When Alabama Chanin was founded, part of our initial mission was to create modern garments using age-old techniques, like hand sewing and quilting. Though we have continually grown, we still believe in celebrating the “living arts” and community-building traditions like quilting circles. As Alabama Chanin has expanded, our goals have also matured and expanded and we are happily developing our scope and physical size – though we continue to embrace that first set of ideals.
The past year has seen a growth and expansion that I could never have imagined those many years ago. We opened a flagship store and café in our Factory home and we are preparing to launch our machine-made line, A. Chanin. When I was beginning my efforts to produce those first t-shirts, I was told repeatedly that it was not possible to produce responsibly sourced, machine-made garments in the United States. Time after time, I heard that this kind of item would never make a profit. And, yet, we persevered.
So, as I began to consider the 2014 Stencil of the Year, I thought of everything Alabama Chanin has accomplished since those early days. I was quite overcome with emotion, thinking of the hard days that one might refer to as “character building” and of the many talented artisans that we have worked with. As we move forward, integrating a machine-made line into our Alabama Chanin collection, I wanted to find a way to express the gratitude that I feel for each person and each experience that has been part of our journey. I want to move forward, but acknowledge where we have been.
The Check stencil has been part of our library since the fall of 2008. I love it because it is versatile and showcases the beauty of uncomplicated design. This stencil can be used as a simple pattern or embroidered ornately. But, I also love this design because it harkens back to our original celebration of quilting techniques. When you look closely at the Check stencil, you can almost see quilting squares emerge from the pattern. Whether this stencil is placed on an Alabama Chanin handmade collection garment or an A. Chanin machine-made piece, the modern and the traditional are present. This stencil is a representation of how we began, how far we have come, and how much we plan to grow.