There are a growing number of programs tailored to adults in the workforce who want to advance their careers or earn a degree. These days, it’s not unheard of for someone to earn their bachelor’s or master’s degree online. There are also entirely new platforms emerging, called MOOCs, or massive open online courses. The expectation is that these new platforms for learning are going to change online learning, opening up opportunities to those who thought they’d never have the chance to further their education. While many of these courses offer no credits, the demand for them isn’t waning. People are looking for outlets to learn – simply for the sake of personal growth.

The trend is expanding into fields outside of higher education. Google search or visit YouTube and you will find an incredible number of courses in all imaginable subjects. Some courses are free; others require a fee or subscription. Still, the possibility of learning something – a skill, a subject, a language – all in your living room has a certain appeal to those of us who can’t imagine the thought of sitting in a classroom again. These classes can be taken on your time, fit between loads of laundry or after the kids have gone to bed. This time, it’s perfectly acceptable to go to class in your pajamas.


Open sourcing is being embraced on a larger scale. It has moved beyond watching TED talks and into full-fledged organizations, like Academic Earth, Open Courseware Consortium, and Open Culture – all online locations where you can take a course or earn a certificate.

Alabama Chanin and our partners have been embracing this concept for years, recently starting a discussion called Makeshift that creates a conversation between the user and the maker, the crafter and the designer, the designer and the manufacturer. What we have seen is that this is opening doors for more communication and sharing of ideas – more opportunities to open source information between parties with similar goals in mind.

Participant Abigail Doan said, “Being a part of Makeshift 2012 made me realize that sometimes being very far away geographically and seemingly out of the loop is such an archaic notion when people are connected by their truest intentions and passions.” We believe that open sourcing education, thoughts, and materials can bring together like-minded people, but also can create a community of all types and backgrounds. As we’ve seen: people have a desire to learn at all levels. Sharing information can make our culture and people smarter, better, more innovative than we’ve ever been before.

Alabama Chanin and The School of Making have also ventured into the online learning community with virtual workshops on Craftsy and Creativebug. In some cases, as with Creativebug, you can take brief classes on either a subscription or per-class basis. In others, as with Craftsy, the class is more advanced, in depth, and requires a bigger commitment of time and materials, and has a higher subscription rate. There are also options for virtual workshops, similar to those that we present here at our Factory and around the country, and we must admit that we find this idea very appealing.

Whatever your interest, you are sure to find a group of like-minded individuals who want to learn the same thing. Want to study Photography? There’s a web class and even an iTunes app. Perhaps the Ancient Greeks are your passion. Find others with the same passion here. You can even take a class on Nonviolence: From Gandhi to Martin Luther King. People often say that technology has made our society more disconnected as people. That doesn’t have to be the case. We can use this technology to reach out to those like us and those we have to learn things from. We can create a larger community of learning.

Online learning and finding a community of common souls allows technology to bring us together.

P.S.: If you purchase your class from the links on our website, we will earn a small commission from the product purchased through that link. This commission supports our business and helps us stock our 100% organic fabrics, pay our employees a living wage, and allows our teams to continue to design and create the products that you love. What might seem like a small gesture can go a long way for our business, so thank you.

7 comments on “DIY LEARNING

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  1. Sherry

    As someone who consumes all available resources, I admit I have all 3 books, I have viewed all the creativebug courses, am currently taking the craftsy class, and will be at the April studio workshop. I think all of these sources have value. The creativebug courses are less valuable than the others due to the format. I signed up for the craftsy class even though I had already registered for the studio weekend since I can ask questions in the craftsy class over time when they occur to me and the weekend will be wonderful, but over in a flash. I would participate in a virtual workshop also as there is always more to learn and what we are interested in learning evolves over time. If I could do a dozen projects during the studio weekend I would!

  2. Grace

    I bought the craftsy course yesterday and I absolutely love it! I also have two of the books so quite a bit of the information was already known to me but I assumed (rightly!) that there was plenty left to be learned from the visual and auditory experience. I would love to attend one of your classes in person, but the expence of travel is the biggest issue to overcome. I am so grateful that Alabama Chanin is participating the online learning experience. Thank you!

    1. Nicola

      I too signed up for the Craftsy course – and it is brilliant – you have the opportunity to ask questions of Natalie and to talk with other students. I would also love to attend a live workshop but live a long way from Alabama. I would appreciate the opportunity to come and study with Alabama Chanin in person and to see the wonderful fabrics, embellishments and garments. For now, the books, this website and Craftsy are the next best thing. Thank you Alabama Chanin – I hope that you will produce more books and more online courses.

  3. Kathy

    I’m thoroughly enjoying the Craftsy class! It’s been great working from the books, but it is wonderful to have the chance to interact with other people who are sewing AC style. And to be able to ask Natalie questions – amazing! Natalie, I’m a teacher, too, and it’s interesting to see the group taking shape. You’re so patient and supportive! I hope you don’t tire of the endless repetition and quit answering 🙂 Meanwhile, I’ll dream about being able to afford one of the travelling retreats, but for now I’m so grateful that you’ve brought Alabama Chanin to the people.

  4. Joan

    I am enjoying your videos on both Craftsy and Creativebug, will happily gobble up just about anything that you and your team put out there for consumption. The pace, the content (Guidance + information + history + personal reference,) the format, just works for me. Seriously? Watching your Craftsy videos is like creating in a state of meditation while getting a foot massage and drinking warm milk. More, please.

  5. Carol

    I absolutely love the class on Craftsy….it is making me attempt a more advanced project than I would have with the books….I have 2 of the books, and I love them. They are so chockfull of information and beautifully photographed…..The class online was helpful in so many ways. Somehow a visual demo will alway “loosen” one up to new techniques so much more easily than a book. I truly am so impressed with Natalies generosity in sharing all of her skills in such a generous way……..Makes me want to buy lots of organic jersey and create my own unique wardrobe…….

  6. carol a.

    Your Creative Bug videos are my favorites and I hope you will have more soon. I’ve made the ruffle shirt for both of my girls, and am working on the runner for myself. Ready for more and love how you teach. Thank you. 🙂