It’s hard to believe January is almost over. It has been an incredible month here at The Factory (and beyond), and I am looking forward to what the rest of 2014 brings…
My love of books is no secret. I still have a decades-old public library card, probably obtained when I was about 8 or 9, printed on card stock and housed in a small, paper envelope. It was one of my most prized possessions as a child. Today’s library cards can be scanned and swiped, but obtaining one is still an important rite of passage for so many.
In the past, we’ve explored the emotional responses that a love for books and for libraries can elicit from anyone who shares that same admiration. Our local library, the Florence-Lauderdale Public Library, is a wonderful example of how a brick and mortar building can grow into a community of sorts, adapting to meet the needs of the public at-large, and embracing new technologies while reinforcing the importance of learning. This library, like many modern public libraries, has special initiatives geared toward younger children and teens, but also has a strong local history and genealogical research team. They are creating interactive experiences for the community through classes, meet-ups, and year-round programs. I am proud to see what an important part of our community the public library remains.
Over the past six months, we have been developing a selection of new colors to add to our fabric library. Each time we add to our color library, we begin the color development process by browsing through Pantone Solid Chips. In the studio, these books are used for reference as we select new fabric dyes. Once potential color options are chosen, color swatches—in the form of paper, fabric swatches, and/or Pantone chips—are sent to the dye house in Raleigh, North Carolina, so that they can create dyes to match the samples. We have worked with our dye house extensively for custom color development and dyeing since 2008. They perform lab dips—developing a color recipe—and test dyes on our organic cotton jersey; the fabric samples are then sent to us for comparison, inspection, and approval. Sometimes the hue comes out right on the first try; other times there is a back-and-forth process until the perfect shade and hue is achieved.
We are excited to announce the addition of seven new medium-weight organic cotton jersey fabric colors: Dusk, Gold, Persimmon, Autumn, Wine, Teal, and (an updated) Peach. They are vibrantly saturated and fit perfectly alongside our existing shades.
While the first six are additions to our existing color palette, Peach is an improved-upon color. Dye lots can change over time, with variations in the ingredients and methods. Our Peach had begun to resemble Light Pink, and therefore it was due an update to a fresher, brighter look.
These new colors will be replacing Popcorn, Green Tea, Green Organic, Brown Tea, and Brown Organic fabrics, as these naturally grown colored cottons are no longer available. At the same time, Indigo—originally included on Color Card 2—is also grouped with our more robust selection of nine Natural Dye fabrics, and is offered in both Light and Medium-weight.
These days it’s rare that I get the chance to sit down and read. Between second grade homework and taking out the compost (which seems an endless—and perpetually thankless—chore), my days don’t involve moments to sit, read, and ponder. In fact, “pondering” seems to have become a lost art in our busy, busy, busy (badge of honor) lives.
So, it was with relish that between listening to “Mary Had a Little Lamb” played on our new piano (43+ times—right hand, left hand, right hand, left hand, and one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four…) and watching Spy Kids: All The Time In The World, I was able to thoroughly read the new Garden & Gun magazine—cover to cover. And what an issue it is: Patterson Hood, Do-It-Yourself Moon Pies (more on this story next Wednesday), and Classic Southern Drinks (my personal favorite).
With the launch of our new collection, we have also launched a lookbook online, with the aim to share our design inspirations and (hopefully) inspire your own look and style.
View our look book to see how A. Chanin seamlessly integrates with our new Alabama Chanin collection, discover interpretations of Three for a Dime and Disfarmer-style looks, and get a close-up look at fabric details and garment designs.
