We are so pleased to announce our partnership with The McCall Pattern Company to bring Clever Charlotte patterns to JoAnn Stores across the nation! We've been working with the fine folks at The McCall Pattern Company to expand our reach to sewers across the Nation. Not only are our patterns available on the McCall's Website, they are also available at your nearest JoAnn Store!
Flip this Pattern: Voting is underway at Frances Suzanne for your favorite Chickadee Flips.
A spring treat for this holiday week.
Even with Passover and Easter upon us, you would think Mother Nature would be sending some daffodils and balmy breezes to lift our spirits. But not here in northern Ohio, where the temperature remains steady at the freezing point and there is still snow on the ground. Nevertheless, I've been sewing for my girls again.
The girls still have not grown out of their constant desire to be twins, so here are their requested matching dresses.
Luckily I had just enough gorgeous purpley poppy matte brocade fabric sourced in NYC a few years ago to use for the bodices. The skirts are created from a fine wale corduroy courtesy of our favorite in town fabric-retailer, while the chartreuse faux belt was carried all the way back from Thailand by my brother! Thanks, Seth!
You may notice that the gorgeous little bow hand-tacked to the belt at the waistline of the dress. I created it using a Flourish Shoe Clip bow (part of a new accessory kit line we will be launching via Etsy soon--take a sneak peak at the bow tie kits already in the shop).
The bodice pattern pieces are from our Olivine Dress (using the Bodice Lining piece for the main fabric) but the cap sleeves shown are a variation of the Olivine original. Here's how I changed the original sleeve to make a cap sleeve.
After cutting out the cap sleeve (cut along the dashed line shown above), you baste and insert the sleeve in a manner similar to a full sleeve.
Happy spring holidays to all!
I just wanted to share with you our newest Olivine Dress look that is hot off the (home) assembly line. Made with a gorgeous silk gingham and accented with Liberty of London's Susanna print below, we hope this look will inspire our followers to start thinking SPRING! Doesn't this print evoke images of your little one romping through the tulips gathering Easter eggs?
With the holidays behind us, Cleveland is looking rather dreary these days, and we just can't help ourselves from sewing for spring. It's never too early for positive thinking!
Reminder: there is one more weekend left of our SALE! 20% off all orders with code "welcome2013". Take advantage of a purchase now, especially since shipping costs to those beyond our U.S. borders will drastically increase on Jan 27th (due to the US Post Office, not us here at Clever Charlotte!).
As a continuation of my post last week, I wanted to show you what else I've been sewing this holiday season--specifically, matching Christmas outfits for my girls! I created these dresses from the Olivine dress pattern, using the only the lining pieces (Lining Front Bodice, Back Bodice, Lining Front, Skirt Back) instead of the outer pleated pattern pieces. Omitting the pleats and the sleeves from the Olivine sped up my sewing and, gratefully, freed up more time for Christmas shopping and eggnog sipping.
As you surely know by now, the green collars are separate pieces created from our Peridot look. The patch pockets at not part of the original Olivine pattern but were added because my girls have a pocket obsession and I thought the dress itself needed more of that lovely green velvet. Styling the dresses over a simple white long-sleeved t-shirt gives it all a seamless look.
The dress fabric was the find of the century... one gem in a sea of aging polyester from a little old lady's house Erin and I raided a few years back. It is a cotton pique embroidered with green starbursts. I scored about 5 yards, and had just enough left over from other projects to create these two dresses. The green works perfectly with the velvet and the season.
In addition to the dresses, I had a few moments to put together a new Kestrel Coat, featuring the same wonderful velvet.
The only modification I made was turning the two-piece sleeve into a one-piece, again in the interest of time. The coat has been worn nonstop since it came off the assembly line and every time my daughter wears it I think I really need to make an adult-sized version of this coat. Maybe in the new year....
Happy holidays to all and happy sewing!
This, my friends, is what a happy camper looks like.
In case you missed the full tutorial for making this dress, you can start with Chapter 1 by clicking here.
In anticipation of a chillier fall day, we borrowed this beautiful faux fur cape from our friend Nan, who is developing a pattern for this. I hope we can share that with you before the holidays!
