Tag Archives: DIY Garments

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A VERB FOR KEEPING WARM: NELL SHIRT

The School of Making offers a wide range of sewing patterns—both in The School of Making Book Series and as standalone patterns—to fit many different body types and lifestyles. In the past, we’ve also adapted sewing patterns from other designers using our techniques and materials, with beautiful results. Some of our favorites from the past are the Fen Dress from Fancy Tiger Crafts, Anna Maria Horner, both The Dress Shirt and The Factory Dress from Merchant & Mills, along with a multitude of designer patterns from Vogue Patterns. Our latest installment in this series is the Nell Shirt from Kristine Vejar of A Verb for Keeping Warm in Oakland, California.

A Verb for Keeping Warm has been one of our wholesale partners for years—well since we first started wholesaling.  We’ve taught multiple workshops in and around San Francisco and have had the opportunity on multiple occasions to host events and hang out with Kristine, Adrienne, and the whole crew at A Verb for Keeping Warm.

Kristine is a cult figure in the world of making. Her book The Modern Natural Dyer is a gorgeous tome with the subtitle: A Comprehensive Guide to Dyeing Silk, Wool, Linen, and Cotton at Home. Indeed. In Chapter 5, there is a project featuring an Alabama Chanin top and our ever popular Crop Cardigan. We collaborated with Kristine on one of our beloved Maggie Tops using a cut flower printing technique on our 100% Organic Cotton Jersey fabric. Kristine created the fabric for us and the garment can be found on page 79 of The Modern Natural Dyer. You can see that we have a beautiful history, an ongoing partnership, and deep friendship.

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The Nell Shirt is a modern twist on a classic button-down shirt. The top was originally designed for woven fabrics, but with a few alterations, it works just as well with our 100% Organic Medium-weight Cotton Jersey. (You may want to size down when using a knit fabric.) We made the top with a combination of our Forest and Peacock medium-weight jersey using Forest and Navy colored Button Craft Thread and a beautiful hand-dyed indigo embroidery floss from A Verb for Keeping Warm.

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SUPPLIES

Nell Shirt Pattern (Printed version or Digital PDF version)
2 yards of 60”-wide 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey for garment body and sleeves
1 yard of 60”-wide 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey for contrasting inset Front Panel
1 spool of Button Craft Thread or 2 spools if making a contrasting colored garment
1 spool of Embroidery Floss or skein of hand-dyed floss
Basic sewing supplies: scissorspinsneedles, ruler, rotary cutter
The School of Making Book Series: These books contain the basic sewing and embroidery techniques we used to make our version of this shirt.

Follow all instructions using the following modifications for the knit fabric:

We reduced the 1/2” seam allowances on every pattern piece to 1/4″ by removing 1/4” from every seam. Do not adjust hemline or any pattern lines marked “Cut on Fold.”

Eliminate all interfacing for knit fabrics.

Hand-sew all seams with a straight stitch, leaving 1/4” seam allowance, using a double strand of thread on medium-weight cotton jersey.

When instructions read “press,” we felled these construction seams to the inside.

Where instructions read “Finish by Hand,” we used a Blind Stitch.

We left our shirt hem as a raw cut edge.

OUR DESIGN CHOICES

FRONT—Cut 1 on fold in Forest
BACK—Cut 1 on fold in Forest
FRONT PANEL—Cut 4 in Peacock
SLEEVES—Cut 2 in Forest
CUFFS—Cut 4 in Peacock
BACK LINING—Cut 1 on fold in Forest

Button Craft Thread—Forest and Navy
AVFKW Naturally Dyed Embroidery Floss
Seams—Inside Felled

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P.S. – We’ve partnered with A Verb For Keeping Warm to create a Nell Bundle—3 yards of our 100% Organic Medium-weight Cotton Jersey (2 yards Forest, 1 yard Peacock), 2 spools of Button Craft Thread, one skein AVFKW Naturally Dyed Embroidery and a printed copy of the Nell pattern. You can purchase the bundle and pattern on the A Verb for Keeping Warm website.

ALABAMA CHANIN - CUSTOM DIY UPDATES1

CUSTOM DIY UPDATE

Custom DIY has always been a resource to design your own garments and accessories—personalizing everything from fabric and thread color to stencil design and treatments. Now, you have even more control over what you receive once you place your Custom DIY Kit order.

The new programming provides even further customization, allowing you to take into account the notions and supplies you already have in your sewing kit. You will still choose your project, size (if applicable), fabric colors, treatment, and stencil, but you now have the option to get only what you need. Each Custom DIY Kit is now available as a base kit—with your cut-out project stenciled in your design of choice—with the option to add on any notions you need for an additional discounted cost. Our new Thread and Embroidery Calculator is available online here and also in the Custom DIY Guide. Use this chart to help you determine how many spools of each you’ll need for all your sewing projects from The School of Making. As always, shipping is free for all Custom DIY Kits.

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In addition to the new “à la carte” ordering, fresh styles have been added from 2017 Build a Wardrobe. All variations of the Factory Dress, Car Coat, Wrap Dress, and Drawstring Pant patterns are now available as well as the Variegated Stripe stencil from The Geometry of Hand-Sewing.

Find inspiration for fabric treatments, and start customizing your project here.

Share all of your projects with us using the hashtag #theschoolofmaking on Instagram, and join The School of Making Stitchalong on Facebook.

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2018 BUILD A WARDROBE: THE PALAZZO PANT PATTERN

The second quarter of the Build a Wardrobe 2018 subscription debuts today with the launch of the Palazzo Pant pattern. Transcending any season or occasion, the flattering Palazzo Pant—with its comfortable pull-on elastic waist and wide, flowing leg—can be made in a variety of lengths and works well basic or embellished.

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For a special occasion, the wide legs offer the ideal canvas for appliqué, embroidery, or bead treatments. A basic version offers a more relaxed feel, and the roomy, comfortable legs are ideal for lounging at home.

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The Palazzo Pant pattern is included in the Build a Wardrobe subscription but can be purchased à la carte on our Studio Books + Patterns page here.

It is offered in both physical and digital forms and comes in three length variations: 19″ shorts, 30″ cropped pants, and 33″ long pants. The nested pattern includes sizes XS up to XXL. The paper pattern is $24, and the digital pattern comes in both US Letter and A4 (for our international customers) formats and is priced at $18. Visit our Journal here for instructions for home printing.

We ask that you respect our creative integrity when working with this, or any pattern, and not produce garments to sell.

Share your work with us and the maker community on Instagram using the hashtags #theschoolofmaking and #buildawardrobe2018.

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2018 BUILD A WARDROBE: THE PANEL TANK PATTERN

2018 Build a Wardrobe kicks off with our beloved Panel Tank Pattern. The Panel Tank flatters all body types with a fitted bust and generous flare to the bottom hem. The thin straps and scooped out neckline well to layering underneath a cardigan or jacket, or over a long sleeve tee or turtleneck.

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The pattern has four length variations: tank, tunic, knee-length dress, and long dress, and is graded in sizes XS to XXL. By signing up for the year, your Build a Wardrobe package includes all the fabric and thread you will need to complete a basic top or dress.

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The Panel Tank pattern is available as part of Build a Wardrobe or à la carte.

Please share all of your Build a Wardrobe projects with us and The School of Making community by using the hashtags #theschoolofmaking and #buildawardrobe2018.

If you have questions about construction of your Panel Tank or need advice on sizing, stenciling, or embellishments, give us a call at 256-760-1090 or email us at office@alabamachanin.com.

P.S.: We ask that you respect our policies and use our patterns for your own personal projects. They are designed for individual use and are not intended for reproducing, distributing, or commercial venues.

View our current Build a Wardrobe Collection here.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE SWING SKIRT TECHNIQUES & CONSTRUCTION

BLUPRINT: THE SWING SKIRT TECHNIQUES & CONSTRUCTION

The School of Making was founded back in 2014 as an overseeing body that encompasses the DIY Kit collection as well as workshop programming, format, and content. It was also developed to direct and innovate learning initiatives and educational programs that will continue to teach Slow Fashion and sustainability and promote the Living Arts to our growing maker community. Today, we’re proud to announce our latest learning tool in partnership with Bluprint—a video course titled “The Swing Skirt Techniques & Construction with Natalie Chanin & The School of Making”.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE SWING SKIRT TECHNIQUES & CONSTRUCTION

The Swing Skirt is one of our all-time most popular DIY styles. It’s universally flattering on all body types, and its simple, four-panel design and easy construction make it the perfect beginner garment. In “The Swing Skirt Techniques & Construction”, Natalie gives in-depth instructions for all aspects of creating a Swing Skirt including planning, cutting, stenciling, stitching, and completing your garment.

If you like to complete every step of the process yourself, you’ll receive a downloadable Swing Skirt Pattern PDF with four lengths—21”, 24”, 26”, and 28”. There is an expanded version of the pattern available online with two additional lengths—33” and 40”—in both PDF and printed versions.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE SWING SKIRT TECHNIQUES & CONSTRUCTION

Or if you’d like to start sewing right away, there are a number of Swing Skirt DIY Kits cut and ready-to-sew in our most popular stencil designs—Magdalena, Anna’s Garden, and Bloomers—or create your own kit to your exact specifications through Custom DIY. We also suggest using “The Swing Skirt Techniques & Construction” as instruction for Host a Party. Gather at least six friends, choose the Swing Skirt as your garment, make your design choices, and gather to work through the course together.

View the trailer for “The Swing Skirt Techniques & Construction with Natalie Chanin & The School of Making” below:

And sign up for the course here.

P.S.: If you purchase your class from the links on our website, we will earn a small commission from the product purchased through that link. This commission supports our business and helps us stock our 100% organic fabrics, pay our employees a living wage, and allows our teams to continue to design and create the products that you love. What might seem like a small gesture can go a long way for our business, so thank you.

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TEXTILE PAINT + CUSTOM COLORS

Textile paint is an everyday staple at The School of Making and ­Alabama Chanin. We use it to transfer stencil designs to a multitude of items including the Alabama Chanin Collection, DIY Kits and Custom Kits—we even stencil our gift bags and boxes. Because of our commitment to lean manufacturing, everything is stenciled to order by the expert hand of our stenciling department.

In the past, we have offered base colors along with recipes for mixing the custom colors that we use that coordinate with our Collection colors and DIY Kit offerings. Now, The School of Making is offering custom pre-mixed textile paint colors in White Gold, Slate, Moonlight, Ecru, Fog, and Pearl Silver (with more to come in the future).

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You can find our custom mixed Textile Paint here, along with all the other tools you’ll need to create and stencil your own garments—including Mylar stencils and digital artwork to make your own.

ALABAMA CHANIN – INSPIRATION: WRAP DRESS

INSPIRATION: WRAP DRESS

The Wrap Dress style made its first appearance in the Alabama Chanin collection back in 2008. Over the years, it has been made in many different variations—dressed down in a basic tank style for summer as well as dressed up as a fully embellished dress for a wedding. The sleeve variations and length options make this garment endlessly versatile and easy to fit into your existing wardrobe.

Below you can find design choices for some of our favorite versions throughout the years.

OUR DESIGN CHOICES

Pattern variation – Wrap Tunic (shown above)
Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – Black
Fabric color for inner layer – Black
Button Craft thread – Black
Stencil – Stars
Textile paint – Slate
Technique – Beaded Stars
Sleeve variation – Sleeveless
Knots – Inside
Seams – Inside felled
Binding stitch – Herringbone

ALABAMA CHANIN – INSPIRATION: WRAP DRESS

OUR DESIGN CHOICES

Pattern variation – Wrap Tunic (shown at left)
Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – Ballet
Fabric color for inner layer – Ballet
Button Craft thread – Dogwood
Stencil – Anna’s Garden
Textile paint – Pearl Silver
Technique – Negative reverse appliqué
Sleeve variation – Sleeveless
Knots – Outside
Seams – Inside felled
Binding stitch – Cretan

ALABAMA CHANIN – INSPIRATION: WRAP DRESS

OUR DESIGN CHOICES

Pattern variation – Wrap Tunic
Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – White
Fabric color for inner layer – White
Button Craft thread – White
Stencil – Facets
Textile paint – Pearl Silver
Technique – Negative reverse appliqué
Sleeve variation – Cap sleeve
Knots – Outside
Seams – Inside felled
Binding stitch – Cretan

ALABAMA CHANIN – INSPIRATION: WRAP DRESS

OUR DESIGN CHOICES

Pattern variation – Wrap Dress (with lengthening border added)
Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – Ballet
Button craft thread – Dogwood
Sleeve variation – Long Fluted Sleeve
Knots – Inside
Seams – Inside felled
Binding stitch – Herringbone

ALABAMA CHANIN – BUILD A WARDROBE 2017: THE WRAP DRESS

2017 BUILD A WARDROBE: THE WRAP DRESS

Universally flattering and a staple of any wardrobe, the Wrap Dress is the focus of the third quarter of Build a Wardrobe 2017 and is available for the first time today as a digital pattern download. Offered with five sleeve options and five length variations, the pattern is available in sizes XS through  XX-Large. The $18 download also includes construction instructions and is formatted for both wide-format and tiled printing.

ALABAMA CHANIN – BUILD A WARDROBE 2017: THE WRAP DRESS

Make a basic version or use any of the techniques in our Studio Book series to take your Wrap Dress from casual to special occasion worthy. Be sure to share your project with us using the hashtags #theschoolofmaking and #buildawardrobe2017.

Check back with us in October for our fourth and final quarter release of 2017.

Purchase the Wrap Dress pattern.

Visit The School of Making’s Facebook page here.

P.S.: We ask that you respect our policies and use our patterns for your own personal projects. They are designed for individual use and are not intended for reproducing, distributing, or commercial venues.

ALABAMA CHANIN – INSPIRATION: ONE-OF-A-KIND INDIGO

INSPIRATION: ONE-OF-A-KIND INDIGO

Since our Indigo Dye Kit launched, we’ve loved seeing dye projects pop up on social media. The kit comes with enough materials to dye 6 yards of our 100% Organic Medium-weight Cotton Jersey, but you can also use it to give rarely worn garments a new life or to overdye a DIY project. Dyeing yards of fabric can be physically strenuous, and overdyeing an existing garment can be easier if you’re working alone.

The V-Neck Tank shown above is an example of what you can achieve when experimenting with indigo dye and paint. The Tank was first painted by hand using our New Leaves Stencil in two different colors of latex paint and then overdyed to a dark shade of indigo.

ALABAMA CHANIN – INSPIRATION: ONE-OF-A-KIND INDIGO

Shown here is an overdyed, one-of-a-kind piece created for the Alabama on Alabama exhibit at Heath Ceramics from the summer of 2015. We overdyed a now-archived Natalie’s Jacket from our machine-sewn line to a shade of medium indigo. After the jacket was dyed, appliqué in various shades of indigo made with Medium and X-Large New Leaves Stencil artwork were added to the front and back panels.

We encourage you to sort through your closet and upcycle any rarely worn items to bring them back into your regular wardrobe rotation. Use these garments as inspiration to get creative with your existing wardrobe, and share your dye projects with us using #theschoolofmaking on Instagram.

