Oooh, this one was so fun!
I've had Natalie Chanin's Alabama Stitch Book for a while but haven't made anything from it yet. I love the philosophy and there are some fun techniques, but my aesthetic is more polished and finished than the slightly raw and rough style of Alabama Chanin's pieces. I needed to figure out how to make it work for me, because I LOVE me some hand stitching!
Enter the awesome Etsy Labs and their weekly craft nights. I squeeeeed when I saw that Natalie Chanin herself would be leading a workshop. The fact that these workshops are on Mondays is great for me, and I was really happy to have one that I really wanted to go to.
The Etsy offices are really cool, and the lab space is lovely and full of light. There were all kinds of folks who attended, with varying skill levels. Natalie herself was super sweet and talked about her work and commitment to sustainable living. She discussed the materials she uses (organic cotton jersey and button/craft thread) and demonstrated some of her techniques. Along the way there were lots of charming Southern stories and practical advice (like always "loving" your thread to keep it from tangling - and to infuse the project with love!)
I had a boring old green t-shirt with me, and I chose some lavender jersey from the scrap pile. I decided to do a bit of reverse applique using one of the stencils from her first book. It was pretty down and dirty - I traced the stencil to the right side with a Sharpie (at Alabama Chanin they typically use airbrushed fabric paints) so the marker became part of the design. I lined up the fabric behind the stenciled area, pinned, and began outlining with a running stitch using the only thread within reach, which was brown (not my first choice, but it was a very crowded workshop!)
Once the designs were all stitched, I went in with small, sharp scissors and trimmed away the inside of the design area, leaving an 1/8" wide border. Then I went to the wrong side and cut out each individual applique:
All done! And since it's green, I was able to wear it for St. Patrick's Day! :-)
The workshop was really fun, and I left with Natalie's new book, Alabama Studio Style, which she kindly autographed for me. Now that I see that you can do this kind of stuff but keep it a little more polished looking, I look forward to tackling a larger project - maybe a skirt? Stay Tuned!