Tag Archives: DIY Kits



The School of Making’s Custom DIY program has always aimed to help you express your creativity and embrace your own personal style, allowing you to choose every element of your garments and accessories. As we have done in the past, we continue to offer each Custom DIY Kit as a base kit, which we cut out and stencil according to your design choices—plus we offer you notions, if you need any, at a discount. You can use our Thread and Embroidery Calculator and Custom DIY Guide to help you make your decisions.


We are updating our Custom DIY offerings to include the 2018 Build a Wardrobe garments—Panel Tank, Palazzo Pant, Frances Top, and Ezra Coat—plus each pattern variation. We have also added a few new options, including the Abstract and Canopy stencils, the fabric color Verdant, and our new Variegated Embroidery Floss colors.

To make it easier for you to customize your selections, the DIY order form can send you directly to your category of choice: Tops + Dresses, Bottoms + Outerwear, and Accessories, Home, + Other. The Custom DIY Guide will easily walk you through the ordering process, based on category. As always, we offer free domestic ground shipping for each Custom DIY Kit.

We invite you to browse our Journal for inspiration or start the customization process here.

Please share all of your projects with us using the hashtag #theschoolofmaking on Instagram, and join The School of Making Stitchalong on Facebook.



Custom DIY has always been a resource to design your own garments and accessories—personalizing everything from fabric and thread color to stencil design and treatments. Now, you have even more control over what you receive once you place your Custom DIY Kit order.

The new programming provides even further customization, allowing you to take into account the notions and supplies you already have in your sewing kit. You will still choose your project, size (if applicable), fabric colors, treatment, and stencil, but you now have the option to get only what you need. Each Custom DIY Kit is now available as a base kit—with your cut-out project stenciled in your design of choice—with the option to add on any notions you need for an additional discounted cost. Our new Thread and Embroidery Calculator is available online here and also in the Custom DIY Guide. Use this chart to help you determine how many spools of each you’ll need for all your sewing projects from The School of Making. As always, shipping is free for all Custom DIY Kits.


In addition to the new “à la carte” ordering, fresh styles have been added from 2017 Build a Wardrobe. All variations of the Factory Dress, Car Coat, Wrap Dress, and Drawstring Pant patterns are now available as well as the Variegated Stripe stencil from The Geometry of Hand-Sewing.

Find inspiration for fabric treatments, and start customizing your project here.

Share all of your projects with us using the hashtag #theschoolofmaking on Instagram, and join The School of Making Stitchalong on Facebook.



At The School of Making and Alabama Chanin, sustainability is a top priority. We strive to be a zero-waste company and leave the smallest environmental footprint possible. Recently, our team has been working behind the scenes to elevate our DIY offerings and take larger strides toward a more environmentally friendly future.

Today, we introduce new and improved packaging for The School of Making products that greatly cut down on the use of and need for plastic in our studio—and in your home. We’ve talked before about the scraps that come from our Building 14 facility and production studio, and we’re continually looking for new and innovative ways to use them. New thread packaging and bags for DIY kits, the Indigo Dye Kit, and our updated Essential Sewing Kit have been created by using leftover scraps from garments and home goods.

Plastic has been replaced elsewhere by more sustainable options such as glass and recycled paper. Beads, sequins, and our newly added Armor Beads are now available in glass Weck jars for easy storage and display in your home studio. Needles now come in three varieties—Sewing, Beading, and Embroidery—and ship to you in a reusable glass vial. Also, incorporated into our new packaging program are recycled pillow boxes made regionally in Nashville. These pillow boxes have multiple uses—providing protection to small glass vials and packaging a few different products—cutting down on our need to keep excess materials on hand.

Our team has put a lot of thought and care into choosing more sustainable options and providing our customers with an elevated selection of notions and tools. See all the updated packaging here.


The Magdalena Classic Jacket DIY Kit is the newest addition to our (recently updated) DIY Collection. Featured in Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns, our Classic Jacket hits at the hip and has a relaxed fit—making it a great everyday jacket. This kit comes with everything you’ll need (including variegated embroidery floss that we’ll match for you). We’ve chosen our Magdalena stencil in a backstitch quilted technique.



Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight organic cotton jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – Navy
Fabric color for inner layer – Navy
Button Craft thread – Navy
Embroidery floss – Black variegated
Textile paint color – Slate
Stencil – Magdalena
Technique – Backstitch quilted
Knots – Inside
Seams – Inside felled
Binding stitch – Cretan stitch

You can also choose to customize this kit through our Custom DIY—we offer shorter and longer jacket kits ranging from cardigan to coat.

Follow us on Instagram @theschoolofmaking and be sure to tag your projects #theschoolofmaking




Last October, we launched our Host A Party program to expand the sense of fellowship we create here at The Factory through our workshops, dinners, and events by inviting friends and colleagues to host their own workshop and event (surrounded by friends, family, and good food).

When you decide to host a sewing party for The School of Making, you organize a group of 6 or more friends, gathering the group’s project selection and payment, and provide a location and refreshments to your liking. You and your group choose one project—with difficulty levels ranging from beginner to advanced. While everyone makes the same project, each group member can choose their own size, fabric color, and stencil design. As organizer and host, your kit is free. All your guests will receive a 20% discount off the cost of their kits. We encourage you to get creative as you provide hospitality, instruction, and refreshments for your guests.


Host A Party has been bringing friends and family together under our mission of sewing education for just over a year, and we are excited to announce updates to the program. We have reveled in the stories, listened to feedback, and are now expanding the DIY Kit offerings to include the Tank Dress, Fitted Top, Bucket Hat, and Journal Cover—catering to all skill levels. We also have a selection of our favorite stencils available to customize each kit, and we’ve added a new set of colorways in addition to updating our 25 tonal colorway options.

Host your own sewing party by contacting us at workshops (at) alabamachanin.com

Read our tips for hosting your own party on our Journal.

Shop DIY Sewing Kits from The School of Making.

And follow us at @theschoolofmaking and tag your sewing party with #theschoolofmaking and #hostaparty2017


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


With a number of things brides could worry about on their wedding day, feeling comfortable and beautiful shouldn’t be one of them. Our organic cotton jersey allows that comfort and ease on your wedding day, while still looking elegant.

We have a wide range of dresses, skirts, tops, and accessories available through Custom DIY and our Studio Book Series that would allow any bride to create their own bridal attire, fully customized to their specifications. Each DIY kit comes cut and ready-to-sew with all of the fabric and notions needed. Or if you prefer do it yourself start-to-finish, we have an extensive selection of fabrics, notions, patterns, and books available through The School of Making.

Below, we’ve chosen some of our favorite looks from past bridal collections that could be recreated using our Custom DIY form or one of our patterns—see the design choices below each look for details on how to recreate the pieces. Or, use the images as inspiration to create your own look, the possibilities are endless with Custom DIY and the patterns and instructions available in our Studio Book Series.


