Category Archives: Self-drafted

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!

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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.

THE PATTERN/SUPPLIES

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.

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IT’S ALL ABOUT THE TECHNIQUE

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.

THE MANY LESSONS LEARNED

  • 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.

Let’s start at the very beginning…

Just checking in. I made item #4 of my SWAP a few weeks ago but it’s pretty basic so not worth a photo shoot. It’s a navy vee neck tee in a super soft cotton/Lycra from Emma One Sock. This top is a further development of my tee pattern. I followed a tutorial from the ASG website to make the binding for the vee neckline which was well worth the time to watch. (They have free online tutorials for members.)

I decided to create a bodice block before moving on to item #5 of my SWAP. It’s a silk blouse but I couldn’t find what I wanted in a pattern so I decided to draft one. IF, big IF, I get the block right then it will make modifying future patterns much easier. It will also help me to draft my own pattern for the blouse.

I started Friday night by draping the bodice on my custom dress form, and then spent some time this weekend drafting and true-ing. I have no training in draping so I’m just winging it! I’ve got Helen Armstrong’s book Patternmaking for Fashion Design to keep me in line but it doesn’t include any draping so this process is going to take a little time. The photos show my second pass at the first muslin. It’s looking pretty good in the front, but the back still needs some tweaking. Once that’s all set I’ll move on to the sleeves.

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Note the drag lines on the back under the arms and across the waist. I think I just need to lower the armholes a tiny bit, and maybe do a 1/2″ sway-back adjustment. There is plenty of room side to side so I know the waist is not too tight.

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Any ideas for adjusting the back?

Shawl Collar Bubble Tee – Frankenpattern

Excitement abounds! I get to check off item #3 on my SWAP list and, based on the changes I made to the shoulders, I now have a TNT Tee!
This type of shawl-scarf-draped neckline is one of my favorites because it’s soft and works well with a typical jacket neckline.  The top is intended for work, but here I am modelling sans makeup on a Saturday morning sorely needing a cut and color!

IMG_8893Fit: I made some changes based on what I saw on the Caramel Vee-neck Tee. This meant lowering the right shoulder and making adjustments for forward shoulders. I also adjusted the sleeve accordingly. l am pretty happy with the fit so far.

IMG_8902Pattern: The body originally started by tracing a RTW tee to make my Caramel Vee neck Tee. I then superimposed the neckline from #250 Pam’s Blouse by Silhouette Patterns. I made this blouse once before and had raised the neckline a few inches. (I promise I’ll post it.) In converting this from a blouse to a tee, I introduced a horizontal seam at the bottom of the collar just under the bust to collect the overlapping collar. Brilliant if I do say so myself!

IMG_8914Fabric: Another tasty treat from Emma One Sock. It’s a jersey called “Bubble Tea”. I picked it because I was looking for a print with teal/tan/brown. I have hard time fining prints I like and therefore don’t have very many, but this one is perfect.

IMG_8912Construction: Serged seams. 1 1/2″ deep hem made with 1/4″ Steam-a-Seam then stitched with double needle.

Lesson learned: Don’t just use the dress form (aka Helena) to fit. Helena is a few inches bigger than me so I really need to try it on myself before I get too far. The drape on the collar is a bit too loose so need to shorten it next time.

Tan Tank – Self-drafted

Item number one on my SWAP list – tan tank.  Check!  This is a top intended to put underneath jackets and sweater for work.  (Not with lumpy jeans.)

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Fabric: Rayon/Lycra jersey from Emma One Sock.  (They have it many colors.) I made another top from this fabric last year (which was a fail) and had a just tiny bit left for the tank.

Pattern:  I copied and old cotton ribbed RTW tank and then tweaked it a bit.  You can see the shoulders are cut in. I actually made them wider than the original by an inch on each side to make it bra friendly.

I used a 4 thread overlock for the seams and bands.  I then used a long single needle straight stitch on the sewing machine to flatten the bands.  In the photo below you can see I added a 2″ wide band to the bottom which I think was easier than using Stitch Witchery and a cover stitch.

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Lessons learned:

  • No need for woolly nylon in the loopers with this fabric.  That’s what I have used in the past, but it’s really not needed.
  • For the rayon/lycra, cut binding at 75% of armhole and neck openings plus 1/2″ for seam allowance.  Bottom band is cut at 100% of bottom width.
  • Rotary cutters are not so bad.