Tag Archives: DIY Home



Sharing good food and good company with friends and family have brought some of our best memories over the years, at both The Factory Café and at home.

Holidays, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve (which will all be here before you know it) allow you to open your own home to family and friends to share fellowship and some of your favorite recipes.


At the heart of those holiday meals is a welcoming table. The School of Making created a simple and eco-friendly decorating option for our café tables: a DIY stenciled table runner.

This table runner works up quickly; simply cut a piece of 18” wide kraft paper the length of your table (or use the width and lengths of your choice). Using our Textile Paint, an airbrush gun, and your favorite School of Making stencil, paint the design all over the paper, at each end, or however your creativity guides you. Let the paint dry completely and the runner is ready to use.


You could also utilize your own stencil or paint a design free-hand. To reduce waste, for your next gathering flip the paper over and stencil a new design on the blank side.

We chose the Variegated Stripe and Aurora stencils for the designs shown above.

Share how you plan to stencil your table runner and some of your family’s favorite recipes in the comments below.


Today, we launch updates to our DIY Collection with new kits, colorways, patterns, and designs. We’re introducing new silhouettes while offering some of our customer favorites with new stencils and treatments. New projects include the Anna’s Garden Maggie Tunic and Polka Dot Walking Cape.

Our expanded selection includes a range of projects for the home, like the Magdalena Table Runner and Magdalena Tea Towels. Favorite styles, like our T-Shirt Top, are now available in the Magdalena stencil. A selection of all-time favorite kits—like the Anna’s Garden Long Skirt and Facets Classic Coat—remain but have been given a fresh look with new colorway options.

If you don’t find exactly what you want, you always have the option to create your own Custom DIY Kit. Our custom kit process allows you to mix and match garment styles, color choices, stencil design, and embroidery techniques to design your perfect garment. For more information on how to design your kit, visit our Custom DIY form. We also have a growing range of patterns and stencils available alongside our Maker Supplies—such as 100% organic cotton jersey, sewing notions, and stenciling supplies—if you enjoy every step of the making experience and prefer creating your garments start-to-finish at home.


As always, our DIY Kits come ready-to-sew with pre-cut and stenciled fabric and all the thread and notions you need to complete your project. Each kit is meant to be completed with help from our Studio Book Series, where you can find construction and embroidery instructions. Or you can learn Alabama Chanin techniques first-hand, as well as gain special instruction and insights, at one of our workshops hosted at The Factory. Learn more about our selection of workshops here.

Explore our current DIY Sewing Kit Collection here.


P.S.: Follow us @theschoolofmaking and share your projects on Instagram using #theschoolofmaking.

If you have any questions about our new DIY Collection, custom DIY kits, or workshops, contact us at +1.256.760.1090 or workshops (at) alabamachanin.com


Alabama Chanin as a business was founded on the idea of a quilting stitch. And although it took me months to realize that I was actually quilting as I pieced together those first cut up t-shirts, the knowledge of those quilting stitches came from my most elemental childhood experiences. Growing up in the south, at the time of my upbringing, quilts were simply a part of everyday life. While quilting has become an integral part of my life, I’ve never become a quilter.

Even so, I have a deep love for the modern day quilts of my friends and colleagues. We’ve written about, and shared, many different kinds of quilts in our own canon: There are the Textile Story quilts that are beloved Alabama Chanin pieces, and there are the other traditional-style quilts (Flag Quilt, Indigo Star) we’ve made modern by substituting cotton jersey for the plain-weave quilting cotton.

All this to say that I don’t tend to collect quilting books, I’ve never joined a quilt along, and although I LONG for a Long Arm Quilting machine, stitching two-layers of cotton jersey together by hand is as far as I’ve gotten. This may all change because of Heather Jones’ new book Quilt Local. One-part inspiration, one-part quilting instruction, the beautiful quilts make me rethink my quilting stance. Denyse Schmidt writes in the foreword:

“I know how deceptively difficult is is to produce work that is restrained. When I began making quilts, the medium had an ingrained habit of ‘more is more.’ It can be easy to impress with virtuoso sewing skills, use of abundant, and vibrant color, and complicated visual tricks. Plenty of prints and patchwork can distract our attention, but it is much more skillful—and brave—to find the purest expression of form, to let the poetry of composition and color have the say, to not overcomplicate or muddle the message with needless flourishes. The results, as seen in Heather’s quilts, are breathtaking in their stark beauty, and they can engage our interest for a lifetime.”


My design sense is thoroughly inspired by Heather’s plan. I can imagine a hundred color combinations and a quilt for every room, every friend, every day. I’m in love with Dayton No. 2 as shown above in a single layer of our medium-weight organic cotton jersey. And although one could go ahead and add a backing layer and quilting (by hand or machine), I’m going to use mine as a throw for spring nights on my new outdoor couch.

