Do you have a hankering for sewing circles, locally-harvested food and soulful conversation? If so, read on.
Not long ago, StyleList had the pleasure of attending an Alabama Chanin Weekend Workshop that was filled with the aforementioned activities. At the helm was Natalie Chanin, who many of you have seen on this site before, and who also is the designer and motivational force behind her namesake company, which employs seamstresses to create traditionally stitched garments adorned with couture-like detail and embroidery.
Chanin and her merry band of American needle masters are a unique group. Based in the small town of Florence, Alabama, the garments are part of a ongoing global movement called slow design. Which is just what it sounds like. While the rest of the industry is producing at a furious clip, Chanin has focused her company to take care in every stitch, no matter how small or large, utilizing organic or local cotton jersey as much as possible, and employing the techniques that are indigenous to the area.
Many of the stitchers learned their craft from their grandmothers, mothers, and aunts before them. While we were there we met an amazing array of women. They included a grandmother from North Carolina, a student from SCAD, a professor from F.I.T., a stay-at-home mom from Minnesota (who drove to AL for the event), a high-tech mover and shaker from Portland, Oregon, a local beauty store bon vivant that claimed she was "addicted to the class" and, perhaps most adoringly a mother and daughter pair who were hand-crafting the latter's wedding dress.
In the middle of it all was Chanin, espousing wisdom from her storied 20+ year career in the fashion business. "Thread your needle, don't needle your thread," she said with Southern sincerity. Alternatively, "you know what will happen if you mess up your stitch? Absolutely nuthin.'"
Chanin and her crew are on hand to teach several different stitching techniques, supply you with the fabric, the stencils and any additional needs. Including Champagne.
Which is where you, dear StyleList reader, comes in.
If this is conjuring up any wistful inclinations to pop in and see the process for yourself - and it should - get ready to pack your bags. Throughout the year, Chanin hosts two-hour, one-day, weekend and individual workshops at The Factory. (While it carries a Warholian name, we can assure you the vibe is quite different.)
In a special offer to StyleList readers, Chanin is offering one lucky person a tution-free spot at her next weekend workshop this summer from June 24-26, 2011. All you have to do is leave a comment on Alabama Chanin's Facebook fan page about why you think you should get the coveted seat, between now and March 30th. The best response will win!
For more on Southern style, check out our fashion tour of Nashville, Tenn.