Monday, August 15, 2016

You Can't Have Just One Dress No.1 - Pattern Review for 100 Acts of Sewing - Part 2!

We are still flying high on Dress No. 1 from Sonya Philip's pattern line, 100 Acts of Sewing. Inspired by my colleagues here at Stonemountain, I chose three prints for my collection of Dress No. 1 pieces - two Japanese double gauzes and one yarn-dyed gingham linen. If you haven't seen our blog post on this inspiring pattern, check it out now: The Little Dress That Could.

I love how these fabric choices all coordinate with their colors, so fun!

Oh my stars! I am a huge fan of fabrics with a celestial theme and this 100% cotton double gauze is the perfect choice for a Dress No. 1. If you are unfamiliar, double gauze is a fabric made from two layers of gauze that are tacked together to create one cloth. Its light, luscious nature has made it one of our favorite fabrics, not to mention it's an absolute dream to sew!
 Shop our selection online or stop by the store for even more options.

Of the three fabrics I chose for this pattern, I wanted this gauze to be in the original length of the pattern, as it is printed. The two subsequent versions will be 1) a shortened tunic length, hitting at mid-thigh and 2) a blouse length, hitting at the top of the hip. While the pattern includes optional pockets, we decided to leave them off this time.

Laurel used a self made cotton bias binding on the neck and armscye, or armhole. We highly recommend getting your hands on a bias tape maker, as it will make this process 100 times easier for you. We recommend the 1/2" width bias tape maker for this pattern. For instructions on making your own bias, read our post here: Navigating Notions: Making Your Own Bias Tape. Once you've learned to make your own bias, you'll be hooked! It's a fun and simple way to personalize and finish your garments.

This time around Laurel applied the bindings in a non-traditional way, similar to attaching binding on a quilt. The bias strips are folded in half and then applied around the neckline and arm holes, making sure there is enough ease.  We have used a similar technique on some of my knit tops, but the difference here using the woven fabric is that the bias strips are then understitched so that when they are turn to the wrong side, they lie flat before they are top stitched in place. Understitching keeps facings and bias binding from peaking out at the edges. The excess seam allowance is trimmed down to a scant 1/8" before stitching in place.

While we like to understitch our bias, it's important to remember that this can be done in different ways. Whatever method you use for applying bias tape, be sure to keep those fabric scraps so that you can create bias bindings that add flair to your garments - even if they can't be seen, you know your artwork is there!

One down, two to go!!

We're using scraps of our hot sauce printed cotton (that we originally used for an E.S.P. Dress from Decades of Style) for the bindings on this yarn-dyed blue, red, and cream gingham linen. Again, sew the folded bias strip onto the right side of the opening.

Step 1: Line up the left edge of the presser foot with the folded edge of the bias binding.
Step 2: Understitch the bias binding back toward the opening, as close to the edge of the binding as possible.
Step 3: Trim the excess seam allowance and binding.
Step 4: Turn the bias binding and stitch down along the edge of the binding.

Voila - neat as a pin!

Two down, one to go!

For this version of Dress No. 1 we shortened the pattern a few inches so that it hits at mid-thigh for a tunic length. This is a great length to layer over jeans or leggings. We love these dresses because they are great to wear alone in the summer heat, or with a sweater in the colder months. So versatile!

We chose this yarn-dyed gingham linen for this version. A great medium-weight with a lovely drape. We are huge linen fans here at Stonemountain, me especially. You can read more about our linen obsession in these two blog posts: I'm a Linen Lover! and For the Love of Linen!

Linen ages beautifully and gets softer and more drapey with every wash. If you are new to working with linen, we always like to pass on these words from the amazing Sandra Betzina:

GREAT TIP! If you want your linen to wrinkle a lot less, do the following: Before you prewash your linen, open the windows and 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. 

You can browse our linen online here, but as always, call (510) 845-6106, email, or stop by if there is a color or print you are looking for that is not featured in our online store.

Third time's the charm!

Here is my third Dress No. 1 cut to a top length. For this we used another of our amazing Japanese double gauzes, this one a cotton/tencel blend. I love it layered over the tunic length and paired with Pants No. 1!

Looks great with my handkerchief linen pants too!

I hope that you are excited to try Dress No. 1 from 100 Acts of Sewing for yourself. If you do, please email me some photos of your finished garments!
Thanks and cheers to each of you!

In gratitude,

Please leave a note or message if you are enjoying my blog. 

I also have so much appreciation for my team that helps me to maintain the quality 
of projects, writing, and editing!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Meet the Champion of Slow Fashion - Tilden!

Once in a lifetime you meet someone who inspires a movement.

Tilden Yamamoto is a visionary for the local and global movement of Slow Fashion. Tilden animates the ordinary textile into fashion that can take us from a summer festival to the streets of New York City. You can feel his influence and see some examples of his craftsmanship over at his website. Also go follow Tilden on Instagram - @tildenshop. His daily posts get me so fired up!

Some of Tilden's pieces made with Stonemountain fabrics!

Tilden - Celebrate Slow Fashion!

Recently Sarah Miller wrote an amazing article for The Bold Italic on How to Dress Local at Outside Lands, featuring Tilden and other local artists. This wonderful local festival is happening this weekend, August 5 - 7. Be sure to check it out if you can!

