Friday, July 14, 2017

From Disaster to Awesome! Lottie Dress with Tip for Wrinkle-Less Linen!

We have been enjoying a renaissance in sewing garments that I haven't seen since the 1980's! What is the reason behind this sewing boom? Amazing quality fabrics, notions, and drum roll please....Independent Patterns! Here we are seeing the strength of women creating patterns for women's bodies! Back in the day of the main pattern companies, many sewists were driven mad by the instructions and lack of fitting that was just taken for granted. But every now and then something odd happens even with a tried a true indie on!

Every active sewing studio has a drawer, tub, or basket full of unfinished items - garments in which we reached roadblocks, garments that didn't seem to fit right, garments that were bigger than our skill level, or stuff we just simply didn't like after all. It seemed like a good idea when we purchased that fabric, but with the passage of time, not so much. These containers full of half finished garments may lie in the recesses of a dark closet, under the bed, or tucked away in a cabinet just waiting for us to revive them into completion.

Such was the Lottie Dress made out of Stonemountain Linen started sometime LAST summer. Yep, such is the way of sewing!

The soft linen fabric we chose had a nice hand, so it wasn't that the fabric was wrong. It's just that IT WAS HUGE.  It just hung on me...very "schmatta" looking (Yiddish for rag), so nothing but a major overhaul would make it wearable.

Laurel looks confounded...
I look horrified...

After four years of working together, I know for a fact that Laurel HATES alterations.  And to say that this sack needed to be "altered" is like saying "Bill Gates is financially secure". So naturally this little gem languished in a basket while Laurel thought of every excuse not to fix it.

Laurel is currently doing a renovation on her studio, so she's into checking things off her to-do list before she dismantles the whole room.  This dress got put on the short list - lucky me! Alterations included removing the neck facing and taking inches off the shoulders and side seams.  We also cut almost 9 inches from the length and reshaped the armholes.  Instead of facing the armholes and neck edges, Laurel used self-bias strips made from one of our remnants.  The result is a neat and tidy edge with a little pizzazz.

So much better...

Well, Zannikan looks fabulous in the re-worked dress, so perhaps it will look equally well on me.

I'm so glad that Laurel didn't give up on my Lottie Dress, by Christine Haynes.  It's very tempting to just toss projects like this in the donation bag for some other ambitious sewist to tackle. However, when you see something challenging through to the very end, there is nothing more satisfying. In the end, it doesn't really matter how long it takes, it's enough that you finished.

Thanks for joining with me and creating your own clothes!

You are all invited to stop by my awesome store, Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley
this weekend to see this dress on display,
along with many of the garments featured in my blog!

Creatively yours,

Are you on Instagram? If so, please follow both Fabriclady3 and Stonemountainfabric for the more current photos and inspiring ideas.

Also, are you receiving the email newsletter from Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics? We have so much great info and coupons for all your purchases!

GREAT TIP from Sandra Betzina! If you want your linen to wrinkle a lot less, do the following: Before you prewash your linen, iron the linen with the hottest, dry iron possible. This will set a wrinkle-less finish, which is already on the fabric. Next, wash and dry your linen in the hottest water and hottest dryer you have. Take out of the dryer when close to bone dry. You will notice that smaller softer wrinkles have replaced the hard crease usually associated with the fabric. Repeating this process will lessen the amount of wrinkles over time. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

"That was easy!" Perfect for Summer Sewing!

Suzan with Heather of Closet Case Patterns!

With summer in full swing, it's so much fun to go to our closet and find easy flowing clothes. It's also the time where we dream about sewing something we might have seen would feel great to wear. I hope that my blog has inspired you to try some easy indie patterns and begin to create your own #memade wardrobe!

As you know, we are sponsoring a challenge through my fabric store, Stonemountain & Daughter in Berkeley. It's our #sewingsummeroflove challenge! Read more over at the store blog!