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SPOONFLOWER DAISY PROJECTS

Since the launch of Limited-Edition Printed Cotton Jersey, we’ve used both Anna’s Garden and New Leaves variations to create a Factory Tunic and Swing Skirt (respectively). The printed fabric allows you to make quick and easy basics with the added visual interest of a pattern. With spring in full effect here in north Alabama, we created a few staple pieces to ease us into the warmer months—a Poncho, Casual T-Shirt Top, and Armor Beaded Scarf—and experiment with Hand-Dyed Organic Indigo Fabric in Light Indigo.

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DESIGN CHOICES

Project – T-Shirt Top from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design
Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight organic cotton jersey
Fabric color– Limited-Edition Printed Cotton Jersey in Daisy
Button Craft thread – Dogwood
Knots – Inside
Seams – Inside felled
Sleeve length – Short
Binding stitch – Cretan stitch

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DESIGN CHOICES

Project – Poncho from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design
Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight organic cotton jersey
Fabric color – Limited-Edition Printed Cotton Jersey in Daisy
Button Craft thread – Dogwood
Knots – Outside
Seams – Outside floating

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DESIGN CHOICES

Project – Scarf*
Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight organic cotton jersey
Fabric color– Limited-Edition Printed Cotton Jersey in Daisy
Button Craft thread – Dogwood
Knots – Inside
Seams – Inside felled
Technique – Armor beading
Beads – Bugle beads, chop beads, and sequins
Bead color – White

*This scarf is a 12” x 56” strip cut across the grain. This project could easily be made from fabric leftover from another project shown here.

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DESIGN CHOICES

Project – Sample Block (10” x 16”)
Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight organic cotton jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – Hand-Dyed Organic Indigo Fabric in Light Indigo
Fabric color for inner layer – Limited-Edition Printed Cotton Jersey in Daisy
Button Craft thread – Dogwood
Textile paint color – Pearl Silver
Stencil – Daisy
Technique – Negative reverse applique
Knots – Outside

ALABAMA CHANIN – BUILD A WARDROBE 2017: THE CAR COAT

2017 BUILD A WARDROBE: THE CAR COAT

Build a Wardrobe 2017 continues in the second quarter with our Car Coat Pattern. Offering a fit that is flattering to all body types, the Car Coat is a great transitional piece that can be worn throughout the year—going from basic to statement-making with the addition of stencils, embroidery, and beading.

The digital version of the Car Coat Pattern has three length options as well as pocket and sleeve variations, and it is available to download on our Studio Books + Patterns page for $18. The downloadable PDF contains the pattern graded in sizes XS through XXL as well as instructions for pattern cutting and garment construction. The file also includes two printing options—a full-scale version that can be printed on large-format printers in copy shops and a tiled version that can be printed at home.

ALABAMA CHANIN – BUILD A WARDROBE 2017: THE CAR COAT

The pattern is included in our 2017 Build a Wardrobe program, which can be purchased at any point during the year.

Check back in July and October for our third and fourth quarter releases.

Purchase the digital pattern here.

Sign up for Build a Wardrobe here.

Share all your projects with us using the hashtags #theschoolofmaking and #buildawardrobe2017.

P.S.: We ask that you respect our policies and use our patterns for your own personal projects. They are designed for individual use and are not intended for reproducing, distributing, or commercial venues.

ALABAMA CHANIN – BUILD A WARDROBE 2017: THE FACTORY DRESS SLEEVE

BUILD A WARDROBE 2017: THE FACTORY DRESS SLEEVE

By popular demand, we have created a sleeve for the Factory Dress for those of you who have either subscribed to Build a Wardrobe or purchased the Factory Dress pattern online. The sleeve was drafted to fit the existing armhole on the pattern, so no adjustments will need to be made before attaching your sleeve.

ALABAMA CHANIN – BUILD A WARDROBE 2017: THE FACTORY DRESS SLEEVE

This pattern variation is available as a free download to use with your previously purchased Factory Dress pattern. Instructions for attaching the sleeve and where to fit this step into your construction are included with the pattern piece.

ALABAMA CHANIN – BUILD A WARDROBE 2017: THE FACTORY DRESS SLEEVE

As always, we ask that you share your projects with us on Instagram using #theschoolofmaking and #buildawardrobe2017.

ALABAMA CHANIN – APPLIQUE DAISY ALABAMA SWEATER TUNIC

APPLIQUE DAISY ALABAMA SWEATER TUNIC

The Alabama Sweater has been a long-standing pattern at Alabama Chanin, and the silhouette remains one of our customer favorites (a reason we included the pattern in our 2016 Build a Wardrobe). The Alabama Sweater shown above was created using the Daisy stencil for one of our archived collections using a classic whipstitch appliqué technique.

At Alabama Chanin we use appliqué to add color, texture, and dimension to our work. Here are the appliqué instructions found on page 101 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design:

  1. Stencil Pattern on Base Fabric
    Stencil a pattern on the right side of your base fabric where you want to stitch the appliqué pieces, remove the stencil, and let the fabric and stencil dry thoroughly.
  2. Cut Out Appliqué Pieces
    To make your appliqué pieces, flip the dried stencil used in Step 1 to the wrong side, and transfer the stencil pattern to the wrong (backside) of the appliqué fabric. After letting the stenciled fabric dry, begin by cutting out one stenciled shape, 1/16” around the outside of the stenciled edge. Once you cut out the shape, flip it over, right side up, and pin it to the corresponding shape in the stenciled pattern on the base fabric. Repeat for your entire stenciled design by cutting one piece at a time and pinning it into place.
  3. Stitch Appliqué Pieces to Project
    Position each cut appliqué shape, right side up, on top of the corresponding shape in the stenciled design on the base fabric. It’s important to match up each shape as you cut it—unless you’re fond of jigsaw puzzles! Align the edges of the appliqué and stenciled shape, pin the appliqué securely in place, and attach the appliqué’s raw cut edges using the parallel whipstitch. The straight stitch is the easiest to use, while the parallel whipstitch, which secures the fabric extremely well, is the stitch we use most often at Alabama Chanin.

For instructions on the Satin Stitch used to embroider the dots in the center of each Daisy, see page 84 in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.

You can order this Alabama Sweater Tunic as a DIY kit using our Custom DIY Form, or create it yourself using the Alabama Sweater Pattern from our Resources page and our new Daisy Stencil.

ALABAMA CHANIN – APPLIQUE DAISY ALABAMA SWEATER TUNIC

DESIGN CHOICES

Fabric weight – 100% Organic Medium-weight Cotton Jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – Natural
Fabric color for inner layer – Natural
Fabric color for appliqué layer – Black
Button craft thread color – Cream #256
Variegated embroidery floss color – Black variegated
Textile paint color – White
Stencil – Daisy
Technique – Appliqué
Knots – Inside
Seams – Inside felled
Binding stitch – Cretan stitch

If you’re having trouble deciding what colors and techniques you want to use for your Alabama Sweater, start with the Design Bundle which includes pre-selected fabric and notions to help you test out our techniques and develop textiles before committing to a bigger project.

ALABAMA CHANIN – BUILD A WARDROBE 2016: FULL WRAP SKIRT INSTRUCTIONS

BUILD A WARDROBE 2016: FULL WRAP SKIRT INSTRUCTIONS

Over the past few weeks, we’ve shared instructions for our recently-added Custom DIY silhouettes from the 2016 Build a Wardrobe program. These new projects are not included in our Alabama Studio books, but the instructions for the four patterns from last year are now available online. So far, we’ve shared instructions for the Maggie DressAlabama Sweater, and Walking Cape. This week, we finish the series with instructions for the Full Wrap Skirt and variations. You may also download a printable PDF with instructions through the links after each pattern variation. Find all of our digital patterns and stencil artwork on our Studio Books + Patterns page.

ALABAMA CHANIN – BUILD A WARDROBE 2016: FULL WRAP SKIRT INSTRUCTIONS

FULL WRAP SKIRT INSTRUCTIONS

1. Baste Waistline
To ensure that the waistline on your cut-fabric pieces does not stretch while you construct the skirt, use a single strand of all-purpose thread to baste the waistline edges of each cut piece, as noted on the pattern.

2. Construct Skirt
After basting the waistline edge of all body pattern pieces, pin two of the body panels together on one seam with right sides together and edges aligned. When pinning knit seams for construction, it is important to follow a method we call “pinning the middle”. Start by pinning the beginning of your seam, and follow by pinning the end of your seam. Then place one pin in the middle, between the two initial pins. Continue by pinning in the middle of each set of pins, until your seam is securely pinned and ready to sew.

Thread your needle, love your thread, and knot off. Using a straight stitch, sew the pinned pieces together, starting at the skirt’s waistline and stitching 1/4” from the fabric’s cut edges down to the bottom edge. Be sure to begin and end each seam by wrap-stitching (see page 12 of this document) its edges to secure them. Leave your seams floating, or fell your seams by stitching down the center of the seam allowances, using a straight stitch and wrap-stitching the beginning and end of each seam.

Once the first seam is complete, open the first two panels with right sides facing up. Pin the next panel of the skirt—right side down—on top of one of the first panels to create your next seam. Follow the instructions above to construct and fell (optional) the seam. Continue to do this until all nine panels are sewn together. Do not join the two outside panels.

3. Add Facing to Front Panels
Pin your cut facing piece to the Full Wrap Skirt front panel, with right sides together and the edges aligned. Thread your needle, love your thread, and knot off. Using a straight stitch, sew the pinned pieces together, starting at the top edge of the center front and stitching 1/4” from the fabric’s cut edges down to the bottom edge. Be sure to begin and end the seam by wrap-stitching its edges to secure them.

Once you have constructed this seam, gently steam the seam open with an iron, and then fold the facing back to create a clean-finished seam that encases the seam allowances, and pin it into place. Using a straight stitch, topstitch through all of the layers 1/4” from the front edge to secure the facing in place.

Repeat this process with the second facing on the final panel.

4. Add Waistband
To add the waistband, start by placing the two cut waistbands with right sides together and the edges aligned, and begin stitching at the short end, and then sew across top of band and the other short end, wrap-stitching at both ends of the seam. Turn the waistband right side out, and press it.

With right sides together and the edges aligned, pin one edge of the waistband to the skirt’s waist, and join the two with a 1/4” seam. Turn the other edge of the waistband under 1/4” on the skirt waist’s wrong side, and topstitch through all layers 1/8” from the folded edge.

Topstitch the ends and top of waistband 1/8” from the folded edge, starting at the short end, sewing across the top of the band, and ending at the other short end.

5. Add Ties
Working along the grain of the fabric, cut four ties for the waist of the skirt that are 36” long by 1 1/4” wide. Place one unfolded, raw-edged tie at the end of the waistband on the right side of skirt’s right front edge, with right sides together and matching the end of the tie to the end of the waistband. Stitch 1/4” from the fold, wrap-stitching at the beginning and end of stitching line. Fold the tie back over the sewn edge, and stitch the edge again 1/4” from the fold, wrap-stitching again at the beginning and end of the seam to produce a clean-finished edge that encases the seam allowances. Repeat this process on the left side of the skirt’s front edge.

Place the other tie at the side seam, and stitch it in place the same way you attached the first tie.

ALABAMA CHANIN – BUILD A WARDROBE 2016: FULL WRAP SKIRT INSTRUCTIONS

Find the pattern for the Full Wrap Skirt here.

ALABAMA CHANIN – BUILD A WARDROBE 2016: FULL WRAP SKIRT INSTRUCTIONS

PULL-ON SKIRT INSTRUCTIONS

1. Baste Waistline
To ensure that the waistline on your cut-fabric pieces does not stretch while you construct the skirt, use a single strand of all-purpose thread to baste the waistline edges of each cut piece, as noted on the pattern.

2. Construct Skirt
After basting the waistline edge of all body pattern pieces, pin two of the body panels together on one seam with right sides together and edges aligned. When pinning knit seams for construction, it is important to follow a method we call “pinning the middle”. Start by pinning the beginning of your seam, and follow by pinning the end of your seam. Then place one pin in the middle, between the two initial pins. Continue by pinning in the middle of each set of pins, until your seam is securely pinned and ready to sew.

Thread your needle, love your thread, and knot off. Using a straight stitch, sew the pinned pieces together starting at the skirt’s waistline and stitching 1/4” from the fabric’s cut edges down to the bottom edge. Be sure to begin and end each seam by wrap-stitching (see page 12 of this document) its edges to secure them. Leave your seams floating, or fell your seams by stitching down the center of the seam allowances, using a straight stitch and wrap-stitching the beginning and end of each seam.

Once the first seam is complete, open the first two panels with right sides facing up. Pin the next panel of the skirt—right side down—on top of one of the first panels to create your next seam. Follow the instructions above to construct and fell (optional) the seam. Continue to do this until all six panels are sewn together. Join the outer two panels.

3. Add Waistband
Using 1”-wide fold-over elastic and starting at the skirt’s center-back waistline, encase the waistline’s raw edge with the folded elastic, and pin it in place. Overlap the elastic’s raw edges at the center back by about 1/2”, and trim any excess elastic. Using the stretch stitch of your choice, sew through all the layers down the middle of the elastic.

ALABAMA CHANIN – BUILD A WARDROBE 2016: FULL WRAP SKIRT INSTRUCTIONS

APRON SKIRT INSTRUCTIONS

1. Baste Waistline
To ensure that the waistline on your cut-fabric pieces does not stretch while you construct the skirt, use a single strand of all-purpose thread to baste the waistline edges of each cut piece.

2. Add Embroidery
Add embellishment, as desired. Use one of our Alabama Studio Series books for inspiration. If you’re adding beading, avoid beading in 1/4” seam allowance.

3. Construct Skirt
After basting the waistline edge of all body pattern pieces, pin two of the body panels together on one seam with right sides together and edges aligned. When pinning knit seams for construction, it is important to follow a method we call “pinning the middle”. Start by pinning the beginning of your seam, and follow by pinning the end of your seam. Then place one pin in the middle, between the two initial pins. Continue by pinning in the middle of each set of pins, until your seam is securely pinned and ready to sew.

Thread your needle, love your thread, and knot off. Using a straight stitch, sew the pinned pieces together starting at the skirt’s waistline and stitching 1/4” from the fabric’s cut edges down to the bottom edge. Be sure to begin and end each seam by wrap-stitching its edges to secure them. Leave your seams floating, or fell your seams by stitching down the center of the seam allowances, using a straight stitch and wrap-stitching the beginning and end of each seam.

Once the first seam is complete, open the first two panels with right sides facing up. Pin the next panel of the skirt—right side down—on top of one of the first panels to create your next seam. Follow the instructions above to construct and fell (optional) the seam. Continue to do this until all five panels are sewn together. Do not join the two outside panels.

4. Add Facing to Front Panels
Pin your facing piece to the Apron Skirt front panel, with right sides together and the edges aligned. Thread your needle, love your thread, and knot off. Using a straight stitch, sew the pinned pieces together, starting at the top edge of the center front and stitching 1/4” from the fabric’s cut edges down to the bottom edge. Be sure to begin and end the seam by wrap-stitching its edges to secure them.

Once you have constructed this seam, gently steam the seam open with an iron, and then fold the facing back to create a clean-finished seam that encases the seam allowances, and pin it into place. Using a straight stitch, topstitch through all of the layers 1/4” from the front edge to secure the facing in place.

Repeat this process with the second facing.

