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Archive for the ‘Swatch Club – Alabama Chanin’ Category

This year I totally splurged and subscribed to the Alabama Channin Swatch of the Month club. From the moment I first found an Alabama Chanin book at the book store, I’ve been intrigued by their patterns and stitching, and am excited to stitch along this year. They focus on hand stitching, which I love to do!

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When ordering, I could pick from five different colorways: Reds, Blues, Neutrals, White/Natural, and Navy/Black. My first inclination was to choose blue (of course!), but I’ve been sewing on my Ocean Waves quilt for the last few years, and I’m kind of over blue. So I thought red would be a fun way to mix things up. It is probably my least favorite color, and I thought it would be good to spend some time with it. Plus, they match the most gorgeous ruby and maroon colors with the more traditional red. After receiving my first swatch of the month, thread, and beads, I’m so glad I chose red!

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As you might have picked up on following my posts, I love hand sewing. I think this monthly swatch club will be a great way to practice and expand my skills. I don’t typically use beads or do much embellishment besides the simple quilting stitches, so I hope to broaden my appreciation for and ability to use beads. I’m going to try to use beads in every swatch.

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The typical Alabama Chanin style is to take cotton jersey, and stencil one layer with a pattern, and overlay it over another piece of cotton jersey. The two layers are then stitched together with a heavy duty thread called button thread. Then fabric is cut away to reveal the fabric beneath. This allows for complex patterns to emerge between the colors, the layers, the stitching, and the embellishment. The possibilities are endless!

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I chose to do reverse applique, sewing around the stencil with a simple running stitch, then cutting out the circle revealing the color beneath. I then chose to use beads to create another circle around the circle.

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As a quilter I typically use quilting cotton, regular thread and a small needle. It was such a pleasure in sewing my first swatch to feel the different materials: the stretchy softness of the cotton jersey, the thick sturdiness of the button thread, and the shiny sparkle of the glass beads.

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Last year, when I was on the fence about whether to purchase the 2014 swatch club, I chatted a bit with my crafter friend Vickie, who has sewn a few clothing items from Alabama Chanin. She brought up a great point that it is good to prioritize where you want to go, and to spend money on projects that help you go in that direction. Additionally, we have so few opportunities when we live so rural, that these types of online or mail learning options are good to take advantage of. These ideas have been mulling around in my head for the last year, so when the swatch club continued in 2015, I knew it was a direction I wanted to go!

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I can’t wait to get started on February’s swatch! What to make with the blocks at the end of the year? Alabama Chanin suggests putting them in a binder to create a kind of reference library, or sew them together to make a small lap quilt. Already, I’d like to try my hand at making a shirt or skirt!

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