Yesterday I gushed about how Natalie Chanin's new book has me plotting a dress for me a la Alabama Chanin. I'm imagining something made in stretch jersey, soft and comfortable, and entirely stitched by hand. A perfect project for the warm summer months!
I really admire that Natalie Chanin's couture clothes are made by hand in Alabama. Alabama Chanin
is a sustainable-minded business with integrity that largely serves the
high-end custom clothing market. And yet Natalie has chosen also
to design books, classes and products that empower the crafty customer to make it herself. That's really cool. If you take a peak around her store, you'll see she
offers all the supplies you'd need to make the clothes in her style from fabric + notions to stencils + beads.
my experience with cheap fabric paint, I knew that I would want to use
better paint in the making of a dress. I could order organic jersey by the yard from Alabama Chanin and paint too, but then there's the
challenge of creating and transferring a stencil without spoiling the
fabric. I want a dress with an all-over stencil for all-over reverse applique, so there's
really quite a lot of time that would go into preparing the project
before the sewing begins.
Well, I have completely lucked out because Alabama Chanin has agreed to
send me a DIY kit for this Anna's Garden Dress. Really.
I am giddy with excitement just thinking of receiving the dress kit with the pieces already cut out in my size
and the stencil already applied perfectly and everything I need to Just. Start. Sewing. Seriously, it's
like birthday and mother's day rolled into one!
Alabama Chanin actually stocks a whole range of DIY kits with projects from across all three of Natalie Chanin's books and more. You get
to customize your kit by choosing the fabric colors, which
let-me-tell-ya is no walk in the park.
I spent days pouring over the lovely photography online, like this swatch card (see more photographs of color cards here) and this set of Stenciled Fat Eighths (hand stitched quilt project, anyone?) to attempt to imagine myself in just one color.
actually two colors, which only makes it harder. I need to choose one
color for the outer fabric of the dress and one color to be layered
underneath, showing through in the flowers made via reverse applique.
My husband favors me in gray (bor-ING). Mom suggests I always look good
in blue (yes, and that's what my closet is filled with). I've wanted
to wear more red. Would a red dress be too much for most places I'd
want to wear it? I'm not making a special-occasion dress, but rather
something I'll wear to church, to lunch, to book club, to a sewing
weekend - anywhere where I won't be eating spaghetti or running after
kids! I like the emerald green and the turquoise because they say "summer." And I really like white and cream versions; but
let's be honest, I'd be way to paranoid to wear something so easily stained very often!
I'd probably still be stuck, if I hadn't ordered this set of color swatch cards so that I could experience the options in person. Hallelujah! I was actually pulling off the little pieces of cotton jersey to layer them up in possible pairings. You'd have thought I was choosing a wedding dress for how long I belabored the issue!
Eventually Brandon took pity on me and helped me finally decide to play it safe with Peacock blue as the main color and Putty cream as the reverse applique underlayer.
Of course, I changed my mind.
When I woke up the next morning I knew that it had to be the Emerald green. Because, I LOVE green. Who am fooling... I'm sitting in a green room for goodness sakes. So green over cream it is. I hope I love wearing it! I will at least love stitching it, and that's a good start.
If you're considering an Alabama Chanin project of your own, definitely get a set of swatch cards. It's just not worth investing in one of these delicious projects without being certain. And if you do order color cards, mention "Stitched in Color" in the comments of your order to receive a coupon for $20 off your next order of $100 or more at at Alabama Chanin. That makes your color cards free if you go back for a DIY kit! Which I hope you get to do. And I'd love to hear what you settle on!