Monday, September 18, 2017

Striking a Chord - the Sointu Kimono Tee is a Harmonious Hit!

At Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics, our Indie pattern designers are some of the most inspiring and talented designers we have come to love. It's one of the reasons why we made the switch from the Corporate/Big 4 pattern companies to these independent pattern companies. No matter what your sewing skills are, you can find designs to suit your abilities.  And we love giving these (mostly) women-owned businesses a leg up in this challenging, competitive industry.

One of our new pattern lines is Named, a Finnish clothing pattern label founded by sisters Saara and Laura Huhta. In their own words, "the story of Named started from the dream of turning a passion into a career, designing their own collection of clothing patterns felt like a natural way to implement both sisters’ love for clothes, fashion, design and DIY. The duo wants to encourage fellow fashion lovers to give sewing their own garments a try." Seems like our values and mission are so aligned!

Like so many of our Indie Patterns, Named patterns have a name (Check out my previous blog, "More than a number").  The "Sointu" is a kimono style loose fitting top.  Sointu means "chord" in Finnish. The notes in a chord can be harmonious (angelic) or dissident (nails on a chalkboard), but the Sointu is definitely a beautifully harmonious blend of ease, femininity, and versatility.

Though it's drafted for knits, we chose to make our Sointu in a woven cotton ikat, one of our go-to fabrics for all-weather wear. Ikats come in all weights, but our indigo blue is lightweight and the perfect fabric for late Summer into Fall. One of the beautiful things about ikats is the variation in the weave itself.  If you're looking for perfection in a woven fabric, you won't find it in an ikat.  But their imperfect perfection is what makes them so vibrant and appealing...besides their wearability and versatility.

The Sointu instructions call for bias binding around the neck area. If we were using a knit, bias bindings tend to be easier to apply around the curves of a neckline or armhole.  But since we are working with a woven, we chose to make a facing. Just trace the neckline on a piece of pattern paper and cut the width about 2-3 inches wide.  We always stock pattern paper in the store!

My sister from a different mother (and seamstress) Laurel had to try a Sointu as well. Her Sointu features a facing made of a scrap of musical chord fabric she had on hand.  Very appropriate, huh? You can see how the facing is applied around the neckline.

Don't forget to clip your curves and understitch your facing if you choose to go this route, rather than the bias tape.

My finished Sointu

We can see so many different ways to make this easy top. Perhaps we'll try it in a knit. Or turn it into a dress...and add some pockets and forget the belt. We just love it in this ikat fabric!!

Colette is ready for a garden party...
The Sointu's sizing is very generous, so decide how much ease you like in a top and choose your size accordingly.

Laurel's Cactus Sointu...

Preview of the Sapporo Coat!
No. 1 Pant with Button Detail!
Out for our lunch date in our Sointu Kimono Tees! We just love the
versatility and grace of these tops!
We appreciate the way certain musicians "play by ear," looking for the right combination of notes, chords, and tempo to make a song.  Sewing is like that...we roam the fabric aisles, looking for just the right fabric to go with the perfect pattern, adding the perfect trim and buttons and all coming together in a beautiful creation of our own making.  Sewing a beautiful garment is a labor of love and when we wear it, we feel the "music" of our creation.

We have enjoyed the "Summer of Love" Challenge...seeing your garments and feeling the love. Let's keep making beautiful music together this Fall!  Show us your indie pattern garments and where you wore them.  Did you make something special for a concert or a vacation or a night out on the town? We want to see it!

Stonemountain and You...Making beautiful music together.

With love, your FabricLady,

Sunday, September 10, 2017

FabricLady Tested! These Jeans are so Flattering!

Who doesn't love a good pair of jeans? Everyone, from tomboys to girly-girls, has a favorite fit. Some love a relaxed boyfriend style, like the Morgan Jeans from Closet Case Files, and we all need a pair of the Ginger Jeans also by Closet Case Files as featured in my previous blogs! Some love a slim line, like these Safran Pants from Deer and Doe. If you are like me, you can see any of these styles fitting into various moods and activities.

We can all agree that shopping for the perfect fitting jeans is not only time consuming, but often frustrating! Either they fit in the waist but the booty is to tight, or they are perfectly tapered down the leg, but the rise is way to low. Not to mention, each brand uses a different sizing style, am I a size 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, or a 26, 27, 28, 29, 30? More than likely, if you finally find the perfect jeans, you need to take out a second mortgage to pay the cashier.  And THIS is why you may want to try your hand a making a pair.

