It's about exploring and sharing my creative adventures (mostly sewing these days) ~
~those activities that sometimes obsess, usually inspire, occasionally frustrate
~and always provide a delightful maze to wander through.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Alabama Chanin!

Life is still biting me in the butt with busy-ness (it's a good thing, really... but oh to be independently wealthy and unemployed - what's that like?   Anyone?)  Which means very little sewing is actually happening, but the ideas and plans are still swirling around in my head!

I was at a gathering of sewists last weekend, and one of the women there had attended a Natalie Chanin workshop, and she was wearing a gorgeous top she had made from an Alabama Chanin kit.   I've been wanting to feel up the organic cotton jerseys Chanin eco-dyes and sells, to see if it's really as soft as the claims are.   It is!  Even better news is that I found out that A Verb for Keeping Warm, a wonderful little yarn & fabric shop in Oakland (6328 San Pablo Avenue, just a few blocks off Ashby, for the local folk) has a trunk sale of Alabama Chanin items - it's only through August 26, so zip on over there if you want to check it out!

For those who might not be familiar with  Alabama Chanin designs, Natalie Chanin, the founder, uses elaborate designs including stencils, dying, cut-outs, beading, and hand-stitching, incorporating embroidery and quilting techniques from eras past, and modernizing the looks in one-of-a-kind garments.  She is the very essence of slow sewing!

There are a couple of racks of her made clothes at A Verb - not for sale though (something about a conflict with someone else who carries her goodies).  At something like $1000 - $3000 apiece, nothing in this collection is ever going to make it into my closet,  but how wonderful to be able to touch and see up close so many of the makes from her studio!  A Verb also has some huge books with samples of the stitching and layering and beading...oh MY!   PLUS a selection of her cottons!    I managed to take a few pictures, mostly close-ups of the stitching samples from the books (these books are TREASURES - do try to check them out if you can make it!)

Lettering on a top!!!   LOVE this!
A cape, skirt, and top using various techniques









Yes, I could not resist a few pieces of the fabric.   At $24.50/yard, this is not cheap cotton, but it is oh-so-soft, and all ORGANICALLY sourced.  It's $22/yd through her website, but I'm assuming you need to add shipping, so it's probably about the same in the end.  It's the mid-weight grade, which is very sturdy - but did I mention how soft it feels?   It's also pre-washed, so you're not paying for fabric that you're going to lose through shrinkage.

Then I came home and immediately ordered Alabama Studio Sewing + Design from Amazon, which seems to be the most comprehensive of her 3 books, at least for sewists.   It should arrive tomorrow - can't wait!


Craftsy also has a class on Natalie Chanin Hand Embellishing Techniques - has anyone taken this class yet?   What did you think of it?   Her one-day workshops are in the  $400 range, which makes a $40 Craftsy class sound not so bad, eh?

I do look forward to having something I've actually sewn to share here....fabric and patterns are actually laid out in the sewing room; all I need is time and energy!   (Got some to spare?) ;-)

Until then, I dream :-)

31 comments:

  1. Oh my, what a treat too see those garments in real life and even get to touch and investigate a little. I am envious. It's such beautiful work! I will be curious and intrigued to see how your experience with this might migrate into your own work. Of course, your own work always intrigues me.

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    1. You're so sweet Marcy - thank you :) I can't wait to see how it migrates too! ;-)

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  2. Love these techniques. I enjoy handwork so might have to look into this.

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    1. Do it Cissie! I think you would do some amazing additions to your pieces!

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  3. A friend recently introduced me to Alabama chanin. I had never heard about it and now I have two of the books as well. Very inspiring though I have yet to incorporate the techniques in some of my own sewing. What a great opportunity to see all this in real life.

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    1. I've been curious for awhile - it really was inspiring to see it in person! I hope you use the techniques; I can really see it in some of your pieces!

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  4. Thanks for posting, Jillian! I had already forgotten about this opportunity. I will try to get over there before they've gone. I have bought the Craftsy class but have not yet watched it. I'm glad you were inspired!

