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Alabama Studio Sewing + Design: A Guide to Hand-Sewing an Alabama Chanin Wardrobe [Hardcover]

Natalie Chanin , Sun Young Park
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 40.00
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Book Description

March 1 2012 Alabama Studio
Alabama Studio Sewing + Design is an invaluable reference for any woman who has dreamed of creating her own gorgeous handmade wardrobe. In this follow-up to Alabama Stitch Book and Alabama Studio Style, author Natalie Chanin presents all of the stenciling, hand-stitching, and bead¬ing techniques her company uses to create the award-winning Alabama Chanin line of organic cotton clothing, plus more than 50 variations that lead to infinite design possibilities. Included in this encyclopedic compilation of Alabama Chanin skill and style are patterns and instructions for dresses, skirts, tops, a wrap, a poncho, a bolero, fingerless gloves, and a hat. Each piece is featured in both its basic form and with varying embellishment combinations. By mixing, matching, and layering, a stunning, unique, and versatile wardrobe can be built.

Praise for Alabama Studio Sewing + Design:

“Transform organic or recycled materials into clothing or home décor items with haute homespun flair.”
Better Homes and Gardens Quilts and More magazine

“Natalie is beautifully simple, yet elegant, just like her clothing. Her signature look is intricate stitching, beading and applique on basic organic cotton jersey which together make a show stopping casual look." —SF Unzipped

"I'm a longtime fan of Natalie's clothing designs . . . Her sewing patterns do not disappoint. These are the same dresses, tops, skirts, and accessories that carry four-figure price tags and are coveted by ec-groovy lady rock stars. The same ones. But in her books, Natalie teaches you how to make them yourself . . . Natalie's pieces are so simple to sew together . . . They go together in a single evening, and when you pull them on they don't just make you look better than you did in whatever you were wearing before, they make you feel better." —Heather Ross, HeatherRoss.Squarespace.com

"The photographs in this volume are exceptional . . . I think if quilters get this book for both technique and inspiration, it will be more than worth the money." —Meg Cox, quilter and author of The Book of New Family Traditions

“I just love that Natalie has the guts to share the tricks of her trade. The reason I say guts is that you would think that sharing how your garments are made might hurt your business—but in Natalie's case it's proved to be actually quite the opposite . . . The interest in her couture line grew once she started to write books." —Cathy Callahan, Cathy of California blogger and author of Vintage Craft Workshop

Frequently Bought Together

Alabama Studio Sewing + Design: A Guide to Hand-Sewing an Alabama Chanin Wardrobe + Alabama Studio Style: More Projects, Recipes & Stories Celebrating Sustainable Fashion & Living + Alabama Stitch Book: Projects and Stories Celebrating Hand-Sewing, Quilting and Embroidery for Contemporary Sustainable Style
Price For All Three: CDN$ 76.81

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Product Details

Product Description

About the Author

Natalie Chanin is the founder and head designer of Alabama Chanin and the author of Alabama Stitch Book and Alabama Studio Style (both from STC Craft). Her work has been featured in Vogue, the New York Times, and Town & Country, among many other publications, as well as on CBS News. She is a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Visit her website at alabamachanin.com.


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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great sewing resource. April 29 2013
By Lois
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I love all the Alabama Chanin sewing book; they have beautiful illustrations of the projects and easy-to-use patterns included. This book is the best one yet.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Most beautiful book I have ever purchased! Dec 26 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I love this book! It is a generous creative gift to anyone who wants to have their own creativity stimulated. The book is full of ideas and instruction as well as just beautiful design. There are not enough superlatives to describe it.
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I agree with everything stated in the first review of this book. As a "seasoned" sewer I find it hard to find books that really have new tips and how-to's to add to my repertoire of knowledge. Knits have been such a challenge to work with that I just stopped using them all together. There is tons of inspiration and information on sewing with knits and I can't wait to get started on a project using them. The book is really beautiful as are the designs. I am so pleased I purchased it and highly recommend it to all. If you would like to know more before purchasing this book, there are some great reviews, that have a much more detailed explanations of the book on amazon.com.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AWESOME! April 6 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase


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Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  94 reviews
108 of 108 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Handstitched Gems Feb. 18 2012
By nsewus - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I wavered on buying this book. I wasn't a big fan of the bucket hat on the cover, had never heard of Alabama Chanin, and when I looked at a few images of the fashion line I didn't see myself in those clothes.I made my decision to purchase based on the emphasis on hand sewing, embroidery, fashion applique, and beading. This may be the best sewing-centric book purchase I've made in the last 12 months (and I've made quite a few).

