In 2017, The Geometry of Hand-Sewing: A Romance in Stitches and Embroidery from Alabama Chanin and The School of Making publishes as a comprehensive guide to hand-stitching and embroidery. Sharing what Natalie has learned through experience and has taught to hundreds of artisans and workshop guests over the years, the book focuses on the stitches themselves rather than projects or garments. It examines over 100 embroidery stitches in seven grid structures, using different geometric systems to present a breakthrough method for learning and preserving embroidery stitches. To simplify learning, the book also includes two plastic stitching cards die-cut with the grids on which every stitch in the book is based. These reusable cards can be stitched through for practicing or used as stencils for transferring grids to fabric.
Alabama Chanin: 21 Years of Sustainability
After seven years of collaborating on a dinnerware collection, Alabama Chanin and Heath Ceramics announce a jewelry line, producing hand-etched necklaces in the Alabama Chanin-Heath Ceramics collaborative style. The necklaces are cut in Heath’s San Francisco tile factory then completed in their Sausalito factory, where the jewelry team drills the holes in the bars, glazes, etches, fires, and assembles the necklaces. The bars are fired in the kiln with larger ceramics, filling in small areas of the kiln that would otherwise be empty, and thus making the production process more efficient. The highly skilled etching technique used in Alabama Chanin’s line of dinnerware is also applied to the necklaces.
Founded in 2019, Project Threadways utilizes Makeshift's conversations, Alabama Chanin's experience, and Natalie's vision through academic partnerships and programming. Project Threadways explores, studies, and records the history of textiles as material culture. The purpose is to understand the impact of textiles and their creation, from raw material to finished goods, on the local community, and then connect that to the region, the nation, and across the world. In a partnership with the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area (MSNHA) and the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, Project Threadways collects oral histories, analyzes and publishes data, and stages events that begin and advance conversations on the connections between people, places, and materials.
Alabama Chanin hosts a pop-up at The Factory for swimwear designer, Malia Mills, creator of the love thy differences™ movement. Mills, an innovator in swimwear design and marketing, focuses on bra-size fit and selling two-piece suits as separates, allowing women to match tops and bottoms to their individual body types. As part of this gathering, The Factory hosts a No Bullshit Breakfast, inspired by Mills’ New York City events of the same name. A roundtable conversation between Mills, Dana Thomas, journalist and author of Fashionopolis, and Natalie about the role of sourcing in fashion launches a weekend of events. The No Bullshit Breakfast is the first of its series, which aims to unite friends, guests, and community members for an enlightening morning, creating the space for learning and conversations that last beyond the event.
The community picnic that starts at Lovelace Crossroads transitions over the years into an annual spring open house at The Factory, and, in 2018, is reintroduced as The Gathering—an expanded series of events at multiple locations across the community. The events are a time for employees, artisans, collaborators, supporters, and members of the community to gather and celebrate. The first annual Gathering features a Friends of the Café Dinner with chef Steven Satterfield, a Custom Design Workshop hosted by The School of Making, an evening cocktail workshop in collaboration with friends Brooks Reitz of Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. and Cathead Distillery hosted at 116 E. Mobile, a local venue and event space run by our friends at Single Lock Records. There are also mini workshops, a BBQ lunch celebrating the artisans, a booth with friends from Bluewater Creek Farm, a presentation of the history of the company with Natalie, a stenciling booth, tours of The Factory, and a special Swampette tour of Shoals music venues. The weekend wraps up with a family-style brunch featuring Nashville’s famous Biscuit Love.
In collaboration with Burt’s Bees Baby, garments are designed and manufactured using scraps from the Building 14 manufacturing division. Small off-cuts of organic cotton jersey, rib, and waffle knits are reimagined into baby tops, cardigans, hats, pants and dresses, including hand-embroidered bees.
In the summer of 2017, Natalie receives a call from dear friend Angie Mosier telling her that the Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences is trying to get in touch with her about a residency. Natalie is awarded a month-long residency thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and settles into the North Georgia mountains for a month of creative exploration during June 2018.
Erin Reitz joined Alabama Chanin’s design team in 2016. Today, she is the Design Director and has collaborated with Natalie on some of our most iconic collections.
Alabama Chanin begins an ongoing collaboration with Patagonia as part of their Truth to Materials initiative. Natalie writes an essay entitled “What Remains,” published in Patagonia’s Truth to Materials lookbook.
Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns is the fourth volume in the Studio Book Series, inspired by requests for a wider variety of garment patterns. The introduction allows that “some people want looser styles; some people want a wider selection of sleeve options; others want more sizes.” A beloved part of The School of Making, the book offers suggestions, tips, and instructions for altering patterns to suit individual preferences. The book introduces three new core patterns—the A-Line Dress, Wrap Skirt, and Classic Coat design and variations—and includes the patterns from all of the other Studio Books on a disc in the back of the book.