Clever Charlotte

Finch Shorts & Top

Romper Room

In the Workroom, Finch Shorts & TopErinComment
Finch Romper
Finch Romper

Have you seen the tutorial of our new Finch "variation" over at Imagine Gnats for Rachael's Shorts on the Line series?  But enough of the Finch Romper...

This one turned 4last week.  She's a storyteller, a folk singer, an all around entertainer.  She's also my cheerleader, giver of endless kisses and master of one-liners.  I tell her often, "You make me happy everyday."  And she does.  

Finch Romper
Finch Romper

What's with the fascinator, you ask? 

On an utter whim last summer, I signed up for an online craft class with Princess Lasertron. Yes, the Princess Lasertron.  I haven't had many any opportunities to wear the fascinator, but Miss N found it right before we headed out for the photo shoot (read: it was lying on the table after I pilfered a matching button from it for the Romper cuff).  It was a perfect touch to the Romper, I thought.

She didn't care much for the birdcage veil, but her sense of theatrics is still evolving, after all.

Finch Romper
Finch Romper
Finch Romper
Finch Romper
Romper Intro
Romper Intro

Happy Sewing!

~ Erin and Miss N

A KCWC Project in Just the Nick of Time

Patterns, Finch Shorts & TopErinComment
flutter4
flutter4

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'ssecond 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.

flutter1
flutter1

The paper pattern has to be pieced together from 9 sheets of 8.5x11" 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.

flutter8
flutter8

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?

flutter6
flutter6

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.

flutter7
flutter7

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?

flutter2
flutter2

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.

flutter5
flutter5

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

flutter3
flutter3

I hope you all got some sewing done for KCWC.

Happy Sewing!

~Erin

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Eider Tunic, Chickadee Blouse & Skirt, Finch Shorts & Top, Raven Hoodie & PantsErinComment
garden grow2
garden grow2

We thought it would be fun to show some mix and match looks using our patterns from multiple seasons in spring colors.  It is so much fun approaching a project like this with a view to creating an entire wardrobe.  I think this shows off the versatility of individual pieces so fabulously.

garden grow1
garden grow1

We've already shown you this season's Kestrel Coat, lined in the same fabric shown here for the Chickadee Blouse.

garden grow3
garden grow3
garden grow5
garden grow5

Of course we couldn't leave well enough alone--the temptation was just too great to not throw in a few changes here and there.  Like the ruffle on the front of the Chickadee Skirt.   Or the short sleeves on the Eider Tunic, above (we kept the pintucks on the sleeves).  We also opted for a purchased belt to close the Tunic, rather than the cinched waist tie provided for in the pattern.

Or the fun, oversized cuffs on the Raven Pants (again, front pintucks intact)?

garden grow4
garden grow4

Lastly, for the Raven Hoodie--if you can still call it that since we dropped the hood just for fun--we used a contrasting thread color for a decorative touch, added a front pocket flap, sewed the waist ties into the side seams so that the ties could be tied off center (and allowing the front opening to overlap slightly) and left the outer edges exposed and frayed for, well, an edgier look (pun intended).

garden grow7
garden grow7

Happy Spring Sewing!

~Erin

Once Upon a Thread, What Big Eyes You Have

In the Workroom, Inspiration, Finch Shorts & Top, Raven Hoodie & PantsErinComment
Little Red Raven Hoodie1
Little Red Raven Hoodie1

It is possible that my choice of Little Red Riding Raven Hoodie for Once Upon a Thread is a bit obvious, but with all of the recent renditions of Little Red Riding Hood popping up, I just could not help but give this little girl an update too, Clever Charlotte-style of course. 

So, here's my modern inspiration:

LRRH book4
LRRH book4

[left] [middle] [right]

And here's my finished look:

Little Red Raven Hoodie2
Little Red Raven Hoodie2

What sealed LRRH as my choice was a certain vintage curtain that I purchased 10+ years ago at the antiques fair in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The fabric is double faced with a red and white damask pattern. I've been looking for the perfect use for it since I found it, and I knew immediately that it would look great as our Raven Hoodie with faux fur trim. To complete the wintery look, I chose a heavy creamy velveteen to make a pair the Finch Shorts.

LRHH11
LRHH11

I made a few basic changes to the Raven and Finch patterns--nothing too tricky, honest.

