Inspiration: where does it come from? That’s one of the most asked questions of designers and artists.
The answer is complicated and breathtakingly simple: inspiration is right in front of us. It comes to us over the airwaves, through the endless streams of data we consume, and is found on deserted street corners.
The exploding zero graphic above (on the left-hand side) landed on my desktop sometime last year and made us think about exploding our own preconceptions and also about the number zero—the number of infinite possibilities.
This manipulation of type that inspired our entire team was created by Jack Crossing. Design on paper translated to fabric, thread, beads, and sequins.
DIY Exploding Zero T-shirt is shown here with our sarong (simply a 36” x 72” rectangle of lightweight cotton jersey fabric cut lengthwise with the grain) and Natalie’s vintage Helmut Lang shoes (in pink) circa Spring/Summer 2000.
Make your own exploding zero project following the instructions below, or purchase our t-shirt DIY Kit from The School of Making.
This take on our Long Fitted Skirt—one of my longtime favorite go-to pieces—is available for a limited time in our DIY Sewing Kit Collection through The School of Making. I own many versions of this skirt in a range of colors and wear them throughout the year, from one season to the next. The Long Fitted Skirt is fitted at the waist and flares to the hem, which has a slight train in the back.
This version is worked in our Anna’s Garden design using negative reverse appliqué with our medium-weight 100% organic cotton jersey—choose your fabric and thread color. This and all of our DIY kits can be personalized to your specific design choices and worked in any technique from our books or Swatch of the Month to embellish. Create your own version using the custom DIY kit.
View all DIY Sewing Kits and purchase your own Anna’s Garden Long Skirt kit here.
In our ongoing Makeshift conversation on design, craft, food, DIY, and fashion—and how they intersect—we continue to adapt open-source patterns from other designers and brands using Alabama Chanin techniques. This experiment demonstrates how open-sourced materials and collaborative works can be used in any number of ways and tailored to almost any personal style.
For this entry in the series, we have chosen to work with a pattern from Merchant & Mills, a popular UK-based company created by Carolyn Denham and Roderick Field, formed, in their words, “to elevate sewing to its proper place in the creative world, respecting the craftsmanship it entails.” That is certainly a philosophy in line with Alabama Chanin’s mission and Makeshift’s goals.
Merchant & Mills has an interesting selection of patterns to offer. UK sizes differ a bit from US numbered sizes, but the website has clear size charts that can help you select the right pattern size for your body. But keep in mind that their patterns are priced in pounds, not US dollars; you should also take into account shipping costs when shopping. Alternatively, there are quite a few stockists in the US with ready links available here.
In order to highlight the simple beauty of this Dress Shirt, we have opted to make a basic version. Of course, you can choose to utilize any of the techniques from our previous posts or our Swatch of the Month Club to embellish your project. We’ve found that the loose fit and shape of the pattern makes it an easy pull-on garment when paired with our stretchable cotton jersey, and this piece looks great with The Every Day Long Skirt or the Bloomers Swing Skirt and Stripe Tall Socks.
Black and Gold – in color symbolism they hint at the unknown, power, and formality alongside abundance, prosperity, and extravagance.
Black and Gold – Madonna on a Crescent Moon by an anonymous painter in Germany, commonly referred to as the Master of 1456.
Black and Gold – for some reason also makes me think of Madonna (the singer) in the 1980s (but also today).
Black and Gold – our newest blend of fabric and paint—a departure from the tone-on-tone colors seen in many of our previous collections.
When you order black (and other new) pieces from our collection (and/or DIY Kits), the items now come stenciled with shades of Gold textile paint—unless otherwise noted in the description.
P.S.: If you prefer a different color for your DIY Kit, please choose our Custom DIY option.
This Cardigan is a modified version of our Casual T-shirt Top from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. We’ve created the cardigan simply by cutting our t-shirt front panel down the front to create two pieces (or alternatively, you can choose not to cut the pattern on the fold). When cut this way, it creates a cardigan or cover-up from our Casual T-Shirt pattern. Produced in a double-layer, the organic cotton jersey adds warmth but not bulk.
