Category Archives: DIY + SEWING

MERCHANT & MILLS: THE DRESS SHIRT PATTERN

MERCHANT & MILLS: THE DRESS SHIRT PATTERN

In our ongoing Makeshift conversation on design, craft, food, DIY, and fashion—and how they intersect—we continue to adapt open-source patterns from other designers and brands using Alabama Chanin techniques. This experiment demonstrates how open-sourced materials and collaborative works can be used in any number of ways and tailored to almost any personal style.

For this entry in the series, we have chosen to work with a pattern from Merchant & Mills, a popular UK-based company created by Carolyn Denham and Roderick Field, formed, in their words, “to elevate sewing to its proper place in the creative world, respecting the craftsmanship it entails.” That is certainly a philosophy in line with Alabama Chanin’s mission and Makeshift’s goals.

Merchant & Mills has an interesting selection of patterns to offer. UK sizes differ a bit from US numbered sizes, but the website has clear size charts that can help you select the right pattern size for your body. But keep in mind that their patterns are priced in pounds, not US dollars; you should also take into account shipping costs when shopping. Alternatively, there are quite a few stockists in the US with ready links available here.

In order to highlight the simple beauty of this Dress Shirt, we have opted to make a basic version. Of course, you can choose to utilize any of the techniques from our previous posts or our Swatch of the Month Club to embellish your project. We’ve found that the loose fit and shape of the pattern makes it an easy pull-on garment when paired with our stretchable cotton jersey, and this piece looks great with The Every Day Long Skirt or the Bloomers Swing Skirt and Stripe Tall Socks.

Continue reading

DIY MAGDALENA FITTED CARDIGAN

DIY MAGDALENA FITTED CARDIGAN

This Cardigan is a modified version of our Casual T-shirt Top from Alabama Studio Sewing + DesignWe’ve created the cardigan simply by cutting our t-shirt front panel down the front to create two pieces (or alternatively, you can choose not to cut the pattern on the fold). When cut this way, it creates a cardigan or cover-up from our Casual T-Shirt pattern. Produced in a double-layer, the organic cotton jersey adds warmth but not bulk.

The kit is shown here in Black and has been produced in our backstitched reverse appliqué treatment. But, this and all DIY kits can be customized for any of our embroidery techniques or embellishments. Choose your own fabric color to go with our Variegated Black embroidery floss, or you may also design your own T-Shirt Cardigan through our Custom DIY option. When purchasing this DIY kit to work as a cardigan, you may want to choose one or two sizes larger than you would normally wear, to allow for additional layering room.

Continue reading

DIY MAGDALENA A-LINE DRESS

DIY-Magdalena-A-Line-Dress-(1)-CROP

For the first time, and in anticipation of our newest book Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns, we are offering a DIY Sewing Kit for our A-Line Dress. This dress is part of our new DIY Sewing Kit Collection. Made from our medium-weight 100% organic cotton jersey, the dress is patterned with our Magdalena Stencil and shown here worked in negative reverse appliqué; however, you may choose a technique from any of our books or Swatch of the Month to embellish this kit.

The A-Line dress has been a popular style around our studio because it flatters almost every figure; in fact, we use this dress as part of our uniform for The Factory Store and Café. The kit—or the finished dress—also makes it an excellent gift, as it does not require strict measurements to fit. It is substantial enough to be worn in any weather and works as a versatile layering piece. My daily uniform consists of the A-Line Dress paired with a basic or embellished version of our Every Day Long Skirt.

DIY MAGDALENA A-LINE DRESS

Continue reading

DIY GIFT GUIDE

DIY-GIFT-GUIDE

2014 has been a big year for Alabama Chanin’s Do-it-Yourself endeavors. We started the year by announcing our 2014 Swatch of the Month Club, and recently announced the new 2015 subscription for the upcoming year. In September, we launched our DIY Collection with new kit styles and stencil options. And the biggest news was the introduction of The School of Making—which oversees our workshops, Studio Style DIY, Makeshift, and all things educational in the company.

In our 2014 DIY Gift Guide, we reflect back on the year and offer savings on a selection of new and favorite kits, stencils, and many more things along the way. Find the perfect gift for the person in your life who loves to make—even if that person is you.

Alabama Chanin - The Factory Store + Cafe - Photographer Rinne Allen (38) Continue reading

DIY NATALIE’S APRON

DIY POLKA DOT APRON

The Camisole Apron is an embellished version of an apron my grandmother wore nearly every day for most of her life. It is beautiful and incredibly practical—especially for those of us that need full-coverage protection in the kitchen. This DIY kit—created from our Camisole Dress pattern from Alabama Studio Style—is available for a limited time as part of our DIY Gift Guide. The apron is fitted for a woman’s body and features a large, two-sided pocket across the front. It comes with our faded fabric as a backing layer and our Black Variegated embroidery floss; choose your outer layer and thread colors.

DIY POLKA DOT APRON

Continue reading

ON DESIGN: THE HISTORY OF STENCILING

On Design - The History of Stenciling

Join us this Monday at The Factory for the third conversation in our On Design Series. This week Natalie discusses the practice of stenciling—including examples of designs throughout history and various techniques used over time, alongside a short, hands-on introduction to making stencils.

Monday, December 8, 2014
10:30am – 11:30am

Alabama Chanin @ The Factory
462 Lane Drive
Florence, AL 35630

$7.00

Open-to-the-public, the cost includes admission, participation in the conversation, and a cup of The Factory blend coffee, a cold drink, or tea.

