Category Archives: skirts

Alabama Chanin Jacket and Skirt

img_0559Yippee!  I’ve been working on this Alabama Chanin jacket and skirt since April.  They weren’t on my SWAP list but looked like a great challenge.  I was inspired by the prolific Ruth at Corecouture.  My plan was to stitch during my train commute instead of reading blogs and going down the Pinterest rabbit hole.  That part was a success but it crowded out my regular machine sewing as it’s quite addictive!  I sewed on the beach, at soccer games, at my mom’s, on the deck overlooking the lake….. It’s a whole new world once you’re not connected to the iron and sewing machine!


For those of you not familiar with Alabama Chanin, it’s a high end 100% hand-stitched clothing line designed by Natalie Chanin and created by local seamstresses in Alabama.  The garments are all sewn from locally sourced organic cotton knit with various techniques such as appliqué, reverse appliqué, embroidery, beading, and sequins.  It often has raw edges and reminds me of folk art.  Natalie is happy to share her techniques with intrepid sewists and has written several books on her techniques complete with stencils and patterns.


Except for the peplum detail borrowed from a Marfy pattern, the jacket and skirt were both drafted from my slopers.  The fit is pretty good except that the front of the jacket doesn’t hang quite right.  It falls open at the waist and the bust feels bosomy which I am not.  I have several theories as to how to fix this but that will be another post.

The fabric and most of the thread (embroidery floss and ordinary button and craft thread) are from AC.  I also found some “hand quilting” thread at Joann’s which seems to be the exact same stuff as the button & craft thread except it comes in more colors.  The stencil pattern is Alabama Chanin’s Anna’s Garden.



This project had a lot of ‘firsts’ for me.  First hand sewn garments, first time stenciling, first appliqué, and first “embellishments” except for that denim skirt that I embroidered in high school.  I’ll try anything once.

I did a lot of experimentation with markers and paint colors and finally decided on Tulip spray paint.  The jacket is a teal paint on turquoise fabric overlaid on camel fabric.  This was originally supposed to be a reverse appliqué but after cutting out the shapes on several pieces I decided that I didn’t like the way the camel was working against the teal so I restitched about half the back.  The layers are connected using a backstitch with embroidery floss which takes forever.  Let’s say 6 to 8 hours per piece and I think there were 17 pieces.

Finally I added some sequins and beads around the front neckline.  I know, I’m a wild woman!  Oh and I almost forgot the snaps which have crocheted covers thanks to a tutorial on the Alabama Chanin blog.  I’m a newbie crocheter and this was amazingly tiny, done with thread like lace!  I just kept redoing it until I had three that looked similar.

The skirt is the opposite colorway with brown paint on camel fabric over a turquoise layer.  This was done with a running  stitch in a tan button thread which is much much faster.  It’s cut with a reverse appliqué and a raw hem that curls up ever so cutely.  The waistband is a foldover elastic sewn on with a stretch stitch.


  • Don’t spray paint outside, when it’s windy.
  • Have an excuse ready for when your husband finds a needle on the stairs.
  • Check the sofa throw for needles before sitting on it.
  • Use a the thickest mylar you can find.  Mine was too thin and would roll up when the paint was wet and stick to itself making quite a mess.
  • Needles travel well in a magnetic tray with a cover.
  • You will find tiny bits of fabric behind the car door handle, on the coffee table, in your tote, and in your bathrobe pocket.
  • Watch the thread tension on the backstitch.  I started with the back of the jacket which turned out a bit tighter than the front.
  • It pays to experiment.
  • This is not a race.  Savor the journey.

Vogue V7937 – Pin-striped Kick-pleat Skirt

This is the skirt I made to coordinate with the Puffy-sleeved Tracy Reese jacket. I’ve had it made for a while now but wanted to work it over first before photographing it.

I know, you may need some sunglasses for my blindingly white legs!

This is a wool/cotton blend that I got from Sawyer Brook fabrics.
It’s a cross-weave of black and off-white in wool, with a pinstriped pattern in peach and pale blue cotton.
I lined it with with Ambiance, and I’ll share this secret; the front and back are lined with two different colors, grey and black! You won’t tell will you?

I picked Vogue V7937 because of the princess seaming, and the pleat detail in the back which I thought would work with the sleeves of the coordinating jacket. I’ve made this pattern once before with success. It’s a great little pattern with several options at the back and waist and I think it’s been around for a while.


I omitted the facing at the waist since it usually adds bulk. Instead I fashioned a tiny 1/2″ binding from the fashion fabric.

I also thought I’d get all fancy and underline the skirt with silk organza but it’s not holding up very well. It’s starting to shred at the stress points! I had a terrible time keeping the seams from rippling. I didn’t have this problem with the jacket so I don’t know why it happened on the skirt. I’ve pressed and pressed. I just can’t believe it’s the organza. It shows up in the photo above but not the photo below. Hmmm…

It was also looking quite frumpy which is why I finally brought it back to the sewing room. I pegged it by 2″ and shortened it by an inch. These two changes took it from frumpy to downright sassy! Yeah me!

I also tweaked the invisible zipper AGAIN as the stitching wasn’t close enough to the teeth. I usually don’t have any trouble with this type of zipper but I ended up working this one over four times!

Detail of Skirt Pleats

Lessons Learned
Careful of my skirt lengths and widths.

Burda Style 08/2013 #130 – Striped Skirt

Yes it’s more horizontal stripes!  I made this little guy in December I think.  I’ll be able to wear it year round.

Fabric: I was on the hunt for blue/camel fabric and found this lovely piece of textured woven cotton at Emma One Sock. It has two shades of blue, tan, black, and white so It will work with a variety of outfits. I think it was a roll end or something as I only bought a yard. I actually didn’t have enough fabric for the back facing which worked out fine as the fashion fabric was a bit bulky.

Pattern: I wanted to make a wrapped skirt and found 08/2013 #130 on the Burda Style site. I would never have selected this pattern based on the website photo which looks like it’s done in a wool Melton, but the line drawing was calling me. This wrap skirt has a zipper in front.
Almost forgot, I ditched all of the pockets. No need for any extra bulk on the hips.


20140321-172253.jpg(I only tucked the sweater in so you could see the snap detail at the waist.)


Fit: I took the waist in by an inch and pegged it 3″. I also shortened it by about 3″, and stitched the pleats down a bit as it was too puffy in front.


Construction: Hmmm….let’s start with the fact that I didn’t bother to get a separating zipper per Burda instructions. This would have made the construction much easier! I also lined the skirt which was not in the instructions. As an architect I’m pretty good at figuring out how stuff goes together, but between the zipper and the lining and the wrap I was stumped for a while there. Note that the slit for the wrap starts at the bottom of the zipper which was too high for me.
Also, notice how the wrap edge is at an angle? I wanted the stripes to be perpendicular to that edge but just couldn’t make it happen with my tiny yardage. This edge is not on grain and you can see where it’s sagging a bit as it pulls at the edge seam where the zipper is. I should have interfaced this part.

Lessons learned: Careful with any fabric even remotely cut on the bias. It should be interfaced if you don’t want it to sag.  The skirt has been back to the sewing room several times to fix this, but I keep sending it back to the closet without making the change.  Argh!