Clever Charlotte

Starling Dress & Shirt

High Fashion Flounce

Starling Dress & Shirtcarla macklinComment

Recently on the runway scene there have been a slew of wonderful pieces that incorporate a flounce.  I thought they provided great inspiration for working with our unique Starling Dress flounce pattern piece.  Here are some ideas to use both on the Starling Dress and other patterns you may have in your collection.Wouldn't it be great to apply the Starling Flounce pattern piece to the armhole of a basic shift dress and let it drape down? (from Gucci)

I adore how this flounce application wraps gracefully around the shoulders (from Gucci):

And again, accenting the shoulders (from Gucci):

How about some asymmetry from Chloe Spring 2013 Ready to Wear?

Or this wide flounce from a center placket, not dissimilar from our original Starling Dress design (also from Chloe, Fall 2013 Ready to Wear.)

Does this get you inspired to rework your Starling Flounce?  We'd love to see your frothy concoctions posted to our flickr group!

A Valentine's Post, Part 2

Starling Dress & ShirtErinComment
Starling Dress for Valentines - Clever Charlotte 2
Starling Dress for Valentines - Clever Charlotte 2

Last week we showed you the first of two Valentine's looks -- here are some of the details of our second outfit. 

This Starling Dress is made of a cream-colored fine wale corduroy with a ruffle in a quilter's cotton coordinating with the prints our first V-Day look.

Starlling Dress for Valentines - Clever Charlotte 1
Starlling Dress for Valentines - Clever Charlotte 1

Finally, I added this hand embroidered and lace embellishment to really drive home the message--

Starling Dress for Valentines - Clever Charlotte 3
Starling Dress for Valentines - Clever Charlotte 3

Hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day!

 Happy Sewing!

~Erin

Portrait By a Young Artist

In the Workroom, Patterns, Starling Dress & Shirtcarla macklinComment
Evie Full (1)
Evie Full (1)

Since last summer, Erin and I have been talking about reworking the Starling Dress into a sleeveless version.  Inspired by a family portrait created by my 4-yr old, I took up the challenge last week.

Evelyn brought home a picture of our family the other day and I melted.  "Daddy is the one with the really long legs.  [Baby sister] Wren is lying in the grass.  Those are clouds in the sky."   So dang cute.

drawing
drawing

Apologies in advance for not documenting the process step by step in photos, but I began modifications by adding a scalloped hem to the original pattern pieces. First, with right sides together, I sewed the outer linen fabric to the muslin lining at the hem, leaving the back seam open.  I approximated the scallops to be roughly the same size. To get perfectly spaced scallops, I would have measured the total distance and evenly divided that to ensure the scallops aligned precisely at the center back seam.  But who has that kind of time?  

After the scallops were sewn, I trimmed the seam to 1/8", clipping the curves slightly where needed. I turned the garment to the right side and pressed the hem.  This created a nice finish between the outer linen and the muslin lining of the dress. 

dress image
dress image

Once at this stage, I began the process of embroidering Evie's original design (while drinking wine at Erin's house).  Don't compare the original drawing to the embroidery too closely... I got distracted (by wine) and mismatched some of the colors.

Hem
Hem

Full disclaimer:  I am fairly new to hand embroidery so I figured taking on a child's drawing would be simple.  I stuck with a chain stitch and back stitch which really are not too difficult to master.

Self Portrait
Self Portrait

A self portrait of the artist herself.

After finishing the embroidery, I modified the original single yoke piece by separating it into two back yoke pieces that overlap the center front yoke piece at the shoulders. The new back yoke pieces are secured by a faux button closure and some hand stitching on the underside.  If crunched for time, stick with the single yoke piece-- it is not necessary for the sleeveless look.  FYI, the new yoke pieces are lined with muslin.

evie collage
evie collage

Obviously I omitted the original raglan sleeve pieces.  Looking back, I'd probably take out some of the ease under the arm.  As it is now, the armhole is a bit too big for wear without an undershirt, but with the dress length, there's ample room to grow!

evie walking
evie walking

Evelyn off to create her next masterpiece.

A Heartfelt Thank You & Giveaway

Eider Tunic, Of Note, Wren Dress, Chickadee Blouse & Skirt, Raven Hoodie & Pants, Starling Dress & ShirtErinComment

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!

Skirt as Top Kestrel Coat
Skirt as Top Kestrel Coat

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.]

