2012 October

Archive for October, 2012

26 Oct 2012

Trick or Treat

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Halloween is nearly upon us and I realized today that my girls’ only options for gathering loot were either an Easter basket or plastic grocery bag.  During nap time today I created a preferable alternative.

The girls plan to be matching fairy princesses.  (ugh.)  Of course their costumes are pink and purple so I naturally gravitated to some scraps of our mauve sateen and cotton plaid to make the totes.  The tote is a basic rectangle modified by sewing perpendicular to the side seams, thus closing the corners off.

My original thought was to sew some small seed beads on the totes in some sort of fairy fashion but decided that wasn’t realistic with my time constraint.  After rifling through my bead drawer (yes, I have a bead drawer) I found these toggle beads… perfect for creating butterflies.

Turning to my ribbon drawer (next to my bead drawer) I found some suitable ribbon to make the wings.

I highly recommend using sheer ribbon with a thin wire on the edges.  Two of the three ribbons I chose did not have this feature which made it difficult to thread the loop back through the holes, so I simply snipped the wings.  Also, grosgrain turned out to be a bit thick for the toggle bead holes but I persevered due to my lack of any other color-coordinating ribbon.

Snipped wings on the left, looped on the right.


Here is the completed tote, holding over 2 pounds of candy.  Do you think that is sufficient?

Happy Sewing!

24 Oct 2012

Fall Days

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My mother-in-law just returned from a trip to Italy and look what she brought me from Venice!

A fox mask made in the traditional style–paper mache and hand painted–by this artisan.

I have a big event this weekend that I’ve been getting ready for this week. Here are some “work in progress” shots for you–all from today! Not even including the Halloween costume I’ve been working on in between these other fun things. I hope to share more photos and details with you all later.

A final note for this lovely Thursday afternoon–we are having a lot of trouble with our comment box and spam filters.  If a filter is on, no comments get through. Without the filter, the site gets about 100 spams a day!  If any of you have some corrective action to recommend to remedy the problem, I’d gladly welcome it.  In the meantime, if you leave a comment, it may take longer than usual to appear on the site.

Happy crafting, sewing and cooking everyone!
~ Erin

19 Oct 2012

Miss N’s Happy Happy Olivine Reveal

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This, my friends, is what a happy camper looks like.

Miss N was so delighted to model this dress and would not take it off when we got home.  She played in the leaves wearing it, even took a nap in it. Consider this one kid-tested and kid-approved. I already have my eye out for a more ‘everyday’ fabric combo to sew another that she can wear to school.

In case you missed the full tutorial for making this dress, you can start with Chapter 1 by clicking here.

In anticipation of a chillier fall day, we borrowed this beautiful faux fur cape from our friend Nan, who is developing a pattern for this.  I hope we can share that with you before the holidays!

As many of you’ll recall, Miss N is my teeny tiny one. Despite her age (4), I sewed her dress in a 2T–proof positive that our sizing is only a loose approximation of age! Her measurements are definitely in line with our sizing chart’s 2T. Her waist is about 20″ and height is 3’1″ (37″).

We hope you will all be inspired to pull out your Olivine Dress pattern soon and start sewing one for the holidays…or maybe just naptime.

Happy sewing everyone!

~ Erin

11 Oct 2012

Olivine Dress Tutorial, Chapter 3, the Zipper and Finishing Details

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We’re back with the final installment of our Olivine Dress tutorial! (Click here to find Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.)  I’ll be bringing you pics of the final photo shoot soon.

So let’s get going…

Sew the Main Bodice and Skirt Together.  When we last left off, we had just finished sewing the sleeves to the Main Bodice.  Now we need to sew the Main Bodice to the Main Skirt (completed in Chapter 1).  This is where all the hard work precisely positioning the pleats on the Main Front Bodice and Main Skirt will hopefully payoff. Ideally, we want the pleat lines on the Bodice to match up with those on the Main Skirt exactly, or at least pretty close.

We highly recommend basting the two sets of three pleats together before sewing the entire waist seam in order to eliminate a lot of additional seam ripping  if the pleats need adjusting.  Having said that, it is important to use the side seams to align the Bodice and Skirt rather at the pleat lines themselves–this is because the pleat lines don’t intersect at the raw edges.  Rather, they align 1/2″ down, at the seam line.  If you align the pleats at the raw edge, you will be off, like this:

Once you are happy with the alignment of the 3 pleats, go back and sew across the entire waist seam.

