We are honored to welcome our friend Natalie Chanin, whose hand-sewn Alabama Chanin clothing line, DIY kits, and School of Making are lights leading the way to a world we want to see: one in which handmade things are celebrated, valued and, most importantly, used every day. We have been admiring Alabama Chanin—and swooning over the clothes— since the company’s early days. We can think of nothing more satisfying than a few hours or days spent in Natalie’s company, whether virtually—by working on one of her exquisite sewing kits—or in real life, stitching and chatting and eating pimento cheese at the Factory, in Florence, Alabama. As the winners of this contest are about to find out, stitching an Alabama Chanin project evokes the same zen state as knitting, and the finished object is a treasure.
–Kay and Ann
At Alabama Chanin we have always found that concepts are best understood (and taken to heart), when you can grasp them with your own hands. The very first t-shirt I made was recycled and constructed to fit my body. The business model that still serves us today was created when I couldn’t find anyone to produce the type of garment I wanted. Since its inception, Alabama Chanin has been deeply rooted in the DIY enterprise.
From the very beginning, customers immediately took to the concept of reworking a garment to suit them personally. Before we knew it, our garments and sustainable practices began to stir in others the desire to create.
We began selling the raw materials that we were using to our customers, and we would host small sewing circles and gatherings at Trunk Shows and events here and there. All of this was happening as I was writing our first Studio Book, Alabama Stitch Book. The writing process helped me to crystalize my thoughts on making, open-sourcing, and programming.
As a designer, I am always striving to make the living arts accessible to as many consumers as possible. But the hand-made nature of the pieces in our collections, created by artisans who are paid a fair wage, can make them prohibitively expensive for some. And, against the warnings of many, I felt in my heart that open-sourcing our patterns, methods, and materials was the best way to encourage sustainable practices, promote living arts, and demonstrate what makes our company uniquely dedicated.
My instincts held true, and over the course of these last ten years our Studio Book Series has opened our company up to an entirely new base of consumers. Our DIY programming has been a natural outgrowth of the company. And since that very first book, and those very first sewing circles, we now offer workshops ranging from one-day to weeklong, programming for hosting your own sewing party, as well as programming that allows you to build your own Alabama Chanin wardrobe.
Alongside our DIY division, in the summer of 2013 we launched our machine-made line of basics through our manufacturing facility called Building 14. We found that the machine skills, once so prolific in our community, needed to be honed. So, we re-dedicated ourselves to our own education and The School of Making was born.
Launched in the fall of 2014, The School of Making has helped us to fully embrace our constantly growing and evolving educational programming. And recently, we’ve been working behind the scenes to elevate our offerings and take larger strides to make The School of Making more sustainable.
Last week launched a new chapter as we introduced new packaging that greatly reduces the use of (and need for) plastic in our studio and your homes. This is something we care strongly about since Alabama Chanin and The School of Making strive to be a zero-waste company and leave the smallest environmental footprint possible.
Due to the overwhelming popularity of our last giveaway with Mason-Dixon Knitting, The School of Making is offering two new DIY kits for two lucky winners—just in time for Mother’s Day. Shown in this post are the Daisy Scarf DIY Kit in Peacock and the Daisy Slim Scarf DIY Kit in White. Both kits are available in 15 tonal colorways and feature our newest Daisy stencil design.
Edited (May 4) to add: This giveaway is now closed. Winners will be announced in our Snippets email on Saturday, May 6. Thanks for playing!
To enter the giveaway drawing:
Sign up for Snippets, MDK’s Saturday morning email newsletter, at the top of the right sidebar on this page; and
Leave a comment on this post telling us how you first learned to sew.
Entries will close at noon (Eastern) on Thursday, May 4, and MDK will announce the winners in the Snippets email next Saturday. Best of luck!