Archive for 2012

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!


28 Apr 2012

A KCWC Project in Just the Nick of Time

5 Comments Finch Shorts & Top, Patterns

My blogging lately has been following the classic 80/20 rule: I’ve spent about 80% of my available time thinking about posting, but only about 20% of my time actually posting. Truth is, I tend to work my best when I am inspired or excited about a project and I almost let elsie marely’s Kids Clothing Week Challenge go unacknowledged here for lack of a project idea.

But I got the bug when I saw Cindy’s second Flutter Blouse, which you’ll recall was the pattern we created for Stitch Magazine’s Spring 2012 issue. The Blouse would be perfect for Nora’s summer wardrobe and would be one I could get excited about since I haven’t sewn it up since we finalized the design last August.

To get the real user experience, I downloaded the pattern from the Sew Daily website and followed the instructions provided in the Spring issue, which, incidentally, differed a bit in construction from how we drafted the original instructions. So, in a sense, this project had that “new to me” feel.

The paper pattern has to be pieced together from 9 sheets of 8.5×11″ paper printouts, carefully taped together. Though knowing better, I forgot to print out the pattern at full scale, so the first set I printed is  probably more appropriate for an American Girl doll–that could make for an interesting experiment, no?

I’ve used a lavender sateen for this blouse, which is light enough to gather easily, yet create fullness in the sleeves. I thought you’d appreciate seeing the blouse in a solid fabric so you can get a true sense of the blouse’s details. I haven’t found the right embellishment yet for the bottom hem, as shown in the magazine, but will keep my eye out for something special to add later. The front buttons are 1/2″ covered buttons and I used a 5/8″ shell button in the back at the keyhole opening.

Some Basting/Gathering Tips

The sleeves are gathered along the neckline using a long basting stitch. I thought this would be a good time to share some tips that I have learned to make basting and gathering even easier.

First, when I sew a stitch line for gathering, I like to backstitch a few stitches at the beginning of the stitch line and leave the thread long at the other end. Conventional wisdom tells you to leave the threads long at both ends. Maybe this is just something that happens to me, but I find that I often end up pulling out some stitches at the opposite end of the stitch line in the process and have to re-baste, often after the garment is assembled. Backstitching at one end of the basting line prevents this by locking those end stitches in place and giving you something to pull against, if that makes sense?

As you may be able to see above, my second trick for basting a gathering line of stitches is to use a contrasting thread in the bobbin. This makes it easy to identify the thread that I am supposed to pull on and is a great way to use up bobbin thread from past projects. 

Here’s a close up up of the gathering on this blouse–I pulled on the coral thread on the underside of the sleeve pieces until it matched the length of the facing piece. The contrasting color also helps me know which thread needs to be removed after stitching the gathers in place.

I paired the blouse with some wonderfully soft Finch shorts made with a gray chambray. Look closely, do you see what I changed in this pair?

The pleating around the bottom cuff are now gathers.  This is a super simple change:

- Omit the pleats along the bottom hem of each front and back pieces, and, instead baste a stitch line about 3/8″ along the bottom hemline, starting and stopping about 1/2″ from the out/inseam. Sew the front and back pieces together to form the basic shorts.

- When you attach the cuff, match the cuff at the two seams and pin at those matching points.

- Pull on the basting stitches to gather the hemline to match the length of the cuff between the pins. You’ll need to separately pull 4 sets of basting stitches. Adjust the gathers so they are evenly spaced along each leg and pin to the cuff at frequent intervals. Sew the cuff on as normal. Et voila.

Here’s a close up of just the shorts. So cute!

I hope you all got some sewing done for KCWC.

Happy Sewing!


24 Apr 2012

Ready to Roll: A Toy Stroller Makeover

2 Comments In the Craft Room

I was recently strong-armed into a sugary-sweet craft project for my daughters, much to my dismay.  My time would have been much better directed to our Fall ’12 patterns that are in process, but those two darling little girls know how to channel my sewing abilities into kiddy kraft.

We started with two worn and tattered baby doll strollers.  The picture does not do justice to their poor condition. The seats were in tatters, allowing Santa Baby* to tumble to the sidewalk amidst shrieks of horror.  Plus, the puppy dog print (left) always left me nautious. 