5. Add Waistband
To add the waistband, start by placing the two cut waistbands with right sides together and the edges aligned, and begin stitching at the short end, and then sew across top of band and the other short end, wrap-stitching at both ends of the seam. Turn the waistband right side out, and press it.

With right sides together and the edges aligned, pin one edge of the waistband to the skirt’s waist, and join the two with a 1/4” seam. Turn the other edge of the waistband under 1/4” on the skirt waist’s wrong side, and topstitch through all layers 1/8” from the folded edge.

Topstitch the ends and top of waistband 1/8” from the folded edge, starting at the short end, sewing across the top of the band, and ending at the other short end.

6. Add Ties
Use the two ties for the waist of the skirt that are 36” long by 1 1/4” wide. Place one unfolded, raw-edged tie at the end of the waistband on the right side of skirt’s right front edge, with right sides together and matching the end of the tie to the end of the waistband. Stitch 1/4” from the fold, wrap-stitching at the beginning and end of stitching line. Fold the tie back over the sewn edge, and stitch the edge again 1/4” from the fold, wrap-stitching again at the beginning and end of the seam to produce a clean-finished edge that encases the seam allowances. Repeat this process on the left side of the skirt’s front edge.

Explore all of our patterns on the Studio Books + Patterns page.

ALABAMA CHANIN – BUILD A WARDROBE 2016: WALKING CAPE INSTRUCTIONS

BUILD A WARDROBE 2016: WALKING CAPE INSTRUCTIONS

We have recently added our 2016 Build a Wardrobe silhouettes to Custom DIY. These new projects are not included in our Alabama Studio books, so we are providing instructions for each project on our Journal over the next few weeks. So far, we’ve shared instructions for the Maggie Dress and Alabama Sweater, and this week, we share instructions for the Walking Cape. You may also download a printable PDF with instructions through the link at the bottom of this post. Find all of our digital patterns and stencil artwork on our Maker Supplies + Stencils page.

ALABAMA CHANIN – BUILD A WARDROBE 2016: WALKING CAPE INSTRUCTIONS

WALKING CAPE INSTRUCTIONS

1. Add Embroidery
Add embellishment, as desired. Use one of our Alabama Studio Series books for inspiration. If you’re adding beading, avoid beading in 1/4” seam allowance.

2. Construct Collar
To create the Walking Cape collar, pin the two collar pieces right sides together around the three outside edges, leaving the portion of the collar that attaches to the body of the cape open. Thread your needle, love your thread, and knot off. Using a straight stitch, sew the pinned edges together, starting at one corner of the collar and stitching 1/4” from the fabric’s cut edges around the three outside edges of the collar. Be sure to begin and end the seam by wrap-stitching its edges to secure them.

Turn the collar right side out and press. You may choose to topstitch the collar 1/8” from the edge of the three finished sides using a straight stitch and wrap-stitching the beginning and end of the seam.

3. Prepare for Construction
After completing the collar, lay out your top layer with the right side facing up. Center the raw edge of your collar with the center of the inside edge of the cape. Pin the collar in place. Lay your bottom layer on top of the top layer and collar with the right side facing up, sandwiching the collar between the two layers. Pin all layers of the cape together along the center front and inside edge of the cape.

When pinning knit seams for construction, it is important to follow a method we call “pinning the middle”. Start by pinning the beginning of your seam, and follow by pinning the end of your seam. Then place one pin in the middle, between the two initial pins. Continue by pinning in the middle of each set of pins, until your seam is securely pinned and ready to sew.

4. Sew Front Seam
Thread your needle, love your thread, and knot off. Using a straight stitch, sew the pinned pieces together, starting at one corner of the center front and stitching 1/4” from the fabric’s cut edges across to the opposite corner. Be sure to begin and end the seam by wrap-stitching its edges to secure them.

Turn the cape right side out. Topstitch the seam 1/8” from the finished edge of the seam using a straight stitch and wrap-stitching the beginning and end of the seam.

5. Construct Walking Cape Pocket
Your kit should include two 1 1/4” x 8 1/2”-wide strips of fabric cut across the grain to use for binding the pockets. Use your iron to press each binding strip in half lengthwise, with the wrong sides together, being careful not to stretch the fabric while pressing it.

To construct a double-layer pocket, lay two cut pocket pieces on top of each other with right sides facing up. Start at one of the top corners and encase the pocket’s top edge inside your folded binding, basting the binding in place as you work. Trim away any excess binding.

Use the stitch of your choice (see our Alabama Studio Book Series) to sew through all layers and down the middle of the binding. Remove or break basting stitches by pulling gently on one end of the thread. It is fine to leave any basting stitches that may be embedded in the binding. Repeat this process for the second pocket.

6. Place and Attach Pockets
Lay your cape out flat with the outside layer facing up. Add pockets by pinning your pocket to the outside layer and placing it 4” from the center front, approximately 5” from the bottom raw edge, and approximately 6” from the outside raw edge.

ALABAMA CHANIN – BUILD A WARDROBE 2016: WALKING CAPE INSTRUCTIONS

Pin pocket in place, and stitch 1/4” from the edge of the pocket, leaving the edges raw. Wrap-stitch the beginning and end of the seam. Repeat this process for the second pocket.

Alternately, you may choose to attach the pockets to the inside of the cape using the same placement instructions listed above.

7. Attach Snap
With the cape laid in front of you face up, place the male half of the snap on the right side of the outer layer of the cape, positioning it 1/4” from the finished center front edge and approximately 7” beneath the collar, or approximately 10” above the bottom raw edge. Attach the snap using a doubled strand of Button Craft thread, stitching around the snap twice.

Open the left side of the cape. Place the female half of the snap on the bottom layer of the left side of the cape, positioning it 1/4” from the finished center front edge and approximately 7” beneath the collar, or approximately 10” above the bottom raw edge. Attach the snap using a doubled strand of Button Craft thread, stitching around the snap twice.

ALABAMA CHANIN – BUILD A WARDROBE 2016: WALKING CAPE INSTRUCTIONS

Download a printable PDF of the Walking Cape instructions here.

ALABAMA CHANIN – BUILD A WARDROBE 2016: ALABAMA SWEATER INSTRUCTIONS

BUILD A WARDROBE 2016: ALABAMA SWEATER INSTRUCTIONS

Last week, we added our  2016 Build a Wardrobe silhouettes to Custom DIY. These new projects are not included in our Alabama Studio books, so we are providing instructions for each project on our Journal over the next few weeks. Last week, we shared instructions for the Maggie Dress and variations with you, and this week, we share instructions for the Alabama Sweater Tunic and variations. You may also download a printable PDF with instructions through the link at the bottom of this post. Find all of our digital patterns and stencil artwork on our Maker Supplies + Stencils page.

ALABAMA CHANIN – BUILD A WARDROBE 2016: ALABAMA SWEATER INSTRUCTIONS

ALABAMA SWEATER TUNIC/TOP/CROP TOP INSTRUCTIONS

1. Baste Neckline and Armholes
To ensure that the neckline and armholes don’t stretch while you’re constructing your garment, use a single strand of all-purpose thread to baste around the neckline and curved edges—from the shoulder to the side edge—of each piece.

2. Add Embroidery
Add embellishment, as desired. Use one of our Alabama Studio Series books for inspiration. If you’re adding beading, avoid beading in 1/4” seam allowance.

3. Prepare for Construction
After completing embellishment, choose Inside or Outside Floating or Felled Seams (see our Alabama Studio Book Series) for your garment. You will pin with fabric’s wrong sides together for seams visible on the outside of the garment or with fabric’s right sides together for seams that are finished on the inside of the garment.

When pinning knit seams for construction, it is important to follow a method we call “pinning the middle”. With right sides together for inside seams and wrong sides together for outside seams, start by pinning the top of your seam, and follow by pinning the bottom of your seam. After pinning both top and bottom, place one pin in the middle, between the two initial pins. Continue by pinning in the middle of each set of pins, until your seam is securely pinned and ready to sew. Repeat the process for the tunic’s two back panels, pinning them together at center back (right sides together for seams inside the garment, wrong sides together for seams that are on the outside of the garment).

4. Sew Center Front and Center Back Seams
Thread your needle, love your thread, and knot off. Using a straight stitch, sew the pinned pieces together, starting at the top edge of the center front and stitching 1/4” from the fabric’s cut edges down to the bottom edge. Be sure to begin and end the seam by wrap-stitching its edges to secure them. Fell each seam (if desired) by folding over the seam allowances to one side and topstitching them 1/8” from the cut edges, down the center of the seam allowances, using a straight stitch and wrap-stitching the seam. Repeat this process to sew the center back seam

5. Sew Shoulder Seams
Next, pin the shoulder seams, with the raw edges aligned, and sew the seams, starting at the top edge of the Alabama Sweater’s armhole and stitching 1/4” from the fabric’s cut edges across to the neckline. Begin and end each seam by wrap-stitching its edges to secure them. Fell your seams, if desired, towards the back of your garment down the middle of your seam allowance.

6. Add Sleeves (optional)
Add sleeves by pinning your cut sleeves to the Sweater armholes with the right sides together for inside seams (or wrong sides together for outside seams) and matching the sleeve’s edges with the edges of the front and back of the Sweater. Pin pieces together securely, working in excess fabric with pins. Use a straight stitch to attach sleeves and then fell the seams toward the sleeves, if desired.

7. Sew Sweater Body at Side Seams
Turn your Sweater wrong side out for inside seams or right side out for outside seams. Pin together front, back, and sleeves (if added) at the side seams. Wrap-stitch your seams. Start stitching at the bottom edge of the Sweater’s hem and sew side and sleeve seams in one continuous pass. After stitching side/sleeve seam, fold seam allowances toward the back, and fell the seam, if desired.

8. Create Mitered Binding and Bind Neckline
Use a rotary cutter, cutting mat, and plastic ruler to cut 1 1/4”-wide strips of leftover fabric across the grain to use for binding the neckline. You will need one strip, approximately 55”, for binding the neckline. Use your iron to press each binding strip in half lengthwise, with the wrong sides together, being careful not to stretch the fabric while pressing it. To bind the neckline, you will first make a miter at the mid-point of the binding before applying the binding to the neckline.

To create the miter, open the pressed binding flat, and then fold it in half crosswise, with right sides together and the short edges aligned. Starting at one edge of the binding, stitch to the fold line and then back to the other edge, sewing a 90-degree V-shape whose point is 1/2” from the binding’s folded edge, and knotting off at the other edge. Clip the excess fabric from V-shape, leaving a 1/4” seam allowance.

Turn the binding right side out; re-fold it with wrong sides together; and place the mitered V at the neckline’s center-front V, folding the strip along the fold line and over the neckline’s raw edge. Start basting the binding in place with all-purpose thread, encasing the neckline’s raw edge inside the binding (note that the binding’s raw edges will show). You will remove this basting thread at the end of the binding process. Add a new binding strip, as needed, as you work around the neckline’s edge to the center back, overlapping the short raw edges of the existing and new binding strips by about 1/2”.

When you reach the center-back point, overlap the binding’s short raw edges by about 1/2” to finish the binding, and trim away any excess binding. To permanently sew the binding in place, use the stretch stitch of your choice to sew through all layers down the middle of the binding.

ALABAMA CHANIN – BUILD A WARDROBE 2016: ALABAMA SWEATER INSTRUCTIONS

12. Bind Armholes (for sleeveless top)
You will need one strip, approximately 55”, for binding the armholes of a sleeveless top. Follow cutting instructions above to cut and press binding pieces.

To bind and finish each armhole, repeat the cutting, pressing, and binding process above, skipping the instructions for making and applying a mitered V-shaped binding at the center-front V-Neck. After permanently sewing the neckline and armhole bindings in place with a stretch stitch, remove or simply break the basting stitches by pulling gently to snap the thread. If some of the basting stitches remain embedded in the binding, leave them in place since the thread is broken and the remaining stitches will not restrict the fabric’s stretch.

Find downloadable and printable stencils here.

ALABAMA CHANIN – CUSTOM DIY UPDATE

CUSTOM DIY UPDATE

Now that our 2017 Build a Wardrobe program is in full-swing, we have added our 2016 styles to Custom DIY. You may now customize your own kits for the Maggie Dress/Tunic/Top, Alabama Sweater Tunic/Top/Crop Top, Walking Cape, and Full Wrap/Pull-On/Apron Skirt. In addition to the new silhouettes, you are now also able to choose between tonal or metallic paint to further customize your kit to your own personal taste.

View our Custom DIY Guide to see all fabric colors with their tonal and metallic paint options.

P.S. – Here are construction instructions for our Maggie Dress, Alabama Sweater, Walking Cape, Full Wrap Skirt.

BUILD A WARDROBE 2016: MAGGIE DRESS INSTRUCTIONS

Our 2016 Build a Wardrobe silhouettes are now available to order through Custom DIY and select kits on our website. Since these projects are new and not included in any of our books, we’ll share the instructions for each project on our Journal over the next few weeks. This week, we’re sharing instructions for the Maggie Dress and variations with you. You may also download a printable PDF with instructions through the link at the bottom of this post.

ALABAMA CHANIN – BUILD A WARDROBE 2016: MAGGIE DRESS INSTRUCTIONS

MAGGIE TOP/TUNIC/DRESS INSTRUCTIONS

1. Baste Neckline and Armholes
To ensure that the neckline and armholes don’t stretch while you’re constructing your garment, use a single strand of all-purpose thread to baste around the neckline and curved edges—from the shoulder to the side edge—of each piece.

2. Add Embroidery
Add embellishment, as desired. Use one of our Alabama Studio Series books for inspiration. If you’re adding beading, avoid beading in 1/4” seam allowance.

3. Prepare for Construction
After completing embellishment, choose Inside or Outside Floating or Felled Seams (see our Alabama Studio Book Series) for your garment. You will pin with fabric’s wrong sides together for seams visible on the outside of the garment or with fabric’s right sides together for seams that are finished on the inside of the garment.

When pinning knit seams for construction, it is important to follow a method we call “pinning the middle”. With right sides together for inside seams and wrong sides together for outside seams, start by pinning the top of your seam, and follow by pinning the bottom of your seam. After pinning both top and bottom, place one pin in the middle, between the two initial pins. Continue by pinning in the middle of each set of pins, until your seam is securely pinned and ready to sew. Repeat the process for the garment’s two back panels, pinning them together at center back (right sides together for seams inside the garment, wrong sides together for seams that are on the outside of the garment).

4. Sew Center Front and Center Back Seams
Thread your needle, love your thread, and knot off. Using a straight stitch, sew the pinned pieces together, starting at the top edge of the center front and stitching 1/4” from the fabric’s cut edges down to the bottom edge. Be sure to begin and end the seam by wrap-stitching its edges to secure them. Fell each seam (if desired) by folding over the seam allowances to one side and topstitching them 1/8” from the cut edges, down the center of the seam allowances, using a straight stitch and wrap-stitching the seam. Repeat this process to sew the center back seam.

5. Sew Shoulder Seams
Next, pin the shoulder seams, with the raw edges aligned, and sew the seams, starting at the top edge of the armhole and stitching 1/4” from the fabric’s cut edges across to the neckline. Begin and end each seam by wrap-stitching its edges to secure them. Fell your seams, if desired, towards the back of your garment down the middle of your seam allowance.

