Tag Archives: Press

ALABAMA CHANIN - BLACKBERRY FARM + FARMSTEAD CATALOG

BLACKBERRY FARM + FARMSTEAD CATALOG

Thank you to Mary Celeste Beall and the Blackberry Farm team for including our hand-dyed Indigo Quilts in this year’s Farmstead Catalog. In addition to our quilts, the catalog includes holiday gift items from Blackberry Farm to stock your pantry (Pickled Ramps and Farm Jams are a favorite) and decorate your home. View the catalog online here.

ALABAMA CHANIN – BLACKBERRY FARM + FARMSTEAD CATALOG

If you are looking for an unforgettable holiday gift, Natalie’s Classic Weekend Sewing Workshop at Blackberry Farm takes place from January 27 – 29, 2017. You’ll spend the weekend with Natalie, receiving sewing instruction and creating a custom hand-sewn garment. The weekend showcases Natalie’s sewing lessons and storytelling, but also the hospitality of Blackberry Farm—incredible meals, beautiful settings, and wonderful company.

ALABAMA CHANIN – BLACKBERRY FARM + FARMSTEAD CATALOG

From the Blackberry Farm website, “It’s our joy to share the hospitality that makes it feel like home.” Treat yourself or a loved one.

YOU CAN MAKE IT THERE

If you don’t yet know The Bitter Southerner, you should. They’ve been telling good stories since 2013, strong stories; stories that make you laugh, and stories that make you cry. There is so much that I love about what they are doing, but I especially love the description below from their “About” page by editor Chuck Reese:

“But there is another South, the one that we know: a South that is full of people who do things that honor genuinely honorable traditions. Drinking. Cooking. Reading. Writing. Singing. Playing. Making things. It’s also full of people who face our region’s contradictions and are determined to throw our dishonorable traditions out the window. The Bitter Southerner is here for Southern people who do cool things, smart things, things that change the whole world, or just a few minds at a time.”

Last Tuesday, they posted a piece about Alabama Chanin , and we are proud. It tells the story we live every day, it cracks open the work, and honestly explains how sometimes we know what we are doing, and how sometimes we do not exactly know what we are doing or the “complexion” of what we want to do, but that we are curious, and we want to do what we do well—with integrity.

But more than all of that, it connects us to our past, to our community, and to friends, and to heroes and heroines, like John Paul White and Rosanne Cash—and to the stories they are telling through the songs they are singing. It’s a piece that makes you want to get back to work. It might make you want to make a road trip.

We are (super) grateful to Kristi York Wooten, Chuck Reese, and all the team from The Bitter Southerner. Please go have a read here and join The Bitter Southerner to help them keep telling stories. (It’s worth the membership fee just for the “BS” bumper sticker.) They launch a new story every Tuesday; sign up for their newsletter to know the score.

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Read more on William Faulkner from The New York Times Magazine
Photo from Rinne Allen via The Bitter Southerner

BON APPETIT

Bon Appétit’s October issue hit the stands this past week and featured a big Alabama party—complete with a campfire, Lodge Castiron, and whiskey. Read the full story of our ‘Alabama Getaway’ and find the recipes online here.

A HUGE thank you is in order to all the chefs, makers, artists, and friends who drove (and flew) many miles to be a part of the day.

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The roster of thank yous, in no particular order: Butch Anthony; Andrew Knowlton, Alexander Grossman, Alex Pollak, Carla Music, Annabel Mehran, and the entire Bon Appétit crew; Melany Robinson and the Polished Pig Media team; Catherine Bailey and Robin Petravic of Heath Ceramics; Nick Pihakis; Nicholas Pihakis; Jim N’ Nicks Bar-B-Q; Brooks Reitz of Jack Rudy Cocktail Co.; Erin Connelly of The CommonsRinne Allen, Lee Smith, and family; Angie Mosier; Jeff Mosier; John Henry Toney; Will Harris of White Oak Pastures; chef Rob McDaniel of SpringHouse Restaurant; Jason Wilson, Brad Wilson, and David Carn of Back Forty Beer Co.; Bob Gay of Papa’s Nubbin’s; Trey and Will Sims of Wickles Pickles.

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(Behind-the-scenes) images courtesy of Rinne Allen

ALABAMA COTTON REVISITED

A warm “thank you” to Debbie Elliott and everyone at National Public Radio for their story about our collaboration with Billy Reid on Alabama grown cotton.