Charm Stitch Hoodie & Skirt
Charm Stitch Hoodie & Skirt

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!

Five & Counting
Five & Counting

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!

Queen of the Flies Eider Tunic
Queen of the Flies Eider Tunic

Thank you all for a great inaugural year and have a great Thanksgiving!

Happy Sewing! Erin, Carla and Charlotte

A Fall Starling - Version 3

Inspiration, Starling Dress & ShirtErinComment
Plaid7
Plaid7

Welcome Back! In our next installment of Fall variations of our Starling Dress, I took 

a cue from Charlotte to use another perennial autumn classic--plaid.

I originally intended to purchase some plaid fabric, but was thoroughly let down, again, by our local fabric store (a national chain who shall remain nameless).  So I returned home and rummaged through my collection.

If necessity is the mother of invention, then I am pleased to report that desperation is similarly advantaged.  In the corner of my workroom I spied a plaid skirt cut on the bias that I picked up at a thrift store on a whim some time ago.  Not only did this size 18 skirt yield sufficient yardage to cut out the dress, I salvaged the invisible side zipper to use as well. Total investment: $2.50.

The design inspirations for my Refashioned Starling are (1) the Coffee Date Dress by the 

Selfish Seamstress

--which has a wide zigzag ruffle cascading from the neckline, and (2)

this dress

from Bonpoint, which looks so cozy with the turtleneck underneath:

PlaidBonPoint
PlaidBonPoint

To construct this version of the Starling Dress, I eliminated the vertical front placket and side ruffles and added the zigzag ruffle at the top of the yoke.  The adult version of the Coffee Date Dress calls for a 6"x36" strip of fabric folded in half lengthwise.  For this pint-size version, I narrowed the ruffled strip to 4" wide and cut it to 24" in length.  After ruffling the strip using a basting stitch, I sewed it into the seam joining the yoke to the lining yoke.  Next I followed the same basic pattern of the Coffee Date Dress to arrange the next two layers of the ruffle. After machine stitching these layers in place, I tacked down the ruffles to the front of the dress with a few hand stitches to make sure they didn't flip up during wear.

Ruffle up close:

Plaid8
Plaid8

[By the way, the complete pattern & instructions for the Coffee Date Dress, including the ruffle, can be found here].

So, here's a shot of the original skirt before:

Plaid3
Plaid3

In progress:

Plaid2
Plaid2

All done:

Plaid10
Plaid10

Molasses cookie bribe for cooperation with photography:

Plaid4
Plaid4

Happy Sewing!~Erin

A Fall Starling - Version 2

Design Updates, Starling Dress & ShirtErinComment

Welcome back to the second installment of our variations of the Starling Dress pattern for Fall. This one I've dubbed the Butterscotch Dress. 

Butterscotch Dress1
Butterscotch Dress1

What fall line up would be complete without something that is menswear-inspired, a seemingly perennial theme for autumn fashion?

Butterscotch Dress 3
Butterscotch Dress 3

For this version of the Starling, I used a lightweight wool/poly suiting fabric in charcoal gray. It was easy enough to sew, though I had to set the iron to a pretty heavy steam setting to get any creases to hold. To modernize the overall look, I chose these buttery yellow buttons that look like--you guessed it--3 Werthers butterscotch candies down the front/delish. (The larger buttons, by the way, came from the Button Lady in Ann Arbor--but that's another story.)

Butterscotch Dress 2
Butterscotch Dress 2

So I've been kicking around this version in my head for some time now, ever since I picked up this beautiful collar from a local antique store. The edging is hand crocheted in a tiny violet pattern, and I can only imagine how long it took someone to finish this intricate design using such fine thread. I often wonder what happens to vintage pieces like this. Perhaps a child's dress is not the best use, but surely it is preferable to sitting around unused in the top drawer of someone's dresser?

And lest you think I would just throw the whole thing into the washing machine, I have only lightly tacked on the collar, with the intent that it be removed prior to laundering. I am thinking of picking up some sew-on snaps that would hold the collar onto the dress when worn, but would allow for easy removal for washing or when spaghetti and meatballs are on the menu. (The snaps themselves could be clipped off later without harming the collar.)

Butterscotch 4
Butterscotch 4

Now, I should probably admit here that in all likelihood the collar is meant to be worn Peter Pan style--that is, with the bow and opening in the front. However, since the dress has a center back zipper, I didn't see much utility in closing it up with the crocheted collar. This also gives the back of the dress something interesting to look at.

