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.

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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 lightweight 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 online 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.



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.”

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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!



I just arrived back from a whirlwind trip to  Penland School of Crafts.

It is a remarkable, inspiring, and beautiful place. I found that here was something for each moment of the day and the time went by much too quickly.  Maggie insists that we are going back next year.  Indeed, we will.

In our few days, I found a place to sit,

to dream,

to breathe,

and lots of doors to open.

I will be teaching a two-week class there next summer on “Experiments in Hand-Sewing: A Study on Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.”

Class registration opens in January, 2012.



“We met on a clearcut while tree planting. It’s kind of a romantic story. I was starting with a new company. I’d been planting for about 3 years by this point. My dad drove me up to camp… I didn’t know anyone in camp. I was working away, my first day there, I was singing – was always singing while I worked – then I heard this other person singing from the next piece of ground over. It was pouring rain and all I could see was this little yellow sou’wester bobbing up and down, this person in a raincoat singing with this amazing voice ‘I’d rather drink muddy water’ Aretha Franklin style. I was singing some Joni Mitchell song. I sort of planted my way over there, and said ‘I like singing while I work too. Wanna sing together?’ That was 1993, I think.”

Samantha Parton - “An Angel Whispered In My Left Ear”

Songs to Sing With:  The Harrow & The Harvest

P.S. Catching Song with Bobby McFerrin

Bobby McFerrin of “Don’t Worry Be Happy” fame on singing out:

“And now I can say that I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even think about singing. I just sing…

You know? It just comes out. There use to be a point where I would be afraid of making mistakes. I’m no longer afraid of making mistakes. I make them every night during a performance. Something happens: I meant for my voice to go right and it went left instead. I meant for my voice to go up and it goes down, you know. Wherever my voice goes, wherever it takes me I just follow it. I just watch it. It leads me to whatever, you know. I trust it.”