VENA CAVA (ALONG WITH VOGUE PATTERNS + DIY THURSDAY)

They make fashion; they curate a magazine called “Zina Cava;” Maggie Gyllenhaal models for them; they are, in my opinion, the coolest duo to come along in the fashion industry in years.

They host dinner parties instead of fashion shows and give away posters like the one below celebrating their 8 years in business. It’s the kind of party you hope you’ll get an invitation to…

Continue reading

Bookmark and Share

BLANKET STATEMENT: QUILTING FOR A CAUSE

Thanks @ Stephanie LaCava for this lovely piece in the New York Times today:

“I may be their most passionate member,” says the snow-white-haired designer Natalie Chanin of the Southern Foodways Alliance (S.F.A.), a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the culinary heritage of the American South. For years, it’s been Chanin’s calling to preserve the textile traditions of Florence, Ala., with her clothing line, Alabama Chanin. So when the S.F.A. director John T. Edge approached her about doing a collaborative project, hand-sewn quilts seemed like an obvious departure. Auctioned off this weekend at the Taste of the South event at the bucolic Blackberry Farm in Tennessee, this particular blanket features the words of Roosevelt Scott, the founder of Scott’s Bar-B-Que in Hemingway, S.C.: “…Cut. Chop. Cook. It’s all right here. In the wood.” But it’s just one quilt of many. “Sign me up for a baker’s dozen,” Chanin said when she joined the cause.

Go to southernfoodways.blogspot.com. For information on bespoke quilts, e-mail office@alabamachanin.com.

P.S: I wrote to John T. Edge last night that I am most certainly a very passionate member of the Southern Foodways Alliance; however, I question if I am their MOST passionate member.  That title might go to Rathead Riley (Rathead T. Edge) – just saying… xoNatalie

THE STITCHED CAKE

Our local bakery – called Sugarbakers – makes the most beautiful cakes. I personally think of them as “old-timey,” because they remind me of my childhood birthday cakes with white buttercream frosting and plenty of scallops and swags.

Here is a beautiful cake they recently made for me for a special occasion using a “stitched” Anna’s Garden pattern on the top. I think that this would make such a beautiful wedding cake (or birthday, or shower, or anniversary).

Continue reading

Bookmark and Share

ZERO WASTE (+ A BOX OF SCRAPS)

Finding ways to use fabric scraps could easily be a full time job at Alabama Chanin. Hopefully, our company will one day be large enough to facilitate an entire scrap development team; however, right now we are moonlighters and dabblers in the art of manipulating scraps of our organic cotton jersey into a variety of projects, products, and playthings.

Our goal of becoming a zero waste company means that every scrap of fabric we cut is taken seriously.  We are constantly looking for new ways to mold, shape, and incorporate these fabric cuttings into our everyday work – lest they overtake us like the roadside kudzu that swallows entire towns in the South. Continue reading

Bookmark and Share

THE HEART: TERRY WYLIE – PART 1

Most of you who follow this blog know that when I returned to Alabama over 11 years ago, I didn’t have a grand plan to build the company that is now Alabama Chanin. Any plans I may have had seemed to fall away into something far larger than I ever anticipated. It is easy to feel overwhelmed in such a position and I readily admit that, at times, I was incredibly overwhelmed. However, as the initial “project” morphed into a business, I learned how to run it on the fly – one day at a time. I have often said that I am not a quick learner, but I finally realized that my community has such a wealth of knowledge as to the workings of cotton AND manufacturing. These two things had been part of the vernacular of this community for a century. So while it took time for me to understand, I finally realized I just needed to “go to the well” to draw upon that information. Here in Florence, Alabama, that “well” was Terry Wylie.

 

Continue reading

Bookmark and Share

LONG SKIRT (+ VARIATIONS)

I am so excited about the launch of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. The book includes some of our very best garment patterns to-date and I can’t wait to see how the stencils, patterns, and designs work their way into DIY projects.

The long skirt pattern that is included in the book has become my staple go-to skirt for everyday living and night life for almost a year now. I have variation in black with embroidery and several basic versions in pink, ochre, and a beautiful turquoise color that we tie-dyed in the washing machine by just letting the dye bath sit unattended for a few hours.