Sew the Lining Bodice and Skirt Together. Next, sew the Lining Skirt together as you did the Main Skirt and sew it to the Lining Bodice (which is easier since you don’t have to contend with any pleats).  This is what you’ll have when you are done with this step, with the center back seams of both layers open:

Sew on the Zipper.  I am going to show you my version of putting in a zipper. There are lots of videos on this out there, and I am sure my explanation is far from being “politically correct”, but it works for me.  [Also, I should add that I accidentally purchased a regular zipper, not an invisible one, so I am using a regular zipper foot.]

Turn up your Lining Dress along the neckline, away from the Main Dress.  Check the length of your zipper by pinning it in place at the top of the Main Dress (just below the neckline).  We recommend ending the zipper about 3″ below the waist seam (where my right hand is pointing in the photo below). Mine is much longer, so I marked it with a straight pin.

At my machine, with the zipper closed, I sewed several stitches back and forth across the zipper coils at the straight pin–if you look closely below, you may be able to see the line of gray stitches.  Cut your zipper about 1/2″ below the new stopping point. I use my heavy duty kitchen scissors for this.

For the zipper photos that follow, I marked the wrong side of the zipper tape with colored washi tape so you can differentiate which side of the zipper you are looking at.

Reposition the right zipper tape face down on the right side of the center back opening.  I align the tape about an 1/8″ away from the Main Dress’s raw center back edge (folding under any excess tape at the top). We recommend basting the zipper in place by hand. I just pinned mine in place, shame on me!  So, do as I say, not as I sew.

Now sew that side in place with your zipper foot.  [With a regular zipper, I usually have the zipper pulled 1/2 way open.  When I get to the zipper pull, I stop the machine, needle down, and lift the presser foot.  Tug at the pull to move it behind the presser foot, then continue sewing.]

Aligning the left side of the zipper is always the trickier part for me because it involves the zipper playing the part of a contortionist.  With the zipper fully open, you will need to twist the zipper around to the other side of the center back opening so that, again, the zipper tape is 1/8″ away from the raw edge.  The bottom of the zipper will want to pull up and curl around, bringing the right side of the Dress with it.  I just go with it until I get the second side to lay flat enough to sew.

Once you have both sides of the zipper sewn on, press the zipper 1/2″ under toward the wrong side so the coils come together.  Press the center back edges of the Lining Dress above the zipper under 1/2″ as well.

Hand Sew the Lining Dress to the Zipper. Fold down the Lining Dress along the neckline so it forms a lining to the Main Dress again.  The freshly pressed center back edges of the Lining Dress should lay down across the zipper tape.

Hand sew this edge to the tape.

Sew the Remainder of Center Back Seams. Sew the remainder of the two center back seams below the zipper, starting each separate seam as closely as you can to the zipper.  You likely will have a small gap below the zipper, which you can sew closed by hand.

Hem the Main Skirt.  We recommend using hem tape for the bottom of the Main Dress. Sew it to the right side of the bottom hem.

Now press the bottom hem up, to the wrong side, 1.5″.  Remember those funny, cut off corners on the bottom of the skirt pieces? These should make flipping up the bottom hem a snap.  Now, more hand sewing to secure the hem tape to the inside of the dress. I usually save all of this hand sewing to do in the evening in front of the TV. ;)

Finish the Lining Skirt & Hem the Sleeves. To hem the Lining Skirt, we recommend pinking the edge of the skirt about 1″ shorter than the finished length of the Main Skirt.  Because the Lining Skirt shares a lot of pattern pieces with the Main Skirt and is, therefore, the same original length as the Main Skirt, you will probably be cutting off as much as 2-3″ of the Lining layer.  (You also could choose to hem the Lining Skirt in a similar way that we recommend for the Main Skirt.)

Hem the Sleeves by turning them under 1/2″ two times, then machine or hand sew the first fold to the sleeve.  Don’t forget to add your Clever Charlotte clothing label!

That wraps up this tutorial. I hope you have great results and a happy camper in your midst when you finish yours!  I’ll post pics of Miss N in her dress as soon as it warms up and we can get back outside this weekend. Until then–

Happy sewing!


02 Oct 2012

Little Italy ArtWalk This Saturday (10/6)

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Dear local readers/friends of Clever Charlotte–

Just a quick note to let you know that we will be down at our friend Nan’s shop, Murray Hill Bolt & Spool, this Saturday from Noon -4pm for Little Italy’s Fall ArtWalk. We’ll have samples on display from the new line and we’ll be sewing some of the new looks down there on Nan’s fabulous Bernina machines.

