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We are so happy to share our interview with Natalie Chanin, the author and artist of the beautiful, new Alabama Studio Style. Natalie’s blog tour continues through this week with your chance to win a STC Craft book of choice. You can also win a copy of Alabama Studio Style here today! Enjoy our interview with Natalie and then comment to win.
Alabama Studio Style is a perfect follow-up to all that we loved in The Alabama Stitch Book. As founder and creative director of Alabama Chanin, a fashion and lifestyle company, Natalie shares a beautiful array of projects, techniques and recipes. Elements are woven together through the book with story. From basic stitch information to elaborate possibilities with beading, you can find everything in Alabama Studio Style to create a look you love. There are beautiful photos, over twenty projects, recipes, stencils and patterns in the book. Clothing projects include camisoles, dresses, skirts and more. Projects for the home range from items like placemats and pillows to coffee tables with stitching!
We asked Natalie a little more about the booK;
SMS: We loved The Alabama Stitch Book and felt it was a perfect mix of technique, guidance and encouragement for individual creativity. Alabama Studio Style builds on your first book so seamlessly; they both work so well together. What were your goals with this second book for your readers?
Natalie: After the publication of Alabama Stitch Book, it struck me that I had really enjoyed the process of learning how to write a book – as well as the actual writing, manufacturing and designing of the book. And when I first held that finished book in my hands – as happy as I was – I felt that there were some parts of the story that were missing and, honestly, felt a bit sad that the process was over. I guess that it was a sort of withdrawal. (I am laughing as I write this because a book becomes like a living person during the writing process. It moves into your house, your world and is like an infant that wakes up crying in the middle of the night!)
Luckily, Melanie and all the great folks at STC gave me the opportunity to continue – to feed my passion you might say.
So, while the first goal with Alabama Studio Style was certainly to continue the story and fill in some of the blanks, it was very important to me that the book also stand on its own two feet. For this, I wanted to incorporate not only our clothing but more about a way of life that incorporates hand-craft in my whole life and all the aspects of living – whether it be home, kitchen, garden, friends or, yes, clothing.
SMS: The mix of background, technique, patterns, recipes and “story” in the book is beautiful. It feels like we’re sitting with you while you stitch, drinking some ice tea on those perfect porch chairs! What is the community of sewists around you like?
Natalie: Oh that makes me so happy that you feel that way! This was really the goal. As I have grown older – and into my own “style” – I find that I am surrounded by sewists and amazingly talented people. Of course, our artisans at Alabama Chanin bring such richness to my work experience as a designer and an entrepreneur. Then, our supporters and crafters who have taken the two books and brought life to the stories – these sewists have been a wealth of knowledge, learning and inspiration for us.
Lastly, I am lucky to be surrounded by family and friends who are such an important part of my creative life every single day. This has made all the difference.
SMS: Alabama Studio Style shares such a great mix of stitching, stenciling and beading techniques. I knew right away that I’d make the String-Quilted Pillow project first from your book. Then, reading through your discussion about “stringing,” I realized the quilt top I had just bought from an antique shop incorporated this same approach with foundation fabrics. We love how you weave the history of techniques and design into your writing. How does the history of sewing around you influence your work?
Natalie: I am so inspired by these histories and feel that my work is really just a continuation of so many who have come before me. It is impossible for me to separate myself form that history. It is not that history is at the forefront of every collection or project that I make but more that these histories and stories are my underlying connection to humanity and it is this underlying connection that drives me to create.
SMS: How did you get your start in sewing? In the business of sewing?
Natalie: In some ways I have been sewing since I was born. I grew up at the feet of women and men whose whole lives were built around making – whether it was cooking, sewing, tending or building. This is at the core of my work as a designer and human being.
The business of sewing was a development of that core. I normally say that I “fell” into this but obviously, there was a strong history of sewists and creators in my past that inspired me to cut up that first t-shirt.
SMS: We learned a little about how you source sustainable materials and the range of materials you now offer in your online store. Anna Maria Horner also shared a little about your beautiful color palettes here. What influences your choice of fabric and color when you design?
Natalie: I think all designers design – if just a bit – for themselves. The same is true for me. I look for a word, a theme or an image that I find startling in one way or another – it might be beautiful, it might make me feel calm, it might just spur a thought. Last season, I chose a red that was the inside of a paint bucket found on the side of a road. There was something about that color red that spoke to me. I am very inspired by the design on nature and the synchronicity of events and things (and people) that find their way into my life. Like a paint bucket on the side of the road can take your breath away.
For fabrics, I am much more practical as a designer. I need a fabric that works in my life – for a specific need. However, right now, we work with one fabric – cotton jersey. Many people might find this restrictive. I find it gives me freedom to explore new techniques and new ways of working.
SMS: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us a little about your lovely new book.
Natalie: Thank YOU for having me round!
Comment to win a copy of Alabama Studio Style today!…