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!!!