Alabama Chanin :: part one

I mentioned in a previous post my Alabama Chanin dress.  It took me nine months to make it.  I stitched late in the evening when the kids were asleep.  I stitched on airplanes, road trips, whenever I could find the time.  I need a creative outlet, usually writing or cooking.  But before the kids came I would sew, always on a machine. Hand stitching an entire dress was new for me.  I enjoyed every minute.

I have been a fan of Project Alabama, now Alabama Chanin, from the beginning. Natalie Chanin has created an incredible company based on the talents of many skilled artisans, sustainable design and the living arts.  “Living arts are an essential part of the social fabric of our communities – like planting seeds, reaping the fruits of our labors, and preserving our food.  Such traditions are the backbone of what makes a community a home, and preserving them ensures that future generations can enjoy the same quality of life with the same attention to detail, function, and beauty.”  Slow Design is just as important as Slow Food.

So for Christmas last year I gave myself a weekend workshop at the Alabama Chanin “Factory” in Florence, AL.  It was a vacation for my soul.  Way more restorative than any spa trip could ever be.  If you like sewing, story-telling and slowing down, that is.  I was in heaven sewing with twelve women, talking over the rain pitter pattering all day long on the metal roof.   We shared our favorite blogs, books, sewing tips, recipes, ideas, TEDtalks.  (I had never seen Brene Brown’s TED talk.  Click here to watch.  It’s a good one!).  And check out this live interview with Natalie Chanin from Refueled Magazine for a little storytelling…

Long story short:  I am proud of my dress.  Slowing down is a good thing.



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  1. Monica says:

    Your dress looks like it came straight from the pages of one of Natalie’s books. Great job! I too follow her blog. I found your blog by following hers and hers by following fabric designer Anna Marie Horner. Amazing how we can connect with people we don’t know through our passion to create handmade one of a kind. Since I live in the Upstate of South Carolina, I do hope you are able to arrange a workshop with Natalie in the LowCountry. I would feel right at home sitting around the sewing table with my creative sisters.

  2. admin says:

    Monica – Thanks for your comment! We are planning on an Alabama Chanin Charleston workshop in Fall 2012. Stay tuned for more AC info on my blog…and thanks for following!

  3. liza says:

    when is the charleston workshop? i am in upstate SC too and would be interested in a charleston workshop!

    • admin says:

      we are looking at spring 2013. i will post something on my blog as soon as we have a date confirmed. glad you are interested! best kate

      • Liza Wood says:

        Thanks! Looking forward to it!
        I have a question – is this the long dress? If so, how many yards did you use?
        I am cutting mine out and ordered 2 yards as the pattern said and it’s not enough!
        I’m 5’11” and I don’t have enough fabric!

        • admin says:

          Hi. I made the short dress. And I actually made it while I was in Florence, AL at a workshop, so I cut it out on site and can not remember the yardage, but think it was around 2 yds. I am sure if you call they can walk you through it!



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