There is so much to love about this book. From the short lesson on color theory to the modern designs, there is a lifetime of inspiration.

Thank you, Heather. You’ve converted me.


Quilt Local by Heather Jones
3.5 yards 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey for background
3/4 yard 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey for band
1/4 yard 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey for cross
Button Craft thread
Basic sewing supplies: scissors, pinsneedles, ruler, rotary cutter
Alabama Stitch BookAlabama Studio StyleAlabama Studio Sewing + Design, or Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns: All four of these books contain the basic sewing techniques we used to make our version of this quilt.


We followed Heather’s instructions for the Quilt Top on pages 82-83 of Quilt Local and substituted the woven cotton of the project for our cotton jersey. We constructed with our seams outside (on the face of the project) and floating (not felling) and left our edges raw. When using cotton jersey, remember to wrap stitch the beginning and end of each seam.


  1. For an embellished version of the throw, cut double layers of medium-weight cotton jersey and stencil the outer-layer. Before construction, add any embroidery, appliqué, and/or beading to the individual cut pieces following instructions from our Alabama Studio Book Series. After completing your desired embellishments, construct as described above. A blanket stitch around outer layer is optional.
  2. For a heavier-weight throw, cut double layers of medium-weight cotton jersey and pin together before construction. Finish this double-layer throw with a blanket stitch all the way around the outside edge.
  3. Back your finished throw with a single layer of medium-weight cotton jersey and quilt the two layers together using the quilting stitch pattern of your choice.


Fabric – 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey
Background fabric color – Parchment
Band fabric color – Natural
Cross fabric color – Indigo
Treatment – Basic
Button Craft Thread – Dogwood #155 and Cream #256
Knots – Inside
Seam placement – Outside floating

And a few of my other favorite designs:



Heather has several great classes on Creativebug.com—from color explorations to quilting blocks, there’s lots to be inspired. Find all of her classes here.


This has been a year of great achievement, great loss, great beauty, great sadness, and great friendships; but through it all I have been repeatedly reminded of the gift of family. At this time of year, I think we all look forward to looking homeward and to family—whatever home and family may mean for us.

Still, it is incomprehensible to me that Christmas will be here in two days—and that New Year’s Day will roll around in little over a week.

I have two rolls of (once) live evergreen garland laying on my front porch, unopened (and certainly no longer “ever” green). It’s never happened to me before that I didn’t get the garland hung.

There’s also an XXL pumpkin in my front yard. It’s sitting in the same spot it sat on Halloween night—never cut, never lit. I ask Maggie about once a week, “May I please move that pumpkin now?”

At the moment, a pile of presents is sitting on the table awaiting wrapping. Every time I think of complaining about wrapping them, I remind myself that I’m lucky I have the ability to give and honored to have people to give them to. (Plus, I’ve also figured out that I can pay nine-year old Maggie—the pumpkin lover—one dollar per package. After our transcontinental trip with trains and origami, she is an excellent wrapper.)

Tonight I will put off wrapping just a day longer. I’m going to sit down, Maggie by my side, and wind some wreaths. The wreaths won’t make or break our holiday decorations this year (after all, we are garland-less). The wreaths aren’t really for presents (but we may well gift one or two). Really, making the wreaths is a way of claiming just a little more time together.

We are going to put on a holiday record—and wrap and twist and knot and pull and laugh and just sit. Olivia taught us to make mini hula-hoops—which are the base for these wreaths. Use the instructions below to join us.

(Plus—you could always use these same instructions to make everyone in your family their own personal hula-hoop—imagine a day of hooping together.)



¾ inch 100 psi irrigation tubing
PVC pipe cutter
¾ inch coupling
Organic cotton jersey scraps and/or Cotton Jersey Pulls

Cut the tubing to desired diameter with PCV cutter—our wreaths are approximately 62” in circumference, creating a 21” diameter wreath.

Using boiling hot water or a hairdryer, heat up the cut end of the tubing and insert the coupling to connect the tubing together. Let cool.

Make your Cotton Jersey Pulls from t-shirts or scraps. Once the individual pulls are complete, tie them end-to-end with a square knot to create one very long rope. You may want to roll this long rope of Cotton Jersey Pulls together into a Yarn Ball to facilitate the wrapping process, as this project takes yards and yards and yards of ropes. The wreath shown here is approximately 21” in diameter and requires approximately 72 yards of ropes.