And, thank you to K.P. and Katy McNeill, Erin Dailey, and Lisa and Jimmy Lenz—they all know how to dream big (and work hard to get there).

If you haven’t heard this piece yet, you can listen online here.

REVIVING A SOUTHERN INDUSTRY, FROM COTTON FIELD TO CLOTHING RACK
National Public Radio, October 10, 2014

You’ve probably heard of “farm to table,” but how about “field to garment”? In Alabama, acclaimed fashion houses Alabama Chanin and Billy Reid have a new line of organic cotton clothing made from their own cotton field.

It’s not just an experiment in keeping production local; it’s an attempt to revive the long tradition of apparel-making in the Deep South. North Alabama was once a hub for textile manufacturing, with readily available cotton and access to cheap labor. But the industry all but disappeared after NAFTA became law, as operations moved overseas.

Now, Sue Hanback is again working a sewing machine in a cavernous building that was once part of the biggest cut-and-sew operation in Florence, Ala.

“I’m gonna five-thread this shirt,” she explains, stitching cuffs onto an organic-cotton sweatshirt.

Hanback was last laid off in 2006 when this was a T-shirt factory. Her husband worked in the dye house. She’s been a seamstress all her life.

“Ever since I was 18 years old,” Hanback says. “So that was like, 48 years.”

ALABAMA COTTON REVISITED

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HOMEGROWN COTTON

Two years ago this week, we were picking organic Alabama cotton. Today, The New York Times – T Magazine shares that journey. Thank you (and a BIG hug) to Rinne Allen for taking this journey with us.

From Rinne:

“Two years ago, I found myself knee-deep in a field in rural Alabama, picking organic cotton by hand. A few hundred other pickers were there too, bent over the rows of white cotton with bags at their hip, repeating the same hand-to-plant-to-bag motion over and over again. It was a picking party hosted by Natalie Chanin, the founder and creative director of the clothing line Alabama Chanin, and the fashion designer Billy Reid to celebrate and harvest their first homegrown, organic cotton crop.”

More here: Homegrown Cotton

A GIANT thank you to our entire community, Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q, and the legions of friends, family, and perfect strangers who came to help.

ALABAMA COTTON

ALABAMA ORGANIC COTTON - PHOTO RINNE ALLEN

 

MAKESHIFT 2014: A RECAP

Two weeks ago, our team left New York feeling excited and energized—and with the conversation at The Standard the night before fresh on our minds. This was the third annual Makeshift, held in New York each spring during Design Week. Over the years the conversation has shifted—but our goal of learning how certain themes cross industries (and how they learn from each other and work together) stays the same.

Makeshift began as a conversation about the intersection of the disciplines of design, craft, art, fashion, and DIY—and, on a bigger level, using this intersection as an agent of change in the world. Since then, we’ve explored making as individuals, and how making as a group can open conversations, build communities, and help us co-design a future that is filled with love and promise—for planet, community, and one another.

SIDE-BY-SIDE

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INTRODUCING THE FACTORY CAFÉ CHEF SERIES: JOSEPH LENN + BLACKBERRY FARM

Beginning today, Alabama Chanin is launching a Chef Series for The Factory Café. Each month, we will feature seasonal dishes on our menu from chefs (or restaurants) that share our values of celebrating place, artisanal craftsmanship of all kinds, and, simply said, good food.

Our focus through these collaborations will be on regional chefs and regionally-inspired cuisine—dishes that we can recreate in our café by locally sourcing ingredients. In the upcoming year, The Factory will host brunches, dinners, book signings, and even cooking and cocktail workshops with an array of chefs.

A few years ago, I made an extraordinary trip to Blackberry Farm, located in beautiful Walland, Tennessee, on the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. Ever since that first journey (thanks to friends at the Southern Foodways Alliance), I’ve had a deep appreciation and respect for the artisans and chefs working at the Farm—and have loved using their cookbooks in my own kitchen.

From making biscuits to hosting an upcoming Weekend Away Workshop, my relationship with Blackberry Farm has grown over the years. So, I was thrilled when Chef Joseph Lenn and Blackberry Farm agreed to launch our Chef Series in the month of April.

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THE ALABAMA CHANIN LOOKBOOK

With the launch of our new collection, we have also launched a lookbook online, with the aim to share our design inspirations and (hopefully) inspire your own look and style.

View our look book to see how A. Chanin seamlessly integrates with our new Alabama Chanin collection, discover interpretations of Three for a Dime and Disfarmer-style looks, and get a close-up look at fabric details and garment designs.

