VENA CAVA (+ ALABAMA CHANIN DIY DRESS)

Last Thursday, we wrote about Vena Cava and began a dialogue (one we plan to continue every Thursday) about the intersection of Fashion, Craft and DIY. While in New York a few weeks back, I sat down for a quick coffee with Lisa Mayock – half of the Vena Cava design team – to share our DIY Dresses and talk about fashion, life, and open sourcing.  We appreciate all the response and emails from our post last week and look forward to continuing this conversation.  Here, a little chat about the Vena Cava/Vogue Designer Patterns collaboration:

AC: The dress that we chose from Vogue Designer Patterns – was it a dress from your collection?

LM: Yes, it was called the “Needlepunch” dress, and it was originally from our Fall 2010 collection.

AC: Did you make any alterations from the original dress to the Vogue Pattern?

LM: I think they picked the dress because it was pretty flattering on a lot of different figures, but they did raise the neckline a bit. Originally, it was pretty plunging. But I guess if you made the dress via their pattern you could easily change that.

AC:  Why did you decide to share the pattern? We call this “Open Sourcing” in our work and when we talk about sustainability. What were you both thinking about when you decided to work with Vogue? Were there any conversations in particular?

LM: We both love the idea that people can use what we make as a starting point, and really make it their own. This could be understood in terms of the way someone wears a garment, or the way they customize it, or in this case, make it all by themselves. Sophie and I reposted a blog entry we had found about a girl would had seen one of our runway shows and make a DIY version of one of our blouses that had a safety pin waistband. That’s how we started out making our clothes together- by customizing and changing existing flea market and thrift store finds, and it makes us really happy to see people engage with what we make in that way.

AC: Do you craft – besides fashion?

LM: I “craft” in kind of a spontaneous, random way- I love to make things or improve upon things that I have at home, like making a rainbow-striped picture frame out of construction paper, hand-painting the mirrors in my house, or making a nest for a floor lamp out of rope (which I did last weekend)

AC: I would love to see that nest! Thanks again for doing this with us – seems that it found a lot of resonance with our readers and beyond. We have received tons of emails about the post – and your work. Hope it is good for you too! (Smile.)

LM: Yes- it has been such a great experience. Thank you again!!

To make your own basic Vena Cava à la Alabama Chanin dress:

Supplies

Vena Cava Vogue Pattern #V1258
2 yards of 60”-wide 100% organic lightweight cotton jersey
1 spool Coats & Clark Button Craft thread
Basic sewing supplies: scissors, pins, needles, ruler, rotary cutter

Alabama Stitch Book, Alabama Studio Style or Alabama Studio Sewing + Design: All three of these books contain the basic sewing and embroidery techniques we used to make our version of this dress.

Follow the (very concise) Vogue instructions exactly as written for everything but the neckline finishing. Hand-sew all seams with a straight stitch and using a single strand of thread on our Alabama Chanin lightweight cotton-jersey.  We felled our seams for the dress above, but that is a matter of taste and desired style.

For the neckline, we applied our standard Alabama Chanin rib-binding with Cretan stitch, but any stretchable embroidery stitch (such as cross-stitch or herringbone stitch) will work as well.  Leave hem raw.

Design Choices

Fabric weight –Alabama Chanin organic lightweight cotton jersey
Fabric color – Blue Slate
Button Craft thread – Coats & Clark color #26 (slate)
Knots – When you start and finish a length of thread¸ double-knot on the inside of the garment.
Binding Stitch – Cretan Stitch (This is the stitch used to sew the rib-binding at the neckline.)

Note: The construction of this dress is a little complicated but the instructions from Vogue Patterns are clear, concise, and easy to follow.

To make your own Vena Cava à la Alabama Chanin negative reverse applique dress:

Supplies:

Vena Cava Vogue Pattern #V1258
2 yards of 60”-wide 100% organic lightweight cotton jersey for top layer
2 yards of 60”-wide 100% organic lightweight cotton jersey for backing layer (in same color as top layer or in contrasting color – as desired)
Alabama Chanin Paisley stencil
Textile paint
Basic sewing supplies: scissors, pins, needles, ruler, rotary cutter

Cut out your pattern pieces in the desired size from your fabric for the top layer and repeat by cutting matching pattern pieces for the backing layer. Stencil your cut top layer of the dress with the Paisley stencil and textile paint.  Pin together the top and bottom layers of each pattern piece, right sides of both layers facing up.  Using a single strand of Button Craft thread and straight stitch, embroider the paisley pattern using Alabama Chanin’s negative reverse applique technique from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.

Negative reverse applique follows the same rules as our standard reverse applique (detailed in Alabama Stitch Book and Alabama Studio Style) except you stitch 1/8” inside the stenciled line and trim 1/8” outside the stenciled line. After all of the pattern pieces are completed, sew the dress by hand using a single strand of Button Craft thread and following the (very concise) Vogue instructions – included with the pattern – for everything but the neckline finishing.

For the neckline, we applied our standard Alabama Chanin rib-binding with Cretan stitch, but any stretchable embroidery stitch (such as cross-stitch or herringbone stitch) will work as well. Leave hem raw.

Design Choices

Fabric weight – Alabama Chanin organic lightweight cotton jersey
Fabric color top layer – Camel
Fabric color backing layer – Camel
Stencil – Paisley
Treatment – Negative Reverse Applique
Textile paint – Grey
Button Craft thread– Coats & Clark color #155 (dogwood)
Knots – When you start and finish a length of thread¸ double-knot on the inside of the garment.
Binding Stitch – Cretan Stitch (This is the stitch we used to sew the rib-binding at the neckline.)

Thank you to Lisa and Sophie for embracing the DIY ethic with Alabama Chanin. Their work, the women, and the dresses all feel like perfect whim and whimsy. I look forward to watching as they continue to grow, blossom, and develop their work – and lives – through inspired projects. A big hug and thanks to Lisa for agreeing to be photographed by my friend Peter Stanglmayr. And heartfelt congratulations to Lisa and her fiancé Jeff on their upcoming nuptials – it seems like a match made in heaven…

xoNatalie

Bookmark and Share

7 thoughts on “VENA CAVA (+ ALABAMA CHANIN DIY DRESS)

    1. Karen K.

      A tiny technical question: since we don’t as yet have the new book (counting the days!), it appears that the negative reverse applique technique would cause much of the top layer to be removed. Is this correct? Just trying to picture it. Also, I’m nervous about sewing seams with only a single strand of thread. Is this because we’re using lightweight jersey? Thanks for your patience.

      Reply
      1. Alabama Post author

        Yes, the majority of the top layer is removed in Negative Reverse Applique. So it “looks” like applique but is easier to complete. And, yes, to a single layer of thread because of the lightweight jersey. Never use a single layer with our standard medium-weight jersey. Great questions – thank you! Natalie

        Reply
  1. Maria

    I have purchased this pattern and am excited to make this dress! In your directions above, you say to use the lightweight jersey but the colors camel and blue slate are only available in the medium weight jersey??

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Fancy DIY Women's Dress Tutorials - MotivaNova - MotivaNova

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>