Featured Member: FancyClothing

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1. Where are you from and/or where do you live?

I grew up in a small town on the perpetually green Olympic Peninsula called Quilcene. I and my husband currently live in limbo, which means that we’re on our third house-sitting stint this year and planning for another, as we continue to contemplate the direction of our next major move.

2. What was the 1st thing you made? How did you start sewing?

My mother and grandmother have always sewn, so I think I had many projects shepherded along by their expertise. My first independent sewing accomplishment was a mint green eyeglass case, made with quilted fabric and eyelet lace, and a button fastener. It was marvelous.

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

Sewing is necessary for my survival— and not in a specialized, esoteric sense that only fellow seamstresses can really understand, but in a makes-me-money-so-that-I-can-eat sense. During college and my first year of marriage I was fortunate enough to be able to submit my pieces to obliging boutiques for a bit of supplementary income, but was never required to make it my bread and butter. After a stint in Africa, my husband and I came back to Portland and a tough job market that drove me, after papering the streets of downtown with my impressively perky resumes and receiving nary a bite, to sew in earnest. I lobbed wads of my clothing at every boutique I came across, and in the cutthroat fashion climate of Portland, I was fortunate to eventually worm my clothing into three stores. In the mean time I set up shop on Etsy.com, and the rest is history!

4. What is your favorite and what is your least favorite thing about sewing?

I love stumbling on a design that works well and expresses the evolving personality of Fancy Clothing. I never use patterns, so any new design I create comes from eyeballing another design and thinking about translating into Fancy Clothing terms. Patterns are probably my LEAST favorite thing about sewing, but I’m trying to discipline myself into learning the right way, and not just my way. Ugh— patience and details are my biggest problems. I want to get things done!

5. If you could make something for anyone who would it be and what would you make?

Hmm… I would probably make things for me! It’s something I never seem to have the time to do— any piece that I keep has some hole that I had failed to notice while making it, or something like that. I would love to learn how to make jeans and jackets and SHOES (how amazing, right?) with all of those lovely details competently worked out, and then I would wear only my own creations, all made from thrift store fabric that cost me less than $1 a yard. And I would finally be stylish. Sigh.

6. What are you looking for on our site? What do you think should be improved and what do you really like?

Burda is so amazing— it, more than anything else, had inspired me to buckle down and learn how to really do things, like sew from patterns and pay attention to terms and whatnot. I found this amazing tutorial on how to use those old button-hole attachments, and I was floored!

I would love to have more and more How-To’s! And free patterns, of course…

7. What is your motto?

I didn’t have one until last night, when I read this World War II mantra in a book I was thumbing through:

Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do. Do without.

It’s so obvious, so austere. But just right.

Just by looking at FancyClothing’s profile you get a smile on your face, and then you see her creations. Her awesome pinafores have graced the front page of BurdaStyle many a time. You may also recognize her from her Etsy shop Necessity is the mother. Make sure to check out her top ten

Sneak Peek: Blog

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Similar to the rest of the site, the Blog has become clean and sleek. There are such great and fun new features that have made it a pleasure to read and look at!

Articles are not seen in full length. Instead, you can browse easily through all posts and then, if something looks interesting to you, all you have to do it click “Read on and discuss.” From there you will be brought to the full article where you will be able to comment on the article and on other people comments, but more on that latter.

You will also notice that each blog category is clearly noted and color-coded right underneath the article title, this will make it easier to classify articles and see more from the author. There is also a corresponding color-coded list off to the right, which will help you read up on your favorite series.

You can find most of the new, fun features off to the right. Above the color-coded departments box, you will notice a little button to send us a story idea, we know you have great ideas and we are so excited to hear them! Though we won’t be able to write every story, we can’t wait for you to be involved in the process.

Right below the list of departments, you will see a box that shows you the photo albums associated with blog posts, this allows us to share more pictures with you, so more inspiration and more fun to look at! We will also be able to include video.

We are very excited for everyone to get started with the new site and we can’t wait to hear what you think!

Making Another Wedding Dress

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Has anyone ever done maternity wear? It’s like menswear or speaking a foreign language, challenging yet enlightening. I’ve just finished up with the final fitting for my friend Katie’s wedding dress -it took 3 to get it right! Last week we had the first & second fittings during which I learned a lot about maternity wear! Because I was out of town, Katie had taken her own measurements for me. I was sure they must have been incorrect but I went ahead with them. Though she didn’t appear to have grown so much in my eyes, her normally size 4 frame had swelled to a size 14 from her pregnancy. We discovered that the front section of her gown needed to be a size 14/16 and the back a 6. The second fitting went far better and the poly-silk I used for the mock-up emulated the hammered silk we decided on for the final gown much better than my first muslin sample.

