Category Archives: BEAUTIFUL LIFE

TEAM CORSET

My son Zach’s lacrosse shirt from high school was re-fashioned following the pattern and instructions from Alabama Stitch Book.

I am not sure if that stain is blood or juice and I prefer not to know.

Choose your team and get started.

This shirt was constructed many years ago using a beaded stitch of my own invention (although I am sure that it has been done before!):

Thread your needle, love your thread and tie off with a double knot.  Insert needle through either side of pinned seam, pull through to other side and add one bugle bead.  Take one “stab” stitch and bring needle back through to your beginning side.  Make one whip stitch over the seam allowance, coming back to the same side.  Add one bugle bead and take one “stab stitch” bringing your needle through to the opposite side of your seam.  Add bead and repeat.

Post pictures of your Team Corset to our Facebook page:

http://www.facebook.com/VisitAlabamaChanin

 

THE END OF SUMMER

The school year starts early here in Alabama.  Maggie and I are already packing her backpack, organizing outfits and preparing for kindergarten this week (that is really hard for me to grasp).  Our dear friend and babysitter – Briana – is heading to college.  The teachers are preparing their classrooms for the barrage of eager students who are headed their way. And I can’t believe that summer is over (although it feels about 120 degrees outside).

Over the next few days, we will share some projects to get us in the mood for school.

(Truth be told, I really disliked school but loved university. If I had more time, I would start working on a Master’s Degree today.  Do three books count as a dissertation?)

Share a story about a first day at school (or your dissertation) for a chance to win a $100 gift certificate for our STUDIO STYLE DIY SHOP. Sweepstake ends August 21, 2011.

HAVE THREAD WILL TRAVEL

At times my schedule can seem a bit daunting, but I feel nothing but ready for the upcoming months.

Our Events Calendar is a sight to behold – I can barely contain my excitement at the thought of connecting with friends at Hello Etsy in Berlin;  then on to Marfa, Texas for a workshop and trunk-show, and, if the stars align, a round of drinks with some soul-sisters I haven’t seen in ages.

Maybe the Alabama heat has driven me mad,  perhaps it’s the building anticipation of overdue reunions, or quite possibly it’s the energy surge that comes with over a week of good behavior (Detox day 10!) but I’m ready for adventure…

Alabama Chanin is hitting the road.

Everyone in our studio seems to be in agreement: It’s time to see the sights and make some house calls (and a few new friends). If you or yours are interested in hosting an event just contact our studio; 15 participants and a little notice are all we require.

P.S.: A company favorite – our One-Day Workshop @ the Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley – is now open for registration.

AWAITING PROOFS

It is hard for me to believe that I am almost finished with my third book, now titled Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. Had someone asked a decade ago where I saw myself in ten years, it certainly would not be lying in bed, reviewing and making notes on a “pass” (publishing lingo for a low resolution printout) of my third book, writing additional texts, and trying to be quiet while a sleeping five year old tries to nudge me out of my own bed.

Strange where life takes you when you least expect it.

For our avid journal readers, I believe that it was clear over the last year that I was – at times – absent.  I most definitely was.  There were certainly times when I wanted to write – and felt that there was something important to say – but could not find the words.

For my staff, it must have seemed that I would never return (and am not fully “back” yet).

I am driven by enthusiasm – in all areas of my life.  So, when we signed the contract with STC for our third book, I was over the moon and (CERTAIN I) knew exactly how the book would work and look.  I was convinced that this was going to be a piece of pie. You know, third book, seasoned designer, a decade of work behind me… I was sure things would just fall into place, right?One and a half years later, I am thinking that I survived by the skin of my teeth.  I can’t tell you exactly why this book was harder than the rest. But I assure you, it was. I remember once distinctly calling out across our studio, “Can someone please drive me to O’Neal Bridge, so I can jump off?”

Those days are fading in (my tarnished) memory and these days I patiently await the final proof from the printer – the last step in this intricate process. I look back over the printout from the photo above and I am surprised how much information we managed to pack into 176 pages. And I think to myself that, I am really, really proud of this work.

The Alabama Studio Design Series truly documents my path these last ten years.  From simple new t-shirts crafted from recycled ones, to couture garments, to sustainability on all levels, the books follow from one stage to the next. Alabama Chanin history is all here: from the materials we use, to the way we make our garments, to cultural sustainability, and finally to open-sourcing our patterns for individuals.  (More about my decision to open-source coming soon.)  It is a path that makes me proud.

