Monday, July 30, 2012

Love Story: How a Knitter Fell for Hand Sewing

I'm still kicking myself for not discovering Alabama Chanin sooner. Seriously? Where have I been? Why did I not know about this? I remember when the first book was released and how I was drawn to the name and the cover but because it was sewing by hand promptly put it back on the self.  To think I was so close to meeting my new love.

The title could also read "Sewing For Knitters" because I have found a true companion to complement my deep deep adoration for knitting. Don't get me wrong there will be nothing that can replace the soothing sounds of needle tips clicking together as mere wisps of string are looped and caught to magically transform into a garment (highly romanticised but true.) I am always in awe of knitting. I look down to watch my piece grow and marvel at how amazing it is every time.

What does this have to do with sewing and how is it that someone who will avoid seams in a knit garment at all costs as to avoid sewing can now be so in love with it?

The idea of crafting a garment completely by hand, at first, terrified me. All the steps before you get to the actual sewing are very much the same as for machine sewing, although as I went to sleep last night I realized that cutting out the fabric is very much akin to winding a skein of yarn. The similarities to knitting keep coming. Once your fabric is cut out in pattern the project is totally portable, just like knitting. There might be a little set up such as testing what embroidery stitch to use, like swatching a knit. Pinning items together and "loving" your thread are like casting on.

Are you still with me?

The Low Down
Pattern: Alabama Chanin tank top from Alabama studio Sewing + Design size XS
Fabric: A thrifted XXL mens t-shirt

I used a thrifted shirt so that I could just dive in. I have a terrible tendency to hoard fabric and find it too precious to cut. Not so with some dudes giant purple t-shirt. The shirt turned out to be a super awesome find. It's a really lovely thin 100% cotton that's soft and has tiny purple and light purple stripes.

Let's talk about the sewing, oh the sewing. I love how it feels to be hand stitching the seams together. Felling them is my preferred look and I really love the whole embroidery bit. I even like testing it out to decided what would look best.  I went with the feather stitch because it was one I could actually figure out and make look good. I have a lot to learn about embroidery stitches.

One of my littles was about to sneak in the shot

Overall I'm really pleased with how it turned out but I did have to make some modifications. After I was all done sewing the binding in place I tried it on only to find that I really should have done so BEFORE I worked so hard on the embroidery (hand to forehead, doh.) The armholes gaped something fierce and there was no way to remedy the problem without taking off some portion of the binding. 

I only had to remove the slightest bit near the shoulder seams. I seam ripped and took in the shoulders quite a bit. I'm still left with a bit off a gap but nothing that screams "redo" or at least not to me.

More to come! I already stared another tank with thrifted shirts but this time with applique and I've order actual Alabama Chanin fabric to make a dress . Yippee! Hurray for Hand Sewing!


Alabama Chanin said...

Thank you for trying out our pattern and sharing the link to our book. We look forward to seeing your next project made in our 100% cotton fabric.

Best of luck,
Natalie + all of us @ Alabama Chanin

Grace said...

Nice fabric and good job on the feather stitch. I've been using the herringbone pretty consistently but I think I'm going to have to switch it up after seeign yours.

Kookababy said...

Eeek! Thank you Alabama Chanin for stopping buy. I feel totally star struck. I am soo looking forward to using your fabric. Looking everyday for my package to come. Can't Wait!

@Grace, thank you, it was a tough choice and I am really pleased with the result. It almost looks like faux braiding to me.