I originally sketched ideas for Katie based upon inspirational looks she’d collected for me. She wanted a halter-top or drapey top dress with an empire waist (for her swell) with an inverted box pleat like one I designed on another dress of mine she owns (pleat detail pictured above in black). I set about draping the top section of the dress and used the skirt pattern from a size 14 gown I found. I then shaped the pieces so the 14 would blend with the size 6 of the back panels.

Katie’s wedding is next weekend in the Hill Country of Texas near Austin. I’ll be taking some behind-the-scenes pics of the dressing of the bride. At the last minute, while I was hemming her dress, I realized it needed a sash to cinch in her waist and show off her swollen belly. I hope the final look is gorgeous!

Amy Butler's Sewing and Quilting Software

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With as ‘into’ sewing and technology as I am, it’s surprising that I haven’t ever used a computer program designed for pattern making. There’s several out there, Wild Ginger, LEKO, and Bernina’s My Label. However, it wasn’t until Amy Butler released her Electric Quilt Softwares CD that I finally took the plunge.

Amy’s CD is a stand alone software (although it is compatible with Electric Quilt 6) for your PC or Mac systems that run Windows (with Virtual PC) and contains 22 unique home decor projects (8 quilts, 3 table runners, 7 pillows, 1 floor cushion and 3 bags). Also included are 9 ‘bonus’ projects which are a variety of tutorials that have appeared on Amy’s site. The design of the CD is easy to navigate and is extremely user friendly – it allows you to start ‘playing’ immediately without spending time reading a manual. However, if you’re interested in some of the more complex aspects of the software such as customizing quilt patterns, all the instructions are available right on the CD. That’s right, you can take existing project patterns and make them ‘your own’ by erasing, flipping, rotating blocks, adding boarders, altering layouts, and changing fabrics! No matter what you chose, either the project as it’s written or complete customization, all sewing instructions are provided as well as fabric requirements (even if you alter the pattern!). Also included in the CD is a sewing glossary, tips, and technique section, resource guide, list of available fabrics by Amy, and loads of inspiration projects and photos.

While Amy’s CD is geared toward quilters, this program has whetted my appetite for using my computer to design patterns – and can’t wait to try my hand at a few others. Want to try one for yourself? Wild Ginger has a free download available that allows you to customize accessories such as hats, bags, and footwear!

The Look: How to Make it Yourself

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I’ve been so excited for June to come as this month we’re focusing on folk, vintage and ethnic influences in fashion. Ever since my father had me singing Rolling Stones songs & playing his guitar I have romanticized living in the 70’s- from music to fashion, it was a wild time. This post explains what’s we’re channeling from decades past and how to make these looks yourself!

Look 1: There’s nothing more chic than a soft printed shrug to throw on during a cool summer night. Make a 70’s statement and lengthen it and wear it with jeans or drape the short version over your favorite summer dress. Download the Sarah pattern here.

Look 2: Skinny jeans aren’t going anywhere but forward. Try our Anita pattern and customize your own pair in a metallic linen or brocade. Eliminate the pockets for more subtle look. Not sure about skinny jeans? Try our user’s Chudidar Leggings Tutorial and wear a sultry sheath over them.

Look 3: Mila’s dress is your next summer staple. With so much room for colorful personalization this little frock will make you rock. Check out the pattern here.

Look 4: Sex on the beach? Well, at least you can look sexy in our vintage inspired Alison bathing suit. I love Missoni’s swimsuits but I can’t afford them. I’ll make my own in an ethnic print and spend my money on food & drinks (or rent)!

And don’t forget to accessorize with bright vintage scarves!

Fashion spread pictured top: Steven Meisel. Dhani Harrison and Sasha Pivarova “Here Comes the Son”. Gush

The Brave Little Tailor Creates Fashion from Fabric

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Once upon a time, there was a brave little tailor … Probably many of you know at least one fairy tale involving a tailor: the brave tailor who went out to fight against flies and giants to marry the king’s daughter in the end or the emperor’s new clothes that also involves a tailor…. remember?

