As part of our On Design and Makeshift conversation and event series, we have led discussions on various design movements and schools of thought (like Bauhaus, Arts and Crafts, and Memphis), the business of artisan craftwork, and designers like Charles and Ray Eames. This week’s discussion takes a turn toward a new design arena—Biophilic Design and Terrariums.
The speaker today was Birmingham-based artisan Jonathan Woolley, whose collective—known as Little Forest Design—has given The Factory entrance a facelift by installing a beautiful tableau of terrariums. The effect is transformative; bringing natural elements into our workspace influences not only our work environment, but also our mood and productivity.
Response to the installation reflects the basic philosophy behind Biophilic Design—that incorporating nature into living and working environments can affect mental and physical health, and allow for healthier connections within communities. The design theory presents the idea that humans fundamentally need a connection to nature, but our urban environments have separated us from those elements that might nourish our spirits and physical bodies. Biophilic Design is a way of reconnecting people to nature in a way that incorporates natural elements into current living and working systems.
In preparation for his presentation, we asked Jonathan to give us some background on the theory of Biophilic Design and his design collective, Little Forest Design.
Today, we launch our new Unisex T-shirt garment pattern—available in PDF form through our newly re-organized Resource downloads page. Available for purchase at $12, the PDF download includes the nested pattern and comes in sizes XS to XXL along with instructions for fabric selection, cutting, and garment construction. All of our patterns are the results of hours creating drawings, drafting patterns, making samples, readjusting the patterns, sewing more samples, and finally, grading each pattern by hand into a range of sizes that are then translated to our digital, nested versions. These new PDF patterns (more styles coming very soon) are designed for printing on wide-format printers or desktop printers. We ask that you respect our policies and use our patterns for personal projects, as they are designed for individual use and not intended for commercial ventures or reproducing and distributing.
“He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.”
– Francis of Assisi
Introducing new DIY kits inspired by our brand new book, Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns. Be on the lookout for kit details and design choices on our Journal in the coming months…
To engage your hands, your head, and your heart:
A refreshing spin on one of our longest-running and most popular patterns: the Corset, now available in DIY New Leaves and DIY Magdalena.
Our classic DIY V-Neck Shell Top, updated with a placement Magdalena stencil accenting the neckline.
The versatile and effortless DIY A-Line Dress, now offered in the New Leaves design, as featured in Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns.
Try a variation of our Fitted Skirt with the DIY Magdalena Mid-Length Skirt and the DIY Magdalena Fitted Skirt with pockets.
The patterns and kits from our newest book are inspired by real women of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, and ages.
With the launch of Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns and our updated online Resources page on Friday—including new garment patterns and stencils offered as downloadable PDFs—we are offering a growing range of designs that require printing, either from a home printer or from wide-format printers found at print shops across the globe.
Alabama Stitch Book, Alabama Studio Style, and Alabama Studio Sewing + Design included paper pattern sheets that allowed home sewers to create Alabama Chanin designed garments. And while this is a straight-forward process, there are new printing options available that may streamline patternmaking for the home sewer. Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns comes with a CD filled with ready-to-print PDF files for new garments and stencils, plus all of the garments from our previous three books. Additionally, beginning this Friday we will offer new garment patterns and stencil designs for purchase from our Resources page—also in PDF form.
Electronic versions of all of these designs can be emailed from your computer or brought to a local copy/print shop and printed out on extra-large paper so that there is no joining or overlapping of the pattern pieces necessary. Wide-format printers are readily available that print up to 36” (90 cm) and sometimes as much as 44” (112 cm) wide and as long as the roll of paper fits the machine. Look for a copy/print shop in your community that works with architects, who also have large-scale printing needs. In our experience, prices for printouts can vary widely from shop to shop, and so it pays to take the time to research the best value available. If you cannot find a wide-format printer in your own community, there are a range of online services that will print digital files and ship to your door. Continue reading
Last Thursday we started shipping our newest book, Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns. Stacks of books around the office moved quickly into boxes and off into the hands of readers. Thank you for all your sweet notes of praise and excitement. We find it equally exciting to move on to this next chapter.
Look for our post tomorrow on “How To Print a Pattern,” fresh DIY Kits—inspired by the new book—launch on Thursday, Friday our updated Resources page arrives with a new downloadable garment pattern and improved stencil design PDFs, and look for our (first-round) blog tour over the coming weeks, featuring Heather Ross, Anna Maria Horner, Kristine Vejar, Amy Herzog, Joelle Hoverson, and Amy Butler (in no particular order).
