Like the rest of the world, the fashion industry has widely utilized Instagram (the photo sharing app with over 300 million users) to share insider glimpses into brands and lives, highlight the creative process, and find simple ways to connect to followers. Brands and consumers are sharing personal, visual “moments” in their lives (of course, perfectly oriented and filtered). In celebration of this relationship between the fashion industry and social media users, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) released their newest book, titled Designers on Instagram: #Fashion.

The book includes photos from CFDA designers (including Alabama Chanin), hand selected by the council and separated into five chapters, categorized by hashtags: #BehindtheSeams, #Selfies, #Inspiration, #Fashion, and #TBT (aka “Throwback Thursday,” for the uninitiated).

The colorful hardbound release is appropriately square shaped, like all Instagram photos. We think it’s a beautiful volume; the photos make you feel like a fashion insider, even if you are on your couch eating popcorn in your pajamas (no comment) or dressing a seven-year-old for school (or at least trying to dress a seven-year-old).

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Today, we begin a series of blog posts highlighting customized DIY garments made from Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns. We are lucky to work with a range of makers and writers across the spectrum of handwork. In the coming weeks, you’ll find stories and ideas from the likes of Heather RossAnna Maria HornerKristine VejarJoelle Hoverson, and Amy Butler (in no particular order)—and look for more exciting customizations in the coming months.

Without further ado: Amy Herzog

Some of the makers within our DIY circle may be familiar with Amy Herzog of Amy Herzog Designs. Amy’s website is a treasure trove of information about creating, modifying, and customizing sweaters. Everyone knows that I’m daft when it comes to knitting. Amy’s approach and incredible resources make me believe that perhaps even I could knit a sweater to match my own personal style.

We’re delighted to share Amy’s recent review of our newest book, Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns. Hearing others say that our Studio Books make creating garments seem less scary and more accessible is not only heartwarming but it reinforces our belief that sharing resources truly can advance the “living arts.”

In her review, Amy mentions that garment length is the fit issue she struggles with the most. Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns introduces, among other things, ways to shorten and lengthen hemlines. On pages 112–115, we offer instructions on how to alter length at the perimeter and internally—plus a couple of other options. We also propose solutions to other fit challenges, including waistline, hip, bust, and neckline alterations.


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Sometimes when you meet a kindred spirit, you feel that connection immediately. It’s safe to say that I felt that bond when I first met Angie Mosier a dozen (or so) years ago. She laughs in a way that draws you in immediately—you just have to know what she’s laughing at. She also throws a mean party and anyone who has ever been in attendance knows what a real good time looks (and sounds and tastes) like. She is Southern in so many ways—she can cook, bake, and mix cocktails; she can spin an engaging tale; she has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the history of Southern food, but she is no wilting flower.

I was lucky enough to collaborate with Angie on the second book in the Alabama Studio Series, Alabama Studio Style. She leant recipes, guidance, food styling efforts, and all-around support. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I couldn’t have written that book without her. Angie is a talented writer, photographer, stylist, and cook in her own right. She documents food, but also the people behind the food—the ones who keep our Southern food traditions alive.


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When I first started brainstorming what was to become Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns, I had a dream that as an elevated service to all of our sewers, our garment patterns (including patterns from our previous books) would be neatly packaged onto one convenient CD with an additional size (XXL), which had been so often requested.  That dream became a reality last week when our book was released. But as happens so often, the things we think are going to change our lives in a particular way are often the ones that surprise us in a new way.  Such is the case with the CD included with Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns. While many of our customers LOVE the new format, there are a small number who feel frustrated by it.

In our first three books, we recommended that the paper patterns be copied (or traced) before using in order to preserve the original patterns. Many of our readers followed that advice and copied patterns at print shops that had large-format copier/printers in their own communities. This made me think that the switch to CD would be a welcome change: it would eliminate the need for tracing (as the original pattern would always be preserved on the CD) and it would make printing easy (just email the file to a shop with a large-format printer and then have the printout mailed to you or go pick it up).

A reader commented on social media in the last days that I certainly didn’t make the decision to include the CD and blamed our publisher for the new format. That was not the case. The CD was my idea of elevated service. Certainly, I discussed this at length with the publisher and, together, we strove to create the best reader experience possible. On the CD we included not only the three new patterns featured in Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns (Short and Long Wrap Skirt; Classic Coat/Jacket/Cardigan; and A-Line Dress/Tunic/Top) but also artwork for all of the stencils used on the garments featured in the book and all of the garment patterns from the previous books with the additional size.

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As part of our On Design and Makeshift conversation and event series, we have led discussions on various design movements and schools of thought (like Bauhaus, Arts and Crafts, and Memphis), the business of artisan craftwork, and designers like Charles and Ray Eames. This week’s discussion takes a turn toward a new design arena—Biophilic Design and Terrariums.

The speaker today was Birmingham-based artisan Jonathan Woolley, whose collective—known as Little Forest Design—has given The Factory entrance a facelift by installing a beautiful tableau of terrariums. The effect is transformative; bringing natural elements into our workspace influences not only our work environment, but also our mood and productivity.

Response to the installation reflects the basic philosophy behind Biophilic Design—that incorporating nature into living and working environments can affect mental and physical health, and allow for healthier connections within communities. The design theory presents the idea that humans fundamentally need a connection to nature, but our urban environments have separated us from those elements that might nourish our spirits and physical bodies. Biophilic Design is a way of reconnecting people to nature in a way that incorporates natural elements into current living and working systems.

In preparation for his presentation, we asked Jonathan to give us some background on the theory of Biophilic Design and his design collective, Little Forest Design.


