As we’ve written in the past, there are many ways to define a mother. Merriam Webster opts for “a female parent” but we at Alabama Chanin feel the term mother is often more verb than noun. A mother can also be a member of your “family of choice” –or any woman that has offered you guidance and support. Mother can be many things, many people:
Woman, Provider, Friend, Sister, Wife, Daughter, Mom. (To mention a very few.)
We sold a version of the shirt pictured above many years ago, and—in honor of Mother’s Day and The School of Making—have now revamped the design and made this new Mother stencil available as a free download on our Resources page. (Step-by-step instructions on how to print a stencil can be found here.)
Natalie’s Apron—now available for purchase as a downloadable sewing pattern from our Resources page—is a version of an apron my grandmother wore nearly every day of her life. The cut of the apron was adapted from the shape of our Camisole Dress pattern from Alabama Studio Style, and it features an optional large, two-sided pocket across the front. The seaming and wide-sweeping hem make this apron a comfortable and flattering fit for every woman’s body. It is beautiful and incredibly practical—especially for those of us that need full-coverage protection in the kitchen (and a large pocket to keep up with the bits of everyday life). I also wear a version of this apron when I help out in our café—pocket filled with pens, pencils, papers, phones, and hair ties.
Due to the popularity of this style (and after many requests), we’ve made this sewing pattern available for download—following our DIY Unisex T-shirt. The pattern comes with both full-scale or tiled-for-printing versions. See our post about printing a pattern here.
The apron is also available as DIY Natalie’s Apron Kit in our Small Polka Dots stencil for a limited time in our DIY Gift Guide. It comes with our faded fabric as a backing layer and our Black Variegated embroidery floss; choose your outer layer and thread colors. You may also choose to design your own Custom DIY Kit for this apron, or creating your own sewing pattern by altering our Camisole Dress pattern available in Alabama Studio Style as a paper pattern and Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns in digital version.
NATALIE’S APRON IN SMALL POLKA DOTS
Today, we begin a series of blog posts highlighting customized DIY garments made from Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns. We are lucky to work with a range of makers and writers across the spectrum of handwork. In the coming weeks, you’ll find stories and ideas from the likes of Heather Ross, Anna Maria Horner, Kristine Vejar, Joelle Hoverson, and Amy Butler (in no particular order)—and look for more exciting customizations in the coming months.
Without further ado: Amy Herzog
Some of the makers within our DIY circle may be familiar with Amy Herzog of Amy Herzog Designs. Amy’s website is a treasure trove of information about creating, modifying, and customizing sweaters. Everyone knows that I’m daft when it comes to knitting. Amy’s approach and incredible resources make me believe that perhaps even I could knit a sweater to match my own personal style.
We’re delighted to share Amy’s recent review of our newest book, Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns. Hearing others say that our Studio Books make creating garments seem less scary and more accessible is not only heartwarming but it reinforces our belief that sharing resources truly can advance the “living arts.”
In her review, Amy mentions that garment length is the fit issue she struggles with the most. Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns introduces, among other things, ways to shorten and lengthen hemlines. On pages 112–115, we offer instructions on how to alter length at the perimeter and internally—plus a couple of other options. We also propose solutions to other fit challenges, including waistline, hip, bust, and neckline alterations.
When I first started brainstorming what was to become Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns, I had a dream that as an elevated service to all of our sewers, our garment patterns (including patterns from our previous books) would be neatly packaged onto one convenient CD with an additional size (XXL), which had been so often requested. That dream became a reality last week when our book was released. But as happens so often, the things we think are going to change our lives in a particular way are often the ones that surprise us in a new way. Such is the case with the CD included with Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns. While many of our customers LOVE the new format, there are a small number who feel frustrated by it.
In our first three books, we recommended that the paper patterns be copied (or traced) before using in order to preserve the original patterns. Many of our readers followed that advice and copied patterns at print shops that had large-format copier/printers in their own communities. This made me think that the switch to CD would be a welcome change: it would eliminate the need for tracing (as the original pattern would always be preserved on the CD) and it would make printing easy (just email the file to a shop with a large-format printer and then have the printout mailed to you or go pick it up).
A reader commented on social media in the last days that I certainly didn’t make the decision to include the CD and blamed our publisher for the new format. That was not the case. The CD was my idea of elevated service. Certainly, I discussed this at length with the publisher and, together, we strove to create the best reader experience possible. On the CD we included not only the three new patterns featured in Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns (Short and Long Wrap Skirt; Classic Coat/Jacket/Cardigan; and A-Line Dress/Tunic/Top) but also artwork for all of the stencils used on the garments featured in the book and all of the garment patterns from the previous books with the additional size.