In these days of two-earner households, our time away from work is precious. And even if we're not working outside the home, there's plenty of busyness to fill our days. If and when we have some spare time for ourselves to read, watch a flick, bake, create or craft, we'd like to be able to actually finish something in a sitting. I love seeing our Facebook and Instagram friends managing families, juggling chores and still finding the time to sew. Some of us have precious little time to devote to ourselves and our hobbies.

If sewing is your thing (and we're assuming it is since you're following our blogs here at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics and FabricLady) you love to find styles and patterns that don't take weeks and a bottle of Aspirin just to get through it. Taking your time with complex patterns and that luxury fabric that emptied your pocketbook can be very satisfying, but most of the time we just want to be able to make it quick, and we want it "Easy" and to fit!
We have two such makes for you...tops that you can make in 2 to 3 hours, depending on how accomplished you are as a sewist.  Laurel has been sewing forever and she's is pretty fast, so these were an afternoon respite in her busy day (who we kidding, she's retired!). Nevertheless, even a beginner sewist can tackle these in a fair amount of time.

Closet Case's Ebony knit top is uber easy, especially if you have a serger. The raglan sleeved version is the easier of the two versions, since there are no set in sleeves.

We chose a soft double knit with polka dots on one side and the back featured stripes. You could use either side as the outside, but we chose the polka dots for the body and the stripey side for the sleeves and the neckband.

We attached the neckband (just a double folded strip cut on the bias) by sewing it with the machine, then serging the edges and finished it off with top stitching.  Knits are so forgiving when using this technique, because you can "ease" the binding into the bodice - the band is always smaller that the neck opening, so you sort of stretch as you go.

Like all sewists who love their machines, Laurel is dreaming of getting a cover stitch machine...but alas, a simple top stitching line works just as well. For the hem on a knit fabric, she uses a multi-stitch zig-zag setting like the kind you might use on elastic.

Way Cute! Elapsed time (not counting the cutting out) one hour!!!!

The second quick and easy top is from 100 Acts of Sewing, aptly named Shirt No. 1.

We chose a woven cotton ikat with a decorative stripe running the length of the fabric. You could run this simple pattern so that the stripes go sideways, but we chose to make them up and down. 

The original directions of Sonya's design call for using a bias tape facing, and the directions on the pattern are good. But Laurel is a self-facing kind of a girl, which does take a little more time. And besides that, she has a thing for facings in different fabrics. Hint: Fat Quarters are great for creating both facings and bias strips, so let your finishes show off your personality! Our cotton Batik fabrics are perfect for facings and trims!

If the pattern doesn't include a neck or armhole facing you can make it yourself using tracing paper.  Just lay the bodice on the paper and trace around the neckline and shoulders.  Remove the pattern and cut the facing to whatever width you like, following the curve of the neckline.  This illustration shows a neckline and armhole facing in one piece (for Dress No.1).

Attach the facing to the neckline...Clip, clip, clip those curves..

Don't forget to under-stitch the facing, it will help it lie flatter...

When you press it, a tiny edge of the fabric rolls to the inside...

Top stitch the facing down - we used pink thread in the bobbin.

The side seams go directly up into the curve of the sleeves, so you will need to clip the underarm curve.

If you plan to serge the seams, then pull the curve of the underarm out straight as you serge, right through the clipped edge.  This allows the sleeve to have some give in the seam and will hang better under the arms.

This top is going to be great with jeans, don't you think? Hmmm, I wonder what it would look like layered over a Dress No. 1?

Even with the self facing, it still only took a little over an hour to complete. Make it this afternoon and wear it tonight! There are so many great cottons, ikats, double gauzes, chambrays,  rayons and even silks (if you want really special!) that this easy pattern would make sing!

Laurel's - another Ikat color way

There's something very gratifying about a quick make. Either of these two easy patterns - one knit, one woven - could be made during a baby's two hour nap, sitting out a horrid action movie, or just a "I'm going to take time for me!" break. Some say that sewing can be cathartic, but we think you have to pick something that will fit into your skill wheelhouse, to avoid hair pulling and gnashing of teeth.

The important thing is to take time for yourself, whatever that may be. 

