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TWO-HOUR SEWING @ LF8, NYC (+ A BOOK SIGNING WITH NATALIE)
Join Natalie for a Two-Hour Sewing Workshop at lf8 in New York’s East Village.
Thursday, May 21, 2015
Choose your session:
10:00am – 12:00pm or
2:00pm – 4:00pm
Learn more and register here.
There is limited availability—so be sure to sign-up soon. Contact email@example.com for more information and a selection of projects.
Natalie will also be on hand to sign her newest book, Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns.
4:00pm – 6:00pm
This event is free and open to the general public.
Buy a copy in store or bring by your already purchased copy.
I have extolled the virtues of Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee, many times. It’s a place of calm, and deliciousness, and of fellowship. The land and the people create a singular sense of place that is joyous and memorable. There really is no place in the world that feels quite like the Smoky Mountains—as artists and musicians have tried to express for hundreds of years.
After the very first Weekend Workshop at Blackberry Farm, I promised myself that I would continue the event for years to come. I am honored that the farm will be hosting our second (now annual) Classic Sewing Weekend, June 26 – 28.
As part of that event, we are also offering our first workshop specially tailored for mothers (or any special mentor) and daughters: Alabama Chanin’s Mother/Daughter One-Day Sewing Retreat. Over the years, we have delighted in watching mothers and daughters and families work together around sewing tables at our workshops. We have been lucky to see multiple generations of women collaborate on a simple swatch or a custom wedding gown.
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.
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.
In 1982, Ari Weinzweig and his business partner Paul Saginaw opened Zingerman’s Delicatessen in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Today, that institution has evolved into a collection of food specialty businesses (known as the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, or ZCoB) that includes a bakery, mail order operation, a coffee company, candy manufacturer, a barbeque restaurant, creamery, and a catering and event planning service. The decision to build new, independent businesses (instead of franchising the deli) proved to be an sustainable strategy for operating a business, an effective approach for establishing growth opportunities for employees, and a way to ultimately give back to their Ann Arbor community.
In March 2015, we are delighted to be hosting Ari and our friends from Zingerman’s here at The Factory in Florence. I’ve long been an admirer and student of Ari’s work, teachings, and books. (And as an introduction to Ari, you might want to check out this interview with him on our Journal.) His philosophies and approaches to running a business have helped me and the Alabama Chanin family create a better work environment here at The Factory. Our staff studied Ari’s latest book, Managing Ourselves, as part of a workplace enrichment program, and we each wrote visions of how we want to take ownership of our individual roles, while benefiting the team and helping the company grow as a whole.
Join us this Monday at The Factory for the third conversation in our On Design Series. This week Natalie discusses the practice of stenciling—including examples of designs throughout history and various techniques used over time, alongside a short, hands-on introduction to making stencils.
Monday, December 8, 2014
10:30am – 11:30am
Alabama Chanin @ The Factory
462 Lane Drive
Florence, AL 35630
Open-to-the-public, the cost includes admission, participation in the conversation, and a cup of The Factory blend coffee, a cold drink, or tea.
P.S.: If you can’t make it to the lecture and want to experiment with stencils on your own, we have a selection of stenciling materials and design resources on our website and a suggested reading list here.
If you are interested in learning more detailed stenciling techniques, we are offering our first One-Day Stenciling Workshop on May 14, 2015. During this workshop, we will design and create stencils through combinations of original artworks and existing stencils. Workshop participants have the opportunity to work with a variety of stenciling materials, experiment with mixing fabric paint, and explore a variety of stencil transfer methods like airbrushing, painting, sponging, permanent and fabric markers, fabric pastels, and transferring inkjet patterns onto fabric.
Learn more about this and all of our workshops through The School of Making.
Alabama Chanin as a concept and a company began as a DIY enterprise. I made the first garments by hand, to fit my own body. Our entire business model was created because I couldn’t find manufacturing for the sort of garment I wanted to make—and so, we created our own manufacturing system, one stitch at a time.
