FROM SARA: BILL CUNNINGHAM (POST FASHION WEEK)

BILL CUNNINGHAM - SCENE FROM THE MOVIE "BILL CUNNINGHAM NEW YORK"I don’t want to overstate the obvious, but most of you would know that I am neither a New Yorker nor a fashion expert. While I enjoy style and design and I’m somewhat awed by the city, it’s clear to any observer that I’m native to neither. But, there’s something about Bill Cunningham that makes me feel comfortable with both. He lives and roams in the intimidating worlds of fashion and Manhattan, but manages to do so in an unpretentious way.

This weekend I re-watched the feature-length documentary Bill Cunningham New York, which profiles this prolific photographer and wise fashion observer and, once again, this eighty-something gentleman captured all my heart. Sometimes, as a fashion outsider, I imagine that NY style begins and ends on the runway. Bill Cunningham is a firm believer that this notion is not true. “The best fashion show is definitely on the street – always has been, always will be,” he assures us. His “On the Street,” column in the New York Times is a collage of on-trend people, items, movements, and real-time style progressions. In the film, Harold Koda, Curator of the Costume Institute/Metropolitan Museum of Art, explains that Bill attempts to “tease out trends in terms of the reality of how people dress.” Cunningham himself demurs, “I don’t decide anything. I let the street speak to ME.”

BILL CUNNINGHAM FOR THE NY TIMES

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MADE BY HAND, CLOSE TO THE HEART

MADE BY HEART

Heirlooms aren’t created overnight, and it’s the time that goes into embellishing and constructing an artisanal garment that gives life to its one-of-a-kind beauty. Join me, Natalie Chanin, for my new online Craftsy class, Hand-Embellishing Knit Fabric: Stenciling, Appliqué, Beading, and Embroidery, and enjoy the process of creating a timeless piece of clothing.

In our first lesson, we’ll look at an assortment of our beautiful hand-embroidered swatches and discuss a vast array of embellishment options for the included Vogue coat pattern. Then, together, we’ll practice a variety of hand sewing techniques to make your coat come together seamlessly. Working with cotton jersey, we’ll cut out, mark, and prepare the pattern pieces for embellishment, using techniques to minimize fabric distortion. Now we are ready to embellish. We’ll create a stencil using the included PDF stencil pattern, and paint designs onto your fabric. After that, I’ll walk you through a multitude of techniques for appliqué and reverse appliqué. We’ll also explore how to sew bugle, chop, seed beads, and sequins onto your garment, and combine beads with embroidery stitches. In our final lessons, we’ll talk through constructing the coat, plus learn finishing details such as adding topstitching, ribbing, and more. Enroll in Hand-Embellishing Knit Fabric: Stenciling, Appliqué, Beading, and Embroidery, and mix and match hand sewing and embellishment techniques, creating a stylish garment that will be treasured forever.

Though my mother once gave me a gorgeous Elna sewing machine, my initial forays into sewing were consistently shaky. Yet, the memories of my grandmothers sewing and creating had long ago taken root deep within my consciousness; these memories eventually bore fruit when I set out , at eighteen years old, for a life away from home to study fashion and design, live abroad, and gain valuable experience as a stylist and designer. When I eventually returned to the ranch-style house my grandfather built in rural Alabama, it was to start Alabama Chanin, my lifestyle clothing and design brand. Alabama Chanin maintains and celebrates the traditions and materials of my grandparents, creating garments by hand, using sustainable practices, and exclusively featuring hand and small lot-dyed organic cotton and recycled materials from local artisans. I look forward to sharing the unique Alabama Chanin process with you in my new Craftsy class.

CRAFTSY-IN-THE-STUDIOMy class was filmed at the Alabama Chanin studio in Florence, Alabama, but you can join me for these lessons from anywhere in the world. Just like the skills you’ll learn, my class is yours to keep—you can watch it whenever and however many times you like. Plus, the Craftsy classroom lets you pose questions, so that your classmates and I can get back to you with answers. You can also use Craftsy’s video notes to mark and return to important techniques easily, plus you can utilize the thirty-second repeat feature to loop a technique without taking your hands off your sewing. My class has a wealth of information that I know you will enjoy, but if for any reason you aren’t satisfied, you can receive your money back with no questions asked.

Sign up for Hand-Embellishing Knit Fabric: Stenciling, Appliqué, Beading, and Embroidery, and learn a collection of enduring sewing techniques for unique garments with invaluable appeal. All supply bundles are discounted on our website, here.

P.S.: Photo of Maggie, Stella, and Natalie by Joe Baran.

 

A DRESS OF HEARTS

A DRESS OF HEARTS

As I mentioned earlier in the week, I live in a house where hearts can be the overriding theme for weeks on end.  I find them tucked under plates, randomly lying on the floor, taped to my bedroom door, and, yes, the most beautiful little heart-shaped lips that kiss my face all-over.  You haven’t truly lived a Valentine’s Day until you live it with a six-year-old-girl.  Forget Hallmark (the modern day creator of Valentine’s Day), the sweetness in-and-around our home makes this hallowed institution look like a 1980’s punk gathering in a dead-end alley.

So, when in Rome… You need a dress to celebrate this favorite of all six-year-old holidays in its crowning glory – hence, A Dress of Hearts.

