I hope you had a very merry Christmas. I've been bursting to share this story and these images with you for weeks now, ever since I sewed the last stitch on this dress.
Allow me to start from the beginning: this past summer and fall proved to be a very challenging time for my parents as they dealt with many difficulties related to my younger brother. I saw my mom stripped of so much of her joy as she internalized the stress of the situation and quite frankly, it broke my heart. I decided that I wanted to use the power of handmade to create something of beauty for her. I decided that I would finish her Alabama Chanin dress in time for Christmas (you might remember this past summer when my mom and I took a class from Natalie Chanin at Blackberry Farm- this was her garment from the class, which she had barely started). It was a ridiculously lofty goal what with 6 large panels of applique to conquer, so I decided to enlist the help of my community. I envisioned an old-fashion quilt circle with women coming together to create something of beauty. I imagined each stitch sewn with intention and love. Three amazing women came forward and offered their sewing assistance, and together we created this masterpiece.
I sent them each a panel, and made a little instructional video, and a few months later they sent me back their panels, each completed to perfection. I stitched up the panels- my three, plus the three others, and finished off the neck and arm holes. In all it was a six-month project.
On Christmas morning I had the dress swathed in sheets of tissue paper, wrapped in a big box covered in red sparkly wrapping paper. It was the last gift my mom opened and she was absolutely speechless. Nestled in along with the dress I had notes from the women who helped to sew her dress: Kellen Meyer, my sweet Squam friend, was one of the amazing women who lent her talent to the project, along with Amy Mercer, a lovely knitter, seamstress and blog friend, and Ann Ryskoski, a long-time friend of my moms. The dress fits my mom perfectly- it is quite amazing. I hope it brings her joy each and every time she wears it. There is something so powerful about wearing a garment that other hands made for you with love and intention. This was the most fulfilling and uplifting project that I made this year and it got me thinking: the power of handmade is incredible.
I would love to do this again- craft a beautiful garment for someone who needs a touch of joy in their life. What do you think? Would any of you be into that? Together we could pick someone to receive the gift, and then decide on the garment. Together we could make beautiful things and spread some handmade joy. Give it some thought...and keep in mind you don't have to be a master crafter. If you can hand sew, you can make an Alabama Chanin piece. Another idea- an Alabama Chanin sew-a-long in the Providence-area- I'd be happy to host at my house! Wouldn't this be a fun way to kick off 2016?! I'm ready for some deeper, more fulfilling making in the coming year.