Welcome to 1972. The Rolling Stones just landed at Muscle Shoals Regional Airport to record three of their classic songs: “Wild Horses,” “You Got To Move On,” and “Brown Sugar.” Aretha Franklin recorded what was considered the first big hit of her career, “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You).” Across the Tennessee River, a short 6 miles away, t-shirts were being made in three shifts a day, destined for band tours, protests, and every wardrobe in America. The Shoals community was bustling with work and sending small parts of itself into the larger world, in the form of a simple cotton garment.

We return with more exciting news from the field. We mentioned in earlier Journal posts that we’re planning an inaugural Project Threadways Symposium for this spring, and we’re happy to announce that a limited amount of tickets are now open to the public.

Pack your bags, come and spend three days in the Muscle Shoals community to learn, be inspired, gather, and commune at The Factory with a group of creative thinkers, makers, and doers. We will spend time together to explore the material culture that originated from this community, exchange ideas, cross-pollinate, and create a plan to dissect and document the material culture of textiles back to its earliest days in America.


We will explore the landscape and community of Muscle Shoals and its history of manufacturing and music, the tenacity of the art and the creative residents that made this revolution possible. Tours of Muscle Shoals Sound and Fame Recording Studio will be available – along with great food, conversation, music, and (of course) shopping.

Thursday, April 25
5:30pm – Registration and Cocktails @ The Factory
7:00pm – Friends of the Café Dinner with chef Bill Smith

Friday, April 26
9:00am – Rivertown Breakfast @ The Factory
9:30am – Welcome and Introduction with Natalie Chanin and John T. Edge
9:45am – The Factory Tour
10:00am – The State of Threadways with Natalie Chanin and Thuy Linh Tu
11:00am – The River Valley and The Rise of the Tee: A Brief History of Material Culture with Ted Ownby and Carrie Crawford
Noon – Tee Jays and The Factory: A Presentation of the Oral Histories with and Brian Murphy
1:00pm – Southland Meat + Three Lunch
2:30pm – Material Culture: The Band Tee with Bill Smith and Brett Anderson
4:00pm – Muscle Shoals Sound with David Hood

Saturday, April 27
9:00am – The Factory Café Breakfast @ The Factory
10:00am – T-shirt Capital of the World: Women in the Workforce with Thuy Linh Tu
11:00am – The Smell of Cotton: From Field to Culture with Alysia Burton Steele
1:00pm – Box Lunch and Brainstorming @ The Factory
2-4:00pm – T-shirts + Making: A Workshop
6:30pm – Cocktails @ The Factory: Blackberry Farm and Eric Solomon
Appetizers: Angie Mosier
Dinner: Cheetie Kumar
Dessert: Lisa Donovan

We hope you’ll be able to join us. For more information and details visit here or contact us at Don’t forget to take our survey if you worked in the textile industry in this area. We can’t wait to hear from you. This project is made possible with support and funding provided by the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area.


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