Anyone sew?

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navigator9

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I know there must be others here who sew. I learned how to sew when I was a little girl, so that I could make clothes for my dolls. And in high school, I sewed almost all of my clothes, because I couldn't afford the things that I wanted, the things that my friends had. Back then, I felt sorry for myself, poor me, having to make those hip hugger bell bottoms, and that flower power A-line dress.

Now, I look back and thank my lucky stars that I didn't have things handed to me, that I was forced to learn how to do so much for myself. It forced me to be creative. These days, when I talk to people and they can't make their own drapes, or knit a pair of mittens, or can't bake bread, don't garden, have never installed a light fixture, can't fix things, I wonder how it's possible to get through life without developing some of these skills??? And I'm thankful for my life.

I digress. I started writing this because you guys got me started on Pinterest, and there, I discovered something so beautiful. I kept seeing a piece of this clothing, here and there on Pinterest, not knowing what the heck it was. Then, finally one of the comments referred to Alabama Chanin, and I looked it up. Alabama Chanin is a clothing line started by Natalie Chanin. It uses 100% cotton jersey, embellished with handwork done by local Alabama women, most of whom had lost their jobs in the textile factories there, due to the ecomomy. The clothing they make is crazy beautiful, and also crazy expensive. And worth every penny, when you consider the work that goes into it. Of course, it's not anything that I can afford, but......there are books, and patterns. Now that I've retired, and have time (as soon as all the work on my house gets done), these are the kinds of things I want to try. People kept asking me if I would get bored. HA! How can you ever get bored when there are so many new things to try? Anyway, if you've never seen anything by Alabama Chanin, they're some of the most beautiful pieces of clothing I've ever seen....take a look. Doesn't it make you want to pick up a needle and thread? They're all about hand work and attention to detail. I'm in love. They make my fingers itch.
Here are many examples of their designs on Pinterest
https://www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?rs=ac&len=2&q=alabama+chanin&term_meta

And a couple of YouTube videos

[ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Gh5vEEoDxk[/ame]

[ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvv98JdiVLA[/ame]
 
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shunt2011

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Some of those are really beautiful. I too made my clothes when I was younger. I was unfortunate enough (in my eyes) to be 5'10 and finding cloths that were long enough and fit properly just didn't exist. So, I made my own. I made all my curtains, tablecloths, doll clothes. However my one nemesis was zippers...... I'm pretty handy too, love to bake, cook, garden, repair small things and find it hard to believe there are so many who have no interest in any of it.

It probably helped a lot that I was a single mom too at one point and owned my own house. Couldn't afford much.
 

kumudini

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Really beautiful. Thank you for sharing navigator. Hope you get to try all the things you want to and then show us the results. I love creating too but my hands somehow fail me, may be its my brain that runs ahead of the task at hand.it's like I have two left hands, but with green thumbs on both. I love gardening, cooking and baking. I do fix small things at home. Soaping allows me to be creative even with my limitations( of skill). Knitting and sewing are something that I would love to get a handle on. You are right, these skills are not just creative, they are some of the survival skills. I shake my head in dismay when I see a recipe on how to boil eggs or how to brew coffee etc, but then again I can't crochet a simple square either.
 

cmzaha

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I started sewing when I was about 10, made all my clothes, some for family members and when I had kids I made most of their colthes . While this gals work is nice it is very easy to do and there is a name for the type of applique she is doing but unfortunately I do not remember the name for it. I have a piece here that was done in several layers where the material was cut out in different layers so it has many colors. I designed and beaded many a skating dress for my daughters whom competed in roller skating, and we had to use lots of Austrian Crystals for adding lots of sparkle. I free handed all the designs and I see I should have written a book of the patterns... LOL, Shari zippers was also my nemesis, especially in lycra, until my Aunt taught me how to put in a zipper by hand. They actually looked much nicer and never came apart. Think my auntie got tired of putting in zippers for me, I would take out the garment and ask her to show me one more time how to put in a zipper which she would actually sew in for me. Think she got very wise very fast. When my girls quit skating I quit sewing, right down to not even mending. Plus the fact it was just not effective anymore with the price of material and patterns.
 