As many of you'll recall, Miss N is my teeny tiny one. Despite her age (4), I sewed her dress in a 2T--proof positive that our sizing is only a loose approximation of age! Her measurements are definitely in line with our sizing chart's 2T. Her waist is about 20" and height is 3'1" (37").
We hope you will all be inspired to pull out your Olivine Dress pattern soon and start sewing one for the holidays...or maybe just naptime.
Happy sewing everyone!
Sew the Main Bodice and Skirt Together. When we last left off, we had just finished sewing the sleeves to the Main Bodice. Now we need to sew the Main Bodice to the Main Skirt (completed in Chapter 1). This is where all the hard work precisely positioning the pleats on the Main Front Bodice and Main Skirt will hopefully payoff. Ideally, we want the pleat lines on the Bodice to match up with those on the Main Skirt exactly, or at least pretty close.
We highly recommend basting the two sets of three pleats together before sewing the entire waist seam in order to eliminate a lot of additional seam ripping if the pleats need adjusting. Having said that, it is important to use the side seams to align the Bodice and Skirt rather at the pleat lines themselves--this is because the pleat lines don't intersect at the raw edges. Rather, they align 1/2" down, at the seam line. If you align the pleats at the raw edge, you will be off, like this:
Once you are happy with the alignment of the 3 pleats, go back and sew across the entire waist seam.
Sew the Lining Bodice and Skirt Together. Next, sew the Lining Skirt together as you did the Main Skirt and sew it to the Lining Bodice (which is easier since you don't have to contend with any pleats). This is what you'll have when you are done with this step, with the center back seams of both layers open:
Sew on the Zipper. I am going to show you my version of putting in a zipper. There are lots of videos on this out there, and I am sure my explanation is far from being "politically correct", but it works for me. [Also, I should add that I accidentally purchased a regular zipper, not an invisible one, so I am using a regular zipper foot.]
Turn up your Lining Dress along the neckline, away from the Main Dress. Check the length of your zipper by pinning it in place at the top of the Main Dress (just below the neckline). We recommend ending the zipper about 3" below the waist seam (where my right hand is pointing in the photo below). Mine is much longer, so I marked it with a straight pin.
At my machine, with the zipper closed, I sewed several stitches back and forth across the zipper coils at the straight pin--if you look closely below, you may be able to see the line of gray stitches. Cut your zipper about 1/2" below the new stopping point. I use my heavy duty kitchen scissors for this.
For the zipper photos that follow, I marked the wrong side of the zipper tape with colored washi tape so you can differentiate which side of the zipper you are looking at.
Reposition the right zipper tape face down on the right side of the center back opening. I align the tape about an 1/8" away from the Main Dress's raw center back edge (folding under any excess tape at the top). We recommend basting the zipper in place by hand. I just pinned mine in place, shame on me! So, do as I say, not as I sew.
Now sew that side in place with your zipper foot. [With a regular zipper, I usually have the zipper pulled 1/2 way open. When I get to the zipper pull, I stop the machine, needle down, and lift the presser foot. Tug at the pull to move it behind the presser foot, then continue sewing.]
Aligning the left side of the zipper is always the trickier part for me because it involves the zipper playing the part of a contortionist. With the zipper fully open, you will need to twist the zipper around to the other side of the center back opening so that, again, the zipper tape is 1/8" away from the raw edge. The bottom of the zipper will want to pull up and curl around, bringing the right side of the Dress with it. I just go with it until I get the second side to lay flat enough to sew.
Once you have both sides of the zipper sewn on, press the zipper 1/2" under toward the wrong side so the coils come together. Press the center back edges of the Lining Dress above the zipper under 1/2" as well.
Hand Sew the Lining Dress to the Zipper. Fold down the Lining Dress along the neckline so it forms a lining to the Main Dress again. The freshly pressed center back edges of the Lining Dress should lay down across the zipper tape.
Hand sew this edge to the tape.
Sew the Remainder of Center Back Seams. Sew the remainder of the two center back seams below the zipper, starting each separate seam as closely as you can to the zipper. You likely will have a small gap below the zipper, which you can sew closed by hand.
Hem the Main Skirt. We recommend using hem tape for the bottom of the Main Dress. Sew it to the right side of the bottom hem.
