Category Archives: DIY + SEWING

HEART CHAIR

HEART CHAIR

Follow instructions for the Woven Farm Chairs (or Friendship Chairs) on page 95 of Alabama Studio Style to make your own chair with our Hearts stencil.

Read about our Makeshift 2012 Chair Workshop at Partners & Spade and start a conversation in your own community.

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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.

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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!)

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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).

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THE GIFT WREATH

Homemade jams are wrapped in organic cotton jersey and tied with a cotton jersey pull; these jams are the basis of our wreath for today and are ready for delivery (as soon as my son Zach’s homemade bread arrives).

As I set off for the holidays (later this afternoon), I am thankful for your support this last (big, beautiful, exciting, glorious) year and grateful for each and every one of you and our entire Alabama Chanin family.

Peace on Earth,
xoNatalie

P.S.: Meet us back here on Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 9 am (sharp) CST for our first-ever (online) Garage Sale, featuring items from our recent sample sale, trims, notions, fabrics, DIY Kits, and treasures galore.

 

DIY LIVING WREATHS

In the last few months, I have been given two wreaths made from living materials. The one above comes from my friend Erica Rosenberg of St. Florian Fiber Farm—just outside of Florence, Alabama. The wreath below was lovingly made by Sybil Brooke Sylvester of Wildflower Design in Birmingham, Alabama.

There are so many ways that you can use elements from your yard, your community, and your environment to make your own wreaths and decorations. Follow our new Sticks + Such board on Pinterest and share with us what natural materials you are using for building decorations.

Weave the name of one of the Newtown, Connecticut victims into your handmade wreaths in memorial.

 

DIY ROSEMARY WREATH

I have been somewhat of an herbalist since I was a small child.  Plant names and properties have always come as second nature.  While I struggle with the names and faces of people (sometimes people I have just met can go undistinguished an hour later), I have a recall for plants that sometimes baffles. It is almost like I have a memory older than myself when it comes to leaves and weeds.

Like Juliette of the Herbs (see the clip at the bottom of this post), I have planted many a garden—across the globe—and while each garden has its own story, every garden I planted has included rosemary.  After a brief “settling in period,” this elegant (and evergreen) shrub grows tall and wide in the Alabama climate. There is an Old Wives’ Tale about perennial plants: “The first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps, the third year it leaps.” It’s true. I have two rosemary shrubs in my home that I took as small diggings from the garden of my last house—our old production office at Lovelace Crossroads. Five years later, those bushes thrive and have spiced many a lunch, dinner, and, yes, cocktail. Come back this afternoon for our Rosemary Infused Vodka recipe .

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DIY JERSEY + WOOL WREATH

Our studio team made this wreath almost a decade ago. While it never found its way into production, I always loved the textural quality and combination of yarn and cotton jersey fabric. I purchased it at one of our many long-ago sample sales after finding it in the bottom of a box of other holiday goodies.  Now, every holiday season, the wreath takes a proud place on my front door. (This year I hung it together with a larger fresh pine wreath.)

You will notice in the detail below that the wreath is made from our cut cotton jersey fabric in combination with crocheted elements (or appliqués).  These decorative crochet elements were also part of a long-ago collection of garments combining fabric and yarn.

Since we’ve been discovering how well fabric and yarn work together, I thought we could share another way to incorporate the two beautifully. After a bit of head scratching, we were able to re-create patterns for the hand-crocheted elements (as closely as possible).

The wreath is approximately 13” in diameter and 40” in circumference and consists of several different parts: two approximately 50” braided cotton jersey ropes, two 6” DIY Rag Boas approximately 50” long, assorted crochet elements, assorted beads, a beautiful grosgrain ribbon, and a cotton jersey pull for hanging.

Keep in mind that this project can be made with ANYTHING you have available in your home.  Substitute cotton cord or twine for our cotton jersey pulls. Substitute any appliques or trinkets you have for our hand-crocheted decorations. Add beads, and bows made from our Mokuba Grosgrain Ribbon; take away the beads or add three additional bows. You may also choose to use a base for your wreath as we did in the DIY Organic Wrapped Wreath and lash your Rag Boa and Braided Ropes to that base.

Do what makes you feel good.

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