Carolyn wasn’t a close friend but I admired her from afar for her grace, talent, and impeccable taste. For monthly sewing guild meetings, she would arrive with the most creative and gorgeous outfits, and have in tow a few more to show that she made for her children & grandchildren. I secretly wished she would adopt me.
In January 2011, I purchased “Belle Armoire” magazine featuring the designs of Alabama Chanin. After reading the article and studying the fabulous garments, I became a total Natalie Chanin fan. It wasn’t until days later when I actually continued on to page 25 and found another article showcasing an art to wear garment by Carolyn. I had no idea (as she was not the type to brag) she was being published. Nor did I realize she had won several design and sewing awards as well as The American Sewing Guild Creativity Contest in 2005. Yes, she was that talented.
In 2012, Carolyn lost her battle to cancer and her family donated the contents of her studio to the sewing guild. Special pieces in her collection were passed on to her children and grandchildren, but her patterns and fabric were donated to her sewing friends. Being late to the meeting that day, I missed so much of the lovely fabric that was being sold, but I did obtain 3 pretty pieces of fabric that I decided I would hold to make an item, or items, that Carolyn would be proud of.
So, fast forward to my last post on the 1912 dress – I used two of her fabrics to create it, and, this is also the reason I put it away for so long. The dress came without directions or pattern layout but I was happy to see from the pieces themselves that I had just enough of the deep red silk twill for the main dress and the small section of linen would work perfectly for the center panel. Yippee!
I used cotton in my stash to line the bodice and silk to make the bias bands, started an embroidered collar, muddled through underarm gussets, but wait….. why is there no pattern piece for the bottom hem band(?), ARGH, now you tell me, and I don’t have any more linen! So, what I had hoped was going to be my personal thank you to Carolyn, ended up somewhat crushing my motivation. And, the half-finished dress moved into my UFO tote for over 3 years.
Thanks to Leimomi at Historical Sewing Monthly and her perfect January challenge “Procrastination’, I felt it was time to re-visit my dress. My linen hem doesn’t match as much as I’d like and it’s not as creative as Carolyn would have made, but I think she would be proud of it just the same.