Do you remember when I said this dress would take me about 6-9 months to finish? Well, I might have overstated that slightly! It turns out that spending a month in Northern Michigan, away from the distractions and busyness at home, equals about half a year in “the real world.” I have had so much time up here to kick back and sew while the boys play outside with their friends, go golfing with my dad, craft with my mom, or play Candy Land at my feet. Their 2 hour afternoon naps certainly helped too (nothing like the water and sun to wear them right out!). I averaged about a panel a week of this hand-sewn dress, and before I knew it, I was hand-seaming the four panels together and finishing up the neck and arm holes with embroidery (the picture below of the dress from the side shows the hand-sewn seam nicely, and the picture of the neckline shows the herringbone embroidery stitch used to finish the arm and neck holes). And just like that, it was done!
The Alabama Chanin method of sewing is just incredible. Hearing Natalie talk about her garments it was clear how much thought is giving to each step of the process, as well as all of the material. The thread, cotton fabric…everything is chosen with care and chosen for a specific reason. This is truly an heirloom worthy piece of clothing, and it should last a lifetime. After making this piece, it is also crystal clear as to why Alabama Chanin clothes come with a hefty price tag. So very much time is invested into each piece.
If you are interested in making your own Alabama Chanin piece, I would strongly suggest checking out their books, all of which offer very clear instructions, as well as patterns for making your own projects, including the Fitted Tunic, which is what I made here (using reverse applique and the Anna’s Garden stencil). If you can swing it, I would highly recommend ordering your cotton from Alabama Chanin. The price per yard is very fair for the quality, and the feel of the cotton is just so soft and luxurious. You can also order DIY kits from Alabama Chanin and you will receive the pieces cut and stenciled. You can specify the garment, size, colors, and stencil. That was what we received at the workshop, and it was really nice not to have to cut and stencil it ourselves. That way you can get right to sewing. Finally, I will say this- I loved modeling this as a dress for the purpose of the blog, but in “real life” I will be wearing it as a tunic, most likely over fitted black pants. It is definitely meant to be worn as a tunic, and I’d feel a bit self conscious trying to pull it off as a dress because of the length. If you are interested, I’ll style it as I’d wear it this fall and show you how it comes together when worn as a tunic! Now, I’m moving onto my mom’s workshop dress…there is no way she’s finishing without a whole lotta help!