My new Safran Jeans and Tea House Top
Here they are with my Tea House Top from Sew House Seven

Getting ready for Layering with my Decades of Style, Threes a Charm Jacket, Grainline Studio's, Scout Tee and
my new favorite Deer and Doe, Safran Jeans! All available over at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics!

This month, we are making Deer and Doe's Safran jeans. I love the higher waist and the slim, but not skinny, legs. The front pockets are unique - perfect for some great top-stitching details.

Could these Saran Jeans be any cuter?!

I'm using the same stretch denim that I used for my Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Files (Read those blogs here and here), but this time in black for my Safran jeans. We decided on the Neon Pink for the top-stitching, but Laurel wanted to add some drama on the back pockets just for fun, so we are going to incorporate the Turquoise and the Gold thread as well. Shop our selection of fun neon top-stitching thread here!

Choosing "outside the box" with Neon Top Stitching Thread! - Yes we can!

Laurel came up with a swirl detail that we will stitch in all three colors.  She  drew it freehand on paper for a pattern and pinned it to the pocket. Is that an "S" that I see?

She stitched around the edge to the S shape pattern in pink, then removed the pattern and echoed the pink stitching as a guide for the other two colors.

We decided on a single row of top-stitching to attach the pockets.

It's all in the details!

Top-stitching thread is a lot heavier than normal sewing thread, so getting the tension right can be a bit of a challenge.  The important thing to remember is that people can only see the outside of your garment, so don't stress out if the inside stitching is a little wonky.  We notice that this often happens when you plant your needle, raise the presser foot and turn a corner, leaving a little loop of top-stitching thread on the inside. Oh well.

Finishing off the end of the stitching line works best of you gently tug on the bobbin thread to bring the top-stitching thread to the inside of the garment, then tie it off.

When top stitching over a heavier section like a seam, you can stop short of joining the line together and then hand sew, taking the top stitching thread to the inside, creating a "stitch" that joins the line, and then tying it off. This will eliminate any extra bulk that would be created by backstitching with the thicker thread.

We were pretty sure that the Safran jeans would fit, so Laurel installed the fly-front zipper before sewing the pants together.  If we needed to adjust the waist, we could reduce the back or side seams.

Don't forget to be creative with your lining fabric.  Of course you can always use the same denim for the lining, but why not make it fun? One of our many cotton prints would work beautifully! Shop them here. We used scraps of this paper crane cotton from a previous garment. Laurel is the master of reworking scraps!

Great way to use your left over fun scraps!

Another Thursday with Laurel - checking the booty for fit...

Hey, these fit!

Love these pockets!

Look how the top stitching thread pops!

Marking the hem...ready to send them back to Laurel's studio for the final steps.

Back in the Studio, Laurel attached the waistband and belt loops and finished the top stitching and hems. Nothing left but that pesky buttonhole and jeans button. Everything was going great until that perfectly sewn buttonhole was on the wrong side of the fly. Making mistakes is part of the creative process - we all do it, but Laurel finds it particularly annoying.

We were both reminded of one of my favorite books, Debbie Ford's The Dark Side of the Light Chasers. In this book we learned that we ALL have aspects of our nature that we don't like, but more to the point, we ALL have things that annoy us about other people. Debbie contends that it is these very things that we hate in others that also exist in us, perhaps even hidden. This hidden "Shadow" side of our personality, as Debbie calls it, is something that we must learn to embrace so that it no longer has an emotional charge.

Assuming that Debbie is on point (which we believe she is SO on target), after reading Debbie's book, Laurel shared that one of her trigger words was "stupid", as in not very smart or not smart enough. We won't go into all her issues with this word "stupid", but after reading about this concept of embracing her dark side, she can now easily admit that she too is sometimes "stupid."

Yes, that buttonhole is on the wrong side...rookie (stupid) mistake!! But hey, at the end of the day, she laughs at it, let's it go and let's her creativity kick in.  Throw a patch on that mistake buttonhole, attach the jean's button and call it a day!

Aaahhh.  Embracing her stupid side turns out to be a good thing for me!! Actually, I don't think this is a mistake after all - looks like it belonged there all along.



Going to love these jeans!!

Laurel and I! She looks great in my Tea House top - so much that she's making one for herself!
All my indie me-made clothes are all working so well together :)

Feel like embracing your own "Shadow"? You can pick up Debbie's book The Dark Side of the Light Chasers from Amazon Books, or at your local bookstore. It will definitely give you something to think about. As women, we want to love our whole selves, not just the parts we like or that others find pleasing. It's okay to be "not good enough" once in a while!