But how many know that well before “once upon a time” there were no tailors (at least in Europe). Before the mid-12 century, it was the responsibility of women at home or nuns in cloisters to produce whatever people wore, which at that time had nothing to do with the well fitted clothes we are wearing today. From what I’ve read they were, to put it plainly- not particular fashion wonders: wide and unshaped fastened with belts around the waist.

And then around the 12th century something changed: along with the cotton fabric, came the Renaissance and a new idea of clothes developed: body-shaped clothes. In fact, some like to say that was the birth of “fashion”.

But what does the Renaissance have to do with fashion and body-shaped clothes? In those times when daily life was strongly regulated by the Church and Christian beliefs the emergence of another style didn’t just happen. You needed a whole new outlook in life and that new outlook were the slowly emerging beliefs of the Renaissance. In the later stages of the Renaissance you can see these ideas in the introduction of 3-D perspective in painting that pulls the viewer right into a picture or the suffering faces of the Christian martyrs, are typical signs of this new European worldview that placed humans and human sentiments in short, the individual into the center of the world. And supposedly with this new consciousness of the YOU and ME came a new consciousness of the personal body and the body as form of expressing yourself.

Thus, one thing led to another and with a new demand for differently crafted clothes, and new technical possibilities (cutting out shapes) clothes making the shift from being a domestic female task to becoming a profession in itself calling for new skills: the birth of the tailor and the tailoring tradition.

I will tell you more about that tailoring tradition and why brave fairytale tailors are pictured as hungrily skinny people sitting cross-legged on tables in my next blog!

In the meantime check out the Renaissance inspired creations at BurdaStyle like almost all of Paranoir’s Renaissance Gown or the Tabard How To.

Photo © National Gallery London

Featured Member: Cheriered

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1. Where are you from and/or where do you live?

I was born in Australia, in a little town called Orange. My parents then moved us to sunny Queensland where we found our home on the Redcliffe Peninsula because it was just too cold in Orange.

My parents are from Norway and Estonia so I’d like to think I’ve got a bit of European flowing through me as well, I just like warm weather that’s all.

2. What was the 1st thing you made? How did you start sewing?

The first thing I think I ever remember making was a care bear cut from a ready-made material pattern with my nana in her sewing room.

My nana, who is from Estonia & my Pop who is from Poland, came to Australia after the war and settled in Orange. My nana started her own little sewing and mending business from her sewing room and from as young as I can remember I always helped her with cutting out patterns with my Pop, threading needles (because she couldn’t see well :)), threading bobbins and of course making clothes! She still sews and has her little sewing business – same prices as 50 years ago – nothing has changed!

After we moved to Queensland I didn’t have the same content of sewing in my life but I still did bring out the old machine once in a while, for my formal (prom) dress and when I went feral in my first year at Uni. I liked the idea of creating my own style and couldn’t really afford to buy clothes all the time. I was a poor student.

Once I got married and had my children I kind of got lost for a while, studying, working and doing house-wifey things until just recently. My husband, tired of me saying “I’m bored” told me to “get a hobby.” Now he totally regrets those infamous 3 words. I have now taken over the dining room and formal lounge room with fabric, patterns, cotton and PINS! For so long I was looking for my passion (sitting right under my nose for most of my life) and I have found it much to his dismay (he is now a sewing widow :))!

I completed a pattern making course with one my girlfriend’s at The Australian Institute of Fashion & Design just last year to help me with the whole design process. I was so happy with the course I’m planning to do more this year to help enhance my skills.

3. What role does sewing play in your life?

I own a restaurant which is a lot of of hard work and very stressful at the best of times so sewing has definitely given me a new lease on life.

I sew daily now and have just opened up my own Esty store www.zacobe.etsy.com (check out my store!) which I hope will lead me onto my new business venture once I sell my restaurant (Yes it’s on the market – is anyone looking to buy a restaurant? It’s really awesome!).

I love designing and making beautiful clothes, I think I miss wearing nice clothes working in my restaurant because I have to wear black all the time and my clothes just never smell the same once I wear them to to work – they smell like pizza. Hence, I love working with colours and making things that I would definitely not wear to work!

4. What is your favorite and what is your least favorite thing about sewing?

Most favourite thing I like about sewing would have to be the finished product or just when I’m getting to the end – it’s the anticipation of what it’s finally going to look like on! I get really excited :))!

My least favourite thing is bobbin winding – I think I overdid as a kid and now it has become a pet hate of mine. Also having to change the colour of the cotton on my overlocker, how painful.

