Julie Bowersett


Blog Writing Course Alumni

From Guide to Art Schools


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Storm Blue Alabama Chanin Paisley Skirt

When I attended the workshop at Alabama Chanin's Factory in November 2011, I chose for my project a blue dress (which I have yet to post pictures of the completed garment) with a backstitched reverse applique design.  Here's what that technique looks like:

At the workshop Natalie Chanin told me that the backstitch would take three times as much thread and three times as long as the running stitch reverse applique technique (both techniques are covered in their three books).  She was probably right about the thread, but I believe she underestimated the time commitment.  At least for me it seemed like this project took a very, very long time (over one year, as a matter of fact). 

During one of their terrific sales around the 2012 holidays, I ordered a kit for a skirt stenciled with the Paisley design and using the negative reverse applique technique.  I was really amazed at how fast this stitched up, especially compared to the previous garment that I worked on.  I started this skirt in the airport on a trip I took (alone, without my kids) and by the time I returned home two days later I had finished the stitching on one panel.

This skirt was created from the lightweight cotton jersey and was the first time I had used that fabric.  It makes a really nice light weight summer skirt, especially when you remove most of the top layer by cutting away the background from the design.  The resulting pattern develops a lot of textural interest as the tips and edges of the paisley design curl.

It was on this waistband that I first tried my homemade tiger tape to aid in keeping the stitches even.

I have really enjoyed wearing this skirt and can recommend this particular technique (or the standard reverse applique with a running stitch) if you are looking for a project that works up fast.

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Reader Comments (6)


July 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrenda M. Côté

This is really beautiful, thank you for showing the details. I am intrigued by the Alabama Chanin style, and have read all 3 books, but haven't made anything yet. You're inspiring me to start, thank you!

July 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSue K

You continue to make lovely clothes. Funny how I was googling for photos of Alabama Chanin type clothes this morning and out of all the photos, one jumped out at me, I clicked on it, and viola! it was yours! I must have an eye for your work! It is superb. keep it up. Best,

October 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChristine Mauersberger

Really nice. I think I will make one too!

November 19, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterlinda

Pretty! I want to make this for my first anniversary outfit.

October 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJulia

Your dress is beautiful and looks so comfortable. I will also try at home. Thanks for sharing.

June 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNisha Batel

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