Clever Charlotte–Sewing Patterns for Modern Children's Clothes Blog
08 Oct 2013

In the Workroom

1 Comment Of Note



While hard at work on some fantastic new Clever Charlotte projects, I thought I’d share what I whipped up a fragmented 6-hr interlude in my work schedule.  A new dress!  And gold!  I’ve been so obsessed with a gold color pallet lately… from shiny brass lighting fixtures in my home to what I wear on my person.  Gold is back in a big way.


This dress was inspired by Oscar de la Renta.  I wanted a very full skirt ala Oscar that spills from a tight waistline. The 2″ darts are sewn short so that the differential in the dart from fold to point creates a lot of fullness. The princess bodice is easy to tailor and fits me like a glove… but not so much the dress form.  You can see it pulling across the back. Sadly she, like most others, is a bit bustier than me.


Here’s a side view.  Notice the pockets.  All formal wear should have pockets, don’t you think?  Being petite at 5’1″, I wonder if this is going to make me too wide below the waist seam…. high heels should help.

Inspired by a conversations I had with a friend during a recent visit to the Western Reserve Historical Society’s Dior and More exhibit, I decided to make a facinator to match the ensemble.  Facinator = frothy little poof of a hat.


I used a facinator backing purchased from a millinery supply company.  It’s open sinamay backing allowed me to attach the 6 gold embellishments around the edge and the large ‘gold’ brooch in the center.  I stuck in the feathers because all facinators need a bit of movement, don’t you think?

IMG_2464Sneek peak of the back of the facinator.  Not as pretty as the front.



Ready for the party!  And I promise to be back at the Clever Charlotte work table as soon as I recover from my hangover. Cheers!

10 Sep 2013

Clever Charlotte Goes to NYC Fashion Week!

3 Comments Of Note


I am so excited to share with you all some photos from Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York City showcasing the Spring 2014 collections. For over a decade I have dreamed about attending Fashion Week ,occasionally allowing my dreams to drift to actually showing a collection. Lucky for me, a friend had tickets to the Mercedes Benz VIP Lounge and the Lela Rose show on Sunday and asked me to join the party.  Here’s the VIP Lounge:


The VIP lounge, off the main ticketing/milling about area, was quite fancy with bar service (unlimited champagne!) and snacks that rotated throughout the day.  Doesn’t look like your rich Great Aunt’s living room? We spent Saturday morning in this portion of the tent, drinking coffee and hoping that tickets to a Saturday show might open up.  They didn’t.  We left for some shopping in the Meatpacking district, a fine alternative to the VIP lounge.

Sunday morning we were back in the VIP lounge in preparation for our ticketed show, Lela Rose.



The show was just lovely, with wearable curve-hugging cocktail frocks and some easy separates perfect for an afternoon wedding. Sitting second row I was nearly able to catch some of the gold flakes that fell from the models gilded up-dos. Here are three of my favorite looks (Images from The black spidery lace on the first model’s shoulders was exquisite.


Here’s one photo I captured of the finale look: a slinky orange number.


Later in the day, the wranglers in the VIP Lounge approached us with extra tickets to Tracy Reese!  What a score.  While Lela’s show was soft and sensual, Tracy’s was bold and boisterous with live mambo drummers and lots of swagger (again, photos from


And despite several ‘Housewives’ from both Atlanta and New York City vying for extra tickets in the VIP Lounge, I scored one more show, Joanna Mastroianni. I’m not above tipping over tables and pulling hair to get what I want at Fashion Week.

Joanna Mastroianni

Flying high from the day before, Monday we entered the tent with the glimmer of hope for additional shows before we had to break the magic spell and fly back to Cleveland. First in the lineup Monday morning was Mathieu Mirano, a designer lesser-known to me but was extremely impressive. He showed an ethereal collection with serpentine detailing in ‘presentation’ format rather than the typical runway. Amazing.

Mathieu Mirano2

All the models stood there stoically, hardly moving but occasionally flashing a smile or turning to pose for a pictures.  They looked rather tortured, standing still and stiff-legged in those 5-inch heels in a frigid room.

Mathieu Mirano1

This model’s legs are turning blue:




Back to the VIP tent we went, thrilled with the 4 shows we were able to attend but hoping for a fifth and final longshot: Carolina Herrera. There we were, my friend and I, sitting on the edge of our faux-antique chairs in the VIP Lounge looking eagerly but not too desperately towards our Hostess, the keeper of the holy grail. With a barely detectable nod of her head we were motioned to join her in the procession into the Carolina Herrera show. Any cool we were maintaining up to this point disappeared and we were giggling and celebrity-spotting up to the very minute the tent darkened and Karlie Kloss emerged onto the runway.


