FERN STENCIL

Nature and flowers are often a source of inspiration for my pattern designs, which is evident in their titles: Climbing Daisy, Anna’s Garden, and Kristina’s Rose, to name a few. I simply find Mother Nature’s curvaceous forms and shapes alluring.

I look for pattern inspirations everywhere I go, and most often find them when gazing out of my kitchen window. Ferns, such a strong presence in the South, have always found their place either hanging on the front porch, or perched on a pedestal in many a home. With our unusual weather in Alabama, I’ve watched this year’s ferns move along rather quickly; their early appearance takes my mind back to the time when I was fervently working on my new book, Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.

This book introduces the Beaded Fern Fabric that has been a part of our Collection over the years. While the fern isn’t quite a flower (I believe it fits more into the ‘spore’ category), I still find it to be an elegant decorative element, one that has been a staple in fashion history.

Historically, the fern motif dates all the way back to the ancient Egyptians. Ferns became incredibly popular during the Victorian Era in Britain, when botanists began going out into the field to further their research. Fern Fever- they called it. During this time, artists frequently replicated the fern motif in pottery, glass, textiles, and sculpture. Back in August, Garden & Gun highlighted the trend, which is making yet another comeback in modern fashion.

When designing, I think about the ebb and flow of organic patterns, how they will translate onto the garments, and if the finished product will retain a natural beauty as our bodies move in those garments. Looking at our beaded fern embellishment, I can almost see the wispy leaves dancing.

Our Beaded Fern fabric below has a particularly organic, but elegant feel and is among our clients’ favorites. We choose to use a satin stitch and incorporate chop or seed beads. To experiment with this design yourself, download the Fern stencil from our Resources page or purchase a mylar Fern stencil from our website.

 

THE HEART: OLIVIA SHERIF

Sometimes, the hectic nature of running Alabama Chanin makes me feel that we are all running at a frantic pace. I’ll be answering a ringing phone, hurriedly returning emails, picking up Maggie from school – then, I’ll glance up and notice that our Production Department is completely calm. They are moving fluidly along, peacefully and happily making, sewing, cutting, doing. This serene productivity comes to us through our Studio Directress, Diane Hall, and now, Olivia Sherif, who is following in Diane’s footsteps.

Olivia came to Alabama Chanin at just the right time and set about making herself indispensable almost immediately. You see, when Diane turned in her five-year notice, I experienced a not-so-slight panic (along with a few tears). Continue reading

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DESKTOP OF THE MONTH: CLIMBING DAISY

Melanie – my editor – recently asked if I would send her a hi-resolution photograph of one of our embellished fabrics that she could use for her computer desktop background.  In talking about this simple act, we decided it would be nice to share these photographs with everyone.

Thus was born our Desktop of the Month series. Each month, a different photograph will be available to download from our Resource Downloads page, which you can use as your desktop background. Each Desktop of the Month will be available for one calendar year, when we replace it with a new image for the current year. Though we only have one week left in the month of February, we decided to start early (or late) and include our ribbon embroidered Climbing Daisy, which was featured in our Cotton Ribbon post today.

xoNatalie

 

DIY THURSDAY: COTTON TAPE

Cotton-Ribbon-(1)-WIn New York’s Garment District, there are two stores that take the prize for the most comprehensive selection of embroidery ribbons: Mokuba Co., Ltd and Tinsel Trading Company. At Alabama Chanin, we happen to purchase the cotton tape that we use for embroidery from Mokuba, who supplies us with gorgeous ribbons and other notions made in Japan. I have visited Mokuba many times in search of the perfect ribbons and always found a more than exquisite selection.

This week for DIY Thursday, we would like to share instructions on the ribbon embroidery used as an embellishment in our newest book. In Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, we introduce ribbon embroidery with 100% Cotton Tape as a beautiful way to add delicate dimension to your projects and garments. (Color card available here.) We have been using this technique since 2002, when I began using ribbon embroidery for our collections. This ribbon creates a sophisticated, old-world effect and gives the garment a unique sculptural quality. Below, we share the steps to create this detail, using the Climbing Daisy stencil.

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COFFEE 101

Whenever I meet someone, the first thing that usually comes out of their mouth is, “You’re the girl that made me coffee that time.” And as long as that statement is followed by, “It was the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had,” I am a happy girl. I had 6 years of coffee-slinging under my belt before laying down the steam wand and picking up a sewing needle, so I’ve learned a few things about this “black gold” that so many find themselves indulging in on a daily basis.

People that love coffee tend to be among my favorite people – kindred spirits, of sorts. Benjamin Franklin stated that, “Among the numerous luxuries of the table…coffee may be considered as one of the most valuable. It excites cheerfulness without intoxication; and the pleasing flow of spirits which it occasions…is never followed by sadness, languor or debility.” I’m one of those that not only loves coffee as a hot beverage, but I also love the entire ritual of it all; it’s more than just a drink, it’s an experience: the selection of the perfect coffee bean, the method you utilize to brew, and your additions or tweaks that make your coffee the perfect enhancement to a normal day. I may even enjoy making coffee more than I like drinking it. Continue reading

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THE COLLECTION

The Alabama Chanin collection is a luxury line. Hand-selected fabric is sourced, dyed, re-dyed, and sometimes dyed again to achieve the perfect shade. Our team has hand-mixed thousands of paint colors, looking for the perfect complement to a certain hue. Giant rolls of fabric have been returned, donated, or recycled because a run, tear, or other minor defect was spotted. Designs are sketched and often re-sketched. Then come the patterns, more patterns, and finally dozens of samples (all hand-sewn), alterations, editing, more patterns, more samples. Repeat.

Our embellishments are next. We add the glass beads, the intricate decorative stitching, the sturdy straight stitch, endless crocheted snaps, and once again, repeat. Southern couture is expensive, lovely, and nothing less than a passion for those artisans who initial the tags in each one-of-a-kind Alabama Chanin garment.

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INDIGO STAR QUILT

A big THANK YOU to Vogue for including our hand-sewn Indigo Star Quilt in this month’s issue.

With a finished size of 57” x 72”, the quilt is available for purchase from our Online Store for $3110.00. The quilt is hand-sewn from a mixture of indigo-dyed, and 100% natural organic cotton.

You can also purchase a DIY Indigo Star Quilt Kit from our Online Store, available in two options:

1) Fabrics + Notion. For $179.95, you can purchase materials that you will cut and prepare yourself. Please visit our online journal for the patterns and detailed instructions.

2) Ready-to-Sew. For $435.00, the material will be cut and sent to you ready-to-sew.


ANNA SUI (+ ALABAMA CHANIN DIY DRESS) WINNER

Thank you to those of you who shared your thoughts on the intersection of Fashion + Craft. We are truly inspired and excited by everyone’s interest in the conversation.

As it was difficult to choose a “best” entry, we decided to place everyone’s name in a hat and draw names.

Congratulations Margaret on winning our Anna Sui (+ Alabama Chanin DIY Dress). We hope you’ll wear it fashionably and proudly!


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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