Way back in 2007, performance artist John Rives put together a light-hearted TED talk meant to tease conspiracy theorists everywhere. I won’t get into the incredible connections he makes between people like country music artist Faron Young, Dame Judi Dench, and Bill Clinton. (I suggest you watch for yourself.) But he manages to connect one event to another, and another, through the hour of four in the morning. Four in the morning, he says, is the “worst possible hour” of the day. It’s shorthand for a time of inconvenience, mishaps, and yearnings.
What Rives didn’t expect was that the “four in the morning” effect was more widespread in our culture than he ever imagined. After his initial TED Talk, people began sending him “Four AM” references from all over the world. He has received so many references of “four in the morning” in our culture—from Shakespeare to The Simpsons—that he is now the self-proclaimed expert on 4AM. (For just a hint of it’s presence in our culture, here are a quick set of 50 Four in the Mornings that we’ve all seen at some point.)
In response to the overwhelming response, Rives put together a short follow-up talk to show us what he’s learned about 4AM: watch here. So we must ask—has he discovered and decoded the real witching hour? Or is it a magical, creative hour? Or is it nothing at all? Rives has catalogued every reference he’s discovered at the Museum of Four in the Morning, where you’ll find instances in literature, movies, music, television, and all manner of pop culture transmissions. We invite you to click around, examine the copious evidence, and ask yourselves: Just what is the deal with 4AM?
P.S.: Just in case there IS something to the phenomenon, we invite you to our 4:00AM Sale beginning Saturday at 4AM and ending at four o’clock on Monday morning. We’re featuring samples and one-of-a-kind pieces—right on time.
P.P.S: You’ll also have a chance to save 20% site-wide*.
*Some exclusions will apply.
The design world is filled with innovators making products that can impact the human experience for good or for ill. The idea of designing and making with positive, spirited intention is growing far beyond its early influencers like Samuel Mockbee’s Rural Studio or the now defunct Architecture for Humanity—inspired by Mockbee’s project. Today, AIGA—one of the oldest and largest professional design organizations—has an entire program dedicated to Design for Good. Design leader John Bielenberg created the innovative and influential Project M that is always generating creative solutions to real design challenges. (See Project M’s Pie Lab in Greensboro, Alabama, for an example.)
One of our earliest “social” collaborations was with an organization called Goods of Conscience, whom we worked with on some of our first indigo dyeing experiments. This was quite a few years ago, when design and social change were words that weren’t often used together. It was one of the early examples in the textile industry we encountered that proved the two ideas could exist together and elevate one another.
All design has social impact, but good design focuses on people as fundamental to the products they make. Designers have a remarkable ability to influence how we communicate and with whom, what we think about, what is relevant, and how social and economic power balances might be restructured. When designing for the good, effective ideas, methods, and products can better a society and humanity. Nest, the non-profit organization we’ve partnered with through The School of Making, has fostered successful initiatives by building deep relationships with the global makers with whom they partner—collaboratively building sustainable solutions to the greatest needs within communities where artisan craft stands to create positive, long-lasting change.
Last September, as we were preparing for a workshop at Anna Maria Horner’s venture, Craft South, we got our first look at her new line of knit jersey fabrics—Anna Maria Knits. We have since experiemented and played with several of these patterned knits using our techniques and are loving the results. Shown here is our Swing Skirt from Alabama Stitch Book appliquéd with our Large Polka Dot Sencil, using her Tangle Knit print in Rust.
It reminds me of a harvest moon.
2 yards cotton jersey fabric for skirt
1 yard cotton interlock for appliqué
1 yard fold-over elastic ribbon
Button Craft thread
Basic sewing supplies: needles, pins, embroidery scissors
Alabama Stitch Book for Swing Skirt pattern and instructions
In January, we added to our ongoing Makeshift series, adapting available garment patterns using Alabama Chanin techniques with a Merchant & Mills pattern for the Shirt Dress. This month, we’ve created another Merchant & Mills garment in our own style—an Alabama Chanin version of the Factory Dress (love the name). This piece is shown here without embellishment to highlight the simple design, but you can choose to utilize any of the techniques from our previous posts or our Swatch of the Month Club to embellish your project
Keep in mind that Merchant & Mills is a UK-based design house and that UK sizes differ a bit from US numbered sizes. Their website has clear size charts that can help you select the right pattern size for your body. Also note that their patterns are priced in pounds, not US dollars, and you should take into account shipping costs when shopping. Alternatively, there are quite a few stockists in the US with ready links available here.
According to Wikipedia, supply chain is defined as “a system of organizations, people, activities, information, and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer.” At Alabama Chanin we strive to responsibly produce quality, sustainable products—at every level of the supply chain. We believe that responsibility means transparency and understanding where each material comes from and whose hands it touches before it arrives to the end consumer. For over a decade, we have worked tirelessly to secure a supply chain that is, as much as is humanly possible, Made in the USA.
With events like the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, consumers are asking questions about how and where their clothes are made. We’ve noticed an increase in emails, phone calls, and questions about our 100% organic cotton jersey fabric—and we welcome those questions. In response, we have compiled all the information here. Each time we take a closer look into our supply chain, we discover something new. This is the projected course of our supply chain in the best case scenario, which is often altered by Mother Nature. Unfortunately, there are always circumstances out of our control, so we share this information with that in mind. As of 2015, this is every step of the supply chain for our medium-weight cotton jersey—from Texas, to the Carolinas, to Alabama. Look for more posts on supply chain for threads, beads, and our other notions coming soon.
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.
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.
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.
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.