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Three Alabama Chanin-Inspired Tutorials

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In 2013, Linda took her first workshop with Alabama Chanin down in Florence, Alabama. It was a weekend that would change her sewing forever as she started incorporating Alabama Chanin's signature intricate embroidery and appliqué techniques into her own garments. It also introduced her to the beautiful American-made, organic cotton knits manufactured and used by Natalie Chanin in her designs. Today we are one of the few places where you can buy the full range (25 colors) of Alabama Chanin knit! But, what if you don't want to spend all that time hand stitching, beading or appliquéing? What if you just want to add a little detail to a simple garment? Well, we have three ideas for you.

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Creating a Scallop-Back MixIt Tank

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 At our Sewing Workshop at the Sew Arkansas retreat last April we hand-dyed silk to use as linings in the Tremont or San Diego jackets. I decided to use some of my silk to create a scalloped-back MixIt Tank. I mixed the pink silk with our a stripe ponte knit. The process is simple, and I love how the addition of the scallop hem adds a little surprise to the MixIt.

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Matching the Cottage Shirt

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​Those of you who followed along our Cottage Shirt Sew-Along may have wondered why I didn't show my finished Cottage. Well, there I was, getting ready to sew the buttonholes when I realized that the fabric design didn't match in front. And I knew that I just couldn't wear the shirt with a non-matching front.

I rarely use a print that is as grid-like as this one, so mostly I don't worry about matching prints. In fact, the prints not matching on the side didn't bother me at all, but something about that center front being off was just too much for me. So I took the almost-finished Cottage apart and started again.

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The Hoodless West End

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I've always liked the look of the West End Jacket. It is a great looking, casual jacket that can be thrown over anything. However, I am not a fan of a hood, so I have avoided making it. But when I was thinking about making a garment using our fabulous Palm Tree fabric, I decided that it was time to tackle a woven, hoodless version of the West End. Creating the jacket without the hood was incredibly simple, involving just a few tweaks to the pattern. Read along to see how I did it and make your own!

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Topstitching Tips for the Stafford Jacket

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Our new Stafford Jacket was inspired by that most classic of garments, the jean jacket. Who doesn't have a jean jacket (even I have one and I don't own any actual jeans!). There is just something so right about the slouchy denim jacket. It is comfortable, functional and always looks good. Thinking about the Stafford, we combined the archetypal jean jacket with a cropped swing shape. The most unique feature of a jean jacket is the wonderful topstitching featured on the front, a detail we incorporated into the Stafford. Good topstitching is the hallmark of a professional looking garment, but can be tricky to perfect. Read on for some suggestions on making your topstitching clean and professional.

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Sewing Coated Fabrics

Sewing Coated Fabrics

We've created limited edition Boulder Duffle kits in luxe gold and silver metallic fabric. And while we are all in agreement that the bags are fabulous (who doesn't want bling-y bag?), we are also in agreement that sewing fabrics that have a coating on them such as faux leather, oilcloth, and laminated fabrics can be tricky. Sometimes the fabric doesn't move through the sewing machine well because the fabric is sticky so the stitch lengths are uneven and skipped. Most times, they are almost impossible to press without melting or crinkling the surface. And if you make a mistake and need to remove stitches, holes appear, so you want to try to get it right the first time. Because we want you to have your kit and make it too, we've pulled some of our fabric sewing tricks from our Sewing Faux Fashion Leather Sew Confident! tutorial to help you create your own metallic Boulder Duffle

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When To Use A Backer Button

When To Use A Backer Button

Not every button has to be the same on a garment. After looking at the over-the-top mixed looks this season of Etro, Gucci and Dolce and Gabbana, I decided to shake it up a little bit on my "Burberry" silk charmeuse and pebble textured knit Liberty/MixIt Shirt. You can find the tutorial to combine these two patterns in our August 2017 Sew Confident! tutorial, The Liberty MixIt Fusion. In this tutorial Linda combined the general shape of the Liberty with the neckline of the MixIt. She also teaches you how to shorten the sleeves, create a new self-facing, and create perfect mitered corners. 

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Underlining the Valencia Pants

Underlining the Valencia Pants

When you love a fabric, but it's not quite the right weight for the piece that you want to make, what do you do? This is what happened to me recently. I fell in love with this printed handkerchief linen fabric and couldn't get past the idea of making pants. But the fabric was too sheer for a bottom weight.

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Trend Alert! Combination Tees

Trend Alert! Combination Tees

​I've been seeing a new trend in t-shirts popping up recently. Stores like Anthropologie and Modcloth are updating the classic top by combining different prints and fabrics. This isn't a totally new concept, but it can be tricky to sew a woven and a knit together. Luckily, Linda has us covered. She created a tutorial for this very trend last year - she is so on top of it! Check out some of the ready-made shirts I've seen in stores below, as well as the Eureka tutorial. I'm re-publishing the original post so you can make your own combination top with the Eureka pattern!