Lance and Evelyn Massengill
In 2008, Maxine Payne, an Arkansas-based artist, self-published a book of photographs titled Making Pictures: Three For A Dime. She catalogued the work of the Massengill family who worked from 1937 to 1941 as itinerant photographers in rural Arkansas documenting farmers, young couples, babies, and anyone else who had a few minutes and an extra dime to spend. The Massengills’ photos provided candid snapshots of the rural South just before the Second World War. Through her efforts, Maxine Payne has given new life to these old photographs by coordinating exhibitions and projects, including a forthcoming book by the Atlanta-based publisher Dust-to-Digital and a collaboration with Alabama Chanin on our new collection. We asked Maxine to describe her connection to the Massengill family and her involvement with Three For A Dime:
We are very proud to announce the launch of the new Alabama Chanin collection. Here at the studio, we have all been busy over the past months preparing for this endeavor—from a collaboration with artist Maxine Payne (more from the story behind our inspiration and Maxine tomorrow…), to perfecting organic cotton fabric and colors, designing and producing garments pattern-by-pattern, swatch-by-swatch, creating and hand sewing sample garments, organizing photo shoots, and finally, preparing for this launch today.
Lots of work, time, and love go into every piece of a new collection. Each of our fabrics and garments are designed to last a lifetime: some pieces intended as heirlooms, others seamlessly integrated into everyday wardrobes.
In addition to the collection, you will notice several updates to our website—including the “soft launch” of the machine-sewn A. Chanin line, organic cotton socks from our collaboration with Little River Sock Mill, and a brand new feature: the Alabama Chanin lookbook (more on that tomorrow, as well).
The new collection features several designs, including our Magdalena, Daisy, Scallops, and Whispering Rose patterns worked in a variety of techniques and a selection of colors including: Natural, Navy, Black, Lime, Natural Blue Grey, and Nude. Our Basics and A. Chanin line are also available in these new collection colors.
Highlights of our process, the story behind the collaboration, new designs, and new fabric colors will be coming soon. Stay tuned…
Browse our new look here.
The Civil Rights Movement gained national attention in the early 1960s. The many protests, marches, and stands for equality were sustained by freedom songs and music from musicians-turned-activists. The setbacks, hardships, failures, and successes of the movement for racial equality can be told through song.
We curated a playlist highlighting some of the songs that delivered powerful messages during that time period, namely “We Shall Overcome,” an old African American hymn that gained popularity in the 1950s. The song became the unofficial anthem of the movement, bringing strength, support, and hope to activists—during protest marches, in the face of violence, and in jail cells.
“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.
Today, in celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. week, we turn the spotlight to one of the unsung heroes (or heroines, rather) of the Civil Rights Movement: Georgia Gilmore.
Georgia (whom we have written about before) lived and worked in Montgomery, Alabama, and was a true servant to the cause of the movement. Georgia was a big lady with a big personality—frankly put, she didn’t take any bull from anybody. She worked as a midwife, as well as a cook at the National Lunch Company. After Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to leave her seat on a bus in December of 1955, a group of black ministers and community leaders formed the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA)—and initiated the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Led by Martin Luther King, Jr., the Association often held secret meetings around the city. As soon as Georgia heard of Rosa Parks’ arrest on the radio, she joined the MIA, determined to aid the effort in any way she could.
Outspoken and feisty, Georgia let her disapproval of the discriminatory bus drivers be known—an action that got her fired from her job at the cafeteria. When that happened, Dr. King and other leaders helped her set up a restaurant in her home kitchen. Georgia was well-known around town for her fried chicken, pork chops, and stuffed bell peppers and often served these and other dishes to Dr. King and fellow supporters of the boycott. She even hosted secret MIA meetings there in her kitchen.
Georgia’s love (and talent) for cooking and her passion for equality and change led her to start a club with a few of her friends, named “The Club from Nowhere.” The ladies in the club, most of them maids and cooks, sold homemade pies and cakes (and even Georgia’s chicken dinners) to supporters of the movement in order to raise money for the boycott. The Club from Nowhere often set up shop in beauty parlors, Laundromats, and on street corners in downtown Montgomery. Both black and white supporters of the boycott were able to contribute anonymously. The Club from Nowhere used the money they collected to buy gas and station wagons, which were used to transport people to and from work during the boycott. Georgia always said that the money came “from nowhere.”