Truth be told, I started, at least imagining, this project when I visited Natalie Chanin's factory and studio almost two years ago. I picked out the fabrics and had a basic idea of the garment I wanted to make....but if anyone has taken on an Alabama Chanin-esque project, you know what a commitment they are. After finishing my workshop project (yes I did in fact complete what I started in Florence) I just didn't have the energy to jump right into another one!
Natalie Chanin and me sitting on a couch made from baled up t-shirt fabrics
I decided this spring that a hand sewing project would be great to take to the beach, so I got out the fabric, committed to a pattern and started stitching.
The fabrics are a gray and greeny brown light weight cotton jersey that I got from my factory trip. I chose the princess seam tank dress, knee length, from the Alabama Studio patterns book, an all-over circle design stencil and a gray variegated embroidery floss for the miles of stitching...
Samples of possible stitching patterns...I picked the brown on top revealing the gray in the cutouts.
At the Factory the stencil patterns are painted on the top fabric with an airbrush...in my studio, I cut a stencil out of a sheet of plastic and penciled the circles onto the fabric. I started at the hem with lots of circles and gradually decreased the number toward the neckline.
Each piece of the garment is stenciled and stitched and cut before assembling the final garment. (although, in this case, I chose to do the cutouts after assembling the garment...I wanted to know that it fit before I cut out all those circles!!)
The variegated thread adds movement to the stitching pattern.
Not only are the circles stitched by hand, but all the garment construction is by hand as well.
At some point around September, I realized that this had gone on long enough and I needed to infuse some urgency if I was ever going to wear this thing! My niece's wedding in October was just the deadline I was looking for.
AND, just to add a bit more of a challenge, I decided that since it was going to be an evening wedding in the mountains of Mexico, I would probably need a sweater, so I added knitting a sweater to the timeline.
I had a really fun fingering weight yarn in my stash that came with a whole bunch of little felted balls strung onto it. Of course I didn't have enough for an entire sweater (or an entire anything for that matter) so I added a soft wool worsted weight and made stripes. The light weight stripes are looser and give a 'lace' affect and the heavier yarn gives the sweater structure.
I was planning to add the little felt balls at the hem or the neckline, but better judgement prevailed and I used them to make a necklace instead.
The pattern is a simple box shape, cropped just above the waist with 3/4 length sleeves.
I finished the outfit just in time to pack it...I didn't even do a final try-on!
This pile of greeny brown circles was still on my cutting table when I got home from the wedding!
Cheers to the happy couple!!