Recognize any other famous faces?  I’m sure there are plenty I missed.

This was the only interesting shot I was able to capture from the nose-bleed section of the arena.  Actually, my view down to the runway was quite good… not as good as Christina Ricci’s or Michelle Dockery’s, but I was able to see the dazzling optical illusions Carolina accomplished with her layered print organza (images from

Sigh…. what a dreamy weekend.  Anyone have tickets to Fall 2014??

FashionWeek1That’s little ole’ me on the right, with my friend who shall remain nameless until she approves this photo.  Many thanks to her for making this weekend possible.


02 Sep 2013

Wine Jackets! A Free PDF Pattern & Tutorial

Comments Off In the Craft Room

The kids are back in school, the hectic summer schedule is winding down, and it’s time to celebrate the return to our sewing machines! What better way to commence the sewing season than combining creativity with libations?

Clever Charlotte has created a free downloadable pattern to enable you to dress the bottle of choice in a nifty little jacket and impress your hostess.


Aren’t they cute?  I’m taking one to a party tonight.

Wanna make your own? You will need:

- 2 pieces of fabric (for the outside and lining) each approximately 12 x 22″ (fat quarters, anyone?).  

- a standard 7″ zipper–go crazy here and pick a fun contrasting color! (Also, don’t hesitate to grab a longer zipper from your stash…you can always trim off the excess at the bottom and secure the new length by carefully sewing back and forth over the tape to create a new zipper stop.)  

Download the pattern.

To begin, first download the pattern here: Wine Bottle Sewing Pattern  You can print this pattern on standard 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper.  Be sure to print without scaling (in other words, print to full size and not “fit to page”). If in doubt, measure the  1″ scale provided to ensure proper proportions.

The pattern contains two pieces:  the Bottle Body and the Bottle Base.

Note, the pattern shows both the “Cut Line” and “Sew Line” representing the 1/2″ seam allowance around the pattern pieces. When you print the pattern, the Cut Line across the width of the pattern (the circumference of the bottle) will not show. The 11″ length of your paper is exactly the dimension of this pattern piece, so don’t trim this edge. Do trim the other sides of the paper and match the notch, joining the pattern to make the full height of the bottle (see where to cut below in the photo).


Embedded in the Bottle Body pattern piece you will find the circle representing the Bottle Base.  Trace off this pattern piece onto another piece of paper (or print page 2 twice) and cut out the outer circle.

Now, here’s how to start construction.  

1. Cut out one Bottle Body and Bottle Base pattern pieces from each the Main and Lining Fabric.

2. Mark the darts on the Bottle Body with the method of your choice (such as thread tracing or with a water-soluble pen). Sew the four darts as shown below (here is a nifty video tutorial from Threads Magazine.  Thanks, Threads!) Press the darts to the center of the fabric.  Repeat this step for both the Bottle Body of the Main Fabric and Lining Fabric.


3. Next, press the seam allowance along the long edges of the Bottle Body (both Main and Lining) 1/2″ towards the center. By pre-pressing the seam allowance, it should be easier for you to insert the zipper in the next step.


4. Position the zipper 5/8″ down from the raw, darted top edge of the Main Bottle Body.  With a zipper foot, sew the zipper to the Main Bottle Body on either side of the zipper. To sew the second side, open up the zipper. You’ll notice below that I separated the edges of the fabric a bit to expose more of the contrasting yellow of the zipper. 


5. To sew the seam below the zipper, snip into the 1/2″ seam allowance you pressed right at the point where you stopped sewing the zipper. Repeat with the other side of the pressed seam allowance so that you are better able to access the fabric below the zipper. In the photo below, you will see a pin where I plan to start sewing below the zipper.  Sew the seam below the zipper closed.



6. For the Lining Fabric, sew the seam below the {NOTCH} to secure the part of the seam that will match to the Main Bottle Body below the zipper.




7. For both the Lining and the Main Bottle Body, snip just barely shy of 1/2″ into the bottom of each piece all around it’s circumference.  This will allow you to insert the circular Bottle Base pattern piece and enclose the bottom of the wine bottle.



8. Taking your time, pin the Bottle Base into the cylinder of the Bottle Body for both the Lining and Main Fabrics. My trick is to star pinning until I make it nearly all the way around the circumference.  I usually find that I have excess Bottle Base fabric at this point, so I go around again, removing the pins one by one, stretching the edge of the Bottle Body, and repinning the pins until the excess Bottle Base is incorporated and it fits nicely into the Bottle Body.  Slowly sew around the bottom of the bottle to secure these pieces together.