Garment – Fitted Dress
Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight organic cotton jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – White
Fabric color for inner layer – White
Button Craft thread – White #1
Embroidery floss – White
Textile paint color – Putty
Stencil – Angie’s Fall
Beads – Bugle beads
Bead color – White
Technique – Special Angie’s Fall – beading and relief appliqué
Knots – Inside
Seams – Inside felled
Binding stitch – Cretan stitch

Garment – Long Skirt
Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight organic cotton jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – White
Fabric color for inner layer – White
Button Craft thread – White #1
Textile paint color – Putty
Stencil – Anna’s Garden
Technique – Reverse appliqué
Knots – Inside
Seams – Inside felled
Fold-over elastic – White
Binding stitch – Zig Zag stitch

Garment – Bolero with Long Fluted Sleeve
Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight organic cotton jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – White
Fabric color for inner layer – White
Button Craft thread – White #1
Knots – Inside
Seams – Inside felled
Binding stitch – Cretan stitch


Garment – Long Tank Dress
Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight organic cotton jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – White
Fabric color for inner layer – White
Button Craft thread – White #1
Textile paint color – Putty
Stencil – Anna’s Garden
Technique – Negative reverse appliqué
Knots – Inside
Seams – Inside felled
Binding stitch – Cretan stitch

Garment – Sleeveless Bolero
Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight organic cotton jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – White
Fabric color for inner layer – White
Button Craft thread – White #1
Embroidery floss – White
Textile paint color – Putty
Stencil – Spiral
Technique – Alabama Fur
Knots – Outside
Seams – Inside felled
Binding stitch – Cretan stitch


Garment – Sleeveless Bolero
Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight organic cotton jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – Sand
Fabric color for inner layer – White
Fabric color for appliqué layer – White
Button Craft thread – White #1 + Dogwood #155
Embroidery floss – White
Textile paint color – Pearl Silver
Stencil – Angie’s Fall
Beads – Bugle beads
Bead color – White
Technique – Eyelet + Angie
Knots – Inside
Seams – Inside felled
Binding stitch – Herringbone stitch


Garment – Maggie Top
Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight organic cotton jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – White
Button Craft thread – White #1
Knots – Inside
Seams – Inside felled
Binding stitch – Cretan stitch

Garment – Long Skirt
Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight organic cotton jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – White
Fabric color for inner layer – White
Button Craft thread – White #1
Textile paint color – Pearl Silver
Stencil – Facets
Technique – Negative reverse appliqué
Knots – Outside
Seams – Inside felled
Fold-over elastic – White
Binding stitch – Zig Zag stitch


December has arrived, and with it come holiday parties, family get-togethers, and plenty of reasons to cook and bake. The Factory’s calendar is a little less packed this month, simply because we all have so much to do at home and with our families.

But—great news! December is National Egg Nog Month. No matter what you celebrate or when, December offers plenty of opportunities to participate. (We recommend Martha Stewart’s classic recipe—but drink with caution. Martha’s recipe packs a punch!)

December 3 – Café Nights: Wine Cocktails with Zach.  Join Chef Zach at the Factory Café for specialty drinks and cocktails. Small Bites + Snacks will also be available for purchase.

December 7 – The final First Monday @ The Factory of the year, from 8:30am – 11:30am. Bring your projects and sit, share, sew—and make plans for next year’s to-dos.

December 10 – Sip + Sew @ The Factory. Share your work from the year while enjoying some beer, wine, or your beverage of choice.

December 12 – National Ambrosia Day. An entire day to celebrate your favorite aunt’s favorite holiday dish!

December 21 – Winter Solstice. Today, the Northern Hemisphere is pointed at its furthest distance from the sun, bringing less light and colder temperatures. For those of us on the northern part of the planet, the shortest day of the year comes at the solstice. After today, the days will get longer and the nights shorter. This year’s winter solstice will occur at exactly 10:49pm CST.

December 24 + 25 – Alabama Chanin offices and The Factory are closed for the Christmas holidays.

December 27 – National Fruitcake Day. We recommend celebrating with one of Zingerman’s mail order offerings.

December 31 & January 1 – Alabama Chanin offices and The Factory close at 2pm on New Year’s Eve and are closed for New Year’s Day.

We have now reached the end of 2015’s Swatch of the Month Club with this month’s Inked and Quilted swatch in our Angie’s Fall stencil. Detailed instructions are available on page 56 of Alabama Studio Style. You can see additional options for varying your stencil effect with marker on pages 18 – 19 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.



Fabric – 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey
Top layer fabric color – Dove
Backing layer fabric color – Dove
Stencil – Angie’s Fall
Treatment – Inked and Quilted
Textile paint – Pearl Slate
Button Craft Thread – Slate #26

If you’ve finished each of our swatches (or have every intention of finishing), you might want to use them to create one of our beautiful archived projects—like the DIY Swatch Wrap or the stunning Sampler Block Quilt. Those of you who have completed swatches—please share your creations with us. Thanks for stitching along with us this year and we look forward to sharing more projects with you in the New Year.

Follow along on social media and on our Journal with the hashtags:


October is here and—finally—we are beginning to get a reprieve from the heat of summer. By now, my house has gotten back into the school, work, homework, bedtime routine. (I think every year Maggie manages to negotiate a later bedtime, while mine gets earlier and earlier.) October is one of my favorite months, because it starts to really look and feel like autumn. Leaves are changing and falling, and backyard fire pits are put to regular use. If you want to visit and make a drive down the Natchez Trace, this is a great month to choose.

We hope you have been enjoying the new hours, offerings, and libations at The Factory. October is National Cookbook Month and, given our obsession with cookbooks, we have plenty to flip through and share. Some of our current favorites include the Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook, Heritage by Sean Brock, Pure Pork Awesomeness by Kevin Gillespie, Anne Quatrano’s Summerland, Hugh Acheson’s The Broad Fork, and Steven Satterfield’s Root to Leaf (among others).

As for the rest of the month, here’s what it looks like for us:

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The months of June and July were wonderful and hectic in lots of beautiful and fun ways. There was plenty of travel, including our trip to Blackberry Farm and the cross-country train trip that Maggie and I took to San Francisco. With August comes a welcome bit of calm, just before our house gets back into the more regimented groove of the school year. (I hear the collective sigh of, “Where did the summer go?”)

Even though they weren’t as fastidiously tended to as I would have liked, my tomato plants are still producing a few beauties. I’m savoring these all while questioning if I put up enough for the coming year and knowing that I didn’t.

But, if there’s some solace to be had it’s that peach season has arrived—and August is in fact National Peach Month. I’m going to dust off my favorite peach ginger smoothie recipe, throw some peaches on the grill, and hope that maybe Lisa Donovan will send over some of her famous peach hand pies. (A girl can hope.) For those in search of a perfect peach-related cocktail, The Peach Truck offers this recipe for Party Peach Mojitos.

