As most of our readers know, we have a deep love and admiration for our friend – and collaborator – Anna Maria Horner. She is an artist, fluent in more than one creative medium. She not only creates bold and unique fabrics, some of which we have adapted into Alabama Chanin garments, but she also designs kitchen and paper goods, writes, works as the spokesperson for Janome, and keeps up with her beautiful family, all while pregnant with baby #7.
As I read through my new copy of Anna Maria’s Needleworks Notebook, I was moved by her descriptions of family and creativity and how being surrounded by the beautiful handmade things they made influenced her life path. While my parents weren’t as prolifically artistic as Anna Maria’s, the stories of her grandmothers and their sewing resonate with me strongly.
Monday, we wrote about artist Tilleke Schwarz’s New Potatoes as inspiration for the week. However, Tilleke’s textiles have been a source for inspiration for me for years. When New Potatoes landed on my desk about a year ago, we started the skirt you see above as homage to Tilleke and her work.
We have produced narrative work over the years in the form of our Story Quilts. With that series, we take vintage quilts, refurbish them, and embroider oral histories onto the fabrics. You will find a Textile Stories Quilt project in Alabama Studio Style that describes this series. However, this series is small in comparison to the beautiful narrative work of Tilleke Schwartz.
I first saw Tilleke Schwarz’s work in an exhibition called Pricked: Extreme Embroidery at the Museum of Arts & Design in New York. The needlework was displayed proudly as contemporary art by extraordinary female artists. Boundaries were pushed as textile art was made. Friend, Maira Kalman, also had work on view.
Tilleke’s work resonated with me with its elaborate technique and profound artistic statement. At the time, her first book Mark Making (2007) had quickly sold out, so when her self-published second book, New Potatoes, came out a few years later I readily ordered 10 copies.
You can add texture to anything (and everything) with our Spiral embroidery technique from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. Personally, I would like to have a Spiral embroidered couch; however, my production manager just shakes his head.
Perhaps a quicker and easier place to start is with a set of the Spiral embroidered coffee cozies shown above.
Instructions for this coffee cozy below.
Spiral stencil available to download from our Resources page here.
Spiral embroidery instructions available in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.
Coffee recipes (and stories) here.
Time is your own.
This month’s Desktop of the Month features our Spiral embroidery technique from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. Due to its textural quality, I think the Spiral is one of the most beautiful techniques that we use here at Alabama Chanin. Those that wear garments embellished with this simple (but time consuming) embroidery treatment often remark that perfect strangers ask to touch their garments. While you can’t touch this image, it gives you a perfect illustration of what it might be like to touch and be touched.
A high-resolution photograph for use as your computer desktop background is now available as a download in our Resource Downloads section.
Come back this Thursday for our DIY Spiral Embroidered Coffee Cozies (although I wish it was for my DIY Spirals Couch).
Last month we launched our online class, Hand-Embellishing Knit Fabric: Stenciling, Appliqué, Beading, and Embroidery on Craftsy, along with our DIY Kit for the class, which includes all fabric, thread and paint needed. Originally we offered only one colorway for this project – Italian Plum #12536, shown above. We now have ten additional colorways from which to choose.
Sign up for Hand-Embellishing Knit Fabric: Stenciling, Appliqué, Beading, and Embroidery with Natalie to learn techniques on completing the project and choose your colorway for the Craftsy Bundle here. Bookmark this post for reference on colorway details and paint recipes for your project.
Couching is another age-old technique that we employ over, and over again as a design practice at Alabama Chanin.
When embellishing, we often use cotton jersey pulls as appliqué to give weight and a sculptural quality to our crafted garments and home goods.
From page 110 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design:
“At Alabama Chanin, we use the term couching to describe a form of appliqué in which cotton jersey ropes are appliquéd to a base fabric with a parallel whipstitch, following a design stenciled on the fabric.”
As one of our advanced techniques, couching requires a steady hand and thoughtful eye to hold the fabric into position as you sew. Continue reading
We (HEART) this story in the newest NO’ALA Magazine (on pages 110-117) about our custom made Bridal gowns:
It takes a village:
“Once the elements of the gown are chosen, Diane, the master seamstress, measures the bride and Carra-Ellen cuts the fabric and prepares the pattern. Steven, the production manager, applies the stencil to the fabric using an airbrush technique. And with Natalie’s stamp of approval, Olivia prepares the kits for the artisans.
The artisans, who are all from the North Alabama area, are independent contractors, who charge per square inch, depending upon the intricacy of the stitching. This cottage industry-style production model allows artisans to work from their own homes and set their own wages.”
“Brides should allow three weeks for online orders and several months for a custom gown. ‘It’s a slow process,’ says Lyndsie, ‘but it’s well worth the wait.’”You can contact Lyndsie: office (at) alabamachanin.com and read the whole story here. Look for our new bridal line to launch soon.
P.S.: What did you wear to your wedding(s)?
“A handmade silk slip underneath a silk brocade, baby blue fur-collared evening coat from Anna Molinari, heels, and a diamond choker,” says Natalie. “Totally 1996.”
No one can find inner peace except by working,
not in a self-centered way, but for the whole human family.
- Peace Pilgrim
There are many ways to make DIY Peace.
Mildred Norman set off on New Year’s Day and began to walk across the country in the name of peace. Changing her name to Peace Pilgrim, she said, “I shall remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace.” Peace Pilgrim continued her journey until her death in July 1981. That’s 28 years of walking for peace.
Others have worked for peace in their own ways. There have been singers for peace, like Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, or Bob Dylan. Many have spent their lives attempting to create peace on a global level: Nelson Mandela, fellow Southerner Jimmy Carter, Elie Wiesel. There are those like Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, who have devoted their lives to prayer and meditation for peace. So many across the world continue to protest and work for peace.
At Alabama Chanin, we only know how to do what we CAN do to promote peace… So, for today, while it may seem trivial, that’s as simple as our Peace Skirt. It’s not earth shattering; it’s a skirt. However, perhaps the time sewing, and/or the time wearing will give us each a little time to reflect, or to work towards peace it in small ways for our own lives.
Make your own or purchase our DIY Peace Skirt Kit (kit comes ready-to-sew and includes all fabric, floss, and thread needed to complete your project).
I think that our Beaded Fern treatment lends a holiday feel to December’s Desktop of the Month. Up close, Beaded Fern resembles a holiday tree, but the glass beads can also catch your eye across a crowded room.
Perfect for your next holiday gathering…
Learn more about the Fern Stencil here, download the high-resolution Desktop of the Month here, and flip to page 121 in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design to begin stitching one of your own.