I’m a huge fan of everything Alabama Chanin’s creator, Natalie Chanin, does - her design aesthetic, her slow fashion ethics, her business model, and probably her biscuit recipe. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve heard it’s good. So naturally, I was excited when her brand new book, Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns, arrived at Bolt. I had high expectations, and I’m happy to report they were exceeded on every front.
This book doesn’t come with any paper patterns like Chanin’s previous books, but it does come with a cd with ALL of her previous garments patterns plus three new patterns unique to this book. The three new patterns are my favorite - a wrap skirt, an A-line top/tunic/dress, and a jacket. You could really build a wardrobe from everyday to formal wear based on these garments.
There’s extensive information on fitting and altering each of the patterns to build a garment that’s unique and flattering to you. Chanin’s focused on designing clothing that women, in all of the different shapes we come in, can feel good wearing, and this book really helps home sewers learn from her years of experience.
There’s also some really helpful information on hand stitches and the Alabama Chanin applique techniques.
I think this book will be a part of my sewing life for years to come. I’m planning on making at least one or two these patterns for summer that I’ll share here. We have some great knits in stock right now, including an organic cotton/spandex blend that I’m excited to cut into.
When what you really love to do involves sitting in front of a sewing machine, summer can be a tricky time. You want to be outside, but you also want to finish up the dress/quilt/bag you’ve been working on. Tie-dye is a great way to get some textiles into your summer without staying inside like a crafty hermit. I recommend Shabd Simon-Alexander’s beautiful book Tie-Dye: Dye It, Wear It, Share It. She shares lots of information about different techniques, working with color, and a boat load of beautiful projects that will make you change the way think about tie-dye.
I moved to Portland exactly two years ago from San Francisco, where the climate is predominantly 50-60 degrees all year. Upon moving here in June, I was very unprepared for the wonderful summer weather of 80+ degrees, and just had my trusty down blankets, some sheets, and an equally smoldering wardrobe. Adjusting to a new city and new jobs, finding new bedding was not a priority and sooner than later the weather changed, so I continued putting it off until a few months ago. Shopping for bedding can be overwhelming, and unfortunately discouraging, as it can get pricey for low quality materials and gosh aweful textile designs - so, I decided to give quilting another try. Quilts are not my forte, and after making my first quilt, the Clarity quilt last year, I had to take a break from it for a while. That was a little much for me, even though it is a very simple pattern, so I decided I needed to step it down to the simplest steps. For my new summer quilt, I decided to make a simple whole cloth, tie quilt, with no batting- easy peasy. Well, this did (I regret to say) take me several months to complete (ha!) as for some reason working with quilts is baffling, but I am very satisfied with how it turned out and it has proven its value so far!
For this quilt I used our amazing Waterford Linen in Natural color for one side, and our favorite speckled cotton chambray, both staples from Robert Kaufman. To tie it all together, I used sashiko floss, and made ties every 4 inches, with ties showing through on opposite sides every 8 inches. To bind it I used a Liberty of London print, that we unfortunately are out of, besides a few fat 1/8ths (it took me that long to finish this -__-). All these fabric combos are great for the upcoming hot months. We also recently restocked our 108” wide quilt backing fabrics in several colors and especially white, which I also used to make some new sheets and pillow cases.
Stop on in and let us help you pick out fabrics for your summer quilts!