Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

Black and Blue, and worn all over


If you know anything about Alabama Chanin or have seen the clothes, then I really don’t have much to add to your knowledge and exposure, so this post is really all about me and showing off!

First outfit finished! Yeah FINISHED……..



Everything is so tactile and soft


I lengthened the bolero to cut just above the waist rather than just below the back bra strap


Not so fitted tunic and skirt


Close up of 10,000,000 stitches – I counted!

DSCN4459 DSCN4466 DSCN4471


OK, so now a little bit of detail.

The bolero has a plait made from cotton jersey ropes around the edges, slipped stitched in place.



It is a wee bit reversible in that the black side has a band of jersey to cover the stitches on the navy side.


All the patterns are from Alabama Studio Sewing book: fitted tunic, mid length skirt and bolero. All the seams on each item are hand sewn and felled to the outside. The stencil pattern is Anna’s garden.


I underestimated how long it takes to cut out the stitched pieces – each skirt panel (4) took 3 hours in cutting! So now on my next pieces I stitch, then cut as I go. Probably still takes 3 hours but at least it’s interspersed with something interesting.

All the items are incredibly easy to wear, so comfortable and really surprisingly robust. I did think that hand sewn clothes would be fragile but they are very sturdy. I love the simple shapes of these pieces too. These are all double layered so I think they will last into winter and all the way out the other side.

I did a rough guess calculation, based on amount of embellishment and prices of similar things on AC website

Tunic – $1,300

Skirt – $2,700

Boler0 – $300

Scarf – $ 60

That’s a whopping $4,360, which I made for about £25 (excluding the book) and had a fun time doing it too. Now surely that’s reason enough for those of you still on the fence……


Time to sit back in the old deckchair where most of this work was done, relax, enjoy the early September sunshine and bask in the comfort and pride of sewing this all by hand…….. except…..



While I was in the garden taking the photos, look what DHL delivered

DSCN4481Another ten thousand metres of cotton jersey!

49 thoughts on “Black and Blue, and worn all over

  1. OMG amazing. I can’t even imagine how you must feel when you slip those masterpieces on. I don’t even know what to type I’m so blown away. Wow.

  2. So sew fabulous! I find hand sewing as relaxing as a couple of martinis. What am I waiting for? Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Wow. That outfit is just fantastic. So much work involved. Glad to hear it was fun for you; I’m afraid I wouldn’t have the patience to see it through (like some of those half finished knitting projects in the closet!).

  4.! Gorgeous, gorgeous work and the fit is fantastic. I’m working on my first piece – the corset top – right now while I’m waiting for the postman to deliver more supplies. Thanks for the advice about cutting; I was saving it for last, but I might start cutting after ever other piece is finished.

  5. Fabulous work Ruth!! The entire outfit looks great on you and the stitching is amazing. I LOVE hand sewing too – getting ready to cut out a few Chanel style jackets so that I have some nice projects to work on in the fall and winter evenings if there is a show on tv I want to see (I hate to just sit here and not be doing something).
    Great job again – thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks K. Nothing like a Chanel to keep those fingers from twitching. I know these items look casual and the stitches are visible but there are many couture techniques involved too

  6. I love AC, I have all their books and have taken the Natalie’s Craftsy class Hand embellishing Knit Fabric. I am so impressed by your 3, not 1 but 3! fantastic garments. They are wonderful and you look great in them.

  7. Beautiful – and I love the cost comparison !


  8. You look great in all your pieces! And I am amazed at your hand stitching speed; that would be a three-year project for me:)

  9. Fabulous!! But I wonder how hardwearing cotton jersey is. Does it ball/pill?

    • I’ll have to get back to you on that one Vicki as I haven’t worn them much yet. I can tell you that you have to wash each garment on completion due to all the handling that’s taken place.

  10. Well done! These are great pieces and make an awesome edgy outfit.

  11. Amazing! You have every right to “show off”. Great job!

  12. OH MY GAWD! I just screamed when I saw this beautiful work! I bow to you, Ruth!

  13. What a fabulous job you’ve done Ruth! Truly inspirational. The outfit looks great on you. 😀

  14. Ruth, this is phenomenal. I have this book, and patterns, and just imagined sewing perhaps a pocket. 🙂 Well deserved praise!!!

  15. they look really stunning on…. I can’t imagine doing any myself any time soon as I have so much else planned but kudos to you for achieving such beautiful garments in such a short space of time, your productivity leaves me gasping sometimes.

    • Cejay, I have bought so much good old fashioned woven fabrics already for my A/W wardrobe so I know exactly what you mean by having other things planned – I need a project management schedule! Really, I’m not that productive, remember I was off work most of the summer so had plenty of time. Things will slow down now that I’m back!

  16. Great job, Ruth! Have you noticed that the pieces shrink with the stitches or do they grow when the top layer of fabric is cut away? Always thinking about fabric performance and whether the technique alters the sizing in any way.

    • That’s a great question. As I’ve been sewing, the pieces seem to be getting smaller (and, of course, less flexible), but I assumed they’d go back to normal after the cutting. However, I’d like to know too.

      • One reply for both of you.
        I haven’t noticed a great deal of shrinkage and remember the cotton jersey is stretchy. Keep your stitches relaxed and press well to set them into the fibres. If anything, mine seem to get bigger with all that handling and turning. I’ve had to increase the seam allowance from 1/4″ to 1/2″ on the skirts.

  17. This is crazy good. I can’t believe how much you have made. Fabulous and I love the plaited edging!!

    • Pauline, I know you’re busy so thank you so much for taking the time. Chickens. grand-children, work, life and new home – I hope you still have time for sewing though.

  18. Although I can really appreciate the work that goes into it, I have never had the desire to actually own an AC garment myself. You, however, look terrific in yours. Well done- all those hours have paid off. It has even got me thinking……………could I possibly manage to go down this route??

    • Thank you Sheree. I totally understand that this is not everyone’s style but maybe, just maybe…. You might just sit some winter evening and think – I could do a wee bit of running stitch in some cotton jersey…..

  19. So very, very pretty. It looks lovely on you as well. The newly delivered fabrics are wonderful colors!

  20. Every weekend i used to go to see this site, as i
    want enjoyment, for the reason that this this site
    conations in fact nice funny material too.

  21. Your finished pieces are just amazing! Your finished outfit is just awesome!

  22. Pingback: Falling Leaves | corecouture

  23. Beautiful figure, you should really get snapchat and put your ideas on that x

  24. Pingback: Nancy’s Jacket | fit for a queen

  25. I have Natalie Chanin’s books but haven’t used them yet. Now I am inspired! Did you get from fabric from Alabama Studio or somewhere else?

Let's talk.....

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s