Chatting Embroidery w Natalie Chanin
Slow design pioneer and founder of Alabama Chanin, Natalie is known for her well-designed and thoughtfully made goods - made responsibly using ethical and sustainable methods that employ local artists to produce them. In addition to her beautifully made ready-to-wear garments, Natalie also offers organic cotton fabric, kits and patterns for the maker to replicate at home, and the occasional workshop. It is truly a treat to have Natalie in our shop and we cannot wait for the event this weekend!
Below, we chatted a little bit with Natalie about embroidery, her upcoming workshop, and her new book, The Geometry of Hand Sewing.
CS: Hello, Natalie! We are so thrilled to have you here next month! Can you tell us a little more about what students can expect with this workshop?
NC: I’m so excited to be back with you in Nashville! For the class, we’ll be exploring this new way of learning embroidery stitches and making scarves for ourselves at the same time. I expect everyone to leave having mastered their most troublesome stitches—and to have had a great time doing so.
CS: Why did you decide to write your new book, the Geometry of Hand Sewing?
NC: Over the years, we’ve had students and guests who’ve struggled with learning particular stitches. At some point, it occurred to me that all the stitches are simple functions of geometry and could be easily mastered if we just thought about them in a different way.
CS: What started your embroidery journey? Do you have a particular stitch that you especially love to make?
I said to someone the other day that, “we’ve been at this for 100 years!” I don’t remember a time that I wasn’t on this journey.
Herringbone will always and forever be my favorite stitch.
CS: Do you have any tips for those who are just getting started with embroidery? What are some must-have tools or techniques that you think are especially important for the beginner?
NC: I always think the most important thing to bring to any new endeavor is a sense of wonder. Embroidery and hand-work is a practice in patience and willingness to explore. If you can bring those things to the table, you're set up for success. (Along with our new book, of course!)
CS: You make so many beautiful things! Do you have a favorite piece?
NC: Two things right now that make my heart sing are our new Leisure Collection of cozy basics made in a thick waffle knit and the Lee stencil with beautiful, color-grown, organic cotton chambray fabrics from Sally Fox in California.
We think a weekend afternoon of slow embroidery + learning new skills with Natalie sounds like the perfect way to start off a hectic holiday season. Will you be joining us?