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YOU CAN’T FAKE FASHION (PART 2)

In 2005, I was inducted into The Council of Fashion Designers of America.  Long before that time (and during my days as a stylist in Europe), I didn’t really know what the CFDA was (or did). However, the organization was founded in 1962 by Eleanor Lambert as a not-for-profit trade organization to support American womenswear, menswear, jewelry, and accessory designers. Today, the CFDA consists of over 400 members across the nation (we have 2 from Alabama). Their mission statement has grown to reflect a desire to “advance artistic and professional standards within the fashion industry, establish and maintain a code of ethics and practices of mutual benefit in professional, public, trade relations, promote and improve understanding and appreciation of the fashion arts through leadership in quality and taste, and to support the overall growth of American fashion as a global industry.”

Some of the programs growing out of this agency include the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund for which Alabama Chanin was a finalist in 2009 and which Billy Reid (the other CFDA member in the state of Alabama) won in 2010. Other programs include CFDA Fashion Awards, Made in Midtown, and the great {Fashion Incubator} program, among many others.

YOU CAN'T FAKE FASHION

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HOMEGROWN GOWN

We (HEART) this story in the newest NO’ALA Magazine (on pages 110-117) about our custom made Bridal gowns:

NO'ALA BRIDAL

It takes a village:

“Once the elements of the gown are chosen, Diane, the master seamstress, measures the bride and Carra-Ellen cuts the fabric and prepares the pattern. Steven, the production manager, applies the stencil to the fabric using an airbrush technique. And with Natalie’s stamp of approval, Olivia prepares the kits for the artisans.

The artisans, who are all from the North Alabama area, are independent contractors, who charge per square inch, depending upon the intricacy of the stitching. This cottage industry-style production model allows artisans to work from their own homes and set their own wages.”

NO'ALA BRIDAL

Plan ahead:

“Brides should allow three weeks for online orders and several months for a custom gown. ‘It’s a slow process,’ says Lyndsie, ‘but it’s well worth the wait.’”You can contact Lyndsie: office (at) alabamachanin.com. Look for our new bridal line to launch soon.

NO'ALA BRIDAL

P.S.: What did you wear to your wedding(s)?

“A handmade silk slip underneath a silk brocade, baby blue fur-collared evening coat from Anna Molinari, heels, and a diamond choker,” says Natalie. “Totally 1996.”

THE YEAR IN EATS (+ A NEWFOUND LOVE FOR SORBET)

This year saw our Journal take a more structured tone and we devoted particular days to particular topics. Wednesday’s became Recipe Wednesday and we worked to get ourselves organized and cook. EVERY WEEK.  It was quite a feat of organization since we also run the production office, online store, design, pay bills, and as I mentioned on Monday, also manage this Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Facebook. It’s a lot of content. Erin joined the team full-time early in the year, Sara continues to make this stuff worth reading, we planted the garden (again), and we got cooking.

My biscuit recipe made it into the Wall Street Journal thanks to Charlotte Druckman. (More on Charlotte’s terrific new book Skirt Steak in the coming months.)

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PEAS + SUCH

Thank you to the Wall Street Journal for including me for their “In My Kitchen” series. “Crafty Cook Natalie Chanin”  by Charlotte Druckman (who was a pleasure to work with).

Here you have the full interview (with a small disclaimer) and the recipes for the full menu we cooked that day:

“I GOT MY NICKNAME from biscuits,” said Natalie “Alabama” Chanin, the force behind the handcrafted clothing and housewares company Alabama Chanin, based in Florence, Ala. She earned the moniker a dozen years ago after baking her signature buttery discs for a group of hungry strangers while on vacation in Venezuela. “They called it ‘pan de Alabama’ [Alabama bread] and they’d call me that, too,” she said. That same generous spirit is one of the defining principles of her business practice—she recently introduced a line of table linens at a more accessible price point than the rest of her wares, and she makes it a point to employ local seamstresses and pay them a living wage.

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STORIES FROM THE COTTON FIELD: 9/3/12

Sent: Monday, September 03, 2012 6:47 AM
Subject: Dayum (Georgia word for Damn) Rain

The rain and storms yesterday evening continued to send rain until this morning.  About 5:00 am the rain was coming in waves and it sounded like the ocean.  It is odd to me that Mother Nature that gives us so much beauty,  can wave her hand and destroy so much.   Anyway,  I’ll be taking a row boat to check our little cotton field as soon as I get some coffee.  Yesterday I was picking the beautiful first bolls that have opened on each plant.  It was so light and fluffy and gorgeous.

