The Thread

By Allison Moorer

Thread: a continuous length formed by a group of filaments when they are spun and twisted.


Photos by Alabama Chanin, Allison Moorer & Hayes Carll.


“There is an Eastern legend called the red thread of destiny, or fate. The myth is that there is a red string tied around the ankles of people who are destined to meet or aid each other through life in some way. It may tangle or knot, but will never unravel or become untied.”

I wrote that paragraph on my website almost four years ago. I’ve been fascinated with threads, whether red or not, for a long time.

The threads of this “Zora & Eudora & Harper & Flannery” shirt extend from Alabama to Nashville to New York City and several points in between. They start with my family and the first running stitch I ever made, which happened to be at my Great Aunt Maggie’s kitchen table in Frankville, Alabama, when I was 6 years old, to my teenage bedroom in Monroeville, Alabama, where I first read the words of Harper Lee, to Nashville, Tennessee, where I got familiar with Zora, Eudora, and Flannery and started to write my own lines, to Natalie Chanin’s Alabama Chanin factory in Florence, Alabama, where I would deepen my appreciation for those first running stitches and learn to properly love my thread (and hers), to New York City, where I would start to construct a proper sentence here and there, to Atlanta, Georgia, and the good folks of The Bitter Southerner, to a small club’s stage in Tallahassee, Florida, where I first wore our combined effort on The Bitter Southerner Stage at the Word of South Festival, to a dressing room at a theater in Greenville, Texas, where I sit now and try to tell you why it was important to me to draw all of those things, completely concomitant to me, together in one garment, one story.

The thing is, I don’t believe in accidents. I tend to attach meaning to everything I can find that will hold some, whether it’s an occurrence, a phrase uttered, or an association made. Each spin and twist somehow spins and twists into the next one to create the fiber of my life — providing a frame that allows me comprehension of the wildness that surrounds me. I find a thread running through it all, through the circles that simultaneously expand and contract around moments and people and art, connecting everything that matters.


Alabama Chanin headquarters, where they begin by cutting the shirt down from a size medium.


The sleeveless T-shirt top pattern, one of my favorite Alabama Chanin silhouettes, is applied.


After the sleeveless t-shirt pattern is drawn on, the pieces are cut.


The Alabama Chanin classic Bloomers stencil is the perfect accompaniment to the bold text of the shirt.


Airbrushing the stencil in grey.


Drying at Alabama Chanin headquarters before it’s shipped to me.


The pieces arrive in NYC. Natalie & Co. sent some extra yardage, so I pulled out my own Bloomers stencil to make more pieces for applique.


Finding the perfect placement for applique on top of reverse applique.




Sometimes more is more.