On the heels of MAKESHIFT 2013, we are inspired and invigorated by the conversations around design, fashion, food, craft, and DIY that took place last week during New York Design Week. We hope that you have followed our explorations throughout the events this year and have used our discussions to begin conversations of your own. We are even more convinced about the importance of making, sharing, and finding common ground, and look forward to expanding the conversations about design, fashion, food, craft, and DIY over the coming months.
One thing that resonates from those talks last week, are the concepts of collaboration and skill sharing. As we continue to open source our ideas, our Alabama Chanin workshops will continue to grow. These events—like MAKESHIFT—have become an intimate, extraordinary way for us to connect with fellow makers, designers, and like-minded creators across the country (and the world).
“Craft” might seem like it’s for the amateurs, and “fashion” for the auteurs. Yet we live in an age where creativity and innovation are increasingly found in collaborations between makers and users, crafters and designers, designers and manufacturers, and in the loosening of the boundaries between them. – MAKESHIFT 2012
The MAKESHIFT conversation began last year to discover where and how various creative industries can work together as one. The discussion continued last Thursday evening at The Standard, addressing the intersection of industries on the artisan level, where the interchanges occur, and how we can transform those intersections through innovation and collaboration for the greater good.
As this posts to our Journal this morning, part of our Alabama Chanin team will be in the air and on their way home from MAKESHIFT 2013. We hope that you have followed our explorations and conversations during New York Design Week via Instagram and have had conversations of your own. Leaving MAKESHIFT this year, we are even more convinced about the importance of making, sharing, and finding common ground. You can expect a full recap of our experiences from New York Design Week in the next days, plus expanding conversations about design, fashion, food, craft, and DIY over the coming months.
One thing we do know is that, as we continue to open source our ideas, our Alabama Chanin conversations series and workshops will continue to grow. These events—like MAKESHIFT—have become an intimate, extraordinary way for us to connect with fellow makers, designers, and like-minded creators across the country (and the world). See more in the coming weeks about the bag project we started at MAKESHIFT 2013. In the meantime, here are some instructions for a different kind of bag (with an equally important message).
In the early spring of this year, Alabama Chanin designed and created a one-of-a-kind bag to support the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s “You Can’t Fake Fashion” campaign. We loved the finished product so much that I wanted my own version, adapting the OrganicTote Bag #3. This bag measures 17 1/2” x 13 3/4” x 4 3/4” and is large enough to use as a purse or laptop bag or to carry your sewing projects. The tote has been double-layer appliquéd all-over using our Paisley stencil in Alabama Indigo fabric.
The bag comes in Natural. We chose to customize this tote to match our CFDA bag by dyeing it indigo, but your design choices are endless.
Southern children who grow up with a healthy respect for their elders, particularly their mothers, are said to have been “raised right.” Across the south, most children (and their fathers) must have been “raised right,” because there is almost always a big to-do made about Mother’s Day. Even though new Easter clothes have just been bought, a slew of children will go shopping again for new Mother’s Day outfits; it is expected to make a good impression at church on that big day. Mom gets to sleep in (just a little) and breakfasts will be prepared and served by the children. We present our mothers and grandmothers with beautiful corsages. Often in my community, the tradition is to give carnations. It’s common to give Mother a red or pink one and to set a vase of white carnations upon the kitchen table for grandmothers or great-grandmothers who have passed away. In my family,we presented corsages to Mother and Grandmother on Mother’s Day morning.
Last fall, one of my neighbors gave me a box of vintage patterns he found tucked away in his basement. The weather-stained cardboard box that once belonged to his mother was filled with patterns that represented decades of accumulation: Vogue Patterns, McCall’s, Simplicity, and Butterick . Each had been purchased for as little as a dollar and some change.
My friend Kay and I started giving one another socks for each holiday several years ago. Although this may bring back memories of dreaded Christmas gifts from years past (not socks again!), I find the gift of socks a very practical thing. It’s just not one of those things that I go out and purchase for myself on a regular basis—but, anyone who has had to show their threadbare socks in public understands that such a reveal can cause major embarrassment. Think back to that cliché, “Always wear clean underwear because you never know where you will find yourself.”