shunt2011

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Yeah, I stink at the mending thing. I haven't pulled out my machine in a year or so. I have two pairs of pants that need the seam fixed and it's been a long time but still haven't done it. Easier to probably do it by hand. And yes, fabric and patterns have gotten expensive.
 

navigator9

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I started sewing when I was about 10, made all my clothes, some for family members and when I had kids I made most of their colthes . While this gals work is nice it is very easy to do and there is a name for the type of applique she is doing but unfortunately I do not remember the name for it. I have a piece here that was done in several layers where the material was cut out in different layers so it has many colors. I designed and beaded many a skating dress for my daughters whom competed in roller skating, and we had to use lots of Austrian Crystals for adding lots of sparkle. I free handed all the designs and I see I should have written a book of the patterns... LOL, Shari zippers was also my nemesis, especially in lycra, until my Aunt taught me how to put in a zipper by hand. They actually looked much nicer and never came apart. Think my auntie got tired of putting in zippers for me, I would take out the garment and ask her to show me one more time how to put in a zipper which she would actually sew in for me. Think she got very wise very fast. When my girls quit skating I quit sewing, right down to not even mending. Plus the fact it was just not effective anymore with the price of material and patterns.
OMG Carolyn, do you have pictures of the outfits you made? All of that hand work! My auntie was the great sewer of the family, too, and I remember the precision of her work, the attention to detail that I love so much to this day. I only wish I had paid more attention.

Yes the Alabama Chanin pieces are easy to do...it's the time factor, with all that hand sewing. They use stencils, applique and lots of reverse applique, which is, I believe, what you were trying to think of. As Natalie C. says in the video, she could easily have outsourced the work, and made the garments much more cheaply, but she wanted to use the local seamstresses, so many of whom were out of work. And she pays them a living wage, not peanuts. And each piece is made entirely by hand, sometimes taking up to 8 weeks to finish. So yes, it makes her things way out of my ballpark, but...she offers books and patterns and stencils, so you can try it on your own. Heck, you could even freehand it on a T-shirt or a tank top!
 

not_ally

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Navigator, thank you for sharing this. Those videos were beautiful and incredibly thought provoking, about so many things. Natalie Channin might be a new hero for me. I encourage anyone who is reading this link to click on the videos, they are short, lovely, and make you feel both thoughtful and hopeful.

Shunt, I'm sure it was tough being that tall when you were young, but I am so jealous. I am that height in my head! Tall women are beautiful.
 

kumudini

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Haha, that height in my head, so true not_ally, so true! Well, may be not 5'10" but something like that:).
 

navigator9

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Navigator, thank you for sharing this. Those videos were beautiful and incredibly thought provoking, about so many things. Natalie Channin might be a new hero for me. I encourage anyone who is reading this link to click on the videos, they are short, lovely, and make you feel both thoughtful and hopeful.

Shunt, I'm sure it was tough being that tall when you were young, but I am so jealous. I am that height in my head! Tall women are beautiful.
Thanks not_ally, I'm glad you enjoyed them as much as I did. I love her philosophy, too. I ordered one of her books from Amazon. I'm going to try something, not sure what yet, but I just love her stuff. If you look at her garments on the Pinterest page, another thing I love about them, other than the embellishments, is the way that they're cut, the seaming, the shaping....it's just gorgeous, the way that they fit. This jacket blows my mind! And the way the seams are shaped on this top, make it fit like a glove....so beautiful. And every stitch, top to bottom by local women in Alabama. Much as I lament the fact that I could never afford any of them, I applaud her for her business ethic. As soapmakers, we know how underpaid we are for all the work we do, more power to Natalie Chanin for creating a cottage industry that pays women what they're worth!

acw.jpg


tank.jpg
 

IrishLass

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Alas, I wish I had more know-how about sewing than mending the occasional popped button or frazzled hem, but I must confess that I'm pretty pathetic around patterns and pins. lol

My late grandma was an expert seamstress and made her living by sewing, and my late mom was a quilter, but unfortunately, none of the sewing stuff rubbed off on me.

