I don’t expect you to feel sorry for me, but I’m suffering a distinct lack of lavender in the air here on the Upper West Side, now that I’ve returned from a weeklong workshop at Château Dumas in the South of France. I would like to take a restorative walk on quiet roads by fields of sunflowers, but all we’ve got are the cut ones in black plastic buckets on Columbus Avenue.
I’ve got some wonderful things to show for my time away. One of them is knitted, but this one is not:
This is the back of an Alabama Chanin pencil skirt, with kick pleat freshly installed. I adore a kick pleat.
Its layers of organic cotton jersey are two shades of dark and light indigo that were hand-dyed in Alabama. The stencil is called Magdalena. Magdalena is one of the easiest-to-stitch stencils in the Alabama Chanin collection because of all those long, sweeping curves; you can really get a groove going, and bigger stencil motifs mean fewer knots. I chose to stitch the pattern in reverse appliqué, using running stitch, and without beads–also for speed. My reasoning was that I wanted to give myself the best chance of finishing the skirt while I was actually there. I didn’t want to bring home a partially finished project that would compete with my knitting. And needlepoint. And other Alabama Chanin sewing projects.
I came pretty close. On the last day, last Friday, I made the decision to sew up the skirt (Natalie Chanin calls this “construction,” which has such a satisfyingly important sound), even though I hadn’t finished stitching and cutting all the reverse appliqué motifs on the front. By mid-afternoon, I made the decision to sew on the fold-over elastic waistband even though I hadn’t finished felling (topstitching) the second of the two side seams. Thanks to these tactical calls, by the time my workshop-mates gathered for our last heure de l’apéro, I had a wearable skirt, albeit one with a little more optional stitching to be stitched.
If I’d brought home the front and back of the skirt, it would be months before I summoned the gumption and uninterrupted focus time to sit down for a few hours and do the seams and waistband. It is vastly more fun to do these tasks with a supportive band of Chaninistas cheering one on. (And they did.)
I’m proud of myself. The fit is tight as a drum, because I know from experience, and from Natalie’s guidance, that there is a lot of give in cotton jersey, and that it will stretch. With fitted Alabama Chanin garments, you have to aim tighter than you want to end up, or risk a baggy fit. Natalie says, “if it doesn’t draw blood, it fits.” By that definition (and only by that definition), I’m good.
Meanwhile, it may be helpful that fresh croissants are no longer showing up every morning.