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!
Lucky for me I had to look no further than Clever Charlotte's Raven and Orchid Patterns! I used a modified Raven Hoodie to create the Hogwarts Cape, similar to a cape I made and blogged about a few years back. In addition to the modifications outlined in the previous blog post, I added a 2"center back pleat to add fullness to the garment. This was super easy to accomplish by adjusting the layout of the center back pattern piece 1" away from the fold.
Making the skirt for the costume required no modifications to the Orchid Skirt Pattern. While Hermione's costume in the movies is much more heavily pleated, I thought the Orchid was close enough.
To survive the cabin fever, we needed a new addition for the dress up box. A couple quick modifications to our Raven Hoodie pattern and here we are!
In tribute to Valentines Day next week, Carla and I created not 1 but 2 warm and cozy looks for wintery V-Day. First up is this one:
The tie on the hoodie is a simple wide grosgrain ribbon sewn into the seam (rather than on the outside of the fabric), and a small purple glass button closes the collar on the blouse.
Normally, we do not use quilters cotton for our kids clothes but here we made an exception for the perfect mix of Valentines colors of this pattern.
Finally, the Raven Pants are a fine wale corduroy (yes, they really are that red). We added some coordinating fabric on the back pockets to tie it in with the blouse.
I love working with old sheets--surprisingly, they have a soft drape that makes them ideal for billowy projects, like skirts, full tops and, of course, pajamas! I also keep the uglier ones on hand for muslins.
I actually used two different sheets for this project--both are incredibly soft to the touch, though the colors on one set have been substantially worn out. Luckily, the contrasting scalloped trim at the top of the flat sheet was still in great shape, so I was able to salvage that for the deep cuffs on the pants.
The pants are a cropped version of the Raven Pants, sans front pintucks but with slightly widened legs. I kept the basic waistband, but modified it to add a drawstring tie in the front. There's still elastic in the back WB, but I attached two fabric ribbons to each end of the elastic and secured them at the side seams by stitching in the ditch. The ties are pulled out the front WB through a buttonhole I added before attaching it to the pants.
The elastic does most of the work to keep the pants on, but the drawstring is there to for a little extra security and a fun splash of color.
The top is this pattern from a Japanese sewing book (the name of which eludes me):
It uses bias tape to finish the edges around the neck and straps. Very neat and tidy, though I found it to be very tricky when finishing the armholes--I am still not sure I got it right. I also guessed at the Nora's size because I couldn't figure out the size chart.
I love the illustrations in these books--so darn precise, which is good with the text nearly all in Japanese (thankfully, numbers are not--you have to add in seam allowance and it can differ within a garment).
Anyways, here's my version up closer:
I love the print on these sheets--a unique color and good mix of big and small flowers.
Do you have any Vintage May projects lined up this month?
We are freshly back from the beach, so I wanted to quickly share some shots of a few Clever Charlotte sewing patterns in action there.
The weather couldn't have been better and my little landlocked children maximized every minute they could of the sand and surf.
I showed you this Beach Eider a few weeks ago and the boy look will be coming up later this week.
Until then, happy sewing! ~Erin
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.
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)?
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).
Happy Spring Sewing!
Today's post marks the last day of our Winter Wolle blog series! It is also our 100th blog post!Never thought we'd get this far!I had wanted to complete this post yesterday--it seemed very fitting to end the wool series on the last day of February. In my mind, March marks the transition to spring, and I've already started to shift my thinking in that direction. But more on that later...
This final wool project is also the second installment of The Boy Raven Pants. Today we've styled another boy look featuring our Raven Pants--this time with cargo pockets and using a heathered brown wool suiting. I loved working with this wool--it is soft and drapey and yet you can steam a very crisp seam. The pintuck on the front of these pants looks so polished, doesn't it? Ladies, your husbands will be asking for a pair of these to wear to work (without the elastic waist, of course!)...
