How Natalie (Alabama) Chanin Saved My Summer.

Humidity + residual baby weight = blech.

Ive got it easy, I know. I don't have to dress up for an office or for a fashion-conscious family, my commute is between my bed and my desk and the fridge, and Bee throws up me no matter what I have on, without prejudice. But STILL, who wants to head into summer (which, for all the waiting, always sneaks up on you) with a closet full of tight waistbands and legs the color of eggshells? I was a single Buy It Now Button away from owning a bulk lot of vintage muu-muus (I was delayed momentarily on the underwear or no underwear thing. Did you know that Lily Pulitzer never wore any under all of those bright caftans?) when Natalie Chanins new book landed on my desk and saved me from myself.

Natalie designs with summer in mind. Better yet, humid, eastern, summers, where a single dress must a) encourage afternoon naps b) feel at home in the kitchen, the garden, the cafe, and the market, and c) flatter shamelessly without clinging. Wow. That sort of describes the ideal husband too, doesn't it? Any-hoo. I'm a longtime fan of Natalie's clothing designs and was at the front of the line when her first book came out, having admired her work on the racks of Barneys and the like. Her sewing patterns do not dissappoint. These are the same dresses, tops, skirts, and accessories that carry four figure price tags and are coveted by ec-groovy lady rock stars. The same ones. But in her books, Natalie teaches you how to make them yourself. The styles are amazingly simple, it's the beautiful handwork that adorn them that earn those high prices. This might have been the summer that I took on one of Natalies genius embellishment process, but I put all of my needles safely out of reach while baby-proofing and haven't been able to find them since. It's OK, though, because Natalies pieces stand on their style and fit alone, and I happen to have a big piece of organic stripey jersey that is just begging to be turned into a fresh little dress.

Natalie's pieces are so simple to sew together. Her aesthetic begs for raw edges, not fussy finishes. They go together in a single evening, and when you pull them on they don't just make you look better than you did in whatever you were wearing before, they make you feel better.  If you've not yet dicovered the joy of the ankle length summer dress, you really must at least try to make this in it's longest length. You can always cut it shorter and just let the hem curl up a bit. Natalie would totally approve.

If you don't happen to have some cast-off crib sheets around, I suggest looking here and here for the perfect jersey fabric for Natalie's skirts, tops and dresses. Or buy a kit from Natalie herself.

Easy to make, easy to wash, easy to wear. Hello Summer. Thank You Natalie.