Alabama Chanin’s Alabama Studio Sewing + Design

Living in Toronto, we have a fantastic library system. And I consider it a sewing notion! With a library card, you can reserve material and have them sent to your local library for pick up. You can get reminders to return materials/pick up your hold items e-mailed to you. You can check out e-books (I haven’t tried this yet). And you can return your books to any branch, not just the branch you borrowed from. It’s pretty awesome. Thanks to Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow to remind me of this!

So what did I borrow?  The second Drape Drape book, Alabama Studio Sewing + Design and Gerties New Book for Better Sewing (which is still in transit).  Last year I checked out Twinkle Sews.

I think each book deserves it’s own post, no?  By the way, the Trusting Canadian Library also includes the actual paper patterns in the books.  So I can trace my heart away and get the patterns too!  The Twinkle Sews book had a CD so I just copied the pattern jpgs.

Alabama Chanin

In all my hours spent on sewing related internet stuff, I just recently – like in the past 2 weeks discovered Alabama Chanin.  CAUTION: YOUR MIND IS ABOUT TO BE BLOWN!!

Seriously high-end sustainable couture sewing & embellishment totally hand sewn.  The whole garment.  Skirts retail upwards of $900, that’s how high end this is.  Made in the USA with locally sourced materials where possible, and hand crafted by skilled artisans paid real wages.  But wait – it’s accessible too, as the owner of the company realizes that the cost of many of these items is out of reach for the average person.  So she has published several books with patterns and detailed instructions on the techniques used to create these unique garments.  Here’s a sample so you get the drift:

The garments are created with cotton jersey (which they sell on their website – I’ll put links at the very bottom of the post) and ‘organically’ embellished with several techniques; stencilling; applique & reverse applique. All of which is further embellished by hand embroidery and/or beading depending on the complexity and use of the finished garment. And the garments are all SEWN BY HAND folks. Yes, including the construction. Here are some samples – the price is for a sewing kit, not the finished garment:

Garden Fitted Knit Reverse applique top: Kit $130.00

DIY Rose Tank Dress Kit: $340.00

Here is a sample of a heavily embellished RTW garment:

Little Folks Wrap skirt: $2,250.00

The book covers all of the techniques used to make these stunning garments, and includes patterns/instructions for tops (t shirts, tank top, tunics), dresses short and long, skirts short and long, bucket hat, poncho, wrap and fingerless gloves)

There are 3 books with techniques and patterns, some include home sewing, this book features garments only and is the latest.  The studio also sells materials and has workshops.  Here are some fun links:

Alabama Chanin Website

Alabama Chanin on

Restless Grace (a blog featuring some Alabama Chanin Garments)

Alabama Chanin Garments on (you’ll need to be a member – which is free, to see them) – video workshops on Alabama Chanin Techniques ($11.99)


Because the owner is a former filmmaker, there are quite a view Vimeo videos about the clothing and company; here is one from Youtube.