Because those first garments were made from recycled t-shirts, many of our customers took the concept and re-imagined it for themselves, making their own patterns and clothing. Others felt that—with just a little help—they could create something similar, something that was their own. Almost accidentally, our garments were stirring in others the desire to make. Slowly, and as the internet became more robust, sewers formed groups on the internet to share their Alabama Chanin-style garments and swap ideas. This was the beginning of a more formal DIY presence in our company.
These things were happening at the same time as I began writing our first Studio Book, Alabama Stitch Book. Writing that book helped me crystallize my thoughts on making, open sourcing, and education. It was, in essence, me putting voice to what was important about sharing ideas and creating a community of makers. Throughout the writing process—and as the company grew and evolved over the years—I returned again and again to the idea of keeping the living arts alive. It’s the belief that survival skills for food, clothing, and shelter, are important arts that we live with every single day. And these arts—often considered secondary arts—are equally (and perhaps more) important as the “primary” arts of painting and sculpture.
Quite a few years ago, I loaded up the car with scissors, needles, and an array of other sewing supplies and took a trip with a group of friends and fellow stitchers to a women’s prison facility (at their invitation, of course). My friend Kyes had organized this meeting in the hopes of developing a program within our Alabama Prison system for training life and job skills. The scissors wound up staying in the car for security reasons, but the experience was life changing. The intent of the day was to show these women—on their way out of prison and back into the “real” world—how to hand stitch and work together. We wanted to help them see that they could make something beautiful with their own two hands and, at the same time, perhaps challenge all of our preconceived notions about our neighbors and the world at large. It’s fair to say that I walked away from that day and the experience a different person. At that point, I’d begun to realize that education was going to be an important element in the life of my company. I wanted to help others understand how essential “living arts” are—and what it would mean if we lost connection to those skills and our shared history.
Slowly, Alabama Chanin added stitching workshops to our traveling trunk shows. We scheduled intimate one-off events that were as much about storytelling as they were stitching (as Blair Hobbs famously exemplified with her “granny panties” story years ago). We were creating a community through making. It was happening. And so we committed to this enterprise of creating communities for makers, of building workshops both here at The Factory and across the globe. Alabama Chanin and our customers have become part of one another’s lives in ways I never imagined; we’ve made lifelong friends, helped create wedding gowns, hosted classrooms of college students, and traveled across the country. I’ve met some of my personal heroes through sharing ideas on making and sustainability.
Friend, inspiration, and collaborator Anna Maria Horner has been featured on our Journal several times. She is a multi-talented woman fluent in more than one creative medium, from her imaginative books and fabric design to fine art. Natalie and Anna Maria’s friendship has only continued to grow as they connect over everything from food and family, to sewing and gardening.
Since we last featured Anna Maria on our Journal, she has added child number seven to her large and happy home. She, her husband Jeff, and their children (aged 1 to 22) live on two acres of land in Nashville, Tennessee. Anna Maria’s ability to balance her life as a mother and entrepreneur is truly remarkable.
Having collaborated with Anna Maria on garment design (and creation the textile patterns Little Flowers and Little Folks), we are excited to work with her once again during an upcoming weekend workshop in Nashville: “Fashion by Hand” with Anna Maria Horner and Natalie Chanin.
Last weekend, some of our team traveled down to Montgomery, Alabama for the second annual Southern Makers event. Southern Makers is a one-day experience that celebrates innovation and creativity of all types of makers in Alabama. The day is filled with everything from panel discussions and live music, to cooking demonstrations and workshops. Some of the top talents working in design, architecture, fashion, and food throughout the state are celebrated each year.
Maker booths are organized by region; North, Central, and South Alabama were all represented at this year’s event. Alabama Chanin set up shop next to our several of our neighbors and friends, including artist Audwin McGee, Scout By Two, Billy Reid, Zkano, and Butch Anthony.