DIY KITE (+ BENJAMIN FRANKLIN)

DIY KITE

A ‘Founding Father’ of our country, Benjamin Franklin, was a Renaissance man with many skills, talents, achievements, and innovations. His professional life includes titles such as: scientist, activist, politician, postmaster, inventor, musician, and diplomat. An astute inventor, Franklin counted bifocals, the lightning rod, catheter, odometer, and glass harmonica among his inventions; he even mapped the Gulf Stream. By teaching and practicing the ideology of “paying it forward” and other social justices, he contributed to a greater society.

Benjamin Franklin saw potential in even the simplest things, perhaps most famously in the act of flying a kite. Stepping into a lightning storm with key, jar, and string in hand, he turned what would be a leisurely pastime for most into scientific research.

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PHILLIP MARCH JONES, COUNTY CLUB, AND A RECIPE

COUNTY CLUB - Photo by Phillip March Jones

We are pleased to welcome back friend and writer, Phillip March Jones, who we have convinced to join us as a regular contributor to this Journal. Phillip will be writing about art, visual design, music, food, and travel.

This week, Phillip shares a photo essay of (and a delicious recipe from) his new favorite restaurant, County Club, in Lexington, Kentucky. This new gathering spot is a stones-throw from Institute 193, Phillip’s gallery. Chef Johnny Shipley’s menu looks mouth-watering and County Club’s Instagram feed has me ready to jump on a plane to Lexington.

Please welcome Phillip with lots of comments below,

xoNatalie

Turner & Guyon, a design team based in Lexington, Kentucky, recently partnered with local chef Johnny Shipley, to transform an abandoned cinder block garage into a full-service restaurant and bar named County Club. The original structure, located on Jefferson Street in the historic Smithtown neighborhood, was built in 1974 as a storage facility for the Rainbow Bread factory’s day-old shop. The factory closed in the early 90′s, and the storage building was eventually purchased by a local man who used it as a garage and auto body shop.

Hunter Guyon and Chesney Turner (Turner & Guyon) have both lived within a few blocks of the building for years, and their familiarity with the neighborhood is evident in the restaurant’s interior, which is elegant, sparse, and comforting.

Memory is one of the driving forces behind both the restaurant’s design and menu, which explores new takes on classic barbecue dishes with a special focus on regionally sourced, in-house smoked meats. County Club, which only opened a few months ago, already feels deeply rooted in the fabric of Lexington’s food and social culture.

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CUSTOM DIY: APPLIQUE ROSE STENCIL

CUSTOM DIY: APPLIQUE ROSE STENCIL

Appliqué is one of the first embellishing techniques we learn when advancing our hand-sewing skills. Incorporating appliqué into a garment, even a small placement piece, adds color, depth, and richness to a project, elevating it from a classic to an elaborate one-of-a-kind.

With our Custom DIY options, you can mix and match fabric colors, stencils, and appliqué techniques for a variety of projects. Your custom design will then be cut and stenciled to your specifications and shipped to you, ready to sew. The above image of our Rose stencil appliqué with a simple whipstitch might be used all-over on the Camisole Dress for a special occasion garment, or sewn to a corner of our Market Bag for a subtle embellishment. The possible combinations are inspiring.

OUR DESIGN CHOICES

Fabric weight – Alabama Chanin 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey
Base Fabric color – Dark Grey
Appliqué fabric color – Dove
Stencil – Rose
Embroidery technique – Appliqué with whipstitch—instructions available in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design
Button Craft thread – Slate

See our Custom DIY page to apply this colorway to one of 20 possible projects (or further customize to your liking).

Follow the Custom DIY Guide to build your own Custom DIY kit.

 

LOVING THE THREAD

LOVING THE THREAD - photo by Rinne Allen

This post grew out of a conversation about love that began around the sewing table at our Warehouse Row workshop in Chattanooga, Tennessee last month. While we have written about well-loved thread many times, it seems important to keep the conversation alive and growing.

Love…We all live for it, because of it, in search of it. Poets try to evoke it from paper and ink. Chefs strive to make you smell and taste it in their meals. And every Alabama Chanin workshop begins with the story of how love is sewn into each stitch of our clothing. Just one of our skirts may need hundreds of yards of thread and thousands of stitches to be completed. If you could watch the process of making that thread, you would see it comes from creating tension in two separate cotton strands and twisting them together. If that tension isn’t tamed before the sewing process, a seamstress will be facing knot after knot, each time the needle is pushed through the fabric. Just imagine what kind of frustration that could cause in the weeks it takes to make a single, hand-stitched garment.

LOVING THE THREAD - photo by Rinne Allen

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MIX TAPE

MIX TAPE

Those of us of a certain age remember the ubiquitous mix tape. We made them for our best girlfriends on their birthdays, for boys and girls we crushed on, and for our younger siblings, bringing them into the fold of “cool.” We received them much in the same way, personally curated with a clear directive: a road trip, an anti-algebra protest (for those of us not good with numbers), a condolence for a loss or break-up. We crafted the paper insert covers in collage cut from magazines or newspapers, or colored them over in crayon and markers. The mix tape might be one of the purest expressions of feeling a person can share. Melody plus lyrics plus artwork (or no artwork) demonstrated time spent consciously collecting something so essential to life: music.

Mix Tape: The Art of Cassette Culture, edited by Thurston Moore of the band Sonic Youth, is a look into the practice and craft of the mix tape, with essays from a long list of contributors including photographers, writers, poets, visual artists, designers, and many musicians, each recalling a specific mix tape that held, and still holds, meaning in their post-cassette lives. Today, many of us stream much of the music we listen to. The playlist has replaced the mix tape (or the mix CD). It’s hard to imagine that record companies protested the invention of the recordable cassette, which we bought in droves. They feared revenue loss and called it piracy. It’s amazing how that control has changed in the years since, how the battle to maintain control of the industry has weighed heavily in favor of the consumer (and pirate), and how musicians have taken up the battle to defend their own art, often breaking from traditional paths to establish their own labels or sign with smaller, independent labels, like Florence, Alabama’s Single Lock Records (where we first learned about this book).

MIX TAPE

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STUDIO STYLE DIY TRUNK SHOW

STUDIO STYLE TRUNK SHOW

Join us for our first ever Studio Style DIY Trunk Show

August 14 – August 26, 2013

@ A Verb for keeping warm
6328 San Pablo Ave
Oakland, CA 94608

For more information, contact: office (at) alabamachanin.com or A Verb for Keeping Warm + 510.595.8372.

Trunk shows have long been a part of the Alabama Chanin business model. It’s a rewarding experience to share the Collection with fashion enthusiasts and loyal customers, to watch them fall in love with the details and intricacies of our hand-sewn, hand-embroidered garments.

Now, for the first time ever, we are hosting a trunk show solely for our Studio Style DIY customers. Makers will have the opportunity to handle and try on the basic, unadorned pieces in a range of sizes, while reviewing a selection of fabric swatches that can be made into custom DIY Kits.  Additionally, there will be a selection of our embellished garments, Studio Style books, fabric swatches, fabric, and a variety of notions for sale.

If you know a knit shop or sewing store in your community where you’d like to see our Studio Style DIY fabrics, kits, and supplies, or a Studio Style DIY Trunk Show, reach out and let us know. For more information on wholesale accounts and for setting up a Trunk Show, contact office (at) alabamachanin.com or call +1.256.760.1090 and ask for Betsy.

STUDIO STYLE TRUNK SHOW

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DIY MEN’S BEE SHIRT

DIY MEN'S BEE T-SHIRT - Photos by Robert Rausch

The Alabama Chanin Studio Style DIY selections are expanding with the addition of Men’s DIY items. Many of you have been asking for more men’s options and this is the first in a series of new DIY Kits that we will feature in our online store.

The Bee is one of the earliest stencils I created upon moving back home to begin the work that has become Alabama Chanin. At that time, I was newly-returned to the south after years abroad. Happy to be home, the rural setting inspired a series of animal designs: The Pig, The Steer, The Rooster, and the Eagle (which is available as a T-Shirt in our online store and as a DIY Kit).

The t-shirt body is our ever-popular men’s classic; however, the style has been loved by both men and women alike for over a decade. We are now offering this t-shirt style as a DIY Kit for the first time. As always, you have the ability to embellish the shirt as much or as little as desired – whatever suits your taste (or the taste of the man in your life).

DIY MEN'S BEE T-SHIRT - Photos by Robert Rausch

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MACRAME HANGERS + KITCHEN HERBS

MACRAME HANGERS

This summer’s harvest has begun to reveal its bounty. Tomatoes and cucumbers are in full-swing and soon I will have all of the squash and zucchini I can stand (and plenty for the neighbors) not to mention, beautiful Italian basil, which I love with a tomato sandwich. I recently received this book, Vintage Craft Workshop, from friend and author Cathy Callahan. The macramé planter project immediately caught my eye and got me thinking about the possibility of year-round fresh basil and mint.

In my mind, I am planning several hanging pots that will live just inside a large window, where they will get lots of sun. The first thing that comes to mind when I think of hanging pots are the macramé plant holders in my home in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. They ran along the kitchen wall in varying heights, usually filled with ferns and the random “Spider Plant” (Chlorophytum comosum). Here, we attempted our own Alabama Chanin version, to test out the sizes we could make, the height, and how they would look made with our cotton jersey pulls. No surprise – they look exactly as I remember them.

MACRAME HANGERS

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MAKESHIFT + KRISTEN WENTRCEK

MAKESHIFT + KRISTEN WENTREK

Kristen Wentrcek is the founder, owner, designer, and creative director of Wintercheck Factory, a Brooklyn, New York, manufacturer producing American-made, design-focused goods for living. Wintercheck Factory began designing and manufacturing furniture in 2009 and soon after, expanded into soft goods, including apparel, accessories, and home goods with a balance of aesthetic and functionality.

During MAKESHIFT 2013, Kristen Wentrcek joined us as a presenter and moderator for MAKESHIFT @ The Standard, an evening of conversation and making centered around the concepts of fashion, food, design, craft, and DIY and where they intersect. As a presenter, she helped lead the conversation, moving between three groups of makers and along with other presenters, shared her experiences with starting and running Wintercheck Factory, and how the elements of fashion, food, design, craft, and DIY have impacted her venture. She also re-crafted the above tote for the MAKESHIFT Conversations Image Quilt.

Kristen joins us today for a brief Q&A about Wintercheck Factory, making, American manufacturing, and MAKESHIFT.

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PATAGONIA: AN EXAMINED LIFE

Alabama Chanin has long looked to Patagonia, and Yvon Chouinard, as the standard for sustainable design, manufacturing, and corporate culture. The recent film “Legacy Look Book” (shown above) is a beautiful reminder of why we love this company so very much.

When Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” he wasn’t implying that an unexamined life is boring or holds less meaning. He said the unexamined life is not worth living. As difficult as this process may be for an individual to understand and undertake, deciding that a company should live an “examined life” only adds to the challenge. It demands a carefully plotted and specific corporate mission, along with employing people who are willing to work openly, honestly, and for the right reasons.

PATAGONIA: AN EXAMINED LIFE

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