This is a truly outstanding book from cover to cover for a few reasons:
1.) The stitch charts are very easy to follow.
2.) The samples are presented in LARGE, close up photographs
3.) The garments included are very basic and can be made by hand with one of the easiest, green friendly, most forgiving fabrics out there- cotton jersey.
4) The instructions are very good. Even a beginner could make the tank, tee, skirt, bolero, wrap, or fingerless gloves by hand with a minimum of notions except for quality fabric and thread. Those particular items would probably not give a beginner a fit over fitting either. You'll need more tools for stenciling or beading, but even they are pretty simple to acquire.
5.) The book's index includes photos for fast referencing
6.) The embellishments shown are beautiful and accessible!You can go as elaborate (full beading and applique on a long dress) or simple (adding a basic ruffle to a tank) as you want. This is truly "luxe casual" at its best.

All the things above tied together with the author's encouraging narrative (friendly without being too exhausting)
make this a wonderful book. Very few things I consider a "must have". However, if you are in to hand sewing garments or just curious about how to add embellishment to clothes you make or own, this book does an excellent job and has enough ideas to keep you busy for a very long time.
38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible! A must for Alabama Chanin fans Feb. 15 2012
By lil' girl blu - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I received my pre-order of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design this afternoon, and have to say I am blown away both by Natalie Chanin's creativity and by her generosity - because she has included so much in this book! I own both of her two previous books, and love them but I think that this new one will be my favorite.

The first two books are more technical primers - how to hand sew with jersey, how to bead, how to stencil - with a few patterns and stencils included. Alabama Studio Sewing does not go in depth into the techniques; the emphasis is on the design of the finished fabric and garment sewing. There are patterns for a hat, fingerless gloves, skirts, a t-shirt, a dress and a wrap with instructions on how to use ruffles or surface elements to vary the designs.

Then there are the stencils. 6 or 7 of them, to be photocopied or downloaded to use. And with these are a design 'library' of images showing fabrics created using each stencil and different combinations of beading, applique, reverse applique and printing (all techniques that were covered in the first and second books). There are also photos and instructions for decorative and beaded stitches, ruffles, eyelets and even "fur". At the end of the book is an index showing all of the garment photos in the main body and listing exactly what they are composed of: the color fabric and thread, the pattern and stencils used, the fabric treatment, the style of beads, etc...so that one could theoretically recreate any of the garments.

It is an incredible, inspiring book and I really look forward to trying my hand at creating my own Alabama Chanin wardrobe. Thank you to Natalie and the Alabama Chanin team for making such an amazing work available to the rest of us!!!!
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning book, and my whole wardrobe is being revamped! Sept. 21 2012
By Nikki F - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have all three Alabama Chanin books and love them all, but I must say this is my favorite! I can't believe how generous Natalie Chanin is with sharing her techniques, and the sample photos are really wonderful. So far I have made 2 t-shirts, a fitted tank top and two boleros. While the neckline of the tank was too low for me and I had to raise it, I love the cut of her patterns. The t shirts are so graceful with the slighly curved hems. Very flattering.

In addition to the above items I have made from scratch from an old cotton jersey t-shirt sheet, I have also started to revamp some of my existing clothes. For example, I took an oversized frumpy old maternity t-shirt I set aside about 5 years ago, laid one of my A.C. t-shirts on top of it, traced it, re-sewed along those lines, and then added some appliques cut from another t-shirt I had unsuccessfully tried to alter back in my ill-advised days of following the instructions in the Generation T book. (Not saying Generation T is a bad book, but being almost 40, the styles are not appropriate for me, and I needed something a bit more refined.) From these two depressing old rag bag t-shirts, I made what is now one of my very favorite shirts. Similarly, I had a Coldwater Creek shirt I bought online, and the very first time I wore it, one of the seams developed a hole, right in the front of the shirt! They had no more in stock, and I didn't want to hassle with a return, so into the "to be altered" pile it went. Luckily, the shirt had two layers of fabric on the front, so I was able to do some reverse-applique using a stencil from the book. I just finished it a couple of days ago, and I can't wait to wear it. Another garment rescued from the rag bag. It feels like magic to make beautiful and functional from something that had been too ugly and ill-fitting to even wear as pajamas. It's like making something from nothing.

I have read some reviews that complain that the sizes run too small in these books. I will say I border on regular sizes and plus sizes, and the XL in the book is just barely too small for me. I have to alter the patterns a little, but I just do it when I trace the patterns off, and so far have had luck. But even for a person who is much larger than this, you can either apply the embellishment techniques to existing garments that fit you, as I have, or just find a simple sewing pattern for knits from one of the big pattern companies, which often go on sale for 99 cents each at places like JoAnn Fabrics. Use a plus-size pattern with clean lines and simple construction, similar to the patterns in the book, and I'm sure the results would be great. Don't feel like you can't profit from this book just because you are a plus size lady, because there are lots of ways to customize the techniques to suit you.