Now press the bottom hem up, to the wrong side, 1.5". Remember those funny, cut off corners on the bottom of the skirt pieces? These should make flipping up the bottom hem a snap. Now, more hand sewing to secure the hem tape to the inside of the dress. I usually save all of this hand sewing to do in the evening in front of the TV. ;)
Finish the Lining Skirt & Hem the Sleeves. To hem the Lining Skirt, we recommend pinking the edge of the skirt about 1" shorter than the finished length of the Main Skirt. Because the Lining Skirt shares a lot of pattern pieces with the Main Skirt and is, therefore, the same original length as the Main Skirt, you will probably be cutting off as much as 2-3" of the Lining layer. (You also could choose to hem the Lining Skirt in a similar way that we recommend for the Main Skirt.)
Hem the Sleeves by turning them under 1/2" two times, then machine or hand sew the first fold to the sleeve. Don't forget to add your Clever Charlotte clothing label!
That wraps up this tutorial. I hope you have great results and a happy camper in your midst when you finish yours! I'll post pics of Miss N in her dress as soon as it warms up and we can get back outside this weekend. Until then--
The Front Bodice is probably the trickiest part of our new Olivine Dress sewing pattern. In today's tutorial, I'll walk you through it and give you some pointers that should make pleating the Main Bodice a lot easier. We'll also cover sewing the Main and Lining Bodices together and inserting the sleeves.If you have not already read Chapter 1 of our Olivine Dress tutorial, I highly recommend doing so before reading this installment because the basic instructions on pleating the Main Skirt are very relevant here.
Pleat the Main Front Bodice: In this video, I illustrate how to pleat the Main Front Bodice using the paper pattern piece:
Here's how to sew the pleats once you've pleated your fabric:
[For those of you not following along with the video segments, you will need to double check the shape of the Front Bodice and alignment of the pleats by comparing the pleated piece with the shape of the Lining Bodice. You are looking for any discrepancies in how the two pieces line up along their outer edges. If you see any areas out of alignment, go back and double check your pleats. For example, you can see the lining fabric below peaking out on the left around the shoulder and armhole edges and along the neckline edge (note that this photo shows the back of the Main Bodice).
Once you are happy with the overall shape of the Main Front Bodice, stabilize the pleats by (1) sewing along the top inside fold of each pleat line, about 1/8"-1/4" away from the fold and (2) stitching across the ends of each pleat, staying within the seam allowances. The second video above explains this all in great detail.]
Finally, sew the Main Front Bodice to the Main Back Bodice pieces together at the shoulders.
Prepare the Lining Bodice: Sew the Lining Front Bodice and Lining Back Bodice pieces together at the shoulders (note the Lining Front Bodice piece is not pleated). The Lining Bodice will not have any sleeves, so we need to finish its armhole edge. There are several ways to do this, though we think the easiest is to simply zigzag around the armhole edges and trim away the excess seam allowances using pinking shears.
Sew the Main and Lining Bodice Pieces Together: Now that you have sewn the front and back pieces of both the Main and Lining Bodice pieces at the shoulders, it's time to sew the two layers together. Lay the Lining Bodice on top of the Main Bodice (right sides together). Sew around the neckline edge, then trim the seam allowances to 1/8".
Flip the Lining piece back over this trimmed edge so that the wrong sides of both Bodices are now together and give that neckline edge a good press. I like to roll the lining down slightly to the inside when I press so it won't be as likely to show on the front of the dress when worn. You can just see the gray taffeta peaking up above the lining fabric here.
Sew the Side Seams: Though your Lining and Main Bodices are now sewn together at the neckline, you will still sew the side seams of each layer separately. Here I have sewn the Main Bodice side seams and Lining side seams together on both sides (those portions below the armholes), then pressed the seam allowances open:
Here's what the Bodice looks like after you sew the side seams and flip the Lining Bodice back down.
Sew the Sleeves: Baste two lines on each Sleeve along the sleeve cap, between the notches, then sew the each Sleeve at the underarm seam. You can see I used a darker thread for my basting stitches so that you (and I) can see them more clearly.