6. Bind Neckline, Armholes, and Perimeter of Dress/Tunic/Top
Your kit should include approximately 540″ of binding for a Maggie Dress, 432” of binding for a Maggie Tunic, or 324″ for a Maggie Top.

Use an iron to press each cut binding strip in half lengthwise, with wrong sides together, being careful not to stretch the fabric as you press it. Start at garment’s center-back neckline and encase the neckline’s raw edge inside your folded binding, basting the binding in place with all-purpose thread as you work. At the center-back point, overlap your binding’s raw edges by 1/2” to finish, trimming away any excess binding.

Use the stretchable stitch of your choice to sew through all layers and down the middle of binding.

To bind the armholes and perimeter of the garment, encase the garment’s raw edge inside your folded binding, basting the binding in place with all-purpose thread as you work. Overlap your binding’s raw edges by 1/2” when adding another piece or finishing the binding, trimming away any excess binding at the end.

Use the stretchable stitch of your choice to sew through all layers and down the middle of the binding around the perimeter of the garment. Remove or break neckline and armhole basting stitches by pulling gently on one end of thread. It’s fine to leave any basting stitches that may be embedded in the binding.

ALABAMA CHANIN – BUILD A WARDROBE 2016: MAGGIE DRESS INSTRUCTIONS

7. Make Tab
Your kit should include one 2 1/2” X 3” strip of fabric with the long side on-grain to use for the tab closure.

With the wrong side of the fabric facing up, fold the top short side down 1”, with wrong sides together, and the bottom short side up 1”, with wrong side to right side, to cover it. You should now have a tri-fold tab measuring 2 1/2” wide X 1” tall. Use an iron to press the tab.

8. Attach Tab and Snaps
With the wrong side of the front panel of the garment facing up, align one short, raw edge of the tab with the finished edge of the binding on the top left corner of the front panel. Attach the tab with a straight stitch, wrap-stitching each side of the tab. Fold tab towards the front of the garment and fell the seam.

Straight stitch the loose end of the tab to secure before attaching the snap. Attach the female half of the snap to the back side of the tab, using a doubled strand of Button Craft thread.

Turn the top right corner of the front panel over with the right side facing up. Attach the male half of the snap to the front side of the corner, directly on top of the binding, using a doubled Button Craft thread.

ALABAMA CHANIN – BUILD A WARDROBE 2016: MAGGIE DRESS INSTRUCTIONS

9. Add Ties
Your kit should include approximately 60” of 1 1/2”-wide strips of fabric cut on the grain to use as ties.

Attach two 30” flat ties, right sides together, to the side corners of the right side of the garment back with a straight stitch, wrap-stitching each side of the tie. Fold each tie towards the front of the garment and fell the seam. Once the ties are attached, pull on the end of each causing the edges to roll. The ties will stretch approximately 6” when pulled.

Download a printable PDF of the Maggie Dress instructions here.

Tag your projects with #theschoolofmaking to share with us and the community of makers and sewers.

ALABAMA CHANIN – BUILD A WARDROBE 2017

BUILD A WARDROBE 2017

In 2016, The School of Making successfully expanded our Swatch of the Month Club and other hand-sewing programs into a larger experiment—Build a Wardrobe. This project offered our maker community the opportunity to take things they have learned from our Studio Book Series, workshops, and our Journal and create pieces they could fold seamlessly into and help sustainably grow their personal wardrobes. Because of the positive feedback we received, The School of Making is pleased to offer a 2017 subscription to the Build a Wardrobe series, featuring a new set of four patterns.

Participants will subscribe for an entire year’s worth of content that can be created from start-to-finish using techniques and guidelines from our Alabama Studio Book Series. Each quarter, we will introduce a new DIY garment pattern that you can take and make completely your own. Subscribers receive a select printed pattern, instructions, and enough fabric to make basic versions of each garment in their chosen colors. (Thread, notions, and digital pattern versions are also included.) This quarterly series offers participants flexibility to customize each garment, with as much or as little embellishment as fits their taste and personal wardrobe.

As with the 2016 program, those who subscribe will also have access to order custom DIY kits for each of the four new garment patterns at a discounted rate. These new DIY kits are exclusive to subscribers during the 2017 Build a Wardrobe program. As with our 2016 programming, subscribers can custom order kits beginning with The Factory Dress—in five lengths—during the first quarter of 2017, with the new patterns being added every quarter.

When you purchase your membership to Build a Wardrobe, you receive:

  • Digital inspiration and information packet of garment and treatment ideas for your wardrobe
  • Digital link to a form where you will choose your fabric and thread colors for the year
  • Discount coupon for 25% off stenciling supplies for those who want to stencil their garments (one-time use)
  • Subscription to an exclusive quarterly Build a Wardrobe newsletter

ALABAMA CHANIN – BUILD A WARDROBE 2017

In January (the first quarter), we will introduce the Factory Dress pattern with five length options. Subscribers will receive:

  • The Factory Dress Pattern in both printed and digital format. This pattern provides 5 length variations for the garment body (top, tunic, 40″ dress, 47.25″ mid-length dress, and 55.5″ long dress) and all necessary instructions.
  • 7 yards of our 100% Organic Medium-weight Cotton Jersey in two colors (3.5 yards each color)—enough to complete a double-layer 55.5” Long Factory Dress or any variation of your choice
  • 1 spool of thread in the color of your choice
  • Exclusive digital link to a Custom DIY form that gives you the option to purchase DIY Kits for the Factory Dress—cut and stenciled to your specifications

ALABAMA CHANIN – BUILD A WARDROBE 2017

In April (the second quarter), we will launch the Car Coat pattern, with three lengths, two sleeve lengths, and pocket variations. Subscribers will receive:

  • The Car Coat Pattern in both printed and digital format. This pattern provides 3 length variations for the garment body (cropped jacket, jacket, and coat), 2 sleeve length variations, pocket variations, and all necessary instructions.
  • 6 yards of our 100% Organic Medium-weight Cotton Jersey in two colors (3 yards each color)—enough to complete a double-layer 40” Car Coat or any variation of your choice
  • 1 spool of thread in the color of your choice
  • 8 17mm snaps
  • Exclusive digital link to a Custom DIY form that gives you the option to purchase DIY Kits for the Factory Dress and Car Coat—cut and stenciled to your specifications

ALABAMA CHANIN – BUILD A WARDROBE 2017

In July (the third quarter), we will feature the Wrap Dress, with five length options and five sleeve options. Subscribers will receive:

  • The Wrap Dress in both printed and digital format. This pattern provides 5 length variations for the garment body (top, tunic, 40″ dress, 47.25″ mid-length dress, and 55.5″ long dress), 5 sleeve length variations, and all necessary instructions.
  • 7 yards of our 100% Organic Medium-weight Cotton Jersey in two colors (3.5 yards each color)—enough to complete a double-layer 55.5” Long Wrap Dress with long sleeves or any variation of your choice
  • 1 spool of thread in the color of your choice
  • Exclusive digital link to a Custom DIY form that gives you the option to purchase DIY Kits for the Factory Dress, Car Coat, and Wrap Dress—cut and stenciled to your specifications

In October (the fourth quarter), we will feature the Drawstring Pant/Skirt, with three length options and pocket variations. Subscribers will receive:

  • The Drawstring Pant/Skirt Pattern in both printed and digital format. This pattern provides 3 length variations for the garment body (short, cropped, and long), pocket variations, and all necessary instructions.
  • 5 yards of our 100% Organic Medium-weight Cotton Jersey in two colors (2.5 yards each color)—enough to complete a double-layer Long Pant or any variation of your choice
  • 1 spool of thread in the color of your choice
  • Exclusive digital link to a Custom DIY form that gives you the option to purchase DIY Kits for the Factory Dress, Car Coat, Wrap Dress, and Drawstring Pant/Skirt—cut and stenciled to your specifications

As with our previous subscription programs, anyone can join at any point in the year. By participating and purchasing materials via Build a Wardrobe, you will automatically receive approximately 25% off the total retail value of the materials—plus the printed pattern and notions needed to complete your garments and free domestic ground shipping. International orders may incur extra shipping fees.

Each quarter, we will release the Build a Wardrobe garment pattern with instructions for sale in print or as a digital download on our Studio Books + Patterns page.

Throughout the year, we will be offering several of our own takes on each garment, using a variety of techniques, colorways, stencils, and embroideries. Use those as inspiration or tailor the garments to your own unique style. Follow along on the Journal and on social media using the hashtags:

#theschoolofmaking
#buildawardrobe2017

Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns remains the ideal guide for altering patterns and perfecting individual fit. The rest of our Studio Book Series provides excellent resources for embellishing these four basic garments to create one-of-a-kind wardrobe essentials.

As with most of our patterns, each of these new styles are created with multiple length or style variations—allowing each person to choose the version that fits their personal figure best.

We chose patterns for the year to pick up where our 2016 subscription left off. If you make a basic of each variation of every pattern offered through Build a Wardrobe, you can end the year with 47 hand-sewn garments—adding to your handmade wardrobe. Pattern possibilities, by the numbers:

  • Factory Dress – 5 garments (top, tunic, and 3 dress lengths)
  • Car Coat – 3 garments (3 length variations X 2 sleeve options)
  • Wrap Dress – 30 garments (5 length variations X 6 sleeve options)
  • Drawstring Pant/Skirt – 6 garments (2 pattern variations X 3 length variations)

We’re always amazed by what our maker community creates, and we can’t wait for another year of wardrobe-building creativity. For those that still wish to participate in our current program, please note—the 2016 Build a Wardrobe program is only available through the end of the year.

P.S.: Starting in January 2017, all of our 100% Organic Cotton Jersey yardage will be sold and shipped unwashed. Please note that our jersey does shrink slightly, and always wash before use.

View our current Build a Wardrobe program here.

THE MAGDALENA CLASSIC JACKET DIY KIT

The Magdalena Classic Jacket DIY Kit is the newest addition to our (recently updated) DIY Collection. Featured in Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns, our Classic Jacket hits at the hip and has a relaxed fit—making it a great everyday jacket. This kit comes with everything you’ll need (including variegated embroidery floss that we’ll match for you). We’ve chosen our Magdalena stencil in a backstitch quilted technique.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE MAGDALENA CLASSIC JACKET DIY KIT

DESIGN CHOICES

Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight organic cotton jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – Navy
Fabric color for inner layer – Navy
Button Craft thread – Navy
Embroidery floss – Black variegated
Textile paint color – Slate
Stencil – Magdalena
Technique – Backstitch quilted
Knots – Inside
Seams – Inside felled
Binding stitch – Cretan stitch

You can also choose to customize this kit through our Custom DIY—we offer shorter and longer jacket kits ranging from cardigan to coat.

Follow us on Instagram @theschoolofmaking and be sure to tag your projects #theschoolofmaking

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE MAGDALENA CLASSIC JACKET DIY KIT

NEW DIY COLLECTION FROM THE SCHOOL OF MAKING

Today, we launch updates to our DIY Collection with new kits, colorways, patterns, and designs. We’re introducing new silhouettes while offering some of our customer favorites with new stencils and treatments. New projects include the Anna’s Garden Maggie Tunic and Polka Dot Walking Cape.

Our expanded selection includes a range of projects for the home, like the Magdalena Table Runner and Magdalena Tea Towels. Favorite styles, like our T-Shirt Top, are now available in the Magdalena stencil. A selection of all-time favorite kits—like the Anna’s Garden Long Skirt and Facets Classic Coat—remain but have been given a fresh look with new colorway options.

If you don’t find exactly what you want, you always have the option to create your own Custom DIY Kit. Our custom kit process allows you to mix and match garment styles, color choices, stencil design, and embroidery techniques to design your perfect garment. For more information on how to design your kit, visit our Custom DIY form. We also have a growing range of patterns and stencils available alongside our Maker Supplies—such as 100% organic cotton jersey, sewing notions, and stenciling supplies—if you enjoy every step of the making experience and prefer creating your garments start-to-finish at home.

ALABAMA CHANIN – NEW DIY COLLECTION FROM THE SCHOOL OF MAKING

As always, our DIY Kits come ready-to-sew with pre-cut and stenciled fabric and all the thread and notions you need to complete your project. Each kit is meant to be completed with help from our Studio Book Series, where you can find construction and embroidery instructions. Or you can learn Alabama Chanin techniques first-hand, as well as gain special instruction and insights, at one of our workshops hosted at The Factory. Learn more about our selection of workshops here.

Explore our current DIY Sewing Kit Collection here.

ALABAMA CHANIN – NEW DIY COLLECTION FROM THE SCHOOL OF MAKING

P.S.: Follow us @theschoolofmaking and share your projects on Instagram using #theschoolofmaking.

If you have any questions about our new DIY Collection, custom DIY kits, or workshops, contact us at +1.256.760.1090 or workshops (at) alabamachanin.com

MAKING AND GIVING

Over the years, through connections with our DIY community and The School of Making programming, we have seen how passionate and virtually inexhaustible our fellow makers can be. We have also witnessed them making connections through craft that extend outward into their lives, creating lifelong friendships and bonds.

Author Christine Chitnis and her mother attended one of our workshops at Blackberry Farm, and Christine shared the experience on her blog, which has its own strong community of fellow crafters, cooks, travel aficionados, and mothers. Christine went home and completed her DIY garment but, due to personal stressors and time constraints, her mother was unable to finish her own garment. As a gift to her mother, Christine wanted to complete the piece—a 6-panel Camisole Dress—as a Christmas gift. With a rapidly approaching deadline and two young children, she recognized that she would need help to complete such a large project.

ALABAMA CHANIN – MAKING AND GIVING

Three women from her maker community came forward and, together, they stitched and constructed the project on time. On Christmas morning, Christine’s mother received a beautifully finished dress, with notes from each of the women who helped make it. We have witnessed time and again that making for others can be as much a gift to the maker as it is to the recipient. Christine wrote, “There is something so powerful about wearing a garment that other hands made for you with love and intention.”

ALABAMA CHANIN – MAKING AND GIVING

The experience inspired Christine to organize more “community stitching” experiences and create pieces for others who might be facing difficult days. She put out a call on her blog and Instagram account, looking for makers who would be interested in joining her efforts. She was able to organize 20 women from across the country (plus one in Australia) to hand craft garments for four recipients who, in one way or another, were dealing with a personal struggle. And, like her mother, none of the four women had any knowledge of the project until they received their gifts. Christine said, “We are hoping that these garments make them feel wrapped in love.”

Christine and her community sewed thousands of stitches into those garments, with love and intention. They are examples of how making can enrich the lives of everyone a garment touches. We hope that Christine’s story inspires others to take up the task of creating for those who need to feel loved and cared for. Thank you to everyone in our maker community who continues to reach out and build bridges across lives—strengthening connections and changing the world with your own two hands.

Top two photos by Forrest Elliott. Grid of photos from Christine’s Instagram.

INSPIRATION: ALABAMA SWEATER

Like many Alabama Chanin garments, the Alabama Sweater was created because it fit a specific need in my own wardrobe. Years ago, I bought a cashmere sweater that became a well-worn, beloved staple. I wore it and washed it a thousand times; accordingly, it shrank and stretched—and became perfectly mine.