This week, we’ve been exploring Finnish design company, Marimekko, well known for creating colorful, often bold patterns and fabrics. While their designs were first made popular in the 1960’s by Jacqueline Kennedy, the bright and vibrant garments remain classic choices, appropriate for any generation. Personally, I love to add a bold pattern or color to my regular wardrobe from time-to-time, and re-visiting the Marimekko story inspired this Tunic.
This pattern is a variation of our T-shirt Top, available in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design cut to tunic length. The tunic has a bit of a flare starting at the waist, which makes it comfortable and forgiving. We also have variations of tunics – the Camisole Tunic and the Tank Tunic – available as patterns in Alabama Studio Style.
We spend a good bit of time in the kitchen, planning meals and testing out new recipes to share, while I spend evenings trying to please the taste buds of my picky eater. I’ve found that kitchen twine has a number of uses, including trussing or tying meat when cooking or when you want to keep a stuffing firmly placed inside of something. Use it to tie fresh herbs in a bouquet garni or bouquet garnish (see recipe below) or wrap bacon on the outside of your roast or bird. I also use my twine for tying up birthday presents and pony tails—and stuffed animals at my house are often doctored with bits of twine. You might also try making our Knotted Necklace with this twine. It is thinner than our Cotton Jersey Pulls but made in the same way.
Twine, especially for use in the kitchen, shouldn’t be made from synthetic materials (they can melt or chemicals can seep into your food), and we’ve found this organic, non-toxic option works perfectly.
Confession: I have a certain disdain for flip flops. More often than not, they are considered a faux pas in the fashion world, and sometimes for the right reasons. This being said, I must also confess I own a pair of Havaianas that I bought years ago on my Venezuelan adventure. They are packed snuggly in my tote this week as Maggie and I celebrate spring break with a trip to the Florida Pan-Handle and the beach. Honestly, Maggie saunters in flip flops throughout the Alabama summers. I can hardly get anything else on her feet as the scorching heat necessitates barely-there footwear – if not bare feet. When in Rome…
My flip flop rant aside, our Baby Doll Camisole Dress is also packed neatly in my traveling bag. In fact, a DIY garment often makes its first travels in pieces, taken on long car rides or trans-Atlantic flights to be embellished.
Once complete, squarely folded or rolled up, it easily transports on-the-go. My dress has made multiple trips with me to California, returning to Alabama a little more worn (and loved) each time. The gathered ruffles relax the wrinkles from the trip, and yes, it is possible to tastefully pair our Baby Doll Camisole Dress with flip flops (or your favorite pair of heels) on certain occasions. Look for me at the Seaside Promanade this week in both and this weekend at the Doo-Nanny).
In addition to our Appliqué Baby Doll Top, we now offer our Baby Doll Camisole Dress as a DIY Kit. For this kit, we chose the Camisole Top pattern from Alabama Studio Style rather than our Fitted Top pattern paired with the Baby Doll Dress in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design for a more fitted bodice.
In addition to our Little Flowers and Little Folks stencil collaboration with Anna Maria Horner, we’re also introducing a new DIY Kit: the Little Flowers A-line Tunic. This is one of our few kits available in lightweight organic cotton jersey (along with our Random Ruffle T-shirt and the Paisley Skirt). The relaxed fit and the flow of the lightweight jersey makes this tunic an easy favorite in my day-to-day wardrobe. Think absolute comfort.
The top is fitted through the bust with an empire-style flare that lands just below the hip, providing a comfortable, yet feminine shape. It measures 31 ½” from the shoulder.
The kit comes stenciled with Little Flowers and ready-to-sew with all notions for the project. We also feature our variegated embroidery floss in this project.
While we don’t offer the A-line Tunic pattern in our Studio Book Series, you can simply follow the construction instructions for the Fitted Top on page 52 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.
OUR DESIGN CHOICES
Garment – A-line Tunic; follow instructions for the Fitted T-shirt Top in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design
Fabric weight – Alabama Chanin 100% organic lightweight cotton jersey
Fabric color top-layer – Black
Fabric color bottom-layer – Natural
Stencil – Little Flowers
Button Craft thread for construction – Coats & Clark #2 (Black)
Embroidery Floss – Variegated Black #53
Embroidery technique – Backstitch reverse appliqué; instructions available in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design
Seams – Inside Felled