happy Sewing!