Friday, June 24, 2016

Learning from Alabama Chanin - Red Hearts on Gray Tunic Top

I bought a couple books last summer at the local Barnes & Nobles.  When I sat myself down in the crafts section, as I like to do from time to time, I found two books by Natalie Chanin on hand sewing clothing.  One is titled, "Alabama Studio Sewing + Design: A guide to Hand-Sewing and Alabama Chanin Wardrobe." The newer book is "Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns: A Guide to Customizing a Hand Stitched Alabama Chanin Wardrobe."

This is the back of a tunic top.

Now that I've had the books for a full year, I've gotten a chance to read them thoroughly as well as make a few pieces from them, including the one in this blog post. This fitted tunic top is a slightly altered version of the pattern in the books.  It is upcycled from 3 different t-shirts. The stitching is in black and red with four "random ruffles" running down the front.

Front
 Shoulder close up
Here are some close up shots that show the detailed hand stitching. The seams are all sewn twice for strength and style.  It has inside felled seams where I sewed the light gray to the dark gray. Because I upcycled from other shirts, I had to patch together the fabric to make this top.  So there are more seams inside the dark and light areas. Outside felled seams connect the dark gray to itself, and the light gray is patched together using outside open seams with feather top-stitching. By the time I got the front and back cut out, there wasn't enough fabric left to make the binding, so I cut into a third shirt, the red one.  The red binding is attached with a stretchy stitch, called Cretin stitch, to keep the arm holes and neck line stretchy. Since I had so much red fabric left over, I thought I'd add some applique, and hearts seemed like the obvious choice.
As is characteristic of Chanin's style, the bottom edge is left unstitched. Also, characteristic of her style are the hand appliqued bits attached with running stitch and an unfinished cut edge.

One important tip that is omitted from the books is that you have to ease the binding anywhere you use it.  This means that the binding is a bit shorter than the edges it binds.  If you don't ease, you will find that the arm holes and neckline gape in an unattractive way. (Ask me how I know.) Figuring out how much to ease the binding is a bit of an art, but I find that I use as much ease as I can without creating ripples. Even a tiny bit of ripple is okay.  I found that it's better to slightly over do it than to slightly under do it, especially since these tops tend to be fitted, which leads me to another observation...

I think the pattern sizing in this book is too small.  I've found that anything I make from these books in a large size tends to be a tight on me, and I'm 5'5" and 130 pounds. I am a US Size 8 or maybe 10. In fact, according to the designs I've made from these books, I'm consistently an "extra large," which bothers me a bit since I'm not a particularly large woman.
Other than that, I really love the designs and techniques in these books. If you like hand stitching and making clothing, I totally recommend these books to you. I love the combo of soft jersey and fancy stitching.  The clothing I have produced is both beautiful and comfortable, and I'm offering much of what I make for sale, including the top in this blog post.  I made a couple more tops that I still need to photograph.  So expect more from me soon.
Thanks for looking. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm inspired! Their website is pretty cool too.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...