This morning the words “as soon as it rains on the open bolls they start to deteriorate” are causing my head and my heart to ache.  In review,  lets us all remember that the little cotton field was planted May 10 and got one light rain 3 days later and then the 6 week record breaking drought in Alabama began.  The cotton struggled to grow and survive without a drop of water for 6 weeks. In the final days suddenly one night it rained 6 inches and flooded creeks in the area and roadways.  The rain brought forth giant weeds but it brought the cotton from knee high and shriveled to waist high and loaded with bolls!  Now we are faced with the fact that cotton doesn’t open out all at once.

The first blooms on the lowest branch are the first bolls to open, and then the next level (node) of branches will have their bolls open and then the next and so on.  The first bolls are the ones that receive the most nutrients and are the best.  The top of the plants have blooms that will probably be killed by frost before they ever open into cotton.  People who picked cotton always picked a field twice.  The large machinery that harvests cotton picks once and leaves a tremendous amount on the ground.

Coffee is ready;  I’ll shut up now.  I’ll keep you posted,

Love always,
Lisa
(Poet Laureate of Cotton)

P.S.: At least there were no tornadoes and everyone is okay despite the strong storms.  Keep your fingers crossed for our little field. More on the Official Picking Party coming this week. xoNatalie

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EcoSalon: NATALIE CHANIN ON WORKING HER OWN ORGANIC COTTON FIELD

Thanks to Amy DuFault and EcoSalon for sharing the story of our cotton on their blog today:

Last week, the Alabama Chanin team, along with friends Lisa and Jimmy, took to the organic cotton field we share with the team from Billy Reid. With rubber boots, loppers, and gloves in hand, we were there helping our organic cotton bolls survive after a long summer of drought and heat followed by excessive rain and weed growth.

We walked the rows, hoed, chopped, and pulled until the sun and heat forced us out of the field. Hard to imagine the days in Alabama heat where people were not allowed out of the field. Makes me think about how things were, how things are, and how things will be.

Nine of us barely made a dent in the work that needs to be done. As we documented the day with black and white images, it looked so romantic and felt like a moment from a Willa Cather novel. But the reality behind the black and white is a sordid, ugly history. I can’t pretend that I didn’t think about those that did this work because they had no choice. But I live TODAY and I WANT to grow organic cotton in the state of Alabama TODAY.

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FASHION & SUSTAINABILITY: DESIGN FOR CHANGE

“Sustainability is the forerunner of greater diversity and choice, not less.”
Paul Hawken

In the book Fashion & Sustainability: Design for Change, our friends Kate Fletcher and Lynda Grose tackle the issue of sustainability in the fashion world. Within its pages you will discover practices that have the potential to transform the fashion system for the better. From framework to production to design practices, Kate and Lynda break down the topics that matter when it comes to the design process of the fashion industry.

Their work challenges designers and manufacturers to consider their practices and the impact they have on the environment. Reduce, re-use, and recycle are words we hear often, but this book offers real ways to integrate those words into daily practices. Not only that, it shares how to do so with little cost or interruption to the manufacturing or creative processes; you might even say it enhances these processes by challenging creators to explore new methods and materials.

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MAKESHIFT 2012 HIGHLIGHTS

After taking time to reflect on our recent week in New York for MAKESHIFT, I’m already thinking about MAKESHIFT 2013.

Here are some highlights from the conversation at The Standard Talks. We reported the MAKESHIFT events here on the blog throughout the week, and had great press coverage from the New York Times, Style.com, Page Six, and Jezebel. Here’s a recap of our memorable conversation.

From The Standard Talks panel discussion:

Andrew Wagner began with a grand introduction and also referenced Ettore Sottsass’s essay, ‘When I Was a Very Small Boy’.

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HAPPY DAY

Just in time for Memorial Day reading, Refueled: Issue 9 has launched.

Featuring friends like Lauren Wilkins of Arrow & Arrow, the formidable Matt Eddmenson of Imogene + Willie, and a host of other great folk—along with our newest single-weight American Flag Throw.

Get cozy. Get inspired.

Happy Memorial Day.

Take time to celebrate the men and women who make this country great…
And thanks to our friend Chris Brown for his beautiful take on this land we love.
xoNatalie

 

 

 

GARDEN & GUN (+ A TOMATO SANDWICH)

Thanks to Garden & Gun for making our dinnerware their Editors’ Pick for the June/July 2012 issue.

