Archive for Inspiration

14 Dec 2012

The Collar Project: Snow Queen

1 Comment Inspiration, Peridot Blouse and Ankle Pants

Hello! Here’s yesterday’s Collar Project post today! A camera malfunction caused most of my completed project photos to be null and void when I tried to download them last night, so I had to re-shoot today. Then, of course, my willing model yesterday (Miss N) wasn’t so willing today, so desperate times ensued…come check it out.

For this, our final Collar Project collar, I’ve created a layered collar from felt. I played around with several color options before this particular combo struck me as completely perfect. Its crystalline combination rather reminds of the Snow Queen from the Nutcracker. I still have to devise a more suitable garment over which to wear it, but I think it would be divine over a fluffy cream angora sweater, don’t you?

For the materials, I used a cream 100% wool felt from FeltontheFly and a heathered blue wool blend from GiantDwarf. I added silver machine embroidery using a metallic thread* from Coates & Clark.

* A note about working with a metallic thread: I hadn’t sewn with metallic thread before and I would hardly consider myself an expert now–but here are a few pointers from my experience: 1. use a regular cotton/poly thread in the bobbin, 2. lighten your machine’s tension, and 3. sew very slowly. If you go too fast, the thread begins to shred at the eye of the needle.

I modified the standard collar pattern from the Peridot pattern in a few ways–

First, I trimmed down the basic Peridot pattern piece for the collar (see photo #1). Since I was working with felt, I did not need to finish any edges. Hence, I could cut off the seam allowance on the outside portion of the collar. I took off more than 1/2″ in some places because I wanted a slimmer overall look. Note that I kept the SA on the inside curve because I was going to sew both layers together along this curve.

Next I cut out the pattern in two pieces (rather than on the fold for a joined piece) in order to create a more classic silhouette–see further below for how I sewed the points together.

Finally, I created a new scalloped piece for the top layer (see photo #2-3). I had to play around a bit to get the right shape. To ensure that the top and bottom layers would have identical inside curves, I created a copy of the main layer, then sketched out the scallops on the copy, before cutting it out of the felt (#4).

I love to play around with the different embroidery stitches on my machine (though this would have been an ideal project for hand embroidered details too). I kept the outline stitches on the top layer simple, but chose a blanket stitch for the bottom layer. After outlining the bottom layer with the blanket stitch, I trimmed the edge closer to the finished stitched edge (not reflected in the photo below).

Sew the two layers together along the inside curve, with the right side of the top layer against the wrong side of the bottom layer. Trim the seam allowance to 1/8″, then flip the top layer to the right side of the bottom layer and press. Repeat for the second half of the collar.

Next, sew the left and right pieces together by overlapping the two sides by about 1/2″ with the top layer opened up. You may be able to see the stitched triangle (right, below) that secures the two halves together.

I used the final top stitching along the finished, inside edge to also secure the brown grosgrain ribbon in place in between the two layers.

Finally, select a fun embellishment for the center front of the finished collar. I really wanted something silvery for this collar, but could only find this button–it’s fine but not as elegant as I had in mind. 

So, I swapped out the button for this cute mini bow. I can imagine many additional fun ways to embellish this look.

Did I mention I had trouble securing the assistance of my usual model?  So, I improvised with my own neck! Who says littles should have all the fun?  (I swear that I could not find a shirt or sweater with a good neckline, can you tell?)

Oh, and in case you were wondering if I have a complete head, I thought I would throw in the gratuitous self portrait–might as well show off my new glasses + haircut ;)

I’ll be back this weekend with a wrap up post for our Collar Project. I hope you’ve enjoyed all the great ideas brought to you by our guest bloggers these past 2 weeks!

Happy Sewing!


12 Dec 2012

The Collar Project: a Beaded Glittery Flannel Number

2 Comments Inspiration, Peridot Blouse and Ankle Pants

Today’s Collar Project guest is a gift to fabric hoarders –er, fabric lovers. Laura’s Charm Stitch shop features all sorts of fabric goodness, including a delightful collection of Japanese makes and models: Nani Iro, Echino, Yuwa and Kokka, to name just a few.