Rather than search the world over for another “just right” sweater, I decided to create a new one using the original sweater—after a year (or two) of love—as a model. The first Alabama Sweater designs we created were made with a double layer of our lightweight organic cotton jersey, worked in backstitch reverse appliqué—so they were almost as soft and expensive as actual cashmere.

We have made dozens of versions since then, ranging in style from basic to heavily embellished. It remains one of our most popular styles, year after year, and is now the second pattern in our Build a Wardrobe program.

ALABAMA CHANIN – INSPIRATION: ALABAMA SWEATER

The Alabama Sweater has a wide v-neckline, loose fit through the bust, and a relaxed silhouette. It is a similar style to our A-Line Top/Tunic with a wider, flowing fit overall.

Share your projects and follow along on our Journal and on social media using the hashtags #buildawardrobe2016 and #theschoolofmaking.

ALABAMA CHANIN – INSPIRATION: ALABAMA SWEATER

OUR DESIGN CHOICES
Fabric – 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – White
Fabric color for inner layer – White
Button Craft thread – White
Textile paint color – Pearl Silver
Stencil – Stars
Technique – Beaded Stars
Beads – Chop beads, bugle beads, and seed beads
Bead color – White
Sequins – White
Knots – Inside
Seams – Inside felled
Binding stitch – Cretan

ALABAMA CHANIN – INSPIRATION: ALABAMA SWEATER

OUR DESIGN CHOICES
Fabric – 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – Navy
Fabric color for inner layer – Navy
Button Craft thread – Black #2
Textile paint color – Pearl Charcoal
Stencil – Stars
Technique – Beaded Stars
Bead type – Chop beads, bugle beads, and seed beads
Bead color – Black
Sequins – Black
Knots – Inside

THE MODERN NATURAL DYER: MORE EXPERIMENTS IN COLOR

We’ve had a fun (and colorful) month exploring natural dyes with Kristine Vejar through a series of projects from her book, The Modern Natural Dyer. Here’s a quick recap from our Journal, before we close out the month (which Kristine has tagged as #alabamachaninapril on Instagram) with a final project.

– You can learn more about The Modern Natural Dyer here and get your copy here.

– Find inspiration from Kristine’s “printed flowers” project. Kristine used our organic cotton jersey with her pressed flowers technique from The Modern Natural Dyer. We made a Maggie Tunic, one of our Build a Wardrobe patterns.

– The Iron Age Tank and Gilded Cardigan project uses our machine-sewn garments and is included in Chapter 5 of The Modern Natural Dyer, where Kristine demonstrates how to dye with extracts. (Extracts are highly-concentrated powders derived from whole dyestuffs.) Kristine takes this project a step further on her blog, where she experiments with a range of colors and techniques.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE MODERN NATURAL DYER: MORE EXPERIMENTS IN COLOR

For our last project, Kristine naturally dyed our machine-sewn Crop Cardigan with Quebracho Red, following the directions for The Gilded Cardigan. This extract is derived from the Quebracho tree, which is a member of the sumac family and grows in Central and South America. We love the coral hues, reminiscent of desert sunsets, that this color produces.

We used a ¼ yard of jersey, which was also dyed with Quebracho Red, to create our Random Ruffle technique on the front of the cardigan. This technique was developed in 2001 for our second collection of T-shirts. The ruffle can easily be used to embellish existing pieces of clothing like we did here with the naturally-dyed Crop Cardigan—adding a touch of hand-sewn detail. You can find instructions on page 107 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.

Because the ¼ yard of jersey weighs approximately 75g, you will need to bump up the dye to accommodate for this piece. Make iron-infused water, according to the directions on page 68 of The Modern Natural Dyer. Dip the piece of fabric slowly into the pot over the course of 10 minutes to achieve the gradient—a lovely shade of earthy purple.

The Shade Card on page 98 shows the variations that can be achieved with the colors. Look for the wheat bran bath and lower increment of dye for the instructions listed above.

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE MODERN NATURAL DYER: MORE EXPERIMENTS IN COLOR

OUR DESIGN CHOICES

Garment – Long Sleeve Crop Cardigan
Dyeing Technique – Garment dyeing with extracts (Quebracho Red) from The Modern Natural Dyer
Embroidery Technique – Random Ruffle from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design
Button Craft thread – Dogwood

Kristine has created a series of Work-Along Kits—materials that pair with the projects in The Modern Natural Dyer. The Phase 1 Kit includes our machine sewn V-Neck Tank, Crop Cardigan, and ¼ yard of organic cotton jersey (in addition to many more fabrics, yarns, and dyes).

We love the combination of our organic cotton jersey and natural dyes. They produce honest, tactile colors. And we always enjoy working with Kristine and look forward to more collaboration with the team from A Verb For Keeping Warm in the future. Thank you for all that you do for sustainable textiles and the maker movement.

Find more on Instagram: @theschoolofmaking and @avfkw
#theschoolofmaking
#themodernnaturaldyerworkalong
#alabamachaninapril

DIY ALABAMA SWEATER

The fourth month of 2016 launches the second quarter of our Build a Wardrobe program and, with it, the Alabama Sweater garment pattern. Available for individual purchase for $18 – $24, depending on format. The PDF download includes the nested pattern in sizes ranging from XS to XXL and comes with tips on fabric selection, cutting, and garment construction. Like all of our PDF patterns, it is designed for printing on wide-format or desktop printers, in both full-scale and tiled versions. (You can find instructions for printing our garment patterns here.)

The Build a Wardrobe project is a set of four brand new DIY patterns, launched quarterly, which you can use to create a new, hand-sewn wardrobe. The project is intended to help you refresh, remake, or completely rebuild your wardrobe—using as few or as many of our techniques as best fit your personal style. As with our Swatch of the Month program, participants subscribe to a year’s worth of content they will create using our Alabama Studio Book Series. Subscribers receive quarterly packages with the new pattern, instructions, and fabric and notions in the colors of their choosing. You can sign up at any time.

ALABAMA CHANIN - DIY ALABAMA SWEATER - 2Additionally, subscribers have the exclusive opportunity to order custom DIY kits of each Build a Wardrobe pattern at a discounted rate. For example: this month, all subscribers will receive a printed and PDF Alabama Sweater pattern, fabric yardage in their color(s) of choice, and enough thread to complete the project. They also have the option to custom order DIY Alabama Sweater kits for an additional, discounted cost. This offer is exclusive to Build a Wardrobe participants.

The first quarter of Build a Wardrobe focused on the DIY Maggie Dress and its many variations. This second garment pattern, the Alabama Sweater, provides another essential component of most wardrobes: the versatile, flattering shirt. We will share our one-of-a-kind interpretations of the sweater in the coming months.

Share and follow along on social media using the hashtags #buildawardrobe2016 and #theschoolofmaking.

MAGGIE PATTERN: DESIGN CHOICES

We’ve received questions from many of you about our design choices for the Maggie Dress images pictured above. We share them for inspiration—and to make your fabric, stencil, and thread choices a little easier. From top left to right:

1. Garment – Maggie Dress (no center front or center back seam)
Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight organic cotton jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – Doeskin
Fabric color for inner layer – Doeskin
Button Craft thread – Dogwood #155
Textile paint color – White
Stencil – Anna’s Garden
Technique – Negative reverse appliqué
Knots – Outside
Seams – Inside felled
Binding stitch – Cretan stitch

2. Garment – Maggie Dress (no center front or center back seam)
Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight organic cotton jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – Forest
Fabric color for inner layer – Black
Button Craft thread – Black #2
Textile paint color – Pearl Brownie
Stencil – Anna’s Garden
Technique – Negative reverse appliqué
Knots – Outside
Seams – Inside felled
Binding stitch – Cretan stitch

3. Garment – Maggie Tunic
Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight organic cotton jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – Parchment
Fabric color for inner layer – Parchment
Button Craft thread – Cream #256
Textile paint color – Pearl Grey
Stencil – Anna’s Garden
Technique – Negative reverse appliqué
Knots – Outside
Seams – Inside felled
Binding stitch – Cretan stitch

4. Garment – Maggie Top (no center front or center back seam)
Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight organic cotton jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – Black
Fabric color for inner layer – Black
Appliqué Fabric color– Forest
Button Craft thread – Black #2
Textile paint color – Pearl Brownie
Stencil – Chicken Scratch (Our Check stencil is a similar alternative.)
Technique – Appliqué
Knots – Inside
Seams – Inside felled
Binding stitch – Cretan stitch

5. Garment – Maggie Dress (no center front or center back seam)
Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight organic cotton jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – Forest
Fabric color for inner layer – Forest
Button Craft thread – Black #2 (Green is not available.)
Seams – Inside felled
Binding stitch – Cretan stitch

6. Garment – Maggie Dress (no center front or center back seam)
Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight organic cotton jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – White
Fabric color for inner layer – White
Button Craft thread – White #1
Textile paint color – Putty
Stencil – Anna’s Garden
Technique – Negative reverse appliqué
Knots – Outside
Seams – Inside felled
Binding stitch – Cretan stitch

7. Garment – Maggie Top (no center front or center back seam)
Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight organic cotton jersey
Fabric color – Midnight (single layer)
Binding color – White
Button Craft thread – White #1 for Rib and Slate #26 for Seams
Seams – Inside felled
Binding stitch – Cretan stitch

8. Garment – Maggie Top (no center front or center back seam)
Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight organic cotton jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – Light Blush
Fabric color for inner layer – Light Blush
Appliqué Fabric color– White
Button Craft thread – White #1 for Rib and Dogwood #155 for seams
Textile paint color – White
Stencil – Abbie’s Flower
Technique – Appliqué
Knots – Inside
Seams – Inside felled
Binding stitch – Cretan stitch

Happy sewing from all of us @ Alabama Chanin.

#buildawardrobe2106
#theschoolofmaking

BUILD A WARDROBE: SINGLE- OR DOUBLE-LAYERED

When joining our Build a Wardrobe program, participants make design choices for each of the four garments they create. When planning a design for any garment, the first decision you make is whether the garment will be made with a single- or double-layer of our organic cotton jersey. Some embroidery or embellishment choices will make this decision for you; for instance, most all-over reverse appliqué designs require two layers of fabric, by definition. But, if you opt to make basic versions or lightly-embellished garments, you can create two garments from the same yardage that would be needed to make one double-layered garment. The single- or double-layer decision should be made before cutting your fabric, to allow for the most economical use of your yardage with the least waste.

Single-layer garments are lighter in weight, and we often make these for warmer seasons. Double-layer garments add warmth without adding bulk and offer more support, especially at the bust. Personal preference on fit will come into play when you make this decision; some prefer lighter or more flowing garments, while others like the feeling of being held closely by their clothes. (Some women use double-layer pieces as comfortable versions of body slimmers or shapers, and many of our tighter tops can be worn without the support of an undergarment.) Either way, the more you wear your garment, the more it will take on the shape of your body.

ALABAMA CHANIN – BUILD A WARDROBE: SINGLE- OR DOUBLE-LAYERED

As we mentioned, some techniques lend themselves more to double layering, whereas others allow flexibility in design. For instance, appliqué and beading can be worked on either single- or double-layer garments. But if you choose to embellish your design with heavy beading, we recommend a double-layer garment to provide support. (A heavy beading technique would be more likely to put strain and pull down on a single layer of fabric, causing it to sag or lay improperly on your body.)

If you need inspiration or want to explore multiple design options, look back on some of our pieces from Swatch of the Month; we also demonstrate most of our techniques in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. If you are looking for ways to potentially customize your Build a Wardrobe piece, refer to Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns for ideas and instructions.

Whether you are participating in Build a Wardrobe or forging you own way with your wardrobe, you can follow along on our Journal or on social media with the hashtags: #theschoolofmaking  #buildawardrobe2018

INSPIRATION: MAGGIE TUNIC

I assume that most folks imagine that the Maggie Top/Tunic/Dress is named after my daughter Maggie—and they would be right, in a way. What few people know is that the garment is named after an apron/smock dress that my Maggie wore and loved as a three-year-old. One day as I was dressing her and life seemed a bit out-of-control (what mother of a three-year-old doesn’t feel out-of-control at some point), it seemed like the perfect uniform to simplify my life—and it did.

It simplified my life, became a core staple in the Alabama Chanin collection, and is now the first pattern in our Build a Wardrobe program.

Using our Anna’s Garden stencil worked in negative reverse appliqué, we took inspiration from both the 2014 Swatch of the Month and the shot of the Maggie Dress shown above at right from our Fall/Winter 2010 collection. I’m a sucker for a pair of garden gloves, a garden hat, and a pair of rubber boots.

Pair your tunic with my favorites—The Rib Crew with long sleeves and The Rib Skirt. Use #buildawardrobe2016 and #theschoolofmaking to share your projects.

Join our 2016 Build a Wardrobe program here.

ALABAMA CHANIN – INSPIRATION: MAGGIE TUNIC

OUR DESIGN CHOICES

Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight organic cotton jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – Parchment
Fabric color for inner layer – Parchment
Button Craft thread – Cream #256
Textile paint color – Pearl Grey
Stencil – Anna’s Garden
Technique – Negative reverse appliqué
Knots – Outside
Seams – Inside felled
Binding stitch – Cretan stitch

P.S.: There are lots of variations of apron and smock dresses available. Andrea Zittel did a fantastic project around the smock. You can find our version of the project here on our Journal.

Follow along on social media and on our Journal with the hashtags:
#theschoolofmaking
#swatchofthemonth
#buildawardrobe2016

DIY MAGGIE DRESS

Today, we launch our Maggie Dress garment pattern—available in PDF format through our website. Part of our Build a Wardrobe programming and available for individual purchase at $18, the PDF download includes the nested pattern and comes in sizes XS to XXL along with instructions for fabric selection, cutting, and garment construction. Our PDF patterns (more styles coming each quarter in 2016) are designed for printing on wide-format printers or desktop printers, as both full-scale and tiled versions are included in the download.

The Build a Wardrobe project is comprised of four new DIY Garments that will be used as the basis for creating a hand-sewn wardrobe over the course of the coming year. Launching with our beloved Maggie Dress pattern, makers can work together to create wardrobe staples or follow along globally on social media with the hashtags #buildawardrobe2016 and #theschoolofmaking.

As we move through 2016, we will combine techniques, colorways, and stencils from our two previous Swatch of the Month bundles with our Build a Wardrobe garments. Look for embellished variations of the Maggie Dress in the coming months.

ALABAMA CHANIN – DIY MAGGIE DRESS

The format of Build a Wardrobe is similar to that of Swatch of the Month. Participants will subscribe for a year’s worth of content that will be executed with guidelines presented in our Alabama Studio Book Series and specifically Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns. Each quarter, subscribers will receive an exclusive new printed pattern, instructions, and enough fabric to make basic garments in the colors of your choice (thread, notions, and digital pattern versions also included).

In addition, each quarter, subscribers will also have exclusive access to order custom DIY kits for that pattern at a discounted rate. For example, when we launch the Maggie Dress pattern, subscribers receive the printed Maggie Dress pattern, the Maggie Dress PDF pattern, a bundle of fabric yardage in the color(s) of their choice, a 15mm snap, and thread to complete the garment in an unembellished version. Subscribers also have the option to order custom DIY Maggie Dress kits for an additional cost—an exclusive offer that is available through 2016. These custom DIY kits are only available to Build a Wardrobe subscribers.