Beautifully hand-crafted pieces.

Perfect timing for summer parties and entertaining.

Even better timing for my summer tomato sandwich diet (recipe included).

The etched salad plate is the perfect size for a single, delicious sandwich and I’ve got tomatoes in my garden almost ripe for the picking.

Alabama Chanin for HEATH Ceramics is available for purchase from our Home + Table section or from Heath’s website.

MAKESHIFT 2012: REVERSE APPLIQUÉ AS METAPHOR

Our sewing circle at The Standard, East Village was a rich mixture of folk from a range of professions and diverse lives. Cathy Davidson, one of our first time sewers, has written the most beautiful essay about her time with us and created a fantastic example of Reverse Appliqué as metaphor: Reverse Appliqué @alabamachanin or How the Shallow Distracted and Lonely Pundits Miss the Beauty.

Here you can read just a snippet from her observations on the day:

“We sat quite quietly, talking, introducing ourselves, and, in my case and Ken’s, learning how to do things like:  thread a needle (you bring the needle to the thread, not the reverse), tie a knot, love the thread (to get out the kinks and align the polymers in the cotton plys).

Here’s the secret: when the world seems too connected, too overwhelming, too full of work, the hand-work of sewing slows it all down.

Here’s the other secret: all those tiresome handwringing pundits, who think that, because young people (and all the rest of us) spend a lot of time online, that means, ipso facto, that we’ve all become shallow, distracted, and lonely:  well, those pundits just need to spend more time–a lot more time–with some of the connected, wired people I know: we wired ones also love to make things. We connected learners also love DIY. Those are not contradictions, they are continuous parts of life. Why don’t the tiresome pundits realize this?  Why do they make us into stereotypes, automatons, not complex and multi-dimensional human beings, stitched together in all kinds of ways, by all kinds of circumstances.

Think about the possibilities for the handstitched, the handmade that the Web makes possible.  Outlets like Etsy allow handwork and handcraft to thrive by providing a vehicle, without intervention of an overseer or price-gauging middle-man, to reach the people who want it, an online bazaar (the original metaphor of the World Wide Web:  it’s not a cathedral–with flying buttresses and other stable architecture but a crowd-making, on-the-fly-suited-to-the-needs bazaar). Heath Pottery thrives now online. Alabama Chanin thrives online. And those of us who live so much of our lives online, also know the preciousness of, well, hand sewing, of reverse application, as metaphor and lifestyle.”

Be sure to read the entire essay here: Reverse Appliqué @alabamachanin or How the Shallow Distracted and Lonely Pundits Miss the Beauty and her brilliant new book, titled Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn.

Browse her website, look for all of her titles, and be inspired.

Thank you to Cathy and everyone who has added their voice to Makeshift 2012.

Join our growing conversation by contributing in the comments section below and by using your voice in your own community…
xoNatalie

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RECIPE FOR PRESS + AMY FLURRY

For a small company in a small town, we’ve received quite a bit of media attention. This is particularly amazing when you consider our nonexistent advertising budget. With the exception of a couple of classified listings in our local paper, I can’t recall having ever purchased an ad. Even though we have been fortunate in this particular area I can say, without a doubt, that our approach would have been different had I read this book sooner.

Amy Flurry’s Recipe for Press has been called “THE DIY guide to being your own publicist!” and I couldn’t agree more.

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ALABAMA CHANIN: A COTTAGE INDUSTRY SUCCESS STORY

Thank you to our employees and artisans for their commitment to the extraordinary and thank you to everyone at Etsy for telling our story with this beautiful film. It makes us proud to share the stories that unfold each day in our growing community.

Please visit the Etsy blog to read a little more and leave a comment to enter to win a copy of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design plus a DIY kit that includes everything you’ll need to sew your own Alabama Chanin garment.

xoNatalie

 

INDIGO STAR QUILT

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


BLANKET STATEMENT: QUILTING FOR A CAUSE

Thanks @ Stephanie LaCava for this lovely piece in the New York Times today:

“I may be their most passionate member,” says the snow-white-haired designer Natalie Chanin of the Southern Foodways Alliance (S.F.A.), a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the culinary heritage of the American South. For years, it’s been Chanin’s calling to preserve the textile traditions of Florence, Ala., with her clothing line, Alabama Chanin. So when the S.F.A. director John T. Edge approached her about doing a collaborative project, hand-sewn quilts seemed like an obvious departure. Auctioned off this weekend at the Taste of the South event at the bucolic Blackberry Farm in Tennessee, this particular blanket features the words of Roosevelt Scott, the founder of Scott’s Bar-B-Que in Hemingway, S.C.: “…Cut. Chop. Cook. It’s all right here. In the wood.” But it’s just one quilt of many. “Sign me up for a baker’s dozen,” Chanin said when she joined the cause.

