There's been a bit of a trend in some of the (many) blogs I read of people trying out the Alabama Chanin books and methods this year. Normally I'm not very excited by a lot of embroidery or embellishment, but something about the AC garments I've seen appeals to me and I really wanted to make something similar. I ordered one of the books just recently, but while I was waiting for it to arrive I decided to take a detour from the actual AC project suggestions from the books (which mainly use knits and involve hand stitching the whole project) and try out some simple reverse appliqué by hand on a woven fabric that I then constructed (by machine) into a tote bag.
|Tote bag embellished with "Bloomer" stencil reverse applique and running stitch|
|Book bag embellished with Alabama Chanin "Anna's Garden" stencil|
Nevertheless, I decided to make a second calico bag using the same technique but with a different, more complicated stencil ("Anna's Garden"). I left this one as a book bag (also lined, in the same green sateen as I used for the reverse appliqué) rather than a boxed base so that I could fill the whole of one side of the bag with the stencil. However, I realized almost as soon as I started stitching the stencilled section that some of the shapes in the stencil were just totally outside of my ability level with reverse appliqué if I was going to turn the edges under. I decided therefore to just outline many of the smaller and more complicated shapes in running stitch. The kindest thing I can say about the quality of the actual reverse appliqué bits is that I was probably slightly better at it by the end than I was at the beginning of making this. Very slightly.
Overall, I feel like the second bag did not live up to the image in my head at all, mainly because of the amount of running stitch I ended up doing. If I were to do it again, I'd probably do something different with the parts I couldn't appliqué and/or try to get a different balance of reverse appliqué vs. stitching for a better outcome. However, you know, it's a tote bag that cost me about £1 to make in materials, I am not going to cry over it not turning out quite as well as I hoped.
In conclusion, although my outcomes from these Alabama Chanin inspired projects were not very good from a technical point of view, I found the process of stitching these bags very enjoyable and I do like the outcomes aesthetically. I definitely want to have a go with (hopefully much more forgiving!) knits in the very near future.
|Yoyo bags: version 1 with lines of yoyos; the interior with dancing hippes; version 2 with a heart and silver beads|
|Gap-tastic Cowl in blue and grey aran weight|
|Seriously Chunky Christmas Day Cowl|