Our Alabama on Alabama exhibit @ Heath Ceramics will continue through August 23rd, so you still have time to visit if you have not already.

August 3 – National Watermelon Day. I think we will slice one up on the back deck, pin on some napkin bibs, and get messy.

August 8 – I laughed out loud when I read that this day is known as “Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day”. Anyone who has ever been overly blessed with their zucchini and squash harvests knows exactly what this means…

August 9 – Wrapping up our Studio Style DIY Trunk Show at A Verb for Keeping Warm in Oakland, California.

August 26 – Women’s Equality Day, commemorating the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting women the right to vote. If you are not registered to vote, there is no better day than today.

August 27 – We’re happy to announce our upcoming Friends of the Café Dinner @ The Factory with chef Rob McDaniel. A fundraiser for the Southern Foodways Alliance and in celebration of the Billy Reid Shindig.

Hopefully, you can find some downtime this month to work on the August Swatch of the Month—embroidery, appliqué, and reverse appliqué in our Small Polka Dot stencil.

For detailed instructions and photographs please consult Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. It has information on each technique and its variations.

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We wrote earlier this week about scale and patterns, and how we reduced and enlarged our New Leaves stencil artwork to create graphic variations of the design. One of our projects that looks at scale is a series of  DIY Unisex T-shirts. The shirts feature our New Leaves stencil in five different sizes and can be worked in a variety of techniques including quilting, reverse appliqué, backstitch reverse appliqué, and negative reverse appliqué. We used a chain stitch for the DIY Mori and DIY Novus T-shirts, the first time this technique example has been shown in our DIY Sewing Kits.


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I am happy to greet May, partly because April came “as advertised”—dropping buckets of rain—but also because May is filled with so many good things. So many, in fact, that I might feel differently by month’s end, but for now I am ready. There are workshops, both at home and afar. Maggie finishes school at the end of the month, which (in her mind) means summer has begun and it’s time for a backyard barbecue. (May is, after all, National Barbecue Month.)

Here is what the schedule looks like for the rest of the month:

May 10: Mother’s Day (the second Sunday of May). We are hosting our first-ever Mother’s Day Brunch at the Factory Café.

May 11: On Design: In the Kitchen + Biscuits @ The Factory

May 14: One-Day Studio Stenciling + Pattern Design Workshop @ The Factory.

May 15 – 17: Classic Studio Weekend Workshop here @ The Factory.

May 17: Sunday Brunch: Pies + Casseroles, a Celebration of the Southern Oven—a Makeshift | Friends of the Café fundraiser for Jones Valley Teaching Farm featuring acclaimed pastry chefs (and all-around amazing women) Angie Mosier and Lisa Donovan. Seating is limited, so purchase yours today.

May 20: Stay up late for David Letterman’s final Late Show.

May 21: Two-Hour Sewing Workshop and Book Signing at LF8 in NYC.

May 25: Memorial Day—in remembrance of those who died in service to our country. Many in our community still refer to this day as Decoration Day and spend time picnicking and cleaning or decorating memorial plots and monuments.

May 26: National Biscuit Day. While this is celebrated daily in many Southern kitchens, it is nice to know that the mighty biscuit has its own day to shine.

May 28: Last day of the school year for Maggie.

Somehow, in the middle of all this madness, I have to find time to transplant my tomatoes and okra, and tend the rest of the garden. Wish me luck.

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Natalie’s Apron—now available for purchase as a downloadable sewing pattern from our Studio Books + Patterns —is a version of an apron my grandmother wore nearly every day of her life. The cut of the apron was adapted from the shape of our Camisole Dress pattern from Alabama Studio Style, and it features an optional large, two-sided pocket across the front. The seaming and wide-sweeping hem make this apron a comfortable and flattering fit for every woman’s body. It is beautiful and incredibly practical—especially for those of us that need full-coverage protection in the kitchen (and a large pocket to keep up with the bits of everyday life). I also wear a version of this apron when I help out in our café—pocket filled with pens, pencils, papers, phones, and hair ties.

Due to the popularity of this style (and after many requests), we’ve made this sewing pattern available for download—following our DIY Unisex T-shirt. The pattern comes with both full-scale or tiled-for-printing versions. See our post about printing a pattern here.


Natalie's Apron - Photographer Abraham Rowe - Alabama Chanin

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With the arrival of April (and the announcement of our partnership with Nest), it feels as though we are finally settling into the year. April’s warmer weather is also welcomed with open arms (and horseback rides). April is a busy month.

April is National Poetry Month. Poetry lovers can begin a project using our Poetry stencil—available for download on our Maker Supplies + Stencils page or work your favorite poem or quote directly onto any garment.

Here is what’s on the horizon for April:

April 2 – International Children’s Book Day—Maggie recommends favorites by Maira Kalman.

April 5 – Easter Sunday – however you choose to celebrate, we hope you approach today with a spirit of renewal.

April 7 – Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns launches (very exciting)

April 11 – This day we host our Alabama Chanin Open House + Community Picnic, plus our One-Hour Mini-Workshops at the Factory. Spend a day with our team at The Factory. Sign up for mini-workshops on dyeing, stenciling, and/or sewing. For the potluck-style picnic, we provide barbecue and “fixins”—so bring your favorite side dish or dessert to share. The open house is free and open to the public.

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February is technically a short month, but it was so fast and furious that I had to make conscious efforts to be mindful AND productive. March looks to be just as busy, but in the best way—full of things I want to do and people I want to see.

It is National Women’s History month, so we hope you will take time to revisit some of our favorite stories of Real Women and to share your own.

Here is what March looks like for me (deep breath):

March 2 – Dr. Seuss’ birthday, now known as Read Across America day. I’m currently working on several books, among them: The Optimistic Child by Martin E. P. Seligman, Encyclopedia of Needlework by Thérèse de Dillmont (in research for a possible new book on the tools of handwork), and revisiting Mary Renault’s The Last of the Wine.

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This take on our Long Fitted Skirt—one of my longtime favorite go-to pieces—is available for a limited time in our DIY Sewing Kit Collection through The School of Making. I own many versions of this skirt in a range of colors and wear them throughout the year, from one season to the next. The Long Fitted Skirt is fitted at the waist and flares to the hem, which has a slight train in the back.

This version is worked in our Anna’s Garden design using negative reverse appliqué with our medium-weight 100% organic cotton jersey—choose your fabric and thread color. This and all of our DIY kits can be personalized to your specific design choices and worked in any technique from our books or Swatch of the Month to embellish. Create your own version using the custom DIY kit.

View all DIY Sewing Kits here.


