I WANT TO BE FRIENDS WITH FAYTHE LEVINE.

I’m almost certain she’s the coolest person I’ve never met.

Several pieces of evidence have led me to this conclusion; the first is this article from the NY Times and the second was probably the conference call that spurred our upcoming Visiting Artist event. Natalie and I were hunched over the speaker phone in my office exchanging ideas about “loom rooms,” home-made bitters, and interactive art exhibits with a very agreeable Levine.

She ended the call saying she had to open her art gallery/skate shop a few blocks away.

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WEEKEND AWAY: MABEL DODGE LUHAN HOUSE

From what I’ve gathered, Taos is a Magical Place. Natalie made a trip there not so long ago and came home breathless with tales of beauty and enlightenment. She was especially enthralled with the story of Mabel Dodge Luhan and the Mabel Dodge Luhan House.

Her experience inspired a new series of workshops called Weekend Away.

Natalie wrote in the introduction to this series:

I had the opportunity to visit Taos not so very long ago and, as I much as I was looking forward to the trip, nothing could have prepared me for the experience. In a word: incredible. My stay at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, my time in Taos, the breath-taking mountain backdrop, all left me feeling rested, energized, inspired.

I have always felt that our workshops have a sort of healing property and, while we love hosting weekend workshops in our home @The Factory, we also feel that it is beneficial to visit the “homes” of others for an extended stay. We are beginning to seek destinations that nourish the soul and calm the mind. Taos seems the perfect place to begin.”

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ANNA SUI (+ ALABAMA CHANIN DIY DRESS)

Last month, we began a conversation about the intersection of Fashion, Craft, and DIY. That dialogue started with our friends at Vena Cava and continues this week with a story and a pattern from Anna Sui.

Below are instructions for Alabama Chanin’s basic version of an Anna Sui dress pattern in coral, the newest color in our cotton-jersey fabric collection. This fabric is hand-dyed in Nashville, Tennessee, using the common madder plant, which is native to Africa, temperate Asia, and America. The dye is extracted from the roots of this plant and creates a beautiful coral color.

Get started on your own Anna Sui dress, either basic or embellished, and leave us a note about the intersection of fashion and craft in the comments section of this post by Sunday, February 19th, at midnight for a chance to win the sample dress (size 6) pictured here.

 

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THE SFA COMMUNITY COOKBOOK + STUDIO LUNCH

Since the beginning of time, food has been an essential part of family life and, on a larger scale, the community. As the kitchen is often described as the heart of the house- the recipes and food made within move outward- connecting people to their neighborhood and even their region. A community cookbook exemplifies that connection with a collection of recipes from an array of contributors, all bound together by a sense of place.

Community cookbooks have graced the kitchens of every grandmother and mother in the South for decades. The Southern Foodways Alliance pays the ultimate tribute to said books in its Community Cookbook, and does a mighty fine job of compiling the prized recipes of chefs, artisans, farmers, writers, and cuisine-fiends from our beloved region. The beautiful publication is presented complete with metal binding rings.

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WE (HEART) ANNA SUI

We all encounter bumps in the road, but with encouragement and tenacity, we persevere.

Back in 2001, I faced one in my life. I returned to New York to continue developing my life’s work into what is now Alabama Chanin. At the time, I was living in the Chelsea Hotel on West 23rd Street while I was developing the line, working with partners, and sorting out production issues. One Sunday morning, I woke up feeling extremely frustrated. Continue reading

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THE HEART: JUNE FLOWERS-STEADMAN

Those of you who have visited The Factory, attended a workshop, or simply called the Alabama Chanin office have likely had the opportunity to meet or speak with our Project and Event Coordinator, June Flowers-Stedman. June is an incredibly memorable individual – she has lightning-fast wit, a sultry, knowing voice, and a unique way of making everyone feel special. If you’ve encountered June – or read one of her posts – you remember her.

I first met June in 2010 through my son, Zach. I remember hearing about his friend, Brandy June, and listening to him laugh when recalling stories of her. June was a student at the local university, studying in the Fashion Merchandising department. I didn’t know this at the time, but she attended a lecture that I gave there, which set in motion our inevitable course collision. June had in mind to attend one of our local weekend workshops; her approach was unique and memorable:

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DIY THURSDAY: ALABAMA CHANIN COVERED SNAPS

While we are a manufacturer of high-end women’s and men’s clothing, our office works less like a production facility and more like a studio. Because we custom-cut and paint each piece in our collections, it is important that we pay especially close attention to detail.

What seems like a small mistake – like choosing the wrong thread color – can result in an entire order being mismatched.

The garments that we make are often sent to different artisans for completion. So, if we inadvertently give one artisan the wrong thread color, we would end up with a single item that looks completely different from the rest of the order. This is the reason that, many years ago, I wrote this saying from Thoreau on a small blackboard in our cutting room:  “Life is in the details.”

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WEDNESDAY RECIPES: A SOUTHERLY COURSE

Martha Hall Foose’s A Southerly Course: Recipes and Stories from Close to Home, has landed on our bookshelf in the studio- then made its way into the kitchen (and our hearts and minds). In her book, Martha’s recipes are accompanied by fascinating stories of life and times in the Mississippi Delta. It makes me want to hop on a riverboat and float down the Mississippi to find her kitchen. Continue reading

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FAMILY + STITCHES

Like The Physics of Sewing, understanding how our Button Craft thread (the strongest thread we have found in the world) works with our cotton-jersey fabric is also important physics when embarking on any of our DIY Projects.

Included in Chapter 3 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, I think you will also find my Grandfather’s story an important one for life and design:

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ANTICIPATION

Ever since I received my advance copy of the upcoming Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, I’ve been excited to share the book and anxious to know if you will love it as much as we do.  I received word from our publisher that they will be sending Alabama Chanin our first shipment of books on February 8. That means that – as long as everything goes as planned – we should receive and begin shipping them by February 15th. I expect that there will be a whirlwind of activity when it arrives here: unpacking, organizing, sorting and shipping.

We are ready to go and can’t wait to get this book into your hands – and to get your hands working on the new projects.

We’d also like to remind you that we have several workshops scheduled. They are a great way for us to get together and talk shop about our new projects. Make sure to check out our website for updates and additions.

Visit our new Workshop Resources page for more information or contact us with questions: june@alabamachanin.com or 256.760.1090.