An acrobat in her youth, Claire enrolled in the circus curriculum at Florida State University but left with a "MRS" degree. Though quite thin, she had developed broad shoulders through acrobatics — a factor that ultimately steered her life in another direction. Finding it difficult to find clothes that fit, she turned to sewing her own wardrobe, but wanted more than commercial patterns offered. “I went back to school to learn how to make my own patterns,” she says. "I was under the misconception that once I had a basic block I could make patterns with few, if any, fitting problems."
She studied professional construction techniques which included those used in haute couture as well as inexpensive mass production. Along the way, she developed a passion for collecting and amassed an impressive collection of designer clothes which she uses for research. Although the focus of the collection has always been construction, a few garments have been loaned for museum exhibitions.
Claire taught a variety of beginning and advanced construction courses at College of the Desert for 22 years. As a classroom instructor, she learned what frustrated students most, what they really wanted to learn, and how to help them solve problems on their own. Even simple problems such as how the sewing machine works and how to solve stitching problems had not been addressed in the mid-seventies.
The author of more than 20 books and videos including “Couture Sewing Techniques” and the Couture Sewing Series of books with videos which focus on Chanel techniques, Claire designs the Custom Couture Collection for Vogue Patterns and is a frequent contributor to Vogue Pattern Magazine and Threads. She is currently writing a college textbook on Couture Tailoring for Laurence King Publication.
Claire has written extensively about Chanel and the Chanel garments. Even though she has never visited the Chanel ateliers, her examination of the designs and knowledge of haute couture construction have uncovered several Chanel secrets. One of the first was that Chanel used a faux bound buttonhole under the thread buttonhole instead of a real bound buttonhole which is much more difficult to sew.