Right on time. It’s summer, so naturally I find myself at the bottom of a deep, cool well of love for Alabama Chanin.
Last summer, the fever hit me in France. The malady was expected, seeing as how I was at an Alabama Chanin retreat, with members of my sewing circle, new sewing friends, and Natalie Chanin, at the time. I made a pencil skirt with an actual kick pleat. I completed it, start to finish, at the workshop. I was only a tiny bit crazed by the end of the week.
Then I came home, and knitting reasserted its dominance over my crafting life. Sometimes, I couldn’t even get it together to find my Alabama Chanin sewing to take it to work on at sewing circle. I just sat there knitting, resting on the tolerance of my sewing sisters.
But on July 4, when I cracked open my Alabama Chanin Flag Quilt kit, I was a goner. I have been in a frenzy of Alabama Chanin love ever since. Every spare minute, I’m sewing. My Instagram feed is my witness. I’m running about a block a day. They are so compact, and speedy, the blocks that make up the pieced stripes of Old Glory in this kit.
I started out following the chart as closely as I could. My goal was to finish this thing. To git R done as fast as possible (which was still going to be a very long time). I used the most speedy technique I know: reverse appliqué using running stitch. We ain’t got time for back stitch!
But when you spend hours sewing, your mind starts working. I started thinking of the big and small ways I’d like to make this project my own. All of these ways will take more time. Some of them will involve back stitch.
First thought: I’d like the palette of my flag to be a little less tea-stained, a little less Early American, a little more sparkly and bright. So I started using white thread, and tomato red thread instead of wine red. I started thinking about whether I had any stenciled white cloth that I might sub in for some of the dove-colored strips.
Second thought: The flag kit does not come with beads. But beads would up the sparkle factor. And I happen to have three packs of Alabama Chanin beads, from last August when we were packing up after the workshop, and a Voice told me, Kay, take the beads. You may need them. So I took red, white, and silver glass beads from the Czech Republic. And now I have a use for them. I love the heft and swing that beads give to a fabric.
Third thought: I need to involve my friends, somehow. Maybe I can get Melanie to lend me the stencil she designed. Maybe I can get a few friends to do a block, here and there. Maybe I can do some stencils with text, and seed them into the beautiful floral and geometric stencils in the kit. I love text in quilts, and maybe this quilt needs a few more words.
In the meantime, I keep sewing whenever I can. It scratches the same itch as knitting, which is both a good and bad thing. It’s good, because I love knitting and the feeling of calm purposefulness that knitting (and sewing by hand) give me. It’s bad, because sewing cuts into my knitting time, and I have lots of projects on the needles.
Meanwhile, it’s summer, and I feel at one with the universe.