Yearly Archives: 2008



Back in March, Liesl Gibson wrote a really lovely story about our Alabama Stitch Book on disdressed. I contacted Liesl to let her know that I loved the story of her running across the street “during lunch just to ogle the Alabama t-shirts.”

In writing back and forth with Liesl and browsing the blog, I discovered her new line of children’s patterns oliver + s.

While we do not make children’s clothing, I have loved taking the techniques we use to make special pieces for my daughter. Here, Maggie’s new dress – made by our master seamstress, Diane – using our fabrics, stenciled and hand sewn from a pattern by oliver + s.

It has taken me (literally) weeks to get Maggie to sit still long enough to actually get a picture of the dress that was not blurred in motion! While you cannot see the detail, it is really the best photo I have been able to get.

We have since made another version of the dress using our binding, with herringbone stitch, around the neckline and armholes like the corset from Alabama Stitch Book. I can’t wait to try out the whole collection of patterns.

And, don’t miss the beautiful (and functional) paper doll presentation.
Thanks, Liesl.



I was explaining to some friends last night that we have some really great farms and food products springing up in the state of Alabama and all across the south – like award winning Belle Chevre and Benton’s Country Ham. While the work of these committed farmers and cheese makers is crucial, we must also salute chefs and restaurateurs like Frank and Pardis Stitt for their support of our local farms and for always choosing only the very best products to grace their recipes.

Check out Southern Table: Recipes and Gracious Traditions from Highlands Bar and Grill, by Frank Stitt, Pat Conroy, and Christopher Hirscheimer.

And be sure to visit with Frank and Pardis at Highlands Bar and Grill and Bottega Favorita.



Georgia Gilmore worked at the National Lunch Company in Montgomery, Alabama, cooking her renowned fried chicken for both white and black patrons. During the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955, she brought home-cooked meals to mass meetings. This evolved into what became known as,“The Club from Nowhere,” an underground fund-raising effort built on her delicious cakes and pies. Georgia and her fellow bakers would sell fresh baked goods to local Laundromats,beauty parlors and cab stands. Montgomery citizens who supported the boycott could now contribute to the cause anonymously. Georgia always said that the money came “from nowhere.” Take what you have, do what you know to do and make use of it. The cost of change is mitigated by the cost of staying the same.

Georgia Gilmore and The Club From Nowhere

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This lovely story from Blair Hobbs makes me smile:

I grew up in Auburn, AL, and Opelika, AL is just a few miles away. It’s the Norma Rae town and has a large textile mill (I’m sure you know this). Anyway, I remember how sparse my elementary school music room was, but there were huge boxes of old thread spools that were discarded by the mill. I remember sitting in a large circle, with my music class, as our teacher, Mrs. Shell, instructed us to keep time with the music by tapping the metal tips of the spools together. It was a sweet clicking sound. For a deeper tap, we’d switch ends and tap the spool “heads” together. Your book helped me recall this memory, so I thought I’d share.

– Photo Courtesy of Blair

I asked Blair if I could share her story & a photograph of her about the time of the musical spools. Here is what she writes about the shot: It’s a picture of the neighbor’s mean cat visiting my grandmother and me on my parents’ patio. With the photo blown up, I can see how the backyard used to be an Alabama pine forest (and then a tornado came). This grandmother used to crochet sweaters for her clothes hangers. Her closet was a rainbow; each hanger was a different yarn color, and she’d decorate their necks with ribbons, silk flowers, and frosted wax berries.


I once wrote a piece called, Hero, for the now-defunct Girl on the Street blog. The writing of that post led me to learn more about Alice Waters, her involvement in the Slow Food movement and commitment to all things sensual:

I received my copy of Alice Waters and Chez Panisse by Thomas McNamee this week and started reading it on a series of flights/travels that seem to keep me away from my own kitchen these days. It continues to surprise me how inspired I am by people who love, grow and prepare food.

This story, from page 28 of the book, made me think about how I want to eat in my own life:

“… and, though Alice was raised loosely Presbyterian and none of them was Jewish, they also always ‘set a place for Elijah’ – a Passover tradition of welcome to an uninvited guest. In fact, as often as not, somebody would turn up just in time to occupy Elijah’s chair.”