Simply tie one end of your Cotton Jersey Pull to the base with an overhand knot, or a slip knot, or any other knot of your design that will secure the first end to the base. Proceed to wrap your wreath base with cotton ropes and continue to wrap until the entire surface is covered. For the wreaths shown, we used multitudes of strategically placed slip knots (as in our knotted necklace—watch a video on how we make these knots at Creativebug), finger crochet ropes of cotton jersey, and simple macramé knots.


For a hanger, use a doubled strand of a long Cotton Jersey Pull to wrap around one side of the wreath; secure in place with a slip knot close to the outside edge of the wreath and another slip knot at the top of your rope, and hang (or gift).


You may also wrap your wreath base with cotton jersey scraps before adding your Cotton Jersey Pulls. In this case, you will use the pulls to completely lash the fabric around your wreath. Try to keep fabric stretched and smooth as you work around the circle. You will find it easier if you lash approximately 3 inches apart and then work around the entire circle again and again.

You will find other wreath ideas here, here, here, and here.

Happy Days from all of us @ Alabama Chanin


The Camisole Apron is an embellished version of an apron my grandmother wore nearly every day for most of her life. It is beautiful and incredibly practical—especially for those of us that need full-coverage protection in the kitchen. This kit—created from our Camisole Dress pattern from Alabama Studio Style—is fitted for a woman’s body and features a large, two-sided pocket across the front.


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Since the launch of Alabama Studio Style, our DIY Eyelet + Angie Throw (also known in my family as a “couch saver”) has been a favorite do-it-yourself kit among home sewers and our workshop participants alike. Today we introduce another design option for this project: the Polka Dot throw. This 36” x 48” throw, made from our medium-weight 100% organic cotton jersey, is patterned with our Medium Polka Dot Stencil and can be worked in a variety of techniques. The throw is shown here sewn in alternating double-rows of quilting, appliqué, and reverse appliqué, and then finished with a blanket stitch that runs around the entire outside edge. Find instructions for all of these techniques and more in our Alabama Stitch Book, Alabama Studio Style, and/or Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.

Design your own throw with our Custom DIY option.

From Alabama Studio Style:

Couch savers were a permanent fixture in my grandmother’s home. All manner of crocheted, quilted, and plain fabrics were safety-pinned to upholstered couch backs as well as the arms and heads of chairs in order to protect the fabric from undue wear and tear. In homage to Gramperkins, who taught me just about everything I love about domesticity, I created this couch saver. To make one of your own, cut a 36” x 48” piece of cotton jersey and embellish as shown. I love to read, relax, and watch movies in bed rather than on my couch, so that is where I display and enjoy this beautiful work.


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We’ve written before about the importance of color – from a cultural standpoint and a design perspective. At Alabama Chanin, we tend to embrace more muted tones for our design color palette. Muted colors have a reduced intensity, so any saturated color stands out in comparison.  We are drawn toward natural tones and some of our fabrics are colored with natural dyes to create rich, pure shades of color.

When it comes to individual style, our feelings about color can be personal; a color can make you feel happy or sad, energetic or depressed. Colors can transmit mood, thought, and feeling. When discussing the best way to exhibit the color options for our DIY projects, Olivia – a member of our design team – suggested that we approach the display as an art project. The result of her work, this wrapped canvas, is beautiful, simple, and focuses the viewer’s attention directly on color. Anything else you take from this, like your thoughts on color, is personal.


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The Swatch of the Month for April allows you the opportunity to experiment with a basic, traditional appliqué technique in our Anna’s Garden stencil design. Appliqué is a way of “applying” one fabric on top of another. We use appliqué for many reasons – to add color, texture, dimension, and more elaborate design work to a piece. You can use any number of stitches to appliqué your top design to the bottom fabric. Here, we demonstrate the most common way that we add an appliquéd element to a base fabric: a simple parallel whipstitch.

Detailed instructions on appliqué techniques can be found in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. Match up each appliqué shape with its correct position as you cut it to avoid creating a complicated puzzle for yourself. Take care to position your appliqué pieces precisely by pinning each cut shape of the stenciled design into place. Then, stitch each appliqué shape to your fabric using a parallel whipstitch, which will attach your appliqué pieces securely.


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In early May, we will be traveling to Montgomery, Alabama, to participate in the second annual Southern Makers event. Southern Makers is a one-day affair that celebrates innovation and creativity of all types in Alabama. From panel discussions and artist talks, to cooking demonstrations and workshops, Southern Makers highlights some of the top talent working throughout the Southeast.

This year, Alabama Chanin will be hosting a DIY Chair Workshop. This workshop offers guests the opportunity to work with Natalie and her team to repurpose a selection of gently used chairs using fabric, paint, stencils, and an assortment of tools. Guests will choose a chair to repurpose on a first come, first served basis. An assortment of tools and materials will be available for use; however, you are welcome to bring your own chair and materials.