The only variations I made to the pattern itself were to extend the sleeves to 3/4 length and add a petite cuff with a continuous lap sleeve placket (I lightly gathered the sleeve too to add a bit of fullness to the look). I kept the yoke even though it is largely hidden from view--I thought this would be better in the event that I choose to remove the collar later. I also kept the front placket to add some dimension to the front of the garment.

Peter Pan collars from Mollie Makes
Peter Pan collars from Mollie Makes

Oh, and if you're interested in coming up with your own detachable collar, the first volume of Mollie Makes had this DIY article from The Savvy Crafter, though I can't tell from these pictures how they are fashioned. Do any of you have that magazine at home?? I am intrigued...

Have a great weekend everyone!

Happy sewing,

~ Erin

{Mom: Sorry there aren't any shots of Nora wearing the dress. It has turned steamy again here in Northern Ohio and I just didn't have the heart to ask her to put on the dress when she got home from school, what with her sweaty bangs all plastered to her forehead from playing on the playground.}

A Fall Starling - Version 1

In the Workroom, Tutorials, Starling Dress & ShirtErinComment
SeptShowers1
SeptShowers1
SeptShowers5
SeptShowers5

I know you are all anxiously awaiting our new fall/winter designs, but to fill in the gap until those are ready for public consumption, we have been thinking of all sorts of ways to work our Starling Dress into your back to school closets. The Starling is such a versatile dress, as you will hopefully see from all these new variations.First up is one I call the September Showers dress, taken from the pocket detail, which some of you may recognize as an embroidery pattern from the lovely Sarah Jane Studios (pattern for sale here)--more on that below.  This version of the Starling is, perhaps, a little more casual look overall and is also great one to keep in mind if you find yourself itching to sew but no have zippers on hand. The body of the dress is made up in a cotton poplin.  I left off the flat yoke piece at the neckline, which resulted in the perfect wide opening to add the elasticized neckband, which is a popular look these days in blogland.  (One thing I didn't factor in, but will next time around, is that the dress is slightly shorter without the yoke.)

To encase the 1/4" elastic at the neckline, I made up some single folded bias tape (from 1.5" wide strips) in a contrasting fabric to sew to the right side of the garment, leaving a gap at the back of the neck in which to insert the elastic. (I hand sewed the gap closed once I had adjusted the length of the elastic.)  After the bias strip was sewn on, it was easy to turn the seam allowances to the inside of the dress and press the strip flat.  Thus far, there haven't been any instances of the band flipping over to the front, perhaps due to the elastic, and the neckline stretches sufficiently to easily pull over even the biggest of noggins.

Because cooler days are just around the corner, I opted for longer sleeves, which required a simple pattern modification.  I extended the sides of the pattern sleeve to the length of my daughter's arm + 1/2 inch to accommodate sewing on the same bias strip at the wrist as used for the neckline.  Again, I used 1/4" elastic.

SeptShowers3
SeptShowers3

The crocheted lace edging at the bottom of the dress is old pillowcase trim that I picked up at an antique store in Ann Arbor, Michigan a few weeks ago. Can you believe I paid just $5 for the trim from both pillowcases? Seemed quite the bargain to me!

So, for the pocket--I have been itching to try some hand embroidery, which is everywhere right now. This is my first real attempt and I thought it was a nice portable project (I completed this panel at the beach).  I used to be a cross-stitcher years ago (like 20 years ago, how is that possible??), and luckily still have all my carefully organized embroidery thread.

My one real hesitation with hand embroidery is that I never quite know what to do with the end product, however lovely it may be.  I am not the type of person to have embroidered tea towels or fancy linens lying about and, if ever I had a small hankering to hang something like this framed on the wall, my husband would have none of it. So incorporating it into sewn garments seems to be the perfect solution.

