Alabama Chanin

Have you discovered Alabama Chanin yet?  It’s a business founded by designer Natalie Chanin and they make the most beautiful hand-made clothing.

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I first came upon this name on Pinterest.   You can click here to see a sampling of their work.  I hesitate to say that, because you could easily be gone for hours and forget that this little blog post is here waiting for you!

When I first started noticing all these beautiful images on Pinterest, I thought that the workmanship was exquisite and the ideas so original, but the prices of the finished work made them untouchable for someone like myself.  (they can be thousands of dollars for a finished item)  Then I discovered that Natalie has written several books, including the how-to on making your own custom clothing.  I purchased this book and began studying the techniques.



The more I read, the more I realized that many of these techniques were ones that I used in my quilting all the time – a running stitch, chain stitch, backstitch, etc.   She just used different materials (cotton jersey) and ended up with an article of clothing, rather than a quilt.

Then I discovered that Natalie sells kits for these clothing items.  I baulked at the price at first, but Joel kept encouraging me to try it out.  Gotta love a man that encourages “investing” in hobbies!   I rationalized it with the knowledge that making a quilt generally costs much more!  I decided to go ahead and purchase this kit.


I figured the best way to properly learn about the technique was to get the kit and see exactly what the material feels like, exactly what thread is used, etc.

The kit comes with the top already cut out.  The stenciling is already done for you (this is how the design is transferred to the material and how the shading is created), and it comes with the thread.  You can choose from quite a few colors.  I went with the navy.  When that box was delivered, I opened it right there in the drive way.  The image below shows how it looked as I was working on the stitching.



The top begins with two layers of cotton jersey.  The top layer is stenciled with a beautiful grey fabric paint that has a slight sheen.  Then all you have to do is hand-stitch the two layers together.



After this stitching is done, I cut out the top layer of fabric around the shapes (there are many different techniques that you could use here and they are covered in the book)



After the cutting, it will look like this.  The applique will curl with wear, creating a slightly ruffled edge.



The finished garmet and how it looks on.



Every single stitch on the top is done by hand.  Even the side seams, which are then top stitched by hand, adding to the unique look of the shirt.  So – that means you don’t even need a sewing machine to make this.  One of my favorite parts of the technique is the fact that the hems are left raw.  So, if you have trouble with hems, no worries. DSC_1088


One note about this kit, I initially ordered a large (though I usually wear a medium) and it was tiny so I exchanged it.  This is the extra large people – and I wish it was bigger – so keep that in mind if you use any of her patterns.   Not all of them are close fitting, but this is the basic t-shirt and they tell you in the book that it is meant to be fitted.



Overall, I loved making this.  And who would have thought that I would be able to make a top using Natalie Chanin’s techniques?  Many of her items are so intricately hand-stiched and detailed that I would never have attempted them.   On the website, this item is listed as a beginner and I would agree that is a great starting point.  The stitching goes fast, the shapes are large and easy to stitch around, and the back and sleeves are left plain – so not a huge investment of time if you want to give the technique a try.


Now, I just have to figure out what to wear it with so I can wear it the winter too.  I have this sweater, but I think I need something in grey to wear with it.  I’m thinking a cardigan like this would work.  I think the top could be dressed up or down and I would use the casual look of the knit cardigan much more.



That’s all for today.  I hope you enjoyed reading a little bit about this technique.  I already have two more tops in the works, so you will be seeing it again.  I really thought it was fun and so much simpler than I thought!


Have a Happy Thanksgiving!



Posted in Garmet Sewing | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Fall and Halloween 2015

Life just seems to be a whirlwind lately.   It really cuts into time for things like blogging and cleaning (cough, cough), but I still managed to have a camera handy occasionally to capture a few precious moments from the past few weeks.  Here are my favorites –






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And that was just a few of my favorites!  Thanks for stopping by and sharing a few memories with me.  Have a great weekend!!!

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Farmhouse in Seville

Okay – so that title might be a little misleading.

I am not giving a tour of a farmhouse in or just outside of Seville – though that would be fun.  I can almost picture it – a whitewashed exterior, the windows with a view of the Andalusian hills, a drive up an olive tree-lined driveway.  And now I’m hungry for Paella too – and I won’t be finding that around here.  That all sounds really good right now as I listen to the cold Minnesota wind howling just outside my window. . . . .   But for now, this table runner is as close as I’m gonna get.

The pattern is called Seville and the fabric line is Farmhouse by Fig Tree Quilts – thus the title of my post.

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I have had this fabric since Spring Market, and have been waiting to cut into it.  I’m still going to make a bigger project with the fabric too, but at least I got to play with it.

