Natalie Chanin has just released her fourth book of inspiring and beautiful sewing projects in her 'Alabama Chanin' style. (On order and due soon at The Drapery.) Not only does it contain all her previous patterns, plus some new ones, it offers advice on how to adjust them for your own unique shape, to ensure a custom fit. The patterns are on CD rather than printed like her previous books, but it's quite an incredible resource at a very accessible price. We can't wait to get our hands on it!
In the meantime, I'm continuing my quest to Alabama Chanin all the things. Which was never going to be a fast process, but that's part of the appeal. If you like hand-work like embroidery, hand-quilting, knitting or crochet, you'll probably fall in love with the process of hand-sewing garments with soft cotton knit.
Before I went the full reverse appliqué, which is a big commitment, I tried a couple more plain garments. Last summer I made (and wore, and wore, and wore some more) this double-layer singlet top, in our organic cotton 'Chocolate' and some red from my stash.
Then a few weeks ago I made up this single-layer long-sleeved top in our NZ 'North Sea/Kalamata' cotton jersey, which is a dream to sew and wear:
As soon as this one was finished I wanted to do more! So it was time to 'go the full Alabama'.
I used our organic cotton mid-weight navy and lightweight grey marle. (FYI - I would recommend using jerseys the same weight although this worked out fine.) I downloaded the 'New Leaves' stencil from the website alabamachanin.com. Rather than print the whole thing and make a large stencil, I noticed that there were four main shapes in the pattern and printed enough pages to have each of these.
Art to Art. Cutting out the stencils was probably the hardest part of the whole project so I can well understand why people would pay US$80+ for the pre-made stencils!
Then it was onto the soothing, meditative process of hand-stitching around the stencils...
... before carefully snipping out the top layer of the leaves.
Initially I tried grey sleeves but replaced them with navy for the heavier fabric weight and a more subtle overall look. Now I have a spare pair of grey sleeves, I'll have to make a plain grey top! I also tried a small amount of beading on the ends of the sleeves and yes, that's a bit addictive too.
- Jane & Fiona xx