Gertie at STC Craft: Alabama Chanin Ribbon Embroidery


Hello readers, I'm back! After a couple of months filled with travel to various craft and sewing shows, I'm home again and back to my weekly guest blogging here at STC Craft. Oh, and I'm also working diligently to finish up my own book, Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing. (Melanie is making sure of that!)

In my first post here, I wrote about proofreading the new Alabama Chanin book, Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. I fell in love with the ribbon embroidery in the book (see above), and just couldn't wait until the book released to try it out. Author Natalie Chanin was kind enough to send me a sample kit of a stenciled swatch, Japanese cotton ribbon, and some embroidery thread. It took me a little while to get the hang of embroidering with the tape-like ribbon, but once I did, I was addicted. (Tip: use a sharp needle with the biggest eye you can find; Chenille needles worked best for me.) I carried my sample around with me in a small plastic baggie, and would pull it out every chance I got. My subway rides have never gone so fast! There's something so soothing about doing such intricate handwork in the midst of New York City commuter chaos.

The pattern, called Climbing Daisy, is done with simple straight stitches and French knots in the cotton ribbon. The vines are stitched in regular embroidery floss in a stem stitch. You'll usually see ribbon embroidery done in silk ribbon, but Natalie's version is done in cotton, which adds to its simple charm, I think. The ribbon is a special Japanese trim; it's very rustic-looking with a gauzy weave. Don't worry if your local craft shop doesn't sell it; Natalie's company, Alabama Chanin, will be stocking it on their website by the time the book comes out in Spring 2012. If you're in New York, you can also find it at Mokuba, a fabulous Japanese trim store on west 38th Street.

Anyway, here's how my sample turned out. Not bad, huh?

I was pretty devastated when I reached the end of my little square, and I had to call up Alabama Chanin right away to order a full-sized project. They indulged me by stenciling a dress kit with the Climbing Daisy pattern. I'm not really one for wearing lots of neutrals (understatement alert), so I chose a deep rose pink with ivory embroidery. The long pink stitches are for basting the two dress layers together.) 


I've only started one panel, and couldn't help embellishing it further with clear sequins too. The whole dress will likely take me months. Actually, I'm counting on it taking a long time since I need my commuting fix!

What do you think? Are you looking forward to trying the ribbon embroidery in the new Alabama Chanin book? If it's not your speed, don't worry. There's a ton of other embellishment ideas, plus fabulous new garment patterns, including a totally glam long dress with a short train.

That's it for today, readers. I have lots more of my crafty adventures at STC to share with you--see you next week!