After ripping apart the pieces of the original strollers, I laid them out atop another super girly quilters cotton that I found at a local quilting store.  The patterns for the strollers were so basic they took no time at all.  After getting the seats sewn together, I finished all raw edges with strips of bias trim cut from the same piece and attached some quarter-inch elastic to loop around the handles.  

The result:

[Don't look too closely at the stroller at the right.  I forgot to re-attach the original seatbelt.]

Once the strollers were complete, the usually-nude Santa Baby required a matching dress.

I took rough measurements of Santa baby and quickly concocted a simple dress.  The bodice is lined to make a clean finish around the neckline and I hand-tacked a zipper in the back since my daughter strongly believes that Santa Baby should always remove her dress for sleeping.

The bottom hem was finished with leftover bias trim. (Full disclaimer: I have not read any of those books in the background of the shot).

All set for a spring stroll around the neighborhood.

Happy sewing!

*Santa Baby:  so named by my then 2-yr-old when the doll was found under the Christmas tree.

16 Apr 2012

Surf and Sun

4 Comments Eider Tunic, Raven Hoodie & Pants

We are freshly back from the beach, so I wanted to quickly share some shots of a few Clever Charlotte sewing patterns in action there. 

The weather couldn’t have been better and my little landlocked children maximized every minute they could of the sand and surf.

I showed you this Beach Eider a few weeks ago and the boy look will be coming up later this week.

Until then, happy sewing!

06 Apr 2012

Beach Bound

3 Comments Eider Tunic, In the Workroom

Recognize this?

If you guessed our Eider Tunic-turned-swimsuit cover-up, you win 5 points!  Spring Break is next week and we’ll be visiting my family in South Carolina.  A few of those days will be spent at the beach, and while the weather looks iffy for sandcastles, I am sure Nora’s new cover-up will be equally perfect for trips to and from the indoor pool.  

Here’s another view.  Can you spot the quick change?

The tunic is made with a white terry cloth:  very soft and fluffy, and, I discovered when ripping out a few seams, very loosely woven. So, rip with care.   I made very few adjustments to the Eider pattern itself, but several changes to the construction of the garment–

First, I shortened the length of the front and back pieces by 1.5″ (equal to the hem allowance, which isn’t needed with the bias tape trim). I omitted the yoke and finished all the raw edges with a colorful bias tape.

Because I wanted to use a separating zipper down the center front, the waist ties that are usually used to cinch in the waist of the tunic would have been somewhat cumbersome. However, I felt strongly that I still wanted to gather the waist a bit to avoid the bath robe look.  I tried several methods to recreate the cinching effect, but due to the relative bulk of the terry cloth, neither long gathering stitches nor elastic thread in the bobbin achieved sufficient gathering effect.  Instead, I sewed stretched pieces of 1/4″ elastic on the right side of the fabric along the waist channel placement line marked on the pattern. 

For this size 3T, I sewed approximate lengths of 3″ to the left and right of the center front (see below) and another 7-8″ along the back. The gathering effect was better than the first two methods, but I think for the next iteration of this tunic, I will opt to use a stronger (eg wider) elastic for an even greater effect.   I hid the elastic with the waist tie channel called for by the original pattern, adding some additional color to the tunic at the same time.

For the trim, I used  Sarah Jane’s Meadow in Soft Pink, which is covered with tiny flowers in pink and orange and makes for the cutest bias tape, and followed Katy’s method for making continuous bias tape.  

I intend to use the bias tape for another project as well, so I used a full yard of fabric, which makes A LOT of tape.  (It makes me so happy when I can double up on sewing projects!)  For this 3T tunic, I estimate I used 4  yards of the finished double-fold bias tape to bind all of the edges, sew the waistband and create the 2 buttons tabs (see below).

Finally, after debating whether to make the tunic with the original sleeves (sans pintucks) or shortened for warmer weather, I was pleased to find a compromise–a button tab to hold the rolled up sleeves in place (first used here) for cooler/windier days.  On the next iteration, I may try shortened sleeves but add a hood.

I have one more beach-bound sewing project to complete this weekend and I can’t wait to show you some “in action” shots of both later next week!

Happy Sewing and, for those of you celebrating, Happy Easter!
~ Erin