I've been a fan of Project Alabama since the mid-90s, or so I recall. So, when I read on Tricia's bits and bobbins blog about Natalie Alabama Chanin going solo, well, of course I needed to go check out the new Alabama Chanin site, post haste! And wow. This stuff is SO. BEAUTIFUL. I love her portfolio - truly breathtaking - and the way she structures her business. She is hiring women that a.) represent an invaluable cultural resource and a dying skill set, and b.) might not have the time to commit to a regular, full-time job, and she is employing them, by piece, on their own schedule. Even more exciting, The Alabama Stitch Book - which I very much want to buy - is both a record for posterity of some of these unique techniques, and an opportunity to pass them on to new, eager learners.
To boot, there's a journal on the site with a couple of DIY projects, including the inside scoop on how to do Project Alabama/Alabama Chanin's famous "reverse applique" technique on a tee-shirt of your very own. I was SO excited to find this as I've always been fascinated by their knits, and desperately wanted to know if I could do it myself.
So, with my lady C's birthday arriving, I decided to give it a go. I've been experimenting more with giving unique, personal, handmade (or hand-altered) gifts lately, and people seem to like them. C did a presentation last year on Tallulah Bankhead in a seminar we had together, and she really seemed to have a blast with it. So! I found an old photo, printed it out, and simplified the design by hand. I didn't use paint to transfer my image, and now I'm concerned about fraying, so I'm going to fray-check all of these edges before I give it to her. I used a delicate, tissue-weight tee from Lucky Jeans with some very soft microfiber jersey to back it. The reverse applique was stitched with a light coral pink, but I used some dark purple thread to basically "draw in" some parts of the image that were too delicate for the reverse applique. I also looked up Tallulah's autograph, and kind of morphed it (she didn't write on a curve!) to incorporate it into the design - you see it there along the right side of her face.
All in all, I'm super happy with the end results, and I hope C will be, too! Happy (belated by the time I finished!) birthday, lady! I think I need one of these, too!
You may have noticed that Anthropologie is selling a Project Alabama - or is it Alabama Chanin? memory fails - tank using this technique for $120 right now. How much do you think it would cost you buy the materials? I'm just sayin'...
I'll leave you with an overall shot to give you a sense of scale: