If there’s something we have learned from our DIY community and The School of Making programming, it’s that our fellow makers can be passionate and prolific. In a world focused on “fast fashion” we are constantly inspired to see so many taking time and effort to create meaningful things.

Quite a few of you have participated in Me Made May over the course of the last month. For the uninitiated, Me Made May was dreamed up by Zoe Edwards, a blog writer who, for the past 5 years, issued a challenge for makers across the globe to wear clothing they have created, during the month of May. While not everyone can wear something handmade every day, many have taken up the challenge with gusto.

So for May’s Month of Instagram, we are posting some of your beautiful photos of Me Made May garments alongside Alabama Chanin’s photos. If you participated this year (and have not done so already), please post your photos to Instagram and Twitter using the #mmmay15 hashtag – and also #theschoolofmaking, if yours is an Alabama Chanin garment.

Photos courtesy of @catcounts, @differentmeasure, @ebbandsew, @goodyarmamona, @heyallday, @hisclementine, @kaygardiner, @krrbsale, @lauramaedesigns, @lavalark, @making.it, @mbmoore, @melaniefalick, @qoyah_yisrael, @reneeplains, @subloke, and @yarnonthehouse

P.S. Follow us on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

P.P.S. Use our new hashtag #theschoolofmaking to share your latest Studio Style DIY project.



Part of the excitement of living in The Shoals is seeing how the area has changed over the years. Though we have such an impressive collection of musicians in the area—musicians who have been an important part of the American musical landscape—when I was young, it was difficult to find a place to hear live music. There were family gatherings with guitars and impromptu songwriters’ nights—but there was no real place for people to gather and listen to a live band. On the flipside, local musicians—whether upcoming or established—had no place to play, reach their audiences, and try out new material.

The renowned FAME and Muscle Shoals Sound musicians were primarily studio session players. They created iconic sounds, but often during business hours and behind closed session doors. Because those musical talents were being developed in studios and not in bars or venues, we never had much of a music “scene” to speak of. This directly impacted the musicians who eventually founded Single Lock Records. Each learned their trade in makeshift music venues like garages, house shows, or anywhere that would have them.

That is why The Shoals’ newest music venue 116 E. Mobile (conveniently, the physical address) gives locals and visitors a place to see musicians from at home and abroad in a comfortable space. 116 (as it is often called) is located in downtown Florence and is owned and operated by Single Lock Records, in tandem with Billy Reid.

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In our continuing Makeshift series that demonstrates how design, craft, and fashion can influence on another, we adapt another pattern using Alabama Chanin techniques. This pattern is from Marcy Tilton, a longtime Vogue pattern designer, author of three sewing books, and a name well known to crafters and sewers alike.

As always, we encourage you to use patterns as a source of inspiration rather than absolute guidelines. The more personalization you bring to each piece, the more the final garment will mean to you as the maker—and the more you will elevate the making process.


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We’ve written each month about how quickly this year is FLYING by—and this month is no different. I caught myself telling someone the other day that I’m only going to be away a couple of weekends this coming month; I plan to spend the other weekends at home working in the garden, which could use a little (a lot of) love. My lettuces and spinach continue to produce with tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant tucked neatly in between. Hopefully, by the end of the month I will taste the first tomatoes of summer. (Hello, BLT.)

June is National Iced Tea Month. I would like to say that we will drink more iced tea to celebrate—but our iced tea consumption at the café is never at a lull. Sweet, Un-sweet, Half-and-Half… we love them all.

Here is what June has in store:

June 1-5: Patterns + Alterations Studio Week @ The Factory

June 8-12: Classic Studio Week @ The Factory

June 12: Downtown Wig & Mustache Bash: A Drag Spectacular – throw a little glitter and some shade as Shoals Pridefest kicks off its inaugural event.

June 19: Juneteenth Day – the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States

June 21: Summer Solstice and Father’s Day—all wrapped up into one. A great day to get outside and celebrate the great dads in our lives.

June 26-28: Our Classic Sewing Weekend at Blackberry Farm. Find more information here.

June 29: Mother/Daughter One-Day Sewing Retreat at Blackberry Farm. Classic Sewing Weekend registrants, click here to reserve your spots.