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This Cardigan is a modified version of our Casual T-shirt Top from Alabama Studio Sewing + DesignWe’ve created the cardigan simply by cutting our t-shirt front panel down the front to create two pieces (or alternatively, you can choose not to cut the pattern on the fold). When cut this way, it creates a cardigan or cover-up from our Casual T-Shirt pattern. Produced in a double-layer, the organic cotton jersey adds warmth but not bulk.

The kit is shown here in Black and has been produced in our backstitched reverse appliqué treatment. But, this and all DIY kits can be customized for any of our embroidery techniques or embellishments. Choose your own fabric color to go with our Variegated Black embroidery floss, or you may also design your own T-Shirt Cardigan through our Custom DIY option. When purchasing this DIY kit to work as a cardigan, you may want to choose one or two sizes larger than you would normally wear, to allow for additional layering room.


DIY Magdalena Fitted Cardigan Kit
If you opt to cut your own Fitted Cardigan without a prepared kit, you will need 4 total yards of fabric—2 yards for the outer layer and 2 for the inner layer.

Basic sewing supplies: scissors, pinsneedles
Alabama Stitch BookAlabama Studio Style, or Alabama Studio Sewing + Design: All three of these books contain the basic sewing and embroidery techniques we used to embellish and construct the garment.

Instructions and photographs for backstitched reverse appliqué can be found on pages 95-97 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. You should complete all embellishment using embroidery floss, prior to constructing the garment. Use Button Craft thread, rather than embroidery floss, for construction.

Follow the instructions for the T-Shirt Top/Bolero on page 50 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.



Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight organic cotton jersey
Fabric color for outer layer – Black
Fabric color for inner layer – Black
Embroidery Floss – Black Variegated
Button Craft thread – Black #2, used for construction and binding stitch
Textile paint color – White Gold
Stencil – Magdalena
Knots – Inside
Seams – Inside felled
Binding stitch – Cretan


With the release of Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns, we offer a DIY Sewing Kit for our A-Line Dress. This dress is part of our DIY Sewing Kit Collection. Made from our medium-weight 100% organic cotton jersey, the dress is patterned with our Magdalena Stencil and shown here worked in negative reverse appliqué; however, you may choose a technique from any of our books or Swatch of the Month to embellish this kit.

The A-Line dress has been a popular style around our studio because it flatters almost every figure; in fact, we use this dress as part of our uniform for The Factory Store and Café. The kit—or the finished dress—also makes it an excellent gift, as it does not require strict measurements to fit. It is substantial enough to be worn in any weather and works as a versatile layering piece. My daily uniform consists of the A-Line Dress paired with a basic or embellished version of our Every Day Long Skirt.


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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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In 2014, we were inspired by our extensive fabric library—and readers expressed interest in trying new techniques—to create our first Swatch of the Month Club. Our library of sample swatches archives over 500 techniques, embroideries, fabric treatments, and colorways that we have experimented with or used in past and upcoming Alabama Chanin collections.

If you have visited one of our trunk shows or attended a workshop, you have likely browsed giant binders of these swatches. Each individual sample represents a small moment in our company’s history and growth—as a whole, they represent a decade of design history. In 2015, we are offering a new Swatch of the Month Club with an expanded selection of stencils and techniques. We learned a few things about this process during our 2014 run and have updated the program this year to reflect those lessons and streamline, saving packaging and reducing our carbon-footprint.

When you enroll in Swatch of the Month 2015, you will receive the full year’s necessary notions (thread, embroidery floss, and a label), along with the first month’s swatch in a beautifully wrapped box. For those who want to add additional embellishment to swatches, you have the option to add 6oz. of chop beads, 6oz. of bugle beads, and 1oz. of sequins for an extra $30—or you may choose to purchase sequins and beads separately. Select this option upon ordering and you will receive all beads, along with your notions, in your first package. After the initial shipment, we will mail your 10” x 16” fabric swatches and an informational insert via United States Postal Service (USPS) at the beginning of each month.


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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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Beginning today, we launch our new DIY Sewing Kit collection. These DIY collections are designed and sold in the same manner as our ready-to-wear collection—created through seasonal inspirations and focusing on garments and patterns that we love. Some pieces are designed in conjunction with our current Alabama Chanin collection; others are top customer picks and our own long-standing favorites.

Going forward, all of our DIY Sewing Kits will be introduced seasonally. Some old favorites will be transitioned out, while new designs will appear. Every new DIY Kit can be personalized to fit your desired embellishment or embroidery choices—so your kit of choice can be worked in any of our techniques. Of course, if we are not currently offering a DIY kit that you want, you may create your own custom DIY Kit design by mixing and matching any of our body styles, stencils, embroidery techniques, and color choices.

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Based on feedback that we have received from some of our DIY customers, we are now offering supplementary instructions in each of our DIY Kits. Each kit will be shipped with an insert that includes basic instructions, including how to “love your thread,” directions on completing basic stitches, simple construction tips, and how to add rib binding to your item. We hope that this will help make completing your DIY project easy and stress-free. As always, complete instructions for projects can be found in the Alabama Studio Book series.

We have recently been highlighting natural dyes and Alabama Chanin’s new dye house, run by our head seamstress, Diane. This project highlights the beautiful new shades of indigo that are emerging from our dye vats, shown here on one of our most popular silhouettes – the Camisole Tank. The tank can be adapted to fit almost any body type and its simple design is well suited for most stencils and embroidery techniques.

The tank is form fitting and features feminine back and necklines. It measures approximately 25” from the shoulder.

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Each month of 2014, we have been demonstrating some of our favorite embroidery techniques as part of our Swatch of the Month Club. The month of July features our satin stitch-embroidered Stars design, embellished with beads and sequins.

To highlight this stencil and technique – and as a way to celebrate Independence Day all summer long – we suggest purchasing a machine-sewn Racerback Tunic in the size of your choice and all the supplies needed to embellish your tunic with our Stars design, including our Stars stencil, Red Button Craft thread, bugle beads, chop beads, and sequins.

This project combines our hand-worked techniques with a machine-made garment. Look for more projects combining hand with machine coming soon.


The July Swatch of the Month demonstrates one of our popular beaded embroidery techniques, the Satin Stars design. This technique is highlighted in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, where you can view an in-depth fabric map of the embroidery. Use the Satin Stars design to add embellishment using either an allover or placement technique, as it works well in both small and large quantities.

An enlargeable version of this stencil can be found on page 128 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design or you can download a version from our Resources page. Transfer the stencil to your fabric using the stenciling method of choice.

Begin working the smaller star shapes first. You will fill the “arms” of each small star using a satin stitch, adding one seed bead or chop bead to each stitch. (See page 84 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design for more information on the satin stitch.) Next, you will work a beaded backstitch – adding one bugle bead to each stitch – around the inner circle of each small star shape. Fill the center circle of the small stars with full chop or seed beading.

