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Added Mar 29, 2008

by amarie

Chicago, Illinoi...






Years ago, new to a city and knowing very few I would spend hours at Borders browsing magazines and I rarely buy Vogue thinking it too fancy for me but I read the story of Project Alabama and the designer Natalie Chanin and her philosophy about clothes and fashion and the story of her return to her home in Florence, Alabama and her being inspired by the long tradition of quilting in that region. As someone who is always think about going home, this story stuck to me. I think about why I am here participating in this forum. Is it just about clothes? I don’t particularly think myself fashionable. No one would confuse me for a trendsetter. I could just as easily buy my clothes instead of making them, but I think sewing makes me feel connected somehow to my memories of home. I remember how my Mom and my aunt used to make us clothes. Its silly to think that a tank top can do that, but it did here for me. I admire Natalie for being true to herself and in doing so she honors long-standing quilting tradition from which her own passion for clothing and textiles came from. I clipped that article, kept it for years and years in my inspiration file.

A few weeks ago, I saw the Alabama Stitch Book on the same Borders bookstore and even from afar, I could tell that the photos from the cover were of clothes made by in the mind and the hand of these Alabama women whom I’ve come to admire. In 2006 Project Alabama ceased operations in Alabama to move their production overseas, but Natalie kept her resolve and her dedication to the region and stayed behind and set anew and established Alabama Chanin. Here is a corset top that I made from the pattern and the same reverse applique that made Natalie Chanin and the women of Alabama a worldwide success.

Everything is hand-stitched and while that sounds truly intimidating, I tell you that the experience making this top was totally the opposite. I would come home and work on a panel an hour or so at night while listening to NPR or talking to my friends and before I knew it I was done. This is a gift for Eneen, my sister. I love too that it’s made from my our recycled shirts and the stencil design is from my older sister’s favorite asian decorative plate of cranes and stylized clouds. I hope my sister likes it. Mirela, this is the corset top that I told you about in the forum. The flat-felled seams gives the illusion of boning. It is unfortunate that I can’t provide you with a picture with the dress on. Among Alamaba fans, this top is called “Wonder Alabama” for it’s form-flattering fit.

Material Notes

my brother’s recycled t-shirts *

carpet thread * diy stencil




Garment Type


Alabama Stitch Book


11 Comments Sign in to add a post

  • Lia_1_large

    Nov 23, 2009, 09.50 AMby liaspace

    this is just beautiful

  • Maya_kuzman_large

    Sep 7, 2009, 11.03 AMby sewella

    I want to kick myself in the rears for missing this wonderful piece and this enchanting story behind it! Making clothes for your dearest and investing all your skills and love into that piece is not only fulfilling but also rewarding when worn with pleasure. I am sure your sister loves this top!

  • 91c19aa4990c6adbcc847b0cd29e63e07ae9b3c1_large

    Sep 6, 2008, 07.31 PMby dawntreaderfarm

    This corset is really lovely. I just bought the Alabama Stitch Book. I’ve made one project ( a t-shirt), am working on a skirt (just ran out of thread), and am planning my next one. All of your pieces are really inspiring.

  • 2925467294a46d427c21f1cf841de682cd05855e_large

    Apr 21, 2008, 10.04 PMby amarie

    Hi tigerlounge. I was so excited to read your comment. It’s great to meet someone with roots to the Alabama Stitch Book. This book is really such an inspiration to me in ways I can’t describe. It even sparked the interest to travel to Alabama to get to know the deep south and see those quilts of gee’s bend up close and personal. Thank you for your lovely comments.

  • Missing

    Apr 17, 2008, 11.41 AMby tigerlounge

    Hey Amarie… your corset is lovely! I am really impressed with the quality of your work… I was involved with the book, and am so happy to see someone making a really beautiful garment out of it…

  • Ee8014d4ca996c57355c462f568cd1e7ab199fe2_large

    Mar 31, 2008, 12.13 PMby mirela

    This corset really is very pretty and I can imagine how comfortable and flattering it feels. I’m sure your sister will love it! I enjoyed very much reading your description. I also think sewing keeps me in contact with my childhood memories, when my mom used to make clothes for me and my best friend :) I’ve learned through knitting and crochet that the more lengthly the project is the more rewarding it feels when you are done, even with a lot of hand work involved. I think this corset is a great subject for lots of my leftover jerseys.

  • Securedownload-6_2_large

    Mar 31, 2008, 09.17 AMby antigone

    Beautiful! With such an emotional connection! This is a treasure. I’m sure that your sister will love it.

  • Eba31fd13ba8df2a4b1efa0700fc4d7e8318c661_large

    Mar 30, 2008, 12.05 PMby olar

    I love it too, and hand stitched makes it even more precious.

  • C94b10e754a19be626dd3ae051241a7e18f9a7d8_large

    Mar 29, 2008, 03.27 PMby jj1

    I love that it looks casual enough to wear everyday and yet give you a sophisticated look.

  • 30dc666f97397fb31c295913f5a1f0ab992d7e22_large_large

    Mar 29, 2008, 02.33 PMby nuiwida23

    wow thats beautiful! great job, you have incredible patience!

  • 9ccc50212b116eb71e55ce8ec634542ac78104b3_large

    Mar 29, 2008, 10.41 AMby robinrenee

    This is absolutely amazing. You did a great job with the handstitching. I’m sure your sister will love it.

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