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    1. Bring one of your books with! I read on their blog that you get a 10% discount on fabric, etc., if you buy or bring a book.

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    1. Oh--thank you for posting this. I made it over Verb Keeping Warm last Saturday and spent about hour at the picnic table looking at the sample books. I'm glad that you took pictures of swatches--the detail is amazing, and after looking closely at ALL of them, I could see all the work involved. Yowza!

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  6. That project with the words is so you Jilly! Do that one, do that one!!!!!! I purchased the NC class and plan to do something this fall. Such lovely pieces.

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    1. lol OK! :D I do love the word idea :)

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  7. Thanks for posting this, Jilly! I have the Craftsy class, and think it definitely worth the $$. I have watched it, but have not attempted a project yet. I admire what Natalie Chanin has done and the principals that her business is built on! Nevertheless, a garment would be a substantial investment, not only $, but time and energy. I hope one day I can put it all together and create a garment!

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    1. I'm waiting for the Craftsy class to go on sale lol!

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  8. Hey Jilly, Nice to see you surface :-) I have the Alabama Chanin book you just ordered and it is wonderfully inspirational. I like the idea of using the techniques on small areas of jackets or skirts...or just to make. Thanks for the info on the cotton as I have wondered if it was worth sourcing out.

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    1. That's exactly my thought Mary - small doses of the techniques.

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  9. Can't wait to see what you do!!! I've been tempted to get her book and probably will...I need to finish some UFO'S and use up some stash first. Maybe. I'm thinking it would be fun to convince a few of my friends to have an Alabama Chanin afternoon once a week...where we each make something (using one of her techniques) for a Christmas present or for ourselves.

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    1. What a great idea Judi! A Chanin Bee.....

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  10. I love this book! I've made a few tops and am halfway through a dress. and by halfway i mean it is essentially finished but looks awful and i'm not sure what to do...

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    1. Oh dear...hope you can rescue the dress!

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  11. I have made three skirts, each using a different embellishment technique. I wear them ALL the time throughout the summer because they're so comfortable. I combine machine-sewing the skirt seams and fold-over elastic at the waist with the hand-embellished surfaces. I still love the slow process of tracing the stencil, cutting it out, applying the paint, stitching the beads and snipping the cutouts. Many more projects in the future, as I have all three books.

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    1. I'm not only behind in sewing; I'm behind in blog-reading - I've made a note to search your blog for the Chanin pieces (hope you blogged them!)

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    2. Sorry, no blog! There's another sewing "Bunny" who blogs, and that might be who you're thinking about. I'm an editor and have to do some professional blogging, so that's probably why I haven't jumped into a personal blog. But I love reading blogs like yours!

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    1. They are! But then, I think you find inspiration everywhere you look ;-)

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  13. Oh man, I love all things Alabama Chanin. I went to see the diy trunk show at Verb and it's all gorgeous - so much detail! I'm obsessed with her embroidery styles now. I'm working on a skirt in that style (negative reverse applique specifically) now but I imagine it'll take me a while to actually finish. I've made dresses from her patterns before, but never got into the embellishment as much. That's changing now!

    I can't wait to see whatever you decide to make!

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    1. I can see how easily one could get dangerously obsessed with this stuff.....

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  14. Jilly, I got the Natalie Chanin Craftsy class and am not yet all the way thru it, but I love what I have garnered from it so far. I too, am thinking that some of the techniques can be incorporated into the few pieces I do a year. I had gotten the book a few months ago...it is so inspiring! I love the lettered top! So nice that you were able to actually see and feel the pieces. Your recommendation for the fabric is reassuring.

    I love your blog, too!

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  15. Jilly, thanks for all this inspiration. All oh have all the time in the world.....

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  16. This stuff is so inspiring. If only there were time for everything! I am going to get that book though, seriously!

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  17. OK, I'm very late to the party, Jillian. But no less enthusiastic than your more timely fans. I too think the words are totally you. Maybe just part of a word here and there to start. OK I might have to do that myself too. Thanks for the great post!

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