Project Threadways, as a concept and idea, has been in the works for several years—taking shape in Natalie’s mind for even more. Last spring, the planning, learning, researching, and visioning came to life at the inaugural Project Threadways symposium, held at The Factory in April. Following the symposium, Project Threadways was officially established as a nonprofit 501(c)(3)—allowing us to further realize its mission of recording, studying, and exploring the history of the textile industry in The Shoals community, and the American South. Project Threadways continues to work in partnership with the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area to record oral histories, expand its exhibition, offer community programming, and plan the upcoming symposium among many more exciting endeavors.

Project Threadways events—lectures, tours, dinners

Registration is open for the 2021 Project Threadways Symposium on April 15 – 17 at The Factory. Picking up where the 2019 symposium left off, the theme of the symposium—“Textiles Across Time and Place: Examining a complicated past to create a more sustainable future”—places the story of textiles in our community in to a broader context by providing an overview of the timeline of textile history in the United States from the indigenous people who inhabited this area and the fibers they grew through the cotton economy of the antebellum south leading up to the Reconstruction era, sharecropping, and tenant farming. It also maps out the geography from the northeast corridor down through our region, highlighting the once-thriving textile cities and towns.

Symposium speakers will focus on the geography of textiles, material culture, sustainable fashion, and clothing of the enslaved. The list of speakers includes Carrie Barske-Crawford, Jessamyn Hatcher and Thuy Lihn Tu, Dana Thomas, Katie Randall, Kate Knowles, and Julius Tillery. (More on each of them soon.)

The event will include tours of the area, a special lunch with Lisa Donovan, Angie Mosier, Cheetie Kumar, Judith Winfrey, and Anna Marshall, engaging lectures and talks, workshops, (more) good food, and conversation. This year a variety of ticket tiers are available: all-access, Friday access, and Saturday access.

Purchase tickets to the 2021 symposium here

Give to Project Threadways here to further support our cause.

Check back on the Journal as we lead up to the symposium for speaker highlights, reading lists, resources, and Notes from the Field.

And find the 2021 schedule below.


Thursday, April 15, 2021

6:00pm – Registration, Cocktails, + Exhibition Opening: Textiles Across Time and Place

7:00pm – Friends of the Café Dinner with chef Whitney Otawka

Friday, April 16, 2021

9:00am – Late Registration + Rivertown Breakfast @ The Factory

10:00am – Welcome + Introduction

10:30am – The Factory Tour with Natalie Chanin

11:00am – Short Break

11:15am – Material Culture Across Time with Carrie Barske

12:15pm – Short Break

12:30pm – Cloth Bound Lunch featuring Smithy Ironware with Lisa Donovan, Angie Mosier, Cheetie Kumar, Judith Winfrey, and Ann Marshall

2:00pm – The Geography of Textiles with Katie Randall, Jessamyn Hatcher, and Thuy Linh Tu

3:00pm – The Future of Fashion with Dana Thomas

4:00pm – Cocktail Hour + Small Bites @ The Factory

6:30pm – Open evening; optional dinner in downtown Florence

Saturday, April 17, 2021

9:00am – Rivertown Breakfast @ The Factory

10:00am – An Expanded Oral History with Katie Randall

11:00am – Clothing of the Enslaved ­with Katie Knowles

12:00pm – The State of Threadways: Bag Lunch + Brainstorming

2:00pm – Lecture to be determined.

3:30pm – Optional: Making Workshop or Open Afternoon

5:30pm – Pope’s Tavern Tour with local historian Brian Murphy

6:30pm – Farewell Cocktails + Small Bites @ Uniform Shop: Tour of the Future ­with Carrie Barske

Please note the symposium has been rescheduled to 2021 due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Please contact with questions regarding your tickets.


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