ALABAMA CALABAMA CHANIN – DIY MAGGIE DRESS

Each of our Studio Books provides a variety of stencil artwork—which means you have permission to reproduce them for home use and on your projects. We now offer these stencil designs—along with many of our all-time favorites—for purchase as downloadable PDFs in our newly formatted stencil design format which includes: a tiled version to print on letter- or A4-sized paper that you can piece together more easily at home, a full-scale PDF file that you can email or take to the local copy shop to print full-scale on a wide format printer, instructions for creating a stencil, and stencil transfer instructions. Find more information on how to print a garment or textile pattern here.

ALABAMA CHANIN – DIY MAGGIE DRESS

P.S.: We ask that you respect our policies and use our patterns for personal projects, as they are designed for individual use and not intended for commercial ventures or reproducing and distributing.

Follow along on social media and on our Journal with the hashtags:
#theschoolofmaking
#swatchofthemonth
#buildawardrobe2016

ANNA MARIA HORNER KNITS (PART 2)

Last September, as we were preparing for a workshop at Anna Maria Horner’s venture, Craft South, we got our first look at her new line of knit jersey fabrics—Anna Maria Knits. We have since experimented and played with several of these patterned knits using our techniques and are loving the results. Shown here is our Swing Skirt from Alabama Stitch Book appliquéd with our Large Polka Dot Stencil, using her Tangle Knit print in Rust.

It reminds me of a harvest moon.

SUPPLIES

2 yards cotton jersey fabric for skirt
1 yard cotton interlock for appliqué
1 yard fold-over elastic ribbon
Button Craft thread
Basic sewing supplies: needles, pins, embroidery scissors
Alabama Stitch Book for Swing Skirt pattern and instructions

Continue reading

MERCHANT & MILLS: THE FACTORY DRESS PATTERN

In January, we added to our ongoing Makeshift series, adapting available garment patterns using Alabama Chanin techniques with a Merchant & Mills pattern for the Shirt Dress. This month, we’ve created another Merchant & Mills garment in our own style—an Alabama Chanin version of the Factory Dress (love the name). This piece is shown here without embellishment to highlight the simple design, but you can choose to utilize any of the techniques from our previous posts or our Swatch of the Month Club to embellish your project

Keep in mind that Merchant & Mills is a UK-based design house and that UK sizes differ a bit from US numbered sizes. Their website has clear size charts that can help you select the right pattern size for your body. Also note that their patterns are priced in pounds, not US dollars, and you should take into account shipping costs when shopping. Alternatively, there are quite a few stockists in the US with ready links available here.

Continue reading

ANNA MARIA HORNER: ALABAMA STUDIO SEWING PATTERNS

Anna Maria Horner and I have been friends and collaborators now for about 6 years; but, she is the kind of friend you feel like you’ve known forever. I’ve been lucky enough to work alongside her on more than one occasion and we created two stencil designs, Little Folks and Little Flowers, together—based on her extensive collection of fabric designs. Her books have influenced my thoughts on making; they have resulted in some beautiful projects and garments. We’ve even dedicated a section of our studio library to her publications. She has accomplished all of this while beautifully mothering six children…whew—what a woman.

This October, I’ll find myself in Nashville at Craft South, Anna Maria’s newly opened brick and mortar store, for a Two-Hour Sewing Workshop. We’ll also be hosting a book signing and trunk show. Mark your calendars now. Congratulations to Anna Maria on her new and exciting chapter at Craft South. We’re proud for The School of Making to be a part of it, and we’re over-the-moon for her kind review of Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns. Continue reading

DIY NATALIE’S APRON

Natalie’s Apron—now available for purchase as a downloadable sewing pattern from our Resources page—is a version of an apron my grandmother wore nearly every day of her life. The cut of the apron was adapted from the shape of our Camisole Dress pattern from Alabama Studio Style, and it features an optional large, two-sided pocket across the front. The seaming and wide-sweeping hem make this apron a comfortable and flattering fit for every woman’s body. It is beautiful and incredibly practical—especially for those of us that need full-coverage protection in the kitchen (and a large pocket to keep up with the bits of everyday life). I also wear a version of this apron when I help out in our café—pocket filled with pens, pencils, papers, phones, and hair ties.

Due to the popularity of this style (and after many requests), we’ve made this sewing pattern available for download—following our DIY Unisex T-shirt. The pattern comes with both full-scale or tiled-for-printing versions. See our post about printing a pattern here.

NATALIE’S APRON IN SMALL POLKA DOTS

Natalie's Apron - Photographer Abraham Rowe - Alabama Chanin

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LAUNCHING: NEW PATTERNS, NEW RESOURCES

Today, we launch our new Unisex T-shirt garment pattern—available in PDF form through our newly re-organized Resource downloads page for The School of Making. Available for purchase at $12, the PDF download includes the nested pattern and comes in sizes XS to XXL along with instructions for fabric selection, cutting, and garment construction. All of our patterns are the results of hours creating drawings, drafting patterns, making samples, readjusting the patterns, sewing more samples, and finally, grading each pattern by hand into a range of sizes that are then translated to our digital, nested versions. These new PDF patterns (more styles coming very soon) are designed for printing on wide-format printers or desktop printers. We ask that you respect our policies and use our patterns for personal projects, as they are designed for individual use and not intended for commercial ventures or reproducing and distributing.

New Patterns, New Resources Continue reading

DIY EXPLODING ZERO (PLUS JACK CROSSING + HELMUT LANG)

Inspiration: where does it come from?  That’s one of the most asked questions of designers and artists.

The answer is complicated and breathtakingly simple: inspiration is right in front of us. It comes to us over the airwaves, through the endless streams of data we consume, and is found on deserted street corners.

The exploding zero graphic above (on the left-hand side) landed on my desktop sometime last year and made us think about exploding our own preconceptions and also about the number zero—the number of infinite possibilities.

This manipulation of type that inspired our entire team was created by Jack Crossing. Design on paper translated to fabric, thread, beads, and sequins.

DIY Exploding Zero T-shirt is shown here with our sarong (simply a 36” x 72” rectangle of lightweight cotton jersey fabric cut lengthwise with the grain) and Natalie’s vintage Helmut Lang shoes (in pink) circa Spring/Summer 2000.

Make your own exploding zero project following the instructions below, or purchase our t-shirt DIY Kit from The School of Making.

Continue reading

DIY ANNA’S GARDEN LONG SKIRT KIT

This take on our Long Fitted Skirt—one of my longtime favorite go-to pieces—is available for a limited time in our DIY Sewing Kit Collection through The School of Making. I own many versions of this skirt in a range of colors and wear them throughout the year, from one season to the next. The Long Fitted Skirt is fitted at the waist and flares to the hem, which has a slight train in the back.

This version is worked in our Anna’s Garden design using negative reverse appliqué with our medium-weight 100% organic cotton jersey—choose your fabric and thread color. This and all of our DIY kits can be personalized to your specific design choices and worked in any technique from our books or Swatch of the Month to embellish. Create your own version using the custom DIY kit.

View all DIY Sewing Kits and purchase your own Anna’s Garden Long Skirt kit here.

DIY ANNA'S GARDEN LONG SKIRT KIT

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MERCHANT & MILLS: THE DRESS SHIRT PATTERN

In our ongoing Makeshift conversation on design, craft, food, DIY, and fashion—and how they intersect—we continue to adapt open-source patterns from other designers and brands using Alabama Chanin techniques. This experiment demonstrates how open-sourced materials and collaborative works can be used in any number of ways and tailored to almost any personal style.

For this entry in the series, we have chosen to work with a pattern from Merchant & Mills, a popular UK-based company created by Carolyn Denham and Roderick Field, formed, in their words, “to elevate sewing to its proper place in the creative world, respecting the craftsmanship it entails.” That is certainly a philosophy in line with Alabama Chanin’s mission and Makeshift’s goals.

Merchant & Mills has an interesting selection of patterns to offer. UK sizes differ a bit from US numbered sizes, but the website has clear size charts that can help you select the right pattern size for your body. But keep in mind that their patterns are priced in pounds, not US dollars; you should also take into account shipping costs when shopping. Alternatively, there are quite a few stockists in the US with ready links available here.

In order to highlight the simple beauty of this Dress Shirt, we have opted to make a basic version. Of course, you can choose to utilize any of the techniques from our previous posts or our Swatch of the Month Club to embellish your project. We’ve found that the loose fit and shape of the pattern makes it an easy pull-on garment when paired with our stretchable cotton jersey, and this piece looks great with The Every Day Long Skirt or the Bloomers Swing Skirt and Stripe Tall Socks.

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INSPIRATION: BLACK AND GOLD

Black and Gold – in color symbolism they hint at the unknown, power, and formality alongside abundance, prosperity, and extravagance.

Black and Gold – Madonna on a Crescent Moon by an anonymous painter in Germany, commonly referred to as the Master of 1456.

Black and Gold – for some reason also makes me think of Madonna (the singer) in the 1980s (but also today).

Black and Gold – our newest blend of fabric and paint—a departure from the tone-on-tone colors seen in many of our previous collections.

When you order black pieces from our collection (and/or DIY Kits), the items come stenciled with shades of Gold textile paint—unless otherwise noted in the description.

P.S.: If you prefer a different color for your DIY Kit, please choose our Custom DIY option.

INSPIRATION: BLACK AND GOLD

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DIY MAGDALENA FITTED CARDIGAN

This Cardigan is a modified version of our Casual T-shirt Top from Alabama Studio Sewing + DesignWe’ve created the cardigan simply by cutting our t-shirt front panel down the front to create two pieces (or alternatively, you can choose not to cut the pattern on the fold). When cut this way, it creates a cardigan or cover-up from our Casual T-Shirt pattern. Produced in a double-layer, the organic cotton jersey adds warmth but not bulk.

The kit is shown here in Black and has been produced in our backstitched reverse appliqué treatment. But, this and all DIY kits can be customized for any of our embroidery techniques or embellishments. Choose your own fabric color to go with our Variegated Black embroidery floss, or you may also design your own T-Shirt Cardigan through our Custom DIY option. When purchasing this DIY kit to work as a cardigan, you may want to choose one or two sizes larger than you would normally wear, to allow for additional layering room.

SUPPLIES

DIY Magdalena Fitted Cardigan Kit
If you opt to cut your own Fitted Cardigan without a prepared kit, you will need 4 total yards of fabric—2 yards for the outer layer and 2 for the inner layer.

Basic sewing supplies: scissors, pinsneedles
Alabama Stitch BookAlabama Studio Style, or Alabama Studio Sewing + Design: All three of these books contain the basic sewing and embroidery techniques we used to embellish and construct the garment.

Instructions and photographs for backstitched reverse appliqué can be found on pages 95-97 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. You should complete all embellishment using embroidery floss, prior to constructing the garment. Use Button Craft thread, rather than embroidery floss, for construction.

Follow the instructions for the T-Shirt Top/Bolero on page 50 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.

DIY MAGDALENA FITTED CARDIGAN

OUR DESIGN CHOICES

Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight organic cotton jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – Black
Fabric color for inner layer – Black
Embroidery Floss – Black Variegated
Button Craft thread – Black #2, used for construction and binding stitch
Textile paint color – White Gold
Stencil – Magdalena
Knots – Inside
Seams – Inside felled
Binding stitch – Cretan

DIY MAGDALENA A-LINE DRESS

With the release of Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns, we offer a DIY Sewing Kit for our A-Line Dress. This dress is part of our DIY Sewing Kit Collection. Made from our medium-weight 100% organic cotton jersey, the dress is patterned with our Magdalena Stencil and shown here worked in negative reverse appliqué; however, you may choose a technique from any of our books or Swatch of the Month to embellish this kit.

The A-Line dress has been a popular style around our studio because it flatters almost every figure; in fact, we use this dress as part of our uniform for The Factory Store and Café. The kit—or the finished dress—also makes it an excellent gift, as it does not require strict measurements to fit. It is substantial enough to be worn in any weather and works as a versatile layering piece. My daily uniform consists of the A-Line Dress paired with a basic or embellished version of our Every Day Long Skirt.

DIY MAGDALENA A-LINE DRESS

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DIY NATALIE’S APRON

The Camisole Apron is an embellished version of an apron my grandmother wore nearly every day for most of her life. It is beautiful and incredibly practical—especially for those of us that need full-coverage protection in the kitchen. This kit—created from our Camisole Dress pattern from Alabama Studio Style—is fitted for a woman’s body and features a large, two-sided pocket across the front.

DIY POLKA DOT APRON

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VOGUE #V8860 (AN ALABAMA CHANIN DIY COAT)

One of our more popular series of do-it-yourself posts has been our ongoing adaptation of commercially available patterns in the Alabama Chanin style. Among the patterns we have reworked are: a dress from an Anna Sui Vogue pattern, two variations of a Vogue dress from Vena Cava, an open-sourced jacket pattern from Yohji Yamamoto, and other varied pieces.

This series first began as a part of our ongoing Makeshift conversations that explore the intersection of design, craft, food, DIY, and fashion. With this series, we look at makers of all sorts and embrace open-source knowledge, materials, and patterns to create new conversations and collaborations.

We know that it takes skill and patience to complete a garment from another designer’s pattern; however, personalizing those garments—bringing your own body shape, style, and design sensibilities to existing patterns—is sometimes the only option for creating garments that truly fit your life and lifestyle. (You will find much more on this idea of customizing a wardrobe in our upcoming book Alabama Studio Sewing Patternswhich is now available for pre-order.)

We are excited to resume this important experiment with a Vogue coat pattern. I’m in love with the results.

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DIY INDIGO CAMISOLE TANK

Based on feedback that we have received from some of our DIY customers, we are now offering supplementary instructions in each of our DIY Kits. Each kit will be shipped with an insert that includes basic instructions, including how to “love your thread,” directions on completing basic stitches, simple construction tips, and how to add rib binding to your item. We hope that this will help make completing your DIY project easy and stress-free. As always, complete instructions for projects can be found in the Alabama Studio Book series.

We have recently been highlighting natural dyes and Alabama Chanin’s new dye house, run by our head seamstress, Diane. This project highlights the beautiful new shades of indigo that are emerging from our dye vats, shown here on one of our most popular silhouettes – the Camisole Tank. The tank can be adapted to fit almost any body type and its simple design is well suited for most stencils and embroidery techniques.

The tank is form fitting and features feminine back and necklines. It measures approximately 25” from the shoulder.

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DIY STARS TUNIC

Each month of 2014, we have been demonstrating some of our favorite embroidery techniques as part of our Swatch of the Month Club. The month of July features our satin stitch-embroidered Stars design, embellished with beads and sequins.

To highlight this stencil and technique – and as a way to celebrate Independence Day all summer long – we suggest purchasing a machine-sewn Racerback Tunic in the size of your choice and all the supplies needed to embellish your tunic with our Stars design, including our Stars stencil, Red Button Craft thread, bugle beads, chop beads, and sequins.

This project combines our hand-worked techniques with a machine-made garment. Look for more projects combining hand with machine coming soon.

DIY CHECK SKIRT

Our classic Short Skirt is great for just about every occasion, including Mother’s Day. Whether you arrange an outing to church, a restaurant, or just a walk in the park, you can make Mom happy by making her something she’ll love.

Currently featured as part of our Mother’s Day Gift Guide, the DIY Check Skirt is the only DIY Kit pattern we currently feature using our Short Fitted Skirt pattern from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.

