Beginning Tuesday, our video workshops will be available on Creativebug.com.
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THANK YOU to the Creativebug film crew, it was such a great experience to have them in our studio…
For DIY Thursday, we share instructions for the Eyelet Doily, from Alabama Studio Style. Start yours now for your July 4th table spread.
We chose Apple organic cotton jersey fabric for our doily. The “petals” of the doily peek out underneath a serving platter or cake plate, leaving the decorative embroidered eyelets visible. Our favorite colors for the 4th of July are Apple, Natural, and Navy, of course.
Add your own plate and recipe.
Perfect for all of the upcoming festivities and beyond, our Beaded Seam Corset is easy to make for yourself by following the pattern with instructions from page 145 of Alabama Stitch Book (on sale for $25 this month). As one of the most popular garments in our collections, the corset is designed to show off a woman’s best assets, enhancing natural curves.
Purchase our DIY Beaded Corset Kit, ready-to-sew with all notions needed to complete the project, made from 100% organic cotton jersey.
A flattering pick for any party. Pair with our swing skirt or blue jeans and celebrate.
The word “star,” with its many meanings, occupies several places in my mind (and the universe):
First, a star is simply a shape- the most common being five-pointed. As I was taught in geometry class, it is constructed from points, proportions, and folds. Seen in patriotic prints of the 1960s and 70s, its contour was fitting with the bold, geometric patterns of the time. Fifty of these shapes are on the American flag, each representing a state and the collection of stars symbolizing our country as a whole.
While designing and constructing quilts, I’ve learned that a quilt’s geometry is systematic. Sewing together the triangular and diamond-shaped puzzle pieces to make each polygon requires great planning and thought. This geometry is apparent in our Indigo Star Quilt, and in the repeated shapes of the Flag Quilt.
While working on some press and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) pages this last month, I came across some texts that date back across the decade of Alabama Chanin. In reading and going over some of these texts, I thought it would be a good series to share on our Sustainable Design Tuesdays. Here is one of those texts about building a round company:
My goal with building designs – as I have built my company – is to make a sphere. I strive to create a well-rounded, (w)holistic company that revolves around a central theme: sustainability of culture, environment, and community.
It has been over a decade since I started working on the company that Alabama Chanin has become today and I am often asked how I had the foresight to start a company based on the principles of sustainability and Slow Design. To this comment, I laughingly reply that I never intended to start a sustainable design company; I simply stumbled into it like the fool falling off the cliff. When I cut up those first t-shirts, I was doing something that I felt driven to do. I didn’t think of those garments as the basis of a business; they were simply pieces of clothing I wanted to wear and, perhaps more importantly, make. However, when I look back today, it all feels like a seamless and directed adventure into the realms of becoming a sustainable designer and manufacturer.
I am often invited to speak about this process and our resulting business model, as it has developed into an unusual one. However, truth be told, I have simply taken inspiration for our model from farmers and strive to build a zero waste company where the results of one production process become the fuel for another.
Our primary work is the business of designing and making clothing. And whether a dress calls for recycled t-shirts or locally grown, certified organic cotton, the designing and making of that product spurs our model. It was developed not by intention, but through process.
Nature and flowers are often a source of inspiration for my pattern designs, which is evident in their titles: Climbing Daisy, Anna’s Garden, and Kristina’s Rose, to name a few. I simply find Mother Nature’s curvaceous forms and shapes alluring.
I look for pattern inspirations everywhere I go, and most often find them when gazing out of my kitchen window. Ferns, such a strong presence in the South, have always found their place either hanging on the front porch, or perched on a pedestal in many a home. With our unusual weather in Alabama, I’ve watched this year’s ferns move along rather quickly; their early appearance takes my mind back to the time when I was fervently working on my new book, Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.
This book introduces the Beaded Fern Fabric that has been a part of our Collection over the years. While the fern isn’t quite a flower (I believe it fits more into the ‘spore’ category), I still find it to be an elegant decorative element, one that has been a staple in fashion history.
Historically, the fern motif dates all the way back to the ancient Egyptians. Ferns became incredibly popular during the Victorian Era in Britain, when botanists began going out into the field to further their research. Fern Fever- they called it. During this time, artists frequently replicated the fern motif in pottery, glass, textiles, and sculpture. Back in August, Garden & Gun highlighted the trend, which is making yet another comeback in modern fashion.
When designing, I think about the ebb and flow of organic patterns, how they will translate onto the garments, and if the finished product will retain a natural beauty as our bodies move in those garments. Looking at our beaded fern embellishment, I can almost see the wispy leaves dancing.
Our Beaded Fern fabric below has a particularly organic, but elegant feel and is among our clients’ favorites. We choose to use a satin stitch and incorporate chop or seed beads. To experiment with this design yourself, download the Fern stencil from our Resources page or purchase a mylar Fern stencil from our website.
In New York’s Garment District, there are two stores that take the prize for the most comprehensive selection of embroidery ribbons: Mokuba Co., Ltd and Tinsel Trading Company. At Alabama Chanin, we happen to purchase the cotton tape that we use for embroidery from Mokuba, who supplies us with gorgeous ribbons and other notions made in Japan. I have visited Mokuba many times in search of the perfect ribbons and always found a more than exquisite selection.
This week for DIY Thursday, we would like to share instructions on the ribbon embroidery used as an embellishment in our newest book. In Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, we introduce ribbon embroidery with 100% Cotton Tape as a beautiful way to add delicate dimension to your projects and garments. (Color card available here.) We have been using this technique since 2002, when I began using ribbon embroidery for our collections. This ribbon creates a sophisticated, old-world effect and gives the garment a unique sculptural quality. Below, we share the steps to create this detail, using the Climbing Daisy stencil.
Thank you to those of you who shared your thoughts on the intersection of Fashion + Craft. We are truly inspired and excited by everyone’s interest in the conversation.
As it was difficult to choose a “best” entry, we decided to place everyone’s name in a hat and draw names.
Congratulations Margaret on winning our Anna Sui (+ Alabama Chanin DIY Dress). We hope you’ll wear it fashionably and proudly!
Last month, we began a conversation about the intersection of Fashion, Craft, and DIY. That dialogue started with our friends at Vena Cava and continues this week with a story and a pattern from Anna Sui.
Below are instructions for Alabama Chanin’s basic version of an Anna Sui dress pattern in coral, the newest color in our cotton-jersey fabric collection. This fabric is hand-dyed in Nashville, Tennessee, using the common madder plant, which is native to Africa, temperate Asia, and America. The dye is extracted from the roots of this plant and creates a beautiful coral color.
Get started on your own Anna Sui dress, either basic or embellished, and leave us a note about the intersection of fashion and craft in the comments section of this post by Sunday, February 19th, at midnight for a chance to win the sample dress (size 6) pictured here.
We all encounter bumps in the road, but with encouragement and tenacity, we persevere.
Back in 2001, I faced one in my life. I returned to New York to continue developing my life’s work into what is now Alabama Chanin. At the time, I was living in the Chelsea Hotel on West 23rd Street while I was developing the line, working with partners, and sorting out production issues. One Sunday morning, I woke up feeling extremely frustrated. Continue reading