If you follow me on Instagram (which you can do here) you'll probably have seen my first steps into sewing the Alabama Chanin way.
You may not have heard of Alabama Chanin - I hadn't until Carolyn of Handmade by Carolyn wrote this post last year. I was immediately intrigued, the book she wrote about looked beautiful, as did the stitching itself. I immediately jumped on Amazon and ordered a copy for myself. (By the way, Carolyn has made some AMAZING Alabama Chanin projects, as has her mum! A very talented family!).
When the book arrived I devoured it and ooh-ed and aah-ed over every gorgeous photograph, then put it on my bookshelf. It wasn't until a conversation with Gail from Today's Agenda a couple of months ago that I seriously considered actually making something using this method. Gail was preparing a project she could take on holiday with her, and I decided to work along side her. She's a bit ahead of me, but then she got organised far quicker than I did!
I decided to make a skirt - the book comes with several traceable patterns for simple tops, skirts and dresses - and settled on dark grey with a black underlayer. However, when I went to order my fabric the black jersey was out of stock, so I got dark and light grey. I ordered my jersey here.
The next step was to decide on which stencil to use. You can buy the stencils ready cut from the Alabama Chanin website, but they're expensive. You can also download (for free) pdf documents of the stencils, which you then tape together and cut yourself. I decided to go this route, and after a lot of prevarication decided on the Angie's Fall Placement design.
I have to say, cutting it was not easy, there are some small details that I could not control my craft knife well enough to cut from the plastic sheet, so I'm going to draw those in free hand.
I was a bit worried about getting in a mess with applying fabric paint to the stencil, and while browsing my local art and craft shop, found a gel roller ball pen especially for use on fabric. This was perfect, as I'd already decided I didn't really want any of the painted areas to remain after I'd finished stitching. I was able to draw the outlines of each shape neatly onto the fabric and cut these lines completely away as I've progressed.
You'll notice my under layer is indeed black not light grey - when I did my test piece (in the first picture) I didn't like the light grey, but luckily remembered I had a piece of black jersey in my stash from a previous project. There was just enough to cut the skirt from, and I'm much happier with the darker underlayer.
Here you can see one of the flowers in progress. I like cutting away the centre of the stitched sections once I've done a few so I can see the design developing.
Above is an almost completed flower - there are small comma-like additions to go between each petal, which will be drawn on free hand later and then stitched.
I'm absolutely loving doing this. I'm finding it both relaxing and rewarding and cannot wait to see the finished skirt. It's wonderful to see each flower develop and I'd forgotten how much I like hand sewing.