It's funny, but even my hubby and son know more about sewing than I do. Hubby sewed my wedding dress as well as other dresses for me, and he and my son are even able to expertly alter their own store-bought clothes instead of taking them to a tailoring shop (they are both tall and slim with extra broad shoulders, and many of the ready-made clothes bought off the rack just don't fit them right).

Me? I'm much more happy and feel more at home around a stove/oven, and also a soaping pot, but one of these days, I'd love to be able to sew something more substantial than popped buttons. lol

Shunt, I'm sure it was tough being that tall when you were young, but I am so jealous. I am that height in my head! Tall women are beautiful.
Heavy sigh- I was tall very briefly once....back when I was 11. :p I was the tallest amongst both the boys and the girls in my 6th-grade class for a few months...... until they all went through a growth spurt and surpassed me, but that's okay. My grandma always used to say that good things come in small packages. She was petite like me (5'1").


IrishLass :)
 

DeeAnna

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I've made tailored suits ... once upon a long-ago time. All my high school prom dresses too. I still have a stash of gorgeous wool and silk yardage that I cannot bear to donate or give away, but I haven't sewn anything tailored in years. Mending, once in a blue moon, is more my thing of late.

Natalie has probably gotten a lot of pressure to outsource her clothing to a third world country, and I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who has resisted this mindset.

I have been asked bluntly why I haven't outsourced my products to China or wherever, and it really annoys me. Don't get me wrong -- I really like making a decent wage. But I'm not going to do it by outsourcing. I like the idea of employing local skilled labor, allowing them and their families to thrive, and doing a little bit to support my rural community. I also like keeping busy myself by doing something productive and worthwhile. I don't see why that's not an acceptable mindset to have, but it definitely doesn't seem to be the norm for many entrepreneurs.
 

navigator9

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DeeAnna, I know what you mean, I have a stash of fabric that I'll probably never use, but I can't bear to get rid of it.....you never know! LOL

Yes, it's a shame that many businesses feel that they have to outsource to stay afloat. It's nice to know that some people are able to resist the temptation. I'm sure it's not easy.
 

dillsandwitch

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I cant remember the age I learned to sew. Under 10 I think. I taught myself from a book I borrowed from the library. My granma taught me how to crotchet around the same age. I made a lot of my own clothes when I was a teenager and still do to an extent these days. More tailoring lately. I'm a short ass and I have to hem up most things or they drag on the ground. I bought a pair of crop pants last week (they are supposed to go to about mid calf) and they finished right down at my ankles where I usually hem up pants to. I was both pleased and disappointed at the same time.

I have really only learned how to cook decently in the last few years and even newer learned how to not kill plants but make them flourish. My mum isn't very good at any of these things except the gardening thing but even that I taught myself by reading and trying. And yes I once did read how to boil an egg. :p hahahaha

Going from being an office worker to a construction worker was a big leap too. Such a steep learning curve with lots of tears but I got there and I think it has also helped bring out my creativity in things. Don't have something or cant find something like what I want. Build it or make it.
 

navigator9

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I cant remember the age I learned to sew. Under 10 I think. I taught myself from a book I borrowed from the library. My granma taught me how to crotchet around the same age. I made a lot of my own clothes when I was a teenager and still do to an extent these days. More tailoring lately. I'm a short ass and I have to hem up most things or they drag on the ground. I bought a pair of crop pants last week (they are supposed to go to about mid calf) and they finished right down at my ankles where I usually hem up pants to. I was both pleased and disappointed at the same time.