9. You are now ready to attach the Lining Bottle to the Main Bottle. Start by positioning the darted edges of both the Lining and Main (right sides together) so that the Lining extends past the folded zipper edges of the Main. See below how my chevron lining fabric is extending past the finished zipper edge. Sew straight across the top, securing the darted edges together.


10. Insert your hand into the lining and push it into the Main Bottle, aligning the seam of the Lining with the seam in the Main.



11. Fold the raw edges of the lining under and position this folded edge along the wrong side of the zipper. Hand-sew the lining to the zipper on both sides with small discrete stitches.  If you are hand-sewing-phobic, you may pin from the right side of the Main Fabric and topstitch over the existing stitch line to catch the lining underneath, but I think hand-sewing is neater and only takes a few minutes.


 12. Insert the wine bottle of your choice and you are off to the party!

photo (1)

Happy crafting!


21 Aug 2013

Summer Birthdays

1 Comment In the Craft Room, Of Note


Summertime is birthday season in our house.  Both JR and Nora have warm weather birthdays, and this year, I foolishly boldly scheduled both kids’ backyard parties for the same Saturday.  Luckily it only rained for one of the parties, upping my success rate by a full 50%.


Anywho..for Nora’s party, I wanted to do something crafty and festive, girly and sophisticated.

Using Dana’s skirt pattern as my inspiration, I made each partygoer her own twirly circle skirt from the ultimate in summer fabrics–seersucker.  I made 6 skirts in all–about 2 hours of sewing with the help of my serger.


At the party, the girls strung mini-felt balls in an array of sherbet colors to make necklaces.


Meanwhile, I armed my trusty creative sidekick, Carla, with a hot glue gun and the fun (for us) really started.


We made these elaborate, garden themed headbands for each of the girls.


The party ended with a mini photo shoot in the kitchen…


…complete with silly faces.


Happy #5, Nora!



09 Aug 2013

The Pillow Project: a Tutorial to Make a Welted Pillow

1 Comment Of Note

We’re back!  After a long absence from the blog world I am back at my sewing machine to show you my most recent home-dec project for my new home:  Welted Pillows with a zipper opening!


I’ve made tons of pillows in the past but for the living room of my new house I wanted to do some research to find the proper way to assemble and sew a pillow with a welted cord trim. Perhaps it was impatience but I didn’t find much out there in the way of a good tutorial.  Full disclosure: I probably only spent 5 minutes looking, but nonetheless I experienced a lack of good information on sewing welted pillows.  What follows may not be most proper way to create a welted pillow, but it works for me and I am very pleased with the results. For you newbies to the home-dec world, a welt is a covered cord sewn into a seam as trimming.

First step is to cut your pillow fabric 1″ larger than the dimension(s) of your pillow.  I purchased 23″ pillow forms so I cut 2 x 24″ squares to make my pillow.

After cutting the main fabric for your pillow, you are faced with the most tedious portion of a welted pillow: the welt itself.  Start by cutting bias strips of your welting fabric (I used a green contrast to the floral print of the pillow) at a 45 degree angle to the selvage. Desiring a fairly small welt, I selected a cotton cording for the welt that is 1/4″ in diameter.  To get approximately 1/2″ of seam allowance on either side of the welt, I cut my bias strips 1 3/4″ wide.


You might question the use of the bias strip here, thinking a pillow with straight edges doesn’t need to waste all that fabric cutting strips on the bias. Let me save you a ton of time and frustration: DO NOT MAKE THE STRIPS OF WELTING ON THE STRAIGHT GRAIN! CUT STRIPS ON THE BIAS! Why am I yelling at you? Because I have made this mistake before!!  The trim on the pillow ends up hideously misshapen and puckery.   Its worth the extra effort to cut true bias.

After cutting more than enough bias stripping to surround you pillow, the next step is to sew the bias strips together. Take two bias strips and overlap them right sides together, with the long edges of one bias strip 90 degrees to the second bias strip.


Here are two examples of how you overlap the bias strips. Many of my bias strips aligned nicely like the example on the left, but sometimes the selvage edges are reversed like the example on the right, causing an inch or so extra waste that you must cut off later. Either way, it is important to sew a diagonal line from the point where the two strips cross at the upper left to the point where they cross at the bottom right. Make sense? Continue sewing bias strips together until they form a single very long strip.


