DIY RAG BOA

This project from Alabama Stitch Book, like our Handmade Red selection, and the Holiday Stocking, is another perfect holiday project.  Made from two recycled t-shirts, you can get started with materials you have right in your own closet. (Don’t we all have a few t-shirts we don’t need?)

The project was posted originally on the Cotton, Inc., website in 2008 around the time of the launch of Alabama Stitch Book.  Start practicing now because we have a great DIY Wreath coming up on Monday that is based on this technique. As we wrote in Alabama Stitch Book, the choice of color can add an element of character, which makes it a great way to experiment with color combinations and textures you might not have considered before.

(I also accused my dear friend Eva Whitechapel of whipping hers off from time-to-time for a bit of dusting.)

Happy Holiday Dusting…
xoNatalie

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DIY COTTON JERSEY PULLS (OR ROPES)

I use ropes made from our organic cotton jersey fabric for wrapping all of my holiday packages (and for many other things–as evidenced in the DIY instructions below). If you have ever ordered garments or fabrics from our online store, you will have found your contents tied up in one of these Cotton Jersey Pulls. Follow the instructions below to make your own from scraps or from old t-shirts. You can also purchase a set of ropes from our online store in colors from White-to-Cream, Black-to-Grey, and Colorful– which includes a random range of our most loved shades. Look for more posts about how to use these pulls in the coming year. Anything you order from our online store between now and the end of the year will come shipped wrapped, tied with a Cotton Jersey Pull, and ready to gift.

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DOC DAILEY & MAGNOLIA DEVIL

The musical legacy of our community is rather incredible; you don’t have to look hard or far to find a wealth of talent in the Shoals. Dive bars, back porches, and BBQs are all likely places for impromptu jam sessions. If you were living here during the 60’s or 70’s you probably have a story about the Rolling Stones, Wilson Pickett, Paul Simon, Cher, Lynyrd Skynyrd, or any number of the musicians that recorded at FAME Studios or Muscle Shoals Sound (shown in the photo above at 3614 Jackson Highway in Muscle Shoals, Alabama).

In the 1940’s, you may have heard Sam Phillips, founder of Sun Records, DJ-ing on the Muscle Shoals radio station, WLAY. Phillips has credited the station as inspiration and influence on his later work.

This once legendary music scene has experienced resurgence recently with artists like Bettye LaVette, the Black Keys (see video below), Band of Horses, and Alicia Keys traveling to the Shoals to produce, record, and work. And while we love that our great history, amazing engineers, and studios are attracting big names, it is our local musicians that we adore – the hometown heroes that are pursuing their dreams and doing what they love, all while dealing with the daily grind. We will begin highlighting some of the incredible local bands and musicians that call the Shoals home, starting with the very near and dear Doc Dailey & Magnolia Devil.

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FASHION AS CRAFT

It’s no secret that there seems to be a disconnect between the worlds of fashion and craft. The terms, themselves, can be a bit polarizing despite their incredible commonality.

Alabama Chanin is no stranger to straddling that line between the two; to us, craft and fashion definitely go hand-in-hand. On a recent weekend, I spent some time catching up on a pile of magazines and some of the images I found make me think that the larger fashion world is beginning to see the commonalities, too.

Keep an eye out as you peruse your favorite fashion publications. You might be surprised at what you find. The images above from the September issues of W and Vogue (yes, it sometimes takes us a while to get through them) made us smile; craft and fashion, moving together at last.

P.S.: For those of you who joined us or followed online during MAKESHIFT: SHIFTING THOUGHTS ON DESIGN, FASHION, COMMUNITY, CRAFT & DIY, a series of events and talks during NY Design Week, you probably know how strongly we feel about bridging the gap between DIY, design, and high-fashion.  We hope that our efforts may be paying off. While we can never know for certain what is sparking this monumental shift in philosophy, I can’t help but feel that all of us are helping to pave the way. Let us know what you think in the comments below.

 

HANDMADE RED (NATALIE’S CHOICE)

Make something today for someone you love. They will love you for it. (I would; wouldn’t you?)

Start with the holiday version of our classic DIY Eyelet Embroidered Gore Skirt from Alabama Studio Style.

100% Organic. 100% Love. It’s the ultimate luxury.

