Dec 29, 2013

Alabama Chanin inspired Renfrews

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. 

I know I'm really late, but...

...I just have to share these pictures of my kiddos in their handmade Christmas outfits.

They are decked out in their Oliver and S finest.  The challenge for a mama of a little girl and a little boy is coordinating the outfits without matching them exactly, so I decided to unify them with the red gingham.  I made Colin's Art Museum vest and trousers back in November with the intention of using them for his Christmas outfit, and I added the red gingham Sketchbook shirt, finishing it at the very last minute.  The only issue I came across with Colin's shirt was that I couldn't add a button and buttonhole to the cuffs on the sleeves because they ended up being a little bit tight.  No big deal though--he's worn the sleeves rolled up for the most part.  Cara's dress is the Library dress again, except with red gingham flat piping on the bodice instead of the collar.  The gingham is also on the cuffs, but they aren't flipped up here.  

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!  December was quite a busy month for us, so I'm hoping for a bit of a slow down for the new year.  I feel like I'm always saying that, but it never happens--such is life with two kids and two parents with full-time jobs!  To be honest, I couldn't imagine things any other way. :-)
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