Category Archives: DIY + SEWING

LIGHTWEIGHT COLOR CARD

LIGHTWEIGHT COLOR CARD

Now, you can keep all 25 of our 100% organic lightweight cotton jersey colors at your fingertips with our Lightweight Organic Cotton Color Card.

Whether you’re selecting colors for a new Alabama Chanin garment or making plans for your next DIY Kit, add our newest color card to your collection for easy reference when making design choices.

For a complete set of Alabama Chanin Color Cards, try our Color Card Sampler – ideal for mixing-and-matching fabric, thread, beads, and other sewing notions.

Learn more about our lightweight cotton jersey here.

 

MADE BY HAND, CLOSE TO THE HEART

MADE BY HEART

Heirlooms aren’t created overnight, and it’s the time that goes into embellishing and constructing an artisanal garment that gives life to its one-of-a-kind beauty. Join me, Natalie Chanin, for my new online Craftsy class, Hand-Embellishing Knit Fabric: Stenciling, Appliqué, Beading, and Embroidery, and enjoy the process of creating a timeless piece of clothing.

In our first lesson, we’ll look at an assortment of our beautiful hand-embroidered swatches and discuss a vast array of embellishment options for the included Vogue coat pattern. Then, together, we’ll practice a variety of hand sewing techniques to make your coat come together seamlessly. Working with cotton jersey, we’ll cut out, mark, and prepare the pattern pieces for embellishment, using techniques to minimize fabric distortion. Now we are ready to embellish. We’ll create a stencil using the included PDF stencil pattern, and paint designs onto your fabric. After that, I’ll walk you through a multitude of techniques for appliqué and reverse appliqué. We’ll also explore how to sew bugle, chop, seed beads, and sequins onto your garment, and combine beads with embroidery stitches. In our final lessons, we’ll talk through constructing the coat, plus learn finishing details such as adding topstitching, ribbing, and more. Enroll in Hand-Embellishing Knit Fabric: Stenciling, Appliqué, Beading, and Embroidery, and mix and match hand sewing and embellishment techniques, creating a stylish garment that will be treasured forever.

Though my mother once gave me a gorgeous Elna sewing machine, my initial forays into sewing were consistently shaky. Yet, the memories of my grandmothers sewing and creating had long ago taken root deep within my consciousness; these memories eventually bore fruit when I set out , at eighteen years old, for a life away from home to study fashion and design, live abroad, and gain valuable experience as a stylist and designer. When I eventually returned to the ranch-style house my grandfather built in rural Alabama, it was to start Alabama Chanin, my lifestyle clothing and design brand. Alabama Chanin maintains and celebrates the traditions and materials of my grandparents, creating garments by hand, using sustainable practices, and exclusively featuring hand and small lot-dyed organic cotton and recycled materials from local artisans. I look forward to sharing the unique Alabama Chanin process with you in my new Craftsy class.

CRAFTSY-IN-THE-STUDIOMy class was filmed at the Alabama Chanin studio in Florence, Alabama, but you can join me for these lessons from anywhere in the world. Just like the skills you’ll learn, my class is yours to keep—you can watch it whenever and however many times you like. Plus, the Craftsy classroom lets you pose questions, so that your classmates and I can get back to you with answers. You can also use Craftsy’s video notes to mark and return to important techniques easily, plus you can utilize the thirty-second repeat feature to loop a technique without taking your hands off your sewing. My class has a wealth of information that I know you will enjoy, but if for any reason you aren’t satisfied, you can receive your money back with no questions asked.

Sign up for Hand-Embellishing Knit Fabric: Stenciling, Appliqué, Beading, and Embroidery, and learn a collection of enduring sewing techniques for unique garments with invaluable appeal. All supply bundles are discounted on our website, here.

P.S.: Photo of Maggie, Stella, and Natalie by Joe Baran.

 

A DRESS OF HEARTS

A DRESS OF HEARTS

As I mentioned earlier in the week, I live in a house where hearts can be the overriding theme for weeks on end.  I find them tucked under plates, randomly lying on the floor, taped to my bedroom door, and, yes, the most beautiful little heart-shaped lips that kiss my face all-over.  You haven’t truly lived a Valentine’s Day until you live it with a six-year-old-girl.  Forget Hallmark (the modern day creator of Valentine’s Day), the sweetness in-and-around our home makes this hallowed institution look like a 1980’s punk gathering in a dead-end alley.

So, when in Rome… You need a dress to celebrate this favorite of all six-year-old holidays in its crowning glory – hence, A Dress of Hearts.

A DRESS OF HEARTS

Continue reading

DESKTOP OF THE MONTH: HEARTS STENCIL

DESKTOP OF THE MONTH: HEARTS STENCIL February’s Desktop of the Month is all about pink (and shades around it). To celebrate the spirit of love, we’ve talked about what the heart symbolizes and what we might want it to mean for 2013: joy, beauty, acceptance, and more. Here, the backstitched reverse appliqué hearts in gray and pink are simply a way to celebrate those sentiments.