This workshop models itself after Alabama Chanin’s Makeshift workshop series: Crafting Design, featured in the New York Times. Also, the Woven Farm Chairs project found in our first book, Alabama Studio Style, repairs old chairs using cotton-jersey pulls made from fabric scraps. The workshop will cover a range of topics including craft, design, and DIY.

Saturday, May 3, 2014 from 1:00pm – 3:00pm

The Union Station Train Shed (Downtown)
300 Water Street
Montgomery, AL 36104

For more information, contact: workshops(at)alabamachanin.com, or call: +1.256.760.1090.

There will also be a Market Place Bazaar at this year’s event, featuring wares and goods from talented southern artisans and chefs (including an Alabama Chanin Pop-Up Shop). Stay tuned…


Each Thursday on the Journal we post DIY projects and ideas. On Thursdays following our highlight of the Swatch of the Month, we will be creating projects made from our completed swatches as a source of inspiration for those of you following along. At Alabama Chanin, swatches start out as a design concept for new collections, but as we have discovered over the years, you can do almost anything with them.

We have chosen to take the swatches from the past three months and create decorative pillows. We re-worked the swatches from January, February, and March using the Neutrals color scheme, in order to create a cohesive look for the entire project. Follow the instructions for creating a pillow on page 109 of Alabama Studio Style, making accommodations for the size of your chosen pillow.

Whatever their size, these pillows make great accents for a couch, chair, or bed. I love them in simple color-blocked versions and, as we’ve done here, with the front side embellished with swatches.

March’s swatch, the Beaded Fern, is appliqued to a 12” x 20” double-layer White pillow, lined with White piping, with a whipstitch and Dogwood thread.


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I’ve kept a journal, or some type of notebook, on and off since I was fifteen years old. My current journal is full of messages, reminders, sketches, and sweet notes and drawings I’ve collected from Maggie over the past few weeks—which, since Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, includes a lot of heart-shaped and heart-adorned things.

I first started making these covers for well-worn (and well-loved) books. Soon, most of my binders, notebooks, and journals had covers, as well. Each time I retire a journal to my shelves, I slip a new one into my hand-sewn cover.


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February’s Swatch of the Month illustrates a variation on Alabama Chanin’s basic reverse appliqué technique in our Anna’s Garden design. With a membership in our Swatch of the Month Club, you can try out a different technique each month. You may purchase a Swatch of the Month membership at any point in the year and will receive all swatches from previous months. Follow along on the Journal as we demonstrate some of our most popular embroidery and embellishment techniques.

This photograph shows the second installment of the year: outside reverse appliqué. View January’s swatch—basic reverse appliqué—here. Outside reverse appliqué is very similar to basic reverse appliqué. The only difference between the two techniques is that outside appliqué does not leave any textile paint on the fabric.

Each Swatch of the Month kit comes ready-to-sew with all of the notions needed to complete the project. Just provide your own needles, pins, and scissors. Techniques and instruction can be found in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.


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This holiday season, as part of our Handmade Holiday collection, we are offering a DIY tree skirt kit that features our Anna’s Garden design in a negative reverse appliqué, and coordinates beautifully with our Natural Appliqué Stockings.

This project was inspired by the custom tree skirt we created for the official White House Christmas tree in 2009. The tree skirt, which measured 14 feet in diameter and was embellished with our Magdalena stencil, was completed in three weeks by 22 Alabama Chanin artisans. I can’t believe it has been four years since we designed the blue and white skirt for the Obamas’ first winter in the White House. Now, the skirt is archived with other previous White House holiday decorations in the Smithsonian Institute.

The Anna’s Garden Tree Skirt measures 48” in diameter and can be customized to match your style and holiday décor.


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Holidays often mean family visits, friends and neighbors stopping by unannounced, parties, and dinners. But, all of this merriment can come with a bit of chaos, rushing around, and readying for all of these events. Avoiding clutter may be impossible, but there are easy ways to help make your home look holiday ready at a moment’s notice. Our DIY Round Facets Pillow kit is part of our limited-time Handmade Holiday collection and is a small enough project to complete before the holiday season begins in earnest.

The 12” round pillow is based on a pattern from Alabama Studio Style and features our 2013 Holiday Facets stencil with reverse appliqué, eyelet embroidery, and beading.