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THE (NEW) HOLIDAY LUXURY

THE NEW HOLIDAY LUXURY

In a world of mass-production and over-harvested resources, I find it a delight and a luxury to come across a responsibly crafted product, especially around the holiday season.  Unsurprisingly, living, producing, and creating sustainably has become a skillful artistry, and sustainable craftsmanship and process is quickly on its way to being the ultimate in luxury production.

It has been extremely encouraging for me to see the Slow Design movement taking root around us. One may see such artistry in the culinary world, as so many chefs joyfully curate the finest, locally raised ingredients with which to design.  From olives in Georgia, to Alabama milk, I find hope and inspiration all around me.

And it truly is a luxury, one that I hope may become more common than not, that each of us will know the source and quality of their food.  The openness regarding the source and quality of sustainable dining holds both the chef and the diner accountable, allowing both parties to take pride in their choices.

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DIY BLOOMERS KNIT (AND STITCH) BANDANA

With the publication of our Alabama Studio Book Series, we open sourced our beloved techniques that these living arts might be preserved for future generations. One of the things that we learned along the way is that people who are dedicated to one particular area of craft can also become converts to another area. The art of working with your hands seems to span all disciplines.

We have customers who are woodworkers, potters, scrapbookers, knitters, and crocheters. Particularly, knitters seem to find themselves at home making Alabama Chanin pieces. Perhaps loop-by-loop finds familiarity with our stitch-by-stitch method. Knitters Melanie Falick (my editor) and Mason-Dixon’s Kay Gardiner are now hand-sewing enthusiasts in the Alabama Chanin style.

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ON ICE (AND DELICIOUS)

Our Journal has been “on ice” of sorts since the launch of our new website. We needed this time to make a few obvious changes, some back-end updates, and, quite honestly, some time to fill all the great orders we received during our recent sale—thank you.

While we “soft launch” the new journal today, you will find that we are still in process, in progress, and polishing our game. However, we have lots of holiday cheer(s) to share over the next weeks and, well, we just want to get started. Look for special DIY projects, new recipes, and growing stories as we move through the season.  We will be back to regularly scheduled—and new—programing at the first of the year (more on that to come).

In the meantime, roll up your sleeves, have a read, make an ice pop (it is 73° here in North Alabama today), dip your pop in Champagne (or Prosecco) and tell us what you think.
xoNatalie

P.S.: Register to win a $250 Gift Certificate from our online store here.

DESKTOP OF THE MONTH: DECEMBER 2012

I think that our Beaded Fern treatment lends a holiday feel to December’s Desktop of the Month. Up close, Beaded Fern resembles a holiday tree, but the glass beads can also catch your eye across a crowded room.

Perfect for your next holiday gathering…

Learn more about the Fern Stencil here, download the high-resolution Desktop of the Month here, and flip to page 121 in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design to begin stitching one of your own.

GIVING THANKS

Those of you who are frequent visitors to our blog may have read about the incredible Tom Hendrix and his beautiful tribute to his great-grandmother, The Wichahpi Commemorative Wall (known around here as simply, The Wall). Tom not only built an incredible monument for his great-grandmother, but he also took the time to tell her story in his book, If the Legends Fade. All proceeds from his book benefit his great-grandmother’s people, the Yuchi Nation.

All of us here at Alabama Chanin spent some days in the last months in a cotton field, picking our organic cotton. The work is difficult, repetitive, and, at the same time beautiful in that it brings out a meditative state. Though I was hot and tired in the field, I felt a stillness much like what I’ve experienced at The Wall.  While cotton is much lighter than stone, I think I understand Tom’s mission in a way I never did before. Slowing down and being conscious of your actions can be a way to honor the past. So often we are swept up in modern convenience that it is almost impossible to appreciate the struggles our ancestors endured.

Tom, his vision, and his actions constantly inspire me. I hope that, like each stone that he places on The Wall, our work is part of something larger. I hope that our efforts create beautiful and sustainable things, while honoring those that came before us.

Many years ago, a Yuchi woman inspired Mr. Hendrix to begin this wall, saying, “One step at a time, one stone at a time. Lay a stone for every step she made…We shall pass this earth. Only the stones will remain.”

Like our ancestors, we, too, shall pass this earth. What will we leave behind?

May we each spend some time today pondering what we are thankful for and what we want to leave behind.

Giving thanks for all of you…
From all of us @ Alabama Chanin