All That Glitters


Pattern: Inspired by Alabama Chanin’s Alabama Studio Sewing and Design

Fabric: Organic Cotton/Lycra Jersey Made in Canada from Hart’s Fabric

Notions: Coats and Clark Button Craft Thread, Vintage sequins (cream and small faceted silver), African metal seed beads, and Shell beads.

Time to Complete: 2 hours for the garment, 7 or 8 hours for the beading


You might recall that I was in search of an internship in the industry last fall. I ended up landing a spot at a couture bridal salon in San Francisco and it was such an incredible experience. The couturier had me dabble in a little of everything but I ended up falling head over heals for beading and much of my three months was spent hunched over with a cup of seed beads and a straw needle in my hand. It was glorious!

At the same time, my darling husband bought me the Alabama Chanin books. Since I was doing so much handwork at the atelier, Kelley knew that I’d find the books inspiring. I was introduced to Natalie Chanin’s work in 2011 when Andrea of Stitch Parade posted her stunning skirt and I’ve wanted to make something of my own ever since. If you’ve been interested in purchasing one of these books, I’d recommend Studio Sewing and Style. It has the most comprehensive information on Chanin’s techniques and several wonderful patterns as well.

Coincidentally, Craftsy emailed me this morning with their latest class – Natalie Chanin teaching Hand-Embellishing Knit Fabric! If any of you have signed up, I’d love to hear about your experience. I’m banned from buying any more courses until I’ve finished one so I can’t research it myself but I’m wondering if there will be any new techniques not covered in her books.

I made this tank top last October and it is absolutely my favorite thing I’ve made! It was so fun to create, fits beautifully, and is unbelievably wearable. I was really worried that it would be too delicate to wash but I found out just how sturdy it is when I splattered pomegranate juice all over myself while making Thanksgiving dinner. After a heavy-duty pretreatment session, I threw it in the washing machine and it didn’t disintegrate! Amazing! Now I wash it with all my other clothes which means that I wear it about once a week. In fact, I have it on again today.

I’m pretty sure that eventually I will make every pattern from the Studio Sewing and Style book. My next piece is in the process of getting embellished and I can’t wait to show you the finished product!


43 Comments to “All That Glitters”

  1. OMG – I’m a fan and have to make one of these. I really love how it turned out.

  2. Wow, what a gorgeous top! I love it. Tell us more about your internship…

  3. Amazing! Looks like painstaking work but you clearly have a gift! Looks like there will be much more glittery things coming from this spot 🙂

  4. Oh Lizz, I LOVE it! The subtlety of the bead work gives this top such an elegant look and your stitching is perfect. How much fun you must have had both making this top and during your internship… I know first hand that this kind of work can become addictive. I saw the Craftsy class come up this morning but like you I cant bring myself to sign up for it because the two other courses I signed up for over a year ago remain un-watched. Just terrible! The good news is that I have another Natalie Chanin top in the works so that should feed the addition for now. I’ve never worked with beads, only the stitching technique, but you may just have convinced me to give it a go. Your top is really beautiful!

    • Oh Craftsy – I collect classes like some people collect fabric. It’s shameful!

      Thank you for the inspiration, Andrea! I would love to use the applique technique in the future but I’m afraid of all the time and setup for the stenciling. Someone told me that the DIY kits they sell on come prestenciled. If only I had a few hundred dollars to blow!

      Looking forward to seeing your latest top!

  5. This is so pretty! The beading is so delicate and beautiful!

  6. Wow, looks fantastic!

  7. it’s gorgeous! and very insipiring, I want to try some beading and embroidery too!

  8. Just lovely! and would love to hear more about your time spent in the bridal salon.

  9. Gorgeous!! I’ve been working on some beading right now as well and it really is a lot of fun – although mine is not nearly as pretty as yours!!

  10. Ok seriously… this is utterly AMAZING!!! I have been researching beading actually, and have no idea where to start, so I see this and my head just blows off…. LOL ^__^ I love it, very very much!!! You look gorgeous, as always 🙂

    • Couple things:
      1. I’m still amazed at how much I love beading – it always seemed so fiddly and time consuming but it’s just not so!
      2. The first little hurdle is perfecting your tension. Too loose and it looks sloppy / too tight and the fabric puckers. This comes with time and practice.
      3. Placement can be a little tricky – especially making something look random like the beads on this top. This piece came after a week of randomly beading a waistline in a bride’s dress and I was quite thrilled that I had finally had an eye for it. I have some tricks for helping things look neatly random – ask me about them sometime.
      4. Start! I can’t wait to see what you make!

  11. Beautiful beading! And boy am I jealous of that internship!!!

  12. I love the Alabama Studio. Your top is amazing, but 8 hours! I don’t know if I would have the patience. I guess it would be like knitting and you would just do it while watching tv or something.

  13. Looks great! I signed up for Alabama Chanin ‘s class in April when it she comes to Berkeley, super excited and also Coincidentally I chose the same skirt that Andrea made. I might have even chosen the exact same color- can’t really remember… Anyway- great post- lovely beading- I would have went blind!!!

    • I wish I had known! I would love to do a workshop with Natalie someday. Hope to hear about your about your experience!

      • I will give you the 411! The only way I was able to find out about it and sign up in tome before all the spaces were taken was because I follow her on twitter. You gotta love twitter…. for that very reason- otherwise I am not a tweater….. chirp chirp! LOL 🙂 You are very inspiring!

  14. Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a second. Before we talk about the shirt, we need to discuss where you have been the last couple of months. A bridal boutique. Oh vey am I jealous. I must know more about the experience. I need to know more.

    Okay. Now onto the top. I like it! It’s simple, everyday glam but according to you, sturdy as shit. I’m curious though, did you back/interface the knit where it was beaded for stability? Or were the beaded light enough that it didn’t weight down the fabric.

  15. What a beautiful top! I signed up for her Craftsy class, but so far have only had time to watch the intro video. I also can’t wait to get my hands on her books, too. Just this past weekend, I was admiring all her work. They’re so gorgeous~!

  16. Amazing work, as always! So glad you’re doing what you love via the internship. What a wonderful opportunity.

  17. very cool! and i’m envious of your beading patience and your eye for embellishment placement.

  18. Lovely, Lizz! And glad to hear from you again. Isn’t it great to find unique sewing passions? I was gifted those books for Christmas last year but confess to not breaking into them yet. Must check again… I tried to bead part of a cape once but I could see it takes practice with tension.

  19. Hi Liz – I hope all is well with you. Its been a while since you posted 🙂

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