Did I tell you I fell in love with the Alabama Chanin philosophy? I had so much fun with my first projects, I was ready to sew myself a whole wardrobe of clothes so I dove into my first “all by myself” project heart first when my head knew I should have read more, learned more and practiced more. The good news is, every time I made a mistake was an opportunity to learn and I’m hoping to help you avoid my mistakes by sharing them with you:
When I first started reading “Alabama Studio Style” I knew I was going to become a maker. I didn’t know much else but one day when I was at the fabric store buying fabric to make my son’s Halloween costume, I saw some black cotton jersey on sale. I thought, why not, how big a difference can fabric make. I learned, a lot! This black jersey is a much heavier weight than Alabama Chanin’s fabric because with two layers this skirt turned out heavy and I think I will only be able to wear it in Winter. It just doesn’t hang in that easy way that it would with a medium or light weight jersey.
To make a pattern, I just took my AC swing skirt and copied the shape of one panel and cut out four of them. In hindsight I wish I would have already known what Natalie wrote about in “Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns” because I didn’t pay any attention to fit (can you tell I have very rudimentary previous sewing skills), and the skirt turned out big on me. I also didn’t realize that not all four panels should be exactly the same. The back panels need to be a little bigger then the front if you know what I mean.
Here is where I really learned a lot. To make my stencil, I bought some Wax-O Stencil Paper at Hobby Lobby and I just traced the bloomers design from my AC skirt. I was lucky to have inherited a light box from my brother which made transferring the design a snap! Cutting the pattern from the paper with a razor was easy enough, but the paper stencil didn’t hold up very well to my paint process. I made it all the way through the skirt, and I will use this method again, but it gave me an appreciation for real mylar stencils. I used Tulip Soft Matte paint in Ebony because I wanted that tone-on-tone look. I applied it with sponge pouncers. It was really hard to get a clean line around the edge of my shapes and the paint went on very heavy and dried stiff. Next time I try this method, I am going to thin the paint. I’m also contemplating the value of spray adhesive.
It ALL Matters
There are a few others things I learned. I just used thread I had on hand, all-purpose, and it doesn’t give the stitching that solid, hand-sewn quality. We’ll see if the knots hold up. For the waistband, I bought the fold-over elastic they sell at Hobby Lobby – it’s smaller than AC’s, more difficult to work with and it doesn’t have the same stretch or visual impact.
All that said, this skirt is very special to me. I did it – all by myself!