Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Weekending with Anna Maria and Natalie

Anna Maria demonstrates twin needle sewing
If you've followed this blog for any time at all, you will have already figured out how much I love taking workshops from people I admire.  My friend, Diane (yes, we have the same name, different spelling) spent this past weekend in Nashville, Tennessee at Craft South, the brainchild of Anna Maria Horner.  "Fashion by Hand" featured Anna Maria and Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin fame and it was totally wonderful and inspiring.  Both women were so warm and down-to-earth and they made our workshops not just learning experiences, but so much fun.  We had the opportunity to sew with both of their fabrics and, for me, it was the opportunity to overcome my fear of stitching an Alabama Chanin design item of clothing.  I love the idea of making something entirely with hand stitching.  How rare is it these days that we wear anything completely handsewn?  Natalie brought "blanks" of the garments Alabama Chanin designs and we were able to try on to our heart's content.  Not only did that help with choosing a size, but gave all of us a better idea of just how flattering each item of clothing was to all types of bodies.  Natalie also brought along her sweet daughter, who appears to be headed toward becoming a clothing designer herself sometime in the future.

Natalie Chanin showing us how to trace our patterns
Speaking of flattering, if you sew and haven't considered one of Anna Maria's patterns, you should. A case in point is her pattern for the Lemon Drop Dress.  I watched as one after another of us tried on the sample dress and saw how flattering it seemed to be on everyone.  I finally screwed up my courage and slipped into the dressing room to try it on myself and was astonished to find that it flattered even me!  I think Anna Maria is a genius to be able to design a dress that flatters so many different body types. Anna Maria has a new line of knitted fabric, most of which I would have deemed too bright for me to wear, but seeing them in person and being able to touch them, made all the difference in the world.  The fabric is soft and lovely and easy to stitch.  I'll confess to bringing a bit home with me and plan to make my very own Lemon Drop soon.

Diane and Rebekah inspecting the Lemon Drop dress
Saturday evening, Anna Maria hosted all of us at her home, where we were treated to a delicious meal and an evening of music provided by various members of her family.  I believe all but the youngest two sang or played (she has seven children), along with her husband and father-in-law and they were all incredibly talented.  We got to see her home studio and where Anna Michelle and Pierrette (the sweetest and most talented young women who work for Anna Maria) take care of all the details of running the online shop.  So much beautiful fabric!  All those fabrics spread out on the table are Anna Maria's newest collection that will debut in November (and I did ask her permission to post this picture).

Anna Maria's newest fabric creations
One of the best things about going away for a workshop is that it forces enables me to meet other like-minded people.  I'm an introvert by nature and could happily spend all my time here on the farm, holed up in my little studio and only interacting with my sheep (and my husband, of course).  The group of women who attended the workshop came from as far away as California and as close as right there in Nashville.  It was a joy to get to know them and share the experience.

**Apologies for the unedited photos.  For some reason, Blogger is not allowing me to post edited versions.


  1. What a special experience! Glad you got to go. I've been thinking it'd be fun for some local fans of Alabama Chanin to have a gathering to do some stitching together sometime….

  2. And now you are inspiring me. Again! I am going to have to take a look at Anna Maria's patterns and keep a look out for her fabrics.