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The Alabama Chanin Gore Skirt is one of our more popular DIY items because it is a simple design that is the perfect canvas for a wide variety of colors, stencils, and embroidery techniques. Shown here in reverse appliqué in our Magdalena design, the skirt sits low on the waist and flares to the hem—creating a beautiful, flowing silhouette.


Using our Custom DIY options, you can choose every aspect of a reverse appliqué garment to fit your style and personality. For instance, you can go for a subtle, yet beautiful tone-on-tone approach, as we have shown here. Or, you may choose a high contrast option for your backing and top layers. The Gore Skirt featured here is just one example of how you might create your own garment.

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One of our Mother’s Day Gift Guide selections, the DIY Magdalena Shawl is versatile in design and function. The Magdalena stencil is a bold design that dresses up casual wear. A shawl is a simple way to adjust to the changes in weather that tend to occur on a whim this time of year and acts as a perfect canvas to display the Magdalena design.

I like to keep a variety of shawls on hand for chilly mornings and to use as a pillow or blanket on long airplane or car rides. Depending on how you wear your shawl, it is possible that both the front and the back may be visible, showing off the intricate stitches and handwork used to finish it.


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Our classic Short Skirt is great for just about every occasion, including Mother’s Day. Whether you arrange an outing to church, a restaurant, or just a walk in the park, you can make Mom happy by making her something she’ll love.

Currently featured as part of our Mother’s Day Gift Guide, the DIY Check Skirt is the only DIY Kit pattern we currently feature using our Short Fitted Skirt pattern from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.

This version of the skirt is made using the reverse appliqué technique and is embellished with beaded eyelet details. Instructions for the Short Skirt can be found on pages 60 – 61 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. When ordering, please specify your desired top layer and thread color.

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Mother’s Day will be upon us soon, and we hope that you are all planning a way to make it a special day. Our freelance editor, Sara, says that her father always got worked up over finding her mother just the right gift. Inevitably, this stress would result in a frantic, last minute decision that wasn’t necessarily the right choice. She says that they still laugh about the year he bought her mother a calculator. (And he still insists that she said she wanted one…) Other years, her father did a much better job; Sara remembers once planting a dogwood tree just outside her mother’s kitchen window.

We appreciate that mothers come in all forms, shapes, and sizes, so this DIY Check Tied Wrap featuring our 2014 Stencil of the Year is a perfect fit for your mother, or grandmother, daughter, or friend. In the morning sunlight, it almost looks like dogwood flowers blooming.

We are offering this DIY Kit as part of our Mother’s Day Gift Guide. Make something for mom – or give her something she will enjoy making for herself.


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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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After launching our Swatch of the Month Club in January, we received several requests for a more accessible way to sample a variety of our techniques before investing in a club membership. Our commitment to listening to your feedback and, in turn, giving better service, led us to create the Starter Sewing Kit.

Our Starter Sewing Kit includes three 10” x 16” pieces of organic cotton jersey: one un-stenciled piece for your bottom layer in Black, and two additional 10” x 16” pieces in Slate and Twilight. The Slate fabric is painted on the wrong side—for use as appliqué. Use the stenciled Twilight piece for your top layer, suitable for reverse appliqué.


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Our newest men’s DIY Kit features the Check, our 2014 Stencil of the Year. The shirt is shown here worked in reverse appliqué, but there are various ways to work this stencil, including negative reverse appliqué and outside reverse appliqué, along with a variety of other techniques found in the Alabama Chanin Studio Book series.

The body of the shirt is our popular men’s classic T-shirt which has long been a unisex favorite. However, this top can be easily adapted to a women’s T-shirt – pattern and instructions for which are found in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.


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Our first workshop of the year is this Friday at The Factory in Florence. It’s not too late to register and spend the afternoon with Natalie and the Alabama Chanin team. Registration closes at noon on Wednesday, February 26.

This workshop is suited to beginner and experienced sewers alike. Work with Natalie and our Alabama Chanin DIY Kits to create a project from our Alabama Stitch Book, Alabama Studio Style, or Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. DIY Kit options for this workshop include one of the following projects: scarf, T-shirt, set of four tea towels, set of four placemats, baby blanket, onesie, apron, or journal.

After the workshop, join us in The Factory Café for Afternoon Tea (a selection of gourmet sandwiches, savory pastries, Southern-inspired sweets, and an assortment of teas and coffees). The cost of the workshop includes materials, instruction, afternoon tea, stories, and laughter.

Friday, February 28, 2014
1:30 pm – 4:30 pm

The Factory
462 Lane Drive
Florence, AL 35630


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 (or purchase an Essential Sewing Kit from our online store). Techniques and instruction can be found in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.


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January’s Swatch of the Month incorporates Alabama Chanin’s basic reverse appliqué technique with our Paisley stencil. Explore our techniques and build your skills with a membership to our Swatch of the Month Club and follow along here on the Journal.

The photograph above shows one of many options you can create when making your own swatch.

Experiment with your swatch. You can work it in reverse appliqué like we did, or use another treatment: negative reverse, backstitched reverse, quilted, or embellish with beaded stitches. Reverse appliqué can be done by beginners and experienced sewers alike and is worked on two layers of fabric: The top layer is stenciled and then stitched to the backing layer; next, part of the top layer is cut away to reveal the backing fabric underneath.

Each kit comes stenciled and ready-to-sew with all of the notions needed to complete the swatch—just provide your own needles, pins, and scissors (or purchase an essential sewing kit). Colorway options include Navy/Black (our design choice), White/Natural, Neutrals, Reds, and Blues.  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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This stuffed bunny rabbit is Alabama Chanin’s version of the old-time childhood favorite, the sock monkey. My grandmother used to make sock monkeys for all the children in our family. Each one she made took its own personality and looked different from the others. Our DIY Bunny Rabbit doll is an easy project to complete, and is a perfect handmade gift for the little ones this holiday. And each time you make this project, your bunny will take on its own unique personality, much like the well-loved sock monkeys from my childhood.

Get creative with your bunny rabbit – you can customize the fabric colors and embroidery floss, change his face to reflect any mood, or even turn him into another woodland creature. (One of our studio team members recently made a little stuffed bear by altering our pattern a bit.)

All of the instructions for this bunny, along with the pattern, are available in Alabama Stitch Book.


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This time of year, often associated with peace, may not always feel so peaceful with the chaos and frenzy that sometimes accompanies the holidays. At Alabama Chanin, we strive to practice DIY Peace, doing what we can to promote peace: in our lives, at our business, in our community, and within ourselves (body and mind).

If you are a maker, you probably have moments of peace or reflection when you create. We hope our DIY Peace Sign T-Shirt serves a small reminder to practice peace in your daily life and to slow down and enjoy the holiday season.


