Summer Giveaway Series- Alabama Studio Sewing + Design!

Alabama Studio Sewing + Design
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When given the opportunity to write about Alabama Chanin and their newest book addition: Alabama Studio Sewing + Design: A Guide toHand-Sewing an Alabama Chanin Wardrobe, I jumped at the opportunity! I have long been a fan of Natalie Chanin’s hand-stitched sustainable style and of course the clothes and accessories are unbelievably stunning beyond words.

About five years ago, when my husband (then boyfriend) was working at Borders book store, I used to visit him at work and kill time by sifting through the craft book section. Often, I would thumb longingly through the original Alabama Stitch Book and dream of someday of being a skilled enough sewist to be able to execute such beautiful patterns. Finally, one day I bought the book to put in my “hope chest” of craft books for that day when I would finally attempt something so intricate and lovely. I’d pull it out occasionally and fantasize about accomplishing such feats.

Applique details up close
Gorgeous wrap
What I love about Natalie Chanin’s designs is that they are so distinct and unique. You don’t see anything else like them on the market today, simply because of the fact that they are hand-stitched garments. No machine needed. Plus, if you make them yourself instead of purchasing one of their beautiful ready-made garments, you can’t beat that satisfaction of having made it yourself by hand. To me, anything that makes me feel like I've stepped into the Little House on the Prairie is good in my book!

When Natalie Chanin moved back to her home state- Alabama in 2000 to start a clothing line, she had no idea where it would end up. In the beginning, her company “Project Alabama” employed over 200 artisans in the Florence, Alabama area and sold clothing in shops all over the country. In 2006, Project Alabama ceased operations and Alabama Chanin was born. Alabama Chanin still uses the “Slow Design” process to create their heirloom quality ready-made pieces, and they are worth the wait. Additionally, Alabama Chanin is helping to keep these traditional crafting techniques alive and putting their own modern spin on them in the process. Natalie’s books serve as a guide to learning these techniques as well as inspiration for projects that are sure to be passed down for generations to come.

Roses and Rooster Tablecloth
Although I have yet to actually attempt anything from the first book I bought (although I still have dreams of completing a Roses and Rooster Tablecloth), I have major plans for Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. What I love about this book is that it provides instruction for the most basic Alabama Chanin designs and clothing instruction, then goes into detail about the different stitches and techniques needed to sew the more complicated appliquéd and beaded designs. Personally, I love the simplicity of the basic designs and absolutely can’t wait to get started! Just ask Piet and Casey, with whom I share an office here at Jimmy Beans. All I can talk about as of late is how I want to make just about every garment in this book. Maybe when I am done with that, I’ll finally muster up the guts to try that gorgeous tablecloth.

The long skirt
Although I love almost every piece in the book, I think my first project will be this long skirt. I wear skirts most days of the week because they are comfortable and look good dressed up or down. Plus, I love wearing boots, and they look great with just about all of the boots I own. I guess that’s the westerner in me coming out. J In any case, this long skirt would be super comfy to wear year round and a good starting point for experimenting with Alabama Chanin’s garment construction techniques. I’ll be sure to post a picture when I finish as I am planning on starting this project soon. I am planning to use a cotton jersey bed sheet that I bought at a thrift store. Since Alabama Chanin is a big supporter of organic and recycled materials, I figured this would be a great way to repurpose fabric. You can also purchase gorgeous organic cotton jersey fabrics by the yard directly from the Alabama Chanin website.
Alabama Chanin Cotton Jersey

Thanks so much for reading about Alabma Studio Sewing +Design! If you’d like to win a copy of this gorgeous book, please leave a comment telling a way you are keeping crafting traditions alive in your own life. We will choose a winner at random and announce the winner in next Wednesday’s blog post! You’ll have until 11pm (PST) on Tuesday, June 19th to enter. Good luck!

Also, the winner of last week’s Noni book giveaway was Commenter #4- Debby who said:
“It would be fun to make flowers from this book. Favorite flower - that's a hard one, but I think maybe daffodils.”

Congrats Debby! Please e-mail me at: to send me your mailing address and claim your copy of the book! Once I hear from you, I’ll ship it out right away!

Hope you all have a great rest of your week and happy sewing!


PS. All photos in this post were used with the permission of Natalie Chanin and are directly from the Alabama Chanin website. Please check out for more examples of their gorgeous work!