For information on bespoke quilts, e-mail office (at) alabamachanin.com.

P.S: I wrote to John T. Edge last night that I am most certainly a very passionate member of the Southern Foodways Alliance; however, I question if I am their MOST passionate member.  That title might go to Rathead Riley (Rathead T. Edge) – just saying… xoNatalie

SLOWING DOWN

Thanks to all the HEATH Ceramics team for this lovely piece on Alabama Chanin in their November Newsletter:

Slowing Down (and Sitting Down) with Alabama Chanin

Stitch and clay intersect to create modern heirlooms in our newest collection

Slow down. This may feel like an impossible pursuit, particularly in this season, but when Heath Ceramics Creative Director Catherine Bailey explained that one of the intentions of Heath’s collaboration with Owner + Designer Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin was to “celebrate slow, thoughtful design,” the word really resonated.

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HEATH + ALABAMA CHANIN

So excited about our collaboration with HEATH Ceramics. Look for the entire collection to launch next week. Until then, a little sneak preview via the New York Times

xoNatalie

REFUELED + TEXAS TRAVELS

One of our favorite places to visit – Refueled – has a beautiful new look. (And we are thrilled to be shown as a sponsor at the bottom of the page.)  While we were working on a project last month, I had a chance to catch up with Chris Brown – Refueled’s creator and creative director:

I know very little about you.  What do you do when you aren’t doing Refueled?

Refueled, Inc., encompasses a number of things: publishing, design and film. As creative director behind all three entities of the company, I keep quite busy on a daily basis. Refueled magazine is published bi-yearly, spring/summer and fall/winter. Developing features, working with contributors, collaborating with photographers, and hitting the road for ideas and inspiration never stops. Once an issue drops, I am knee-deep in the next.

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KYUR8

The newest issue of KYUR8_Webzine, created and curated by my friend RUDJ, launches today.

Guest Editor: Natalie Chanin

Have a look and spread the word: KYUR8_Webzine

HOME + FAMILY


Thank you to Jamie, David and Luke for coming to Alabama to shoot this short film featuring a story from Alabama Chanin.

And to everyone at Starbucks who felt that our story deserved to be shared…

Happy holidays from our family to yours,
Natalie and all of us @ Alabama Chanin

AT HOME

Thanks to all the folks @ CasaSugar for including my home in their House Tours.  I feel very grateful for our little home It  has been a great house, an even better neighborhood, and a lovely place to raise little Maggie.

I pulled our holiday decorations out of the attic today and will work on adding holiday pictures and projects over the next weeks:

At Home with Alabama Chanin

THE BEST OF THE BEST

“I daresay any fine recipe used in Jackson could be attributed to a local lady, or her mother – Mrs. Cabell’s Pecans, Mrs. Wrights’ Cocoons, Mrs. Lyell’s Lemon Dessert.  Recipes, in the first place, had to be imparted – there was something oracular in the transaction – and however often they were made after that by others, they kept their right names.  I make Mrs. Mosal’s White Fruitcake every Christmas, having got it from my mother, who got it from Mrs. Mosal, and I often think to make a friend’s recipe is to celebrate her once more, and in that cheeriest, most aromatic of places to celebrate in, the home kitchen.” — Eudora Welty of Jackson, Mississippi

I returned this week from Bloomington, Indiana to find a box containing my copy of The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook.  One part old-timey church cookbook, one part storybook, the compilation of recipes from SFA Members is spectacular.  Edited by friend John T. Edge with Sara Roahen, the recipes vary from Brown Butter Creamed Winter Greens by Linton (“Why It Is Worth So Much”) Hopkins (on page 70) to Shout Hallelujah Potato Salad by our friend Blair Hobbs (page 61). Indeed, the entire book contains the best of the best.

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REFUELED VISIT

Thank you to Chris @ Refueled and all his family for coming out to celebrate Independence Day with us here in Alabama… they say that they are planning their trip for next year – hope it is true.

