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Monday
Jun252012

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.

 

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Reader Comments (10)

I feel the same way -- but my eye was caught by the baby-doll dress and tunic options of the dress pattern (for the tummy-hiding aspect!). I've made about 6 of the 6-gore skirt from Alabama Studio Style. I LOVE how it swings.

June 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnna in Atlanta

So funny! I have just been through a 3-week frenzy of making Alabama Chanin clothes - they are so easy to make! I totally agree, they make you feel differently once you wear them. I am addicted!

June 26, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermari

They are soooo relaxing to stitch... and for the pint-sized folks out there who like to be a stylin' as their Mums... Liesl's Oliver + S Tea Party Dress pattern works great as a toddler-sized version of Nathalie's baby doll/fitted dress...

June 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersarah

Please show the finished dress!

June 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSusie

very beautiful.

June 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermom

I'm up to my elbows (ears?) in making Natalie's clothes right now too. In the past 2 weeks I've put together 2 skirts and 4 tops and have a shopping bag full of more garments to be made while on vacation. That's right. My vacation-out in the middle of nowhere, unplugged, in an adobe house-will center around sewing more Alabama Chanin clothes. He-man will go hiking. I will sew.

June 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJennie

Thank you for posting this. I have seen this book but never gave it a second thought because the fabric colors weren't my style. Seeing the dress in orange stripes makes me want to make it now. I'll be ordering this book.

June 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commenternicole

Love Natalie Chanin (just watched all of her Creativebug videos yesterday too!!) You've inspired me to pick this up again. I kindof petered out on all of the hand sewing on a tank I was making this spring, but have JUST traced the maxi dress and am cutting it out today. Have you ever tried the organic jersey from Near Sea Naturals? I bought a bunch of solid jerseys from them earlier this year and they are really nice. They also have stripes. Anyway, a crib sheet sounds fantastic!! Hope you have enough, and YES PLEASE SHOW US THE FINAL GARMENT!!!

:)

June 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRae

Love this selections. Heading to Natalie's blog now.

July 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChibiwow

I'm inspired by both you and Natalie Chanin and I have some baby weight myself. This could be the perfect project. Thanks, Heather. Please do post a photo!

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

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