But more than just her love of fabrics, Laura features really unique, one-of-a-kind projects on her sewing and craft blog. One project in particular that I am coveting is her girl’s Celestial Dress, by which she pays homage to one of my favorite designers, Alabama Chanin.  Here she borrows another one of Alabama Chanin’s technique–beading!

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Clever Charlotte patterns have long dominated my to-sew lists. When Erin asked me if I would like to participate in the Collar Project series I knew it was perfect timing to whip up a quick holiday accessory from the Peridot pattern. Because what kind of lady turns down the opportunity to make something for her daughter to wear that is delightfully festive and girly?

I knew I would use a delicate Nani Iro flannel with glitter dots from last Fall’s collection. On the reverse side I chose a Velveteen print from Anna Maria Horner’s LouLouThi collection. Because the project is very quick and simply constructed, I was able to embellish the glitter polka dots with glass chop and bugle beading from the Alabama Chanin shop. Using beads and button thread, the polka dots became a background for showing off some interesting stitch techniques. While hand-sewing is no easy task for the hasty sewer, it is a nice break from the frantic holiday chores that seem to fill my date book lately.


  • large contrasting scraps of fabric
  • two 12″ ribbons
  • chop and bugle beading
  • Coats and Clark button thread
  • beading needle
  • lightweight fusible interfacing (for any wide weave or flimsy fabric)
  • chalk marker
  • any of the Alabama Chanin books for beading application reference
  • Peridot Blouse and Ankle Pants with detachable collar


Prepare cut front and back fabrics from collar pattern. Attach fusible interfacing to any lightweight fabric that will be embroidered/embellished. With the chalk marker draw the seam allowance (1/2″) around the perimeter to keep beading away from the sewing machine’s path.

Refer to an Alabama Chanin book for tips on embellishing the fabric and polka dots with bead work. Embroider away!

Follow Clever Charlotte’s instructions for attaching the ties and finishing the collar. Easy as 1-2-3! 

For a similar look try a solid fabric and any of the glitter paints from Martha Stewart’s new line of paints applied with a pouncer (see our recent dress for a tutorial). I would love to see it made it in Jersey with raw edges and top stitching. Who’s up for that?

10 Dec 2012

The Collar Project: Holiday Cheer

2 Comments Inspiration, Peridot Blouse and Ankle Pants

Seeing all these variations on the Peridot Collar has me inspired! With the holiday season closing in, I decided this was a perfect opportunity to double up on my sewing efforts for my girls.  I’ll be separately blogging about the dresses and coordinating Kestrel Coat later this month.   

For an elegant, Christmas look, I chose a green cotton velvet at our favorite local fabric shop and a variety of silver beads from my stash   To make sure my embroidery was centered on the front of the collars, I marked the stitch lines using a permanent pen 1/2″ in from the cut lines on the wrong side of the velvet pieces (I would recommend using a disappearing ink or hand basting if using a thinner fabric). Using these stitch lines as a guide, I hand sewed the small beads in the form of snowflakes on the front of the collars.  This step took no time at all, but there was some mild frustration threading that painfully small beading needle.

I underlined the collar (no interfacing because of the weight of the velvet) in a plain white cotton and followed the basic assembly steps for the Peridot pattern, omitting the ribbon ties.  Once the collars were sewn, flipped and pressed, I sewed on large hooks and eyes to close the fronts.

 The back view–

 With the action that these collars will see, I think I need to add some snaps to secure them to the dresses!

Happy Sewing!


07 Dec 2012

The Collar Project: Around the Internets

1 Comment Inspiration, Peridot Blouse and Ankle Pants

We have a break in The Collar Project schedule today so I thought I would share some additional collar looks that I have been collecting from here and there. May these be additional inspiration for you!

I’ve mentioned before that the detachable collar is a great way to use small amounts of treasured fabrics, like Liberty.  To use even less, use a different fabric for the underside of the collar (which isn’t typically seen when worn).  Here is a ready to wear version from Claudine & Compagnie featuring Liberty Tana Lawn:

Or perhaps you have some small print vintage fabric on your stash that you would like use:

Crochet and knitting have long been applied to decorative collars. Here is a lovely one in classic cream and black crocheted by One Sheepish Girl using a free pattern created by Lulu Loves:

For a less traditional look, there is this one by Good Night, Day (found via Fringe Association). I think this would look nice over a coat too.