This version of the skirt is made using the reverse appliqué technique and is embellished with beaded eyelet details. Instructions for the Short Skirt can be found on pages 60 – 61 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. When ordering, please specify your desired top layer and thread color.

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DIY CHECK TIED WRAP

Mother’s Day will be upon us soon, and we hope that you are all planning a way to make it a special day. Our freelance editor, Sara, says that her father always got worked up over finding her mother just the right gift. Inevitably, this stress would result in a frantic, last minute decision that wasn’t necessarily the right choice. She says that they still laugh about the year he bought her mother a calculator. (And he still insists that she said she wanted one…) Other years, her father did a much better job; Sara remembers once planting a dogwood tree just outside her mother’s kitchen window.

We appreciate that mothers come in all forms, shapes, and sizes, so this DIY Check Tied Wrap featuring our 2014 Stencil of the Year is a perfect fit for your mother, or grandmother, daughter, or friend. In the morning sunlight, it almost looks like dogwood flowers blooming.

We are offering this DIY Kit as part of our Mother’s Day Gift Guide. Make something for mom – or give her something she will enjoy making for herself.

CHECK-WRAP-SKIRT-10

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DIY MEN’S CHECK T-SHIRT

Our newest men’s DIY Kit features the Check, our 2014 Stencil of the Year. The shirt is shown here worked in reverse appliqué, but there are various ways to work this stencil, including negative reverse appliqué and outside reverse appliqué, along with a variety of other techniques found in the Alabama Chanin Studio Book series.

The body of the shirt is our popular men’s classic T-shirt which has long been a unisex favorite. However, this top can be easily adapted to a women’s T-shirt – pattern and instructions for which are found in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.

CHECK-TSHIRT-05W

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DKNY VOGUE PATTERN + AN ALABAMA CHANIN DIY DRESS

Vogue designer patterns, which are available to all at reasonable prices, are excellent examples of resources contributing to and encouraging the DIY opportunities in modern fashion. The existence and availability of such resources help us to continue our ongoing conversation on Design, Craft, and Fashion and how they intersect.

As part of our ongoing series adapting open-source designer patterns using Alabama Chanin techniques, we selected a dress from DKNY—Donna Karan New York—the mainline label for the Donna Karan brand. I’ve written before about the connection I have with Donna Karan as a designer and we’ve previously featured another of her Vogue patterns as part of this DIY series.

This modern shift dress pattern is flattering on all body types, simple enough for beginners, and can be easily accessorized and embellished. We made both a Basic version, as well as an embellished version, featuring the Check pattern, our Stencil of the Year.

VOGUE-BLANK-02W

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DIY MLK CORSET

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.

In continuing our celebration this week of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his philosophy and teachings, we sought to create something sustainable that could share this hopeful message that stemmed from the American Civil Rights Movement.

I have always found this quote inspiring, and have applied its message in my own life time and time again: reminding myself each day that it is just about showing up and doing what you can do—today. It seems appropriate, in this new year of new beginnings, to create a reminder (and testament) to this continued commitment to moving forward. Step by step.

Make this corset by following the instructions from page 144 of Alabama Stitch Book. (The pattern is included on the pattern sheet at the back of the book.) We made our version with medium-weight organic cotton jersey fabric, but it could easily be made using recycled t-shirts, as well. This technique can also be used to embellish other patterns or existing garments with scooped necklines.

MLK-CORSET-EDIT

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DIY PAISLEY T-SHIRT TOP

We are in the season of giving – giving thanks, giving gifts – but also of making. Perhaps you’re baking a pie, sewing a stocking, or creating a one-of-a-kind garment or handmade item full of personal touches and plenty of love. No matter what you choose to make, handmade items are certainly the best kind of gift to give and to receive.

Designed with the holidays in mind, this DIY Kit for our classic T-Shirt Top, featuring a negative reverse appliqué Paisley pattern, can be completed quickly, but has lots of detail. The pattern for this Capped Sleeve T-shirt Top is included in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design and detailed instructions for construction can be found on pages 48-49.

Use our Studio Style DIY supplies to make your own.

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DIY MEN’S PIG T-SHIRT

Before Alabama Chanin existed in its current form, before the Journal, the Studio Books, the DIY Kits, even the website, we were a very small company. When I began working to create these garments, I was doing the majority of the making myself. That meant buying t-shirts from thrift stores around the community (or anywhere I could find them), washing them, dyeing them, cutting them up, painting them, and sewing them back together again—all of this from my home/makeshift production office. It was thrilling and exhilarating and exhausting and I learned so much about designing (and running a business) by trial and error. Eventually, staff was hired and our production office moved out of my home and into The Factory; however, those early efforts were a daily experiment.

The first men’s t-shirts were a bit different from those we make today. We had no real patterns for the men’s shirts and each shirt was designed, cut, and sewn based entirely on the style of the t-shirt itself. We were in the beginning stages of developing different seams, stretchable stitches, and elaborate embroideries, so the garments were experiments in non-traditional translations of classic sewing techniques and pared down versions of some of the Alabama Chanin garments you might see today.

The “Pig Shirt” in the photo above is one of my very early garments. It is made from a recycled tee, which was hand dyed (in the bathtub) and the pocket removed. The fabric for the reverse appliqué was taken from a different recycled (printed) t-shirt and everything was sewn together with a straight stitch. The aesthetic was meant to be a tribute to traditional stitch work and the colors and the style served to highlight the stitches themselves. This project is a tribute to our roots, a reflection upon where Alabama Chanin grew from and how those early years helped form the company we are today.

When you select a recycled t-shirt for this, or any, project pay close attention to the quality of the cotton. Look for shirts that are soft and smooth to the touch and don’t ball or “pill” easily.  Thicker shirts are less prone to tearing or wearing out quickly. Always make sure that you wash any recycled t-shirt before using it. This ensures a clean surface, but also reduces any chance of shrinking. If you are working with red t-shirts, wash them two or three times to prevent the color from bleeding and avoid mixing red with light colors.

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DIY STENCILED T-SHIRT

We use stencils in many of our designs. Most often employed as a pattern to follow when adding elaborate embroidery, beading, and appliqué, we also love the simplicity of a stenciled pattern on a basic silhouette.

This DIY Stencil T-shirt focuses on the simple beauty that emerges when you combine just the right pattern, stencil, and colors. The techniques used are easy for both the beginning and the advanced sewer to master. This design is our classic T-shirt Top. Here we used the sleeveless version, but you could use any sleeve length, depending on your personal style and taste.

DIY STENCILED T-SHIRT

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DESKTOP OF THE MONTH: OCTOBER 2013

October’s Desktop of the Month highlights the detail of a herringbone embroidery stitch along the rib binding of our Basic Tank Dress, featured on page 69 of Alabama Studio Style. The herringbone stitch is an impressive stitch because of the variation created by the small slanted stitches and it has appeared often in our collections. As with all embroidery stitches, the herringbone stitch takes time and patience to perfect (especially when working within the 5/8” space of a rib binding, along the curved edge of a neckline or armhole).

A parallel whipstitch, seen in the photo on our open-felled seams, is another alternative to the herringbone when attaching the binding.  You will find other decorative stitches which can be used for bindings and open-felled seams on page 71 of Alabama Studio Style and look to Elegant Stitches by Judith Baker Montano for a wealth of alternatives for both simple and more elaborate embroidery stitches.

The photograph above highlights one of the many options available when creating a Custom DIY Kit. There are hundreds of options to choose from, including fabric, colors, thread, stencil, embroidery or treatment, and garment or item. View our Alabama Chanin Custom DIY Guide for ideas to create your own project. Click here to design your own Custom DIY Kit.

OUR DESIGN CHOICES

Garment – Tank Dress from Alabama Studio Style
Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey
Fabric color – Faded Leaves
Thread – Slate #26
Knots – inside
Rib binding (or stretch) stitch – Herringbone
Seams – Open-felled on right side

 

RECIPE FOR A WELL-LOVED DRESS

We frequently talk about the heirloom aspect of our hand-made clothing, the timeless design and lasting quality that allows for an Alabama Chanin garment to be worn for years and, in some cases, passed along to a younger family member. While we know this to be true, we don’t often have the opportunity to witness a specific garment change and evolve over time. Perhaps a perfect example: my daughter, Maggie has been wearing the above dress for five years (and counting).

The dress was made for her, cut from an oliver + s pattern, when she was a curly headed, cherub-faced two year old. Made with our organic cotton jersey in Butter and Natural, the dress has been through about a million washes and worn on too many occasions to count. It’s been stained, ripped, appliquéd (to cover the rips), and dyed blue (to cover the stains). No longer a dress but a summer top, she will not give it up.

RECIPE FOR A WELL-LOVED DRESS

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THE BOLERO AND ERRATA

The Bolero is a popular item for those of us in Alabama, as spring and fall temperatures (and in some years, mid-winter) can swing from 50 degrees to 80 degrees in the course of one day. It is an easy piece to toss into your bag on the way out the door and an effortless way to accessorize your look in any weather.

We shared the pattern for this garment in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, with four variations of how it might be constructed: sleeveless, with cap sleeves, short sleeves, and long, fluted sleeves. It can be completed quickly, regardless of your chosen style, and requires only 1 yard of fabric or so. Imagine our surprise, and disappointment, when some readers reported that their Boleros weren’t coming together as expected, that the pattern was a little bit off. Errata déjà vu.

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DIY MEN’S EAGLE T-SHIRT

The Eagle T-Shirt is the second in a new series of Men’s DIY projects, designed in a style that is flattering to both men and women. The Eagle stencil has been in the Alabama Chanin library for several years now. We shared instructions on how to create the stencil and apply it to a basic recycled t-shirt in 2008. (Read more about that here). Since those early years, we’ve designed and created patterns for Alabama Chanin original t-shirts, which you can see on Natalie’s son, Zach, above.

The long sleeve t-shirt is made with our 100% organic cotton jersey and constructed with floating outside seams that add a nuanced detail, emphasizing the hand-stitched quality, though you can make your own design decisions.

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DIY MEN’S BEE SHIRT

The Alabama Chanin Studio Style DIY selections are expanding with the addition of Men’s DIY items. Many of you have been asking for more men’s options and this is the first in a series of new DIY Kits that we will feature in our online store.

The Bee is one of the earliest stencils I created upon moving back home to begin the work that has become Alabama Chanin. At that time, I was newly-returned to the south after years abroad. Happy to be home, the rural setting inspired a series of animal designs: The Pig, The Steer, The Rooster, and the Eagle.

The t-shirt body is our ever-popular men’s classic; however, the style has been loved by both men and women alike for over a decade. We are now offering this t-shirt style as a DIY Kit for the first time. As always, you have the ability to embellish the shirt as much or as little as desired – whatever suits your taste (or the taste of the man in your life).

DIY MEN'S BEE T-SHIRT - Photos by Robert Rausch

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DIY POETRY TANK

We learn our first real poem around the age of 2 — the ABC Song. Soon, we graduate to nursery rhymes, then rhymes for jumping rope. By the time we reach junior high and high school  we’re reading Epic Poems, like The Odyssey, and reciting Shakespeare in Iambic Pentameter—well sometimes. Songs can be poems set to rhythm. If we’re lucky, perhaps someone has written a love poem or a song—or two—for us.

Poems are rhythmic—they have patterns, beats, stanzas, couplets, and verses. They have been instrumental at critical moments in our history. Witness:

DIY POETRY TANK STENCIL

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BLUPRINT CLASS (A RECAP)

This past February, Alabama Chanin partnered with the team at Bluprint, an online community of makers who offer projects, craft ideas, and courses on dozens of topics. Our online class, Hand-Embellishing Knit Fabric: Stenciling, Appliqué, Beading, and Embroidery, has provided us with a new way to interact with our fellow makers and has given us the opportunity to share just a few of the techniques that we teach in our Workshops.

We have talked before about the concept of online learning and how the Internet is making education opportunities that were once expensive and inconvenient cheaper and more accessible. Enrolling in online courses takes geography out of the equation. It is no longer essential to sit in a physical classroom with other participants. You don’t have to plan your life around when classes are scheduled. Online classes, like our Bluprint course, allow you the opportunity to learn the same stitches and techniques as someone on the other side of the country, or the world.

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DIY GARDEN GEOMETRY SKIRT

Earlier this year, we featured artist, friend, and collaborator, Anna Maria Horner. As that week came to a close, we were inspired by Anna Maria’s elaborate needlepoint projects and decided we would experiment with more involved embroidery techniques ourselves. For our first project, the  Embroidered Flowers T-shirt, we mixed traditional embroidery stitch work with retro patterns using modern silhouettes. We adapted a vintage McCall’s pattern for the floral embroidery design and used the Alabama Chanin T-shirt pattern as the base. The result was relatively simple to complete.

For this project, our Garden Geometry Skirt, inspired by Anna Maria’s pattern of the same name (and available in Anna Maria’s Needleworks Notebook), we adapted our Swing Skirt, creating intricate embroidery designs on a larger scale. In her book, Anna Maria writes, “this is by far the most straightforward approach I have made toward the traditional way of creating a crewel design.” As she also mentions, the pattern lends itself to enlargement and experimentation. The result is a colorful expression of our experimentation. Make your own Garden Geometry Skirt using fabric and thread colors that suit your personal style. There are stitch and pattern diagrams available in Anna Maria’s Needleworks Notebook that can help direct your design.

GARDEN GEOMETRY SKIRT

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DIY BLOOMERS GORE SKIRT (AND A CORSAGE)

Southern children who grow up with a healthy respect for their elders, particularly their mothers, are said to have been “raised right.” Across the south, most children (and their fathers) must have been “raised right,” because there is almost always a big to-do made about Mother’s Day. Even though new Easter clothes have just been bought, a slew of children will go shopping again for new Mother’s Day outfits; it is expected to make a good impression at church on that big day. Mom gets to sleep in (just a little) and breakfasts will be prepared and served by the children. We present our mothers and grandmothers with beautiful corsages. Often in my community, the tradition is to give carnations. It’s common to give Mother a red or pink one and to set a vase of white carnations upon the kitchen table for grandmothers or great-grandmothers who have passed away. In my family,we  presented corsages to Mother and Grandmother on Mother’s Day morning.

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LOOKING TO THE FUTURE (AND MAGGIE’S DRESS)

We often hear the mantra, “Live for today.” Most of us need to slow down, curb our expectations and anxieties, and embrace the present.  And for the most part, I try to approach life that way. But we can’t always live completely in the present. Sometimes we have to plan ahead, we have to think of our future generations and give them the tools they need to make this world a better place.

It’s not always easy to be a mom (single or otherwise) and live constantly in the present. Duties call. Spilled milk may not be something to cry over, but someone still has to clean it up. I was having one of those spilled milk days – dog chaos, bills to pay, groceries to put away – when Maggie came to me with this drawing and said, “I want you to make this dress for me.” It’s a miracle I even heard her.

As you can see, the dress was made, Maggie was ecstatic, and somehow, in the midst of chaos, I was able to inspire her to believe she can make anything. The best Mother’s Day gift of all is just to have that moment when you think, “I do make a difference.”

Happy Mother/Daughter Day (coming soon) to Maggie and me… and to you and yours.

