Friday, December 29, 2017

reverse applique flowers

in which our plucky heroine undertakes a long project...

Friday I stitched out the first of many floral motifs, and couldn't wait to trim away the excess inner fabric to see how it would look. I am pretty chuffed that it looks so much like what I imagined/intended. And for some reason this gave me a new idea about what to do for the sleeves of the cardigan...
My initial inspiration was this Gudrun Sjoden cardigan, with a floral motif body and striped sleeves. But I have been struggling to suss out how to create striped sleeves with the Alabama Chanin layered applique. This morning, it occurred to me that instead of stripes, I could reverse the layers for the sleeves, and do them with brown as the backing, and indigo as the outer layer. This would give a contrast but still coordinated between the sleeves and the body, solve my technical problem, and give my own self-designed twist to the interpretation...

Each flower takes about an hour - so allowing for the dots as well I estimate somewhere between 40 to 50 hours of hand stitching on the surface design aspect of this project. This does not include the preparatory stenciling, or the assembly of the pieces into an actual garment. For those who are astounded at the prices of the actual Alabama Chanin garments, this is why... Compared to many of those, this is a fairly simple piece. And all of those are the labor of subcontractors in her home town, who are paid a living wage for their labor, and that becomes part of the wholesale cost, which is then multiplied by whatever factor they use to create the retail cost which covers the rest of their business expense and profit. While I could never afford one of their creations, the generous actions of Natalie Chanin to open source her techniques means that I can use that inspiration to create my own "designer" garment, which will hopefully be one of the anchor pieces of my 2018 SWAP sewing


  1. Your workmanship, as always, is impeccable. I'm curious: How do you keep the layers and stitching smooth? Do you use an embroidery hoop? If so, that would be tricky.

    1. Aw thanks! The cotton jersey tends to stick together, which is a help. I periodically smooth out the stitches as I make them, doing my best to neither gather up the fabric too much, or contrarily, to stretch it out. I almost never have used a hoop for my embroidery, and as you probably know, I do a LOT of surface decoration with embroidery. This style of embroidery would not lend itself to using a hoop, because jersey knit is stretchy...

      If you ever wanted to try it for yourself, I always recommend that people use some thrifted tee shirts, cut out two squares, and you don't even need to use paint, just draw or trace around some simple shapes, even circles from a glass or pantry can, and give it a try hand stitching with running stitch and floss or button thread, it really is that simple

    2. Thanks, Alison. Next worry: how will my arthritic hands handle the effort?