Alabama Chanin 4-panel skirt

What 2 words come to mind with the sight of a hand stitched flat fell seam on a piece of t-shirt weight jersey skirt?!  Alabama Chanin!
A skirt that doesn't look much on a hanger, but a skirt that has so much 'meaning' behind it.
I've had this book for a year and this is the first pattern I've made.  Natalie Chanin, the designer behind the name 'Alabama Chanin', provides all the patterns in this book cleverly designed to be used in all the different garments.  For instance, the 'skirt' is simply cut from the 'dress'.  From my measurements, I traced a size large from the Short Fitted Dress skirt.
As a reminder, you can request an autographed book if you order from the Alabama Chanin website.  I lucked out and she was having a sale at the time I ordered.  That usually never happens.  :)
My original plans were to embellish this skirt with embroidery using the Climbing Daisy stencil that is included in this book.  I learned how to print out the stencil to custom size for my garment and had the stencil and my fabric prepped for embroidery when the Ottobre magazine fell into my hands and the no. 10 Sculpture top was made and it needed a skirt and voila! this skirt was perfect for that new top.  I'd only machine basted the skirt together to check for fit, so it was nothing to machine stitch the seams again and in the photo below, as I was in a hurry to wear this outfit to the Lowcountry, simply quartered my elastic, zigzagged it to the top of the skirt, turned down and stitched.  After wearing the skirt on this short trip, decided the elastic waist needed adjusting, as well as the length.  Also determined to leave the skirt unembroidered.
When I got home I cut 2" off the skirt's length and unpicked the stitching at the waistline, cutting off 2" of the elastic to make a snugger fit.  Made a casing for the 3/4" elastic by turning the top down, zig-zagged stitched leaving an opening for the elastic to be run through, then stitched closed.  This is my preferred elastic-waist garment method.  I deviated from Alabama Chanin's instructions of using a foldover elastic at the waist.  This also moved the (wider) hip area of the skirt up higher on my body and gave me a better fit.  These skirts are designed slim.
Then I hand-stitched (faux) flat fell seams on all four panels using 3-strands of embroidery thread.  Oh how I love this look!  You sort of pull it tight, without puckering the seam, and it gives it such a nice look. 
And because it is an Alabama Chanin garment, I hand-stitched 2 darker gray stars to note the back.
Really like the gray on gray tones.  Can you believe I got the right side and wrong side of my fabric confused and sewed this skirt with the right side to the inside?!  Not a big deal, except at the hemline, which is left unstitched, it sort of curls a little to the inside, instead of to the outside.  Grrrrr.  
And here is the completed skirt paired with the Mrs. Style Book 2015 self-drafted top.  Not sure this is how I will wear the skirt in the future as it is almost too much gray and the knit top likes to cling unsatisfactorily to the top of this skirt, as opposed to the nice contrast with the unclinging crepe de chine Ottobre top in the photo above mid-post.
Hope everyone is staying cool in this part of the world.  We are having a heatwave of consistent above 100 degrees F heat indexes.  And in case you missed it on Instagram..... a beautiful doe came to share my blackberry patch....
...and with the click of the camera, she was gone!  Beautiful!
Happy Sewing Everyone!


