Monday, July 06, 2015

Road Trip and a Factory Tour

My sewing traveling buddy, Miss A, found herself in need of a new serger; her aging machine finally lost all ability to maintain tension.  She'd shopped around in the Rocket City, but hadn't really found info that was helpful (Not local store's 'Expert on that machine' answered every question with, 'I'm not sure, I'd have to check the manual' ...on a machine that she was purported to use and love...).

So, as we had today off for the 4th of July holiday (church offices are closed every Friday, so we got our holiday today) we decided we'd take a road trip to Florence and see if Ken's Sewing Center could be more helpful.

I arrived at her house this morning and, as we discussed lunch plans, she asked if I'd heard of Alabama Chanin.

Um, heck yeah.

Well, when she googled restaurants in the Florence area, Alabama Chanin Factory came up.

And, after a successful visit to Ken's which resulted in a Janome serger joining us for the rest of the trip, a wild goose chase roundabout trip to a fabric store that turned out to be closed on Mondays, we ended up at the Alabama Chanin Factory.

Where, in addition to marvelous eye candy sewing inspiration,  we really did find a gourmet deli restaurant.  Who knew?

We had a yummy quiche and salad, and learned that they gave factory tours at 2 PM.  As luck would have it, it was quarter to.

 So we did the tour of the factory, which was very interesting.
Our guide, Erin,  works in the media department and was very knowledgeable and articulate and did a really good job of describing not only how the Alabama Chanin factory operates but Natalie Chanin's vision.    Their hand sewing is done by local artisans who are independent contractors, but the prep work (cutting and stenciling) is done in the factory before the work is sent out.  They also do a small amount of indigo dyeing, and they do have some machine sewn work, some of which is under the Alabama Chanin brand and some of which is work for other, Patagonia, who recycles jackets into scarves in partnership with AC.

There is a DIY section, with fabric and such for sale; I wasn't in fabric buying mode but I did get one of the AC books that has been on my Amazon wish list for a while....when I opened it I found it was signed by the author as well! 

What a treat we had!  If you ever are in the Florence, AL area, drop by!


  1. How cool! I love factory tours of all types. My kids' favorites are the Jelly Belly factory and the Limoneira Packing Company that grows and packs lemons - both in California.

  2. Sounds like you to ladies had a wonderful time on this road trip!