Harley helps.

Harley helps.
Harley, my hard-working sewing assistant.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

two Alabama Chanin skirts

Once upon a time, I had a really long commute. 3-4 hours a day on the train, longer in the wintertime.

Luckily, I also had a copy of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design: A Guide to Hand-Sewing an Alabama Chanin Wardrobe and a used Bloomers stencil and fabric scraps from one of AC's online garage sales.

I started the Short Fitted Skirt in January and finished it in late April.

From the side:

I decided to go with reverse appliqué and keep the knots on the inside. I used AC's organic medium-weight cotton jersey in red for the top layer (it's darker than it looks in the pic), AC's organic medium-weight cotton jersey in black for the bottom, Tulip fabric spray paint in Asphalt for the design, black craft thread to outline the shapes, and black fold-over elastic for the waistline. 

This is a size small, believe it or not, which was still way too big -- I had to take in each side by a half-inch or so before sewing on the FOE. (Partly because the fabric was incredibly stretchy compared to the jersey bedsheet I used as a muslin.)

Here's the inside -- as you can see, I didn't have quite enough black fabric, so I left a few shapes uncut at the top, figuring that they'd be covered up most of the time anyway: 

A closeup of the design (I swear, the bottom layer is really black):

A closeup of the reverse (again with the color -- dang, I need a new camera):

AC says to leave the hem raw, but I decided to have it finished, thinking I could wear it to work someday. (Ha.)

Some thoughts:
  1. I love the design. Not totally thrilled with my execution (man, it looks puckery in that photo), but I'll wear it. :)
  2. Two layers of medium-weight cotton jersey are fairly heavy -- this feels like a fall or winter skirt (I'll probably wear it with boots). Next time, I'll either back it with lightweight cotton jersey or use two layers of lightweight jersey.
  3. I'm not sold on the FOE. It seems easy and wearable in theory, but I feel like I'm constantly on the verge of tearing it. Part of the issue may be the red fabric, which is pretty unravelly as well as super-stretchy. Maybe an elastic waistband next time?
  4. The techniques were relatively easy to learn, but I'm so glad I bought AC's Craftsy course. Until I watched Natalie sew, I had no idea she used such long stitches, or that she took two or even three stitches at once, or that she clipped into the top layer horizontally instead of vertically. Actually watching her do everything made a huge difference.
After I finished the red skirt, I made a second one out of one layer of AC medium-weight teal cotton jersey. I used black FOE, black craft thread, and flat-felled the seams. Here it is on me:

This time, I left the edges raw. :)

And here's a close-up of the flat-felled seams on the reverse:

I. Love. This.  Color. I want, like, a zillion yards of it.

Compared to the red skirt, this was a piece of cake. I think it took, oh, three nights. Maybe two. Hooray for almost-instant gratification. 

So that's the news. I'm playing around with other AC patterns (currently trying to extend the t-shirt into a dress; we'll see), and I'll post them here when they're done.


  1. Wow! I can't imagine how much work went into that but the results are great.

  2. Love the AC look, and the skirts you hand-sewed, remarkable! TFS!