“He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.”
– Francis of Assisi
Introducing new DIY kits inspired by our brand new book, Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns. Be on the lookout for kit details and design choices on our Journal in the coming months…
To engage your hands, your head, and your heart:
A refreshing spin on one of our longest-running and most popular patterns: the Corset, now available in DIY New Leaves and DIY Magdalena.
Our classic DIY V-Neck Shell Top, updated with a placement Magdalena stencil accenting the neckline.
The versatile and effortless DIY A-Line Dress, now offered in the New Leaves design, as featured in Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns.
Try a variation of our Fitted Skirt with the DIY Magdalena Mid-Length Skirt and the DIY Magdalena Fitted Skirt with pockets.
The patterns and kits from our newest book are inspired by real women of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, and ages.
Last Thursday we started shipping our newest book, Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns. Stacks of books around the office moved quickly into boxes and off into the hands of readers. Thank you for all your sweet notes of praise and excitement. We find it equally exciting to move on to this next chapter.
Look for our post tomorrow on “How To Print a Pattern,” fresh DIY Kits—inspired by the new book—launch on Thursday, Friday our updated Resources page arrives with a new downloadable garment pattern and improved stencil design PDFs, and look for our (first-round) blog tour over the coming weeks, featuring Heather Ross, Anna Maria Horner, Kristine Vejar, Amy Herzog, Joelle Hoverson, and Amy Butler (in no particular order).
Once you’ve had the chance to open your box and digest the contents, let us know what you think. Looking forward to hearing from each and every one of you…
It’s a BIG week for us here at Alabama Chanin. Our newest book, Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns, lands in stores and into the hands of the makers tomorrow. This fourth book in the Alabama Studio Series includes all the patterns from our first three Studio Books on a convenient CD, plus instructions and patterns for 12 new skirts, dresses, tops, and jackets, with illustrated guidelines for customizing the fit and style of each. The book teaches readers the ins and outs of refashioning garment shapes, raising and lowering necklines, taking in and letting out waistlines, and many more key forms of customization; it also offers guidelines for adapting patterns from other popular sewing companies to the Alabama Chanin style—stitched by hand in organic cotton jersey and embellished with stencils, embroidery, and beading. Check back on Wednesday for information on the best ways to print our patterns and stencils.
On Friday of this week, we introduce a newly re-organized Resources section. This re-formatting will make possible our first-ever downloadable garment patterns for purchase—beginning with our popular Unisex T-Shirt. Additionally, new and improved stenciling patterns will be available to purchase in PDF form with full-scale artwork for wide-format printing and also for tiled printing on both 8 1/2″ x 11” paper, or A4 paper. Look for additional garment patterns through 2015.
With the arrival of April (and the announcement of our partnership with Nest), it feels as though we are finally settling into the year. April’s warmer weather is also welcomed with open arms (and horseback rides). April is a busy month.
April is National Poetry Month. Poetry lovers can begin a project using our Poetry stencil—available for download on our Resources page or work your favorite poem or quote directly onto any garment.
Here is what’s on the horizon for April:
April 2 – International Children’s Book Day—Maggie recommends favorites by Maira Kalman.
April 5 – Easter Sunday – however you choose to celebrate, we hope you approach today with a spirit of renewal.
April 7 – Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns launches (very exciting)
April 11 – This day we host our Alabama Chanin Open House + Community Picnic, plus our One-Hour Mini-Workshops at the Factory. Spend a day with our team at The Factory. Sign up for mini-workshops on dyeing, stenciling, and/or sewing. For the potluck-style picnic, we provide barbecue and “fixins”—so bring your favorite side dish or dessert to share. The open house is free and open to the public.
As we wrote in last week’s post on our DIY Exploding Zero T-Shirt, inspiration comes at us from every direction. Recently, our design team has been (almost endlessly) inspired by Eames: Beautiful Details. The use of color and form shown by Ray and Charles Eames is bright and modern, even by today’s standards. The image shown above at left inspired the swatch above right, and can be recreated using the basic instructions below in any combination of colors and techniques you choose. This is a perfect project for our Fat Eighths or scraps from your own stash.
7” x 9” cotton jersey fabric for top layer
7” x 9” cotton jersey fabric for backing layer
100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey scraps in various colors
Button Craft thread
Basic sewing supplies: scissors, pins, needles, ruler, rotary cutter
Alabama Stitch Book, Alabama Studio Style, or Alabama Studio Sewing + Design: All three of these books contain the basic sewing and embroidery techniques we used to appliqué the squares and add decorative stitches and beads.
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.