One Down, One to Go

Two week ago, I finished my first Alabama Chanin corset top and I’m very, very happy with it. As you know, it took much longer than I anticipated, but it was well worth all the effort. Remember when I didn’t like the Cretan stitch for this top? Well I changed my mind again because the plainness of the Cretan stitch doesn’t distract from the rest of the top.

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I wore it this past weekend and it was sooo comfy. It also stretched a bit, but it still looked good.

Also, I finished most of my second corset top. (The pics are a bit overexposed, but I promise better next time. I’m still working on my photography skills.)

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I just have to do the binding (using the Rosebud stitch for this one). Then I’ll have two (!) corset tops to wear this summer.

Once I’m finished with the white top, I’ll finish the beading and binding on this beauty.


I have to tell you that while I was making these tops, sometimes I felt like they’d NEVER get finished. Still, it was a lot of fun sewing things completely by hand and refashioning old t-shirts into something beautiful. I still have a stenciled skirt to work on after these tops and then I’ll probably go back to my sewing machine (at least for a little while) before I tackle my next Alabama Chanin project; I’d really love to make a long dress with applique.


Corset Top Progress

I have to admit, when I started this new top I thought it would be finished by now. I completed the first panel with record speed and figured the rest would done just as quickly. Well, I was wrong.

On the plus side, I’m almost halfway done. Here’s what I have so far. (Grass and flowers courtesy of The Brooklyn Botanic Garden.)

Full Closeup


The pictures were rushed because I was trying to dodge the security guard. Long story.

Anyway, now I just need to do the back, stitch it all together and do the binding. My new goal is to finish by mid-month – or Memorial Day at the latest.


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Lessons in Beading

My bugle beads arrived quickly from Jewels a la Carte on Etsy. I ordered a few different colors to see how they look in person.


I wanted a blue-green to go with the print and while I didn’t get the exact color, the turquoise is close so I’m going to use those.

But first I had to learn how to bead.

My first problem was finding a needle. I have tons of needles, but the only one I could find that could go through the beads was a tiny quilting needle. Unfortunately it took 20 minutes to thread and I knew that I would be homicidal if I had to go through that hundreds of times. So I resolved to find my dream needle. As I was looking for my thimble, I came across these lovelies:


They’re perfect! Unlike the quilting needle, the eye is big enough to thread easily. They’re almost twice as long and feel great in my hand so they’re now my official beading needles.

I started making a little sample and immediately noticed that I need a beading glove. I can’t find a picture, but it’s basically a fingerless glove with double sided tape that holds beads so you can grab beads easily while you’re working. Who knew such a thing existed, right? Well after trying to pick up the beads from the table, it dawned on me that I should make it a priority. I have some spandex around here somewhere so that’s going on my list of projects.

In the meantime, I stuck a tape loop to my hand and got some beading done. So here’s my first row of beading. It’s not perfect, but I’m really proud of it. It was also a reality check: beading takes a long, LONG time (at least in the beginning) so plan accordingly.



A little bit closer


So now I just have to pull out the rest of the seams and bead them. Who knows, I might even do an oval around the logo.


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Reverse applique top and a word about tools

First, let’s talk about tools.

Now Natalie (yes, I feel that I can call her Natalie since we’ve become so close in the last three weeks), says not to run out and buy all the supplies at once. I say poppycock! And tommyrot! And other colorful but obscure expressions! You see, I’m a tool junkie. I sometimes find tools that I don’t remember buying and worse, I don’t even know what they’re for. Oh well. Perhaps I’ll do a “Can you tell me what this is?” post one day. But I couldn’t wait to get my hands on an airbrush so I snagged one on eBay along with some Createx paints.

Here are my new friends:

Stencil Supplies

After seeing Emmely’s cardigan at Infectious Stitches, it dawned on me that I could dye my shirts any color I wanted. (It may seem obvious to you, but I assure you, it never crossed my mind.) I went out to the drugstore and bought a box of navy RIT dye. Visions of navy goodness danced in my head, but then I got greedy. I decided to dip dye the bottom layer and dye the top layer blue – but not navy blue. So of course it turned out blueish-grey. Also, I didn’t use a large enough basin, so the pieces have a tie-dyeish effect which I like. The only downside is that the edges of each piece curled up. Next time, I’m going to do all the dyeing before I cut.

This is an airbrushed piece, a dip-dyed piece and my first stitched piece.

Unstitched Dyed Stitched

Stitched Closeup

Stenciled piece with test stitches


I really love airbrushing. Now I just need to learn how to mix the colors I want and make enough to cover all the pieces of the garment. Twice I ran out and had to mix a new batch. Since I was guessing at the recipe, the color varied a bit. But I’m okay with making mistakes because that’s how I usually discover “happy accidents” that look better than I’d planned.


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More AC Books and Some Stencils

After I bought Alabama Stitchbook, I knew I would order the other two: Alabama Studio Style and Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. I’m so glad I did.  A lot of the same basic information is in all the books, but each one also has a different set of patterns and projects so I think they’re all worth having.

Anyhow, I was eager to get started on my first project: the white on white corset inspired by Nixxi on Craftsy  (stunning right?), but I didn’t have a disappearing marker and I didn’t want to use any paint. So while waiting on my markers to arrive in the mail, I grabbed a couple of blue t-shirts and started making a different type of corset top.

Larsen's Corset Top
When I was finished stitching the entire top, I changed my mind about the design. Yes, after HOURS of hand sewing I decided that my fish market t-shirt needed some zhuzh-ing up with fancy beading. Two problems: 1. the seams have to be on the inside; and 2. I don’t have any bugle beads. Gah. So I’m going to undo the entire top and re-sew it while I wait for my beads from Etsy.

Corset Top- Larsen Closeup

But let’s also talk about a win –  my stencil cutting skills!

I cut two stencils in the past week. Each took about 2-3 hours with an x-acto knife. (Here’s a tip: don’t cut felt while wearing contacts. Trust me).

This is Anna’s Garden:

Anna Stencil Full

Those weird green patches are from the fluorescent paint that came with my airbrush. Long story.

A little closer:

Anna Stencil Medium

And this is Bloomers

Bloomers Stencil

I used Anna’s Garden on a top you’ll see in my next post and I was really happy with it.

To make the stencils, I printed out the pages on 8×11 paper and taped them together. Then I placed a large piece of felt on my cutting mat, sprayed the back of the taped sheet with some adhesive, laid it on the felt and started cutting. I went through 2 blades, but the cutting was pretty simple, if a bit tedious after a while. I still have about 3 more stencils to cut including Magdalena and Angie’s Fall, but first I want to actually finish one garment.


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