Stitching – Alabama Chanin Style

Recently I finished up my first garment that was stitched in the style of Alabama Chanin.  This is a far cry from heirloom stitching, but I love the look and enjoyed the process.  Everything about this was new to me.  I’ve never stenciled before.  I’m not great at the stenciling!  But I will persevere and hope to improve on that front.  Thankfully, most of what is stenciled is cut away!

When I first came across this style, I quickly bought a couple of her books – they come with patterns included.  The first book had paper patterns included in the back of the book while the second book had a CD with some of the same patterns, but some newer ones.  Be aware that if you choose to have the patterns printed, it can be expensive as they are on large paper.  One of the ones that I had printed ended up being $13.  I may try tiling them on the home printer next time and see how that works.  The books include detailed explanations on how to achieve the look.

To create the garments, the pattern pieces are first cut, then stenciled and then layered (stenciled fabric on top of base fabric) and pinned or basted together.  Then the handwork begins.  Each stenciled design is stitched around – I chose the easiest method, which was a running stitch.  After stitching around all the stenciled designs, the inside of each design is cut away, leaving just a bit of the stenciled area behind.  I love the resulting effect!

After all the stencils are stitched/cut, then the garment is hand stitched together.  There are many options for this as well – I chose a traditional (inside) seam allowance and then topstitched the seams for additional strength.

I ended up using a pattern that I drafted for my first garment.  It has been quite a learning experience, but a delightful one.  I know that the second garment will be better and I’ll do some things differently.  However, this one is one that I am happy to wear – it’s comfortable, and I am proud to have completed it.

I have my fabric, paint and stencil chosen for the next outfit.  I need to decide on the pattern so that I can get started!  However, last night I discovered that Alabama Chanin is offering a new class on Craftsy, so I immediately signed up and will be watching that before starting the next project – I’m sure that I’ll learn some new things from her – even if it is just watching her hands while she is stitching.  I can’t wait to start!

Since this is a slow process, I’m undecided if I should sew for cooler weather that is coming, or sew another warm weather garment since there are so many hours involved.  Decisions!

I hope you’re continuing to try and learn new things!  It’s always an adventure!!!

14 thoughts on “Stitching – Alabama Chanin Style

  1. Karen

    Lovely! And that top is so flattering on you. Great pattern design! I have one question. How do you keep the fabric that is left when you cut out the design from raveling?

  2. Kathy Post author

    Thank you Karen! You don’t keep the fabric from raveling – that’s the nature of knits. It can be frustrating. I didn’t care for the hem curling, so I chose to bind the hem edge. Others frequently leave the hem just cut, so over time it will roll up more with laundering. That’s the “look”.

  3. Joy Welsh

    Hello Kathy. Not sure if you see comments – but I wanted to tell you how interesting this is! I have never heard of this method. Love your top!! This looks fun to do!
    Thanks for the share!

    1. Kathy Post author

      Thanks Joy! I do see the comments. This is such a fun technique that I actually tried sewing for myself. I really enjoyed the entire process – well, not so much the stenciling, but all the sewing, for sure.

  4. Shirley

    Kathy, I love this and it is so interesting. I had never heard of this before. Not sure I would have the patience to do this, but it looks great on you. Also, I just realize I missed your class at Mary Jo’s on Reverse Applique. I so wanted to take it and was ready to do so in August and then saw that it had been cancelled. When I saw Wendy post her cute dress, it made me realize you must have already had it. I am so disappointed. Will you have another one? I sure hope so.

    1. Kathy Post author

      Thank you Shirley. Sorry you missed the class. I don’t know if it will be scheduled again or not, but if so, I’m sure it will be next year.

  5. Connie Miller

    This just looks fabulous Kathy! I know because I got to see you in person wearing it. You are a very talented seamstress and I enjoy seeing all the beautiful things you sew.
    Also, you did a great job last week with your presentation…..always a great learning experience for me.

  6. Camille Tarics

    So glad to see you tried Alabama Chanin reverse appliqué so I can follow your example! I have been thinking of doing some -I bought the book-but I don’t want to spend $50 a yard for the cotton jersey on her website. Do you have a good source for good quality cotton jersey? Salt Lake City is sort of a fabric desert. I haven’t been able to find any around here.

    1. Kathy Post author

      I do not have a good source for the cotton jersey fabric – it’s difficult to find. I am also in a fabric desert and have to order fabrics online and hope that they will work.


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