I have loved these pieces from spring to summer and through the fall and into winter, because I can wear my sturdy stockings underneath on the coldest days and with socks and my new Billy Reid boots every other day. Continue reading

Bookmark and Share

GET YOUR GRAVY (+ MAKE BROAD BEANS)

Get yours online and join the Southern Foodways Alliance that you can have this kind of deliciousness mailed to your door (with a side of grated tomato):

 

Slow-Roasted Broad Beans by Sheila and Matt Neal of Neal’s Deli, Carrboro, NC
- from pages 8-9 of Gravy #42

WE THINK OF OUR PASTRAMI PLATE AS A MODERN MEAT-AND-TWO, built around our house-smoked pastrami and a couple of side dishes from the deli case. Broad beans, also known as Roma beans, are one of our favorite sides at the deli. We serve this dish every year when they are plentiful. (We cook most of our sides with vegetables procured from nearby farmers.) They make a great plate with our pastrami and creamy coleslaw. This is a great entertainment dish: It’s economical, it feeds a crowd without too much work for the cook, and it tastes better if made a day ahead.

INGREDIENTS

2 5 lbs. broad beans (also called Roma beans), rinsed and stemmed
5 cup peeled and thinly sliced garlic
2 cups diced yellow onion
2 medium-sized tomatoes, grated*
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
5 teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground
4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 bay leaves
1 cup water
5 cup extra-virgin olive oil

PROCEDURE

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Gently and thoroughly combine all the above ingredients in a roasting pan. Place parchment paper directly onto the beans. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid or foil. Cook until the beans are tender, stirring well every 15 minutes for about an hour and 15 minutes. Keeps well for 3 days.

* This is a great trick we try and share with everyone. The easiest way to “peel” tomatoes is to grate them. Cut the tomato in half, and with your fingers remove as many seeds as you can. Place the cut side of the tomato down on the coarse holes of a box grater. Run the tomato back and forth until all the flesh is grated and you are left with the skin. Discard the skin.

 

A CHAT WITH MICHIEL SCHWARZ

In follow-up to our blog post on Sustainism this morning, Alabama Chanin (AC) held a Facebook chat today with Michiel Schwarz (MS) to explore his manifesto – created with Joost Elffers titled Sustainism Is the New Modernism: A Cultural Manifesto for the Sustainist Era. The text below recaps the questions and answers that surfaced during our hour-long chat.

Like our Facebook page and join our mailing list to take part in future conversations – and feel free to keep this conversation going in the comments section of this post:

Continue reading

Bookmark and Share

SUSTAINISM 2012

I had the opportunity to meet Michiel Schwarz last September when I spoke at the Hello Etsy conference in Berlin.   His purpose at the conference was to present his concept and book: Sustainism: A Cultural Manifesto for the Sustainist Era.

The New York Times did a fantastic review of the book – calling out its good points and problem areas. Alice Rawsthorn writes that the book is more an exercise in branding and that today’s “designers are already well aware of the principles outlined in the book, most of which have been analyzed in greater depth elsewhere. “ Very true, but although the book was originally created for designers, I see it more as a place for non-designers to find tangible manifesto points that they can easily process and assimilate into daily life. Truth be told, we human beings need things simplified for us sometimes and I think that the tidy graphics might just find a voice on office walls and farmers’ market pamphlets. At least I believe that it is worth a conversation.

In his talk in Berlin, Michiel admits that the book is “naively optimistic,” in that it doesn’t address the real issues that we need to overcome: climate change, “social inequalities, and the degradation of nature.”  However, he says, “We believe that it is important to shift from the negative to the positive,” and mentions a conference talk given by William McDonough, author of Cradle to Cradle, where McDonough decries the focus that is always placed on what we are NOT supposed to do.

“We hear over and over again that we need to reduce everything to zero, that we need to reduce emissions to zero, zero this, zero that. In this way, we are making the future on the things that we don’t want. We need a future on the things that we DO want. That’s why it was so important for us to name where that future is.”

Michiel’s point is that, “we are moving into a new cultural era,” and that hopefully the manifesto of Sustainism will give us symbols to describe the move from modernism to sustainism.

Continue reading

Bookmark and Share