The kit is shown here in Black and has been produced in our backstitched reverse appliqué treatment. But, this and all DIY kits can be customized for any of our embroidery techniques or embellishments. Choose your own fabric color to go with our Variegated Black embroidery floss, or you may also design your own T-Shirt Cardigan through our Custom DIY option. When purchasing this DIY kit to work as a cardigan, you may want to choose one or two sizes larger than you would normally wear, to allow for additional layering room.
For the first time, and in anticipation of our newest book Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns, we are offering a DIY Sewing Kit for our A-Line Dress. This dress is part of our new DIY Sewing Kit Collection. Made from our medium-weight 100% organic cotton jersey, the dress is patterned with our Magdalena Stencil and shown here worked in negative reverse appliqué; however, you may choose a technique from any of our books or Swatch of the Month to embellish this kit.
The A-Line dress has been a popular style around our studio because it flatters almost every figure; in fact, we use this dress as part of our uniform for The Factory Store and Café. The kit—or the finished dress—also makes it an excellent gift, as it does not require strict measurements to fit. It is substantial enough to be worn in any weather and works as a versatile layering piece. My daily uniform consists of the A-Line Dress paired with a basic or embellished version of our Every Day Long Skirt.
2014 has been a big year for Alabama Chanin’s Do-it-Yourself endeavors. We started the year by announcing our 2014 Swatch of the Month Club, and recently announced the new 2015 subscription for the upcoming year. In September, we launched our DIY Collection with new kit styles and stencil options. And the biggest news was the introduction of The School of Making—which oversees our workshops, Studio Style DIY, Makeshift, and all things educational in the company.
In our 2014 DIY Gift Guide, we reflect back on the year and offer savings on a selection of new and favorite kits, stencils, and many more things along the way. Find the perfect gift for the person in your life who loves to make—even if that person is you.
The Camisole Apron is an embellished version of an apron my grandmother wore nearly every day for most of her life. It is beautiful and incredibly practical—especially for those of us that need full-coverage protection in the kitchen. This DIY kit—created from our Camisole Dress pattern from Alabama Studio Style—is available for a limited time as part of our DIY Gift Guide. The apron is fitted for a woman’s body and features a large, two-sided pocket across the front. It comes with our faded fabric as a backing layer and our Black Variegated embroidery floss; choose your outer layer and thread colors.
One of our more popular series of do-it-yourself posts has been our ongoing adaptation of commercially available patterns in the Alabama Chanin style. Among the patterns we have reworked are: a dress from an Anna Sui Vogue pattern, two variations of a Vogue dress from Vena Cava, an open-sourced jacket pattern from Yohji Yamamoto, and other varied pieces.
This series first began as a part of our ongoing Makeshift conversations that explore the intersection of design, craft, food, DIY, and fashion. With this series, we look at makers of all sorts and embrace open-source knowledge, materials, and patterns to create new conversations and collaborations.
We know that it takes skill and patience to complete a garment from another designer’s pattern; however, personalizing those garments—bringing your own body shape, style, and design sensibilities to existing patterns—is sometimes the only option for creating garments that truly fit your life and lifestyle. (You will find much more on this idea of customizing a wardrobe in our upcoming book Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns—which is now available for pre-order.)
We are excited to resume this important experiment with a Vogue coat pattern. I’m in love with the results.
Based on feedback that we have received from some of our DIY customers, we are now offering supplementary instructions in each of our DIY Kits. Each kit will be shipped with an insert that includes basic instructions, including how to “love your thread,” directions on completing basic stitches, simple construction tips, and how to add rib binding to your item. We hope that this will help make completing your DIY project easy and stress-free. As always, complete instructions for projects can be found in the Alabama Studio Book series.
We have recently been highlighting natural dyes and Alabama Chanin’s new dye house, run by our head seamstress, Diane. This project highlights the beautiful new shades of indigo that are emerging from our dye vats, shown here on one of our most popular silhouettes – the Camisole Tank. The tank can be adapted to fit almost any body type and its simple design is well suited for most stencils and embroidery techniques.
The tank is form fitting and features feminine back and necklines. It measures approximately 25” from the shoulder.