A DRESS OF HEARTS

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PINK DEVILED EGGS

PINK DEVILED EGGS - PICKLED IN BEET JUICEI get lost in the thousands and thousands of captivating images and creations shared daily on Pinterest. One thing leads to another and before I know it I’m fifteen tabs deep in my web browser…

While pinning to our boards recently, I came across a beautiful food blog – one of many that belongs on our ‘The Kitchen + Other Pleasures’ board.

On said food blog, there is a recipe for Pink Deviled Eggs, vibrant and saturated with a deep pink-purple hue. Perhaps this pin fits better with Reds (Carmine, Rose, and Pink)?

So to continue our theme of all-things-Valentine, we made these Pink Deviled Eggs for our studio lunch (along with some extra homemade fundraiser soup made by Zach for Maggie’s school).

I share a traditional recipe for Deviled Eggs in Alabama Studio Style. While you might not pass this recipe down to your daughters, it was fun to make, look at, and eat.

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DESKTOP OF THE MONTH: HEARTS STENCIL

DESKTOP OF THE MONTH: HEARTS STENCIL February’s Desktop of the Month is all about pink (and shades around it). To celebrate the spirit of love, we’ve talked about what the heart symbolizes and what we might want it to mean for 2013: joy, beauty, acceptance, and more. Here, the backstitched reverse appliqué hearts in gray and pink are simply a way to celebrate those sentiments.

Download the Desktop of the Month here.

P.S. Come back Thursday to see our Camisole Dress made in the Hearts pattern.

 

FABIOLA (LOVE LETTER TO A PAINTING)

FABIOLA (LOVE LETTER TO A PAINTING) via California Literary ReviewIn his classic tome on two-dimensional design, Wucius Wong indicates that it takes at least three elements for something to be considered repeating. Repeating elements is one of the first theories you learn as a textile designer. I spent an entire semester discussing the theory of words and their meanings in design language. We were all in agreement: for repetition, two isn’t enough. What about over three hundred?

Wucius Wong’s theory is the first thing that comes to mind when I look at these pictures from an exhibition by the artist Francis Alys, showcased at the National Portrait Gallery in London. In room after room, over 300 portraits of Saint Fabiola are displayed: the same woman in the same pose, the same traditional rendition. Repetition – the same image seen over and over again.

The artist has collected these paintings from flea markets and garage sales in his adopted home of Mexico City. Most are painted by amateur artists. All portray the same woman, again, and again, and again. What Alys points out is that, though the images are similar – they all portray this woman, Saint Fabiola, in the same traditional veil, seated in the same pose and with the same background color – each individual image is unique. Each bears the mark of the artist. One may paint her nose with a slant; another may paint her with makeup or a solemn expression. The artists have copied a widely known image, but interpreted through their own eyes. We see repetition, but without absolutely identical images.

The larger art here is in the repetition of the “pattern,” or image. But, Francis Alys is showing us that even copies bear the mark of the creator. Seeing the same image repeated hundreds of times makes for an impressive impact. Viewed as a whole they represent merely a single pattern; viewed more closely, they demonstrate that, even when re-creating someone else’s work of art, the artist’s uniqueness shines through.

SAINT FABIOLA

*Photos borrowed from California Literary Review.

JACK RUDY PINK GIN + BAR TOWEL

JACK RUDY PINK GINThis post published last Wednesday in the midst of technical difficulties that lasted more than a week. We are deeply proud of this collaboration, adore all things Jack Rudy, and want to be sure that everyone gets a chance to meet Brooks up-close (or at least closer). Here we re-publish  the story, giving the Pink Gin it’s due.  Besides, it’s a good week for everything we (heart):

Since we’re celebrating Valentine’s Day, it’s only natural to throw a cocktail in the mix. And so, in keeping with the season’s color palette, I’m drinking a Pink Gin and Tonic made with Jack Rudy Handmade Tonic.

Alabama Chanin loves Jack Rudy and we have used it in several cocktails, from a rosemary-infused Vodka & Jack Rudy to our Handmade Cocktail made with Tito’s Handmade Vodka. We collaborated with Brooks Reitz, one of the creators of Jack Rudy, to design a hand-stitched 100% organic cotton French Terry bar towel especially for Jack Rudy enthusiasts.  Our Jack Rudy-inspired bar towels are available on our website, and you can also choose to bundle them with a bottle of Jack Rudy Handmade Tonic (bring your own gin).

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NEWSLETTER #1

ALABAMA CHANIN NEWSLETTER #1

We are pleased to introduce our first-ever Alabama Chanin newsletter. Each month (or so), you can expect updates about our newest designs, events, workshops, design projects, products, and other ideas and people we care deeply about.

You can update your subscription to include the newsletter (and our other offerings) by clicking here.

Let us know what you want and when you want it.

A LOVE LETTER TO LOVE LETTERS

Love LettersOnce there was nothing but paper and pen. Not so long ago (a little over a decade), before the email, the text, the tweet, or the Facebook post, there was simply paper and pen.

Think about how special it feels when you get an actual hand-written note in the mail. When you were a child and wrote that super-secret note to your pen pal, covering the envelope in stickers – think of the pure excitement when a response finally arrived. When I was young and corresponded with friends, summer camp bunk-mates, or cousins, I remember watching as they grew and their handwriting changed: a visual representation that we were getting older. As we moved through junior high and high school, the passing of the note in class became high art. As we got older, silly little love notes were left under car windshield wipers, tucked into coat pockets, left on pillows. Some were sappy, some embarrassing, some beautiful – all with one intent: to express affection.

But, at some point we stopped.

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