5. If you could make something for anyone who would it be and what would you make?

I would love to make a beautiful gown for Miranda Kerr. She is stunning! I love her from head to toe. I could see her in one of my dresses! Oh, and i could then possibly meet Orlando Bloom – Yum!

6. What are you looking for on our site? What do you think should be improved and what do you really like?

Like everyone, I think this site is awesome for anyone who sews and likes to share their creations and ideas with like-minded people. I have learnt so much from Burdastyle since becoming a member and have taken my sewing further than just a hobby.

I love that users become a star for the day on the front page under user creations. And i also love browsing the daily creations that everyone puts up – so inspiring!

I love tutorials that people add and I love that people can comment on your creations and give you advice. Sharing is caring.

I don’t like seeing things other than sewing on the site. Call me biased but i just like looking at sewing creations nothing else, sorry.

7. What is your motto?

Don’t know if I actually have one… but this i like to live by….

My friend Bec once told me which I never forget and I think it would make the whole world a better place:

Whenever someone did something to erk me she would say “Oh Cherie, just send them the love…” in other words don’t put out negative energy back it only creates more negativity. Send them love and positive energy and you will feel much better for it by letting go and in turn create more positive energy.

She’s my fabulous spiritual advisor and also my best friend – she’s read all the books – a little walking spiritual library. Perfect.

Check out Cheriered’s creations and her Etsy store: Zacobe where you can purchase many of the creations you see here. Also, don’t miss her favorite creations!

Prom Mini Blog: I Could Have Danced All Night!

Prom Night was absolutely magical! I felt like Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady” – when she appears at the top of the staircase in her shimmering gown and the ballroom falls silent to watch her descend the stairs. Except – Audrey didn’t design and sew her own gown…I did!

It’s so funny – I realized we were driving right next to my date, Robbie, on the way back from the hairdresser’s (oops, running a little late!). I had to crank my seat all the way back so he wouldn’t see me too soon – it was such the Molly Ringwald maneuver! But, I didn’t want to ruin THE REVEAL! When he saw me he told me I looked like a movie star, and he felt like Clark Gable! Yep, exactly what I was going for!

Mom helped me figure out how to pin on Robbie’s corsage – I was too fumble-fingered to do it myself! I got a kick (literally!) out of revealing the secret lining of my dress. Every couture gown must have a lining! Mine was a dazzling pink, rose-patterned silk my mom had saved for me from Europe I felt like I was wearing a dozen roses! Then Mom had a surprise for me – a gorgeous, embroidered silk stole. She made it from a pattern she downloaded right here from BurdaStyle (pretty hip mom, right?): Weekend Designer Satin Stole.

Brother Sewing Machines let us borrow their Project Runway Limited Edition Sewing and Embroidery Machine for this episode of Jane’s Sew & So, and my mom was so psyched to learn how to machine embroider with it!

My friends and I all got together with family to take pictures. Of course, my dad brought a whole film crew! We got come great shots – just like the images from my dreamboard – a group of friends, decked out in great-looking clothes, in front of a limo, having the time of their lives!

I’ll show you how you can design and make a couture gown for any occasion using the “Every Body Bodice!” Until then… I’ve had the time of my life! Cue music…

Sneak Peek: Discussions

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Coming closer to our launch some info about the discussion section:

The Discussions section replaces the forums our current site. In the forums you were able to find answers, post questions and share your knowledge of sewing. All that will be able to happen in the discussion section as well PLUS some exciting new features that we are thrilled to share with you.

The new Discussion section houses the former help section as well. Offering the help in this format will allow you to comment on our help and ask additional questions as well as help each other out. The help topics will be clearly indicated as BurdaStyle content and will always remain at the same place in the list.

The design and outline of the Discussions section is more organized and streamlined. You will find it much easier to find exactly what you are looking for.

Once you have asked a question, people’s replies will start to come in, the freshest posts bringing the most active topics to the top of the list. You will be able to reply directly to a discussion topic or post, and replies will be visually indicated through indentation.

We are happy to announce that the long awaited “Report as Inappropriate” button will be under each new topic and individual comment. This helps us keep the quality of the forum up by eliminating spammers thereby making it a better place for all you BurdaStylers out there.

With this optimized design, conversations will flow, answers will be found quickly and questions will be answered. We are excited to see you take part in these discussions and watch you all grow as sewers because of it!

Spotlight On: Alabama Chanin Part 2

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Below is Part 2 of my interview with Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin, a coveted lifestyle brand which focuses on slow design and sustainability. To read the first part of this interview click here

Today you are not only creating beautiful things but helping others through your Artists Outreach program, Architecture for Humanity and The Kitchen Sisters. I know you’ve studied Environmental Design and film, but how does one relay a political message, while being taken seriously, through fashion?