First, I added the aforementioned fur trim to the hood of the Hoodie. To do this, I first sewed one long edge of the trim in between the main and lining layers. Once the Hoodie was turned to the right side, I turned the other long edge of the trim to the inside of the hood, tucked in the short ends and hand sewed everything to the lining layer to secure it in place.  This was the first time I have sewn with faux fur and, but for a short coughing fit caused by the small amounts of fur that floated into the air after cutting the material, it was remarkably easy to work with.

In lieu of the pattern's waist ties, I used a satiny ribbon at the top of the front center opening to tie the neck closed--again, the ties were sewn sandwiched between the Hoodie's two layers before flipping it to the right side.

Little Red Raven Hoodie6
Little Red Raven Hoodie6

For the Hoodie's lining, I used the backside of the curtain fabric which had been woven in the reverse.  I had to get creative with my cutting as the curtain was badly faded in certain areas, presumably from hanging in the sun for who knows how many decades.

For the Shorts, I skipped the side and front tabs and added a creamy grosgrain ribbon along the side seams for a tuxedo'd, tone on tone look (inspiration here).  (In case you were wondering, I sewed the sides of the shorts first, so that I could sew on the ribbon before sewing the crotch seams.)  I also used buttonhole elastic in the back waistband and lined the waistband in an off-white Duchess silk.

So here are some more shots:

Little Red Raven Hoodie5
Little Red Raven Hoodie5

Is that the big bad wolf lurking about? Nope, just Lola, our Soft Coated Wheaton Terrier:

Little Red Raven Hoodie3
Little Red Raven Hoodie3

See the versatility of this outfit? It is just right for work...

Little Red Raven Hoodie7
Little Red Raven Hoodie7

and play...

LRHH12
LRHH12
Little Red Raven Hoodie13
Little Red Raven Hoodie13

I am pleased as punch how this look came together, as was Nora.  I think this look has "visit with Santa" written all over it--which unbelievably, is in just a few weeks!Happy Sewing! ~ Erin

PS In case you'd like to know, Nora's shirt is from Target and her super-comfy and stylish boots are by Kenneth Cole Reaction available from Nordstrom's.

Finch Shorts Remastered

Inspiration, Finch Shorts & TopErinComment
Full Finch2
Full Finch2

Remember those ready-to-wear shorts I showed you a few weeks ago that resemble our Finch Shorts? Well, I just couldn't resist modifying the Finch Shorts pattern for my daughter to reflect some of those fun details.

Olive's Friend Pop Shorts
Olive's Friend Pop Shorts

First, I took inspiration from the navy fabric and contrasting lining in a tiny print that are used in this pair from Olive's Friend Pop

I used the same fabric to line the waistband and the faux bow tie belt as well. Here's my version:

Cuff Finch
Cuff Finch
Gymboree Shorts
Gymboree Shorts

As for that belt, I used this Gymboree short as my starting point: 

I wanted a simple bow tie that would have a hint of color and would not come untied, as it was purely a decorative detail. First I made a pointy but rounded end to the finished ends of both ties. I then tied two ends to form a bow. With the knot centered on the front waistband, I sewed the unfinished ends of the ties into the two side seams that join the front and back waistband pieces and trimmed the excess. After sewing the waistband to the shorts, I hand-tacked the knot to the waistband to keep it centered and in place. Here's a closer look:

Bow Tie Finch
Bow Tie Finch

Overall, I am really happy with how these turned out. They look great on Miss N. too, but she wasn't cooperating for pictures, so those will have to wait!

Happy Sewing!

Our Flickr Group is Up and Running!

Inspiration, Finch Shorts & TopErinComment

Hi folks--just a quick post to let you know that we've set up Charlotte's Flickr group for our patterns.  We invite you to join the group & share photos of your finished pieces when they are ready! Thanks to Christina of icewerks for being the first to upload a photo.  Aren't these tangerine linen Finch shorts just smashing?

Finch in Tangerine
Finch in Tangerine

I hope you have a nice weekend.  I have a few more creative projects to share with you next week!

Happy Sewing!

Mix Up Your Finch Shorts

Finch Shorts & TopErinComment

Banded shorts are everywhere this season and we've seen them with a lot of fun details and in lots of fun fabrics and colors.  We thought we'd share a few of our favorites so you could get some ideas on how you could modify our Finch Shorts.  This bold green pair from Gymboree has several great design elements.  See that piping around the cute belt and buttons on the bands?

shorts1
shorts1

And don't be afraid of a little print or pattern.  Here's an adorable plaid version from Janie and Jack.

shorts4
shorts4
shorts7
shorts7

A recent discovery for me in ready to wear kids clothing has quickly become a favorite of mine.  Olive's Friend Pop out of Australia has these fantastic shorts this season with a little fun surprise on the inside of the bands + two simple pockets perfect for collecting lots of small items to test your washing machine's tolerance for foreign objects.

