Category Archives: DIY + SEWING

I WANT TO BE FRIENDS WITH FAYTHE LEVINE.

I’m almost certain she’s the coolest person I’ve never met.

Several pieces of evidence have led me to this conclusion; the first is this article from the NY Times and the second was probably the conference call that spurred our upcoming Visiting Artist event. Natalie and I were hunched over the speaker phone in my office exchanging ideas about “loom rooms,” home-made bitters, and interactive art exhibits with a very agreeable Levine.

She ended the call saying she had to open her art gallery/skate shop a few blocks away.

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WEEKEND AWAY: MABEL DODGE LUHAN HOUSE

From what I’ve gathered, Taos is a Magical Place. Natalie made a trip there not so long ago and came home breathless with tales of beauty and enlightenment. She was especially enthralled with the story of Mabel Dodge Luhan and the Mabel Dodge Luhan House.

Her experience inspired a new series of workshops called Weekend Away.

Natalie wrote in the introduction to this series:

I had the opportunity to visit Taos not so very long ago and, as I much as I was looking forward to the trip, nothing could have prepared me for the experience. In a word: incredible. My stay at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, my time in Taos, the breath-taking mountain backdrop, all left me feeling rested, energized, inspired.

I have always felt that our workshops have a sort of healing property and, while we love hosting weekend workshops in our home @The Factory, we also feel that it is beneficial to visit the “homes” of others for an extended stay. We are beginning to seek destinations that nourish the soul and calm the mind. Taos seems the perfect place to begin.”

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ANNA SUI (+ ALABAMA CHANIN DIY DRESS)

Last month, we began a conversation about the intersection of Fashion, Craft, and DIY. That dialogue started with our friends at Vena Cava and continues this week with a story and a pattern from Anna Sui.

Below are instructions for Alabama Chanin’s basic version of an Anna Sui dress pattern in coral, the newest color in our cotton-jersey fabric collection. This fabric is hand-dyed in Nashville, Tennessee, using the common madder plant, which is native to Africa, temperate Asia, and America. The dye is extracted from the roots of this plant and creates a beautiful coral color.

Get started on your own Anna Sui dress, either basic or embellished, and leave us a note about the intersection of fashion and craft in the comments section of this post by Sunday, February 19th, at midnight for a chance to win the sample dress (size 6) pictured here.

 

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DIY THURSDAY: ALABAMA CHANIN COVERED SNAPS

While we are a manufacturer of high-end women’s and men’s clothing, our office works less like a production facility and more like a studio. Because we custom-cut and paint each piece in our collections, it is important that we pay especially close attention to detail.

What seems like a small mistake – like choosing the wrong thread color – can result in an entire order being mismatched.

The garments that we make are often sent to different artisans for completion. So, if we inadvertently give one artisan the wrong thread color, we would end up with a single item that looks completely different from the rest of the order. This is the reason that, many years ago, I wrote this saying from Thoreau on a small blackboard in our cutting room:  “Life is in the details.”

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FAMILY + STITCHES

Like The Physics of Sewing, understanding how our Button Craft thread (the strongest thread we have found in the world) works with our cotton-jersey fabric is also important physics when embarking on any of our DIY Projects.

Included in Chapter 3 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, I think you will also find my Grandfather’s story an important one for life and design:

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ANTICIPATION

Ever since I received my advance copy of the upcoming Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, I’ve been excited to share the book and anxious to know if you will love it as much as we do.  I received word from our publisher that they will be sending Alabama Chanin our first shipment of books on February 8. That means that – as long as everything goes as planned – we should receive and begin shipping them by February 15th. I expect that there will be a whirlwind of activity when it arrives here: unpacking, organizing, sorting and shipping.

We are ready to go and can’t wait to get this book into your hands – and to get your hands working on the new projects.

We’d also like to remind you that we have several workshops scheduled. They are a great way for us to get together and talk shop about our new projects. Make sure to check out our website for updates and additions.

Visit our new Workshop Resources page for more information or contact us with questions: june@alabamachanin.com or 256.760.1090.

THE PHYSICS OF SEWING BY HAND

This text – some of our most important sewing tips at Alabama Chanin – is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design (which we plan to receive and start shipping around the 15th of this month). It is important to us at Alabama Chanin that we as a humanity (women and men – girls and boys) take back the essential survival skill of hand-sewing, and that we also understand the physics behind the clothing that shelters our bodies.  It’s as simple as picking up needle and thread.

Old Wives’ Tales and Physics

Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of old wives’ tales around the sewing room, but I’ve come to learn that many of these tales find truth in everyday life. And as tale after tale has proven true, I’ve also come to understand that there’s reason, or “physics,” behind them.

 

Needle your thread; don’t thread your needle:

This makes perfect sense in that the thread is the weaker of the two elements and easily moves or bends. Moving the more stable element—the needle—over the thread to “needle the thread” makes this a simple task.

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EXPLORATIONS IN HAND SEWING

Penland School of Crafts is a magical institution nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Its mission and philosophy are as inspiring as the surrounding landscape, and believe me- it’s an incredible setting. I first learned of Penland as a student at the NCSU College of Design. As a young mother with little time and no money, Penland seemed so out of reach. My son, Zach, wasn’t even two when I started university and I was barely twenty; there was never time for more than being mom, working, and school and the ends never seemed to meet.

At the suggestion of one of my professors I applied for a Studio Assistantship. Luckily for me, the stars aligned and I was admitted – the rest is history. My mother helped with Zach, Penland took care of tuition, and I learned to dream of design. I’m still living that dream and will be forever grateful for that single summer that changed everything.

My son is now 30 – and expecting a child of his own. (Yes! I am going to be a grandmother!) I visited Penland for a few days last summer in anticipation of teaching for two weeks this coming summer. Life comes full circle.

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ECOSALON FRIDAY: SEWING FOR HUMANKIND

Check out our post today @ EcoSalon:

Sewing for Humankind

There was a time – not so long ago on humanity’s calendar – that sewing was not considered “women’s work,” but rather a tool for survival.

Hunter/gatherers looking for food on a cold winter’s day, some miles from their camp, might have a shoe wear through and break – and their ability to sew that shoe back together in a simple repair stitch might have meant the difference between safe return to the camp, the loss of a foot to frostbite – or an even worse fate, death.

It is thought that healers began to sew human wounds back together in ancient Egypt – formed as a unified state around 3150 BC – and most likely before.  Over 5000 years ago, sewing was taught, not as craft, but as a survival skill necessary to human life. In fact, a heavy-duty needle and thread for repairing clothing and equipment (and sewing one’s own flesh) is still included in first aid and survival kits today.

Sewing was an invention that greatly aided our advancement as a people and it is believed that needle and thread existed as early as 15,000 years ago.

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DIY THURSDAY: THANK YOU

Thank you notes are an integral part of a Southern woman’s upbringing. We are taught to be grateful, always say please and thank you, and appreciate the many gifts in life. This is how I was raised and this is how I choose to raise my daughter Maggie. I want her to grow up with a grateful manner. I want her to be thankful for all that life has to offer.

However in this busy day-and-age, I often forget or don’t seem to find time for a personal, hand-written thank you note. I plan to remedy that situation and I’m just now getting to my holiday thank you list. To those on my list, please be patient with us. We WILL make more time to sit with pen, scissors, and paper over the next weeks.

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