DIY THURSDAY: PINTEREST

For those of you who haven’t yet discovered, Alabama Chanin is now on Pinterest. And for those who haven’t begun exploring Pinterest, consider yourself warned – hours slip by in the blink of an eye. Pinterest is not a site for those short on time or attention spans.

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GRILLED VEGETABLE + WHITE CHEDDAR QUICHE

For our weekly Studio Lunch, my son Zach prepared a savory Grilled Vegetable + White Cheddar Quiche with cherry tomatoes. In a move that delighted me, he delivered it to the studio and included a heaping salad of fresh greens- Butterhead lettuce, Red Oakleaf, and arugula- all from Jack-o-Lantern Farms, one of our local farmers’ markets. For the salad, he also made strawberry-balsamic vinaigrette, with which I (for certain) over saturated my greens.

Quiche is one of my all-time favorite dishes. It can be eaten for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner depending on your choice of ingredients. Continue reading

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SAMPLE BLOCKS + LIBRARY

Fabric designs are the basis of all our collections at Alabama Chanin. Each design starts as a simple 10” x 16” rectangle of our organic cotton jersey that is embellished using a variety of techniques and manipulations that may include stenciling, embroidery, beading, and/or appliqué.

My decision to use a 10” x 16” rectangle was based on the mere fact that we can easily obtain 3-ring binders to store and display swatches this size. These binders also provide us a simple way to organize our designs by color, season, and/or pattern.

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THE HEART: A HISTORY OF TEXTILES (+ COMMUNITY)

It is no secret that I feel a commitment to my community; it is equally evident the role that growing up in Florence, Alabama, had on my development as a designer.  Textiles – the growing, picking, spinning, knitting, cutting, and sewing – were a part of the vernacular of small southern towns from the late 1800s until the signing of NAFTA. My community has been no different.

This textile history is present in our studio today and we are surrounded by friends, colleagues, and families who have worked textiles, their parents worked textiles, and their grandparents worked textiles. My great grandmother “worked socks” at the Sweetwater Mill in East Florence. Continue reading

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THE UNIVERSE

As I flip through the pages of this gorgeous book, I am captured by the beauty and magnitude of the universe. It makes me feel small.

However, I know in my heart that the work that we are doing makes a difference. I am grateful that through the workshops and lectures, we are able to travel and share our stories and ideas.

More importantly, we meet so many people who teach us. Because of the book series, website, and this blog we are able to share that wealth of knowledge and to connect across the globe. Maybe we are not so small.

As Einstein said, in so many words, “It’s all relative.”

 

 

DESKTOP OF THE MONTH: SATIN STAR

In conjunction with our Star stencil post today for DIY Thursday, we are featuring our Satin Stars fabric from page 129 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design as our March Desktop of the Month.

This hi-resolution photograph, for use as your computer desktop background, is now available to download from our Resource Downloads page.
xoNatalie

DIY THURSDAY: STAR STENCIL

The word “star,” with its many meanings, occupies several places in my mind (and the universe):

First, a star is simply a shape- the most common being five-pointed. As I was taught in geometry class, it is constructed from points, proportions, and folds. Seen in patriotic prints of the 1960s and 70s, its contour was fitting with the bold, geometric patterns of the time. Fifty of these shapes are on the American flag, each representing a state and the collection of stars symbolizing our country as a whole.

While designing and constructing quilts, I’ve learned that a quilt’s geometry is systematic. Sewing together the triangular and diamond-shaped puzzle pieces to make each polygon requires great planning and thought. This geometry is apparent in our Indigo Star Quilt, and in the repeated shapes of the Flag Quilt.

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MUSHROOMS + FERNS

Meet Kristy – friend, caterer for our Weekend Workshops @ The Factory, and the newest contributor to this blog. I love the symbiotic relationship between the ferns and the mushrooms – along with Kristy’s recipe. Enjoy!
xoNatalie

On a visit to the Florence/Lauderdale County Farmers’ Market last fall, I was taken by the beautiful shiitake mushrooms offered by one of the vendors. ”These are grown locally? Wow!“ was my initial thought, and that was before I tasted them. The mushrooms were not only beautiful, but deliciously earthy and some of the tastiest I’ve ever tried.

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A ROUND BUSINESS MODEL

While working on some press and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) pages this last month, I came across some texts that date back across the decade of Alabama Chanin. In reading and going over some of these texts, I thought it would be a good series to share on our Sustainable Design Tuesdays. Here is one of those texts about building a round company:

My goal with building designs – as I have built my company – is to make a sphere.  I strive to create a well-rounded, (w)holistic company that revolves around a central theme: sustainability of culture, environment, and community.

It has been over a decade since I started working on the company that Alabama Chanin has become today and I am often asked how I had the foresight to start a company based on the principles of sustainability and Slow Design. To this comment, I laughingly reply that I never intended to start a sustainable design company; I simply stumbled into it like the fool falling off the cliff. When I cut up those first t-shirts, I was doing something that I felt driven to do. I didn’t think of those garments as the basis of a business; they were simply pieces of clothing I wanted to wear and, perhaps more importantly, make. However, when I look back today, it all feels like a seamless and directed adventure into the realms of becoming a sustainable designer and manufacturer.

I am often invited to speak about this process and our resulting business model, as it has developed into an unusual one. However, truth be told, I have simply taken inspiration for our model from farmers and strive to build a zero waste company where the results of one production process become the fuel for another.

Our primary work is the business of designing and making clothing. And whether a dress calls for recycled t-shirts or locally grown, certified organic cotton, the designing and making of that product spurs our model. It was developed not by intention, but through process.

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CONGRATULATIONS + THANK YOU

Congratulations are due today to Chris Hastings, Rob McDaniel, and Sedesh Boodram for championing last night’s Iron Chef America. I have had the pleasure of getting to know Chris over the last few years and sharing all that the Southern Foodways Alliance holds common for us. Chris, chef and co-owner of Hot and Hot Fish Club, is a guest speaker at many events across the South and is the Alabama spokesperson for Wild American Shrimp. A giant round of applause for all that Chris does – aside from winning Iron Chef.

And another round of applause for Rob – the gracious host of our One-Day Retreat at The SpringHouse Restaurant this past January. We ate beautifully that weekend- shrimp and grits with cured bacon, miniature fried sweet potato pies, and a sampling of classic Southern dishes from SpringHouse’s menu.

And, finally, congratulations are in order today for Octavia Spencer. Originally from Montgomery, Octavia won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar last night for her role in The Help. In her acceptance speech, she first thanked her family- then the state of Alabama. Yes, Alabama love…