I have been doing plenty of fun stuff, but not much of it has been in my sewing room!  BUT, I did finally finish a project that I started last spring!!!!!  Yeah!!!!

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!
It was a really wonderful affair, complete with a tequila burro parade through town.  Apparently, in San Miguel de Allende it is traditional to strap barrels of tequila to a donkey and wander the streets toasting the happy couple...who am I to argue with tradition!

 Finishing my dress and sweater was a whirlwind, and the wedding weekend was even more of a blur...although that might have something to do with the tequila!  It was super fun and my dress was comfy and terminado!

Cheers to the happy couple!!


  1. ���������� ��

  2. He terminado..."I'm finished" I hope that's what it means...I don't have too many Spanish words in my vocabulary!

  3. I thought I was being clever...sending those little smiley faces with applauding hands, plus two pink hearts. I don't know where the ?s came from. I think your dress and sweater are wonderful...and the necklace! You do the finest work, make lovely garments (that fit), and are so generous in sharing the process. You are the best!

    1. Ah! I will take 'clever' as a given and thank you for the 'applause.'!

  4. What a gorgeous outfit you created! I love how you varied the density of the circular motifs from the hemline upwards

    1. It was a design decision when I started, but as I was stitching the circles I was really glad I have done it that way too!!! LOTS of circles.

  5. I love the way everything you combined in this outfit looks so perfect together and yet each piece stands out on its' own. Beautiful.

  6. What a great observation...thank you. I was so focused on getting them done in time I haven't given much (any) thought to other things I can wear them with. I think the sweater for sure will need some more partners.

  7. Ditto Fiberfemme. Each is a work of art in its own right and yet the whole ensemble is grander than the sum of its parts. The sweater is very clever with its use of too little yarn. Love its neckline. And those beads are just the topper. Lovely, glorious subtle colours. Oh my. And oh my, my. All those circles. All that stitching. Beautifully done. Brava
    PS Where can I get one of those beautiful little donkeys. I'm in love.

  8. I felt a bit too subtle with all the vibrant colors and light in Mexico, but very much at home with my 'mud colors' back in Michigan!!
    Not sure where you can get one to keep, but I know where you can rent a donkey, and he comes with his own mariachi band!

    1. Yes, context is everything. But looking at the photos, your outfit is just beautiful against the backgrounds. Sign me up for the donkey rental, the mariachi band and the kegs of tequila.
      What are you going to do with all the circles you cut out?

    2. Several people have asked about the pile of little brown circles...I think I will let them sit for a while. I have several fall projects waiting in the wings!

    3. Well, we all know by now that whatever you do with the little brown circles will be interesting, inspiring and unique.