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I’ve written before about our Fabric Library, a collection of sample blocks and swatches that our company has created over the years. Each swatch starts out the same way, as a basic 10” x 16” rectangle of our organic cotton jersey. Then each one is embellished with embroidery, stencils, beading, and/or appliqué. These sample blocks, or swatches, are the basis for all of our designs and collections, and have become our most valuable asset, our intellectual property.



Perfect for the nature-lover in your life, our Stag T-Shirt is part of a new series of Men’s DIY projects and is currently featured in our Handmade Holiday collection.

Designed to be worn (and loved) by men and women alike, this adaptation of our basic t-shirt features a bold Stag stencil across the chest and is embellished with a reverse appliqué.

We designed our t-shirt with long sleeves for cooler weather, but you have the option to choose a short sleeve or sleeveless version as well. You also have the option to customize the backing layer fabric color to suit your (or your recipient’s) tastes.


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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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We are in the season of giving – giving thanks, giving gifts – but also of making. Perhaps you’re baking a pie, sewing a stocking, or creating a one-of-a-kind garment or handmade item full of personal touches and plenty of love. No matter what you choose to make, handmade items are certainly the best kind of gift to give and to receive.

Designed with the holidays in mind, this DIY Kit for our classic T-Shirt Top, featuring a negative reverse appliqué Paisley pattern, can be completed quickly, but has lots of detail. The pattern for this Capped Sleeve T-shirt Top is included in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design and detailed instructions for construction can be found on pages 48-49.

Use our Studio Style DIY supplies to make your own.

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The Alabama Chanin Gore Skirt has continually been a popular DIY item because it works up beautifully in any color, using any design and embroidery technique. As part of our Handmade Holiday collection, we are offering a special-edition DIY Eyelet Embroidered Gore Skirt that is perfect for any holiday gathering.

The bottom edge of the skirt is embroidered using an eyelet stitch (instructions available on page 62 of Alabama Studio Style), with bugle beads added to some of the eyelets for a touch of sparkle. The end result is a snowflake-like effect that will fit right into any holiday setting. You can choose how much or how little to embellish your skirt, as the design’s scatter effect allows for plenty of improvisation. Instructions for construction are available in Alabama Studio Style.

The completed skirt measures approximately 24” from the waist and your finishing stitches can be chosen based upon your own design aesthetic.


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The Long Coat and Short Cardigan have long been staples of our collections and are popular projects at our Weekend Workshops. For a limited time, we are offering these pieces as DIY Kits as part of our Handmade Holiday collection. Fashioned from Alabama Chanin’s classic Bolero, this is our first offering of any DIY coat pattern outside of our online Bluprint class.

Both the Long Coat and the Short Cardigan are perfect layering garments for the chilly months leading up to the busy holiday season. The Long Coat is great for cooler evenings and is a perfect option for those who want to dress up a basic garment with a statement piece. The Short Cardigan is a favorite casual cover-up at Alabama Chanin, and is a good alternative to the Bolero for those who prefer a bit more coverage.


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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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As part of our Handmade Holiday 2013 selection, we are offering limited edition Holiday DIY Kits. Look for brand new items, some favorites from the past, and special, holiday picks. Alabama Chanin believes that holiday gifts mean more when they are handmade.

This DIY Onesie + Baby Blanket Kit is a two-item option normally only offered for our One-Day Workshops. The smaller scale of each item means that experienced sewers will quickly have a completed gift, ready for wrapping; beginning sewers can learn, practice embroidery techniques on a smaller canvas, and expectant parents (and/or grandparents) can spend (at least a little) time making for baby.


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The Eagle T-Shirt is the second in a new series of Men’s DIY projects, designed in a style that is flattering to both men and women. The Eagle stencil has been in the Alabama Chanin library for several years now. We shared instructions on how to create the stencil and apply it to a basic recycled t-shirt in 2008. (Read more about that here). Since those early years, we’ve designed and created patterns for Alabama Chanin original t-shirts, which you can see on Natalie’s son, Zach, above.

The long sleeve t-shirt is made with our 100% organic cotton jersey and constructed with floating outside seams that add a nuanced detail, emphasizing the hand-stitched quality, though you can make your own design decisions.

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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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The Alabama Corset is one of our signature pieces and, over the years, has proven to be the perfect canvas for a wide variety of colorways and techniques. Shown here in Anna’s Garden reverse appliqué, the garment is created by joining two layers of fabric. The top layer is stenciled, then the maker stitches around each of the individual stenciled shapes with thread to create the pattern and join the two layers. After sewing, the inside top layer of each stitched shape is cut away to reveal the backing fabric underneath.

Using our Custom DIY options, you can choose every aspect of a reverse appliqué garment to fit your style and personality. For instance, you can go for a subtle, yet beautiful tone-on-tone approach, as we have shown here. Or, you may choose a high contrast option for your backing and top layers. The Corset shown above is just one example of how you might create your own garment. The technique can be applied to any garment or project and is equally beautiful with bold colors or other neutral tones. View the Custom DIY Guide for more information on your options.


Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey
Backing fabric color – Sand
Top layer color – Sand
Stencil – Anna’s Garden
Embroidery Technique – reverse appliqué (instructions available in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design)
Button Craft thread – Cream #256
Textile paint – White
Rib embroidery – Cretan stitch



The Alabama Chanin Studio Style DIY selections are expanding with the addition of Men’s DIY items. Many of you have been asking for more men’s options and this is the first in a series of new DIY Kits that we will feature in our online store.

The Bee is one of the earliest stencils I created upon moving back home to begin the work that has become Alabama Chanin. At that time, I was newly-returned to the south after years abroad. Happy to be home, the rural setting inspired a series of animal designs: The Pig, The Steer, The Rooster, and the Eagle.

The t-shirt body is our ever-popular men’s classic; however, the style has been loved by both men and women alike for over a decade. We are now offering this t-shirt style as a DIY Kit for the first time. As always, you have the ability to embellish the shirt as much or as little as desired – whatever suits your taste (or the taste of the man in your life).

DIY MEN'S BEE T-SHIRT - Photos by Robert Rausch

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Long a favorite image for textile patterns, the fern is an adaptable plant, suited both to moisture-rich, woodland areas, and tall rock crevices. It is also an air-filtering plant that can eliminate certain dangerous chemicals from the environment. Natural elements have often inspired our stencil designs, including this Satin Stitched Fern, one of our oldest, perennial designs. Here, the satin stitches mimic the texture of real fern fronds and add a textured relief to the fabric.

This photograph illustrates one of the many options you can create yourself when you opt for a Custom DIY kit. View our Alabama Chanin Custom DIY Guide on our Custom DIY page and see the hundreds of options available when you select your garment, fabric, embroidery or treatment, colors, threads, and other choices.