I decided on the airplane last night – as we roughly bumped down to our landing – that from this day forward I will always “set a place for Elijah.”



We have choices in what we purchase, consume and choose to support every day. We vote with our dollars for the brand of clothing we like, for the types of food we want to eat, for the toys we buy for our children. This letter, from a former colleague, reminds me to think before I spend. The impact of our dollars cannot always be measured by what we bring home in our bag:

I work as a designer for a large corporation and recently had the opportunity to travel overseas to see production of some of our products. This was my first visit to India and first time being in a factory this size. It was mind blowing to see the amount of consumption that takes place on a daily basis. I had no idea the number of garments being produced. The company we do business with operates around 46 factories in India and constructs 3 million garments every month! This is just in one country.

We were also able to see a large wash house where garments are washed with enzyme finishes and other chemicals to give a softer hand feel to the fabric. They are capable of washing 100,000 pieces every day with a variety of chemicals and finishes. Inside, stacks of pants piled in to huge bins were waiting to be washed in oversized washing machines. I can’t imagine the amount of power and chemicals used to accomplish their daily quota.

This trip changed my view of how much we consume. Seeing every size of every garment that’s going to every store really put this industry in a new perspective for me. At the company I work for, we move so fast and produce so much that we don’t take the time to ask ourselves what the customer really wants or needs and more importantly how much power and material we consume every day to make our products. For me, I will take from this experience a new outlook on consumption and begin asking myself how I, in my own way, can try to make a difference.


Cornbread Nation 4 from The Southern Foodways Alliance is now available from the University of Georgia Press.

“This new collection in the Southern Foodways Alliance’s popular series serves up a fifty-three-course celebration of southern foods, southern cooking, and the people and traditions behind them. Editors Dale Volberg Reed and John Shelton Reed have combed magazines, newspapers, books, and journals to bring us a “best of” gathering that is certain to satisfy everyone from omnivorous chowhounds to the most discerning student of regional foodways.”

Highlights include:
EDNA LEWIS on the joys of spring
RICK BRAGG on the spirit of New Orleans
HAL CROWTHER attends the World Invitational Rib Championship
PAT CONROY visits Birmingham’s Highlands Bar & Grill
AMY EVANS’ photographic essay of oystering in Apalachicola Bay
LOLIS ERIC ELIE tells how post-Katrina New Orleans is, in the words of a local cook, “coming back through people’s stomachs and their appetites”
MOLLY O’NEILL muses on the South’s almost religious connection to sugar
BETH ANN FENNELLY recalls a culinary North-meets-South moment that gave rise to a not-so-red velvet cake
JACK HITT searches for the soul of lowcountry food along the South Carolina backroads
MATT and TED LEE observe a cook at work on a chicken purloo, a dish as African as it is American
RECIPES for roux, braised collard greens, doberge cake, and other dishes

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Thanks to everyone who joined us for our annual Alabama Chanin picnic. It was a great year – if a little windy.

From our post at this morning:

Fashionistas, storytellers, artists, musicians, food enthusiasts, and many others got together for two days of eating, design, shopping, and general revelry this past Saturday and Sunday. The occasion was the sixth annual Alabama Chanin Picnic and the Alabama Studio Weekend. Those who made the road trip to the town of Florence in northern Alabama were treated to the opening of the Alabama Chanin Studio store; fried chicken and oysters at Pickett Place; and soul food, barbecue, and dessert at the annual picnic on the banks of the Tennessee River. Additional events included tours of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Rosenbaum Home, the music and stories of the Muscle Shoals Sound and the Swampers, and tales of Native American heritage at the Wicahpi Wall and Healing Circle. Each story led to another story, to more laughter and good times. The weekend events culminated with dinner, celebrating the best of all things Southern on the grounds of the Helen Keller birthplace, followed by moonshine, dessert, and the music of Nashville’s Joshua Black Wilkins at GAS Studio in Tuscumbia.