Once you’ve had the chance to open your box and digest the contents, let us know what you think. Looking forward to hearing from each and every one of you…
It’s a BIG week for us here at Alabama Chanin. Our newest book, Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns, lands in stores and into the hands of the makers tomorrow. This fourth book in the Alabama Studio Series includes all the patterns from our first three Studio Books on a convenient CD, plus instructions and patterns for 12 new skirts, dresses, tops, and jackets, with illustrated guidelines for customizing the fit and style of each. The book teaches readers the ins and outs of refashioning garment shapes, raising and lowering necklines, taking in and letting out waistlines, and many more key forms of customization; it also offers guidelines for adapting patterns from other popular sewing companies to the Alabama Chanin style—stitched by hand in organic cotton jersey and embellished with stencils, embroidery, and beading. Check back on Wednesday for information on the best ways to print our patterns and stencils.
On Friday of this week, we introduce a newly re-organized Resources section. This re-formatting will make possible our first-ever downloadable garment patterns for purchase—beginning with our popular Unisex T-Shirt. Additionally, new and improved stenciling patterns will be available to purchase in PDF form with full-scale artwork for wide-format printing and also for tiled printing on both 8 1/2″ x 11” paper, or A4 paper. Look for additional garment patterns through 2015.
With the arrival of April (and the announcement of our partnership with Nest), it feels as though we are finally settling into the year. April’s warmer weather is also welcomed with open arms (and horseback rides). April is a busy month.
April is National Poetry Month. Poetry lovers can begin a project using our Poetry stencil—available for download on our Resources page or work your favorite poem or quote directly onto any garment.
Here is what’s on the horizon for April:
April 2 – International Children’s Book Day—Maggie recommends favorites by Maira Kalman.
April 5 – Easter Sunday – however you choose to celebrate, we hope you approach today with a spirit of renewal.
April 7 – Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns launches (very exciting)
April 11 – This day we host our Alabama Chanin Open House + Community Picnic, plus our One-Hour Mini-Workshops at the Factory. Spend a day with our team at The Factory. Sign up for mini-workshops on dyeing, stenciling, and/or sewing. For the potluck-style picnic, we provide barbecue and “fixins”—so bring your favorite side dish or dessert to share. The open house is free and open to the public.
As we wrote in last week’s post on our DIY Exploding Zero T-Shirt, inspiration comes at us from every direction. Recently, our design team has been (almost endlessly) inspired by Eames: Beautiful Details. The use of color and form shown by Ray and Charles Eames is bright and modern, even by today’s standards. The image shown above at left inspired the swatch above right, and can be recreated using the basic instructions below in any combination of colors and techniques you choose. This is a perfect project for our Fat Eighths or scraps from your own stash.
7” x 9” cotton jersey fabric for top layer
7” x 9” cotton jersey fabric for backing layer
100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey scraps in various colors
Button Craft thread
Basic sewing supplies: scissors, pins, needles, ruler, rotary cutter
Alabama Stitch Book, Alabama Studio Style, or Alabama Studio Sewing + Design: All three of these books contain the basic sewing and embroidery techniques we used to appliqué the squares and add decorative stitches and beads.
“Eventually everything connects – people, ideas, objects. The quality of the connections is the key to quality, per se.” – Charles Eames
Our first official On Design conversation and event centered on the Bauhaus—founded in 1919 by architect Walter Gropius. This movement’s core objective was a radical concept: to reimagine the material world to reflect the unity of all the arts. The main influences behind the Bauhaus were Modernism, the Arts and Crafts movement and, perhaps most importantly, Constructivism.
The Bauhaus school was closed in 1933 by its own leadership under pressure from the Nazi regime and many of the designers and artists who had been working within the school and those with similar philosophies, moved to the United States. Those of you who were present for our On Design: Bauhaus discussion (or who read about it) will remember that this movement came to change my life (and save my life), because the School of Design at North Carolina State University grew out of Black Mountain College—where some of the instructors from the Bauhaus settled. And, thus I essentially received a Bauhaus training.
The reach of the Bauhaus school is immeasurable. The foundations and design approach influenced designers like Frank Lloyd Wright, Edith Heath, Mies Van De Roe, Le Corbusier, Herbert Bayer, Philip Johnson, Marcel Breuer, and eventually Ray and Charles Eames.
Inspiration: where does it come from? That’s one of the most asked questions of designers and artists.
The answer is complicated and breathtakingly simple: inspiration is right in front of us. It comes to us over the airwaves, through the endless streams of data we consume, and is found on deserted street corners.
The exploding zero graphic above (on the left-hand side) landed on my desktop sometime last year and made us think about exploding our own preconceptions and also about the number zero—the number of infinite possibilities.
This manipulation of type that inspired our entire team was created by Jack Crossing. Design on paper translated to fabric, thread, beads, and sequins.
DIY Exploding Zero T-shirt is shown here with our sarong (simply a 36” x 72” rectangle of lightweight cotton jersey fabric cut lengthwise with the grain) and Natalie’s vintage Helmut Lang shoes (in pink) circa Spring/Summer 2000.
Make your own exploding zero project following the instructions below, or purchase our t-shirt DIY Kit from The School of Making.