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Don’t you love the addition of the black?  Perfect for my house, because I have a lot of black furniture.

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I will be needing more of this red check/print.  I used my entire fat quarter for the binding.



Here’s a shot of the original runner from the pattern –

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The design uses the same blocks, but by positioning the lights and colored prints in different places, they look so different.

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If you are interested in this pattern, you can find it here.

Posted in Fabric Trends, Machine Quilting, Pattern of the Week, Quilting | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

A Favorite Fall Day

A beautiful fall is in full swing here in Minnesota.  It’s my favorite time of year and I wanted to share a few pictures from one of my favorite days this fall.


Before I do that, I wanted to share the names of the winners from the last two posts.  They are:

Deb G in VA and Carrie S.

Please email your shipping info to to claim your prize!  The winners will each be getting a new pattern pack.

PicMonkey Collage

(Patterns available here)


And now a few pictures from that favorite day that I mentioned earlier –



















These photos make my heart full and happy.  Memories made at Como Zoo, October 10th, 2015.

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New Fall 2015 Pattern Preview – Part 2

If you missed Part 1 of the preview, click here.  For Part 2 of my new pattren preview, I have two quilt patterns to share.   Both share my love of 60-degree angles and use one of my favorite rulers on the market, the Creative Grids 60-degree triangle ruler.

The first design is called Garden Party.  It was inspired by my love of English Paper Piecing (EPP) – or should I say my love of “the look” of EPP.  The problem is, I don’t actually like doing it.  I know it’s very popular, by my left arm just doesn’t hold up to the pinching motion that is required of the left hand.  So – to get this look, I have come up with a design that looks like it’s EPP, but is actually machine pieced.

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The flowers are strip pieced, cut with the ruler and then have folded corners added to create the petals.  The leaf units are cut with the ruler and sewn together in sections.



You can see the sections a little better in the photo below.  If you look very closely, you can see seam lines in the background that wouldn’t be there if it was done with EPP, but this method is much faster and gives a similar look.  You end up sewing triangle shaped flower blocks to trapezoid shaped leave units to create rows, then sew the rows together to create the look.  No Y-seams involved.

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I enjoyed making this quilt and I really had fun quilting it!  Lots of feathers and stippling, but the solid grey background is the perfect place to show off some quilting.

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I added some size options to the pattern.  The math on this pattern was challenging for me, along with figuring out a way to piece the pattern, while achieving the look that I wanted – so why not complicate the math some more by adding size options!  Haha.  It is all worth it in the end.  Otherwise I get lots of emails from quilters asking me to figure it out for them.  I also experimented with different background colors, from grey, to aqua, to white.   I like how adding a colored background adds interest, without busy-ness that takes away from the design.

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Lastly, this photo shows the scale of the runner on a table.

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If you are interested in these beautiful fabric lines, the cover quilt is made with Tucker Prairie, the wall quilt with Hello Darling and the runner with Prairie – all by Moda fabrics.



My next pattern is called Seville.  Joel and I were in Seville 5 years ago.  I loved the colors and all the geometric patterns on the floors there.  This star design reminds me of that, though not quite as complicated as the mosaic floors there.

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Once again, the design starts with strip units, and depending on your color placement, you get two different looking stars.

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Notice that the star in the runner is a little different from the one in the quilt?  Both are constructed with simple diamond 4-patch blocks.  I couldn’t decide which one I liked better, so I wrote both options into the pattern (Which required a whole second set of instructions, by the way.)  It also complicated the math, because now the cutting for the stars was different for both options.  And while I am in the business of complicating things for myself, lets add size options to both color options.  Are you still with me?  My brain still hurts from all the calculations – and so does my mother’s (she is my wonderful pattern tester!!!)  Again, all worth it in the end to be able to include all the size options.

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I also had a lot of fun quilting this one.  All that white is the perfect place to show off some stitching.

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(By the way, my binding isn’t actually this wavy.  Our grass was a little long, so it wouldn’t lay flat!)




As I mentioned, I included quite a few size options.  The other sizes are larger and can be used for beds, but I also included the option below.  It can be used as a wall quilt, large topper/tablecloth or tree skirt.  Can’t you just picture it done up in Christmas fabrics?  I also love it in the Gooseberry fabric line shown below.

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PS:  No Y-seams in this pattern either.


So there you have it.  Leave a comment to be entered into a giveaway of the new patterns (all 4).  If you are interested in purchasing the patterns, they are available as paper patterns here and here.  For PDF patterns, click here.  Or, better yet, ask your local quilt shop for them!

