As everybody surely knows by now, you and I are both huge fans and devoted friends of Natalie Chanin, the visionary founder of the Florence, Alabama-based clothing company Alabama Chanin and its revolutionary DIY sister enterprise, The School of Making. We never tire of listening to Natalie, and learning from her. We’ve picked up a lot of handsewing knowledge from sitting by Natalie, for sure, but she is also a sustaining source of inspiration and thought about what we are doing when we are making things by hand, and as businesspeople, writers, citizens, consumers, and neighbors. In her gentle, clear-eyed way, she never stops pushing for an ethical, life-affirming way forward.
Last month, we were honored to welcome Natalie to MDK World Headquarters for two days of events.
Things got rolling on Friday evening, with a talk and celebration of Natalie’s latest book, Embroidery: Threads and Stories from Alabama Chanin and the School of Making. This book is a revelation, a scrapbook, and a sourcebook. I highly recommend it for anyone who wonders what one person can do in this world, and the places that clothes, and sewing, have in the world.
Our conversation with Natalie was one we won’t soon forget.
Books were signed.
Handmade clothing was tried on. This was my own me-made Cropped Car Jacket, which never travels in checked luggage. I think this shot is me trying to get it back. Either that or explaining that stitching it was easy, the work of a few evenings. (It felt that way, I promise! I was in The Zone.)
A trunk show gave us a chance to ooh and aah at the new collection, and the exquisite work of Alabama Chanin’s artisans, up close.
We were thrilled to welcome folks to Atlas Drive from all over the country, and from the next zip code over. Some were knitters and stitchers, and some were not, but everyone was a lover of handmade beauty.
The next day, a full-day workshop was a smaller gathering of America’s biggest fans of the running stitch. To see 30 new School of Making projects—skirts! shirts! ponchos!— set sail, with Natalie’s hand at the helm, was a thrill. We cannot wait to do it again. Come back anytime, team Alabama Chanin!
Thanks to our friends at Abrams, three lucky winners will each receive a copy of Natalie’s book: Embroidery: Threads and Stories from Alabama Chanin and the School of Making.
How to enter?
Step 1: Sign up for MDK emails, right here. If you’re already signed up, you’re all set. We have a new option for texting, so when you sign up for those, you’ll get a coupon code good for 10% off your next MDK order.
Step 2: Tell us your favorite kind of handwork that is not knitting or crochet. Are you a beader? Do you long to attach sequins to your nearest and dearest? How about needlepoint? Quilting? Blackwork, anyone?
Deadline for entries: Sunday, February 26, 11:59 PM Central time. We’ll draw random winners from the entries. Winner will be notified by email.