Download the Desktop of the Month here.

P.S. Come back Thursday to see our Camisole Dress made in the Hearts pattern.

 

TIE THE KNOT CORSET

TIE THE KNOT CORSET

While cleaning up for our recent Garage Sale (stay tuned for another coming towards the end of February), I found a bag of our Cotton Jersey Pulls cut into 4” lengths. Most likely, these were prepared for button loops, but no one in the studio can remember exactly why they were prepared and cut.

TIE THE KNOT- BAG OF TIES Continue reading

RED PINK ROSE

RED PINK ROSE

The colors of a season include shades, tones, and hues that are sometimes steeped in meaning:

Red: The color includes shades that run from deep blood red or plum and burgundy to apple, fire engine, and carmine.  The meanings sometimes associated with this color can be as diverse as the shades, themselves. Red is said to be connected to energies, actions, passion, blood or, sometimes, when those things go unchecked, rage or revenge.

Pink: with shades like blush, nude, and bashful, has been said to represent unconditional love and nurturing. It is also associated with a girl, all things girly, a ballerina, and can even signify something sickly sweet or bring to mind Pepto-Bismol.

Rose: the name that shares its origin with the flower of sweetness. It’s not quite magenta, which is strong and bold, but somewhere between the passion of red and girly nature of pink – more playful, summery in nature, and sometimes wild.

Books have been written about the history, meaning, and commerce of each color. Portrait painters through the centuries used combinations of colors to tell stories about their subjects, businesses have been established on the premise of helping you “find YOUR true color.” The funny thing is that our own personal memory plays a huge role in exactly how we feel about every color.

I remember a Valentine’s cake from my childhood that was sweetly pink on the outside and blood red once the first cut was made.  I remember the colors vividly, the taste acidic in a bad strawberry sort of way.  Sometimes public restrooms have a fake bad strawberry kind of smell. Maggie was given a hand-sanitizer that smells the same way.  Every time I have a whiff of a restroom that smells of strawberry, I think of that pink and blood red cake.  Never fails.

From hearts to shades of red and pink, come back this week as we continue to explore the theme of the season.

(Get this bundle of organic cotton jersey, specially priced for exploration. Or, take your time and explore each shade individually.)

 

FIVE GENERATIONS (AND A BABY BIB)

I’ve mentioned this a few times here on the Journal: I am a grandmother.  And in the photo above, you see our sweet Stella Ruth.  Her hands, clearly visible, are surrounded by my son Zach’s, my dad’s, my grandmother’s, and mine.  That’s right—five generations.  You may have seen pictures of five generations in newspapers and on blogs but when it happens to you, it does feel somewhat monumental.

Full confession:

This is my second five generation photo. The photo at the bottom is 20-year-old Natalie with four-month-old Zach, my father at 40, my grandmother at 60, and my great grandmother, who we called Granny Lou, at 80. (While I am definitely not promoting teenage pregnancy, it makes it easier to get to five generations into a photo when you each have a baby at 20!)

Continue reading

MAKESHIFT 2012: THE CONVERSATION

“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. Open sourcing and the emergence of DIY everything (from apps to dresses to education) are THE design stories of the 21st century.

If the philosophers and economists are right, such stories reflect renewed possibilities for building communities, for growing businesses, and for practicing everyday forms of enchantment, ethics, and sustainability. It is time to expand our way of thinking about the relationship between craft and fashion, between the self-made and the ready-to-wear, between fashion as intellectual property and fashion as an open source. What can we learn from the fields of music, product design, and education? Does a backward glance help us see how fashion was at the forefront of these innovations from the start? What is a Vogue pattern if not an open source? What are les petits mains other than artists?


DIY PEACE (A SKIRT TOO)

No one can find inner peace except by working,
not in a self-centered way, but for the whole human family.
- Peace Pilgrim

There are many ways to make DIY Peace.

Mildred Norman set off on New Year’s Day and began to walk across the country in the name of peace. Changing her name to Peace Pilgrim, she said, “I shall remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace.” Peace Pilgrim continued her journey until her death in July 1981.  That’s 28 years of walking for peace.

Others have worked for peace in their own ways. There have been singers for peace, like Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, or Bob Dylan. Many have spent their lives attempting to create peace on a global level: Nelson Mandela, fellow Southerner Jimmy Carter, Elie Wiesel. There are those like Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, who have devoted their lives to prayer and meditation for peace. So many across the world continue to protest and work for peace.

At Alabama Chanin, we only know how to do what we CAN do to promote peace… So, for today, while it may seem trivial, that’s as simple as our Peace Skirt.  It’s not earth shattering; it’s a skirt. However, perhaps the time sewing, and/or the time wearing will give us each a little time to reflect, or to work towards peace it in small ways for our own lives.

Make your own or purchase our DIY Peace Skirt Kit (kit comes ready-to-sew and includes all fabric, floss, and thread needed to complete your project).

Continue reading