Thursday, May 28, 2015

On Building Beauty or My Friend, Natalie

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A million years ago (2010) I first wrote a review on Natalie Chanin's then new book, Studio Style, and today I have the pleasure again of digging into her latest work, Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns, to share my insights.  What has me feeling like the luckiest girl though, is that the process of this sharing involved having a custom garment made and photographed on moi.  Oh the work.  It is so hard.  I suffer.
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I said then, a million years ago, and I say now, that my friend Natalie does not design clothing, she also builds it.  He process of creating the imagery on her organic cottons is like nothing else, and it remains like nothing else, despite her so selflessly and so inspirationally teaching her process to the world.  What comes out of her heart, and her studio is a stand alone collection of art, in the sea of disposable, anonymous sameness rampant in the fashion world.  All of her 3 prior books string together the complete story of her unique process of embellishment and construction, down to every last detail.  What is particularly special is how her books offer such a sense of place, that absorbing the skills taught within them is that much more crystallized.  And you finish the reading having experienced her process as much as you have read about it.
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If I could succinctly characterize this new book, it is that it graciously gives that extra mile of instruction that I would assume was never possible to do in a book.  Instructing garment sewing from a book is tricky.  But Natalie does it in a way that investigates the basics (and also every combination of altering those basics) with just the right amount of detail and technique to make it informative, but also with just the right attitude and encouragement to make it approachable.  And just like her first three books, it is a stand alone compendium on style while being a reverent guide to the handmade.
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When it came time to choose a garment to have made, I just pointed to the amazing princess seamed long sleeve tee on page 51 made from indigo-dyed cotton and said THAT.  I feel beautiful in it.  But I also feel so very comfortable.  Thousands of stitches made by a pair of talented, hardworking hands simply feels different than anything else you will ever wear.

This post was meant to be published a full week ago, and in my hurried, frantic schedule of getting the doors to Craft South open, I failed to complete it on schedule.  I texted Natalie to apologize, and her reply was such a comfort: "Nothing is ever late in our world".

Thank you, Natalie.  Thank you for your patience with your own process (and with me).  You remain an inspiration, a friend, and a source of hope in the way that our world works.  This book is the icing on the cake for your fans, and I am personally grateful that you took the time to make it.

xoxoAnna

17 comments:

  1. it is a work of art indeed

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  2. Oh my gosh. It is beautiful. Do I have the focus and patience? Probably not.

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  3. Received this amazing book as a Mother's Day gift - love it!

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  4. When I discovered 'Alabama Studio Style' my life was changed forever. Truly. It came to me at just the right time in my life -- when I needed something to do with my hands, when I was struggling to find clothes that fit beautifully and comfortably, when I was in a place of re-thinking what I wanted my world to look like, feel like and just be. That discovery led me to you, to Craft South, and back to a love of handmade that had been with me all my life but had been pushed aside for more "urgent" things. I am, as you say, personally grateful.

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  5. Ah, you look beautiful, Anna! What a gorgeous, gorgeous garment to own and wear! I love Natalie's books - all 4! - and just treated myself to a custom DIY kit earlier this week. Everyone deserves to feel beautiful and comfortable in their clothes.

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  6. Utterly beautiful! And I imagine all those thousands of handstitches do feel different.

    Looking forward to The Opening this weekend!

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  7. That is gorgeous! I hope you don't mind if we dress like twinsies - I am going to try to make one just like it!!

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  8. I want to abdicate from my current life and immerse myself in art and craft -- this tee and all of its beautiful handwork is so inspiring to me! Looks gorgeous on you, too!

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  9. Really beautiful. I am so inspired by the beautiful work and business model of Alabama Chanin and I love this new book as much or more than it's three predecessors. Your top is really lovely on you. It's such a great shape and the colors are gorgeous. I think now I may have to make one of my own!

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  10. That looks intimidating, but you might have just convinced me to try this. Also, I am so looking forward to checking out Craft South when I am in Nashville in July!

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  11. Wonderful! I attended a weekend workshop with Natalie in her Alabama studio a couple of years ago and it was heaven! I highly recommend it to anyone....whether you sew or not.....you will love it :-)

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  12. lovely!!! God bless you as you open this store! I am just learning to sew and am excited! it's a blessing to be able to create beautiful things!

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  13. Love her books linda gerig

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  14. the top is gorgeous you are very lucky!!!

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  15. Okay,only the prettiest t-shirt (like THAT term even suffices) ever made.

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  16. it is gorgeous, and you look gorgeous in it!! how many kids do you have, because DANG, you look SO good!!!

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