The Alabama Chanin collection is a luxury line. Hand-selected fabric is sourced, dyed, re-dyed, and sometimes dyed again to achieve the perfect shade. Our team has hand-mixed thousands of paint colors, looking for the perfect complement to a certain hue. Giant rolls of fabric have been returned, donated, or recycled because a run, tear, or other minor defect was spotted. Designs are sketched and often re-sketched. Then come the patterns, more patterns, and finally dozens of samples (all hand-sewn), alterations, editing, more patterns, more samples. Repeat.
Our embellishments are next. We add the glass beads, the intricate decorative stitching, the sturdy straight stitch, endless crocheted snaps, and once again, repeat. Southern couture is expensive, lovely, and nothing less than a passion for those artisans who initial the tags in each one-of-a-kind Alabama Chanin garment.
Ever since I received my advance copy of the upcoming Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, I’ve been excited to share the book and anxious to know if you will love it as much as we do. I received word from our publisher that they will be sending Alabama Chanin our first shipment of books on February 8. That means that – as long as everything goes as planned – we should receive and begin shipping them by February 15th. I expect that there will be a whirlwind of activity when it arrives here: unpacking, organizing, sorting and shipping.
We are ready to go and can’t wait to get this book into your hands – and to get your hands working on the new projects.
We’d also like to remind you that we have several workshops scheduled. They are a great way for us to get together and talk shop about our new projects. Make sure to check out our website for updates and additions.
Visit our new Workshop Resources page for more information or contact us with questions: email@example.com or 256.760.1090.
This text – some of our most important sewing tips at Alabama Chanin – is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design (which we plan to receive and start shipping around the 15th of this month). It is important to us at Alabama Chanin that we as a humanity (women and men – girls and boys) take back the essential survival skill of hand-sewing, and that we also understand the physics behind the clothing that shelters our bodies. It’s as simple as picking up needle and thread.
Old Wives’ Tales and Physics
Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of old wives’ tales around the sewing room, but I’ve come to learn that many of these tales find truth in everyday life. And as tale after tale has proven true, I’ve also come to understand that there’s reason, or “physics,” behind them.
Needle your thread; don’t thread your needle:
This makes perfect sense in that the thread is the weaker of the two elements and easily moves or bends. Moving the more stable element—the needle—over the thread to “needle the thread” makes this a simple task.
I am so excited about the launch of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. The book includes some of our very best garment patterns to-date and I can’t wait to see how the stencils, patterns, and designs work their way into DIY projects.
The long skirt pattern that is included the book has become my staple go-to skirt for everyday living and night life for almost a year now. I have variation in black with embroidery and several basic versions in pink, ochre, and a beautiful turquoise color that we tie-dyed in the washing machine by just letting the dye bath sit unattended for a few hours.
I have loved these pieces from spring to summer and through the fall and into winter, because I can wear my sturdy stockings underneath on the coldest days and with socks and my new Billy Reid boots every other day. Continue reading
From page 10 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design:
“Stenciling is a cornerstone of both our design process and our business model. We use stencils as tools to transfer decorative patterns onto projects like dresses, skirts, and pillows. The stenciled patterns are then used by our artisans as guides for positioning embroidery and beading. Because the stencils so effectively guide the design, our artisans don’t need to work in our studio. Rather, they can work independently as individual business owners when and where they want, scheduling their work time as they like.
Over the years, we have worked with more than four hundred different stencil designs.”
It seems unbelievable to me that 2011 is coming to a close. The Alabama Chanin journal has covered so many topics over the 2011 year and we have been so grateful for the opportunity to share our thoughts, travels, milestones and inspirations with you. As the year’s end approaches, we thought we would recap some of the favorite topics of the year.
It took me years to come to love the paisley pattern. I first became aware of the distinctive design during my days working in India and throughout my years as a stylist: men’s ties, patterned shirts, dresses, and scarves just scratch the surface. Since that time, I have avoided using it at Alabama Chanin simply as I felt that it was just SO often seen across the realm of textile design. However, my strict stance has mellowed recently and the pattern is highlighted in Chapter 8 of our upcoming Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, entitled “Fabric + Fabric Maps.”
“The paisley – a tear-, pear-, or kidney-shaped curved figure – is a common motif in almost all cultures across the globe.”
Historically, paisley has been present in fabrics worldwide and there have been an array of books written on the pattern. I suppose a designer could spend their entire career just working with this simple shape.
The stencil is now available from our Online Store and shown above embellished in back-stitch reverse applique from Alabama Studio Style.
There has been such a wonderful buzz around the studio these last weeks as we prepare for the holidays. So much buzz, in fact, that I have not really had time to sit down with our new book, Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. Last night, I remedied that with a quiet house, a cocktail, and my “comfy chair,” as my daughter Maggie calls it.
I wrote last August about the process of writing this book and the moment of awaiting proofs from the publisher, but it seems like I just batted my eyes and the book is lying in my lap.
I’ve had time to recover since writing that post. I am once again in the studio and have – once again – been pulled away from the book and into other projects. Much like giving birth, it seems that the pain of delivery subsides as you move away from the actual moment of delivery and on to holding that growing life. Not to compare my book with a new life BUT, when Alabama Stitch Book first came out, my editor said “the best part of writing a book is watching that book come to life in the hands of another.” It’s true. I experience that exact feeling as I sit here today and write this post. While the book is not a life, it does take on a life of its own. Today, I am the proud mama of a 1 pound, glowing book.
So, without further ado, here you find photographs of some of my favorite spreads in the book, Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. You will notice that I have included instructions and patterns for some of our favorite collection pieces. You can find the book on-the-shelves by mid-February (good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise – as we like to say in the South).
DIY Kits, fabrics, and other goodies will begin to appear in our online store over the next weeks. Can’t wait to hear what you have to say… xoNatalie
This market bag is my (almost) constant companion. (When my daughter Maggie hasn’t filled it with toys or books.)
Beauty, simplicity, and what might be the perfect length handles keep it in heavy rotation.
So many have sprung up around the office that we’ve jokingly labeled it our “Alabama Briefcase.”
It’s just the right size for back-to-school, a meal’s worth of groceries from the farmer’s market, a day by the pool, or a light-weight carry-on.
Shown here in our Alabama Indigo Fabric, the bag is made from scraps of medium and dark indigo, stenciled with our facets pattern and sewn with grey Button Craft thread.
Have a look at page 107 of Alabama Studio Style to see where it all started.
The whimsical fabric creations of Stitch Magic are simply breath-taking. Alison takes inspiration from Colette Wolff’s sewing fetish book The Art of Manipulating Fabric, giving a contemporary spin to twenty beautiful projects, ranging from home decor to fashion accessories. Machine sewn projects include fabric necklaces with dainty button closures and hand embellished egg cozies that are two of our favorites.
We combined our hand-sewing techniques with simple pin tucks from page 58 and quilting from page 82 to make these tea towels using the pattern from page 91 of Alabama Stitch Book and our 100% organic cotton jersey in medium-weight (colors Sand and Doeskin).
My daughter loves to use these tea towels for napkins, as a bib to cover her school clothes when eating breakfast (we use a wooden clothespin to hold two corners behind her neck) and she takes one to school in her lunch box to use as her own personal placemat. She started kindergarten last Thursday and I think I will be making a lot of these tea towels in the coming year! Continue reading