PPS. You may have noticed that we have been giving away a lot of books lately on the blog. These giveaways are made possible by the individual designers and STC Crafts! We’ll be continuing this series throughout the summer so keep checking back every Wednesday for more opportunities to win!

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sewing with repurposed materials


  1. This sounds like a wonderful book, and a wonderful way to keep handsewing traditions alive. I try to make most of the gifts that I give away, and to also spread my knitting addiction as far and wide as possible. There is nothing like taking some string and two sticks and making something both useful and gorgeous at the same time.

  2. Thanks for introducing me to Alabama Chanin, each of the garments look really incredible. I am getting back into sewing myself, but spend more time knitting. I like knitting lace shawls, though recently I've been asked if I have enough shawls. They're like snowflakes, they're all different and draw on different skills to complete.

  3. These designs and garments have been inspiring me to start sewing again! Currently, I embroider and knit! I've got a group that meets weekly to work on different types of fibre arts. We get to learn from eachother! I'd love to share this with them!

  4. This book sounds inspiring. It takes me back to my first introduction to the needle arts. I have sewn, done needlepoint, crossstitch, beading, now crochet and best of all knitting. I feel that experience with all enhances each individual genre. Maybe I have gone full circle.

  5. I just set down my library copy of her 2nd book, wishing I had my own. Our family bakes and cooks from scratch, knits, embroiders, and sews. None of it is mastered and often courage has to be built up to conquer the you don't know how to do its, but courage most often wins. I love so much about Miss Chanin's work, style and convictions.

  6. I'd love to try out the techniques in this book. I'm about to start a project in which I will "make" a pattern from one of my favorite skirts.

  7. I have kept the crafting traditions alive in my family but sticking with the standard granny square blanket (black borders) but putting a modern twist on it. I also keep the crazy quilt alive from Victorian times.

  8. I really like how you turn a phrase in your writing! Your "hope chest" of crafting books was excellent.

    Thank you for finding this Alabama Chanin work. It's beautiful.

  9. I have been keeping the knitting tradition alive in my family for over 50 years. Most of my knitting is for gifts and charities. I also sew and quilt, but have been knitting obsessed lately. I think this book could turn me back to sewing. I love the patterns.

  10. My mother and grandmother both sewed and knitted; it was just what you did, to make sure that clothes were made properly and fit properly. So that's what I do too.

  11. I have been keeping crafting traditions alive in my life just by doing them, and carrying on the traditions! What a lovely book--thanks for the chance to win it.


  12. I loved the first book and this one looks excellent too!

    To keep crafting traditions alive in my life, I set aside a small amount of time everyday to craft (sew, knit, weave, spin etc.) It's never as much time as I'd like, but it is amazing how much you can get done if you just do a little every single day. Many times I get together with my sisters, children, grandchildren and craft and I think that keeps it alive too.

  13. Hand work of all sorts is the main stay of the women in my family. I have many of my great grandmother's and grandmothers pieces in my home. I have pieces of my mother's hand work here too! I hope one day that these quilts, and embroidered hangings will be treasured by my children too. I can't wait for the book to come!! I have one other Alabama stitch book...:)

  14. My mother used to sew and knit. She tried to teach me sewing when I was in high school but I guess it wasn't my time. After I married, my mother-in-law taught me to sew and eventually to knit. I love to create something with my hands and give it away to a friends or family. Thank you to JBW and Kristen for highlighting a new artist/craft every week.

  15. The people in my life know that I'm crafty and creating is part of what defines me. Friends and loved ones give me bits of fabric, paper, yarn, etc. I try to make something special for each person who provides me with the material to thank them and also to show how something simple can be turned into treasure.

    I particularly like making things out of vintage handkerchiefs and fabric scraps - giving new life to something that has outlived its original purpose. Recently a friend gave me a large collection of silk samples discarded by an interior design store. I was able to make almost all my holiday gifts from them - lavender eye pillows, balsam pillows, and other beautiful goodies... all in sumptuous silk.

    The chance to learn the secrets of Alabama Chanin would help expand my creative endeavors and add even greater variety to my projects!

  16. I have crafted my entire life and like this style. Even though I am nearing 50 I still like the one of a kind creations a shown here. Thank God I have a teenage daughter who is 5'11'' and 130#'s, to outfit now. I like to make vintage style aprons as of late between knitting projects.

  17. The Winner is commenter #3- Amanda Tucker! Amanda- please e-mail with your shipping address to claim your book!