During my break, I wondered how I could get back into sewing without getting burned out again in the future. Then it hit me: I don’t need to sew more, but I need to care more about the things I sew.
Now I’m by no means a speedy seamstress. I love doing detailed work. Let’s face it, a regular buttonhole functions just as well as a bound buttonhole;.it just doesn’t look as elegant as I’d like. I don’t plan to give those things up, but right now I need clothes that are comfortable, aesthetically pleasing and, most of all, practical. I love pretty much everything I’ve made, but I still don’t have many pieces that I can just put on without having to consider the overall look. Sometimes I just want to grab a shirt and jeans and get out the door, but I don’t have that type of wardrobe.
Enter Natalie Chanin.
I was vaguely familiar with her clothing line, but I never stopped to REALLY look at it. I was in the local bookshop when I picked up Alabama Studio Sewing + Design and started flipping through the pages. I have no idea what happened, but suddenly I was obsessed. I Googled her and found a wealth of information about the company. Her business philosophy and business model are absolute genius and she’s a strong (and early) proponent of sustainable fashion. Some of her pieces sell for thousands of dollars, but each one can take weeks to complete because every.single.stitch is made by hand and, more importantly, the artisans are paid a fair wage. Each piece is a work of art so when you put it into perspective, they’re worth every penny. I also love that you have to slow down to create each piece. I’ve been practicing on scrap fabric and not only is it very relaxing, I feel more invested in my garment. I’ve never done applique or embroidery before, but so far, I’m happy with the results.
Pictures courtesy of Alabama Chanin’s website, alabamachanin.com
Which brings me to fast fashion. I noticed in my Facebook sewing groups that there’s a lot of pressure to keep churning out garments at hyperspeed. I couldn’t put my finger on what exactly was bothering me about it until I realized that it replicated the whole industry of quick, disposable clothes that I’ve been trying to avoid. There’s nothing wrong with following trends, but I’m at the point where I want my clothes to be quality pieces that will a) last; and b) be wearable for many seasons. On Artisan Square, they do a yearly SWAP (Sew With A Plan). Going forward, I’m going to create a plan and use it as a guide to create the backbone of my wardrobe. I need to think about it a lot more, but I so far I know I’ll need a tailored blazer, a couple of skirts and a classic white shirt. Outside the SWAP clothes, I’ll need some casual items for the weekends. like this corset top and this skirt.
I purchased the Alabama Stitch Book which contains patterns and all the techniques. (Btw, can I tell you how much I love that she’s so generous with her information? Stencil templates are FREE on her website.) And I bought her Craftsy class (even though I’m not sure about that jacket. I think it might look better in another colorway).
I also picked up some t-shirts at the local thrift shop and found felt at my favorite fabric store: PS Textiles. They don’t have a website but they’re at 359 Broadway and their phone number is (212) 226-1534.
Over the next few posts, I’ll be sharing pics of my process (and of course all my new tools and supplies).