Though sewing on a cargo pocket is not hard to do, I thought we'd show you a quick trick for assembling the pants to make it all the easier. You can also use the same trick for any type of side seam embellishment (like a satin tuxedo stripe).
Ordinarily, most pants patterns, including our Raven Pants, call for sewing up the inseam of the front/back panels together first (see left, below) and the side seams last. The reason for this is to make sewing the crotch seam much easier. However, in this case, sewing the side seams last means you can't sew on the cargo pocket since you'd sew the other side of your pant leg underneath.
So, to begin, sew the outside seams first (see right, below).
Now sew on your cargo pocket*:
Sew the inseam of each pant leg next. This results in two, stand alone pant legs. To join the two pant legs at the crotch seam, turn one leg right side out:
Insert the right-side-out-leg into the wrong-side-out-leg (so that the rights sides of both are facing one another), matching the inseams and side seams. The crotch seams should line up perfectly.
Sew the crotch seams from front to back. For added reinforcement, you may want to sew a second stitch line a few inches along the bottom of the crotch by sewing a 1/4" away from the first stitch line inside the seam allowance.
Clip the curves and finish the seam as you normally would (I pinked all my edges). Pull the inside leg out and voila! You're ready to finish the waistband and hemming, as instructed.
Though this wool is pretty soft, I thought I'd be safe by using an even softer material for the inner waistband. Here's a shot of the plaid cotton flannel that I used for the inside waistband. So cozy!
* I haven't shown you the step by step for sewing the pocket itself--but briefly for those of you who care: The main part of the pocket has a narrow (1" total) inverted pleat in the center front. I turned under and pressed 1/2" around all sides of the pocket, then basted those seam allowances in place (hence all of the extra, wonky stitch lines you see in the photo below!). For the pocket flap, I doubled the height of the finished flap, folded it in half lengthwise with wrong sides together, sewed the short ends, then turned it to the right side. I turned the remaining raw edges to the inside of the flap and pressed everything flat.
I aligned the center pleat with the pants' side seams then sewed both parts of the pocket in place using a 1/8" edgestitch. When sewing the flap to the pants, I placed the long, open edge toward the top and topstitched it in place, thus closing the opening at the same time.
We hope you have enjoyed all of the different wool projects we've featured these past few weeks. Look for some bright spring colors from us in the next few weeks!
To mix it up a bit, we thought it would be fun to feature some variations of our Raven Pants specifically with boys in mind. For our "Mad for Plaid" version, we'll introduce several new sewing topics: (1) removing the front pintuck called for by the original pattern, (2) sewing with plaid fabric without going mad, (3) adding warmth to the pants by basting in a flannel lining, and (4) adding side seam pockets.
That's a lot to pack in, so let's get going!
Removing the Front Pintuck
We can think of several instances when the front vertical pintuck featured on our original Raven Pants would be extraneous. In this case, the pintuck would likely get lost in the bold plaid and may even confuse the design. Thankfully, removing the pintuck is really simple:
Trace the pattern pieces directly from the original pattern, including the vertical pintuck line. Crease the paper pattern piece along the vertical line and fold it over 1/8" to one side (this narrows each pant leg by 1/4" total). Tape the fold down along its length. Now you'll need to remove the same amount from the front waistband piece in a similar manner. Try to make the fold at about the point where the front waistband piece matches up with the pintuck line on the front pattern piece to preserve the curve. That's it! Cut and sew the pants according to the written instructions, but skip the steps relating to sewing the pintucks.
Sewing with Plaid
Plaid is certainly a daunting design choice, especially for pants such as these. By following a few simple pointers, you can do it, I promise.
When cutting out plaid fabrics, subscribe to the woodworker's motto: measure twice, cut once. In other words, take your time and think it through before you cut!
First, you should cut out the two front pieces separately, rather than trying to fold the fabric and cut out both pieces at the same time. Ditto for the back pieces. Lay out the first set of front/back pieces on your fabric so that the corresponding notch points of the outside seams on the front and back pieces align at the same point on the plaid pattern. This will help to ensure that those points will align on the outside side seam of the finished pants.
