the alabama skirt

July 6th, 2010

alabama skirt

I started this skirt right before Easter I think. It sounds like it took a ridiculous amount of time, but there would be weeks that I didn’t even pick it up. I think this skirt is more like a knitting project than a sewing one (not as if I know anything about knitting), but it’s a slow going, watching tv kind of project like knitting is. Sometime the slow rhythm of the stitching would be comforting, but other times it would become tedious as hell.

alabama chanin skirt in pieces

It’s horrible working on something for so long and not knowing if it will fit at all, much less fit and be flattering. To make this skirt (the swing skirt from the Alabama Stitch Book by Natalie Chanin) you have to paint the design on the skirt, then hand stitch around each leaf, then cut out the leaf from the top fabric, then only after all of that can you sew the panels together and see if it fits. Whatever expectations I had about this skirt in the beginning were made even more unattainable by what the author tells you to do when you are preparing your thread for stitching:

“Loving” your thread infuses the work with kind intentions, but it’s also a very practical step that removes excess thread tension and prevents pesky knotting…Hold the doubled thread between your thumb and index finger, and run your fingers along it from the needle to the end of the loose tails while saying, “This thread is going to sew the most beautiful garment ever made.  The person who wears this garment…will bear it in health and happiness; it will bring joy and laughter.”

So there is much hope and good intention in my stitches, but it is not the most beautiful garment ever made. Though I feel a little bad saying that, as if I am hurting the skirt’s feelings, because well, I told her she would be the most beautiful garment ever made about a thousand times over as I threaded my needle and began to stitch. Look at that! talking to a skirt! going a little crazy over here. Maybe this skirt is the most beautiful garment in the world, but it’s only the skirt that knows it.

alabama skirt

As I see it, the skirt is a little big. But maybe I’ll take it apart someday and take it in a little, but for now it’s fine–not the best thing in my closet, but the only one I’ve ever had a conversation with.

Posted in sewing clothes.

22 Responses to the alabama skirt

  1. Sarah says:

    The skirt looks nice! I love the look of the Alabama Stitch stuff (and the idea of putting all that lovely thoughtfulness and intention into a project), but I just don’t think I have the patience for it at all. Which leaves me rather impressed with people who do!

  2. amanda says:

    Well – I certainly think it is beautiful. Definitely a labor of love – I wish I had the patience (I totally have craft ADD). You could always slap some elastic in the waistband for a better fit?

  3. Kimberly says:

    Oh how I loved reading this post! I have been trying to infuse more love into every tender stitch as well, but sometimes, pure frustration ensues! The skirt was a total labor of love. It looks great (love the deep colors) and so admirable that you stuck it out!

  4. Liz says:

    Really lovely Meg…I really like the tank version of this too…Congrats on the making, hope you don’t feel too looney from your skirt conversations.

  5. Nicki says:

    Did you have trouble deciding what size to make? I have drawn the pattern for 3 sizes now as I ponder what I should make. I’ve measured and well, it always sets me at a bigger size than I think I wear. Any advice?

  6. nath says:

    hahahahahahaha! i laughed out loud whilst reading this, is that bad? well, i really enjoyed the telling. and it does look great. i’m sure as long as the skirt doesn’t read this post then everything will be just fine.

  7. Shannon says:

    Ohhhhh, it is BEAUTIFUL!! Lovely colors choices. I want to hear what you think about the skirt sizing because I totally want to make the skirt. It might take me until next summer, but it will be mine at some point. Love the look of the skirt. Totally gorgeous.

  8. meg says:

    about the sizing: I am very much a medium girl (except when I wander into the juniors section) and I cut out a large for this skirt because they recommend going a size up when there is a lot of stitching on the skirt. The skirt seems to stretch just fine to me, so I think a medium would have worked. The picture of the skirt in the book fits pretty tight and I actually really like how it looks. So I guess it depends on how you like your skirts.

    As for the waistband, you use FOE but she doesn’t tell you to stretch it at all, so there is no gathering. I could make the waistband on my skirt tighter, but I think the skirt would look wierd gathered.

  9. Elisha says:

    The material looks devine, it seems to fit ok, would a few darts help? Wish I could make one but notthat much patience at my house.

  10. Antoinette says:

    I think the skirt is quite lovely and worthy of your conversation.

  11. KarenK says:

    I love all the work you put into this skirt!! I have a terrible time finishing things so I am so impressed that you hung in there and finished it!! I talk to lots of things that don’t talk back, don’t worry about about talking to the skirt!!

  12. That’s hilarious. I have seen that book online, and understand the concept of the skirt… and think it’s lovely that you actually ‘talked’ your way through it. I hope that you choose to wear it sometime – and then you can talk ‘about’ it rather than ‘to’ it! Well done on a finished project too. That should feel good.

  13. Oh, I talk to the things that I sew all the time. They might not be words that I should put down in print, mind…

  14. I think this skirt would cause for many conversations if you take it out for a walk. It’s a fabulous skirt.

  15. cheryl says:

    I can imagine how time consuming that must have been! Kudos to you for finishing it though. If it had been me, it probably would have sat around, unfinished for at least a year. I think it’s very pretty.

  16. Holly Keller says:

    So pretty–and while it may not fit as you expected or planned, it really does look lovely on you. And I can tell by look ing that that skirt feels loved and self-confident, even if it isn’t the prettiest one in class…that must all be your skirt pep talk showing through.

  17. claire says:

    well done for sticking at it – if it was my skirt it would have traumatised by all the swearing as I tried to make it.

  18. oonaballoona says:

    i love the relationship you have with this skirt. i imagine it hanging in the closet, stressing out– “if i’m the most LOVED, why doesn’t she WEAR me”… Skirt makes you go to couples therapy… you promise to wear Skirt with Half Ass Binding Striped Shirt (they’ve become BFFs during their stint in The Closet)…

  19. Holy crap…I love this.

  20. teri says:

    meg- this looks absolutely fantastic! i would wear that in a heartbeat. looks like its a lot of work, but the results gratifying!
    i’m so glad you’re back!

  21. June Flowers says:

    Hi Elsie,
    Would it be okay if we put one of your beautiful images on the Alabama Chanin Facebook page? They’re incredible!

  22. Megan says:

    Oh! I have this book and have always wanted to try that skirt. Yours looks great … and now you have a new friend (as in, the skirt).