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Pumpkin carving has a deep-rooted history in American culture. As a child, my family always used the butcher knife/three-triangles-and-a-mouth method. Today, there are specialized carving tools available from a range of sources. Martha Stewart, a lover of all things Halloween, has brought pumpkin carving to a new level, offering creative designs and techniques. Meanwhile, Maggie’s dad, Butch, looks for the strangest pumpkins available and stacks them in towering sculptures before Halloween, and then plants rows and rows of the leftover seeds in his garden after the holiday.


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The holidays offer a unique opportunity for each of us to spend a little bit of time and energy creating for those we love. If you are a maker, you may innately understand the value of a handmade gift. Creating presents an avenue for you to express your love and admiration in the most personal of ways. Receiving a handmade gift often feels like an honor; you are touched to know that someone cared enough to spend time creating something specifically for you.

We at Alabama Chanin believe that the act of making can move beyond craft, into another space that includes design and fashion – without losing the personal elements of creating something by hand. Our Handmade Holiday collection is one way to embody this philosophy – embracing craft, style, fashion, and tradition. You can choose to make elaborate garments or home décor, or you can opt for a sentimental favorite, like this handmade holiday stocking. Holidays are the centerpieces of so many of our memories. Hand customizing something as traditional as a holiday stocking can elevate something that might otherwise be overlooked to high art.
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If any of you are like me, when preparing food, you end up with at least a modest amount of flour, eggs, or whatever you’ve cooked for dinner all over your clothes. (Close family members also know that I am notorious for dropping food, plates, and glasses.)  Anyone will acknowledge that this is not a good look when you have visitors over for coffee or dinner. I always keep several aprons on hand for myself or for visitors or little ones who want to help in the kitchen.

We also go through an incredible number of towels in our kitchen. Perhaps I’m messier than I’d like to admit (maybe I can blame that on Maggie). It seems that I always have plenty of dishes that need drying or hands that need wiping. These Tea Towels work perfectly as a napkin or a makeshift bib for messy foods, too. They can be sewn up so quickly that I keep the necessary supplies on hand in case I need a hostess gift.


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Past & Present is a collection of essays on decorative art history and DIY projects by Design Sponge columnist, Amy Azzarito. Grace Bonney, founder of the very popular Design Sponge website, first met Amy while working on a video project at the New York Public Library. The two became instant friends, as Grace was impressed with Amy’s knowledge and passion for design and the history behind it. Thus the column, Past & Present, was born. In this book, Amy highlights some of her favorite styles in the history of decorative arts and pairs her essays with advice from various designers on creating DIY projects that reflect the eras she writes about.

We chose to create one of the projects, using our 100% organic cotton jersey, to make a Shaker-style hanging lamp.


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It is generally understood that taking a shower uses less water than taking a bath. Even so, I must admit to enjoying a good soak occasionally. Either way, my bathing routine can be one of my favorite parts of the day (at least on days when I have time for more than a cat bath). Sometimes, I’ll bring my iPod and speakers into the bathroom to supply a soundtrack for my rituals of teeth brushing, face washing, and a nice scrub. Other days, my mind is busy and I get right down to business solving the world’s problems (I wish) or thinking of the perfect thing that I should have said in a conversation, after the fact. But, most of the time, it provides me with a quiet moment to myself. I recently stayed at a hotel that had the most luxurious vanity table with mirrors that showed way too much, a comfortable chair, and all the things you need to “get ready.” I swore that I was going to create this at home and, as I write this, am plotting an update.

I live in a 1950’s era home with tile floors that seem to stay cold in winter and summer, so a good bath mat is essential to this feeling of luxury. I admit to letting past bath mats get threadbare and unattractive. Many-a-time I’ve just tossed down an old towel when I couldn’t find the bath mat (or it is covered in what was left of the dog’s bath). Neither is an ideal substitute for the real thing.

Last summer, I built an outdoor shower (which definitely works better for dog baths) and I have to say, a bath mat is equally important outdoors and indoors. Below are instructions on how to make your own Alabama Chanin bath mat from our cotton jersey fabric. It’s super soft, easy to wash, absorbent, and will protect you from cold tiles or rough wood—plus, what a great way to use scraps. I’m thinking of a larger one so that the dog might even have his own.


And now that the weather has warmed and the sun is out, I can use my much loved outdoor shower. The new deck is a source of great happiness for me, and the shower is something of a dream come true.


Aluminum Crochet Hook. (We used Boye Size K/2-6.50MM)
Approximately 2 yards of 100% organic cotton jersey fabric
Olfa rotary cutter
Olfa cutting mat
18” transparent ruler

To begin, you will need approximately 2 yards of our cotton jersey fabric. Use your rotary cutter and cutting supplies to cut strips of fabric about 1/2” wide. Take the ends of these strips and pull the ends tightly. Once you have about 240 yards of pulls, tie them end to end to make one long piece. We used a square knot (right over left, then left over right) to join the ends of each pull together.

