Category Archives: THE SCHOOL OF MAKING

APRIL + SWATCH OF THE MONTH

ALABAMA CHANIN – APRIL + SWATCH OF THE MONTH

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.

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DIY INSPIRATION: RAY EAMES

ALABAMA CHANIN – DIY INSPIRATION: RAY EAMES

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.

SUPPLIES

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
Embroidery floss
Basic sewing supplies: scissors, pins, needles, ruler, rotary cutter
Fabric Markers

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.

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ON DESIGN: RAY AND CHARLES EAMES

ON DESIGN: RAY AND CHARLES EAMES

“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.

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DIY EXPLODING ZERO (PLUS JACK CROSSING + HELMUT LANG)

DIY EXPLODING ZERO (PLUS JACK CROSSING + HELMUT LANG)

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.

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NEST + ALABAMA CHANIN: PARTNERSHIP FOR LEARNING

Alabama-Chanin---Building-14---Courtesy-of-Rinne-Allen-(17)

When we opened our Building 14 manufacturing facility in the summer of 2013, we knew that we had to commit to learning about the ever-changing manufacturing industry—and that the learning curve would be steep. But as we began to educate ourselves, we found that no manual or set of rules existed for us to consult. Over the past three decades, the American textile manufacturing industry has been in decline, with an estimated drop from 2.4 million jobs in 1973 to 650,000 in 2005. Between 1994 and 2014, Alabama lost 29.8% of its all of its manufacturing jobs (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014). As those jobs migrated elsewhere, so did the skills needed to create these jobs and a vicious Catch-22 emerged of reduced skill/reduced capacity. In its early days, Building 14 ran right up against this problem of rusty skills in combination with new materials and processes, with no clear roadmap on how to bridge the knowledge gap. And so, we realized that we needed a School for Making—for ourselves, for our industry, for our fellow makers, and for our community.

After much struggle, success, learning, and growing, we are proud to announce an important new partnership between Nest (www.buildanest.org) and The School of Making.

Alabama-Chanin-+-Nest

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DIY MOTHER’S DAY GIFT GUIDE

DIY MOTHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE

MOM: short for mother; three little letters that can mean so many big things to so many different people

MOTHER: more formal title than “mom”; often a verb, but not necessarily recognized as such

TO MOTHER: the act of mothering; often accomplished by friends, cousins, aunts, brothers, sisters, fathers, and sometimes by children for their own parents

At Alabama Chanin, we realize what it takes to mother, and that mothering takes time.

And, we also know that it takes time to make—so, for Mother’s Day, we’re offering early savings that you can take time to create that special gift for the mother(s) in your life.

Choose one of our DIY Kits and make a garment or home project to give. Or, if your mother is the maker, select an item that she will enjoy making for herself. Sign her up for a workshop (or choose two and join her), or give the Swatch of the Month and we will gift her every month for the next year.

Come back tonight at midnight through midnight Sunday and save 20% site-wide on select items*.

Call +1.256.760.1090 M-F from 8:00am – 4:30pm CST for help celebrating Mom.

And if you place an order online, let us know if it is a gift for someone special; we will package it beautifully and add a note of thanks.

Here are some of our favorites, curated in our 2015 DIY Mother’s Day Gift Guide:

DIY MOTHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE
DIY MOTHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE
DIY MOTHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE
DIY MOTHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE
DIY MOTHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE
DIY MOTHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE
DIY MOTHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE
DIY MOTHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE
DIY MOTHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE
DIY MOTHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE
DIY MOTHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE
DIY MOTHER'S DAY GIFT GUIDE

P.S.: On June 29th, 2015 we are hosting a Mother Daughter One-Day Workshop at the celebrated Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee. Contact Blackberry Farm at 800-557-8864 for more information and pricing.

*Discount excludes all workshops, collaborations, Alabama Cotton products, Alabama Studio Book Series, other books and music, Swatch of the Month, Starter Sewing Kit, gift certificates, Events @ The Factory, and Heath Ceramics dinnerware. 

ON DESIGN: 1980 + MEMPHIS DESIGN

ON DESIGN: 1980 + MEMPHIS DESIGN

Join us Monday, March 9 at The Factory for the next conversation in our On Design Series. Last month, Natalie spoke about the business of artisan work. This month, the conversation continues with a lecture about the design collaborative known as Memphis, founded in Milan, Italy by Ettore Sottsass in the 1980s. Join us:

Monday, March 9, 2015
10:30am – 11:30am

Alabama Chanin @ The Factory
462 Lane Drive
Florence, AL 35630

$7.00

Open-to-the-public, the cost includes admission, participation in the conversation, and a cup of The Factory blend coffee, a cold drink, or tea.

Register here for this event.

P.S. Look for more information on this and other upcoming Makeshift events on our Journal and/or join our mailing list.

*Photo by Abraham Rowe of the (gorgeous) book: Ettore Sottsass by Phillipe Thome

SHOP CLASS AS SOULCRAFT

SHOP CLASS AS SOULCRAFT

On May 21,2009, Matthew B. Crawford published an article in The New York Times Magazine titled, “The Case for Working With Your Hands.” Later that month, Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work arrived on my desk at work.

Three paragraphs down in the New York Times piece, Crawford describes our situation:

“High-school shop-class programs were widely dismantled in the 1990s as educators prepared students to become “knowledge workers.” The imperative of the last 20 years to round up every warm body and send it to college, then to the cubicle, was tied to a vision of the future in which we somehow take leave of material reality and glide about in a pure information economy. This has not come to pass. To begin with, such work often feels more enervating than gliding. More fundamentally, now as ever, somebody has to actually do things: fix our cars, unclog our toilets, build our houses.”

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MARCH + SWATCH OF THE MONTH

MARCH + SWATCH OF THE MONTH

February is technically a short month, but it was so fast and furious that I had to make conscious efforts to be mindful AND productive. March looks to be just as busy, but in the best way—full of things I want to do and people I want to see.

It is National Women’s History month, so we hope you will take time to revisit some of our favorite stories of Real Women and to share your own.

Here is what March looks like for me (deep breath):

March 2 – Dr. Seuss’ birthday, now known as Read Across America day. I’m currently working on several books, among them: The Optimistic Child by Martin E. P. Seligman, Encyclopedia of Needlework by Thérèse de Dillmont (in research for a possible new book on the tools of handwork), and revisiting Mary Renault’s The Last of the Wine.

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MAKESHIFT DINNER SERIES (PAST AND PRESENT)

MAKESHIFT DINNER SERIES (PAST AND PRESENT)

Last year, we launched our Friends of the Café Dinner and Factory Chef Series, which was quickly established as part of our Makeshift initiative. As with most things here at Alabama Chanin, the idea evolved over time from an interesting idea into something bigger. In 2015, we are continuing to host Friends of the Café dinners, combined with a corresponding workshop series—a branch of The School of Making. The series will combine our celebration of slow, sustainable, and inventive food with our ongoing conversations on craft, design, food, making, and community.

The initial idea for this series was simple—each month, The Factory Café would feature seasonal dishes inspired by regional chefs (or restaurants) that shared our values of celebrating place, artisanal craftsmanship, and good food.

MAKESHIFT DINNER SERIES (PAST AND PRESENT)

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