I’ve kept a journal, or some type of notebook, on and off since I was fifteen years old. My current journal is full of messages, reminders, sketches, and sweet notes and drawings I’ve collected from Maggie over the past few weeks—which, since Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, includes a lot of heart-shaped and heart-adorned things.
I first started making these covers for well-worn (and well-loved) books. Soon, most of my binders, notebooks, and journals had covers, as well. Each time I retire a journal to my shelves, I slip a new one into my hand-sewn cover.
February’s Swatch of the Month illustrates a variation on Alabama Chanin’s basic reverse appliqué technique in our Anna’s Garden design. With a membership in our Swatch of the Month Club, you can try out a different technique each month. You may purchase a Swatch of the Month membership at any point in the year and will receive all swatches from previous months. Follow along on the Journal as we demonstrate some of our most popular embroidery and embellishment techniques.
This photograph shows the second installment of the year: outside reverse appliqué. View January’s swatch—basic reverse appliqué—here. (This hi-resolution photograph, for use as your computer desktop background, is available for download from our Resources page.) Outside reverse appliqué is very similar to basic reverse appliqué. The only difference between the two techniques is that outside appliqué does not leave any textile paint on the fabric.
Each Swatch of the Month kit comes ready-to-sew with all of the notions needed to complete the project. Just provide your own needles, pins, and scissors (or purchase an Essential Sewing Kit from our online store). Techniques and instruction can be found in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.
In continuing our celebration this week of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his philosophy and teachings, we sought to create something sustainable that could share this hopeful message that stemmed from the American Civil Rights Movement.
I have always found this quote inspiring, and have applied its message in my own life time and time again: reminding myself each day that it is just about showing up and doing what you can do—today. It seems appropriate, in this new year of new beginnings, to create a reminder (and testament) to this continued commitment to moving forward. Step by step.
Make this corset by following the instructions from page 144 of Alabama Stitch Book. (The pattern is included on the pattern sheet at the back of the book.) We made our version with medium-weight organic cotton jersey fabric, but it could easily be made using recycled t-shirts, as well. This technique can also be used to embellish other patterns or existing garments with scooped necklines.
In the tradition of old-time quilting and sewing circles, join us at The Factory the first Monday of each month to sew and socialize. Spend the morning working on your latest project in the company of fellow sewers, while sharing inspiration, encouragement, fellowship, and maybe even a bit of light-hearted gossip. (It is speculated that the phrase “chew the rag” originated from the gossiping that took place while ladies worked together in a sewing circle.)
Coffee, tea, and light breakfast will be available for purchase from The Factory Café. Please bring your own fabric and sewing notions. If you would like to purchase supplies from our Studio Style DIY area, a special 10% in-store discount will be offered to participants during First Mondays.
January’s Swatch of the Month incorporates Alabama Chanin’s basic reverse appliqué technique with our Paisley stencil. Explore our techniques and build your skills with a membership to our Swatch of the Month Club and follow along here on the Journal.
The photograph above shows one of many options you can create when making your own swatch. (This hi-resolution photograph, for use as your computer desktop background, is now available for download from our Resources page.)
Experiment with your swatch. You can work it in reverse appliqué like we did, or use another treatment: negative reverse, backstitched reverse, quilted, or embellish with beaded stitches. Reverse appliqué can be done by beginners and experienced sewers alike and is worked on two layers of fabric: The top layer is stenciled and then stitched to the backing layer; next, part of the top layer is cut away to reveal the backing fabric underneath.
Each kit comes stenciled and ready-to-sew with all of the notions needed to complete the swatch—just provide your own needles, pins, and scissors (or purchase an essential sewing kit). Colorway options include Navy/Black (our design choice), White/Natural, Neutrals, Reds, and Blues. Techniques and instruction can be found in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.
This holiday season, as part of our Handmade Holiday collection, we are offering a DIY tree skirt kit that features our Anna’s Garden design in a negative reverse appliqué, and coordinates beautifully with our Natural Appliqué Stockings.
Our do-it-yourself kit was inspired by the custom tree skirt we created for the official White House Christmas tree in 2009. The tree skirt, which measured 14 feet in diameter and was embellished with our Magdalena stencil, was completed in three weeks by 22 Alabama Chanin artisans. I can’t believe it has been four years since we designed the blue and white skirt for the Obamas’ first winter in the White House. Now, the skirt is archived with other previous White House holiday decorations in the Smithsonian Institute.
Our Anna’s Garden Tree Skirt Kit comes ready-to-sew and includes all fabric and thread. The skirt measures 48” in diameter and can be customized to match your style and holiday décor.
This stuffed bunny rabbit is Alabama Chanin’s version of the old-time childhood favorite, the sock monkey. My grandmother used to make sock monkeys for all the children in our family. Each one she made took its own personality and looked different from the others. Our DIY Bunny Rabbit doll is an easy project to complete, and is a perfect handmade gift for the little ones this holiday. And each time you make this project, your bunny will take on its own unique personality, much like the well-loved sock monkeys from my childhood.
Get creative with your bunny rabbit – you can customize the fabric colors and embroidery floss, change his face to reflect any mood, or even turn him into another woodland creature. (One of our studio team members recently made a little stuffed bear by altering our pattern a bit.)
All of the instructions for this bunny, along with the pattern, are available in Alabama Stitch Book. The pattern is also available for download on our Resources page.
This time of year, often associated with peace, may not always feel so peaceful with the chaos and frenzy that sometimes accompanies the holidays. At Alabama Chanin, we strive to practice DIY Peace, doing what we can to promote peace: in our lives, at our business, in our community, and within ourselves (body and mind).
If you are a maker, you probably have moments of peace or reflection when you create. We hope our DIY Peace Sign T-Shirt serves a small reminder to practice peace in your daily life and to slow down and enjoy the holiday season.
I’ve written before about our Fabric Library, a collection of sample blocks and swatches that our company has created over the years. Each swatch starts out the same way, as a basic 10” x 16” rectangle of our organic cotton jersey. Then each one is embellished with embroidery, stencils, beading, and/or appliqué. These sample blocks, or swatches, are the basis for all of our designs and collections, and have become our most valuable asset, our intellectual property.
Perfect for the nature-lover in your life, our Stag T-Shirt is part of a new series of Men’s DIY projects and is currently featured in our Handmade Holiday collection.
Designed to be worn (and loved) by men and women alike, this adaptation of our basic t-shirt features a bold Stag stencil across the chest and is embellished with a reverse appliqué.
We designed our t-shirt with long sleeves for cooler weather, but you have the option to choose a short sleeve or sleeveless version as well. You also have the option to customize the backing layer fabric color to suit your (or your recipient’s) tastes.