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Sample, #5789 Reverse Anna's Garden

This is a Sample. It was designed by Natalie Chanin. It is dated 2008–09 and we acquired it in 2010. Its medium is cotton and its technique is reverse appliqué. It is a part of the Textiles department.

After a decade of working as a designer and stylist in Europe, Natalie Chanin traveled to her hometown of Lovelace Crossroads, Alabama, to film a documentary, Stitch, about the southern quilting tradition. Ads placed in local newspapers brought in hundreds of stitchers, some formerly employed in Alabama's once-thriving textile industry. Chanin subsequently created a fashion and home furnishings design firm, Alabama Chanin, to celebrate and preserve uniquely American stitching traditions and the communities in which they thrive. The company is based on the values embedded in the quilting tradition: reuse of materials, utility, craftsmanship, authorship, and beauty.
Alabama Chanin is influenced by the slow food movement, which promotes the use of local ingredients that are grown and harvested in a socially and environmentally responsible way. The company uses certified-organic cotton grown in the United States, recycles and “upcycles” materials whenever possible and, most importantly, works with local artisans to encourage economic development in a community that has suffered greatly from the loss of the textile industry. Cottage-industry style production allows artisans to work from their own homes and organize their businesses around the needs of their families. The stitchers sign their work. The company uses “lean method” manufacturing: nothing is made until an order is confirmed, a process that conserves natural resources by only producing pieces as necessary.
Because handmade garments can be prohibitively expensive, Chanin makes her designs accessible through instruction books and do-it-yourself project kits. Elaborately stitched surface techniques like the ones seen in this sample book—originally designed for a single season collection use—are archived in a fabric library accessible to the public. The sample book represents a contemporary translation in knit jersey of a variety of traditional techniques, including embroidery, appliqué, reverse appliqué, couching, beadwork, and more. It is a sampler in the most traditional sense: a record of stitching techniques to be used as a memory aid as well as format for sharing techniques with others. This sample book would serve as a particularly rich counterpoint to our historic collections, as it embodies many of the most important design concepts of the 21st century: organic, local, sustainable, slow, and socially responsible.

This object was donated by Natalie Chanin. It is credited Gift of Alabama Chanin.

Its dimensions are

H x W: 42.8 x 28 cm (16 7/8 x 11 in.)

Cite this object as

Sample, #5789 Reverse Anna's Garden; Designed by Natalie Chanin ; USA; cotton; H x W: 42.8 x 28 cm (16 7/8 x 11 in.); Gift of Alabama Chanin; 2010-13-1-l

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Sample, #5789 Reverse Anna's Garden |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=7 July 2022 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>