Alabama Chanin tank and birthday thoughts

Way back in December, I shared a hint of an Alabama Chanin camisole. I finished it shortly after but didn’t get a picture of it. I also haven’t quite been able to place it in my wardrobe as it’s such a different shape and style than most of my clothing. The weather turned BEAUTIFUL this weekend, however, and I reached for it! Nathan and I were heading to a barbecue and it seemed just the thing for the first one of the year.

I used a mix of old white shirts, doubling up on layers as Natalie Chanin suggests. It really changes the feel of cotton jersey. Full disclosure: I machine-sewed the pieces together before finishing the seams by hand. I was worried that the shirt wouldn’t fit and I would have hand-sewed the whole thing! I used a longer stitch to try and mimic the lovely texture the seam gets when it’s folded to one side. I used a herringbone stitch over the neck and arm hole bindings.

I  accidentally cut two pieces for the front instead of on the fold, so it ended up a little more like one of her corsets. The fit is a lot more feminine than what I’m used to – perhaps another reason I haven’t reached for it. Just look at those flared hips! Another change I made was making a curved hem before I began finishing the seams, as the hips were even more flared as-is. Still, I like the top and will hopefully get more use of it in the spring/summer.

I had big plans to sew up a bunch of Alabama Chanin stuff, but I’m finding that loads of hand-stitching really takes its toll on (what else?) my hands. I will have to hold off on my Chanin wardrobe until I don’t have to type all day.

In other news, I’m celebrating a big birthday this week! Starting sometime last year, I began combing my brain for ways to celebrate my 30th. A couple of months ago, it dawned on me: a blowout wasn’t what I wanted. Even though I’ve enjoyed previous birthdays and our wedding immensely, I don’t feel fully relaxed at large functions where I’m the focal point. So I came up with another plan: give myself the week  off from work and do whatever I want! I’ve been referring to it as An Introvert’s Birthday.

My plans include sewing (of course), day trips, yoga, friend time, drawing, reading and a small tea party to celebrate with family. I’m incredibly excited.

How do you like to celebrate birthdays or other big milestones?


36 thoughts on “Alabama Chanin tank and birthday thoughts

  1. I do love the fit of your top and enjoy hand sewing also. Was the project taken from a book? I haven’t heard much about Alabama Chanin in the UK.
    Also, regarding ‘big’ birthdays – your plans sound perfect! Two years ago I had my 40th, I always assumed I would have a huge party, but when the time came, turns out I wanted a relaxed day, I went to the seaside with my family and it was one of the best birthdays I have had!! Enjoy your time off! X

    1. Thanks, Philippa! It was taken from a book, Alabama Studio Style by Natalie Chanin. It includes patterns as well as hand-stitching and embellishing instructions.

      Your seaside birthday sounds lovely! What a nice way to celebrate.

  2. Morgan, that top is absolutely beautiful. I’m sorry it took such a toll on your hands because it really is lovely and suits you so well! I will also have to look up more of Alabama Chanin. As for my birthdays both 30 and 40 (eeeeeeeekkkk am I already that old) I did have a party although I felt a bit self conscious. Many of my friends travelled from Sydney for my parties so it was nice to be able to see people I don’t see so often. My tendency is to hermit a bit so it’s nice to force my social side out. Also my 30th came at the end of a pretty tough year so I used it as a bit of a ‘celebrate life’ kind of thing. Happy happy happy birthday!

    1. Thank you, Kirsty! I never would have thought you a hermit. I’m glad your parties ended up being fun, and how pleasant to see friends from far away.

  3. Oh, I love your new top and the colourway is just perfect. I’m a big fan of Natalie Chanin and coincidentally, I just finished stitching this same top… only it ended in the garbage bin as of yesterday! Unlike you, I did all the stitching by hand and when I tried it on I discovered the fit was all wrong for me. Next time I may have to baste the thing together and try it on before going through the real stitching steps. Happy birthday – sounds like you’ve planned a lovely week of perfect moments!

    1. Oh no! What a bummer! I’m not sure if this helps any, but mine was tight at first. I wore it to bed to stretch it out and now it’s perfect. I’d love to see your next Chanin!

  4. The details on that top make it truly special. I love the corset lines and the curved hem at the back. I always thought that birthdays should last a week…enjoy yours!