I am not sure that we truly relay a political message (or can), I just know that it is very, very important to do what you love in a way that protects people and planet. I choose to work by example and then hope that my experience can spread and give others hope that they can do what they love. I have often been asked if I am political in one way or another… As we all know, this is a time of great change and I believe in taking small, baby steps towards initiating that change. Is that grassroots politics? Maybe.

Lastly, how hands-on are you in the production process today, I realize you have a talented team of artisans hand-sewing items for Alabama Chanin, do you create all of these concepts alone or do you have a partner?

We have the most amazing team of employees and artisans who are truly the heart and soul of this company. Without these friends and colleagues, none of the work I do would exist. And while I am the designer/owner and do not technically have a partner; our team is the best example of partnership I have ever experienced.

Click here to see the Behind-The-Scenes Slideshow, trust me, it is not worth missing!

You can view Natalie’s book Alabama Stitch Book in our A-Store.

Sew Dad A Tie for Father's Day

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We may have just wrapped up our bow tie sew along, but it’s not too early to start thinking of the next big tie event (at least for those of us in the United States) – Father’s Day! This year, show dad how much you love him by stitching up a necktie! The easiest way is using the Osman Tie pattern and following BurdaStyle’s How To. But, if you are looking to make it from scratch, try The Purl Bee or Ask Andy About Clothes versions or check out this series of videos from expert village.

Prom Mini Blog: All in the Family

…and your little dog, too

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, my village – my tribe – gather together to shoot television shows – not quite the same as sitting around a campfire, sharing stories of the great hunt, but close.

My mom, dad, sister, two uncles and one aunt were on set with me to shoot the “Every Body Bodice” episode of Jane’s Sew & So…and my little dog, too. That’s our production mascot Jezebel in the center of the picture.

My mom created the show when cousin Chaz wanted a new skirt for a party, but was flat broke because she was a recent college grad (Yikes! That’ll be me in 4 years). Mom taught Chaz how to make a funky jean skirt out of an old pair of jeans, asked my dad to pick up a camera and – voila! – Jane’s Sew & So was born. My mom was able to set her mind on a goal and achieve it with such finesse. I know I can “manifest” everything I want out of life, whether it’s designing and sewing my own prom dress or winning an Academy Award for directing.

I was nervous about committing to each design element in my dress (so many choices!), but I just had to step back, take in the whole garment and go for it. I took pattern elements from a vintage pattern, a new pattern and even drew some elements freehand until I had one complete “Frankensteined” pattern. I used to think you had to just make the dress that came in a pattern pouch, but you don’t, you can tailor anything to fit your style and body type. It took us 10 hours to shoot the show! And, while we were exhausted by the time we got to the “martini shot,” we still had smiles on our faces.

Now that I know how to make the “Every Body Bodice,” I can use the pattern again to design the next major dresses in my life – bridesmaid – WEDDING!

I want my husband to dress like Freddy from “My Fair Lady,” by the way! What about you BurdaStylers out there? Thought about your wedding dress?!

Melbourne CBD BurdaStyle Club

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Last night Tessuti Fabrics hosted the very first Melbourne CBD BurdaStyle Club meet! Ten lovely ladies attended and the night started off quietly as everyone felt a little nervous but once we had introduced ourselves and i asked everyone to do a little show and tell of their most recent, current and future creations the chatter was soon flowing. There were some wonderful creations that included vintage dresses, teddy bear shirts, childrens clothes and handbags.

We did not sew at our first meet, instead we took the opportunity of having Colette and her Mum Silva there and picked their brains. Between them both they knew all the answers to all the questions asked and there were many! We also had the chance to flick through the new arrival of Japanese sewing books and shop at our leisure with a bonus discount. There were nibbles including delicious biscuits from Brunetti and plenty of tea.

Being the first meet we were unsure of what to expect and discussed what we would like from future meets. We talked about tutorials we could do such as how to sew slippery fabrics and sew in zips and more advanced classes that could be organised. We will hopefully have sewing machines set up soon to save people having to bring theirs in with them. We also decided that meeting once a month would give us plenty of time inbetween to create something new for the next show and tell.

Have there been any other BurdaStyle Club meets yet? I’d love to hear how they went and what you have planned for future meets. Maybe you’d even like to show your photos in the BurdaStyle Flickr group?

