Each month, as part of our Swatch of the Month Club, we are demonstrating some of our most popular techniques so that you might try your hand at creating new designs and embroideries. If you join the Swatch of the Month Club, you will receive a ready-to-sew package each month with the supplies needed to make that month’s unique piece. 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.
The hi-resolution photograph above of March’s featured technique, for use as your computer desktop background, is available from our Resources page.
Alabama Chanin’s first-ever sewing workshop took place in 2008 alongside a seminar on Southern cooking, organized and presented by our friend and collaborator, Angie Mosier. While the sewing participants stitched and chatted, the food preparers fried up some chicken, steamed collard greens and made pot likker, then baked the most delicious Lane Cake. At each meal, Angie explained the history of each dish and its significance within Southern culture. This is where I first learned the details behind one of Alabama’s culinary specialties, the Lane Cake.
Lane Cake was created by Emma Rylander Lane of Clayton, Alabama, as her entry into a county fair baking competition in Columbus, Georgia. She originally called the recipe, “Prize Cake,” but eventually leant her name to the dessert for all posterity. She self-published a cookbook called Some Good Things to Eat in 1898 and included the recipe as one of her featured desserts. Lane Cake is a white, layered sponge cake (originally designed for 4 layers) iced with a frosting that includes coconut, raisins, pecans, and bourbon. It is often found in the South at receptions, holiday dinners, or wedding showers. Chef Scott Peacock writes in The Gift of Southern Cooking that he was served a Lane Cake every year on his birthday.
Newsletter #14 includes more additions to the new Alabama Chanin collection; it also features our manufacturing collaboration with Little River Sock Mill.
Find fresh, seasonal colors of our Cocktail Napkins and Organic Cotton Jersey Napkins – and a new workshop this May, the Alabama Chanin DIY Chair Workshop @ Southern Makers, Montgomery, Alabama.
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xoNatalie and all of us @ Alabama Chanin
Illustrator and author Maira Kalman has long been a personal hero of mine. She visited The Factory a couple of years ago, along with Rosanne Cash and Gael Towey, for a two-day sewing workshop and some adventure. It was then that I learned Maira is not only a talented illustrator, but also an avid embroidery expert. I love everything she creates (but especially her drawings and unique storytelling perspective), and am happy to call her my friend.
In her book And the Pursuit of Happiness, Maira explores American democracy and its workings. Originally published as a 12-part online series for the New York Times, this complete bound volume tells the colorfully illustrated and hand-lettered history of America.
“Remember—if you’re up for reading and learning (and so many studies show that successful people almost always are), you have access to the most amazing minds and consummate creativity the world has to offer you any time you want. The stories we glean from what we read can resonate as powerfully as what we might hear in person. As Gary Snyder says so beautifully, ‘Books are our grandparents.’”
–Ari Weinzweig, A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Managing Ourselves
Tomorrow is Read Across America Day, and my love of books and reading is no secret. As a designer, I find inspiration inside books; as a business owner, I find critical information that has helped me grow who we are as a business and who I am as an entrepreneur. A few weeks ago, our staff began a study group to work through Ari’s latest book, and the excerpt above about the importance of books really hit home.
Hoping that you will all have a great week—full of reading and discovery—and that we will see you soon,
Here is what we have going on at The Factory Store + Café this week, Monday, March 3 – Friday, March 7:
This week, in honor of Read Across America, we are having an in-store special on our selection of books. Come by and browse our library and receive 10% off of any book purchase.
Also, make plans to join us for First Mondays at The Factory, March 3 from 8:30am to 11:30am.
Another month has come and gone. Looking forward to spring and all it brings.
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Our newest men’s DIY Kit features the Check, our 2014 Stencil of the Year. The shirt is shown here worked in reverse appliqué, but there are various ways to work this stencil, including negative reverse appliqué and outside reverse appliqué, along with a variety of other techniques found in the Alabama Chanin Studio Book series.
The body of the shirt is our popular men’s classic T-shirt which has long been a unisex favorite. However, this top can be easily adapted to a women’s T-shirt – pattern and instructions for which are found in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.
Ever since I read about classic Southern drinks in the latest issue of Garden & Gun, I’ve been craving a crisp, refreshing cocktail. We’ve shared some grenadine-inspired libations before and, in keeping with that theme (and continuing our love affair with Jack Rudy’s Small Batch Grenadine), we created a blood orange-infused pomegranate cocktail.
Boasting a deep and rich citrusy flavor, blood oranges are considered to be among the finest dessert oranges in the world and are at their seasonal peak right now. These oranges are quite sought after by most bartenders—they are only ripe for a few months each year. The perfect pairing with a range of spirits, we chose to mix ours with Cathead Vodka.
Tip: Blood oranges will only last a couple of days at room temperature, so we suggest refrigerating them; they will last up to two weeks that way.
The latest Alabama Chanin collection launched last month and we have now added even more new pieces to our online store. These handmade garments are worked in a variety of techniques and colors. We’ve added several new men’s styles (more on that soon…), Basics, and Accessories.
Our Basic Panel Tank is a great layering piece, especially underneath corsets or other form-fitting tops (as seen layered with our DIY Martin Luther King Jr. Quote corset above and paired with our Magdalena Scoop Neck Top below). It adds just the right amount of extra coverage to the hip area, further accentuating your curves.
Our first workshop of the year is this Friday at The Factory in Florence. It’s not too late to register and spend the afternoon with Natalie and the Alabama Chanin team. Registration closes at noon on Wednesday, February 26.
This workshop is suited to beginner and experienced sewers alike. Work with Natalie and our Alabama Chanin DIY Kits to create a project from our Alabama Stitch Book, Alabama Studio Style, or Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. DIY Kit options for this workshop include one of the following projects: scarf, T-shirt, set of four tea towels, set of four placemats, baby blanket, onesie, apron, or journal.
After the workshop, join us in The Factory Café for Afternoon Tea (a selection of gourmet sandwiches, savory pastries, Southern-inspired sweets, and an assortment of teas and coffees). The cost of the workshop includes materials, instruction, afternoon tea, stories, and laughter.