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

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DIY BABY DOLL CAMISOLE DRESS (AND FLIP FLOPS)

Confession: I have a certain disdain for flip flops. More often than not, they are considered a faux pas in the fashion world, and sometimes for the right reasons. This being said, I must also confess I own a pair of Havaianas that I bought years ago on my Venezuelan adventure. They are packed snuggly in my tote this week as Maggie and I celebrate spring break with a trip to the Florida Pan-Handle and the beach. Honestly, Maggie saunters in flip flops throughout the Alabama summers. I can hardly get anything else on her feet as the scorching heat necessitates barely-there footwear – if not bare feet. When in Rome…

My flip flop rant aside, our Baby Doll Camisole Dress is also packed neatly in my traveling bag. In fact, a DIY garment often makes its first travels in pieces, taken on long car rides or trans-Atlantic flights to be embellished.

Once complete, squarely folded or rolled up, it easily transports on-the-go. My dress has made multiple trips with me to California, returning to Alabama a little more worn (and loved) each time. The gathered ruffles relax the wrinkles from the trip, and yes, it is possible to tastefully pair our Baby Doll Camisole Dress with flip flops (or your favorite pair of heels) on certain occasions.  Look for me at the Seaside Promanade this week in both and this weekend at the Doo-Nanny).

For this kit, we chose the Camisole Top pattern from Alabama Studio Style rather than our Fitted Top pattern paired with the Baby Doll Dress in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design for a more fitted bodice.

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DIY T-SHIRTS + MODIFICATIONS

Fit is by far one of the hardest subjects to address within the realm of manufacturing. There are just so many different body types that it would be near impossible for one manufacturer to address EVERY type in one product—and often times in one line. The most basic body shapes range from round to pear, petite to lean, and every shape in between. When you start to do the math and include XXS – XXL, you come up with a number of patterns that reaches to the Nth power. When you begin to add categories such as Juniors and Misses, it becomes staggering.

Entire classes in design schools and universities around the world spend semesters working on streamlining and finding solutions for fit issues. Body scanners can now take perfect measurements of your body and supposedly create a jean that is perfect for your shape. I find that hard to believe, but based on the shape I have carried with me my entire life, I don’t really care for pants that much anyway.

DIY T-SHIRT MODIFICATIONS - BODY SHAPES B

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A DRESS OF HEARTS

As I mentioned earlier in the week, I live in a house where hearts can be the overriding theme for weeks on end.  I find them tucked under plates, randomly lying on the floor, taped to my bedroom door, and, yes, the most beautiful little heart-shaped lips that kiss my face all-over.  You haven’t truly lived a Valentine’s Day until you live it with a six-year-old-girl.  Forget Hallmark (the modern day creator of Valentine’s Day), the sweetness in-and-around our home makes this hallowed institution look like a 1980’s punk gathering in a dead-end alley.

So, when in Rome… You need a dress to celebrate this favorite of all six-year-old holidays in its crowning glory – hence, A Dress of Hearts.

A DRESS OF HEARTS

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TIE THE KNOT CORSET

While cleaning up for our recent Garage Sale (stay tuned for another coming towards the end of February), I found a bag of our Cotton Jersey Pulls cut into 4” lengths. Most likely, these were prepared for button loops, but no one in the studio can remember exactly why they were prepared and cut.

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DIY PEACE (A SKIRT TOO)

No one can find inner peace except by working,
not in a self-centered way, but for the whole human family.
– Peace Pilgrim

There are many ways to make DIY Peace.

Mildred Norman set off on New Year’s Day and began to walk across the country in the name of peace. Changing her name to Peace Pilgrim, she said, “I shall remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace.” Peace Pilgrim continued her journey until her death in July 1981.  That’s 28 years of walking for peace.

Others have worked for peace in their own ways. There have been singers for peace, like Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, or Bob Dylan. Many have spent their lives attempting to create peace on a global level: Nelson Mandela, fellow Southerner Jimmy Carter, Elie Wiesel. There are those like Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, who have devoted their lives to prayer and meditation for peace. So many across the world continue to protest and work for peace.

At Alabama Chanin, we only know how to do what we CAN do to promote peace… So, for today, while it may seem trivial, that’s as simple as our Peace Skirt.  It’s not earth shattering; it’s a skirt. However, perhaps the time sewing, and/or the time wearing will give us each a little time to reflect, or to work towards peace in small ways for our own lives.

Make your own or purchase our DIY Peace Skirt Kit (kit comes ready-to-sew and includes all fabric, floss, and thread needed to complete your project).

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DIY BLOOMERS KNIT (AND STITCH) BANDANA

With the publication of our Alabama Studio Book Series, we open sourced our beloved techniques that these living arts might be preserved for future generations. One of the things that we learned along the way is that people who are dedicated to one particular area of craft can also become converts to another area. The art of working with your hands seems to span all disciplines.

We have customers who are woodworkers, potters, scrapbookers, knitters, and crocheters. Particularly, knitters seem to find themselves at home making Alabama Chanin pieces. Perhaps loop-by-loop finds familiarity with our stitch-by-stitch method. Knitters Melanie Falick (my editor) and Mason-Dixon’s Kay Gardiner are now hand-sewing enthusiasts in the Alabama Chanin style.

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ANNA’S GARDEN PONCHO KIT

Just in time for fall weather and the upcoming holiday season, we’re featuring the Anna’s Garden Poncho Kit. One of our most popular garments, the poncho is a classic piece, fit for most any occasion.

Originally featured in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, the poncho is seen here in our 100% organic cotton jersey fabric in Black with Forest stitched in negative reverse appliqué. We constructed our garment using black Button Craft thread tied with knots on the outside. Continue reading

DIY: SISTER SHIRTS

In the style of “old-school” Alabama Chanin – and perfect for holiday gifts – make our Sister Shirts using mirror-image or mix-and-match sections of your favorite t-shirts. Follow the instructions for our Printed T-shirt Corset on page 155 of Alabama Stitch Book to complete the project.

From the project introduction:

Follow the instructions as given but prepare pattern pieces for two printed T-shirt corsets. Instead of using one of the T-shirts for the whole corset, mix and match by swapping out, for example the center front panel from one of the t-shirts into the center panel of the other. Do the same with the back panels. Ultimately, you will create two shirts that are nearly alike except for the transposed panels.

In the corset tops above, we traded out the Center Back and Middle Front pattern pieces. Leave edges raw and seams floating.

Done.

DIY THURSDAY: GUY LAROCHE

Today, for DIY Thursday, we are featuring a Guy Laroche pattern from Vogue Designer Patterns constructed in the Alabama Chanin style. I never had the chance to meet Guy Laroche, nor have I met the house’s current artistic director, Marcel Marongiu, but I admire their focus on impeccable tailoring. Laroche’s collections once featured billowing empire line dresses; the pattern that we chose to adapt combines the flowing nature of those garments with their famous tailoring skills.

Because this garment was dressier than some of our other Vogue Pattern adaptations, we only made a basic version. We think it is spectacular without embellishment. However, it would be gorgeous with some beading around the neckline or the hem. Either way, this dress is perfect for any upcoming holiday parties.

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APPLIQUE CAMISOLE DRESS FOR CREATIVEBUG

Our Camisole Dress from Alabama Studio Style is highlighted in a video class on Traditional Appliqué at Creativebug.com. You fill find the pattern sheet for this dress at the back of the book and can follow along step-by-step with our instructions on Creativebug. We now offer this project as a DIY Kit from our online store and all the supplies we used are listed below.

Creativebug is a subscription service and just in time for the holidays has gift subscriptions available starting at $24.99 for a month. I love this as a gift for my crafting friends as there are so many great classes available for the holiday season.

About our appliqué class from the Creativebug website:

“Appliqué is beautiful way to add texture, pattern and color to a project. Natalie uses applique to stunning effect in her Alabama Chanin collection, and in this workshop, she’ll share with you her basic technique. She’ll also show examples of how using different stitches and thread result in dramatically different finished looks.”

Our camisole dress is shown in Apple (double-layer) with Anna’s Garden appliqué in Natural placed around the bottom of the dress . The appliqué is sewn with a whipstitch with a single layer of Cream #256 Button Craft thread. We used Red #128 Button Craft thread for construction of the dress and also for the Cretan stitch along the binding. Seams are felled on the wrong side (inside of the garment).

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DIY THURSDAY: TRACY REESE

Continuing our conversation around design, craft and fashion, this week we present a Tracy Reese pattern from Vogue Designer Patterns for DIY Thursday.  In all my years as a designer, I have not had the chance to meet Tracy, although I have been familiar with her work since the launch of her collection in the mid-1990s. At that time, I was working as a stylist in Europe and spent much of my time in boutiques, reading fashion magazines, and working with clients.

In an effort to understand Tracy Reese’s philosophy, we reached out to her press office for information and received a note stating that they could “not provide any information at this time.” However, this is what I found on the CFDA website:

“Detroit native Tracy Reese is a graduate of Parsons School of Design. Reese apprenticed under designer Martin Sitbon and worked as design director for Women’s Portfolios at Perry Ellis before launching her eponymous collection in 1996. The collection blends the ultra-feminine and nostalgic with modern polish. plenty by Tracy Reese, was introduced in 1998, after a trip to India provided endless inspiration. A joyful color palette, art-inspired prints and playful details are seen on essentials with a bohemian spirit. With flagships in Manhattan and Tokyo, the Tracy Reese and plenty brands have expanded to include footwear, handbags and home goods.”

Martine Stibon remains one of my all-time favorite designers and I used those pieces often during my days as a stylist.  I do love the dress that emerged using our organic lightweight cotton jersey fabric with Tracy Reece’s pattern.

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DIY THURSDAY: BEADED SEAM CORSET

Perfect for all of the upcoming festivities and beyond, our Beaded Seam Corset is easy to make for yourself by following the pattern with instructions from page 145 of Alabama Stitch Book. As one of the most popular garments in our collections, the corset is designed to show off a woman’s best assets, enhancing natural curves.

A flattering pick for any party. Pair with our swing skirt or blue jeans and celebrate.

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DIY KRISTINA’S ROSE + BEADED KRISTINA’S ROSE

Kristina’s Rose is one of our newest fabric designs and stencil patterns, seen in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. The undulating circular pattern is reminiscent of the Circle Spiral Applique from page 156 of Alabama Studio Style, but translated using more elegant techniques.

Highlighted in Chapter 8 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.: Fabric + Fabric Maps, the Kristina’s Rose fabric (page 126) uses the folded stripe appliqué technique from page 108 of Chapter 7 in combination with the stripe with beaded chain stitch on page 105,  and the beaded rosebud stitch from page 79 of Chapter 5 – all worked in loose, undulating circles.

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VENA CAVA (+ ALABAMA CHANIN DIY DRESS)

Last Thursday, we wrote about Vena Cava and began a dialogue (one we plan to continue every Thursday) about the intersection of Fashion, Craft and DIY. While in New York a few weeks back, I sat down for a quick coffee with Lisa Mayock – half of the Vena Cava design team – to share our DIY Dresses and talk about fashion, life, and open sourcing.  We appreciate all the response and emails from our post last week and look forward to continuing this conversation.  Here, a little chat about the Vena Cava/Vogue Designer Patterns collaboration:

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DIY FACETS SWING SKIRT

A variation on our classic DIY Swing Skirt, our new Facets Swing Skirt is 6″ longer, has all-over embroidery and reverse applique in the Facets stenciling. Choose your own fabric and thread colors and we will cut to your size specifications. Follow the instructions for reverse applique and construction from Alabama Stitch Book to make your very own.

100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey and a hand-sewn elastic waistband make this one of the most comfortable skirts in my closet. Shown here in Baby Blue, the longer length is perfect for cooler fall weather and my (growing) collection of boot.

EFFORTLESS

Our floor-sweeping skirt is made of soft, wearable jersey. The pull-on design is framed by stretchable stitching, and can easily be worn slung low on your hips or high above your natural waist. The Long Embroidered Skirt is comfortable enough for every day, but the incredible all-over design and details allow it to fit any occasion. Shown here worked in Negative Reverse Applique with our Anna’s Garden stencil. Make this perfect piece yourself with a Custom DIY Kit and in the stencil design of your choice.

The hand-stitching adds a structural element and the subtle weight allows for a flattering drape.

Pieces like these are my secret weapon for a day travel, followed by an event. Add a change of shoes, a little mascara and lip-gloss for a total transformation in under five minutes.

Although it will take more than five minutes to make-it-yourself.

Also available in our Bloomers pattern.

TEAM CORSET

My son Zach’s lacrosse shirt from high school was re-fashioned following the pattern and instructions from Alabama Stitch Book.

I am not sure if that stain is blood or juice and I prefer not to know.

Choose your team and get started.

This shirt was constructed many years ago using a beaded stitch of my own invention (although I am sure that it has been done before!):

Thread your needle, love your thread and tie off with a double knot. Insert needle through either side of pinned seam, pull through to other side and add one bugle bead.  Take one “stab” stitch and bring needle back through to your beginning side.  Make one whip stitch over the seam allowance, coming back to the same side.  Add one bugle bead and take one “stab stitch” bringing your needle through to the opposite side of your seam.  Add bead and repeat.

Post pictures of your Team Corset to our Facebook page.

 

PROJECT #7

This corset – one of my all-time favorites – was part of our Songbirds Collection for Fall/Winter 2009.

The pattern is available in Alabama Stitch Book and it is made using our 100% organic indigo fabric and the Angie’s Fall stencil from Alabama Studio Style.

TO MAKE YOUR OWN:

Corset pattern from Alabama Stitch Book
2 yards 100% organic indigo fabric
Pearl Silver textile paint
Angie’s Fall stencil
1 spool Button Craft thread in Slate #26
1 package Red bugle beads

Fabric Detail:

 

PROJECT #6

This shawl was made from a pattern similar to the Rose Shawl pattern from page 108 of our Alabama Stitch Book. The shawl was cut in our white 100% organic cotton jersey fabric (doubled layered) and the ends of the top layer were painted with the Facets Stencil using grey airbrush paint. After drying, the ends were reverse appliquéd using the instructions from Alabama Stitch Book and the shawl constructed. After construction, selected areas of the pattern were beaded with white bugles in circular patterns. Finally, the entire scarf – yes, beads and all – was over-dyed in a color similar to our storm blue.

You can re-create this look with the following materials:

Rose Shawl pattern from Alabama Stitch Book
2 yards 100% organic cotton jersey in Storm Blue
Facets stencil
White textile paint (to mix grey)
Black textile paint (to mix grey) 1 spool
Button Craft thread
in Slate #26
White bugle beads

Fabric Detail:

BIRDIE SHIRT DIY PROJECT

SUPPLIES

Sustainable Cotton or Recycled T-shirt
Jersey Fabric as large as you choose to make your stencil
Birdie stencil graphic
Letter “B” Stencil graphic
X-acto Knife
Pennant felt, poster board or other sturdy material for stencil making
Cutting mat
Spray Mount
Textile paint
Thread

Additionally:

Embroidery scissors
Sewing needles
Glass head pins

1) Prepare and cut stencil There are many options for stencils. You may choose to use a ready made stencil which are readily available at local art supply and craft stores. Alternatively, there are some companies that will make any stencil to order. Or, you may choose to have the ultimate freedom and make your own stencil.

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