If you’re in Melbourne and would like to attend a future meet please email me at nikkishell@burdastyle.com. Also, there is a possibility i will be hosting a meet at one of the Sydney Tessuti stores in August so if you are interested in attending that please email me.

Nichola.x

Material: Crocodile Tears

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Come with me, from the Far East Cashmere and China to Africa, on one last exploration of exotic fabrics, their history and meaning beyond being luxury (or everyday) products: crocodile leather.

People have been wearing animal skins for thousands of years, but unlike today when croc leather and similar items are bought with a whole lot of money to show off wealth, in ancient times it was not just a matter of status but the skins were worn in full awareness of the worth of the animal, the animal as a whole, not just the skin! In ancient Egypt, for example, where crocodiles were thought to be divine, priests wore crocodile skins to connect with the spirit of these sacred creatures. Elsewhere in Africa, warriors wore crocodile armour in the belief that in some magical way the skin would bestow the power and fearlessness of the animal to them.

Croc skin fascinates until today. It is indeed mysteriously beautiful and beautifully mysterious. But honestly not much is left of this mystery once you have visited a croc farm as I did some years back. At first, I was fascinated by the huge female crocs lying in the sun, laying eggs, which then were collected and matured in a special warming room until the little crocs hedge. But my fascination waned quickly when we stepped into the next room and saw literally hundreds of arm-length crocodiles piling over each other in a putrid water puddle of 4 square metres, waiting to be turned into precious leather bags, belts, wallets and watches. Someone might argue that croc mass farming prevents the extinction of wild crocodiles. I really wonder as at least in those parts of Africa where I have been, people kill wild crocs not because of their skins but because they are dangerous to humans and livestock (the skins of big wild crocs are far too rough and damaged to be used for luxury products).

Seeing these wild animals being exploited like this really made me realize how humans’ thirst for luxury and well-being degrades (in every sense of the word) the natural world around us. In this sense, using mustard wool for the larissa jacket does not only give this classic motorcycle jacket a new twist but might make it a bit more animal friendly.

Photo by Charles Cantin

Spotlight On: Alabama Chanin

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Natalie Chanin is a mother, designer, writer, manufacturer; a soulful woman to whom quality of life comes first, as in living, loving, laughing. It comes as no surprise that Natalie has created a coveted lifestyle brand Alabama Chanin, which focuses on slow design and sustainability. Chanin created her first American couture label Project Alabama in 2000, which to much dismay shuttered it’s doors in ’06. Project Alabama came from a cut up t-shirt Natalie manipulated and hand-sewed herself. “That hand-sewn shirt hatched a company, a concept, a clothing line and ultimately brought me back to my family, childhood home and community.”

Natalie was kind enough to answer some of my questions, this is Part 1 of our conversation:

You have been creating garments in the Upcycling vein ever since your first line, “Project Alabama” came to light. These garments, which are literally “passed from hand to hand, and generation to generation” represent something very unique. How did it all begin?

The old story of me cutting apart a t-shirt and sewing it back together again for a party is really the basis of the company I own and run today. I sewed that t-shirt because I wanted something special to wear. What I found out was that it had been a very long time since I had made something with my own two hands. That process of making rather than buying excited me. I got up the next morning and started making another shirt, then the next day another, and the next day another. Those upcycled shirts became a t-shirt line, then a collection and today what I would consider to be a lifestyle.

I remember when “Project Alabama” was nominated for the Council of Fashion Designers in America/Vogue Fashion Fund in 2005 while shortly after the couture line closed its doors. What happened?

Yes, that was a year of highs and lows. We were nominated for the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award and were finalists for the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund. Then in September of 2005, had our first fashion show and wound up on the cover of Women’s Wear Daily. One year later, almost to the day, we closed Project Alabama.

As happens, things change, people, companies and concepts grow and take on their own lives. The Project Alabama that I started closed in September of 2006 and the company that I loved grew into what is now Alabama Chanin.

Project Alabama still exists; however, it is no longer produced here in Alabama, as was my original intention (I understand that the total production is now housed in India); the offices are no longer housed in Alabama, as my original vision of community dictated and the line is not designed by me, as many people still believe.

At the time Project Alabama closed, it felt to me like the end of the world; however, sitting here today, it feels that the world is just beginning.

Click here to see the behind-the-scenes slideshow, trust me, it is not worth missing!

You can view Natalie’s book Alabama Stitch Book in our A-Store.

Read on with part 2 of the series.

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