And thank you to my Uncle George for hosting one of the best parties of the year. The event – in it’s 13th year – has become just like an old-time “Dinner on the Ground:” good food, good friends, good music and great stories.

Someone said that the day was “just like a family reunion – with family that you like”…

Visit Chris for his whole Deep South Road Tour: http://refueledmag.blogspot.com/

INDIGO SUMMER

Our newest catalog for Alabama Denim is up and ready to view.  Additional garments will be coming to our online store over the next few days.  Stay tuned…

And look for some of these shots in the newest issue of Refueled – dropping on May 31st. I am looking forward to seeing everything Chris has put together!

A few of my favorites:

 

GARDEN AND GUN

Thank you to Haskell Harris and all the folks at Garden & Gun for this piece about my favorite room (and table) in the house.

Natalie Chanin
The Localista

Ten years ago, Natalie Chanin surprised the New York fashion world with a T-shirt that she ripped to pieces and sewed back together using quilt-inspired stitches. Then Chanin promptly left for her hometown of Florence, Alabama, where she hired local seamstresses to create her first label, Project Alabama. Now she runs Alabama Chanin, a company that produces couture clothing, fabric, jewelry, and home goods from new, recycled, and organic materials by hand, a process that gives each design its one-of-a-kind charm.

Chanin, whose career is famously influenced by her Southern upbringing, often works out of her house, the dining room in particular. “It’s really the soul of the house,” she says. “And it has great light, so it doubles as my office and photo studio. I do everything from folding clothes to hosting Christmas parties in that room.”

The dining room is full of Chanin’s handmade artistry, including the table, made from scrap wood that’s painted her favorite color, white. “It doesn’t compete with all of the things you have in your life,” she says. There’s also a chandelier she rehabbed with paint and a couple of reworked vintage chests.

Chanin’s designs have recently inspired a second craft book, Alabama Studio Style, due out this month, which details how to make some of her favorite furniture creations at home. “People want more value for their dollar these days,” she says. “They’re interested in things with a good story and things with a purpose.”

NEWS FROM THE FACTORY

Thank you to Jennifer Crossley for the lovely article in our local newspaper this morning about the release of Alabama Studio Style – great to have the support of our community!

And a shout-out to Sara Martin who is that friend who tries to keep me straight on this Journal (among other things)! Sara has been a great friend and collaborator all of these years. Without her clear guidance and eagle eye, the comma splice would have become my trademark. (Is there a comma splice somewhere here?)

Don’t miss this great interview with Cathy Horn on Style.com as well as this fantastic piece she did about manufacturing – good insight into the future of fashion.

Also, we will be working on the website over the course of the next week. Please bear with us as we do a bit of spring cleaning, streamlining and trying to create an easier interface with less clutter. Should you experience any problems whatsoever, please contact us.


PLAY DOUGH + SOUTHERN LIVING

Thanks go out to everyone @ Southern Living for the lovely piece in their February issue. We have gotten lots of emails and calls about the article. There have also been several requests for the play dough recipe that Maggie and I were making that afternoon when Southern Living visited…

One of the simplest things to make in your own kitchen:

Play Dough

1 cup flour
1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon oil
1/4 cup salt
Food coloring

Mix all ingredients, adding food coloring last. Stir over medium heat until smooth. Remove from pan and knead on a floured board until cool and soft. Keep in an airtight container. Play often.

*Thanks to Robbie Caponetto for the lovely pictures and note that Maggie is still wearing her apron – in fact, it might be her favorite plaything.

REFLECT, REJOICE, RENEW

After lofty plans to post each day about the last decade – and the next, my computer slipped from my hands last Tuesday morning and crashed (literally) to the floor and shattered. Later that afternoon, my Blackberry decided to follow suit.  My deduction was that it was time to take a much needed sabbatical from all things electronic. A week later, everything and everyone seems to have survived without me. The world is still spinning, I am no further behind than I was last Tuesday, and I have had a week to “Reflect, Rejoice and Renew.” So, here we are, a few days later and making a fresh start. Thank you to Kathy Kemp and al.com for this lovely article. And, thank you again to everyone who makes this a wonderful project each and every day…

Florence-based designer’s skirt creation completes Obamas’ Christmas tree, By Kathy Kemp — The Birmingham News December 22, 2009, 5:30AM

Alabama Chanin, the Florence-based couture fashion design house, has sewn another bead into its weighty crown.

The company created the stenciled, beaded blue and white tree skirt that completes the official White House Christmas tree, on display in the Blue Room through December. Alabama Chanin founder Natalie Chanin attended the recent unveiling — her latest stop in a series of high-profile appearances.