SeptShowers2
SeptShowers2

I ironed on Heat-N-Bond to the reverse side of the embroidery hoping that may stabilize the stitches, but of course, hand washing will probably be required (starting with, it turns out, right after the photo shoot which morphed into playtime in the dirt...) Happy Sewing! Erin

A Starling Shirt (sans Flounce) + A Brief Lesson on Piped Edges

Inspiration, Tutorials, Starling Dress & ShirtErinComment
Sandpiper Shirt
Sandpiper Shirt
N wearing the Sandpiper Shirt
N wearing the Sandpiper Shirt

I have been anxious to try this shirt out for a number of reasons. First, we haven't really talked up the fact that the Starling Dress, featured on the pattern cover, can also be modified easily to make the Starling Shirt.  Second, I really wanted to start showing you some variations in styling without the flounce to illustrate the pattern's versatility.  Finally, I had this vision of adding piping around the yoke and didn't want to back down simply because I had never worked with piping before.   What a pleasant surprise!

This shirt is definitely a nod to my ever growing love of "modern vintage".  Here the shirt's modern cut is paired with old fashioned crocheted doilies, picked up from a local vintage shop for just a few bucks (I cut apart the individual medallions you see here from a larger piece.)    The main body of the garment is a raspberry colored chambray cotton--both airy and soft--and the yoke is unbleached muslin. Originally, I intended to use a crisp white shirting fabric for the yoke, but changed to the muslin when I realized the pure white contrasted too much with the creamy crocheted pieces. As I mentioned above, I opted to trade in the flounce for a bit of color around the yoke with the piped edging, though I kept the front placket for additional interest.  For the piping, I used Alexander Henry's Dasha fabric, which has a crazy mix of colors when looked at in a larger piece, but provided a nice bit of interest when scaled way down for the piped edge.

I should probably mention that I made the size 2T shirt for my daughter, pictured here, who is hardly a size 2T (in terms of Clever Charlotte's patterns or in most ready to wear lines).  Never mind the fact that N. will be 3 at the end of the month...my point is, if it looks like the shirt's a little big on her, that is because it is.  I am hoping it will be a better fit for when she goes off to school this fall.  Oh, and I should also add that she's wearing a pair of Finch shorts from our spring collection.

N wearing the Sandpiper Shirt and Finch Shorts
N wearing the Sandpiper Shirt and Finch Shorts

A Brief Lesson on Piped Edges

I chose to make my own piping, though like bias tape, you can purchase ready-made versions in really bland solid colors at your local fabric shop.  It was really easy to make the piping (even easier than making your own bias tape in fact), so I would definitely recommend trying it.  All you need is a thick string or narrow rope (I bought mine in the upholstery section of JoAnn's).

The fabric strip to cover the string is cut on the bias (that is, on a 45 degree angle to the selvage edge) in a width that is equal to the sum of:

(1) the circumference of your string (use your tape measure to get a general idea),

+

(2) your seam allowance x 2 (so 1" in my case since I have 1/2" seam allowances).

The length of the strip and the string you will need will be equal to the length of the seam or edge to be piped plus 2-3" extra for good measure.

If the finished length is longer than a single strip of your bias tape, plan on mitering the corners of several smaller strips together at 45 degree angles.

Sandpiper Shirt - Piped Edging tutorial
Sandpiper Shirt - Piped Edging tutorial

Once you have the strip cut out, lay the string or cord down the center and finger press the strip closed.

Sandpiper Shirt - Piped Edging tutorial
Sandpiper Shirt - Piped Edging tutorial

Using the zipper foot on your machine, sew along the string so that the stitches are snug up against the string but not crossing over onto it.

Sandpiper Shirt - Piped Edging tutorial
Sandpiper Shirt - Piped Edging tutorial

Once you have the piping cord sewn, all that remains is to lay it onto the seam or edged to be piped (with the raw edges of the bias strip flush with the seam allowance of your project) and sew along the string again using the zipper foot.  Because you used a bias strip, the cording should have a lot of give to turn corners and curves effortlessly, without unnecessary bunching.

Sandpiper Shirt - Piped Edging tutorial
Sandpiper Shirt - Piped Edging tutorial

From the step pictured above, the next step in making the Starling Shirt is to place the outer curve of the yoke on the shirt's neck edge/bias strip, right sides together, and finish according to the pattern instructions. Once the yoke piece is flipped back on itself, the lovely piping will be revealed, sandwiched delicately between  the main body of the garment and the yoke.

I hope you find a chance to experiment with piping soon.  It is such a clean finish to an edge and, as shown here, can add a nice punch of color without overdoing it.

Happy sewing!

