February is technically a short month, but it was so fast and furious that I had to make conscious efforts to be mindful AND productive. March looks to be just as busy, but in the best way—full of things I want to do and people I want to see.
It is National Women’s History month, so we hope you will take time to revisit some of our favorite stories of Real Women and to share your own.
Here is what March looks like for me (deep breath):
March 2 – Dr. Seuss’ birthday, now known as Read Across America day. I’m currently working on several books, among them: The Optimistic Child by Martin E. P. Seligman, Encyclopedia of Needlework by Thérèse de Dillmont (in research for a possible new book on the tools of handwork), and revisiting Mary Renault’s The Last of the Wine.
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.
There’s a peace that surrounds you when you drive through the gates at Blackberry Farm. The sense of calm grows as you settle in. It’s the kind of feeling that comes from a combination of quiet reflection and good fellowship. The Smoky Mountain setting feels almost magical, but the people at Blackberry Farm are warm, hospitable, and grounding. The 4,200-acre working farm makes an impressive effort to preserve Appalachian foods and culture; the authentic atmosphere and delicious food are enough to make even the most citified visitor feel like a native—if only for a short time.
The School of Making is firmly in place.
2015 Workshops are already in the works.
Our new collection of DIY Kits if being loved (and completed) by many.
The occasional frustration of writing a book is now replaced with the joy and pride of making something new and beautiful.
Now, we can hardly believe that the arrival of Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns is just around the corner.
We began our 2015 Swatch of the Month back in January but neglected to write about the swatch and share pictures here on the Journal. Many of you reached out to let us know that you missed these posts. We heard. We listened. And herewith, our February post (and the slightly late January below).
Here’s what February has in store for me:
February 1 – Super Bowl Sunday. Watch the Puppy Bowl with Maggie instead.
February 2 – Groundhog Day. (Note: Groundhog Day movie marathon on television)
February 3 – Full moon. Literally anything can happen.
February 7 – National Send a Card to a Friend Day
February 14 – Valentine’s Day
February 17 – National Act of Kindness Day. I will buy lunch for some guests at the Factory Café.
February 22 – Downton Abbey finale (It’s a guilty pleasure. No apologies.)
February 24 – Start seeds: broccoli, cauliflower, peas
Make time to begin February’s Swatch of the Month—backstitched reverse appliqué. For a detailed description of this technique, view page 97 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.
You can experiment with different versions of reverse applique: traditional reverse appliqué, beaded appliqué, outside reverse appliqué, or any other technique that suits you.
Purchase a membership to our Swatch of the Month club for 2015 here (or start with Swatch of the Month 2014 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.
Docendo discimus — “by teaching, we learn”
–Seneca the Younger
As we slide into 2015, we invite you to join us for one (or more) of our Workshops offered through The School of Making. As a company, Alabama Chanin believes strongly in the ideas of sharing, collaborating, exploring, educating, learning by doing, and—in the process—creating a community; our hope is that our work will produce a happy work environment, happy people, happy products, and a happier Mother Nature.
As Alabama Chanin and The School of Making continue to grow, so do our Workshops. Over the coming months we have a variety of Workshops scheduled and more to be added. We will have events lasting a week, a weekend, one-day, one-hour, and two-hours; some events will be held at The Factory, with other events in Tennessee, Texas, Illinois, New York, California, and beyond.
Here is an overview of the events we have planned. Come one, come all; come to one, come to all.
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.