Clever Charlotte

Of Note

Clever Charlotte Goes to NYC Fashion Week!

Of Notecarla macklin

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:

FashionWeek2
FashionWeek2
Lounge
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.

NYC Fashion Week3
NYC Fashion Week3

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 style.com). 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.

LelaRose1
LelaRose1

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 style.com).

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
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
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
Mathieu Mirano1

This model's legs are turning blue:

MathieuMirano3
MathieuMirano3
CarolinaCrowd
CarolinaCrowd

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 style.com).

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

FashionWeek1
FashionWeek1

That'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.

Summer Birthdays

In the Craft Room, Of NoteErin

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%.

party2
party2

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.

party3
party3

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

party1
party1

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

party7
party7

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

party8
party8

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

party5
party5

...complete with silly faces.

part6
part6

Happy #5, Nora!

~Mom

party9
party9

A Guide to Online Fabric Resources

Of NoteErinComment

Thank you, Jenny of Craft Test Dummies, for having me here today.  When Jenny suggested that I write  post for her readers about online fabric resources, I immediately thought, "Yes Yes Yes!  What a great idea!"  I was happy to oblige and, in the process, make a written record of all the random websites I frequent that otherwise just float around in my head.  These sites are my go-to fabric sources for both my children’s clothing pattern business, Clever Charlotte, and my own diverse apparel and crafting needs.

There is a certain subset of sewers and crafters who have a biologic need to hoard fabric.  I am among this group and can never get enough of the stuff… slinky or stiff, patterned or plain, I have amassed hundreds of yards of fabric over my 34 years on this planet. It’s tucked into every available crevasse of my home.

Sadly, for most of us, the local fabric store has gone the way of the dodo. It’s nearly impossible to head out on your daily errand run and find the instant gratification of the perfect textile for your project.  As a small consolation, the internet abounds with all sorts of online fabric resources.  Buying fabric online is far from perfect—you don’t get the immediate sense of the fabric’s hand and the fabric’s colors may not appear accurate on your computer screen.  But for many of us, it is often the only choice we have, so finding reliable sources is important.

To help you in your search of the perfect fabric, I have created this list of online fabric stores compiled after years of stalking the illusive silk tulle or surreptitious graphic-print cotton lawn. Whether you are searching for organic fabric, apparel fabric, quilters cotton, home décor fabric, or design-your-own fabric you should find something of interest below.

Retail Apparel Fabrics

  • Fabric.com: A discount emporium of 1000’s of fabrics.  They are among the few fabric stores with a return policy on cut fabric and they offer free US shipping on all orders over $35. They sell quilters cotton and home decor weight, too.
  • Fashion Fabrics Club: Another discount emporium. I have had mixed results ordering from their occasionally misleading photos. I once bought a pink fabric that they neglected to show had a purple band running through the entire length.  They, too, permit returns within 30 days, and their prices are amongst the lowest around.
  • Vogue Fabrics: While I have never placed an order with them, their selection is large.
  • Gray Line Linen: The online store is a nice compliment to their clean, neat, brick-and-mortar store in the NYC Garment District.  I highly recommend this shop for your linen needs. Some of their heavier-weight linens can be used for home decor.
  • Gorgeous Fabrics: Indeed, a gorgeous, curated selection of designer overruns. I love how they provide ideal sewing patterns to use with each fabric to give you a better sense of its weight and hand.
  • Fabric Mart Fabrics: While they have a limited listing of fabric on their website, Fabric Mart offers high quality at reasonable prices. They primarily purchase end-runs from manufacturers so their offerings often include quality fabrics from large fashion houses. Be sure to sign up to be on their wholesale customer list.  Their wholesale minimums (10-12 yards) are very low and the prices are terrific. If you are searching for something in particular, I’d say give them a call, they are extremely accommodating and friendly.
  • Harts Fabric: They have decent pricing on a wide variety of fabrics.
  • Mood Fabric: While their website will never rival their NYC Garment District store (think “Project Runway”), they are a great source of bridal fabrics, among others.
  • Linton Tweeds: The original purveyor of tweeds for Chanel.  Their product is divine.
  • Printed Silk Fabrics: This is a new discovery of mine.  Their charmeuse and crepe de chine collections have resulted in drool marks on my computer.
  • Lace Star: For all things fancy and sparkly, this site is currently under construction but will hopefully provide a resource for those of you unable to travel to its amazing NYC store.

