It has become a tradition for the past few years that I ask for a sewing book for Christmas. One year was the Colette Sewing Handbook, another year was Little Things to Sew from Oliver and S. This year's book might be my favorite one yet: Alabama Studio Style and Sewing by Natalie Chanin. This is the third book from Alabama Chanin, and I love that Natalie Chanin wants to make her couture techniques available to home sewists. And I am now obsessed with all things Alabama Chanin.
The amount of hand sewing did seem overwhelming to me at first--how would I ever finish a project? I decided to tentatively dip into Alabama Chanin style by working with something comfortable and familiar first: the Sewaholic Renfrew.
I made a gray long sleeve Renfrew with the cowl collar right before Christmas, but tragedy struck. I snipped into the shoulder of the shirt while trimming a seam allowance. I was really, really sad about this mistake because the fit and fabric were perfect. I applied a pitiful little patch and decided I would just wear the shirt in spite of the mistake.
However, Alabama Chanin presented the perfect solution in the form of reverse applique, so I bought some fabric paint, a stencil, beads, and button craft thread and completely fixed my mistake.
I was amazed by how long this project didn't take. I painted on the stencil in about 10 minutes, let the paint dry overnight, and stitched around the design while I drank my coffee the next morning. Cutting the top layer of fabric was nerve-racking, but I managed not to make another tragic mistake. I was so enamored with the final result that I decided to make another Alabama Chanin inspired Renfrew.
I confess that I didn't hand sew every seam, but after I sewed each seam with my machine, I felled it using silver-gray button craft thread. Again, this did not take nearly as long as I anticipated, and there was something very soothing and deliberate about sewing a seam and then stopping to add the decorative touch. This is what sewing adult clothing is all about--these are the personal, one-of-a-kind touches that make a garment truly special.