Sunday, September 16, 2012

Gothic Fingerless Gloves, Part I

This week, the insomniac  would like to recommend a book that has given her many evenings of inspirational reading and, better still, many inspirational ideas for sewing projects this winter. At first glance, Alabama Studio Sewing + Design might not seem the type of book that would appeal to those of us with, shall we say, somewhat darker tastes. And so the insomniac  is going to share a few photos with you - hopefully enough to encourage you to give the book a second look, but not so many it might be considered copyright infringement.

Tied Wrap, Fitted Top,
Short Fitted Skirt and Long Skirt

... and The Fingerless Gloves ...

Negative Reverse Appliqué as Used Above

The book includes patterns for all garments and accessories, and covers basic sewing techniques for cotton jersey, instructions for stenciling, embroidery, beading, couching and so many variations of appliqué, including regular, reverse and negative reverse, it was difficult to keep track; the insomniac  lost count at around eighteen.

Natalie Chanin, founder of Alabama Chanin, says “you should love your work, because sewing is time-consuming and should only be done out of love”. The beauty of these unique garments lie not in their perfection, but in the love and care that have been infused into them by their maker. A point which the insomniac  shall certainly try to remember when crafting her first garment this winter in front of a roaring fire with a glass, perhaps two, of mulled wine at hand - that the end result should not be about perfection, but instead about the love and care she is infusing into her creation. One additional point it might be prudent to remember - mulled wine and sharp scissors do not make a good pairing ... 

Fitted Top with Pleated Ruffle

Outside Reverse Appliqué Sample

The beautiful custom-dyed organic cotton jersey fabric can be purchased from the Alabama Chanin website, and is available in many appealing colours suited to a Gothic Wardrobe - ruby, apple, carmine, burgundy, plum, black, and fifty three shades of grey; plus a number of somewhat less appealing earth tones. But as suggested in the book, or maybe it was the website, the techniques work equally well using recycled t-shirts as fabrics.

Ruffle Top and Bolero with Fluted Sleeves

But what the insomniac  admires most is Chanin's business philosophy, based on the Slow Design Movement with an emphasis on “good, clean and fair”. She hires local artisans, many of whom were left without work when the Alabama textile factories shut down, to stitch the collections. Each artisan has their own business, and is able to work from their own home and set their own hours. They choose which designs they would like to make, purchase the raw materials from Chanin, then sell the completed goods back to the company. And while, as Natalie points out, none of them are getting rich in terms of their bank accounts, they are rich in spirit, belief, passion and friendship. Which seems to the insomniac  an exemplary philosophy for a business, especially in this day and age.

Couching Sample

Whether a novice or advanced sewer, if you are intrigued by these beautiful heirloom sewing techniques and their potential for enhancing your own Gothic Wardrobe, might the insomniac  suggest immediately springing up from your computer chair and hurrying straight to your favourite local bookseller to purchase Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. But should you regard any form of exercise with as much distaste as the insomniac  then, with just a slight movement of the mouse, you could open up a new tab at the top of this page and locate your favourite online bookseller, instead.

Frock Coat

Until next time, the insomniac  wishes you nights of blissful sleep filled with pleasant dreams. She is debating whether to head upstairs tonight to clean the paint off the stencil used for the attic walls and medicine chest. Because there's a very good chance that stencil will come in handy for a sewing project this winter, once a final decision on which Alabama Chanin fabric to order has finally  been made. Next week, the insomniac  promises a pair of Gothic Fingerless Gloves, which she had planned to make from some pieces of boiled wool she has stored somewhere in the attic, but was unable to locate in time for inclusion in this week's post ...

Goodnight, my pretties.


    Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, Natalie Chanin


  1. So beautiful clothes! I sincerely hope that I find a site that ships to sweden because that book would fill my needs. I've thought I was insane, saving all those worn and torn jersey clothes but here's a perfect way to reuse them.
    I sew handwarmers of my old wool shirts, after washing them in hot water. I would love to see one of your own designed fingerless gloves!

    1. The insomniac  knows exactly where you're coming from! She too has more than a few suitcases filled with old t-shirts with nice graphics that she hasn't been able to part with!

      If she manages to get her act together this week, she will definitely share some armwarmers she has made in the past. And what an excellent idea, making them out of old wool shirts!

      If you are unable to find someplace that will ship the book to Sweden, please let the insomniac  know and she will GLADLY pick one up at her local bookseller (she will even get out of her computer chair to do so!), and send it to you. SERIOUSLY!! It is an awesome book, and she knows you will need something to keep you occupied during your long, cold winter ... besides drinking mulled wine. :D

    2. I was able to buy the book from their Web store, i did it immediately :-). I have some quite old posts were you can see my arm warmers, i have labelled them "pyssel" (Swedish for diy). I embroidered them with folk art flowers. Your offer I'd so kind, but hopefully the book is on its way. <3

    3. So glad you were able to get it (immediately)! After all this hype, now let's hope you enjoy it! :P

    4. LOVE the armwarmers, especially the folk art embroidery!! :D

  2. I love your Goth style. I am a Goth way deep down but when I go shopping I cannot pass up unnatural bright sorbet color clothing. I think it is the ADD child in me. Oh look shiny! I love coming here to look at all the beautiful things that I never even knew about like Negative Reverse Appliqué and arm warmers. That is so cool. You are so talented.

    1. The insomniac  is delighted you enjoy looking at all the beautiful things!

      Now you've seen what can be done, are you planning on redoing some of your own cast-off t-shirts this winter? ;o)

  3. Beautiful designs! I love the entire outfit at the top of this post - i want it! Thanks for sharing this unique find!

    1. Really and truly a worthwhile book!

      Apparently, one of the other Alabama Chanin books contained their much sought-after corset pattern, if you're at all interested in that sort of thing ... ;o)