I have really only learned how to cook decently in the last few years and even newer learned how to not kill plants but make them flourish. My mum isn't very good at any of these things except the gardening thing but even that I taught myself by reading and trying. And yes I once did read how to boil an egg. :p hahahaha

Going from being an office worker to a construction worker was a big leap too. Such a steep learning curve with lots of tears but I got there and I think it has also helped bring out my creativity in things. Don't have something or cant find something like what I want. Build it or make it.
I'm always amazed when I hear someone say that they're taking their pants to the tailor to be hemmed! You never know when these talents will come in handy, especially if you're short! (Me too. :smile:) Parents don't do their children any favors when they give them everything their hearts desire. It really helps develop character when you have to work for things, or make them, or figure out how to do things for yourself. I hope kids today aren't too busy texting that they don't have time to learn some of these skills!
 

CritterPoor

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I have a sewing machine that I've been itching to get out and make things. Mostly my "things" include bandannas for my dog, and a bathrobe for the dog, and a collar that is full of ice for the hot days....for the dog. But mostly I have zero skills and spend a lot of time sewing with my fingers crossed, lol.
 

cmzaha

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OMG Carolyn, do you have pictures of the outfits you made? All of that hand work! My auntie was the great sewer of the family, too, and I remember the precision of her work, the attention to detail that I love so much to this day. I only wish I had paid more attention.

Yes the Alabama Chanin pieces are easy to do...it's the time factor, with all that hand sewing. They use stencils, applique and lots of reverse applique, which is, I believe, what you were trying to think of. As Natalie C. says in the video, she could easily have outsourced the work, and made the garments much more cheaply, but she wanted to use the local seamstresses, so many of whom were out of work. And she pays them a living wage, not peanuts. And each piece is made entirely by hand, sometimes taking up to 8 weeks to finish. So yes, it makes her things way out of my ballpark, but...she offers books and patterns and stencils, so you can try it on your own. Heck, you could even freehand it on a T-shirt or a tank top!
Yes it is reverse applique but there is an actual name for it. My piece may have come from Honduras but that I also do not remember. It was given to me by a customer years ago. As I mentioned I free handed my beading unless I beaded an applique to use on the dress. One skating dress could easily take me 3 months to complete, so yep, handwork as such is very time consuming
 

Saponista

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I am in the process of making a very unusual baby quilt. My friend's husband is in a rock band and I am making the baby a 'groupie' quilt with the band name on it. The whole thing is black and red stripes as the band members always wear t shirts like that to gigs. I have never appliquéd letters before so it is a steep learning curve! It looks pretty good so for so I am actually quite pleased with myself.

I really love sewing though and want to branch out into clothes. I am fine working with patterns, but my body shape is not standard. I am very short waisted which causes huge issues and I'm not yet confident enough to alter the patterns to fit me properly. I have bought some old cotton bedding from the thrift store to practice altering patterns with as fabric is so expensive in the UK and I can't afford to ruin things. I would like a tailors dummy but a standard one won't match my body shape.
 

lizard1232

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Those are definitely some amazing pieces. I recently picked up sewing and while I love having custom clothing the actually fits, the fabric is getting so expensive that it's not so frugal anymore.
 

cmzaha

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I am in the process of making a very unusual baby quilt. My friend's husband is in a rock band and I am making the baby a 'groupie' quilt with the band name on it. The whole thing is black and red stripes as the band members always wear t shirts like that to gigs. I have never appliquéd letters before so it is a steep learning curve! It looks pretty good so for so I am actually quite pleased with myself.

I really love sewing though and want to branch out into clothes. I am fine working with patterns, but my body shape is not standard. I am very short waisted which causes huge issues and I'm not yet confident enough to alter the patterns to fit me properly. I have bought some old cotton bedding from the thrift store to practice altering patterns with as fabric is so expensive in the UK and I can't afford to ruin things. I would like a tailors dummy but a standard one won't match my body shape.
Actually a dress form can be adjusted to fit body type. I had a couple of them and one had dials, one was a type that could be molded around the body. I always found the solid dress form with dials easier to work with.
 

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