Until Monday, happy sewing!

~ Erin

06 Dec 2012

The Collar Project: Peter Pan Collar Capelet w/ Pattern!

7 Comments Inspiration, Peridot Blouse and Ankle Pants

Oh my, our next guest has been busy.  I am fairly certain Caila, of Caila Made, never sleeps, and LUCKY FOR US!  Her exuberance gushes forth from everything she does and her projects are always filled with energy.  (Maybe it’s sunny California?)  She’s developed a number of wonderful (and free!) children’s patterns on her site–mainly shorts and pants–and I am thrilled to say she’s sharing a new one with us today featuring the Peridot Collar! 

Let’s welcome Caila and her darling, pixie-like daughter–

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I am absolutely thrilled to be here today as part of Clever Charlotte’s Collar Project! I hope you don’t mind me starting off with a pun: What a clever idea for a series! Okay, I got that out of my system, hehe.

Well, from the very first moment Erin asked me to participate, I knew I was going to make Abby a capelet. I mean, there is only one thing cuter than a cape on a little girl and that is a cape with a peter pan collar on a little girl.

My love of capes this season can be directly linked to my love of the show Once Upon a Time. Have you seen it? It’s a bizarre and wonderful story linking real life with fairy tales. The best part? The show is filled with capes upon beautiful capes! The Mad Hatter’s daughter, the evil queen, the evil queen’s mother, Red Riding Hood–they all have the most wonderful capes. We needed one in our household!

So here is my version for Abby: a Peter Pan Collared Capelet made from a pair of textured herringbone pants. She is wearing it paired with her Christmas dress (made by me), a pair of black tights, and a red Christmas bauble. Baubles make everything better!

Below is a terrible picture of the original pants. I just think it’s so fun to see the starting point for repurposed projects, don’t you? I bought these crazy pants in a thrift store last Christmas because I wanted Abby to have a herringbone cape. It only took me one year to get there.

Making your own little cape with Clever Charlotte’s Peridot collar is so easy!  Would you like me to show you? I’ll even give you the 2T cape pattern for FREE.


- For the size 2T capelet you will need a 22″ by 29″ piece of fabric. Depending on the type of fabric you use, you may need less than a yard or up to 1 2/3 yards of fabric. (If the fabric is directional you may need more). Sorry I don’t have more exact numbers–I used a pair of pants!

- Ribbon or other for the tie.

I suggest using a heavier fabric for the outside of this cape. Choose something you would choose for a coat or jacket. For the lining choose a pretty cotton, or something silky. Just make sure it has some pop! All seam allowances are 1/2″ unless instructed otherwise.


First, print out the FREE Cape pattern by clicking here. Make sure you print the pieces at 100%, no scaling! Tape the four pieces together by matching up the black border lines. Make sure all the cutting lines match up, then cut out your pattern using paper scissors.

CUTTING: When you lay your pattern out, don’t forget to match the FOLD line with the fold in your fabric. If you cut the cape on the bias, you’ll get some really nice drape. (I didn’t have this option since I was working with limited fabric, but I’ll try it next time).

1. Cut out your pieces for the Peridot Collar: one outer fabric on the fold and one lining on the fold. (Optional: cut your peter pan collar on a different angle than the cape. This will add some visual interest to your cape!).

2. Cut out your pieces for the Cape: one outer fabric on the fold and one lining on the fold.

TO MAKE THE COLLAR: I only changed one small step in constructing the Peridot collar for my cape. Follow the Clever Charlotte instructions, but do not sew the inside of the neckline.  You do not need to leave a gap for turning. Follow the steps below.

1. Cut out the pieces.

2. Place them right sides together and pin. Sandwich the ribbon inside the two pieces at the collar point. Make sure the ribbon is clear of your stitching line.

3. Stitch around the outside of the collar, including around the collar points.

4. Turn right side out and press. Tug on the ribbon gently to make bring the collar points out.  

Looking good so far!


5. Place your collar on top of the outer cape and pin the necklines together. They should match up.

6. Pin so that the points of the collar are pulled away from your stitching line. Your collar points should be pinned more than 1/2″ away from the raw edge. Sew a basting stitch around the neckline, 1/4″ from the raw edge. This will help keep the collar in place as you pin and sew.

7. Place the lining on top of your cape, right side down. The right sides of your cape pieces should be facing.

8. Stitch all the way around your cape, up the straight sides and around the neckline. All the edges of your cape should be sewn. Leave a 2″ gap for turning along the outside edge.

Turn your cape right side out and press all edges. Close the gap with hand stitching, or topstitch 1/8″ along the outer edges if desired. (I chose not to topstitch this cape because the material is bulky).

Now you have a beautiful, finished capelet. (Photobomb by blankie!)

Try it on your girl and admire her little self. Put her to work decorating the Christmas tree.

This capelet is a quick and easy Christmas project! I’m especially happy because I made a very special outerwear garment without having to wrangle with sleeves and intricate lining techniques.  
And who doesn’t love a bright red lining?

An early Merry Christmas to each of you! May your holidays be filled with loved ones, good food, lots of sewing, and pretty things.

Lastly, I invite you to visit me at CailaMade, where I demonstrate how to draft a pattern for this cape in sizes 3T through 8. I’d love to see you there!

You can also find me at CailaMade’s new Facebook page. Please don’t hesitate to email me with questions. Happy sewing, and thanks for reading!


05 Dec 2012

The Collar Project: A Feathered Friend

13 Comments Inspiration, Peridot Blouse and Ankle Pants

It may be an understatement to call our next Collar Project guest one of our biggest fans, & we are certainly a fan of hers. Nicole of Five & Counting sews all (or nearly so) the clothes for her 5 children, in between running a demanding Australian sheep farm & blogging into the wee hours of the morning. (She was actually delivering a litter of kittens as she was finishing up this post!)

I am just a little jealous of Nicole’s good-natured, spunky children, whose model-like looks frequently adorn the pages of our Flickr group, and I am more than a little jealous of Nicole’s detailed and precise tailoring. I often guide people to her blog if they want a complete, step by step tutorial of any of our patterns. 

In this post, Nicole brings us a stunning collar variation in the most unexpected sewing medium–feathers! I may have to try this out for me ;)

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I adore Clever Charlotte patterns and was delighted albeit nervous to accept the offer of a guest blog post.

The removable collar on the Peridot blouse was one of the first things I noticed and admired about this pattern. I have already made the blouse and two collars for my daughter, Lidia. One self fabric and another in a spotty white voile with contrasting ribbon ties–

So I was ready to try something different.


I gathered the feathers from my own chooks but you may purchase them. {Ed. note, here’s a great online resource for feathers of all kinds}

Either way, I recommend washing them in warm water and a little shampoo to remove any nasties.

Collect your notions. I used a thick woollen felt for my under collar as it won’t fray and I really like the texture.

You may bind the neck but I used grosgrain ribbon and found it flexible enough.

Cut out the collar and start arranging the feathers evenly around the edge.

NB, in retrospect I wish I had used a narrower sticky tape to hold the feathers in place as it was a little fiddly to remove when the collar was completed.

Continue with the feathers until you are happy with the placement.

Baste the feathers in place taking care to catch the ends.

Trim the quills back to the collar edge.

Cut two narrow ribbons for the ties,I cut the end with a heated butter knife to stop fraying.

Measure the inside curve of the neck and cut a wider piece of ribbon for that. Press the ends in and then press the ribbon so that one side is slightly wider. This will make it easier to attach and catch both sides of the ribbon when sewing.

Tuck the inner collar edge into the neck binding. The wider side of the binding should be on the underside of the collar. Tuck one ribbon tie into the end of the neck binding.

Continue pinning the ribbon binding along the curve.

Tuck the second ribbon in at the other edge of the collar and pin in place as before.

Stitch the neck binding in place with a small stitch length to make sure the feathers are caught in place.

I stitched this twice.  The ends are sewn at this time too so the ribbon ties are held in place.

Flipping the collar over you can see the under binding is caught by the top stitching.

Carefully remove the sticky tape (this step will probably take the most time).  

The wool felt holds the collar nicely in place.

An elegant addition to a simple cardigan.

Have some fun with some feathers!

~ Nicole