Our First Kids Clothes Week Challenge

In the Workroom, Wren Dress, Starling Dress & ShirtErinComment
Starling for Launch Party/KCWC
Starling for Launch Party/KCWC

As part of our preparation for next week's launch party, Carla and I each sewed up one of our new dresses for our daughters to wear to the party.  In doing so, we also were able to count this time spent sewing toward the Kids Clothes Week Challenge, which is sponsored twice a year by elsiemarley.  It was like a sewing two-fer.

Carla chose the Starling Dress and sewed it up in a watermelon-pink cotton voile from Anna Maria Horner's Little Folks collection.  Carla has chosen to match the yoke to the dress and make the contrast a creamy white flounce.

Wren Launch Party
Wren Launch Party

My selection is the Wren Dress using a navy blue sateen (a cousin to the mauve sateen we sell in our shop).  This fabric has more body than the voile we feature the dress in on the pattern cover, so it really has a lot of volume in comparison.  The bright yellow bow really gives the dress an extra pop, but I am playing around with the idea of using a celery green grosgrain ribbon when my daughter wears it to the party.  I think it also looks quite lovely without any bow at all:

Navy Wren for Launch Party/KCWC
Navy Wren for Launch Party/KCWC

In Good Company

Of Note, Wren Dress, Starling Dress & ShirtErinComment

It is no secret around here that I am a huge fan of Crewcuts -- JCrew's line for children.  I think they offer an enticingly fresh, modern viewpoint to children's wear at *fairly* reasonable prices.  Their colors are sophisticated and hardly the overly-saturated, sickeningly sweet colors that so many makers of kids' clothes have been ramming down our throats for so long. While I am hesitant to liken our humble beginnings to the goliath JCrew, and I am somewhat loath to tout mass marketing on our site, I will say that I hold them in high regard for their aesthetic and hope Crewcuts will be around for the long haul--at least until my own two children are college bound many moons from now.

Wren-JCrew
Wren-JCrew

So back to my point--a few weeks ago I was perusing Crewcut's spring line up & I was struck by the similarities of their Fleur Dress with our own Wren Dress.  The pleated neckline and simple belt, for example.  And wouldn't that tone-on-tone floral arrangement at the neckline be a cute addition to the Wren?

So, as long as we are on the subject of drawing loose connections between Clever Charlotte and JCrew--weren't we a little surprised to see that the retailer is also offering a "Starling Dress" as part of their wedding collection this season? But I don't think you'll confuse these looks. The JCrew version is $1400!  I assure you, our pattern and sewing kit version is a steal in comparison!

Starling collage
Starling collage

I assure you readers these similarities are just that--mere conincendences, really.  But that doesn't mean I can't still think that we are so cutting edge around here!

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

Unveiling the Starling Dress & Shirt

Design Updates, In the Workroom, Patterns, Shop News, Starling Dress & ShirtErinComment
starling1
starling1

Last up in our Spring pattern introductions is the Starling Dress & Shirt, which is sure to prompt lots of ruffly fun for  your little one.  Think birthday parties, school plays, Mother's Day brunch, or just heading off to school.

As an added option, we have provided instructions to make a shirt version of this garment.  I think the shirt would look great with our Finch Shorts or a pair of pants come fall.

The dress has raglan sleeves and a wide, flat yoke.  The unique ruffled flounce gives the dress its real visual punch.  The first time I sewed up the flounce, I was really surprised how easily it came together and how nicely it looked.  I previously have sewn a lot of ruffles using a gathering stitch (where you baste long stitches along the fabric edge, then pull the bobbin thread to create a gathered ruffle).  The Starling ruffle is a lot different in construction, but not a lot more involved.  And, might I add, it is pretty fun to sew!

Starling Dress
Starling Dress

A great feature of this design is that it allows you to showcase fun fabrics.  In this dress, we have again used our mauve sateen (for the main body) and Alexander Henry's Larkspur Meadow (for the yoke and ruffled flounce).  You could certainly mix and match other fabrics, in differing combinations, to give your Starling a different look.

By the way, this is probably a good time to mention that we are putting together sewing kits for all of our patterns to sell in the shop and help you see different styling options.  We think these kits are a great way for you to minimize the time you spend picking out the right fabrics and notions and to maximize the time you spend creating!

Now that we've unveiled all of our looks, I am happy to report that the shop opening is just around the corner, so please stay tuned.  I am ready for a celebration, everyone!!  I could use a little pick me up, so here are some pretty party things to do just that.

Cake collage
Cake collage