These pulls were made specifically for this project and are not as thick as our cotton jersey pulls, which are cut into approximately 1″ to 1 1/2″ strips. If you choose to experiment by using our cotton jersey pulls, keep in mind your bath mat will be thicker and require fewer pulls.

To start, chain 55 (or until you reach 22 inches), then turn and double-crochet in the 3rd stitch from the end.

For row 1, double-crochet in each stitch until the end. Turn

For row 2, chain 2 and then double-crochet in each stitch until the end; turn.

Repeat approximately 27 times, or until your piece is 16” tall.

We chose to leave the tails of the ties exposed, both for the look and the texture of the finished bath mat. Feel free to tuck them in if you prefer a cleaner look. Our bath mat measures 22” x 16”, but you can tailor your own to fit the size of your bathroom. You will simply need to adjust the length of your cotton jersey pulls to meet your needs.


Use your bath mat inside, or out. Repeated washings and use will just make the mat softer…


My friend Tasia of Belle Chevre – that wonderful goat cheese I’ve mentioned (a few times) before  –  has created Make Your Own Goat Cheese Kits. I love this idea for a Mother’s Day gift. Maybe if I let my Picky Eater help me make it, she’ll actually eat it. Kit includes everything you need, just add milk (and Mom).

Visit Belle Chevre’s beautiful new tasting room in Elkmont, Alabama.

Photography by Stephanie Schamban for Belle Chevre.


You can add texture to anything (and everything) with our Spiral embroidery technique from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. Personally, I would like to have a Spiral embroidered couch; however, my production manager just shakes his head.

Perhaps a quicker and easier place to start is with a set of the Spiral embroidered coffee cozies shown above.

Instructions for this coffee cozy below.

Spiral stencil available to download from our Maker Supplies + Stencils page here.

Spiral embroidery instructions available in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.

Time is your own.



Homemade jams are wrapped in organic cotton jersey and tied with a cotton jersey pull; these jams are the basis of our wreath for today and are ready for delivery (as soon as my son Zach’s homemade bread arrives).

As I set off for the holidays (later this afternoon), I am thankful for your support this last (big, beautiful, exciting, glorious) year and grateful for each and every one of you and our entire Alabama Chanin family.

Peace on Earth,

P.S.: Meet us back here on Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 9 am (sharp) CST for our first-ever (online) Garage Sale, featuring items from our recent sample sale, trims, notions, fabrics, DIY Kits, and treasures galore.


In the last few months, I have been given two wreaths made from living materials. The one above comes from my friend Erica Rosenberg of St. Florian Fiber Farm—just outside of Florence, Alabama. The wreath below was lovingly made by Sybil Brooke Sylvester of Wildflower Design in Birmingham, Alabama.

There are so many ways that you can use elements from your yard, your community, and your environment to make your own wreaths and decorations. Follow our new Landscape + Architecture board on Pinterest and share with us what natural materials you are using for building decorations.

Weave the name of one of the Newtown, Connecticut victims into your handmade wreaths in memorial.


I have been somewhat of an herbalist since I was a small child.  Plant names and properties have always come as second nature.  While I struggle with the names and faces of people (sometimes people I have just met can go undistinguished an hour later), I have a recall for plants that sometimes baffles. It is almost like I have a memory older than myself when it comes to leaves and weeds.

Like Juliette of the Herbs (see the clip at the bottom of this post), I have planted many a garden—across the globe—and while each garden has its own story, every garden I planted has included rosemary.  After a brief “settling in period,” this elegant (and evergreen) shrub grows tall and wide in the Alabama climate. There is an Old Wives’ Tale about perennial plants: “The first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps, the third year it leaps.” It’s true. I have two rosemary shrubs in my home that I took as small diggings from the garden of my last house—our old production office at Lovelace Crossroads. Five years later, those bushes thrive and have spiced many a lunch, dinner, and, yes, cocktail. Come back this afternoon for our Rosemary Infused Vodka recipe .

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Our studio team made this wreath almost a decade ago. While it never found its way into production, I always loved the textural quality and combination of yarn and cotton jersey fabric. I purchased it at one of our many long-ago sample sales after finding it in the bottom of a box of other holiday goodies.  Now, every holiday season, the wreath takes a proud place on my front door. (This year I hung it together with a larger fresh pine wreath.)

You will notice in the detail below that the wreath is made from our cut cotton jersey fabric in combination with crocheted elements (or appliqués).  These decorative crochet elements were also part of a long-ago collection of garments combining fabric and yarn.