Posted in Fabric Trends, Machine Quilting, Pattern of the Week, Quilting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 80 Comments

Winners of the Jaftex FQ Pack

Before too much time passes, I want to announce the winners of the Jaftex goodies from my post on the Blog Hop.  I was going to wait and announce the winner when Jaftex announces the winners of the grand prizes, but I’m not sure when that’s happening.  Rather then wait, I went ahead and randomly selected a winner.  Out of 350 people who left comments, Gloria Yates is the winner!  Please send your shipping info to (I will also send an email).


Gloria will receive this Fat Quarter bundle of Henry Glass Folio Basics



And – The Angles with Ease 2 book and Triangler ruler that I used to make my project with the Folio basics.

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Thanks to everyone who stopped by on the blog hop!

Posted in Quilting | Tagged | 1 Comment

New Fall 2015 Pattern Preview – Part 1

Fall quilt market is right around the corner, and with that comes the release of lots of fun things in the quilting industry.  My contribution is 4 new single patterns – each with several options.  Today I’m going to share 2 of the patterns, with the other two coming in my next post.

The theme for today’s new patterns is Christmas.  I have always wanted to do a stocking pattern, but never had any ideas.   Having two little boys changed that!  They need stockings, right?   So, that thought led me to designing a stocking pattern, with four different block options that can be used to change the theme of the stocking.

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I am loving all the Nordic things on Pinterest – especially these Nordic cross stitch patterns.  I haven’t cross stitched since the 80’s but I thought it would be fun to combine some of the design ideas with my love of quilting – and finally an idea for making my own Christmas stockings comes together.

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The little rocking horse is for Max

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The snowman is for Carter and the snowflake for me.



The scrappy tree is for Joel.

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They look good in my studio – and they have been hanging there all summer!  I’ve had to explain to any guests why they are hanging there in July, but I must have things out as I am working on them – thinking about them a little bit each day.  I have another set made for my living room fireplace.  They just need to be quilted and bound, but I have a few months left to finish them.  Or should I say a couple?  They are a different color scheme, so I will share them when they are finished.

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My next pattern is an ornament set – inspired by my boys and my Auntie Lynn.  Growing up, she gave ornaments to each niece and nephew every Christmas.  I remember being just fascinated by the ones that she hand painted.



You may also remember that I have been making some ornaments for our tree (click here to read about them).  They are all made with wool and though my embroidery skills are not good, I loved making them.



As I was making these, I was thinking about the things that Carter gets excited about and realized that these ornaments were much more for me, and not really for him.  That thought got me to thinking that my boys needed their own ornaments – ones designed especially for them.  For the theme, I decided on fish and puppies, to go with the fabric lines that I designed for them.

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The ornaments are done mainly with a blanket stitch and a few other easy embroidery stitches mixed in.  On the roof, I did cheat and do that by machine.  I just couldn’t get my lines perfectly straight!  Other than that, these projects are the perfect little size to tote around with you.  I would bring them out to the swing set or in the yard while the boys played and they were finished in no time.  So much easier than carrying out knitting, with the stitches falling off the needles and the dog trying to steal my yarn ball.

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I also plan to add a date to the ornament, but didn’t get it done before my photos shoot.  I  need to decide if it will go on the front, or do it on the back with a little note from Mom kinda thing.

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Carter’s ornament includes one of my favorite stitches – the chain stitch.  I learned it long ago while making a stitchery sampler with yarn and burlap in grade school.  It’s really easy to do, so nothing to be scared of.  Also notice that on some of the tiny pieces – like the leaves – are not blanket stitched down.  It’s too hard to blanket stitch those little pieces, so I just stitched down the center, leaving the edges slightly dimensional.

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For the hangers, I just braided some embroidery floss together, using 3 strands of each color.  I was initially going to use ric rac, but couldn’t find the right colors.  Using embroidery floss solved this problem, as it comes in many colors.  I also think it looks boyish, so it works with the design.

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I hope these ideas are something that inspires you.  It’s a little different from what I usually do, but it’s so fun to try something new.  If you would like to try your hand at these techniques, I will be giving away a copy of each new pattern to one of my readers.  Just leave a comment to be entered to win.  Stop back in a few days to see the winners and the post with the other new patterns.


To purchase the stocking pattern, click here for the paper pattern and here for the PDF.

To purchase the ornament pattern, click here for the paper pattern and here for the PDF.

The paper patterns will start shipping on Monday.


Thanks and have a great weekend!


Posted in Family, Pattern of the Week, Quilting | Tagged , , , , | 31 Comments