A little excitement about embellishment.


After a number of months of very little sewing – and no garment sewing at all – I’ve recently found myself a bit obsessed with the books of Natalie Chanin, founder and main designer for Alabama Chanin. For the first time in my life I’m seriously interested in learning how to dye and stencil fabric, and her clothing inspires me to pick up a needle and improve my stitching technique for embellishment.

You can see the clothes I’m talking about here – and while you’re looking it’s hard not to notice the $4000+ price tag on many items. Which is what couture, handmade clothing that takes hundreds of hours per piece costs — but if you have the inclination Chanin shares her techniques in three books – of which I own one — plus she gives out the stencils for her fabric painting for free on her website. (She sells laser cuts of them too but that’s a pretty pricey option).

I am currently working on a copy of the stencil above, hopeful that I will end up with a practice stencil to try on some cotton jersey I’ve got on order. There’s something about Chanin’s clothes that look so inviting to me – the comfy cotton jersey is just one aspect – the layers of applique and stitching is another. There are also a number of beautiful quilts and household projects in the book I’ve got as well – which I think will make some excellent practice pieces as I figure out how to spray paint fabric and practice my handstitching on small things.

In my recent cleaning of the house I have realized that I don’t want to be churning out garment after garment to fill up my closets – but I love to make my own things. So perhaps the middle place is making things slowly and with lots of technique so that I’ve always got something to work on but I don’t fill up all my space crazy-fast. Being a person who is not particularly detail-oriented, I’m wondering if I can shift my focus and my breathing to better match the kindof work this clothing entails?

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