In related news, Nan is moving this week up the stairs of the Old Schoolhouse to a bigger space and we could not be more excited for her!   If you don’t make it down there this weekend, we hope you’ll stop in soon to see all her new fabrics and trims and get inspired to start a fall project of your own.

We hope you stop in to say hi!

Happy sewing!

~Erin & Carla

01 Oct 2012

Olivine Dress Tutorial, Chapter 2, the Bodice

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The Front Bodice is probably the trickiest part of our new Olivine Dress sewing pattern. In today’s tutorial, I’ll walk you through it and give you some pointers that should make pleating the Main Bodice a lot easier. We’ll also cover sewing the Main and Lining Bodices together and inserting the sleeves.

If you have not already read Chapter 1 of our Olivine Dress tutorial, I highly recommend doing so before reading this installment because the basic instructions on pleating the Main Skirt are very relevant here.

Pleat the Main Front Bodice: In this video, I illustrate how to pleat the Main Front Bodice using the paper pattern piece:

Here’s how to sew the pleats once you’ve pleated your fabric:

[For those of you not following along with the video segments, you will need to double check the shape of the Front Bodice and alignment of the pleats by comparing the pleated piece with the shape of the Lining Bodice. You are looking for any discrepancies in how the two pieces line up along their outer edges. If you see any areas out of alignment, go back and double check your pleats. For example, you can see the lining fabric below peaking out on the left around the shoulder and armhole edges and along the neckline edge (note that this photo shows the back of the Main Bodice).

Once you are happy with the overall shape of the Main Front Bodice, stabilize the pleats by (1) sewing along the top inside fold of each pleat line, about 1/8"-1/4" away from the fold and (2) stitching across the ends of each pleat, staying within the seam allowances. The second video above explains this all in great detail.]

Finally, sew the Main Front Bodice to the Main Back Bodice pieces together at the shoulders.

Prepare the Lining Bodice:  Sew the Lining Front Bodice and Lining Back Bodice pieces together at the shoulders (note the Lining Front Bodice piece is not pleated). The Lining Bodice will not have any sleeves, so we need to finish its armhole edge. There are several ways to do this, though we think the easiest is to simply zigzag around the armhole edges and trim away the excess seam allowances using pinking shears.

Sew the Main and Lining Bodice Pieces Together: Now that you have sewn the front and back pieces of both the Main and Lining Bodice pieces at the shoulders, it’s time to sew the two layers together. Lay the Lining Bodice on top of the Main Bodice (right sides together). Sew around the neckline edge, then trim the seam allowances to 1/8″.

Flip the Lining piece back over this trimmed edge so that the wrong sides of both Bodices are now together and give that neckline edge a good press. I like to roll the lining down slightly to the inside when I press so it won’t be as likely to show on the front of the dress when worn. You can just see the gray taffeta peaking up above the lining fabric here.

Sew the Side Seams: Though your Lining and Main Bodices are now sewn together at the neckline, you will still sew the side seams of each layer separately. Here I have sewn the Main Bodice side seams and Lining side seams together on both sides (those portions below the armholes), then pressed the seam allowances open:

Here’s what the Bodice looks like after you sew the side seams and flip the Lining Bodice back down.

Sew the Sleeves: Baste two lines on each Sleeve along the sleeve cap, between the notches, then sew the each Sleeve at the underarm seam. You can see I used a darker thread for my basting stitches so that you (and I) can see them more clearly.

Insert the Sleeves in the Main Bodice: Flip your Lining Bodice up and away from the Main Bodice. With the Sleeve turned right side out and Bodice turned inside out, insert the sleeve into the Main Bodice (so right sides are now together), and match the Sleeve’s single and double notches to the notches in the Main Bodice armhole, as well as the Sleeve’s underarm seam to the Bodice’s side seam. Pin at these three points. Here’s an attempt at a photograph of this step–hopefully, you can see the excess fabric of the sleeve cap at the top of the armhole:

Now pull on the bobbin threads of the basting stitch lines to adjust the length of your sleeve cap to match the length of the armhole edge and pin some additional points. Sew around the armhole edge, making sure the gathers from your basting stitches are evenly distributed around the top of the armhole. 

I am going to repeat these steps for the second Sleeve and call it a day. In our next tutorial, we’ll cover attaching the skirt and inserting the zipper.

Happy Sewing!