Upcycling and Embroidery

I don’t know if you know that part of my life, but I used to be a fashion designer in the past (and it is like bicycle, we never forget !)… Then, after few years, I rejected fashion for the way we made it, both for human and ecological reasons.

During the first lockdown in France, in March 2020, I take advantage of a discount on Craftsy/Bluprint subscription.

With Craftsy, I discover Natalie Chanin and her School of Making. And it was a “revelation” : yes, it is possible to still make clothes with ethical minds !

So I try my hands in that new way, measuring how to make mine her philosophy, and how to enlarge it with my own experience, after all, I still am a fashion designer and I still am a creator and a designer !

So, I will show you my progress and my projects from time to time. Just tell me in comment if you are interested.

I already show you how I draw on a shirt with sublimation printer, using my own doodling art, but with a Sharpie or any permanent pen directly on the shirt it is also possible ! I try it too.

I will show you my progresses, my improvements in Alabama Chanin (and Natalie Chanin) technic, wich is, after research (that I am good too, with my Ph.D. in Art History…) old methods, only actualized and improved.

What is creation now ? It is mostly reuse of other ideas but changing materials, changing tools, in one word, changing a little something to make it actual and to give it modern significations. It is what Alabama Chanin does : using ancient embroidery technics (embroidery points, hand stitching, reverse appliqué (which is the MOLA’s technic in South America) on modern fabrics, here it is jersey and other knitting fabrics. And a bit more than that : on upcycling fabrics !

So this is my first attempt, on an old t-shirt of mines, which was black in its “grandeur” time and now turns into a dark grey (which I like too !):

You could see reverse appliqué, couching string of jersey and appliqué with the pieces I cut after the reverse apliqué (nothing wasted !). That is my firt try and I love it ! I take the time to learn a lot about thread, metric, Tex and decitex, weight and all that terms, which are so different from a material to the others and from countries to others… I make my “thread cards” to keep my search reusable :

I decide to continue with a bigger piece, the Chanin’s Swing Skirt. And here, I want to use my own design, a carp koi motif. I draw it, and ask to hubby to 3D print it to make my stencil (why not ?)

And go with my old airspray… After repair it, it works like a charm ! I first try it on my sewing machine denim cover with a glitter grey fabric painting (I draw the ripples by hand) :

For the skirt, I use a dark heather grey jersey for the top layer and a heather raw white jersey (both upcycling) for the back layer.

Here you see the raw white embroidery stitches around the carp shapes. I decide not to cut all the shapes, because I like the gradient effect (I do it to save painting as I plan to cut it, but finally, I change my mind…)

The skirt finished, I see a “hole” between carps, so I add a lilly leaf. Et voilà ! (by the way, you also see my “new” body, after 18 months of a keto diet!)

I a future post, I will show you the next project I have done, the Chanin’s Bucket Hat, with her Fern Stencil. For the occasion, I enlarge my tools, buying another airspray and compressor, testing economical way of making my own fabric painting, making airbrush pen holders (for Sharpie and Posca pens) with the 3D printer… I love experimenting ! I also make the hat to experiment several thread and several embroidery technics before beginning the “big project” of a jacket!

Here is my first scrap of jersey before the hat :

So let me know if you are interested in my experiences and if you want to know how I do this or that… I will try to use more of my designs, show you how we could use the scrapboking stuff that you buy or the freebies that you collect to make something else.

I will show you my new handy embroidery tools too, that I made in the need…

And as always, thanks for reading… (and excuse my typos and English mistakes, please).