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  • Writer's pictureLonda

My Alabama Chanin-Inspired Knit Top

Updated: May 27, 2022

Like many of you, during the initial days of the Covid-19 issue, I spent alot of time in front of the TV at night these days. Since the Florence, AL headquarters for Alabama Chanin is just 2 hours from my home, I’ve been privileged to visit there twice. This is my 2nd ‘Alabama Chanin-inspired’ Top. This time, I decided to use 2 ready-made T-shirts of the exact same size. These are by Bella: 65% polyester and 35% rayon – very soft and flowy – pretty much opposite of the heavier ‘Alabama Chanin’ 100% cotton jersey….but it worked, just fine! If ‘Alabama Chanin’ is new to you, read a really good article on this wonderful American business HERE.

finished 'Alabama-Chanin' top


I was inspired to go ahead and get it started when a sewing friend, Kathryn from our Jackson Sewing Guild did some gorgeous tops for her granddaughters. See one of her sweet tops below. Isn’t her stitching amazingly even and precise?

friend's reverse applique top

For the stencil patterns, I went back to my collection from Diane Ericson. I’ve cut many of the stencils of hers apart, but I think the skinny elongated shapes that I did NOT cut out are from the Diane‘s All the Bugs StencilCollection. What I often did in my stenciling in the past, was to flip a stencil, making a mirror image of it – which I wish I’d done in this case as well, but sadly, I didn’t take time to do that. Since these shapes were so skinny, I decided to do a running stitch down the center of each, NOT treating it as a reverse applique. The larger shapes – I simply cut stencils myself.

upclose work on hand embroidery

First Challenge

re-cutting under layer

When I put the shirts on, one on top of the other, I realized that one could peek in right under my arms to see my bra – UGH! I had the idea of cutting the underneath grey T into a sleeveless top, taking it in at the side seam – which IS what I did – as I’ll show you below. OH my – how I wish I’d not come up with this idea. Wearing a tube top underneath would have been infinitely easier!!!

That being said, you can see above how I put my Londa’s Terrific T Top pattern on top of the front of this T to cut it with a higher armhole. I should have planned my stencil/reverse applique BEFORE taking this step!

At any rate, it was successful, even if I did have to ‘patch’ some of the cut off grey ‘fabric’ back in to create the backside of some of my reverse applique work. You can see in the snapshot below how, when I lift my arm, you see the tighter-fitted grey under portion of this garment.

Stitchin’ & Fixin’

Take another look at this close-up of my ‘Alabama Chanin’ stitching. I used the Size 22 Chenille Needle and the Button Craft Thread that I sell HERE at my website. I’ve been getting quite a few orders for multiple boxes of this thread recently, so I know this therapeutic ‘evening chair’ stitching hobby is being enjoyed by many these ‘at-home’ days.

upclose work on hand embroidery

At the very bottom (center) you can see where I had to ‘patch’ in as I mentioned above. The paint I used was a metallic silver. I also opted to have my knots on the outside of my garment for added ‘texture’. I don’t tie my knots as taught in the ‘Alabama Chanin’ method, but rather as you see in my video HERE. I guess I’m just old and stuck in my ways…

The long ‘antler’ shapes were just too small to cut out, so I simply stitched down the center of each of those.

bak shoulder view

And on the Back…

I always like to see something interesting from the backside of a garment as well, so you can see in this picture how I let my work ‘flow’ over my right shoulder.

The other thing I’ll point out regarding my design, placement work, is that I made the stitching flow from my RIGHT shoulder. Why? Because we read from the left to the right, so as others look at me, their focus is naturally at my right shoulder (their left). I was taught that that is also the reason it is best to put nametags on your right shoulder.

finished 'Alabama-Chanin' top

Around the neckline, I did the Chainstitch – which worked out quite well. Also – at the left hip, I shirred just the outer maroon T-shirt using a 6″ piece of 1/8″ braided elastic as I teach in my Sensational Shirring pattern and my DVD on sewing knits.

MY NEXT PROJECT for the Armchair TV-Binging Evenings:

I’ll have fun working my way through all the stitches in the Alabama Chanin book shown as I stitch them onto pieces of seersucker fabric for the upper portion of a top like this catalog tear-out.

Though I wrote this Blog Post initially back in 2020, I STILL haven't gotten to the project below!

next hand embroidery sewing project

My Favorite Alabama Chanin Books:

  1. Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns – ALL the basic How-To’s.

  2. The Geometry of Hand-Stitching (newest book)

Sadly, though I had just checked with my supplier and they were available, as I received orders today, I found they are now OUT, so you’ll have to go to or, Amazon. That big monster, Amazon, is both our friend and the foe of small business. Back to work I go…with marketing my own products, which ‘A’ will never have! Off my soapbox for the day.

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