And meanwhile, embrace your whole self and your creativity and sew a little heart in your jeans!

Yours Creatively,

More Cotton Ikat choices on this Link!

Layering garments can be so much fun with the the Three's a Charm Jacket, Scout Tee
and the Safran Pants! Denim Dot Jacket fabric is at this link...Shop any of
our Woven Cottons at this link for the perfect Scout Tee!
Check out all the great "Bottom weight" choices for making pants at this link, too!

Monday, August 28, 2017

"No, You Can't Hurry Love…" The Cinema Dress, a New Favorite!

Some garments just take time.  They aren't meant to be completed in a single sitting. You can tell when you see the pattern, there's more to it than a few quick seams.  But sewing on a more complex garment brings a different kind of joy...not the quick "I want to wear it tonight" kind of joy, but the "Can't believe I accomplished this" kind of joy.

I love this Cinema Dress so much! Made out of an amazing Rayon by April Rhodes

Not that we're ever going to make something like Laurel's epic French jacket, which took her over 70 hours (you can read about it on her blog, Laurel's Quill), but using all your sewing skills in a single garment can bring a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, so take your time and enjoy the process. Remember, it's about the journey.

The Cinema Dress by another Indie favorite, Liesl & Co., cannot be rushed.  It's not that it requires any particularly difficult techniques - it just has a lot of steps, and doing each one correctly will get you the prettiest little dress.

We've made this before in a lovely cotton double gauze. It's such a comfortable dress that we decided to make another, this time out of a soft rayon. Come see how Rayon is making a huge come back —so many beautiful prints are available!

And because the rayon fabric is so soft and flowing, it takes a little extra time and patience in handling. It also requires the extra steps that a heavier fabric wouldn't, such as extra interfacing. These little squares are added to relieve the stress that pockets can have.

Rayon ravels, so extra time is needed to finish off each seam.

Even though the pattern didn't call for it, we interfaced the small V in the front bodice, so it would not roll...

The pattern recommends adding the button holes before you sew the entire dress together.  Usually it's the last thing you do on a dress, but we liked doing it earlier as they recommended. Laurel's machine makes the prettiest buttonholes!

The addition of pockets also adds extra time to your garment.  The Cinema Dress has set in pockets in the side front seam with welts.  The welts are easy enough to attach.  We finished off ours with a button at the top to hold them in place.

We love the loose fit of these set-in sleeves - they also have a "cuff" at the bottom for added detailing. Needless to say, set in sleeves are an art form in and of themselves.  But with practice, they get easier each time you try. We found that even though the pattern suggested two rows of easing stitched around the sleeve, they are pretty close fitting to the armhole, thus requiring little ease.

I wanted to show you the finished dress inside out so that you can see the detailing in the design.

Start to finish, four hours for Laurel, not including cutting out the pattern.  Again, it's not a difficult dress for an intermediate sewist, but it's more of a "I need a dress next week" kind of project. Softer fabrics with a delicious hand such as this rayon yield great results for this drapey dress, but they can be trickier to hang on to while sewing and pinning (not the sort of fabric to work with after four cups of caffeine).  The Cinema Dress would certainly work well in a nice medium weight cotton batik or print, as well as an Ikat or even a crisp lightweight linen.  

The Cinema Dress made out of an amazing new rayon - here's the link to it!
We've been living in the Summer of Love, celebrating the flower child era of the 60's.  Retro and vintage looks are very popular this year, so don't be weighed down by a particular era. (This dress actually reminds me of the 80's!) We love the "Hippie" (today's "Boho") period, but why not also try one of the fabulous designs from local indie pattern line, Decades of Style for your Summer of Love "Sew-In" garment?  We have loved the Given a Chance Dress and so many women participated when we had a sew's still a great dress!  And it's probably an easy "I want to wear it tomorrow" kind of dress.

Lauren and Claire in their amazing Given a Chance Dress from Decades of Style!
However you interpret the Summer of Love for our Sew-In, we just want you to have fun and enjoy your project.  Don't stress about the time it will take you to finish...just concentrate on the journey.  Put some beautiful music on (or hey, rock and roll works too), settle in and create a masterpiece. Laurel said that while working on her French jacket she never worried about the hours it would take, she just enjoyed all the techniques that she doesn't use very often.  Sometimes there's nothing more gratifying than to perfect a Fell stitch on silk. Me...not so much.

Sending you much love,

Come visit Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Downtown Berkeley - a true crossroads to creativity!

A stop over at Burney Falls on our way to see the Total Eclipse up in Oregon!