For those of you who may be getting into the 'back to school' mode, may I suggest our Finch Shorts in a rich velventeen, corduroy or even a tweed??  Paired with some tights or leggings, these shorts will take your little girl through the fall, just the same as any skirt would.

One of my fall favorites are these from the UK's Caramel:

shorts7
shorts7

Happy Sewing!

A Special Monday Treat (Note: This IS a Big Deal!)

Inspiration, Finch Shorts & Top, Sandpiper Capri & TopErinComment
dill2
dill2

We have a special treat for you this Monday morning!  Katy, of NoBigDill fame, has posted her renditions of two of our patterns on her website.  We knew Katy would find interesting twists on our patterns and she hasn't disappointed!  Be sure to check out her beautiful and fun variations of our Finch and Sandpiper looks, modeled by two of her little girls.  There's also a special little something from us for those who stop by her site (a giveaway, perhaps?).

dill1
dill1

Whether she's reworking a simple idea or tackling something really ambitious (her Avalanche skirt comes to mind), Katy is known for using lots of color, fun trims and great fabrics. What's more, her sewing skills are equally matched by her skills with a camera.

Did I mention she has small obsession with the color orange??  Need I say more? I didn't think so.

dill3
dill3

A big thank you to Katy and her daughters for this little Monday morning pick me up!

Finch Top Triple Berry Sorbet

In the Workroom, Finch Shorts & TopErinComment
Finch top Colorblock3
Finch top Colorblock3

I've had this beautiful array of Kaffe Fasset's shot cottons* hanging around my fabric stash for a while now.  I purchased about 9 of the pink-red-purple colors, but only in 1/4 yard increments--leaving me to get creative on how to use them for apparel sewing.  The answer came to me recently in two words: color blocking.  The resulting Finch Top is three layers of such sweetness that I just want to scoop up a big mouthful.

Finch Top Colorblock2
Finch Top Colorblock2

I chose to make up the Finch Top since it is fairly symmetrical and would lend itself to wide horizontal stripes.  After selecting my colors, I sewed the 1/4 yard pieces together from selvage edge to selvage edge, making sure the total length of the three sewn panels would accommodate the length of the top's pattern pieces (for this size 4T, the pattern pieces were 18" long), plus a little extra length for good measure.  The middle stripe is 6" and, once the pattern pieces were centered on the fabric, the upper and lower panels also measured about 6".

An important aspect of successful color blocking is to make sure the stripes match up at the side seams.  You can see from the picture below that I placed the single notches of the front and back pattern pieces on the same seam line joining the bottom two panels.

Finch Top Colorblock1
Finch Top Colorblock1

As for the fabric flower on the left shoulder, I wanted to show you an alternative to the bow that we feature with the pattern.  This was a fabric flower that I previously made for a different project and had at the ready.  I lined the garment with pink and mauve plaid shirting fabric--it is so soft and silky and will feel great against the skin.

Since putting this Finch Top together this week, I have been dying to try adding a fourth layer to make it long enough to be a dress.  Stay tuned for that version...perhaps in a lemon-lime colorway?

_______________ *For those of you not familiar with shot cottons, they use two different colors for the warp and weft fibers, giving the fabric added dimension and a slight iridescence. They come in a wide variety of colors. For example, the fabric in the top stripe of my Finch Top has white and pink threads; the middle stripe has pink and tangerine threads. The fabric is slightly lighter in weight than a quilter's cotton and perfect for making lightweight apparel.

Finch Top Tutorial

Tutorials, Finch Shorts & Topcarla macklinComment
Finch Top Tutorial12
Finch Top Tutorial12

The Finch Top is cut as a racerback tank for comfort and style. It is extremely easy to sew, especially since all edges except the hem are finished by flipping the garment inside out.  Follow these steps and pictures along with your printed pattern to quickly create a top your little girl will love wearing.  (To help you with this, I've cross-referenced the steps by number from the written instructions.)  Also, we've previously covered the Finch bow in a separate tutorial, so be sure to check that out.