Register here for our third event.

P.S.: If you can’t make it to the lecture and want to experiment with stencils on your own, we have a selection of stenciling materials and design resources on our website and a suggested reading list here.

If you are interested in learning more detailed stenciling techniques, we are offering our first One-Day Stenciling Workshop on May 14, 2015. During this workshop, we will design and create stencils through combinations of original artworks and existing stencils. Workshop participants have the opportunity to work with a variety of stenciling materials, experiment with mixing fabric paint, and explore a variety of stencil transfer methods like airbrushing, painting, sponging, permanent and fabric markers, fabric pastels, and transferring inkjet patterns onto fabric.

Learn more about this and all of our workshops through The School of Making.

SWATCH OF THE MONTH: DECEMBER 2014

SWATCH OF THE MONTH: DECEMBER 2014

Our final Swatch of the Month for 2014 combines several techniques explored (and hopefully mastered) in previous months’ swatches—including appliqué, negative reverse appliqué, and eyelet beading. The design, titled Natalie’s Dream, is beautifully intricate and one of my personal favorites (hence the name).

To create the swatch, begin by stenciling the design to the top layer of fabric using your transfer method of choice. (The Facets stencil employed here is available for download from our Resources page.)

Align your top and backing layers of fabric, with right sides up, and pin together. Thread your needle and knot off.

Using your stenciled top layer of fabric as a guide, select a flower shape and begin straight-stitching directly on the edge of the stenciled shape. Cut the top layer of fabric 1/8” outside the edge of the stenciled flower shape, leaving a sliver of top-layer fabric beyond your stitching line. This creates the negative reverse appliqué effect.

Continue reading

VOGUE #V8860 (AN ALABAMA CHANIN DIY COAT)

VOGUE-COAT-01

One of our more popular series of do-it-yourself posts has been our ongoing adaptation of commercially available patterns in the Alabama Chanin style. Among the patterns we have reworked are: a dress from an Anna Sui Vogue pattern, two variations of a Vogue dress from Vena Cava, an open-sourced jacket pattern from Yohji Yamamoto, and other varied pieces.

This series first began as a part of our ongoing Makeshift conversations that explore the intersection of design, craft, food, DIY, and fashion. With this series, we look at makers of all sorts and embrace open-source knowledge, materials, and patterns to create new conversations and collaborations.

We know that it takes skill and patience to complete a garment from another designer’s pattern; however, personalizing those garments—bringing your own body shape, style, and design sensibilities to existing patterns—is sometimes the only option for creating garments that truly fit your life and lifestyle. (You will find much more on this idea of customizing a wardrobe in our upcoming book Alabama Studio Sewing Patternswhich is now available for pre-order.)

We are excited to resume this important experiment with a Vogue coat pattern. I’m in love with the results.

Continue reading

2015 SWATCH OF THE MONTH

SWATCH OF THE MONTH 2015

In 2014, we were inspired by our extensive fabric library—and readers expressed interest in trying new techniques—to create our first Swatch of the Month Club. Our library of sample swatches archives over 500 techniques, embroideries, fabric treatments, and colorways that we have experimented with or used in past and upcoming Alabama Chanin collections.

If you have visited one of our trunk shows or attended a workshop, you have likely browsed giant binders of these swatches. Each individual sample represents a small moment in our company’s history and growth—as a whole, they represent a decade of design history. In 2015, we are offering a new Swatch of the Month Club with an expanded selection of stencils and techniques. We learned a few things about this process during our 2014 run and have updated the program this year to reflect those lessons and streamline, saving packaging and reducing our carbon-footprint.

When you enroll in Swatch of the Month 2015, you will receive the full year’s necessary notions (thread, embroidery floss, and a label), along with the first month’s swatch in a beautifully wrapped box. For those who want to add additional embellishment to swatches, you have the option to add 6oz. of chop beads, 6oz. of bugle beads, and 1oz. of sequins for an extra $30—or you may choose to purchase sequins and beads separately. Select this option upon ordering and you will receive all beads, along with your notions, in your first package. After the initial shipment, we will mail your 10” x 16” fabric swatches and an informational insert via United States Postal Service (USPS) at the beginning of each month.

SWATCH OF THE MONTH 2015

Continue reading

SWATCH OF THE MONTH: NOVEMBER 2014

SWATCH OF THE MONTH: NOVEMBER 2014The Swatch of the Month for November highlights one of my all time favorite designs, Climbing Daisy. The technique uses ribbon embroidery, which beautifully adds dimension and detail to projects and garments. The concept is simple: we use cotton ribbon rather than thread or embroidery floss to stitch the design. This technique can be applied to almost any of our stencil designs and combined with any of our stitching practices.

To create the swatch, begin by stenciling the design to the top layer of fabric using your transfer method of choice. (The Climbing Daisy stencil is available for download from our Resources page.)

Stitch the larger petal shapes using 100% cotton tape and a large-eyed embroidery needle. (Note: over the years, we’ve found that upholstery needles with a large eye also work quite well with this technique.)

After the larger petals are stitched, create French knots (see page 75 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design) with the cotton tape at the center of the petal shapes, as well as along the stems.

Next, stem-stitch (see page 85 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design) long, curving stems using the embroidery floss. Repeat this process until you have stitched each of your stenciled shapes.

Continue reading