Insert the Sleeves in the Main Bodice: Flip your Lining Bodice up and away from the Main Bodice. With the Sleeve turned right side out and Bodice turned inside out, insert the sleeve into the Main Bodice (so right sides are now together), and match the Sleeve's single and double notches to the notches in the Main Bodice armhole, as well as the Sleeve's underarm seam to the Bodice's side seam. Pin at these three points. Here's an attempt at a photograph of this step--hopefully, you can see the excess fabric of the sleeve cap at the top of the armhole:
Now pull on the bobbin threads of the basting stitch lines to adjust the length of your sleeve cap to match the length of the armhole edge and pin some additional points. Sew around the armhole edge, making sure the gathers from your basting stitches are evenly distributed around the top of the armhole.
I am going to repeat these steps for the second Sleeve and call it a day. In our next tutorial, we'll cover attaching the skirt and inserting the zipper.
Someone around here got a new iPhone a few weeks ago and is quite excited to start posting some sewing videos. What better time to start than the present, with the first installment of our Olivine Dress tutorial?Today I cover a few preliminary matters, then move on to assembling the Main Skirt, complete with pleating and pockets. Chapter 2 shows you how to pleat the Main Front Bodice and attach the Bodice Lining. Chapter 3 will cover the zipper and other finishing steps.
Please note that I am not planning a step-by-step breakdown of the entire pattern. Rather, I'll highlight many of the steps and zero in on some of the trickier parts in greater detail. I should also add that I will probably take some steps out of order from the written instructions.
Before jumping in to the tutorial, however, I think there is a critical, often overlooked first first step to sewing any pattern:
So grab yourself a hot cup of tea, some animal crackers (my favorite!) and settle in to give your pattern instructions a good read. Or, at least, a hearty skim-through. I'll wait...
Ok, with that out of the way, let's get started!
Fabric Selection: Here are the fabrics I am working with:
The gray and chartreuse green taffetas are my main and contrasting fabrics, respectively. These have a lot of body, which will hold the creased folds on the skirt and bodice nicely and will add fullness to the skirt. The gray fabric has a tone on tone flocked floral/bow motif for a nice, subtle touch of "flair". For the lining, I chose the cotton polka dot fabric you see here, which is a standard quilting weight. A cotton lawn or voile or any other lining fabric that would feel nice against delicate skin would work here too.
Seam Finishing: Since the Olivine Dress is fully lined, you wouldn't ordinarily need to be so concerned with finishing all your raw edges. However, since the taffetas tend to unravel quite readily, this was a good opportunity to dust off my serger. You'll see in these photos that I serged most of the edges on the taffeta pieces before I started sewing them together.
I used a continuous piecing method that made the process go fairly quickly since you just feed in pattern piece after pattern piece and cut apart the chain once you are done serging all the edges on one side. Cut the pieces apart and finish them the same way on the second side, and so on. Note that I turned off the knife on my machine so I was sure to not trim away any of the seam allowance.
Taking the 15-20 minutes to finish the edges at the start not only saves me a lot of time later, it has the added bonus for you at home to be able to see the edges more clearly in my photos. :)
The Main Skirt's Front Panel: Now, on to the main event. There are a lot of pieces to the Main Skirt--and yes, unfortunately, that mean a lot of cutting. But totally worth it, I think!
The front of the Main Skirt has 7 pieces. Lay them out in order first, then start sewing them together along their long, straight edges (let's assume right sides together unless I say otherwise, OK?).
Now let's pleat the skirt. Here's where the video comes into play!
[Ok, so what did you think of the video? Helpful? Confusing? Am I gigantic bore? Let me know!]
In case you need to see it in static mode, those are my skillful hands below pinching and pleating the first and third pleats...
Here's the front panel now pleated and basted:
The Skirt's Back Panel: There are four Main Skirt Back pieces, which are sewn together in pairs like so:
Now you may be wondering, "Charlotte, what is up with those funny little trimmed corners at the bottom of some of the skirt pieces?" Those are intended to help fold up the bottom hem when the dress is assembled. See how the lower part of the seam joining these Skirt Back pieces sort of pops up a bit? It makes pressing the seam allowances a little tricky, but you'll understand why they are there later.
Sew the Pockets: Here is what the Skirt Back panel looks like with the Pockets sewn on either side seam at the waist:
Clip to the stopping point at the bottom of the seam (indicated by the dot on the printed pattern), then press the Pockets outward, away from the skirt. Do the same with the Front Skirt panel of the Main Skirt:
Complete the Main Skirt: Line up the two Skirt Back panels with the Front, with the Pockets opened out to the side, and sew around the Pockets, then down the side seams of the Back + Front.
