Monday, September 30, 2013

Brainwashed by Alabama Chanin

In the interest of sustainability (I feel very smart using that word), Natalie Chanin cuts up her leftover cotton into strips that you pull, thus making them curl up into rope-like, uh, ropes. She says someone in her family used these to move furniture! So I had some leftover white fabric from that shirt, and I thought, what the hell, let's make some ropes. So I did.

They're in a bag in the laundry room now, waiting to be used as bows on gifts, or tourniquets, or whatever. (I feel very green today.) Oh, and this is the other cotton jersey rayon fabric I have (sorry for burning your eyes with that pink), but I'm not ready to sacrifice it for sizing the corset, so...

I did another Alabama Chanin thing and deconstructed some T-shirts. Now I was saving these to try making some panties, but that's never gonna happen, so I got real about it. Her first book tells you how to cut off the ribbing, sleeves, etc. By the way, if you've never sewn a day in your life, you could pick up that book and start sewing. She even has diagrams of what it looks like if you cut something out on the fold of the fabric - I believe the words "mirror image" were used - I laughed derisively that someone wouldn't know that (then I felt mean).

And today, since I had an hour between clinic patients and a medical student lecture, I ran to Michael's and fully committed to dying those T-shirts, cutting out a stencil, painting that stencil onto that fabric, and embroidering it!

Now that blue plastic was the only stencil type thing they had that was blank, but AC sells pennant felt on their website if you're serious about it. Or you can buy the dadgum stencil already cut out, but it costs upwards of $80, I believe. We'll see what happens...I was thinking of ordering the "kit" with the fabric already stenciled and I just have to sew it, but that seems like selling out to me. Bianca at Thanks! I made them! has inspired me to do all of this myself (she just doesn't know it, so now I feel like a stalker).

Saturday, September 28, 2013


Sorry for shouting, but I MEAN it - this is my favorite thing ever! (You'd get the typical spazzy open-mouth grin here, but I'm trying to channel Alabama Chanin's models, who are usually very serious...and barefooted.)

This is showing you my boo-boo at the bottom of the side seam where I took too shallow a seam allowance and my felling didn't catch both layers...whatever, I'll go back and fix that.

And make a serious swayback adjustment, plus using a size larger, though I don't really think it looks THAT bad. All the pictures I've looked at from women who've sewn these tops show them fitting rather snugly.

And also my neckline stretched a bit, and I forgot to stretch the binding slightly when sewing it on. It's a lot easier to do that on the machine than while you're handstitching, but I did better with the armholes. I just love the neckline of this thing and how it fits. This is going to ROCK as a Mardi Gras dress pattern!

Unless I make the corset instead....

So of course I had to go buy the first book that has the corset pattern.

Plus I picked up more button craft thread at Joann, and found out that Hancock has it too, just in fewer colors. So dark green and dark blue are the only colors besides red in the whole town, plus a few shades of brown - what gives? I also found out that they don't carry cotton jersey, but fortunately I have some sort of cotton jersey with rayon that I bought at All About Sewing in pink and blue, so those are up on the cutting table next. Oh, and here's a close-up of the neckline stitched by accident with single strand thread, and the armhole stitched with double thread - makes a big difference.

Uh, also a lot harder to fix screw-ups when using double-stranded thread, because you can't just unthread the needle and pull out a couple of stitches. You have to either cut it and knot it then start over with new thread, or if you get very lucky you can go backwards through the same hole - which I was able to do once (because the Lord is my seamstress - see my revised Psalm 23 on sidebar). Also, I just googled "the Lord is my seamstress" and my blog post was the very first entry - get out!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Stitchin' and Campin'

Here's the neckline of my AC (Alabama Chanin) fitted top, using the...I forgot what stitch this is. Not, cretan? Anyhoo, just have to finish binding the armholes and I'll be ready to model it for ya'. It's a wee bit too tight, but it is GORGEOUS!

The reason this has taken me so long to finish is not the hand-stitching, which actually goes pretty fast. Here they are in order of occurrence:
1. I sewed the wrong side of one piece to the right side of the other piece.
2. I undid that, then sewed the center of one piece to the side of the other piece. (I realized later that I had already marked center and sides because the neckline is almost identical to the armhole, but I forgot I did that.) Luckily, hand-stitching is way easier to remove than machine stitching - no ripping!
3. I've only used one strand of button craft thread, instead of two. I was thinking as I was sewing how beautiful it was with 2 strands of thread, but she said use only one. Then tonight I watched the video again, and she clearly says to use two - doh! Oh well, the NEXT shirt I make will have 2 strands of thread...and possibly a design that's cut out - what?!

Now, please enjoy Drew's Homecoming costume that he wore to school today...

And some dance moves...

Now a random shot of our family in Boy Scout uniforms. Now that Lucas has crossed over, we're ALL up in that. Can you imagine how scary we'd be if we went out to eat before the meeting? Strike a pose everybody!

And the family who does Scouting together goes camping together, right? Hey wait, guys, where ya' goin'?

