Monday, December 6, 2010

the gentle art of hand sewing

One of the tales I've not told from my Incredibly Busy Summer is of the workshop I was fortunate to attend in August.  For some time, I've admired Natalie Chanin's work.  She hails from my hometown of Florence, Alabama.  She left to work internationally in the fashion industry, but a few years ago came back to Florence to start a new kind of company.  The emphasis is on hand sewing, using sustainable and even recycled materials, and helping bring jobs to the community.  Another aspect of her work is teaching these techniques so that sewing does not become a dead art.  She has written two books - Alabama Stitch Book and Alabama Studio Style.  They are not your run-of-the-mill craft books; in addition to the simple instructions for projects, they contain wonderful recipes and stories.  I have enjoyed reading them because the stories are all about places and people I know!

So, back to the workshop:  it was a dream come true to be able to go.  The money to attend was a very generous gift.  I was nervous at the prospect of sitting in a room full of people who'd been able to pay their own way, because I thought I would feel out of place.  But in truth, I met some delightful ladies that day, besides Ms. Chanin herself.  And the lunch was just amazing.  Good Southern fare, but over-the-top delicious.

I didn't really expect to learn anything new as far as stitches or techniques, but the application was new to me.  I really had to get over my professional-seamstress OCD to try something new - *gasp!* Exposed knots??  Unfinished edges??  But it's really freeing to not have to worry about the finishing and just concentrate on the decoration.  And seeing some of the garments in person - even without finished hems and seams and all that, they are exquisite.  And I might add, they take more time than you'd think.  But the work is pleasant and mindless; no counting or fretting, just tie knots and follow the lines.

It was a good day, and I'm glad to have something new to add to my repertoire.  The photo is of a project I've started for a Christmas gift - wish me luck!


Charlotte said...


Kim said...

Thanks! The photo doesn't do justice - it's a chocolate brown and bright green with cream color stitching.

Sue said...

That looks so nice. I hope when it is done you will share more about it and maybe how you did it. Thanks for the mention of the books. I like hand sewing and did some last night (the lining to a bag was all.) but always like to learn more about it.