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THE FACTORY | THIS WEEK 5.25.2015 – 5.30.2015

ALABAMA CHANIN – THE FACTORY | THIS WEEK 5.25.2015 – 5.30.2015

“Who sows virtue reaps honor.” – Leonardo da Vinci

Please note that the Alabama Chanin office and The Factory Store and Café will be closed on Monday, May 25 in observance of Memorial Day.

Here is what we have going on this week, Monday, May 25 – Saturday, May 30:

Shop our Sweet Summer sale through midnight Monday and receive 20% off your online purchase with the code “SWEETSUMMER.” (Some exclusions apply.)

We have two week-long workshops coming up in June with spots still available. Sign up now for our Patterns and Alterations Studio Week at The Factory June 1 through June 5. This workshop highlights our most recent book, Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns, and will focus on the skills needed to tailor our existing patterns to fit according to your measurements. The cost includes materials, instruction, studio access daily from 8:00am – 6:00pm, yoga sessions, breakfast and weekday lunches, and a few surprises along the way.

Our Classic Studio Week begins the following Monday, June 8 and goes through Friday, June 12. This week-long event gives workshop participants total immersion into Alabama Chanin’s philosophies, methods, materials, and products. Participants will experiment with several different techniques including design basics and the physics of sewing, stencil design and creation, airbrush and stenciling of garments, fit and pattern alterations, discussion, and critique. The cost includes materials, access to airbrush and paint, a selection of garment patterns and stencils available in our Studio Book Series, instruction, daily breakfast and weekday lunches, studio access daily from 8:00am – 6:00pm, and more. Pair this workshop with our weeklong Patterns and Alterations workshop the previous week for our most comprehensive Alabama Chanin experience. Register here.

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.

Be sure to join us 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 chocolate pots de crème.

We offer freshly baked whole cakes as well. Our cakes are made from scratch, fresh from the oven. 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.

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

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Last July, we explored Alabama’s fashion design history and, in our studio conversations about that post, we started asking one another about other designers that have emerged from the South. Dana Buchman, Pat Kerr, Johnny Talbot, and Wes Gordon all hail from states neighboring our own. When searching my brain for designers from Mississippi, the first that came to mind was Patrick Kelly.

Patrick stands out so significantly in my memory because he emerged as a designer of note in the 1980s and during my time in design school. He is, in many ways, a designer with sensibilities completely different from my own; he created body conscious garments with flamboyant embellishments. In other respects, we have a certain kinship, as he found ways to repurpose and recycle clothing into new garments. He also found inspiration in his community and neighbors, once telling People Magazine, “At the black Baptist church on Sunday, the ladies are just as fierce as the ladies at the Yves Saint Laurent haute couture shows.”


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We wrote earlier this week about scale and patterns, and how we reduced and enlarged our New Leaves stencil artwork to create graphic variations of the design. One of our projects that looks at scale is a series of  DIY Unisex T-shirts. The shirts feature our New Leaves stencil in five different sizes and can be worked in a variety of techniques including quilting, reverse appliqué, backstitch reverse appliqué, and negative reverse appliqué. We used a chain stitch for the DIY Mori and DIY Novus T-shirts, the first time this technique example has been shown in our DIY Sewing Kits.


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I’ve been toying with the idea of scale and pattern recently. This thought arose because of a presentation I gave in March on Ettore Sottsass and the Memphis Group. The talk was part of the monthly On Design Lecture Series that we host in our studio as staff development but is also open to our community as part of The School of Making educational programming. (It’s on hiatus for the summer, but we’ll let you know as soon as we start back.) Many of our young in-house designers are fascinated by the 1980s and wanted to know more about the design influences that fueled this era. I went to design school from 1983 to 1987, so this concept of 1980s design seemed appropriate and very exciting to revisit.

While unearthing my thoughts on the 80s, I realized that the most prominent design trend in my memory was Ettore Sottsass and the Memphis group—the Italian design collective during the 80s who challenged the “established” rules of design. Their playful use of scale and pattern remain strong influences in design today (and my personal design aesthetic as well). While putting together the talk, I realized it had been such a long time since I played with scale. So, I pulled two gorgeous books on from my library: Ettore Sottsass Metaphors and Ettore Sottsass (which we also sell in the design section of our store as it is one of my all-time favorite books). Ettore Sottsass Metaphors sets the stage for playing with shapes in nature and Ettore Sottsass is incredibly inspiring for its illustration of scale, pattern, and color in design—aside from being one of the most beautiful books I own.


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