I first heard about Natalie Chanin and her slow fashion in a book review in the Wall Street Journal of all places. It was 2010 and she had just released, “Alabama Studio Style.” The review compelled me to learn more about this woman who had values that were so in line with my own. Respect for design, creativity, ourselves, others and our planet. I checked out her website and immediately ordered the book. I also ordered my first DIY kit, the skirt that appears on the cover of “Alabama Stitch Book” that was published in 2008.
(Pattern = swing skirt, Stencil = Bloomers, Top layer = Apple, Bottom layer = Brunette, Thread = Brown, Reverse Applique,)
It was pretty easy for me to get through this first project. My boys were on the swimteam and if you’ve ever been to a summer swim meet, you know they require multiple hours of just sitting around waiting for the 30 seconds your child is in the pool. I didn’t have much sewing experience but that is where hand sewing was to my advantage … no technology, just me, my needle, some thread and some awesome fabric. I’m not going to say I didn’t make mistakes: even though I “loved” my thread as Natalie calls it, I would always put too much thread on my needle and end up with odd knots or catching a stitch somewhere, I didn’t assemble it with the correct seam allowance, and my stitches were certainly not all the same length, but regardless, the skirt turned out awesome. And more importantly, I was hooked on the process.
Soon after I finished, I knew I needed a top to go with it. I went back to the website and ordered another DIY kit, this time, the Corset. The website showed it in white, but I went for brunette. It also came with red glass beads, chop for the front seams and seed beads for the neckline stitches. I didn’t have the skill or the tools yet for beads so I left them off, knowing I’ll have some future project where I can use them.
This was the project where I mastered the cretan stitch. I love the way it looks around the neckline and the armholes.
Here’s my sister modeling the complete outfit. It looks great with boots for Fall!
And here I am wearing it with a simple long-sleeved jersey T at the Savannah Food and Wine Festival.