Fabric – 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey
Backing Layer – Silt
Top Layer – Silt
Stencil – Fern
Treatment – Satin Stitch
Textile Paint – Pearl Grey
Button Craft thread – Slate #26



We learn our first real poem around the age of 2 — the ABC Song. Soon, we graduate to nursery rhymes, then rhymes for jumping rope. By the time we reach junior high and high school  we’re reading Epic Poems, like The Odyssey, and reciting Shakespeare in Iambic Pentameter—well sometimes. Songs can be poems set to rhythm. If we’re lucky, perhaps someone has written a love poem or a song—or two—for us.

Poems are rhythmic—they have patterns, beats, stanzas, couplets, and verses. They have been instrumental at critical moments in our history. Witness:


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Southern children who grow up with a healthy respect for their elders, particularly their mothers, are said to have been “raised right.” Across the south, most children (and their fathers) must have been “raised right,” because there is almost always a big to-do made about Mother’s Day. Even though new Easter clothes have just been bought, a slew of children will go shopping again for new Mother’s Day outfits; it is expected to make a good impression at church on that big day. Mom gets to sleep in (just a little) and breakfasts will be prepared and served by the children. We present our mothers and grandmothers with beautiful corsages. Often in my community, the tradition is to give carnations. It’s common to give Mother a red or pink one and to set a vase of white carnations upon the kitchen table for grandmothers or great-grandmothers who have passed away. In my family,we  presented corsages to Mother and Grandmother on Mother’s Day morning.

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Confession: I have a certain disdain for flip flops. More often than not, they are considered a faux pas in the fashion world, and sometimes for the right reasons. This being said, I must also confess I own a pair of Havaianas that I bought years ago on my Venezuelan adventure. They are packed snuggly in my tote this week as Maggie and I celebrate spring break with a trip to the Florida Pan-Handle and the beach. Honestly, Maggie saunters in flip flops throughout the Alabama summers. I can hardly get anything else on her feet as the scorching heat necessitates barely-there footwear – if not bare feet. When in Rome…

My flip flop rant aside, our Baby Doll Camisole Dress is also packed neatly in my traveling bag. In fact, a DIY garment often makes its first travels in pieces, taken on long car rides or trans-Atlantic flights to be embellished.

Once complete, squarely folded or rolled up, it easily transports on-the-go. My dress has made multiple trips with me to California, returning to Alabama a little more worn (and loved) each time. The gathered ruffles relax the wrinkles from the trip, and yes, it is possible to tastefully pair our Baby Doll Camisole Dress with flip flops (or your favorite pair of heels) on certain occasions.  Look for me at the Seaside Promanade this week in both and this weekend at the Doo-Nanny).

For this kit, we chose the Camisole Top pattern from Alabama Studio Style rather than our Fitted Top pattern paired with the Baby Doll Dress in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design for a more fitted bodice.

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As I mentioned earlier in the week, I live in a house where hearts can be the overriding theme for weeks on end.  I find them tucked under plates, randomly lying on the floor, taped to my bedroom door, and, yes, the most beautiful little heart-shaped lips that kiss my face all-over.  You haven’t truly lived a Valentine’s Day until you live it with a six-year-old-girl.  Forget Hallmark (the modern day creator of Valentine’s Day), the sweetness in-and-around our home makes this hallowed institution look like a 1980’s punk gathering in a dead-end alley.

So, when in Rome… You need a dress to celebrate this favorite of all six-year-old holidays in its crowning glory – hence, A Dress of Hearts.


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We often hear that you have to see an Alabama Chanin garment in person to really appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship that goes into every piece. We sincerely believe that our upcoming website is the next best thing.

As our brand continues to grow, and our interests and projects become more diverse, we rely more and more on AlabamaChanin.com as a way to showcase our endeavors, share our experiences, and interact with a community that is constantly expanding.

This is a place to share our life at the Factory, or at least a sampling of it: Workshops, DIY craft, custom couture garments, cotton farming, upcycling developments, Thursday potlucks, visiting artists, and the list goes on. We wanted a site that would reflect all of the things that we are – and all of the things that you, our customers, are. We wanted a meeting place that is both welcoming and engaging and, of course, easy to use, because we know first-hand that when you have so much going on in one place, things can be a little difficult to navigate.

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Just in time for fall weather and the upcoming holiday season, we’re featuring the Anna’s Garden Poncho Kit. One of our most popular garments, the poncho is a classic piece, fit for most any occasion.

Originally featured in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, the poncho is seen here in our 100% organic cotton jersey fabric in Black with Forest stitched in negative reverse appliqué. We constructed our garment using black Button Craft thread tied with knots on the outside. Continue reading


For DIY Thursday, we share instructions for the Eyelet Doily, from Alabama Studio Style. Start yours now for your July 4th table spread.

We chose Apple organic cotton jersey fabric for our doily. The “petals” of the doily peek out underneath a serving platter or cake plate, leaving the decorative embroidered eyelets visible. Our favorite colors for the 4th of July are Apple, Natural, and Navy, of course.

We also have a DIY Eyelet Doily Kit in our Studio Store. It comes in your choice of fabric color with all materials and notions needed for completion. The size measures approximately 15 1/2.”

Add your own plate and recipe.

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Today we launch a month-long celebration of all things American, culminating in my annual neighborhood 4th of July Parade (Kids vs. Adults Baseball Game and Grill Extravaganza). We have searched high and low to find the spirit of red, white, and blue.

For today’s DIY Thursday, we start by (re)sharing instructions for our American Flag Quilt. The flag is, after all, the epitomic icon for Independence Day. Get started now to display for your July 4th celebration.

Check back tomorrow to begin our month of ‘Celebrate America’- featuring new products, projects, stories, and recipes to make your own celebrations spectacular.


P.S.: And we won’t forget Dad— so stop by for some of our favorite Father’s Day gifts too…

CELEBRATE AMERICA - photograph by Robert Rausch
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Our current selection of DIY Kits offers many garment styles with a variety of color and notion choices; however, we understand that often times the perfect design is a matter of personal expression. For this reason, we now offer Custom DIY.

For our Studio Weekend Workshops or home use, choose from our selected Custom DIY Kits. You may select from 26 styles that are featured in the Alabama Studio Book Series. From there, you will choose one of our fabric designs. We picked our 20 favorite combinations of color ways and techniques to simplify the selection process.

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The word “star,” with its many meanings, occupies several places in my mind (and the universe):

First, a star is simply a shape- the most common being five-pointed. As I was taught in geometry class, it is constructed from points, proportions, and folds. Seen in patriotic prints of the 1960s and 70s, its contour was fitting with the bold, geometric patterns of the time. Fifty of these shapes are on the American flag, each representing a state and the collection of stars symbolizing our country as a whole.

