Friday, August 3, 2012

LEARN: Alabama Chanin Vest

“I don’t even consider that I wrote it when I got done…. The song was there before me, before I came along. I just sorta came down and just sorta took it down with a pencil, but it was all there before I came around.”- Bob Dylan

A few years ago, I was watching the nightly news, saw a piece on Project Alabama (now known as Alabama Chanin) and have been in love ever since.  Here is the video from that newscast:

I love the thought of having an artsy outfit that is made of knit fabric; check out the fabulous clothing here on Alabama Chanin's website.  The bad news is that the finished clothing Alabama Chanin sells is a bit out of my league, like the beautiful dress here.  The good news is that a couple of years ago, Ms. Chanin took a leap that few designers take.....she began a separate part of the business that targets the DIYer's.  She has written three wonderful books and sells supplies on her website.  This is where my second problem came in.......

I have been working on a Chanin knock-off for a year, but (as you can imagine) it is highly labor intensive.  Here is a view of the swing jacket that I dream about completing and wearing religiously:

The above piece is reverse appliqued and all hand-stitched.  I am thinking of placing hand-dyed velvet in the centers of the big flowers.

With my school-girl impatience, I decided to make a mega-cheater Alabama Chanin vest by using my sewing machine (Don't tell Ms. Chanin!).  Here is my piece:

I used fabric from Alabama Chanin and as you can see below, I have painted circles with a different shade of red.  The lighter tan circles are reverse applique and then I added simple black-lined circles with machine sewing.  The buttons were in my vintage button stash (cool!). It has already become a summer favorite for me.  

AND thanks to Ms. Chanin for inspiring so many of us.


  1. I love the piece you brought to our art group meeting and are working on. Your red piece is really cool, too! I can't wait to see it on you! Next meeting?

  2. Kathy......... ...... You are such an inspiration..... love the vest! Have been dying to get back to the studio after a summer with the turtles!