Modern Quilt Shops

  • Hawthorne Threads: Modern sewers take note. They carry fun printed quilting fabrics.
  • Fabric Worm: Again, another resource for quilters cotton in modern prints.  If you are looking for a combination of quilting fabrics, check out their curated fabric bundles for unique mixes of different designers. Also, they have a substantial organic selection, including their own line.

Organic Fabrics

  • Pickering International: Provider of organic fabric basics with wholesale opportunities.  The gladly will email you their price list.
  • Eden Fabrics: They have a small collection of organic wovens and knits.

Retail Home Décor Fabrics

Design-your-own Fabric

  • Spoonflower: If you haven’t visited Spoonflower yet, this site is a MUST! Order one-of-a-kind fabric designed by other designers or design your own. Any print is available in many types of organic and conventional fabrics (such as twill, voile, silk, quilters cotton and knit). They have ridiculously low minimums (you can order a fat quarter, by the yard or even just an 8” x 8” test swatch). The downsides: it can be pricey per yard and the quality of the fabric used isn’t always the best… it can be rather rough on the hand, so it is better applied to occasional throw pillows or wall art.  If in doubt, splurge on the $5 fabric swatches before printing large amounts!
  • While Spoonflower is probably the most well-known of the on-demand, customizable digital fabric printers, they are not the only one.  Though I do not have direct experience with these, you may wish to check out Fabric on Demand and Pabric.

Do you have a favorite online fabric store?  Please share in the comments so I can continue my fabric habit!

~ Carla

The Collar Project: Our New Blog Series

Inspiration, Of Note, Peridot Blouse & PantsErinComment
Clever Charlotte's The Collar Project
Clever Charlotte's The Collar Project

We are pleased to introduce a new Clever Charlotte blog series that will begin within the 4 corners of your computer screen next week!  The inspiration for this special project was our Peridot Blouse, which features our version of a detachable Peter Pan collar.

Peridot Blouse with Detachable Collar
Peridot Blouse with Detachable Collar

When designing this piece, we were overflowing with creative and unique ideas to embellish the collar.  It seemed like a fun (and quick!) challenge to see what we could come up with.  Even more exciting, we wanted  to see what others could come up with, so we invited a few people to play along.  We are truly excited to be able to showcase the talents of these lovely fellow bloggers who were eager to join in on the fun: 

An fromStraight Grain

Caila from Caila Made

Jessica from Running With Scissors

Laura from Charm Stitch

Nicole from 5 and Counting

***

So be sure to stop by these next two weeks to see all the fun!

Happy Sewing!

~ Carla & Erin

Trick or Treat

Of Notecarla macklinComment
IMG_2092
IMG_2092

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.

IMG_2080
IMG_2080

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.

IMG_2084
IMG_2084

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

IMG_2085
IMG_2085

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.

IMG_2086
IMG_2086

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?

IMG_2091
IMG_2091

Happy Sewing! ~Carla

Little Italy ArtWalk This Saturday (10/6)

Of NoteErinComment

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.

logo
logo

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

Olivine Dress Kits in the Shop

Of Note, Olivine Dress, Shop NewsErinComment
olivine dress kit
olivine dress kit

The Olivine Dress Kits have been posted in the shop for those of you planning ahead for the holidays or needing a special birthday girl dress.

The kit is available in two sizes (2T-4T and 5-8) and currently features the fabrics in our cover look: a wonderful, eggplanty dupioni silk and the lovely Liberty of London Tana Lawn print, Becci. Here's a better shot of that Liberty fabric, which has a great mix of red, fuchsia, and blue and adds such a nice contrast to the purple.