A big warm thank you to everyone in our studio – who put up with me over the last year (I am asking forgiveness for all transgressions), to Sara Martin – who read and reread and listened to me rant, to Robert Rausch – our book designer – who practiced zen patience with every tiny change, and to Melanie and all the folks at STC who believed that we had one more in us.

DETOX DAY 5

The book Clean, by Alejandro Junger, has been sitting on my nightstand since December of last year. Over the last months, I have read parts of it and “toyed” with some of the recommended practices (eliminating aluminum pans from the kitchen, drinking clean water, etc.), but it has taken some time for me to actually embrace the full-on detox program.  I started last Wednesday.  And when I say “started,” I mean hard core:  no coffee, no dairy, no wheat, no red meat, no sugar, no alcohol, and as much organic as possible.

Cold turkey.

Continue reading

LIGHTWEIGHT ORGANIC COTTON JERSEY

Over the decade of my design work in Alabama, I have tried endless types of fabrics and combinations of fabrics; however, our clients return over, and over again, to our organic cotton jersey.  And as often as I have wanted to move away from cotton jersey, I reach for it each morning as I get dressed.  In my busy life, it is like having pajama day every day.  (If you can call an all-over, hand-embroidered dress a pajama.)

However, there is truth in the fact that one of our embroidered dresses can take you from morning coffee to an evening event with little modification.  (I do normally stop to change shoes.) Consequently, I have come to know a lot about organic cotton jersey.

Cotton-jersey fabric comes in a variety of weights and those weights are commonly described as ounces per linear yard. For the last decade at Alabama Chanin, we have been using a medium-weight jersey that averages 9.80 ounces per linear yard. However, we recently started working with a lighter weight jersey that is stretchier than the medium-weight fabric and averages 5.6 ounces per linear yard.

I adore the quality of this new fabric when worked in our back-stitch reverse applique with our Anna’s Garden stencil. After several requests, we have added this new fabric to our D.I.Y. Store. There are several colors in stock and new colors arrive weekly.  The fabric below is made from our color steel.

The outfit above (in sand and black) features two patterns from our upcoming Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. Both the T-shirt Top and the Mid-Length Skirt are perfect in our new lightweight cotton  jersey.  I am currently making the Long Sleeve T-Shirt Tunic from Alabama Studio Style in the steel colored, lightweight cotton jersey using a back-stitch reverse applique Anna’s Garden stencil (as in the photo below). I foresee this being my new favorite piece for summer and fall – while layering it with a t-shirt for the winter.

 

AMY’S WEDDING DRESS

A 12 hour road trip brought Amy and her mother to our weekend workshop @ the Factory last summer.

A weekend with new friends (our design team included), a rack of sample sizes, and our fabric archives were the beginning of one truly magical garment (actually, two).

120 hours, at least ten times as many stitches, and 5 ounces of glass beads later…

Amy said “I do.”

Continue reading

EDITH HEAD REISSUED

If you’d like to be a success in business, start working!

If you’d like to be a success as a housewife, start cooking!

If you’d like to be a social success, start smiling!

If you’d like to get married, start looking!

I am sitting down with Miss Head’s reissued manual after a long morning (it is only 8 am) of cooking breakfast, gardening, cleaning, conference calling, laundry and assorted cat wrangling.  It is delightful and charming to read her advice, even though I seem to be in direct violation of the bulk of it. I am in a simple jersey dress that will take me from home, to the office, to the market, and to dinner (hopefully) without a single judgmental glance (and I haven’t  stocked my handbag with gloves or pearls).

Her advice for a bygone era is captivating, often relevant, and inspiring.

I love the illustration below from page 145 – and the quote to go with it from the opposite page: “No one knows better than a studio designer how important underthings are in changing a woman’s appearance.”  As a girl who likes to collect pretty “underthings,” I couldn’t agree more.

Don’t miss the “Color Aura Chart” starting on page 123 and the “Successories” from page 133.

Lipstick and perfume before breakfast? Tomorrow- just maybe.

How To Dress for Success by Edith Head with Joe Hyams – Originally published in 1967 and reissued by Abrams in 2011, including  illustrations by Edith Head.

We invite you to share your tips and tricks by commenting below before Sunday, July 31, 2011. We’ll select a contributor at random to receive a copy of the book!