Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Portable Project

It was only a matter of time before I jumped head first into another Alabama Chanin project.

First up was a dye job.  This time around, I had a slightly streaky outcome using Dharma’s Fiber Reactive Dye.  I cannot explain what I did wrong, except perhaps I was trying to squeeze too much yardage in my kitchen sink?  Because I was not happy with the color, I cut the yardage in two and sent one half back in the dye bath.  I actually like the darker color better, so all is well!

The polka dot stencils from the Alabama Chanin website were not quite right (mostly because I was paranoid that my periwinkle leftovers from this top would not be enough to cut the number of appliqué pieces needed).  In the end, I just drew a grid and traced my own dots to create my own stencil.

Since I love this dress so much, I thought it would be worth it to make another version.  The skirt pleats seemed like a bad idea with double and triple layers of cotton jersey, so I swapped it for Sewaholic’s Hollyburn Skirt.

A running stitch did not seem like the best option for the appliqué.  Instead, I pulled out some scraps and re-familiarized myself with how to work a blanket stitch.  I am hoping it will also keep the fraying at a minimum.  

Because I knew that I was going to travel with this project, I tried basting my polka dots in place on a couple of pieces.  This did not work well at all.  The jersey started to curl at the edges, and the hasty basting started falling out when I handled and stitched things together.

What ended up working best was pinning as I went.

And although I did not get as much sewing done on my trip as I hoped, it was certainly nice to be able to work on something without needing a machine!

The many layers of jersey was challenging at times, and my fingers are still recovering, but I sure do love me some hand sewing!

I did manage to ruin three needles on this project.  Top-stitching those seamlines required the use of jewelry pliers, and my tiny needles were not up to the task.  But sacrifices must be made!

I would like to say that these projects have made me less fearful of knits, but I was just in the fabric store today and those super stretchy fabrics still make me very nervous.

Until I get over myself, I suppose 100% cotton jersey is a nice substitute without the crazy stretch.

Except for the finishing . . . look at those raw edges . . . the Hug Snug is getting pretty jealous of all the time I am spending with this knit fabric!

But this process is pretty addictive, and I have a feeling there will be more of these projects in the future.


  1. What is the idea behind doubling up the main fabric in this case? There are no cutouts in this project. Is it to add a bit of sturdiness to the fabric?

  2. Love this color combination. Can't wait to the see the finished dress!

  3. gorgeous. i have not tackled a chanin project in over a year - and mine were way smaller, your stitching is beautiful, inspired to consider trying another handsewn

  4. Your love of hand sewing is obvious from the beautiful stitches you make. What embroidery thread are you using? Is it regular DMC embroidery that you wound onto a spool or is it silk? I like the results very much

  5. Oooh, it took me way too long to figure out that topstitch technique with the DMC/spool for edges on suits, and there you are doing it! I feel vindicated! "I'm doing what Laura's doing!" Now if I could just get the regular stitch length mojo going...

  6. Oh my God, this DIY for your homepolka dot dress is a labor of love! I can’t imagine myself cutting those individual dots piece by piece and hand-stitching them, too!

  7. As much as I appreciate the time spent on all that hand sewing, I am really loving those double bust darts! I didn't notice them on the poppy print of your last version.


    1. Serious question: how do the double darts "work" if they are not both pointed at the apex?

      Is one so thin, it's all for show?

      Do they "straddle" the apex (which doesn't make sense, as they appear parallel)?

  8. Oh wow. this is something I would start but never finish. Very lovely and professional. ~Shannon