While designing and constructing quilts, I’ve learned that a quilt’s geometry is systematic. Sewing together the triangular and diamond-shaped puzzle pieces to make each polygon requires great planning and thought. This geometry is apparent in our Indigo Star Quilt, and in the repeated shapes of the Flag Quilt.

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While working on some press and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) pages this last month, I came across some texts that date back across the decade of Alabama Chanin. In reading and going over some of these texts, I thought it would be a good series to share on our Sustainable Design Tuesdays. Here is one of those texts about building a round company:

My goal with building designs – as I have built my company – is to make a sphere.  I strive to create a well-rounded, (w)holistic company that revolves around a central theme: sustainability of culture, environment, and community.

It has been over a decade since I started working on the company that Alabama Chanin has become today and I am often asked how I had the foresight to start a company based on the principles of sustainability and Slow Design. To this comment, I laughingly reply that I never intended to start a sustainable design company; I simply stumbled into it like the fool falling off the cliff. When I cut up those first t-shirts, I was doing something that I felt driven to do. I didn’t think of those garments as the basis of a business; they were simply pieces of clothing I wanted to wear and, perhaps more importantly, make. However, when I look back today, it all feels like a seamless and directed adventure into the realms of becoming a sustainable designer and manufacturer.

I am often invited to speak about this process and our resulting business model, as it has developed into an unusual one. However, truth be told, I have simply taken inspiration for our model from farmers and strive to build a zero waste company where the results of one production process become the fuel for another.

Our primary work is the business of designing and making clothing. And whether a dress calls for recycled t-shirts or locally grown, certified organic cotton, the designing and making of that product spurs our model. It was developed not by intention, but through process.

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The Alabama Chanin collection is a luxury line. Hand-selected fabric is sourced, dyed, re-dyed, and sometimes dyed again to achieve the perfect shade. Our team has hand-mixed thousands of paint colors, looking for the perfect complement to a certain hue. Giant rolls of fabric have been returned, donated, or recycled because a run, tear, or other minor defect was spotted. Designs are sketched and often re-sketched. Then come the patterns, more patterns, and finally dozens of samples (all hand-sewn), alterations, editing, more patterns, more samples. Repeat.

Our embellishments are next. We add the glass beads, the intricate decorative stitching, the sturdy straight stitch, endless crocheted snaps, and once again, repeat. Southern couture is expensive, lovely, and nothing less than a passion for those artisans who initial the tags in each one-of-a-kind Alabama Chanin garment.

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


I am so excited about the launch of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. The book includes some of our very best garment patterns to-date and I can’t wait to see how the stencils, patterns, and designs work their way into DIY projects.

The long skirt pattern that is included in the book has become my staple go-to skirt for everyday living and night life for almost a year now. I have variation in black with embroidery and several basic versions in pink, ochre, and a beautiful turquoise color that we tie-dyed in the washing machine by just letting the dye bath sit unattended for a few hours.

I have loved these pieces from spring to summer and through the fall and into winter, because I can wear my sturdy stockings underneath on the coldest days and with socks and my new Billy Reid boots every other day. Continue reading


As someone who is usually short on time and always short on patience, I am a master of safety pin alterations. I’ve sewn myself into something more than once, used a glue gun to make a handbag, and embraced unfinished hems with unbridled enthusiasm. Although I enjoy the process of making, most of my handy work would never survive the wash. In a handful of embarrassing moments, it hasn’t survived the evening.

It wasn’t until I joined the ranks of Alabama Chanin and attended my first workshop that I actually made something that had the potential to last. I chose a DIY Swing Skirt in a beautiful shade of green, with our bloomers pattern stenciled just around the edges.  I wielded a needle and thread to the best of my ability and actually managed to finish the skirt by the end of the day. Even though the front seam is a little crooked, it remains in heavy wardrobe rotation and has survived the wash many, many times.

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A variation on our classic DIY Swing Skirt, our new Facets Swing Skirt is 6″ longer, has all-over embroidery and reverse applique in the Facets stenciling. Choose your own fabric and thread colors and we will cut to your size specifications. Follow the instructions for reverse applique and construction from Alabama Stitch Book to make your very own.

100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey and a hand-sewn elastic waistband make this one of the most comfortable skirts in my closet. Shown here in Baby Blue, the longer length is perfect for cooler fall weather and my (growing) collection of boot.


Our floor-sweeping skirt is made of soft, wearable jersey. The pull-on design is framed by stretchable stitching, and can easily be worn slung low on your hips or high above your natural waist. The Long Embroidered Skirt is comfortable enough for every day, but the incredible all-over design and details allow it to fit any occasion. Shown here worked in Negative Reverse Applique with our Anna’s Garden stencil. Make this perfect piece yourself with a Custom DIY Kit and in the stencil design of your choice.

The hand-stitching adds a structural element and the subtle weight allows for a flattering drape.

Pieces like these are my secret weapon for a day travel, followed by an event. Add a change of shoes, a little mascara and lip-gloss for a total transformation in under five minutes.

Although it will take more than five minutes to make-it-yourself.

Also available in our Bloomers pattern.


Thrilled to be back @ EcoSalon today and shocked that has it has already been two weeks since the last column! Head over there to find out why “Life Demands an Ice Skating Fee.”

Time always seems to pass much more quickly when you have a lot to do; so far, August has been no exception.

Although I’m far from packing for Berlin, I am already dreaming of which designs from the new collection will fill my suitcase. I’ve spent the last few days pouring over images and choosing which ones to add to the site next week. To be perfectly honest, I’m having a hard time narrowing it down –  that is a lovely problem to have.

I have, however, begun packing for Texas. The new collection and a tower of DIY kits for the Marfa Workshop will be traveling with me; this requires a bit more thought and planning, twenty pairs of scissors and a bag of X-acto blades means arriving extra early for your flight!

We would love to see you @ Fancy Pony Land for our trunk show, El Cosmico for a Two-hour workshop (there are a couple of spots remaining), or both!

Or, should you happen to be in Austin the following week, visit us at the Hotel San Jose.

Stop by and visit EcoSalon today and let us know what you think.  If you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments below. The next installment will be here before you know it!

In the meantime, have a lovely weekend…




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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I first wrote about Kaffe Fassett’s new book here – when the rains on Nashville turned our eyes to disaster. More than a month has passed and the folks of Nashville still need our help and today I am back to thinking about Kaffe Fassett’s Simple Shapes Spectacular Quilts. Inspired by the lovely geometries Kaffe illustrates – and the upcoming summer months – we have decided to begin a Quilt of the Month project – starting with our all-time favorite American Flag Quilt.
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I (Heart) February because:

Alabama Studio Style is arriving this week.

A new Workshop Schedule has been posted.

Everyone is planning their road trip for our Earth Day Open House @ The Factory.

DIY Kits are the new roses.

I will soon be able to drink my morning coffee on the back stoop.

I (heart) long walks where rocks shaped like hearts are found on the ground…