My Minerva project this month is something a little bit different. I decided to make a t-shirt, but not just any old t-shirt. One using the Alabama Chanin reverse appliqué technique.

I bought an Alabama Chanin book a year or so ago after seeing several projects on various blogs and was immediately taken with the ideas. Some of the projects in the books really are gorgeous, and take hours and hours to complete. I decided to go for something a little simpler.

The basic technique uses two layers of cotton jersey fabric, stencilled or somehow marked out with a design on the top layer. You then stitch around the edge of the stencilled design and cut away the centre of the top layer only. This leaves you with a three dimensional design on your fabric/garment. 

I decided to use white for both layers and white thread, but this technique looks equally good using different colours for each layer. I picked some plain white cotton jersey fabric and some skeins of Anchor Stranded embroidery thread, along with a disappearing pen to mark out my design.   

I already had a stencil I’d cut for a previous project, so I was able to re-use that for this top. I used the Angie’s Fall stencil which can be downloaded from the Alabama Chanin website. It was free when I downloaded it, but sadly isn’t now.  

I wasn’t quite sure how much of the appliqué I wanted on my completed top, so instead of stencilling the whole garment at once I did one motif at a time, stopping when I felt happy with the way it looked. As you can see, I’ve concentrated the design around the neckline.

The pattern I used for the t-shirt itself is the Deer and Doe Plantain. It’s the second time I’ve made it and the swingy A-line shape fits me well.  

The “true” Alabama Chanin technique has you hand stitch all the garment pieces together, but in the interests of time and strength I used my overlocker. The neckline is finished with a folded strip of jersey hand stitched in place using Feather Stitch, and the hems are all left raw. I’ll be interested to see how much they curl over time and I may end up finishing them in the same way as the neckline. For now though I like them as they are.

This was a fun project to complete and I liked the fact that it was quite portable. You appliqué each piece before you sew them all together, so it’s easy to work on one piece at a time in front of the television.