This photo shows how I've basted the Pockets to the top waistband of the Front Skirt panel, and how I've pressed the seam allowances below the Pocket open.
Press all your seams well and set the Main Skirt aside, you are done for now!
It's probably about time for another cuppa tea, so go put the kettle on. The Bodice tutorial will be coming up next.
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.
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!
Thank you for your enthusiasm for our new fall collection! I am happy to report that the patterns are now in the shop and ready for pre-sale orders. To celebrate, our older pattern collections are on sale for 20% off for the next two weeks, so now's the time to pick up some of the earlier looks that have been on your list.A quick note about the pre-orders: we anticipate shipping out new styles the week of 9/17. All orders that have any of the new patterns will be held until the new looks are ready. If you want to get something more quickly, we ask that you place a separate order. As always, you'll enjoy our low shipping rates on all orders.
With those announcements out of the way, Carla and I wanted to share some recent photos of our little ones wearing the cover looks so you can get a feel for the fit and the design details we have included with each pattern.
The Olivine Dress has 3 pleats on the bodice that match up with the 3 contrasting pleats on the skirt to create a sunburst effect. [PS Look for the fabric kit for this cover look to be in the shop later this week.]
Here's a little shot of the pleated side panel on the Jasper Jodhpurs:
In addition to the asymmetrical zipper on the front of the Jasper Vest, we've included an option to gather the back of the Vest to bring it in a little at the sides. We've covered the gathering with a two-buttoned tab, harkening back to our Finch Shorts.
We also added some contrasting pocket stitching on the front of the Vest for a little added interest. You can see a little of it here. Again, completely optional.
Here's a close up of the ankle placket of our aptly-named Peridot Ankle Pants.
For the button loops, the Peridot pattern uses braided button loop tape with elastic loops spaced 1" apart (such as that used on bridal gowns). The tape typically comes in black, white and off-white.
Glitter shoes not included, though wouldn't it be great if they were?
And one last parting shot of those wonderful Olivine pleats. I am working on a full tutorial of this dress for all of you, coming up soon. I think this will be a great way for any of you who may be leery of sewing pleats to see just how simple they can be!
A note about sizing: these clothes are all sewn in our 3T size except for the Jasper Jodhpur Pants, which are a 2T. You can see that Miss E is quite a bitter taller than my Miss N, even though they are only 6 months apart. Both girls are 4 years old: Miss E is a 4T in most RTW sizes and Miss N is a 3T (2T in some pants). So as a general rule, I'd say these patterns run slightly larger than commercial sizing.
We hope you'll hop on over to the shop and check it all out!
We are excited to share Clever Charlotte's three new looks for fancy affairs, school, and play! Look for a separate announcement in the next several days when the patterns are ready for pre-sale.So, without further delay--
1. Olivine Dress: Our signature dress--lots of pleats really make the Olivine Dress sing and will have your little girl twirling on the dance floor. Have fun selecting a special fabric (like the Liberty Tana Lawn we've used here) for the contrasting skirt pleats and pockets!
2. Peridot Blouse & Ankle Pants: There is no shortage of special detailing in our Peridot Blouse & Ankle Pants--the detachable Peter Pan-style collar can be modified in any number of ways to embellish the Blouse or a ready-to-wear dress or sweater in your little girl's closet. The accompanying skinny Pants have a row of 5 buttons at each ankle. We've styled them here with covered buttons in a contrasting fabric, but this is the perfect opportunity to use other decorative buttons in your stash.
3. Jasper Vest & Jodhpur Pants: The modern lines of our Jasper Vest & Jodhpur Pants are perfect for boys and girls. The Vest has an asymmetrical zipper up the front. We show it here with a gathered back and buttoned tab (harkening back to our Finch Shorts). We think the Vest is a fun accent piece for any outfit as well as a warm, practical layer for chillier days. The Pants have an elastic back waist and pleated side panels that lend a comfortable feel of European styling.
We hope you like the new looks as much as we do. Here are a few other close-up shots of each new pattern in the collection.
We hope you'll pin the looks you like on Pinterest!
As noted above, we'll be announcing the start of pre-sales soon--with a special offer for our other patterns. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter if you haven't already so you don't miss a thing!