Since we’ve been discovering how well fabric and yarn work together, I thought we could share another way to incorporate the two beautifully. After a bit of head scratching, we were able to re-create patterns for the hand-crocheted elements (as closely as possible).

The wreath is approximately 13” in diameter and 40” in circumference and consists of several different parts: two approximately 50” braided cotton jersey ropes, two 6” DIY Rag Boas approximately 50” long, assorted crochet elements, assorted beads, a beautiful grosgrain ribbon, and a cotton jersey pull for hanging.

Keep in mind that this project can be made with ANYTHING you have available in your home.  Substitute cotton cord or twine for our cotton jersey pulls. Substitute any appliques or trinkets you have for our hand-crocheted decorations. Add beads and bows made from grosgrain ribbon; take away the beads or add three additional bows. You may also choose to use a base for your wreath as we did in the DIY Organic Wrapped Wreath and lash your Rag Boa and Braided Ropes to that base.

Do what makes you feel good.


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I have to note that we started writing holiday posts about wreath making before the tragic massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday morning.  It is incomprehensible for all of us to understand how that community will make it through the upcoming holiday season and beyond.  For me, senseless tragedy can rarely be fully processed.

How strange that one of the traditional emblems of our holiday season—the wreath—is also a universal symbol of mourning.  Both are traditions that seem to have grown out of ancient times and are simply variations of the never-ending ring that, on a deeper level, symbolizes the circle of life. You can find wreaths made as crowns of precious metals and gemstones, of bay leaves for athletes, of straw or stones, as daisy chains made by children, and as the rings of light that we associate with the halo.

We continue our holiday posts today, keeping the families of Newtown, Connecticut in our hearts. Over the coming days, you will find a series of wreaths that we dedicate to them.

While there is no explaining such a tragedy, sometimes the act of making (or doing) can help us overcome the despair we suffer for the senseless heartbreaking acts of this world.

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Some months back, a bowl of tea towels became a permanent installation on my kitchen table. We use them as napkins for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and just about every moment in between.

I found one in the car yesterday that had served as an impromptu placemat for one of my daughter, Maggie’s fruit pops. I also used them as burp cloths and bibs when she was younger.

Purchase a set here or make some yourself using the simple instructions from Alabama Stitch Book. There are colors and styles to match any kitchen. If you are like me, you will find endless uses for them.


From Alabama Stitch Book:

“Tea towels were originally handmade lined cloths specifically designed for English ladies to use to dry their teapots and cups after washing them. With the advent of the Industrial Revolution and textile manufacturing, machine-made versions of these towels became readily available, and consequently they became a more “disposable” item. However, women like my grandmothers still chose to make their own. I have inherited some of their tea towels, which they made from flour sacks they cut into rectangles, embroidered, and beautifully finished on the edges. My grandmothers used these towels in bread baskets, as tray linters, and as little gifts for friends and neighbors. One of my grandfathers used one of these towels as his napkin at just about every meal of his married life.”



Crocheting was one of my first creative outlets, once I felt the distinct urge to make. When I had a crochet hook in hand, making hats, scarves, bags, whatever I might need, the process came to me like second nature.  Often, I couldn’t find patterns to fit what I needed so I ended up making them myself, using trial and error. When Natalie asked me to review the book, So Pretty! Crochet! Inspiration and Instructions for 24 Stylish Projects, I was hesitant; I felt like I had already seen every book and pattern on the market. For me, crochet books rarely used the right kind of yarn, they were at times overly wordy, the photos weren’t always helpful, the patterns were sometimes hard to read, etc. As you can tell, I’m a harsh critic when it comes to this type of book.

However, as I scanned through the pages of So Pretty! Crochet, I felt inspired. We adapted a pattern from this book to make the nesting bowls found on page 115. Instead of using the cotton yarn they suggest, we made our own yarn out of ½ inch strips of the organic cotton jersey fabric that we use to make our yarn balls. The bowls seemed a unique use for our scrap materials. The instructions in the book are easy to follow and exact, when using yarn. Our sizing is slightly different because we used cotton jersey rope rather than cotton yarn, but it doesn’t cause much of a problem. I used the size crochet hook they suggested, but you may want to experiment to see which size hook works best for you.

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Originally featured in Alabama Stitch Book in reverse-appliqué, these simple tea towels can be given a new look using what is essentially the opposite technique – applique .

For this project, our design choices include one Navy Tea Towel with Natural appliqué, whip-stitched with White Button Craft thread, and one Natural Tea Towel with Navy appliqué, whip-stitched with Navy Button Craft thread.

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I have had a set of cotton twill curtains in my house for years. I don’t really remember where I bought them anymore; they have just been a part of my home for ages. This spring, I got a set of new set of (more energy efficient) French doors to replace the 1950s era sliding glass doors that open from my kitchen to the back patio.