Once you've cut the first set of front and back pieces, use those cut fabric pieces to cut out the second set of front and back pieces, rather than using the paper pattern pieces again. In so doing, you'll be able to directly align the plaids of both pieces before cutting out the second set.
Look carefully at the photo below--you almost can't see the original pattern pieces laid on top of the fabric! This is because I carefully matched the horizontal and vertical plaids at key points.
Here's where I should make a tiny confession--the plaid on my cut pieces did not align perfectly with the plaid underneath around the entire perimeter of the pattern pieces. Was the fabric wonky when I first made my original cuts or now with the second set? After a few frustrating moments trying to get it all to be perfectly aligned, I had an epiphany--certain areas of the sewn garments are more critical than others, so I should really prioritize getting the plaid to line up at those spots. For these pants, the center front and back seams and the two outside seams were the critical spots, so that's what I focused on. I also made a decision to not concern myself how the waistband lined up. I saved myself a lot of frustration and was not disappointed in the end.
Finally, as shown further below, when sewing these critical seams together, be extra careful to match up the corresponding plaid points. It helps to pin the fabrics together at each matched point and remove the pins just as you reach each of them with your sewing needle in order to prevent the pieces from shifting while sewing.
Adding a Flannel Lining
When I asked my son if I could make him a pair of plaid pants, he immediately thought of his most-favored flannel plaid pajama pants. Not wanting to disappoint, I promised him I could make them as warm and soft to the skin as his PJs. I decided to sew a flannel lining to the inside of the pants rather than have the lining hang loose. Given that the outer plaid fabric was a heavy twill, the flannel lining made for rather bulky seams, but JR doesn't seem to notice.
The lining pieces were cut from the same pattern pieces as the main pant legs, then stitched to the wrong side of the main fabric pieces using a 3/8" seam allowance and a slightly longer stitch length (3.0). The only change I would make in the future is to cut the lining pieces 1" shorter at the ankle and forgo stitching along that edge. This removes some of the bulk at the bottom hem, which gets turned up twice. Once you've sewn in the lining, proceed with the rest of the assembly as instructed, treating each layered piece as one piece.
*** Side note about the knee patches: The knee patches are largely intended to add some additional boy flair to the finished pants and are less about function. I added the knee patches before adding the lining for a cleaner look/fewer stitches inside the pant leg. Either way, you'll want to add them before assembling the pants because it is MUCH easier to sew around the perimeter at that point. I used a medium weight corduroy for its greater durability and simply zigzagged around the edges. I like the less refined look of raw edges, but you could certainly find a way to finish these edges. You could also add in a layer of quilt batting or several layers of knit fabric to add a bit more cushion.
Adding Side Seam Pockets
My final alteration to the original Raven pattern was to add pockets to the both outside seams. I find little boys love the thrill of stuffing their pockets with all sorts of urban detritus and watching what survives a run through the wash, so I offer these instructions with a fare bit of caution. (I should also add that this same pocket shape and sewing method works well for skirts and dresses with side seams.)
First, I sketched the pocket so that there is a good 1/2" seam allowance on the edge that will be the opening in the outside seam. I also ran the top edge of the pocket flush with the top edge of the front pant leg so that the pocket would be supported by the seam joining the front leg to the waistband and not just hanging down from the side seam.
Next, cut 4 pocket pieces from a plain muslin or similar soft, pliable fabric (even an old Tshirt)--nothing too stiff or thick!
Baste the pocket to all four pant leg pieces (front and back) with wrong sides facing.
When sewing the front and back pant leg pieces together, match the pockets and pant pieces together with right sides facing. At this point, you should also carefully pin the outside edges of the front/back pieces so that the corresponding plaid points align.
