Friday, January 14, 2011

Starting Some Alabama Style

I've had Natalie Chanin's inspiring books on my shelf for a couple of years now, and I've been sitting on her ideas until at last they've hatched in my hands.


I love her aesthetic, and the way she uses everyday materials to make gorgeous clothes. Everything is created out of cotton jersey and buttonhole thread, with maybe a little elastic at a skirt waist. But the ingredients are used with such ingenuity and elaboration that the end results *so* transcend their humble beginnings. She makes me think of artisan bakers who do everything with just flour, yeast, and salt.


I cut out my first cotton jersey project--a gored skirt in red. Seams sewn together (I did mine on the machine), then time to start embellishing the seam allowances by hand. I chose a straightforward whipstitch to hold the seam allowances down (they're on the right side of the garment). Already I can tell that I'm affecting the drape of the skirt. Fascinating!


And I love that the wrong side is even more beautiful than the right! Next time I'll use this graceful stitch in a place that shows. I'm following the instructions for this skirt:


although I won't do the eyelet embroidery at the hem. Something simpler, and then on to a full-size dress. This skirt is a great warm-up and a great way to learn how to handle the materials.

12 comments:

Lisa said...

Oh, good luck with it, Anna! I've seen one of her books - a beautiful dress with cut-outs - and a beautiful tote, also with the cut-outs, which I have a link to on my blog, and am getting up the nerve to try and copy it.
I look forward to seeing your result.

Margo said...

haven't heard of the book - I'll check at my library. I'm definitely fascinated by the whipstitched seams on the outside. In theory, I think it would be too shabby chic for me, but when I see your skirt in progress, it looks like a play on topstitching (which I love and use everywhere). How fun would it be to have a slightly different shade of thread. . . oh yes. You've definitely given me some a new idea to play with.

Sonja said...

I never thought I would see seems on the outside, but it looks beautiful. I will definitely check this book out!

Hana - Marmota said...

It's beautiful - I keep finding examples of Alabama Chanin's work on the internet and I love it. Good luck with your project!

annie said...

I have her book sitting on my shelf as well, waiting for me to pick up some jersey.

Tanya said...

Thank you for sharing - I've never heard of her and I'm definitely missing out. A new book for my wishlist and a new website for inspiration. How I'd love to be half as creative as she is.

anna said...

beautiful! can't wait to see the finished product.

Julie said...

Please show when you're done.

Little Towhee said...

I went to the same design school as she did, but I studied architecture. . . she makes me wish I'd given textile design a try!

Anonymous said...

Ohh, I wish I could sit at her feet and learn. Please post a picture of the skirt when you have finished so we can ohhhh and awwww. <3

Maria Ricci

Heather said...

Please share with us where you are finding quality cotton jersey knit yard goods! I don't have a source for anything that is worth the time of day - I miss the softness and drape of good thick cotton jersey. I bought a Lauren full length black shift when thrifting recently just to repurpose the heavy cotton jersey, but I long for colorful yards!

Anna said...

My jersey came from Vogue Fabrics in Chicago. I think you would do well ordering from an online source--such as Vogue!

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