Because the curtain rod now needed to be moved, I took the cotton twill curtains down for a wash – and I decided to decorate them.

Applique Curtain- DIY (8)

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As we posted last Tuesday, I highly recommend that you start a library to document your design work. As you create your samples, make them the same size so that your (master) pieces can be easily stored. And even if you don’t want to keep the samples for posterity, you can work towards making a Sampler Throw like the one shown above. As we develop our many fabrics, it often happens that a particular sample, as beautiful as it may be, just doesn’t fit neatly into one of our Fabric Swatch Books or collections. That was the case with the swatches that became the basis for this Sampler Throw. You may even find that you want to make the Sampler Throw not as a way of developing different fabric swatches, but just because it’s a beautiful and easy project. Either way, I urge you to explore our stencils, colors, techniques, and stitches to sustain rewarding design experiences.

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A big THANK YOU to Vogue for including our hand-sewn Indigo Star Quilt in this month’s issue.


Thank you notes are an integral part of a Southern woman’s upbringing. We are taught to be grateful, always say please and thank you, and appreciate the many gifts in life. This is how I was raised and this is how I choose to raise my daughter Maggie. I want her to grow up with a grateful manner. I want her to be thankful for all that life has to offer.

However in this busy day-and-age, I often forget or don’t seem to find time for a personal, hand-written thank you note. I plan to remedy that situation and I’m just now getting to my holiday thank you list. To those on my list, please be patient with us. We WILL make more time to sit with pen, scissors, and paper over the next weeks.

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My daughter received a sandwich wrap similar to these for her birthday two years ago and it quickly became a treasured item in our household (Thank you Carrie and Michael).  So treasured, in fact, that we have almost worn it out.  With back-to-school this year, I realized that we need many of these in our kitchen – in fact, one for every day.

We used scraps of medium-weight 100% cotton jersey in ochre, light grey, and faded leaves from our studio to make the wraps pictured here.  They are lined with a PUL fabric (found at our local fabric store), but I have also used wax paper as a liner for a particularly messy sandwich.

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Maggie’s new school is hosting their annual Fall Festival tomorrow and each of the classes was asked to make a project to donate to a silent auction.  The Class Moms are asked to help organize this and (as I am one of the two responsible) I, of course, suggested that we make a quilt. To be honest, it just seemed the path of least resistance at the time.  However, this project has become so lovely that we decided to share it as our “Quilt of the Month #3.”

We simply cut blocks of organic cotton jersey from white, cream and tea and had the class (in conjunction with their 4th grade buddies) draw pictures of “Family & Friends.” The project was spread out over a few mornings – just thirty minutes each of the mornings before the day started. The kids had a great time (were asking for more) and the results were outstanding.

We used Crayola Fabric Markers for the drawings and then added little bits of embroidery, appliqué and reverse appliqué from Alabama Stitch Book and Alabama Studio Style.

Everyone who has been in our studio is amazed.  I wish that I had been collecting Maggie’s drawings since she was born to make a quilt for her (well, myself).  And I asked Maggie to start holiday themed blocks last week with trees, presents, snow, etc.  Can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Follow the instructions below to make your own Friendship Quilt and wish us luck tomorrow at the silent auction!

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I have always loved quilt tops and have collected them for many years from thrift stores and yard sales. The problem with these beautiful hand-sewn tops is that it is impossible to use them until they have been quilted as the delicate woven fabrics fall apart when washed. Not so with our 100% organic cotton jersey, Alabama Indigo and Faded Leaves Jersey fabrics.

Our quilt this month is inspired by one of my favorite antique quilt tops and sewn to be the perfect lightweight cover. Made with our cotton-jersey in a single layer and a range of our Indigo, the quilt is sewn with our floating seams – described in both Alabama Stitch Book and Alabama Studio Style which give the effect those antique quilt tops. However, this technique eliminates the need to finish raw edges which will roll beautifully with the first washing.

The back of the is also very beautiful with the clean finished edges:

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Our copies of Alabama Studio Style are arriving to our studio today and will be shipping out today and tomorrow!

Thank you to everyone who pre-ordered. As a thank you, all of the pre-ordered books are being shipped with a little gift of a yard from our Green Organic cotton jacquard and inspiration for a project using both Alabama Studio Style and Alabama Stitch Book.

This Green Organic cotton jacquard is one of my favorite fabrics and the one that I used to make the Chair Pillow pictured above. Make one for your home by using the Chair Pillow instructions starting on page 152 of Alabama Studio Style along with appliqué instructions from page 62 of Alabama Stitch Book.

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