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Breton Stripe eTee Dress

Breton Stripe eTee Dress

Since being introduced by Coco Chanel in her 1917 Nautical Collection, the Breton striped shirt – originally designed as a French naval uniform – has held a firm place in fashion's favor. The jaunty stripe is casual yet chic and gives its wearer a splash of insta-cool. You can find the Breton in shirts, dresses, scarfs and sweaters. This ubiquitous stripe has found itself made into every garment under the sun, though it is most popular in a classic t-shirt. 

As the days are getting warmer, I've been thinking about easy summer clothes that take no time to make, but are stylish enough to wear for work or play. Inspired by some dresses I saw online, I decided to make myself a Breton stripe t-shirt dress. Luckily, I had our classic eTee pattern at hand...

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Today's Outfit: Get Alex's Look

Today's Outfit: Get Alex's Look

Alex took the new Memphis Dress pattern to the next level, making it her very own. Be inspired and get this look today.

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Today's Outfit: Get Alex's Look

Today's Outfit: Get Alex's Look

Alex spent some time in Eureka Springs, Arkansas for our Sewing Workshop retreat this past week where she whipped up a great version of the Alex Top. Be inspired and get this look today. 


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San Diego Neckline Tips

San Diego Neckline Tips

The San Diego pattern has a very unique way of making the facing and collar. The process isn't difficult but requires precise stitching to get a clean, sharp look. We have made a lot of San Diego samples and have found, through trial and error, several tricks for more accurate stitching. To help you make your best San Diego, we have put together a little tutorial on sewing the neckline, complete with tips that we have found make the process easier. Enjoy!

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Sequin Skirt Inspiration

Sequin Skirt Inspiration

Sequins. It's the perfect festive addition to your wardrobe and we've got the perfect pairing for you!


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An Unexpected & Essential Sewing Tool

An Unexpected & Essential Sewing Tool

Sometimes the simplest tools can be the best. Take the humble tweezer. Sure, it has been stereotyped as a bathroom-only apparatus used only for splinters and the stray eyebrow hair. But the tweezer is more than that, it is an apparatus that can be used in the most delicate of sewing situations. 

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Eileen Fisher Inspired Ikina Jacket

Eileen Fisher Inspired Ikina Jacket

Have you seen a version of a beautiful oversized red jacket flying around the inter-webs? Well, according to Melissa Greene and friends, it's all over the place and she just had to make a version of it, and, well . . . we love it.

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eTee Conversion to Cap Sleeve

eTee Conversion to Cap Sleeve

Carol Scott attended Sew Kansas this summer and wore a really cute variation of the eTee that resulted from her running out of fabric! We asked her to share her process.

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Eureka Top Variation

Eureka Top Variation

Here's a take on a pieced variation of the staple pattern, the Eureka Top.

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Long Mimosa Vest

Long Mimosa Vest

I love the look of long vests and sleeveless blazers. Our Mimosa Top has a lovely shape and crossover neckline that gives it that perfect structured look. 

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Add Walking Ease to Jackets and Coats

Add Walking Ease to Jackets and Coats

In the December 16, 2015 blog post called French Terry Topper, I described the process of lengthening the Chicago Jacket to make a longer version in French terry. The coat looks and feels great, but I noticed after it was made that it wants to fly open at the bottom a bit, even when just hanging on a hanger.

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Crinkled Cotton Barcelona Top

Crinkled Cotton Barcelona Top

I love crinkled fabrics. Not only are they interesting, but they hide a lot of things that you don't want to show, including your stitches!

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Short Sleeve Barcelona Top

Short Sleeve Barcelona Top

​Have you seen the Barcelona Top? Our brand new pattern is perfect for summer with one easy modification - shorten the sleeves. See how easy it is to make your Barcelona comfortable for the heat wave! 

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Lantern-Leg Trio Pants

Lantern-Leg Trio Pants

Pants silhouettes are ever-changing, but one constant in the last few seasons is that pants tend to have interesting shapes and details on the lower portion of the legs.

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Plaza Vest

Plaza Vest

Every time I fly to Chicago, I always make time to walk through Neiman Marcus on Michigan Avenue to see the Eskandar line of clothing.The pieces are simple. The designer basically turns out the same designs every season and simply changes up the fabrications and perhaps a length or two.

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Working with a Border Print

Working with a Border Print

I've known Ellen March, editor of Sew News magazine, for a long time. I wrote articles for her and even fielded questions in the Q&A department for years. When she called me and asked if I would be a guest on her Sew It All TV show, I couldn't resist an opportunity to work with her in another format — on camera!

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Zona Jacket Adaptation

Zona Jacket Adaptation

The inspiration for this jacket came from an OSKA advertisement. It was a yellow felled-wool jacket that had all the "bones" of our Zona Jacket. I love to create garments with boucle nylon and wool fabric using lapped seams and raw edge techniques.