First, a disclaimer: Despite sewing for over 15 years, I still make lots of mistakes.  Trying to rush, I forgot to flip the Back pattern piece for the lining to create a mirror image of the main Back piece. Whoops!  If you are using  a fabric that has a definite wrong side to it, make sure that you flip the pattern piece for the lining!  Luckily I had enough extra lining fabric to re-cut the piece. For the Top in this tutorial, I have chosen a floral print for the main fabric and a tic-tac-toe print for the lining.

So, Away We Go...

After cutting out the Front and Back pieces from the main and lining fabrics and interfacing the left shoulder area, as described in the written pattern instructions, we are ready to start sewing.  First, with right sides together, sew the Front main to Back main and Front lining to Back lining at the right shoulder seams.  (Step 4A)

Finch Top Tutorial1
Finch Top Tutorial1

From here, place the lining on top of the main fabric, right sides together.  Start by aligning the shoulder seams you just sewed and work your way around the neck hole and arm holes. (Step 4B)

Finch Top Tutorial2
Finch Top Tutorial2

Sew the Front/Back main to the Front/Back lining where you pinned around both armholes and neck hole. Then trim the seam allowance to approximately 1/8”.  (Step 4C)

Finch Top3
Finch Top3

Now reach between the main and lining fabrics and pull the back through the right shoulder seam as shown. Take your time working the fabric through the right shoulder.  The thicker the fabric, the longer it may take to turn the Top to the right side. (Step 5A)

Finch Top Tutorial4
Finch Top Tutorial4
Finch Top Tutorial5
Finch Top Tutorial5
Finch Top Tutorial6
Finch Top Tutorial6

Once turned right side out, press the edges of the garment and topstitch. (Step 5A-C)

Finch Top Tutorial7
Finch Top Tutorial7

Now it's time to sew the side seams. Open the lining from the main fabric and match the right sides of the main Front to main Back and the lining Front to lining Back.  At this point, you will be able to sew the side seams for the lining and the main fabric in one single seam, pivoting slightly where the main and lining join under the arm. Once sewn, press these side seams open. (Step 6A)

Finch Top Tutorial9
Finch Top Tutorial9

After you are through sewing, turn the main fabric down to the right side.

Now you are ready to sew the bias strip hem:  Finish the main fabric hem by sewing a bias strip, right sides together, to the main fabric hem. (Step 7C)

Finch Top Tutorial10
Finch Top Tutorial10

Turn the bias strip toward the inside of the garment wrong side of the fabric and sew along hem.  (Step 7D) To finish the garment, follow the remaining instructions in the Finch pattern.

Finch Top Tutoral11
Finch Top Tutoral11

Another completed garment to add to your little girl’s collection! Send us pictures of your finished Finch Tops… we’d love to add them to our project gallery to inspire others.  Happy Sewing!

Finch Top Tutorial: The Basic Bow

Tutorials, Finch Shorts & TopErinComment
Finch Bow
Finch Bow

We have styled the cover look for the Finch Top with a slightly-oversized bow on the left shoulder to hide the hook and loop (i.e. "Velcro") closing.  Here are some tips and photos for putting the bow together.  You should read this post along with the full written instructions that accompany the pattern.  Look for another post next week discussing some embellishments you could make to the bow and some other alternatives.

For this tutorial, I have chosen a pink paisley on a white background for the main fabric and a mauve cotton lawn for the contrasting middle band.

For the bow itself, I have cut out the two bow pattern pieces and matched them with right sides together.  Before I sew, I like to measure out 1/2" from each of the pivot points, or corners, of the bow (of which there are several) and mark each of those points with a water-soluble pen.  This helps me to know exactly where to pivot my sewing machine needle.  Without this step, I found the two sides could end up looking a little lopsided because I didn't always pivot at the exactly the same point at each turn.

Finch Bow
Finch Bow

The next step is to sew around the perimeter of the two pieces, leaving a 2" (or so) opening along a side edge near one of the wider ends of the bow.

Finch Bow
Finch Bow

Another trick I have learned when making the bow, especially with heavier weight fabric, is to clip into the seam allowance at each pivot point (being careful to not clip into the stitched line).  This helps the bow lie flat after you turn it.

Once you have sewed the bow, turn the fabric through the opening, press and sew along the opening close to the edge.

Now it is time to fold the bow.  Pinch the points marked "A" on the Bow pattern piece, then fold the Bow back on itself toward the end of the bow.

