Tuesday, April 8, 2014

PRP Week 3 - Create Your Own Fabric

I couldn't have been happier to find out that Project Run and Play's week 3 challenge was to create your own fabric to use in a garment. Sometimes things just work out so well, it's amazing. Back in February, I had a library book out called something like Alabama Chanin Studio Style. I loved the look and studied the technique. I tried it out first on a small scale on this project for No Big Dill's Sew All 26 (it was my "T" is for texture). That gave me the confidence to try it on a large scale as a present for my oldest daughter's 16th birthday.

She chose the fabrics from Joann's and the stencil is straight off the Alabama Chanin website. It is called "Anna's Garden." They say they recognize the fact that very many people aren't going to be able to pay $830 for a completely hand sewn organic cotton tank top so they also sell kits and have their stencils available for free download for the total DIY experience. Free sounds good to me! Our materials cost less than $25 and we have leftovers. 

The basic steps are as follows:
1.  Enlarge the stencil to the desired size.
2.  Trace onto freezer paper.
3.  Cut 2 front pieces of your top using 2 contrasting knit fabrics.
4.  Iron your stencil to the top layer and paint it with a sponge or air gun if you are lucky enough to have one.
     The dark paint will actually leave a cool shadow effect around the edges after cutting out the centers.
5.  Baste them together around all of the edges.
6.  Choose another color of something like embroidery floss or I used darning thread.
7.  Outline every shape and then oh so carefully cut away the top layer.

This dress was a labor of love. It was proof to my oldest that she is just as important to me as her little 2 year old sister. It was a risk and a leap of faith because sometimes I sew her things and she winds up not liking them for reasons I never understand. It was a meditation. It was a relief when it was done.

The Alabama Chanin style is pretty rustic and not really my thing. I finished the neck and armholes with bindings machine stitched to the outside, turned and handsewn inside. I used a basic bodice and made it nice and long to attach a dropped-waisted skirt. She and I watch a lot of Downtown Abbey together so we wanted a nod to the 20's with the drop-waist and straight bodice.

I snuck her initials, "O.K." onto her hip as a surprise.
Olivia really doesn't enjoy being photographed. She felt awkward about her knees in the next pictures so let me explain - she is a volleyball player, ok? That means lots of bruises and floor burns - always, even with knee pads. Pretty much year round. She just played a 2 day out of town tournament this past weekend too so we have fresh bruises. But let me also say that volleyball tournaments are an excellent place to do handwork like this, as are my son's swimming meets, and in front of the television.

The skirt and the back are simple and unembellished.

This dress suits her so, so well. It's creative and unique. One of a kind for a one of a kind girl.


  1. Wonderful technique & it looks great on this dress.

  2. I love the result. Have to try this idea in the future.

  3. I know what a labor of love that dress was... and I love the simple design. It looks lovely on your daughter.
    Deborah@ Sew Much To Give

  4. Great job on it! That is really nice that AC puts those stencils online for DIY'ers to use. I think the dress turned out so well for her. Tell her not to get too concerned about her knees, too. I have permanent scars on my knees from some bike crashes when I was a kid and I still wear above the knee skirt. They give you character! :)

  5. What a lovely dress! I've always wanted to try this.

  6. WOW! What lovely handwork. Beautifully done.

  7. Funny, I thought it was appliqué at first sight, other bloggers did that and I thought it was painted... That's a wonderful job either way. =D

  8. That is amazing! What a labor of love...good for you!

  9. I somehow missed this on prp but stumbled upon it over at alida makes. This is beautifully done. Great job.

  10. Perfect! Great job!!!!
    Best wishes from Germany, Julia


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