  5. What a great way to celebrate! Happy birthday – and I hope you´ll get good use for your new top – I really like it! 🙂

  6. An introverts birthday ha! Sounds like an ideal week and my kind of birthday celebration. I may have to follow you on that for my birthday this year.

    Love the top too!

  7. I did something kind of similar to you when I turned 30- I packed my bags and headed off on a huge camping trip around Arnhem Land and other parts of the Northern Territory (that will probably mean nothing to you so let’s just say the top, central part of Australia which is very very remote). It was definitely one of my best and most memorable birthdays because I did it my way, so I hope your chilled out birthday week is as equally great! Happy Birthday 🙂

  8. Happy bday! That sounds really nice!

    I love your top! It’s really flattering and I love the handstitched details. I’ll have to check out that book.

  9. Happy birthday! I love the idea of your week off – I’m definitely an introvert too, so I almost always prefer to keep things low key!

    1. Thanks, Gillian! I think one of the nice things about getting older is realizing who you are and identifying what you find enjoyable.

  10. I love your tank top. I’ve always like things people make from Alabama Chanin’s books. I think I’m going to have to check one out. I like the fact that things are made from recycled jersey and all the fun, artsy hand stitching. And the birthday plan sounds awesome! I had to really convince my husband that I did not want any sort of big to do on my 30th last year. I’m not big on being the center of attention, either.

    1. Thanks, Liza Jane! That’s really funny that you had to convince your husband! Nathan and I are very similar in our approach to birthdays, so he was really excited – and quite envious – of my plans for this week.

      I wonder if an Alabama Chanin project would be good for when your little one arrives! It was very easy to pick up for a few minutes here and there.

  11. i love this top! i’m pretty sure i wouldn’t have the patience to do all that handwork… when i do knits, i want it finished in 90 mins or less! great job on all the seaming and binding details, they really make it special.

    also, happy birthday week! i hear ya about keeping it low-key. my 30th was so uneventful it’s almost pathetic. i think it included a dinner of leftovers because the hubs couldn’t detach from work early enough to even bring me dinner…

    1. It was funny to have a longer-lasting knit project (even if I did cheat a bit). Aside from the hand pain, the hand-stitching was a really nice change of pace and made me more tolerant of it in other projects!

      Thanks for the birthday wishes! I hope your low-key birthday was fun even with the leftovers!

  12. Hooray for week-long birthdays! You know I usually like to go big but lately I’m realizing more and more how nice it is to spend one’s special time alone or with just a few other people. Certainly less stressful!

  13. Happy birthday!!! What a great way to celebrate! I turned 30 in November and celebrated with a rare weekend out of town with the hubs, which was lovely. We were in a seaside town and it was so quiet and fun in the off-season. Then when we came back, we had a dinner party with my closest friends, a group of about 10 people. It was the perfect birthday for me! Now I have to plan something for hubs’ 30th next month– like you he’s an introvert, so I’ll be keeping your ideas in mind. 🙂

    1. That sounds like an amazing way to celebrate 30, what a nice mix of relaxing and friend time. If your husband is anything like me, it can take a bit of effort to strike the right balance of festive and low-key!

  14. I love your version of this top. I have used the corset tee pattern before but have yet to do any of the handstitching. I am hoping to go take a workshop with Natalie Chanin later this year (I live in AL). We’ll see what happens!

    Nice blog by the way 🙂

    1. Oh man, what an opportunity to be able to attend one of those workshops! I’ve been reading other blogger’s accounts of their workshops, and they sound amazing. Please report back if you do!

  15. I always like to spend birthdays with family and friends. I love baking a cake or two and making dinner for a crowd.
    Happy birthday! Your top looks amazing on you!

  16. I love the Alabama top! I’ve made a couple of the corset versions, and like you, I find the shape to be a little more flared at the hip than necessary (for me). I’m not experienced enough yet to know how to remedy that.

    I also machine-stitch mine, with hand-stitching later if I feel like it.

    I love that you’re from Seattle! I’ve tried doing Google searches for Seattle bloggers (I live in Belltown), but that doesn’t turn up much.

  17. It’s a beautiful top. I’ve done an Alabama dress so I know what you talking about.
    I’m a bit disappointed with the corset pattern, everybody seem to have a problem with the arms. The fit doesn’t seem right.
    Well, it doesn’t matter, there’s plenty of other pretty patterns in her books 🙂

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