This post grew out of a conversation about love that began around the sewing table at our Warehouse Row workshop in Chattanooga, Tennessee last month. While we have written about well-loved thread many times, it seems important to keep the conversation alive and growing.

Love…We all live for it, because of it, in search of it. Poets try to evoke it from paper and ink. Chefs strive to make you smell and taste it in their meals. And every Alabama Chanin workshop begins with the story of how love is sewn into each stitch of our clothing. Just one of our skirts may need hundreds of yards of thread and thousands of stitches to be completed. If you could watch the process of making that thread, you would see it comes from creating tension in two separate cotton strands and twisting them together. If that tension isn’t tamed before the sewing process, a seamstress will be facing knot after knot, each time the needle is pushed through the fabric. Just imagine what kind of frustration that could cause in the weeks it takes to make a single, hand-stitched garment.

LOVING THE THREAD - photo by Rinne Allen

When beginning one of our garments or projects, we thread our needles and use the oil from our fingers to smooth and even the tension, until all the little bumps are worked out of the thread and it moves almost effortlessly through each stitch. We like to call this process “Loving the Thread” because with each stroke of our fingertips, we say what could be called a little prayer. “This thread is going to sew the most beautiful garment that’s ever been made. It will bring the wearer joy, or riches, or prosperity, or love, or beauty, or health or anything else we want to wish for the person who will wear this garment.”

Can love or any other emotion’s effect on objects be scientifically measured? Researchers have tried to quantify emotional energy, as they have accomplished with other types of energies like electricity or heat. Dr. Masaru Emoto became famous from his experiment on how emotions can affect water, highlighted in the 2004 film, “What the Bleep Do We Know?!” His group exposed water to words by speaking them aloud or having them written. Those words included emotions, like “Love” and “Hate”. Each water sample was then crystallized and photographed, revealing some amazing images. Many in the scientific community question these findings, saying Dr. Emoto brought them to the public without having other non-biased groups try to perform the same experiment and reach similar conclusions.

But some quantum physicists might agree with Dr. Emoto. In quantum mechanics, scientists leave room for what they call the “Observer Effect,” where it’s possible that just the act of observing can influence the tiny particles being viewed. If just the act of watching a particle can manipulate its location while it’s being observed under an electron microscope, we can just imagine what adding our love and caresses can do. While scientists continue to argue over theories, we can tell you that our love cannot be measured in a garment. But, if we demonstrate the same attention to detail that we give to our garments in other areas of our lives: our businesses, our lives, our families, that kind of love can be reflected in our increased happiness and well-being and that of those we love.

LOVING THE THREAD - photo by Rinne Allen


1 comment on “LOVING THE THREAD

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  1. michele

    When I was a child, I was embarrassed that all my clothes were either hand-me-downs or “homemade”…when I think of all the hours my mother spent at the sewing machine ensuring that my sister and I looked well groomed, I am humbled (even a little ashamed) that I didn’t understand the amount of love she poured into those garments.
    I am not a seamstress, but I love reading your posts; seeing your photographs…it makes me love my mother, my grandmother, my aunts all the more even after their passing. I cherish every stitch in every quilt and garment they left behind.

    Thank you for what you do.

    Love, Michele