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:
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.”
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
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:
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: email@example.com or 256.760.1090.
This text – some of our most important sewing tips at Alabama Chanin – is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design (which we plan to receive and start shipping around the 15th of this month). It is important to us at Alabama Chanin that we as a humanity (women and men – girls and boys) take back the essential survival skill of hand-sewing, and that we also understand the physics behind the clothing that shelters our bodies. It’s as simple as picking up needle and thread.
Old Wives’ Tales and Physics
Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of old wives’ tales around the sewing room, but I’ve come to learn that many of these tales find truth in everyday life. And as tale after tale has proven true, I’ve also come to understand that there’s reason, or “physics,” behind them.
Needle your thread; don’t thread your needle:
This makes perfect sense in that the thread is the weaker of the two elements and easily moves or bends. Moving the more stable element—the needle—over the thread to “needle the thread” makes this a simple task.
After a few months and a busy holiday season, I’ve finally begun to process the experiences of my momentous trip to Oxford, Mississippi, for the Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium. I left the event full of delicious food and copious amounts of knowledge. More specifically, Elizabeth Engelhardt’s talk, “Tales from the South’s Forgotten Locavores,” filled my hungry mind with questions on how I can contribute to the preservation of heirloom fruits, vegetables, and plants.
On the 18th of November last year, Natalie held a Facebook Chat about Design Process + Manufacturing as part of her EcoSalon Post titled: From Field to Fashion. Here is a synopsis of the conversation that unfolded. Keep the conversation going in the comments section of this post and come back each week to read our post for Sustainable Design Tuesdays. Thank you to everyone who joined us that Friday afternoon.
Tammy Abramovitz: Well, I would like to take this opportunity to voice my adoration of you and your company! Love all things Alabama Chanin!!!!
AC: Thank you Tammy!
Doc Waller: Same here, The Layman Group and I are fans as well!
Amy DuFault: Natalie, what was the first piece of clothing/design you ever created?
AC: I started sewing with my grandmothers… so, I would have to say that the first piece was way back then. But, the first piece I sewed “Alabama Style” was a t-shirt – of course.
Penland School of Crafts is a magical institution nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Its mission and philosophy are as inspiring as the surrounding landscape, and believe me- it’s an incredible setting. I first learned of Penland as a student at the NCSU College of Design. As a young mother with little time and no money, Penland seemed so out of reach. My son, Zach, wasn’t even two when I started university and I was barely twenty; there was never time for more than being mom, working, and school and the ends never seemed to meet.
At the suggestion of one of my professors I applied for a Studio Assistantship. Luckily for me, the stars aligned and I was admitted – the rest is history. My mother helped with Zach, Penland took care of tuition, and I learned to dream of design. I’m still living that dream and will be forever grateful for that single summer that changed everything.
My son is now 30 – and expecting a child of his own. (Yes! I am going to be a grandmother!) I visited Penland for a few days last summer in anticipation of teaching for two weeks this coming summer. Life comes full circle.
Check out our post today @ EcoSalon:
Sewing for Humankind
There was a time – not so long ago on humanity’s calendar – that sewing was not considered “women’s work,” but rather a tool for survival.
Hunter/gatherers looking for food on a cold winter’s day, some miles from their camp, might have a shoe wear through and break – and their ability to sew that shoe back together in a simple repair stitch might have meant the difference between safe return to the camp, the loss of a foot to frostbite – or an even worse fate, death.
It is thought that healers began to sew human wounds back together in ancient Egypt – formed as a unified state around 3150 BC – and most likely before. Over 5000 years ago, sewing was taught, not as craft, but as a survival skill necessary to human life. In fact, a heavy-duty needle and thread for repairing clothing and equipment (and sewing one’s own flesh) is still included in first aid and survival kits today.
Sewing was an invention that greatly aided our advancement as a people and it is believed that needle and thread existed as early as 15,000 years ago.