Starting at point labeled 1 in the picture above, sew around the pocket to points 2 and 3 with a standard seam allowance. At point 3 (on the 1/2" seam allowance), pivot your needle so that you can continue sewing down the outside edge of the front/back pieces. Note that the top of the pocket remains open.
Once you are ready to sew the top waistband to the pants, make sure the top of each pocket is pinned flush with the top of the front pant leg. Treat the pocket and front as one piece when sewing on the waistband. That's basically all there is to it!
We'll be featuring several more Boy Raven looks throughout February and hope you'll be inspired to try out your own version!
We have been really busy here in Charlotte-land, though the blog has been relatively quiet, project-wise.
One of several things we've been working on lately is a trunk show for a brick and mortar shop down South. We will share the full looks with you in a bit, but for now, these photos show some of the smaller details. As the palette probably gives away, the show is a Valentine theme.
We had such fun using Moda's new Domestic Bliss by Liz Scott. Its pink-red-purple palette is perfect for the holiday and is sure to have broad appeal to the under-8 set.
And what says "winter holiday" more than a little faux fur?
Last weekend was the Murray Hill Art Walk in Cleveland's Little Italy neighborhood. We were delighted to be invited to present a trunk show at our friend Nan's shop, Murray Hill Bolt & Spool located in the Old Schoolhouse. If the flattery in the invitation wasn't enough to make us giddy, we were positively ecstatic to see the Clever Charlotte looks that Nan put together.
In the year since it opened, Nan's shop has become one of my favorite places in Cleveland. It is always bright and sunny, even when the weather outside would dictate otherwise. The charm of the space is equaled by the quality and variety of the fabrics--you will find something for every sewing need here: Liberty cottons, fantastic wools, linens, corduroys and other apparel fabrics, fine silks, velvets and gorgeous ribbons for fancier occasions, fun quilters cottons and lots of lots of sewing books and patterns.
The looks that Nan put together from our patterns really showcase her taste in colors, fabrics and design details. Doesn't this flannel shirt version of the Chickadee Blouse look positively cozy? She paired it with the Chickadee Skirt fashioned in an olive-y~brown corduroy and lined in a fun tiny floral print. The Kestrel Coat to the right of the Chickadee is in black velveteen with a very sophisticated gray/yellow damask print quilters cotton. Devine!
Now for the first look above--Nan's creativity really shows through here, no? She's used green grosgrain for the contrasting tie on the navy Raven Hoodie. LOVE how she's carried the ribbon through to the pockets and pantlegs on the coordinating pink corduroy pants. Isn't this a perfect 3-season look?? So fresh and girly.
Carla and I also had plenty of our own looks on hand to show off this weekend. Remember this one?
We've got one more Charlotte look to share with you next week and then some non-apparel Christmas-related projects. Thought we'd change it up a bit before the holidays.
PS Be sure to visit Nicole's blog this weekend for a Kestrel Coat giveaway!
Happy Sewing! ~ Erin
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Carla and I have many things to be thankful about this year, Charlotte being one of them. So we thought a special shout-out to you, our readers, followers, customers and fellow sewing enthusiasts, is particularly in order today. We also wanted to highlight some of your wonderful fall Charlotte creations from around the www. To see even more, head on over to our Flickr group.
Skirt As Top + Pattern Giveaway!
Kristin of skirtastop is graciously hosting a pattern giveaway to accompany her first Clever Charlotte project--the Kestrel Coat. She even gives us a mini-tutorial on how to modify (i.e. simplify) the sleeves from 2 pieces to 1. While you're there, be sure to enter the giveaway by leaving a comment on her blog by this Sunday. Gobble gobble!
Charming Charm Stitch
A great eye for fabrics is just one of Laura's many sewing talents. She seems to produce new looks on her blog in her sleep. So far, she's sewn up 2 Chickadee skirts and 2 Raven Hoodies! See them all on her blog and make sure you check out her great online fabric store for a lovely selection of Japanese imports and other designer fabrics. [PS She's got a 10% off sale going on right now.]
