Alabama Chanin Babydoll Top

OK everyone, here’s my second top for the Spring Top Sewalong!


I finished it yesterday around dinnertime, hand-stitching like a maniac while the kids played outside in lovely balmy weather. Mr Rae was resting on the lounge chair while the kids crawled all over him, trying unsuccessfully to nap in the sunshine and sipping “medicinal” white wine (he’s recovering from a nasty sinus bug). It was such a nice afternoon.



I used this natural organic knit jersey from Near Sea Naturals and the fitted tunic pattern from Natalie Chanin’s new book, Alabama Studio Sewing and Design, which I’ve already gushed about. I don’t usually throw myself at the marketing reps to get books, but I had to exercise extreme restraint not to hit “reply” immediately when I got the preview email for this one. I love everything about this book and Natalie’s company, Alabama Chanin, and if you haven’t seen this little film about her company yet you really should.

If you haven’t noticed yet, the unique thing about this top (and everything fromΒ Alabama Chanin) is that it is completely, entirely made by hand. Hand stitching, hand gathering, hand basting. No sewing machine here dudes.


I followed the instructions in the book for the babydoll top on page 57, and added a pleated ruffle with a featherstitch as instructed on page 109. The ruffle was added after realizing that although I love love love the cut of the fitted top, it was showing a bit more of the decolletage than I would have liked, especially when bending over to retreive a toddler. Mr Rae wasn’t complaining, if you know what I mean, which is always a sure indication I shouldn’t wear it out of the house without some sort of modification.


As you can see, the top fits me a wee bit differently than the image that inspired me to make it in the first place (as I am about 100% less waifish than the fetching model in that photo), but nonetheless, it fits perfectly and I loves it muchly. If I make another one I will probably add another inch to the bodice, and use about 50% less skirt fabric (the book recommends 3x the bodice circumference for the skirt, which makes for a rather perky/poufy skirt. I think 2x might be fine).

Closeups of the stitching:



I have at least one more top to show you (so far…the sewalong’s not over yet!) and I promise after the Green Snow White Top and this one I am done with empire waisted babydoll tops. Over and out!

35 thoughts on “Alabama Chanin Babydoll Top

  1. Ok…so, I LOVE your top and want to buy the book, BUT…I just don’t have the time (= patience) to hand sew an entire top…can they be sneakily machine sewn and then hand sew the details (topstitching,etc…)?

    • Haha, YES of course. I used a machine to make a test version from one of Mr Rae’s old tee-shirts…and of course you could do the seams with the topstitching after you sew it with a machine. πŸ™‚

  2. No sewing machine??? πŸ˜€ Wow! Amazing! I’m speechless… How long did it take you? Was it very difficult?
    I love this top πŸ™‚ and of course immediately started in my mind searching my stash for a suitable fabric to try to do one myself.

    • Hi Meeri!
      I don’t know, maybe about 10 hours total?? Mostly done on weekends with kids running around, it didn’t take long. And no, it wasn’t difficult at all — I felt like it was pretty straight forward after reading through the book…

  3. Another winner! Gorgeous! Can I come over for some sewing lessons, btw? I attempted a very simple knit top last week and it didn’t end well…

  4. Fantastic! Love all the stitching and ruffle details–although I’m afraid I wouldn’t have the patience for hand sewing!

    • Wendy: I think you’d be surprised at how fast this really goes! Definitely not as quick as a machine, but the stitches are quite large and go fast.

  5. wow!!!! this is so amazing, and beautiful on you as well. all the hand stitching, holy moly! but I think it must have been a really satisfying finish! πŸ™‚

  6. WOW! This is so gorgeous, and fully hand-stitched?! Holy cow, girl! That’s awesome. It’s beautiful on you. I can see why Mr. Rae might get a bit “handsy” without the ruffle, haha! But it’s the perfect extra detail on an already special top.

  7. this is so lovely ~ I can’t believe you did that with only hand sewing… so I guess this means I can bring sewing to the beach this summer πŸ˜€
    thanks for sharing the link to the video ~ they all do great work

  8. Oh Rae, I love so many things about this top…. where to begin? I think for one, because it’s solid. Like printless, and full of texture because of all the different things you did with the fabric, that it’s immediate classy in a way that only solid garments can be. Love.Love. Love.

  9. nice job on the babydoll top! I made a babydoll dress from the same pattern. : ) The ruffle at the neck is beautiful…I have just wondered how it would hold up in the wash. Does it hold its shape well or does it kind of curl up? thanks for your help and it’s great to find another AC fan out there!

  10. L:
    I’ll have to keep you posted — haven’t had to wash it yet, but I spilled a little tomato soup on it today so that means I’ll know soon enough!

  11. Rae, it’s beautiful! I just finished my first Alabama Chanin top, too…and entered it into the Spring Top Sewalong! It was so much fun to make! It was a test run with some fabric I had in my stash. Now I’m off to buy some of that beautiful stuff you’re wearing from Near Sea Naturals. Great job, again! Wasn’t the hand stitching so much fun? πŸ™‚

  12. Very pretty! I’ve got some unbleached organic jersey that’s been in my stash for years; your top looks so good I might have to dig it out. So funny about how you know something’s not suitable for public wear πŸ™‚ I have this one tank top that has on more than one occasion induced men in the street to try out chat-up lines on me – something which literally never happens otherwise (thank goodness). So, although Boyfriend says it’s perfectly modest, that top is no longer worn outside my home!

  13. It is lovely! But the link to the original picture is not working. I would love to see it too. Can you fix the link? Thank-you.

    • Unfortunately I don’t think the link is broken on my end — it seems to be something on their end…it works intermittently for me so I wonder if it has something to do with the fact that I took it from their gallery slideshow? If you go to the gallery it’s the grey empire waisted babydoll tank. πŸ™‚

  14. I love the pleated detail you added around the neck. It’s a great solution for the low-cut neckline, which by the way, was a problem I had when I made the corset T-shirt tank out of her first book. I’m getting ready to make one of the dresses out of her second book and was thinking I’d just extend the neckline, but I think your solution with the pleating is even cuter.

  15. way to go! i adore alabama chanin stuff. i have the latest book, but with my current post-pregnancy gigantic nursing bust i don’t dare make anything right now. (and it’s killing me!!)

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