“We were honored to be asked to do this,” says Chanin, who was a Top-10 finalist for the coveted CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund prize, presented last month in New York City. Vogue magazine featured her in a full-page color spread in November, and she was also the subject of a Birmingham News profile. In The News’ story, Chanin couldn’t talk about the tree skirt because the White House had yet to unveil the tree. But now the entire world can see it — in pictures, at least, or in a tour of the nation’s home.

Twenty-two Alabama Chanin artisans, mostly local northwest Alabama seamstresses, spent three weeks sewing and constructing the tree skirt, which measures 14 feet in diameter and weighs about 28 pounds. The skirt features 13 large panels representing the original 13 colonies, and holds about two kilos of Chanin’s white satin bugle beads, all sewn by hand. It is made of Chanin’s signature fabric, 100 percent organic cotton jersey, in the colors, as requested by the White House, of white, peacock blue, Navy blue and storm blue piping. “We painted the entire piece with our Maggie stencil, then used quilting, reverse applique and reverse applique with beading on different sections,” Chanin explains. (She teaches her techniques in her “Alabama Stitch Book,” available at www.alabamachanin.com.)
Chanin, like other artists the White House invited to create decorative pieces for the tree, paid for the materials, labor and shipping of her own work. Chanin is already taking orders for custom tree skirts for the 2010 holiday season (contact steven@alabamachanin.com for details).

The 2009 White House tree, a Douglas fir from Shepherdstown, W.V., stands 18.5 feet tall, reaching all the way to the ceiling. Each year, the Blue Room tree is the same height, because the power source is on the ceiling.

“Reflect, Rejoice, Renew” is the theme for President Obama and his family’s first White House Christmas. Reflecting the national desire to conserve and recycle, the tree is lit with environmentally sound LED lights and decorated with bows and more than 650 ornaments from previous generations.
Chanin’s work fits nicely with this year’s theme. She uses local artisans, rather than shipping production overseas. She’s long been known for using organic products and recycling materials. Every scrap left over from her clothing creations is used for something else. In fact, she had piles of jersey strips baled and used them to make a sofa for the Alabama Chanin office.
At the White House this month, more than 50,000 people are expected to see the tree — and its skirt — while attending parties and other functions. When the tree comes down, Chanin’s skirt, along with the tree ornaments, will be archived with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.
© 2009 al.com. All rights reserved.

TOP TEN

Thank you to everyone at Vogue, the CFDA, Norman Jean Roy, Karlie Kloss, Tabitha Simmons, Florence Kane and all of our Alabama Team for this beautiful photo of the Alabama Nomad.

 

BARNEYS NEW YORK

A Time to Sell Green, Not Greed

By SUZY MENKES From the New York Times:

September 13, 2009  
NEW YORK —

“Fashion’s Night Out” — an evening of open-house shopping last week in New York and other major cities around the world — was designed to brace up nervous customers and convince them that consumption is joyous.

But it also proved that there is more to e-commerce than buying online.

The key “e” words were “emotion” and “energy” during this Vogue-sponsored fight against retail gloom. After a long period of credit-happy consumers and easy sales, stores and designers are having to work much harder to engage customers and make them feel that their purchase is worthwhile.

Continue reading

STYLE ETHICS

Thanks to Tonne Goodman, all the folks at Vogue, and Jessica Alba for this lovely piece about Alabama Chanin and style ethics in the July 2009 issue.

THOROUGHLY MODERN OLD-FASHIONED PICNIC

I once read this description of Alabama Chanin on a blog which I can no longer locate:

“It is a little like southern country meets eco-friendly superstar at a thoroughly modern old fashioned picnic.”

Can anyone help me find who wrote this?
Thanks! Natalie

A CONVERSATION

All of us at Alabama Chanin are thankful to the New York Times for including us in this Sunday Magazine article two weeks ago:

The Coats (and Dresses and Shirts) of Utopia

But today, I am thankful and smiling about a conversation that I had with one of the team members who traveled to our offices for the photo shoot:

He said, “Embrace the perfection.”

I looked at him blankly. “What did you say? Embrace the perfection?”

“Well,” he continued, “everything always works out for the best, right?”

I laugh and reply, “Yes, it certainly seems to…”

He says, “Then the best thing you can do is embrace the perfection of this moment because it is taking you to that future where everything always works out for the best anyway.”