Monday, October 12, 2015

Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns: A Review

My husband pays attention.  For Mother's Day this year he surprised me with Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns, a book I'd never mentioned to him but he'd just found on his own, knowing my love for Natalie Chanin's work.

After my in-laws left our luncheon that day I curled up on our bed and spent two hours poring over the book, studying it cover-to-cover.  I made lists of ideas.  I sketched out a few thoughts.  I was immersed!  

This may be my favorite Natalie Chanin book so far, but not because it is full of unusual designs and colors or inspiration.  I love it because it is just flat-out practical. If you are interested in hand sewing garments out of cotton jersey, this is the book I'd recommend.  The book covers garment patterns, fit issues, alterations, and some embellishment techniques. 

All of her garment patterns from previous books are included on a CD, along with a few new patterns.  She includes several stencils on the CD as well, and the garments pictured in the book use those stencils exclusively, which keeps things simple.  I love the index of design choices in the back-simple, practical and interesting. These garment patterns also include expanded sizes, from XS to XXL--so helpful if you've struggled to grade patterns smaller or larger. 

I took the CD to my local large-scale print shop (they print blueprints for architects).  I asked them to print everything on the CD--I wanted every pattern to be readily available whenever inspiration hits, and I wanted the stencils too.  They printed it all for $53.  This felt like a great bargain!  The book includes a bolero pattern with various sleeve lengths, a wrap skirt, an a-line tunic/dress/gown, a cardigan/jacket/coat, a tank/camisole shirt/tunic/dress, a fitted tank/camisole/dress, a couple of skirt incarnations, a corset pattern, a poncho pattern.....when I add it all up I paid less than $2/ stencils! I use doctor's examination table paper to trace the patterns off and keep the originals intact. I highly recommend exam paper!  It's economical and perfect for pattern-purposes. The print shop gave me the patterns in enormous rolls; I love that the patterns haven't been folded, so I don't have to deal with creases. 

I highly recommend this straightforward, practical, and pattern-abundant book. Natalie Chanin's generosity in offering her techniques and patterns overwhelms me with gratitude.  I'm planning my next Alabama Chanin project....but only after I finish Annie's quilt.  Self-discipline, people.  I am exercising my self-discipline!

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