Mrs. Style Book 2015 top, Pattern p. 187

Mrs. Style Book 2015 P. 187 self-drafted top is complete!  I'm showing it worn here under the Yoshiko Tsukiori's Pattern N, 'Happy Homemade Sew Chic' cardi along with one of my newlook 6192 skirts.
As you may recall, I was recently gifted with this wonderful publication that is unavailable in the United States.  At least in any part of the U.S. that I am aware of, and so desperately wanting to make something from this book chose the cute yellow top on the cover.  All patterns are self-drafted with this particular top drafted from rectangles, felt this pattern might be manageable for my skill level.
More views of the same top shown on both younger and older models.  As I fall into the 'older' model category thought this would be appropriate for me, even though it has a younger vibe to it.  The older model shows it worn with a sweater and a cardi/jacket.
This is all I had to go on.  Everything is written in Japanese.
Loving math, I dug in with great joy to create my master pattern.  A math puzzle to me!  It wasn't until this moment I realized I had no metric system measurement tool other than my old wooden yardstick.  It worked fine.
Can't remember if I've shared my 'tracing paper' with you before..... but pellon 830 Easy Pattern Interfacing - Tracing Cloths is my go-to- tracing paper now.  Joann's is the only retailer that stocks this product locally, so the last time I was there I bought the whole bolt.  At $2.49 with a 50% off coupon the cost was quite reasonable.  I love this stuff!  You can write on it (though pencil does not erase well.... at all), cut it, iron it, and the big winner in my book is that it sort of 'sticks' to your fabric for cutting ease.  Even the slippy slidey, liquidy fabrics are easier to cut using this product as your master pattern as your fabric doesn't move around during the cutting out process.
Anyway, in the photo below I was beginning to form my pattern.  My new large-size cutting mat made this sooooo much easier as it is prepared for fabrics to sort of 'stick' to it and the grid made making rectangles easy.  I'd bought this mat for cutting fabrics for quilts, but it's cost-effective for garment sewing too.  The neckline was drawn free-hand and I was a little concerned it might be too little or too big, but figured I'd handle any needed alterations during the construction process.  These are both the front and the back pieces.  You trace the different necklines on your fabric for the front and back bodice, then cut 2 each of the middle and bottom ruffle.  The straight edge is placed on your fabric's fold.
Let's see how my pattern pieces compare to the line drawing.  Not bad.
Thought I'd put these two different top drawings up side by side to show what I used during the construction process.  The photo, bottom right, is of a very straight, billowing top.... not at all what I desired.... but the basic idea is the same as the top I wanted.  See how my top, photo left, sort of hangs down... not billows out straight.... due to the middle and bottom ruffle slanting upward, not cut straight.  Anyway, this diagram helped me think through the construction steps. 

And here's the finished top.  The soft, drapey gray knit was a perfect choice for the desired effect of this top.
In the photos above and below, I've paired it with the (now blogged!) 4-panel Alabama Chanin skirt, unembroidered with the exception of faux flat-felling all seams by hand-stitching with 3-strands of matching gray embroidery thread. 
Side views.  Hmmmm, these made me unsure if I thought this little top would complement my shape on its own.
The gray t-shirt jersey fabric 4-panel AC skirt, with the faux flat-fell hand-stitched seams, coupled with the gray knit fabric from my stash for this top completes my Make a Garment a Month Challenge for both May and June 2015.
Upon closer look you can see that I hand-stitched the neckline with the same 3-strand embroidery thread that I faux flat-felled the seams on the AC skirt, but in the herringbone stitch, as that is a 'stretch' stitch.  I tried to finish the neckline with a bias strip as per the pattern's line drawing, but that is a skill I just have not mastered on knit.  As a plus, this neckline finish helps the top coordinate with the AC skirt, and with the Tsukiori cardi/jacket whose neckline is finished the same.  And by the way, the size of the neckline turned out perfect! 
 Sort of scrunched here to look like the magazine photo.
What the top truly looks like, below.  The sleeve hems were finished by turning under 3/8" and topstitching with twin needle.  Even then it 'tunneled' a little, but felt I could live with it. 
 On the hanger.
Below, I am wearing the top with my off-white newlook 6192 skirt and added the Yoshiko Tsukiori cardi/jacket and love this look!  Wore it to church this day.  Hmmm, didn't know the top was pulled up in the back in the photo, below right.  That's one thing about this top's knit fabric, is that it sort of 'clings' to stuff.... inner jacket in the back here......
....and tops of skirts in the front, photo below.  Here is another newlook 6192 skirt with the same cardi/jacket.  What's a nice plus is that this color slips into my existing wardrobe well.
Thank you sweet friend for my wonderful gift!
I'll be writing the Alabama Chanin 4-panel skirt information soon.  Happy Sewing Everyone!
UPDATE 6.18.2015:  The Alabama Chanin 4-panel skirt information has been written here


