Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Stitching Away

Wanted to share a little of what has been occupying my mind and hands lately.

Last Fall while at the India Flint workshop I innocently asked where you could find patterns for simple garments that would highlight the beautiful fabrics we were creating. Someone mentioned Alabama Chanin. I had to say “pardon me”- because I couldn’t catch what was being said at first. I wrote it down- then latter googled it and have been pretty much obsessed ever since.

Natalie Chanin started out deconstructing salvaged t-shirts and turning them into high-end fashion. Part of what makes her work so special is her fresh use of traditional quilting techniques like reverse applique. Knots and seams are often showcased on the right side of her work. Everything is hand stitched. 

She has moved back to her hometown and grown a business that has rejuvenated the textile community there. Her company supports hand sewers who are making a good wage. She is also growing her own organic cotton to  be made into the jersey fabric she uses in her designs.

I am really in awe of Natalie because of the generous and open way she shares techniques and patterns. She has a series of books that include stencil designs and patterns and all the instructions and techniques you would need to make your own Alabama Chanin creation. She holds workshops across the country.DIY kits ,and fabric, and inspiration are available at the Alabama Chanin site.There is even a Ravelry group of dedicated Chanin groupies.

I decided to start off with a simple project. The “bucket hats” on the cover of Alabama Studio Sewing and Design caught my attention.

I used a cotton knit that I picked up at JoAnn’s. I also picked up a simple stencil and fabric paint there.

I stenciled my design onto the navy blue fabric- layered the grey underneath – stitched around the design- and then cut out the flower shapes. I enlarged the pattern as directed in the book, and cut out my pieces.The hat went together really easily. There was a hitch though-

The adult size hat was huge.

I had also enlarged the child size hat and decided to see what would happen if I cut my pieces down to that size while still leaving the brim depth adult size.

It worked! I had about an inch to turn under and added a decorative band that shows if you turn the brim up a little.

It’s a funny little hat-

but I have really grown fond of it-

and am wearing it all the time!
I have a couple of other Chanin inspired creations in the works!

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