18 May 2010

a rose for my mom

After I finished the dishtowel a couple of months ago, I was itching to start another Alabama Stitch project. About a year ago, my mom had offered to buy me a kit for the Rose Shawl if I would make it for her. I said yes, of course, but then we kind of forgot about it. Once I finished the dishtowel, I got to planning out the shawl for my mom. Just in time for Mother's Day.

I didn't end up buying the kit (though I know Amisha has used a couple and loved them), but I did purchase the organic cotton fabric from Alabama Chanin. Let me tell you, it's so lovely. The colors I used were midnight (for the main fabric), plum (for the rose), and ochre (for the leaves and twigs). {Note: the colors in these photos are greener than reality, as I was using expired film}. I also purchased the fabric color cards, so I could have them on hand, you know, just in case. I would highly recommend doing that if you're planning on ordering fabric from them. The colors were not far off from the website, but it's always hard to tell from a computer screen.

As with the dishtowel, this project was a dream. To give you a sense of timing, I started it in mid-March and worked on it diligently for a bit, but then I put it down for a few weeks while I got wrapped up in another project. About two weeks before Mother's Day I got back to it in full force and finished it just in time.

I really enjoyed all the steps, from tracing and cutting the stencil, to cutting and stenciling the fabric, cutting out all the applique pieces, and then slowly matching up the pieces with the stenciled shapes and sewing each one on the shawl, and then finally assembling the whole piece. It's such a slow and thoughtful process...something I'm really enjoying these days when the rush of spring and all kinds of craziness at my day job have moved to the forefront of my life. I absolutely love the look of the stitched applique pieces, some with a little bit of the paint sticking out on the edge. And the felled seams? I don't know what it is, but I'm in love with them. I might need to start using those for everything I make from now on!

Just a few notes about this project. The book, Alabama Stitch, provides instructions for multiple different methods of transferring the stencil onto the fabric. I've been using textile paint to do this, but I noticed that when I traced out the stencil onto the ochre fabric for the applique pieces, the paint bled through and was fairly conspicuous. I will admit, that I used a darkish green paint, which was maybe a bad choice, so this might just have been a result of operator error. I ended up doing it all over again and tracing with a non-permanent felt tip marker. I might have to start investigating some of the other techniques for stencil transfer.

The other small issue I had was that I think I may not have enlarged the stencil quite as large as they instruct you to, since I was having some scanning/printing issues on my computer. I thought I finally made it to 200%, but clearly my pieces are significantly smaller than the example shown in the book. Not that the size of the stencil matters, except that sewing those long, thin twig pieces was a little dicey at points!

Once it was all finished, and assembled, I tried it on and seriously fell in love. It is so comfy and cozy. I could definitely see myself-er, I mean, my mom- cozying up with this shawl on chilly days. In fact, there might be another one of these in my future! All in all, another winner. And as with last time, I think I'm going to need to get going on another project already! In fact, it might be time for the bloomers skirt. After all, I do need to make a dent in my wardrobe challenge!!

PS: Thank you all so much for your sweet and encouraging comments about my garden! I'm so excited about having more space and about some of the new techniques I'm trying. I'll be posting about some more of my progress soon, including a sketch of my garden plan.


  1. This is a masterpiece!
    I am so intrigued!
    Maybe I'll just get some of her fabric to play...

  2. This is absolutely beautiful. I bet your mom just loves wearing it!

  3. Julia this project is SO stunning! Your mom is really lucky to have received such a wonderful piece.

    I may just have to check out this book you keep raving about . . .


  5. It looks fantastic Julia!! Love the colors you chose. As you know my mom has pointed this one out too. I wonder if I should attempt it for her birthday in July. Although as busy as I am not sure that gives me enough time. Also, do the skirt! I love the skirt and you would totally look cute in it.