Liberty Becci in magenta
Liberty Becci in magenta

Look for additional Olivine kit options from us soon featuring more colors of silks and Liberty fabrics!

On a related note, I am working on the Olivine Dress tutorial I mentioned a few weeks ago. It will highlight some of the trickier parts of the construction. Look for that to begin this week!

Happy Sewing!

Erin

A New Team Member

Design Updates, Of Note, Shop NewsErinComment

We had a special delivery from Jay, the Printer Fairy, last week and look what he brought, on an old hospital gurney, no less!

New Printer of Epic Proportions
New Printer of Epic Proportions

Now residing in our guest bedroom  studio, against what might have been the last 5' strip of unadulterated wall space remaining in my entire house--

New Printer of Epic Proportions2
New Printer of Epic Proportions2

It's a new printer, very nearly the size and weight of any employee we could have hired, so it is easy to think of it as such.

This new printer will print our patterns in full-scale, which should make test sewing and the like a much faster process for us.  It is but one of several very noteworthy changes we've been making behind the scenes at Clever Charlotte over the last few months, all in anticipation of the debut of our next collection.  

Speaking of new patterns, we are into the nitty gritty of finalizing all the details of the new Autumn/Winter collection, but we are still a little way's off. Postings will be light until then as it feels every waking minute is consumed by these patterns and general midsummer fatigue.

What else does Charlotte have up her sleeve?

Well, for starters, the new collection: it consists of 3 looks in all. One is a dress, and not just any dress--one that will really get your heart rate up (couldn't we all use a little more aerobic sewing?)  The other two outfits are pants/separates just right for back to school sewing.  They will integrate well with patterns from our prior collections.  Fingers crossed that we'll have some pictures/ordering details available on our blog come August!

We are also adopting a new nomenclature for these patterns to replace the avian theme used heretofore and will likely continue changing it up every so often in the future. Surprisingly we were able to  get a lot of life out of the bird names used for our first two collections.  But finding suitable names was becoming increasingly harder (Nuthatch, Titmouse, and Killdee will have to wait). We've reached into one of our former lives for inspiration to name the upcoming patterns.

The final thing I am excited to share with you today is that, after the release of our 3 new Autumn/Winter patterns, we will be moving away from semi-annual releases of pattern collections and instead, we'll be releasing single patterns more continually throughout the year, as the mood strikes us, more or less. We feel that this will enable us to nimbly react to new trends and our own creative impulses and to move patterns from concept to our store much more quickly.

So lots more to come soon.  Until then, happy sewing!

~Erin

Block Party

Of NoteErinComment
4th of July
4th of July

Our street has one of the longest continuous running block parties in the city (54th Annual this year!), celebrated each year on the 4th of July. It was an extremely hot and sticky day, but no lack of fun for the kids--Flower the Clown, the Euclid Beach Rocket Car, the local fire dept., and there were lots of water blasters on hand for the kids to stay wet and cool.

Earlier in the week, we held a pre-block party Red, White and Blue Tie Dye Party. I ordered kits from Dharma Trading and all the moms crowded together in a corner of the yard for a creative moment.  It was a lot of fun and the shirts turned out really crisp and vibrant!

4th of July
4th of July
4th of July
4th of July
4th of July
4th of July
4th of July
4th of July
DSC_0055
DSC_0055

Hope you enjoyed a lovely 4th wherever you are!

~ Erin

PS We have a fun project to share via Imagine Gnats' Shorts on the Line tomorrow, so be sure to check that out!

Estate Sale Junkie

Of Notecarla macklinComment
Estate Sale vintage fabrics and trims
Estate Sale vintage fabrics and trims

I have no shame.