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Chicago Jacket French Terry Topper

Chicago Jacket French Terry Topper

French terry is a type of jersey knit fabric that has vertical ribs on one side of the fabric and fine loops on the other side, unlike terrycloth, which has loops on both sides. It has entered the fashion scene once again and is used by designers for all kinds of ready-to-wear including coats and toppers.

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Metallic Terry Vest

Metallic Terry Vest

This Metallic Terry Knit is very unique. Soft and warm with the perfect amount of sparkle. A traditional sweatshirt or jacket just wouldn't do. The new Tremont Jacket pattern has a great fit. So why not try a vest?

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Hand-Stitched Leaf Stencil eTee

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After my wonderful retreats at Alabama Chanin in Florence, Alabama last summer and again this summer, my obsession with AC-style stitching is unrelenting—not driven, but truly relaxing and satisfying.

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Now Spring Dress

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The tulips and irises are blooming. The toes are painted and sandals are out. It's spring! Wearing dresses is a simple way to get dressed in the morning, year round. But it's essential in the spring and summer to stay cool. In an effort to make every pattern into a tunic or dress, I tackled the Now Shirt.

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3rd St. Bag

3rd Street Bag

Sometimes simplicity is enough. Take a great fabric, add some cool webbing, and make a straight-up conventional tote bag, just for fun. Not bad for a Saturday afternoon watching a little college basketball and enjoying some rare winter sunshine coming through my sewing room window.

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Random Ruffle eTee

Random Ruffle eTee

And the stitching goes on! Using the new eTee download pattern and the Alabama Chanin organic cotton knit in Dark Grey, Kathy created this darling t-shirt that she claims is "girly", but we love it anyway for its creativity and charm.

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Pleated Riviera

Pleated Riviera


Riviera Pleated Top, Japanese Printed Cottons

The Sewing Workshop was lucky enough to host a great group of garment sewers in Eureka Springs in April for a fun three-day workshop. Several of the participants wanted more detailed instructions on how the pleating was done on left front of this Riveria Shirt made from Japanese cotton.
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Long Helix Tee

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I lengthened this one 3″ and used two colors of the Alabama Chanin organic cotton jersey in white and natural. Plus I used the embroidery floss to hand stitch some parallel lines of diagonal running stitch embellishment along the lower right front.

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Gathering Up the Urban Tee

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Here's a little tutorial so you can create your own Ruffle Urban T-Shirt!

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Icon Vest: Linda's Favorite New Garment

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On a recent trip to Mulberry Silks in Carlboro, NC, I saw Nancy Quaintance in yet again one of her fabulous creations. She was wearing an Icon Shirt as a vest made in a combination of leather and wool. I was so enchanted with it, that I came home and made one for myself in a Chocolate Brown Cloque.

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Whistles Shirt Without the Whistles

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Whistle-less shirt in a handkerchief weight stripe linen that is easy to sew and wear.

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Quincy Top Button Front Variation

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I don't always want a zipper closure on the Quincy Top. I can't always find the exact color and length of separating zipper - at least quickly. Also, the fabric that I used, EBL004 Linen - Frosty Pink & Green, was so soft and semi-sheer, that I thought a zipper would be too heavy. So it is possible to convert the front to a button closure with some simple adjustments.

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How to Lengthen the eShrug

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Has the eShrug become your summer staple yet?  I know it has for me. It's always chilly at our office, so the shrug is so easy to throw on with a simple tank, button-down shirt or sleeveless dress.  But what happens when the AC really gets out of hand? 

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Sewing an Asymmetric Mitered Hem

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One of the most interesting features of the Liberty Shirt is the beautiful hem finishing. Since the back is longer than the front, there are two corners that need attention in a special way. The bottom hem in the back is a 2 1/2” finished hem and the adjacent side vent hems are 1 3/8”. The instructions for mitering this corner condition is just one of the seven mitering techniques that Linda has written in her book, Mastering Miters.

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San Diego Tunic

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I do believe that spring is going to grace us with it's presence this weekend.  Finally, I can wear floral without a wool cardigan, scarf & gloves.  What a concept! I'm ready to pull out the lightweight linen, colorful florals, and vivid accessories.

And when the garments in my closet don't excite me for the upcoming season, why not create something new? Using a pattern that never fails, Linda created a fresh new San Diego tunic.

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Sweater Knit Verona Jacket-Free Tutorial

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I just can't stop sewing.  Those creative juices are flowing!!!

Next stop, the Verona Jacket.  The Verona Jacket has always been "uncharted territory" for me.  It's a little more fitted than I would normally choose to wear.  I like more movement & flexibility in my clothing.  But this is such a great pattern, I needed to find a fabric that would make this garment work for me.  Then we received the most amazing heavy-weight wool knits, in floral.  I couldn't resist.

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Double Layer MixIt Tank

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I like to layer my clothing so I can adapt to seasonal changes or to temperature variations in buildings, and the one of the best garments to make for that purpose is a tank.

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