A Visit To Alabama Chanin – Part III: The Clothing Collection

Of course, Alabama Chanin is known mostly for the CLOTHING!

I’m publishing this post again today, with the photos resized down.  Many many thanks to reader, Diane, for letting me know that the full size photos were TOO big.  As I told her, this ‘Techie’ stuff is quite daunting, but a necessity for me to learn since I’m not doing the travel/teaching any longer as I used to.  Please know I am most welcoming of any and all feedback, hints, comments, suggestions for posts, etc.  Londa

Just do a search for Alabama Chanin on Pinterest and you will get a feast for your eyes!  Nothing beats the up close and personal views that delight if you go visit The Factory in Florence, AL.  I’m including pricing on most of these pieces for information sake, and to say YEAH for the value she has managed to attach to these beautifully hand-made garments.  It is my feeling that our society is very spoiled when it comes to the cost of clothing!  If you sew, you know how much work goes into, for example, a man’s shirt.  How fast could YOU make one with all that detail?  And how much is YOUR labor worth?  When the day comes that all the extremely cheap imports for clothing come to an end, sewing will be a skill everyone will want to acquire, as clothing costs will skyrocket.

Starting at the beginning then…let me repeat my recollection of how Alabama Chanin’s  ‘making’ works for these amazing garments.  As shared in Tuesday’s post:

It was explained to us by the tour guide that Natalie yearned for a slow, simple life and to provide a way for the folk of her home town, Florence, Alabama, to be able to use their skills to make a living wage.  Indeed, she has accomplished that – and more.  The company began in early 2000 with the creation of hand-sewn garments made from cotton jersey fabric. Pieces are made to order (6-8 weeks lead time) from 100% organic cotton, sewn by hand through a group of artisans using a cottage industry method of operation.  Here is how it works as I recall it being explained: 

  1.  An order for a specific garment in the ‘line’ is received.
  2. A ‘Kit’ of everything it will take to create that garment is assembled and given a price.
  3. The artisans interested (they have about 24 of them currently – and many of specialties), then place bids to purchase the kit and to create the ordered garment according to the design specifications. So – to do that, they have calculated how much time it will take them to do the work – from their home.  They are deciding how much they will ‘earn’.
  4.  I wasn’t given an exact answer, but enough of an answer to then determine that a regular 100% markup is placed on that bid price to become the retail price.  Keep that in mind as you look at the prices in Part II: Clothing Collection of this series.

Knit Fabric – Organic Cotton.

Her 100% Organic Cotton is grown in TX and dyed, (can’t remember which) in North or South Carolina.  She is staying true to her commitment of organic, for sure.  I asked the tour guide how she cared for her AC clothing (which they all pretty much wore).  Though the directions on the clothing say to hand wash and dry, she did admit that she washed on delicate and machine dried her garments at least for a little while.

Who am I to say, as Natalie is certainly the entrepreneur par excellence…but I passed on the fabric myself.  My experience is that 100% cotton jersey just has no retention or drape.  However, the clothes shown are BEAUTIFUL.  Different strokes for different folks, but I’m going to opt for a cotton/lycra blend when I decide to start another project using her amazing reverse applique techniques.

School of Making - Fabric Details

You can purchase her jersey and ribbing by the yard, or even by the pound.  I resisted both, as my stash bins already overflow…

Knit Bolts   fabric scraps by the pound

Natalie SHARES her Techniques AND Patterns!

The absolutely amazing thing to me is Natalie’s ‘Open Source’ philosophy.  She has put her techniques and patterns into this great book that I sell on my website HERE.  To celebrate this week of Alabama Chanin at my blog, with this COUPON CODE of AC$5, the price of this lovely book is just $29.95. Sewing Patterns Book

The joy of my visit was snapping pictures of garments (and price tags!).  So – let me just stop ‘talking’ and start sharing!

My Favorite

– and my purchase, if I had the $7368 to splurge on it, would have been this striking coat. Enjoy the detail pictures.

-button_front_jacket

 The ‘Maker’s initials are on the tag inside the garment.  AD created this beauty.  I especially love the curled button loops.

At The Other End of the ‘Skill’ Spectrum

This 3 layer slashed and stitched up the middle scarf – any of us could accomplish this.  However, the price of $280 was a bit over the top IMHO.  I guess this proves there is a market for everything.  Scarf Detail

Slashed scarf Price

STRETCHABILITY in TECHNIQUE

I was intrigued by the way the stitching allows for STRETCHABILITY.  These necklines are good examples.  This salmony coral color was definitely the ‘brightest’ of the pallette.

Salmon Binding

Some garments are void of the reverse applique technique.

Taupe Princess Shell

This White Skirt with Godets

Whit Skirt with Godets

The price tag:  $740.  It would certainly be a basic!  Here are some more photos showing details and construction.  You can see that the seams to the outside create the ‘texture’. No seam finishes exist in these garments, as knits don’t ravel.

Godet Close=up

Note that even the stitches to attach the label are part of the ‘texture’.  And you thought you needed to hide those stitches from the outside of your garments!yoke close-up

Here is a stenciled only top from their machine-made line.  This shows you the size of the stencils they use.  These stencils are available at their website, and some come in the book.  They are LARGE and cost about $100 for the large ones.  Fine them at www.alabamachanin.com

Stencil Only

I’ve decided to expand this series for one more day, to include more on the TECHNIQUE used.  That will be Part V on Saturday, Sept. 23.  In that post, I’ll share about the thread, needles and paint used.

I actually worked to prepare my first (haven’t gotten beyond that yet) project to have something to work on at the hospital when our first granddaughter was born in Aug. 2016.  I posted about it HERE ON MY BLOG. I must say, I’m quite tempted to start another project for some soothing evening handwork.

Remember, to invest in the Book and use your coupon code for $5 off.  I’ll send it to you via Media Mail as well, because it is HEAVY.  Code:  AC$5 for the book found HERE

Please Please Comment if you’ve tried the ‘Alabama Chanin’ look.  I’d LOVE to see pictures.  You could email them to me at:  londa@londas-sewing.com

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1 Response

  1. Jill werschin says:

    I absolutely loved reading about Alabama chanin and all your recent travels. Looking forward to your “take” on all these design ideas.

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