Make a Garment a Month Challenge - June 2015 plans - Mrs. Style Book 2015

A sweet friend recently sent me this wonderful publication that is unavailable for purchase in the U.S. and oh, how I wish we had something like Mrs. Style Book 2015 here!  Full of inspiration, beautiful photographs of lovely models wearing the beautiful clothes, coupled with patterns for all the photos shown in this magazine like book, it is truly an amazing publication.  There are 2 knit patterns included in this issue.  ALL the rest of the patterns (and there is a LOT) you draft yourself beginning with a basic bodice pattern for the tops and waist/hip measurements for bottoms.  I am still figuring out how this all works, as it is written in Japanese...... but look at that cute yellow top on the front!
June's Make a Garment a Month Challenge is 'Seasonal Stashbusting'.....
.....and May's Alabama Chanin 4-panel skirt was made but not embroidered because.....
.....it was immediately paired with the new Ottobre no. 10 Sculpture top and I've been afraid the embroidery might detract from the overall 'look' of this outfit.  I might change my mind, but for now it will stay unembroidered.  I do plan to hand-stitch top-stitch the seams as a faux flat fell.
So here we are with June's theme of 'Seasonal Stashbusting' and my feeling that I did not complete May's theme...... so, my June 2015 Make a Garment a Month Challenge plans will be to make this cute yellow top made out of a soft dove gray knit from my stash to be paired with the gray Alabama Chanin unembroidered 4-panel skirt.  A monotone outfit in grays.
Here the top is again, in all the photos below, paired with skirts, pants and even a cardi/jacket.  At first I was afraid this top might be for the younger set, but both younger and older models are shown wearing the top.  If you look carefully at the bottom right photo, you'll see a smaller photo of just the top in the top right-hand corner.  That is where it gives you the pattern page number.  Let's see.... p. 187.... got it!
This is a cropped view of p. 187 showing the top in black/white referencing p. 36 & 37 from the modeled photos above.  This is all the pattern information given.  Yikes!  But upon careful examination, this is a pattern built upon altered rectangles.  Hmmm, I think this might be manageable. 
Monotone and Stashbusting at one time!
Happy Sewing Everyone..... and hope everyone is having a good day, wherever you may be!


Me-Made-May 2015 Wrap-up Summary

Me-Made-May 2015 is over and what a whirlwind, wonderful month it was!
First off, I'd like to thank Zoe for hosting another great Me-Made-May where sewists from all over the world come together for this one month to support and encourage each other as we all endeavor to create our own personal handmade wardrobe.

My personal pledge for this second year of participating, was to better my photography skills and try to figure out what exactly is  'my style'.  As you can see by the collage above I photographed 23 days out of 31 days of May.  That is a record for me!  Most days I was able to take the time to analyze 'light' and how to filter light through nature's trees and leaves.  Definitely prefer outdoor photos to indoor shots.  Produced an 'action' shot of bike riding, a first..... and thoughtfully tried to 'tell a story' with most photographs.  It was fun to go on local outings to share a little of beautiful South Carolina with everyone and that is something I hope to continue through this blog.  Was even brave enough to snap a few photographs in 'public' in my small town where this is most unusual.  I got better at focusing the self-timed shots, even though my camera does not have the wireless remote capability.  Overall, feel this month stretched my photography skills and I have improved.

Style..... what is 'my style'.  Not sure I know the answer to that question 31 days later, but found I really enjoyed wearing skirts most days and REALLY enjoyed wearing the one and lonely only dress I've made.  Need.... want.... to make more dresses!  Also realized basics are simply my lifestyle, but they do not have to necessarily be 'boring'.  So in the future, as I sew up more basics, aiming for some with a little interest, or unusual design feature like the new Ottobre top

One interesting fact I noticed this year, as compared to last year, was that I did not repeat garments until more into mid/late-May, and I was able to mix and match my separates in a more creative way than I had been doing.  Yay!  

I won't lie..... Me-Made-May, to me, is a lot of work..... at least the way I like to participate..... but in the same breath, is so worth all the effort as I treasure the international 'friendships' made during this month.  Not to mention daily viewing of creative, inspiring garments sewn by very talented women for 31 straight days.

There are a couple of ways to view my participation in Me-Made-May 2015.  One is through my flickr album you can access here.   Also through the blog you can access here.  There may be a few things in the flickr album that was not blogged about.  Most photos via flickr have corresponding links to pattern information.  I also included most days on Instagram you can access here.

Now to channel the creative inspiration, and energy!, from the month of May into more handmade garments.  Already looking forward to Me-Made-May 2016!
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