I greedily sit on the dusty floor of some dead old lady's house down the street, rummaging through her most treasured sewing fabrics and supplies, selecting gems for my own excessive and obsessive collection.  I sneeze.  Neighbors pass through the room, not recognizing me due to my crazed smile and the devilish glow to my eyes.  I mutter to myself, conjuring the spirits of secret sewing caches to direct me to the best of the old lady's possessions.  Another hoarder walks into the room, and we laugh lightly and insincerely at each other's mutual passion for cast off notions and textile scraps.  She is my competition and her presence accelerates my searching.  The crinkling of the plastic bag as each item falls into its depths urges me to find more.

And more and more and more.

She who dies with the most fabric, wins, right?

Here are a few of my most recent finds.  How shall I put them to use??

Vintage sheep weather vane buttons
Vintage sheep weather vane buttons
Vintage sheep weather vane buttons
Vintage sheep weather vane buttons

English sport coat buttons depicting sheep atop weather vanes

estate6
estate6

Large gray coat buttons.... don't you love finding old buttons that are sewn onto the card with twine?

Estate sale vintage trim
Estate sale vintage trim

The perfect length of cotton eyelet trim for a skirt hem... but should I think outside the box?

Estate sale vintage trim
Estate sale vintage trim

Sparkly silver trim.  I'm thinking holiday.

Wobbly seersucker in pink and gray
Wobbly seersucker in pink and gray

Wobbly cotton seersucker in pink and grey.

Happy sewing!

~Carla

Charlotte's Creative Predictions for 2012

Charlotte's Pinteresting Finds, Of NoteCharlotteComment

Hi everyone!  Today we have asked our resident fashionable fox Charlotte to bring us her predictions of what will be big in the creative world in the year to come. ________________________________

Tally ho, readers! 2012 is going to be a great crafty/design year, brought to you by the wide world of internet.   So many fun things to be inspired by, it will be hard for me to stay focused on my homework and other activities.  The Mushroom Society is taking its long winter's siesta right now, but the Handwriting Club will be in full swing soon.  A steady hand not your thing?  Don't fret, Ms. Joy's "Mastering the Two Letter Words of Scrabble" workshop has extended its engagement for several more dates this winter season.  Season 2 of Masterpiece Theater's Downton Abbey started last Sunday night and Eek! is it good!   I am itching to get some serious costume design under my belt soon!

So, now on to the main event--

Charlotte's 2012 Trendy Predictions

Color: I'd be remiss to not mention Pantone's color of the year--Tangerine Tango--a delightful tribute to orange with an overtone of coral.

Tangerine_Tango
Tangerine_Tango

As a long time orange fanatic, I'd just like to say it is about time.   If  you love orange as much as I do, then be sure to check out these TT Pinterest boards that are part of Pantone's related color contest.

Motifs: Mustaches and robots give way to Yetis, Vikings and bow and arrows:

Vikingboard
Vikingboard

Sources: Top from Herzensart; Middle from HollowShells; Bottom from Anemone Letterpress

French Knots: I am so glad embroidery is only gaining followers--what a fun, versatile way to embellish any number of projects or just enjoy on its own.  In particular, I have seen a lot of french knots popping up here and there:

french knot
french knot

Sources: Top from Myrtle and Eunice; Bottom from sometimesiswirl

Girl's Attire: Simple bows seemingly are everywhere this year--and I am not talking about the carefully tailored structured bows we've been seeing.  Apparently, something your 3-year old tied tacked haphazardly to the neckline of an otherwise lovely frock is all the rage.

dresses
dresses

Sources: Top from Bonpoint; Bottom from Olive Juice Kids

Also, look for lots and lots of pintucks!

pintuck
pintuck

Source doe c doe

Hand Lettering: Apparently, fonts aren't just for computers anymore...

handwriting sample
handwriting sample

Sources: Top from How Joyful; Bottom from Lisa Congdon

Typewriters: Everything old is new again...look for all things vintage to continue to be a source of creative inspiration in 2012.

Typewriter
Typewriter

Sources: Top from FilmintheFridge featuring Melody Miller fabric; Middle from Tascha; Bottom from AnnaLouVintage

Happy Sewing!

~  Charlotte