Madame Mother of 5
Nicole of Down Under has sewn up every one of our spring/summer patterns at least once for her (count them 4!) daughters and has many well-photographed tutorials to go with each look. She just finished up 2 posts detailing different ways to line our Starling Dress and she's already scheming her look for the Kestrel Coat. So stay tuned and visit her site often!
Queen of the Flies
Melanie from Queen of the Flies tries her hand at the Eider Tunic. She does tiny prints so well, the Eider was a perfect choice for her. Seems Melanie has also learned the critical photography skill of candy bribes for photo shoots!
Thank you all for a great inaugural year and have a great Thanksgiving!
Happy Sewing! Erin, Carla and Charlotte
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:
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.
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.
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:
See the versatility of this outfit? It is just right for work...
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.
The day has arrived! We are happy to say that our four new A/W2011 patterns are now in the shop for pre-sale!
To celebrate this kick-off event, we are hosting a giveaway/drawing open to everyone who pre-orders the new patterns. Three lucky winners will be chosen at random from all eligible orders placed by next Friday, Oct. 21st. Each winner will get a free Clever Charlotte pattern of her or his choice. See complete details below.
A few important notes about pre-orders:
1. We currently anticipate mailing out the first shipment of patterns the week of Oct. 24th, but we cannot guarantee the exact ship date yet. We pride ourselves on fast turn-around times for all our orders and pre-orders are no different. We will do our best to communicate any notable shipping delays.
2. Since all of our orders process through PayPal, payment for any pre-orders will be processed at the time of order and not at the time of shipment. This is not our preference, but we are at the mercy of PayPal and we hope you understand. Again, our commitment to you, the sewing public, is strong and we value your repeat business.
3. We are in the process of uploading the A/W2011 Fabric Collection and notions to the shop. Everything should be available for purchase by Monday.
A few important notes about the giveaway:
1. We are happy to be offering three lucky winners one of our sewing patterns of their choice.
2. US & International customers are eligible. To enter, you must place an order in our shop for any of our new A/W2011 patterns (that is, the Chickadee, Eider, Kestrel & Raven patterns) by 11:59 pm EST, Friday, October 21st. Each eligible order will count as one entry. The winner will be selected from all eligible orders by random drawing & will be announced here on Monday, October 24, 2011.
3. Good luck!
Have a nice weekend everyone and, as always, happy sewing!
~Erin & Carla
What do you get when you cross a Chickadee with a Raven? This cute combo, of course:
Nora's top is the soon-to-be-released Chickadee Blouse. I made it in a light and airy cotton lawn with a kitschy print--I just have a weakness for vintage looking prints and I loved the color combination. Girly, without being overly sugary.
The pants are shown in the same dark teal corduroy as we feature in a few of our cover looks this season, and boy is it soft and comfortable. Comfy, as in knit pant comfy. I would love to find some additional colors of this corduroy to make Nora a few more pairs of these pants for school and play.
By the way, here's a close up of the inside of the waistband, featuring the buttonhole elastic. (The contrasting fabric was just for fun.) There's enough excess elastic on both sides to allow several inches of growth in the waist.
The winning endorsement for the outfit came from Nora herself. When I asked her try them on this morning before school, I was only intending to check fit. She steadfastly resolved to wear them to school--which, I should add, was the first day this week that she hasn't worn a dress. Yea! Here are a few rare action shots:I didn't say they were *happy* action shots, did I?
Have I mentioned Nora's petite body results in some strange fitting issues--mainly, she's all torso with short limbs (just about the opposite of me as she could be). So the pants are sewn in size 2T and fit fine in the waist, but are too long on her by an inch or so. I made the blouse in 3T and I'll need to shorten the sleeves next time by quite a bit. In all other ways, the blouse fits her great. (To be fair, these are the same issues she faces with RTW clothes. After all, she's 3 years old and weighs only 26 lbs!)