Finch Bow
Finch Bow

Do the same on the other side.  Notice the bottom folded edges come together on the underside of the bow.

Finch Bow
Finch Bow

Here's what it looks like from the underside after you have the bow folded.

Finch Bow
Finch Bow

Finally, sew two stitch lines on either side of that center line where the two folds come together in order to hold the two folded edges in place.  Again, this picture shows the underside of the bow.

Finch Bow
Finch Bow

Now let's focus on the bow center.  Fold the bow center in half with right sides together and sew along the long edge.

Finch Bow
Finch Bow

Turn the Bow Center right sides out and press it flat so that the seam just sewn goes right down the middle.  With the seam facing out, fold the Bow Center in half again so that the short edges come together.  Stitch the short edge closed  to form a loop.

Finch Bow
Finch Bow

While not totally necessary, I chose to pink the edges of this short seam since they looked like they may start to unravel. Now turn the bow again so that both seams are on the inside of the loop.

Finch Bow
Finch Bow

All that is left to do now is assemble the bow and fasten it to the Top, as directed in the instructions.

Happy Sewing!

The Shop's Grand Opening

Patterns, Shop News, Finch Shorts & Top, Starling Dress & Shirt, Wren Dress, Sandpiper Capri & TopErinComment
Wren Cover
Wren Cover

[one_half] [/one_half]

Sandpiper Cover
Sandpiper Cover

You've seen the previews, and now we are so pleased to announce that we've opened the doors to our new shop! Click on the "Shop Online" link at the top of this page to go to the store.  There you will find ready for purchase all 4 of our Spring/Summer patterns, the fabrics featured on the covers of our patterns and, to add even more convenience, sewing kits for each of the garments. {Note the patterns will ship the week of May 9th.}  In celebration of our opening, we are offering 20% off on patterns when you buy 3 or more (Be sure to use the code "Grand" when you check out).

Finch Covers
Finch Covers

We are really excited about our "One-Click" sewing kits, which include the fabric and notions needed, in just the right amounts, to create the garments in our Spring/Summer pattern collection.  You choose from among several (carefully coordinated) fabric choices, and we'll do the rest.  Think  how lovely it will be to open your front door and find waiting for you a box of everything you'll need to start sewing right away (note, the patterns are sold separately). We also offer all the fabric and notions on our site a la carte.

Starling Cover
Starling Cover

Another offering that we feel will simplify your sewing lives are samples of our fabric collection.  We will send you small swatches of all 6 of our current Spring/Summer fabric selections for $5--together with a $5 coupon to redeem on your next purchase.  We hope that you'll take advantage of this feature to be completely assured of the colors, weights and textures of all our fabrics before you buy.  We know you won't be disappointed.

So go check out the store and start planning your little girl's spring & summer looks!

Happy Sewing,

Erin & Carla

The Finch Shorts & Top Revealed

Design Updates, Patterns, Shop News, Uncategorized, Finch Shorts & TopErinComment

Next up in our collection preview is the Finch Shorts and Top.  Check out our preview of the Wren Dress from last week.  (As always, click on an image to see it larger!)

Finch Shorts and Top
Finch Shorts and Top
finch3
finch3

As you can see with these photos, we had a lot of fun with this outfit. We pictured little girls jumping in puddles and doing cartwheels on the front lawn.  The Finch Shorts have front and side tab detailing and a simple elastic waistband in the back.  Since the buttons are merely a design detail, no buttonholes are necessary.  We're sure you'll find lots of fun buttons to use on these.

The shorts are made with a linen/cotton blend that will be available for purchase in our shop.  We chose a natural color that has darker flecks and striations in the fibers to add visual interest.  The shorts will look equally great in a cotton twill or any number of other bottom-weight fabrics.  We even featured them a few weeks ago made up in a --I can't wait to bring those out next fall.

finch2
finch2

The accompanying Finch Top is a loose-fitting shirt with a Velcro closure at the left shoulder.  This tab is artfully concealed by a stylish bow made up in a contrasting fabric.  Stay tuned for a few variations on the bow in the upcoming weeks.  For the look in these pictures, we have sewn up the main body of the Top in a mauve sateen, which is a crisp, smooth cotton fabric with a bit of a sheen to it.  The contrasting lining fabric, also used for the  bow, is a coordinating plaid.

Here are some puddle-jumping accessories to embellish the look of this very sweet, very playful outfit:

finch collage
finch collage

Sources: Boots and Umbrella