Trim the edges 1/2″ from the seam you just sewed as shown above and press the seams open (as below).


The next step is to make the welting. Grab the end of your cotton cord and align it with the end of the bias strip so the cord is on the WRONG side of the fabric. Fold the bias strip around the cord aligning both long edges of the bias strip. With a zipper foot, sew as close as you can to the cord within the bias strip. This step makes the welting much easier to work with when pinning it to the pillow.

Now that you have completed a length of welting that will go around the pillow, you may begin to place the welting around the outer edge of one of the pillow panels. Place the welting on the right side of the pillow panel so that the raw edges or welt and the raw edges of the pillow panel align and the rolled edge of the welt is towards the center of the pillow panel.


Though blurry, you will see how I start the welting in the center of one side of the pillow panel and pin toward the corner.  At the corner I’ve gently rounded the bend and followed along the next side of the pillow panel. Pin all four sides in this manner. When you reach the starting point, overlap the two ends as shown below.


I suggest you pull out and trim some of the cording so that it isn’t too bulky when you sew it, but this step is not critical.



Again with the zipper foot, sew around the pillow as close to the welt as possible. Sew straight across the overlap of the two ends of the welt without stopping.



Onto the zipper.  Select an invisible zipper about the length of the bottom edge of the pillow. I’ve chosen a 22″ zipper for my 23″ pillow. It’s OK if your zipper is larger, just cut it down and sew stay stitches so the zipper doesn’t zip off the bottom.  With the edge of one side of the zipper placed along the raw edge of the welt/pillow panel (the edge that has the overlap in the welt), pin the zipper through all layers as shown below.



Once it is pinned along the length of the zipper, open the zipper and sew the one side (still with zipper foot) to the welt/pillow panel edge so that the teeth of the zipper are as close as possible to the welt. Opening the zipper before sewing allows you to get closer to the welt. Do not sew the zipper around either corner curve of the pillow but rather keep the zipper entirely within the straight edge of the pillow.


Once the zipper is afixed to one pillow panel, place the second pillow panel (right sides together) on top of the first so that all edges/corners align. Carefully roll back the edge of the second pillow panel opposite the zipper


Pillow 13

and pin the other side of the zipper tape to it after zipping the zipper closed to get the proper alignment of the two panels when the zipper is closed. Once pinned, open the zipper again and sew other side of the zipper to the pillow panel using a zipper foot. Stop short of the curve of the corner.





Zip the zipper so that it is 3″ shy of being entirely closed.  You need this space to open the zipper again for turning the pillow to the right side. Sew the two pillow panels together along the 3 non-zippered sides.  You will also sew around the curves at either end of the zipper.  Trim all four corners to approx. 1/2″, removing excess fabric.  Turn the pillow to the right side, stuff and fluff.


There you have it… a welted pillow with zipper!



08 Jun 2013

The Start of Summer

3 Comments Galena Dress, Patterns

Clever Charlotte Galena Dress Pattern

School is out, at last.

Despite some unseasonably cooler weather, the kids have already been out playing in the sprinkler in new swim suits, had our favorite summer treat, Fro-Yo, and stocked up on summer reading at the library.  Bring it.

Here’s Miss N sporting a new Galena Dress over her swim suit, post-sprinkler.


This variation of our newest pattern shows what a statement a bold solid fabric bias tape can make against a printed dress.


The dot fabric is a double guaze by Kokka Fabric/Tomotake from the Muddy Works collection–allegedly in navy but really charcoal gray. Glad I am a gray person.  

The hot pink bias trim is one of my favs–Kaffe Fasset’s shot cotton in magenta.  The shot cotton is super soft and compliments the super-soft, divine feel of the double gauze.

All fabric was purchased from Pink Chalk Fabrics.


You’ll notice I added a strip of color at the bottom of the dress too–this required an extra wide strip of bias tape binding (a 4″ bias strip yields a 1.5″ wide  finished strip of color). I was easily able to make this wide strip from the same 1/2 yard of contrasting fabric I used to cut the other trim pieces.  Note, the wide folded  bias tape replaces the flat bias tape called for in the original instructions.

I folded the 4″ wide strip in half, wrong sides together, then pressed the two long edges to the inside 1/2″. Next, I sewed the wide strip to the raw bottom hem in the same way we instruct sewing the narrower folded bias trim on the sleeve hems. I overlapped the short ends near one of the side seams   


Can’t wait to see what fun adventures this summer brings!



Happy Sewing!