Oh yeah, moms aren't allowed to camp with our troop - just dads. Looks like Natalie and I will be camping out with some needle and thread all weekend...and some ice cream.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Alabama Chanin and My Boys

Do you dig Alabama Chanin (AC) as much as I do? Look how they mail stuff - I'm pretty sure this is recycled paper and they even STENCILED it! How cool!

Here are the color cards of the cotton jersey. I'm thinking of doing 2 reds with the reverse applique so the darker one is on bottom and shows through the cut out parts. It's Mardi Gras, so the traditional colors are purple, gold, and green. Green is my favorite color, but this emerald is kind of light, which might show undergarments more, so I'm going with a darker color. I've even worn black, so I could do something like that dress I showed earlier that was gray and black. Sequins and beads will dress it up.

So here's my first attempt at hand-stitching a seam, as seen from the wrong side. It's also felled, thus the 2 rows of uneven crappy stitching...which is also too close to the cut edge I think. Forgot to draw the seam allowance for straighter stitching....and I chose red thread because the other choices were brown and gray, and I wanted non-white so I could see what the stitches looked like.

And here it is from the right side - bleh.

My mom pointed out that if the seams have any stress on them, the following will happen. We think it's because I'm so close to the cut edge. Has this happened to anybody else with hand-stitched seams? Maybe I need shorter stitches...

Oh yes, this is the Vogue coat that comes with the Craftsy class. I'm not a coat person, but I guess that's kinda cute.

In other news, Drew purchased his big item for out-of-uniform day Friday for Homecoming. The theme is "Masquerade," and they were all sold out of horse masks, so he got stuck being a unicorn. Hey - one of the PR guys was all about unicorns - remember that?

And lastly, here's a video of Lucas demonstrating his handmade Lego crossbow, complete with firing mechanism.

Hmm, unicorns and crossbows, Drew better watch his back...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Asheville Saturday Night

Well, you get down the fiddle, and you get down the bow....wait, wrong state. (Apologies to the band Alabama.) So we ate at Limone's in downtown Asheville - YUM! This would be their interpretation of the steak fajita...

and the shrimp burrrrrrito...

and the smoked salmon quesadilla...

and last, but not least, my tenderloin with brussel sprouts and onion rings, with a side of lobster mac & cheese - HEAVEN!!!!

We did a little shopping at the Mast Store, or something like that, that made me want to pull my needles out and get crackin! These sweaters are as yummy as my steak, aren't they?

And this sweater was knit out of some luscious cashmere-ish feathery yarn - might have to try something like that.

And it's North Carolina, after all, so ya' gotta have some overalls. When's the last time you saw overalls in a store? I live in Alabama, for Heaven's sake, and I don't think I could find them if I tried.

So I had a GREHHHT weekend (this is in Andy Griffith voice) with my college roommates, and we had SUCH a blast, as usual. Do you have somebody you get together with once a year to do something fun like this?

Tomorrow I'll show you my color cards from Alabama Chanin, and I worked on the T-shirt in the Asheville Airport today - woohoo!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Folk Art Center

This is off the Blue Ridge Parkway - this chick was weaving.

Dude Pedaling Saw

Yes, he pedaled it to operate the saw.

Crocheted Things


It was a festival...

Yarn Shop

Hybrid Dress

Craftsy just did a survey about sewing with knitted stuff...

A Sense of Humor

Funny yarn shop.


Had time for one yarn shop...

It's Raining, Ladies!

French Broad Chocolate Lounge

Last night the line was out the door.

Chocolate Lounge

Self-explanatory, right?


More chocolates in the lounge.

Antiquing - Is That Spelled Right?

Not lucky enough to find vintage chairs, anyone?

French Broad Brewery

Anne's cousin is co-owner of this brewery - good beer!

Disco Ball

Reportedly this helps them know when to clean the top of the equipment!

Bar Bike

Another way to enjoy a cocktail is to belly up to this bike with friends, and pedal yourself around with your very own bartender. I guess he makes sure you don't is this not drinking and driving?!


We ate at Wicked Weed in downtown Asheville last night. They have a brewery and beer garden downstairs, and delicious food upstairs. I recommend the Sir Ryan the Pounder beer (very citrusy), and the beef tartare. Since that was reportedly an appetizer, I also had the artisanal cheese plate, which was yummy!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Airport Lunch

Am I the only one who gets excited about traveling alone? How novel to drink a beer all by myself for lunch! I'm Big Girl! It gives me the courage to demand that people move their bag from the only chair available at the gate....well, I would have but there was another empty seat. And I thought this was a bigger plane, but it's actually smaller and has propellers! And no window shades, apparently. How quaint!

More to follow from Asheville...,

Joann Purchase

So here's my prep work for sewing the Alabama Chanin (AC) t-shirt. Bought my "button craft" thread (Hancock doesn't carry), a Vogue pattern on sale for those slim pants (but isn't that top cute?!), and some T-pins for better knit blocking. Now to board my flight to Asheville!