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THE FACTORY | THIS WEEK 04.13.2015 – 04.17.2015

The Factory This Week

Quality is not an act, it is a habit.” – Aristotle

Here is what we have going on this week, Monday, April 13 – Friday, April 17:


Be sure to join us on Monday, April 13 for the next installment of our On Design Makeshift conversation, presenting Little Forest + Biophilic Design. Based in Birmingham, Alabama, Little Forest is dedicated to bringing the magic of the forest into everyday urban life through small-scale, sustainable design. In their presentation, they will explore theory, highlight the key principles of biophilic design, and offer a variety of small-scale, DIY  projects, including terrariums, that allow participants to incorporate more natural, biophilic design projects into their own home.

$7 includes admission and participation to the conversation, and a cup of coffee or tea. Reserve your seat now.

Our Pop-Up Store at lf8 is back open now through May 22, 2015. The store features a selection of one-of-a-kind indigo pieces, A. Chanin, and a special selection of home goods, accessories, and more. Alabama Chanin will also be hosting a series of events and conversations at lf8 in the coming month.


Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm
Saturday, 10:00am – 4:00pm


Stop by any weekday at 2:00pm for a guided tour of our space, including The Factory, the Alabama Chanin production and design studio, and Building 14.


Join us for lunch at The Factory Café this week and enjoy a new menu every day.

Stop in on Saturdays for Brunch featuring seasonal choices that highlight products from local and regional farms and purveyors.

Also don’t forget to take a look in our cooler – fully stocked with homemade ready-to-go items like pimento cheese and our carrot and ginger soup.

We offer freshly baked whole cakes as well. Our cakes are made from scratch, fresh from the oven – from our family to yours. Please provide 24 hours’ notice when placing an order.

Custom catering is now available for all events and occasions. Work directly with our head chef, Zach Chanin, and the Alabama Chanin team to create a menu tailored to your needs.

Café Hours:
Monday – Saturday, 11:00am – 2:00pm
*Lunch service begins at 11:00am but coffee and snacks are available all day.

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New Patterns, New Resources Today, we launch our new Unisex T-shirt garment pattern—available in PDF form through our newly re-organized Resource downloads page. Available for purchase at $12, the PDF download includes the nested pattern and comes in sizes XS to XXL along with instructions for fabric selection, cutting, and garment construction. All of our patterns are the results of hours creating drawings, drafting patterns, making samples, readjusting the patterns, sewing more samples, and finally, grading each pattern by hand into a range of sizes that are then translated to our digital, nested versions. These new PDF patterns (more styles coming very soon) are designed for printing on wide-format printers or desktop printers. We ask that you respect our policies and use our patterns for personal projects, as they are designed for individual use and not intended for commercial ventures or reproducing and distributing.

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INSPIRATION-NEW-DIYHe who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.
– Francis of Assisi

Introducing new DIY kits inspired by our brand new book, Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns. Be on the lookout for kit details and design choices on our Journal in the coming months…

To engage your hands, your head, and your heart:

A refreshing spin on one of our longest-running and most popular patterns: the Corset, now available in DIY New Leaves and DIY Magdalena.

Our classic DIY V-Neck Shell Top, updated with a placement Magdalena stencil accenting the neckline.

The versatile and effortless DIY A-Line Dress, now offered in the New Leaves design, as featured in Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns.

Try a variation of our Fitted Skirt with the DIY Magdalena Mid-Length Skirt and the DIY Magdalena Fitted Skirt with pockets.

The patterns and kits from our newest book are inspired by real women of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, and ages.





TILED STENCIL - ALABAMA CHANINWith the launch of Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns and our updated online Resources page on Friday—including new garment patterns and stencils offered as downloadable PDFs—we are offering a growing range of designs that require printing, either from a home printer or from wide-format printers found at print shops across the globe.

Alabama Stitch Book, Alabama Studio Style, and Alabama Studio Sewing + Design included paper pattern sheets that allowed home sewers to create Alabama Chanin designed garments. And while this is a straight-forward process, there are new printing options available that may streamline patternmaking for the home sewer.  Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns comes with a CD filled with ready-to-print PDF files for new garments and stencils, plus all of the garments from our previous three books. Additionally, beginning this Friday we will offer new garment patterns and stencil designs for purchase from our Resources page—also in PDF form.

Electronic versions of all of these designs can be emailed from your computer or brought to a local copy/print shop and printed out on extra-large paper so that there is no joining or overlapping of the pattern pieces necessary. Wide-format printers are readily available that print up to 36” (90 cm) and sometimes as much as 44” (112 cm) wide and as long as the roll of paper fits the machine. Look for a copy/print shop in your community that works with architects, who also have large-scale printing needs. In our experience, prices for printouts can vary widely from shop to shop, and so it pays to take the time to research the best value available. If you cannot find a wide-format printer in your own community, there are a range of online services that will print digital files and ship to your door. Continue reading

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Last Thursday we started shipping our newest book, Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns.  Stacks of books around the office moved quickly into boxes and off into the hands of readers.  Thank you for all your sweet notes of praise and excitement.  We find it equally exciting to move on to this next chapter.

Look for our post tomorrow on “How To Print a Pattern,” fresh DIY Kits—inspired by the new book—launch on Thursday, Friday our updated Resources page arrives with a new downloadable garment pattern and improved stencil design PDFs, and look for our (first-round) blog tour over the coming weeks, featuring Heather Ross, Anna Maria HornerKristine Vejar, Amy Herzog, Joelle Hoverson, and Amy Butler (in no particular order).

Once you’ve had the chance to open your box and digest the contents, let us know what you think. Looking forward to hearing from each and every one of you…