A great source for material is cotton jersey sheet sets. Also, at thrift stores, I can very often find large plus-size cotton jersey dresses, often made of very high-quality fabric, which I can cut apart and use to sew smaller garments from the patterns in the book. Someday I'd love to splurge on the gorgeous organic cotton yardage they sell at Alabama Chanin, but that's not in the cards for me right now.

It's a very accessible book, and great to use as a jumping-off point for your own designs and ideas. I think that's the whole point of it. Take Natalie Chanin's advice, and then run with it to make your own creations.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Practical, beautiful garments April 11 2012
By Patricia Brogan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As other reviewers have commented, Natalie Chanin's trademark combinations of beading, applique, and embroidery make for great eye-candy. They're also a bit daunting. So I'm happy to report that even unadorned, these clothes turn out beautifully. So far I, an abject novice with ten thumbs at least, have made two basic T's and a mid-length skirt. And I've only had the book a few weeks. If I can do this, anyone can. You don't even need a machine. All you need is some cloth and some courage.

The T-shirt was a particular success--the pattern has a lot of nice little details, like shoulder seams that are longer in the front to create a little room for the bust, a sweet hip curve, and a gently shaped hem. I also like the way the set-in sleeves fit together; they drape really well over the shoulder. The skirt was easy as pie, though I'm still fiddling with the fit. Since the skirt pattern is just the bottom part of the dress pattern, there's a little ease built into the waist, making the skirt waist a little large in comparison to everything else about the pattern. I'd recommend trying it on, sans elastic, before you fell your seams. Otherwise, it too is thoughtfully shaped. Both pieces have the potential to be casual staples.

There are a few quirks: the size chart doesn't include hip measurements, which would have been handy, and the size range is pretty narrow. I should also remark that the t-shirt fit my flat-chested self just fine in a size L. The fitted top/dress, on the other hand, looks like it was designed for a slightly fuller bust. If you're really well-endowed you should probably make a muslin out of a cheap cotton/poly jersey so you can try out the fba of your choice.

Basically, I was so pleased with the way my test garments turned out that I sat down, picked out a palette, and made a big cloth order from Alabama Chanin. Wardrobe ahoy!
26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book, great ideas, but not if you aren't thin April 7 2012
By Terry Weiss - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I waited eagerly to get this book. I have the first Alabama Stitch book and love it - the second one I thought didn't have anything to add, so I passed on it - but I anticipated this would be more useful. And it is. Sort of. There are a lot of needlework instructions that are very good - in fact, all the instructions are very good. The ideas for garments are gorgeous. The book is gorgeous. Alas, I am not thin and every piece of clothing but the poncho and hat are ONLY for the thin. The only garment I could possible wear in the book is the hat - and I looked at the pattern sheets 5 times and couldn't find the pattern - have no clue where it is. So even that is not possible.

The other drawback is that many, many of the ideas and instructions include beading. Now, I don't know if you've ever tried to bead a garment - it's a whole different thing than stringing a few beads for a necklace. It's painstaking, long, hard, and "fiddly" work. Worth it, if you don't mind spending 2 months making a garment, but it depends upon what sort of life you are leading. I live in a casual environment and would wear a garment with beading maybe once or twice a year. Not worth it at all. There are other techniques that are extremely attractive and even a couple - using the strings made from cutting and stretching strips of knit - that are unique. However, a good old how-to embroidery book will give you most of the stitches. And every craft store from small to large is full of stencils at this point - stencils as nice as the ones in the book, and already cut out and ready to use. The stencils in the book are great - but wait until you try to cut them out with a craft knife - hours and hours.

As eye candy, you can't do better than this book. It's delightful to look at. It's fun to imagine making the clothes. However, I have so many books on my shelf that are "delightful to look at" that it's bending in the middle. If I could use even one of the garments, I would keep the book. Honestly, this book is beguiling. However, I can't - I have a bosom, I have hips, I have a stomach - and that eliminates the dresses, the skirts, and the shirts - and that's all there is . Okay, so maybe the poncho - but that isn't really a pattern - it's just folding a rectangle and instructions for doing that are all over the internet.

So, after anticipating this book for weeks, I am sadly returning it. Incidentally, I made a tee shirt for myself using the techniques in the first book - but making it to fit my figure - and it is stunning. I will make more - and the first book will provide everything I need to know to make an entire wardrobe that will fit and look good.

I want to stress that this is a great book if you fit into the mold - which is why I gave it 4 stars instead of 3. Normally, for a book that is aimed specifically at one body type, I would go with 3 or fewer, but have to say as eye candy, you'd go a long way to do better.
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