If it's enjoying nature and yummy tropical fruit, great!


Or just being with long time friends, so much the sweeter!

Or finding your tribe of sewing enthusiasts to create community with!

If it's sewing, so much the better.  

Keep on Sewing! It's the #sewingsummeroflove

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Memories of a Flower Child, Lucky Daughter of the Fabric King

Back in 1967 my young world opened up to the wonder of fabric, counter-culture fashion, and crazy community. My father opened up the world's first all cotton "hippie" fabric store on the planet, Bob Steinberg's Fabric Emporium in West Hollywood!

I immediately fell under an enchanted spell of fabric, embroidered patches, and exotic trims.  These textiles fueled the expression of the changing consciousness. Take a trip back in time with me as we as look at photos from my dad's revolutionary little Los Angeles fabric store on Melrose and La Cienega - right next to Fred Segal's first jeans shop. 1967 - 1972! What a time to be Bob Steinberg's daughter! Our Sunday excursions were filled with magic, adventure and a chance to dream. The seeds that were planted 50 years ago have now grown into the flower that is Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley. What seeds are we planting now for the next 50 years, I wonder?

As an impressionable young girl of eight, my world of possibility exploded whenever my father took me to the "happenings" of the time. We went to the first Los Angeles Love-In in 1967 on Easter Sunday, where life was seeding a new world of love, kindness, tolerance, freedom and peace. All this was a beautiful contrast of hope against the backdrop of horrible war, racism, conformity, and women's oppression. 

I remember my father's groovy fabric flying high on poles at the some of the early 


My father opened up his next fabric store in Pacific Grove in 1976, Stonemountain Fabrics.  This was the very same year I moved to the redwoods of Santa Cruz and began college at UCSC. It was a joy to watch him build a new fabric store in a new community. 

In 1981, he came up to visit me in Berkeley, where I was finishing up my college education. One of our adventures together was introducing him to the music of the Grateful Dead on New Years Eve 1980! Through a whole series of events, he moved his store to Berkeley and I got sucked in! Stonemountain & Daughter was born! It's been an amazing ride of over 36 years and we are one of the last full service family run fabric stores in the country. 

We are 3rd and 4th generation in the fabric business. In 2019, it will be our family's 100th year anniversary of selling fabric in California! From Steinberg & Sons to Stonemountain & Daughter (Yep Steinberg translates to Stonemountain!), our family is blessed to continue our dream.

Looking around, I see that it's time once again to gather our tribe together, stay strong, and create! 

Please join us to celebrate fabric and individual self expression with your sewing tribe. We are all in this together, and our sewing community is coming alive! It's time to make the shift and sew more and more of your garments. This is the vision behind my collaboration with Laurel and my store, Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics. We have shown you over 250 garments in our 4 years on this blog! Back then, it was unusual to see people wearing their own "me-made" garments, but now we are everywhere! We have made the shift from the corporate pattern lines to exclusively supporting the smaller and independent pattern lines—created by women, for women.

We have been holding the flame for garment sewing for decades, and now I am so excited to see all the independent pattern lines come together with the highest quality fabric ever! 

In this spirit, we have dreamed up a Summer Sew-In for all of us to come together and take part in! Read more over on our Stonemountain Blog about how to participate, giveaways and why we are calling it a Sew-In! What could be better than showing up in clothes that show what you value and reflects who you are?!

We have also put together a special new category over on our Stonemountain & Daughter Website for Summer of Love Sewing! Check it out :)

Here are some of the clothes Laurel and I have created that are inspired in part by the 1960's. I can't wait to see what inspires you!

Alder Shirtdress in Kokka Double Gauze 
Alder Shirtdress in Ikat

Dress No. 2 in African Wax Print Cotton

Shirt No. 1 in Loominous Cotton
Alder Shirtdress in Ikat

Peace, Love and Fabric!


P.S.  Check out our new Anniversary Poster!
Adorn for your own Sewing Sanctuary!
Check out the cool sewing art embedded in this :)

Bob and Suzan Steinberg