In this article, Tilden shared his love for Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics:

Sarah: How do you support what’s local?

Tilden: I couldn’t do what I do without Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley. Their level of quality and impressive selection of prints and fabrics allow me to get really creative. They inspire me. 

Well truth be told, it is actually Tilden that inspires me! Look at this amazing dress that he made for me out of our cotton chambray! Check out his signature details. Can you believe he does everything by hand on a single needle straight stitch vintage Singer machine?

Meet Benny! Our new store baby!

Tilden loves to use cotton novelty prints for fun accents.

We love how Tilden turns a simple 1/4" ribbon into fabulous little details.

He also recently did an event at our store featuring his slow fashion sewing techniques where he made a garment in our newly opened up front window!

Live Sewing with Tilden at Stonemountain!
We are working on setting up a time for his next Live Sewing Event!

Sometimes when we're buying fabric for the store, we pick prints especially for Tilden!  From classic checks to crazy cats, Tilden has great taste.

You will often see Tilden walking slowly through the shelves
looking for just the right fabric! 

Join me and Tilden as we explore the joy of local sewing and slow fashion. 

It's so wonderful to know that Tilden and his philosophy are catching on!

with gratitude,
FabricLady of Berkeley

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Little Dress that Could! Pattern Review for 100 Acts of Sewing - Part 1!

Sometimes a pattern looks so simple you pass it by, opting instead for something with dramatic styling or clever detailing.  Nobody wants to look like a Plain Jane in a garment that perhaps only took a couple hours to make. But we say don't be so quick to dismiss a simple straightforward design—the beauty of simplicity is that with just a few minor changes, pattern hacks, incredible print, or added embellishments you can make it your own style!

We are having a ball seeing the diversity that can be achieved with one classically simple pattern: Dress No.1 from Sonya Philip's indie pattern line, 100 Acts of Sewing. The drawing is deceptively simple, but just like her Pants No.1 pattern that gets our rave reviews. This dress pattern is as versatile as it is simple.

Dress No. 1 is described as a "sleeveless dress with a flattering A-line silhouette and patch pockets."  If you follow the instructions to the letter, the neckline and armholes are simply finished off with bias tape facings.  You can purchase ready-made tape at the store, or you can make your own bias strips out of a contrasting fabric using one of our fat quarters or 1/2 yard of fabric. We love bias tape makers, which are the fastest and easiest way to create your own. Your bias facing can match your fabric to blend in, or choose a contrasting print or color for a fun hidden detail!

If you don't like the look of the bias tape bindings, you can always revert to that tried and true one piece facing for sleeveless dresses, tracing around the pattern's neckline, shoulders and armholes.  We'll do a full tutorial later on this pattern hack later! Our point is, there are a lot of ways to make this little dress unique to you, fitting your sewing ability and style.

Laurel used one of our ikats to make her first Dress No.1.  She also purchased a cotton batik print to make the self facing discussed above, but she could have easily cut her own bias strips according to the pattern instructions. She also prefers a deeper scoop, so she lowered the neckline. It's amazing how simple adjustments can personalize a project!

Patch pockets are just begging to be embellished.

You can't just have one Dress No. 1! The pattern is so versatile that with a few snips of the scissors, you can change the neckline into a V shape or a square. Make it longer or shorter, leave off the pockets, try a knit or one of our beautiful many choices!

Poly knit...Laurel's beading
Nevada Linen...border added.

Claire in her many versions of Dress No. 1
Natalie shows off her layered Dress No. 1 variations.

I had the chance to try on one of Natalie's and I am officially inspired to add Dress No. 1 to my wardrobe. We've picked a linen and a double gauze for my first ones.
Can't wait to show you!

If you haven't been in to Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics lately, do stop by and check us out!

We have tons of new Designer Fabrics in from the hot showrooms in Italy, Los Angeles and New York - Upstairs is on Fire!!!

We also had the time to move around some shelves in the front of our store by the cutting tables and it looks so open and airy!

Hope to see you soon,

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Mastering the Big Print!

If you're a quilter or a crafter, you're used to working on small prints - the patterns are usually evenly dispersed on the fabrics and have very short repeats, perfect for working in small areas and projects.

If you are a garment sewist as well, these small prints are easy to match. And unless they have an obvious up and down to the pattern, they are easy to lay out on the cutting table. Since many of us love to "power sew" (make an outfit to wear the next day), choosing a small cotton or rayon print is the perfect choice for sewing ease.

But just ask our talented buyers:  when we see a big print fabric, we are immediately drawn to the potential drama. Regardless of the fabric content, these prints can put an exclamation point on even the simplest of pattern designs. In fact, with big prints, the simpler the garment pattern, the greater the flexibility to show off the print. (In a previous post, we showed the challenge of fabric layout with a big print knit)

We knew we hit a bulls eye with another beautiful graphic print in a crinkled rayon. In keeping with the notion of a simple pattern design, we chose The Lela from Green Bee.  The simple lines of this tunic will give us just the framework we need for this big graphic fabric.

It's one thing to see a fabric on a bolt in the store, and it's another matter entirely to then get it home and spread it out on the cutting table.  We knew that the repeat was huge on this fabric, so we sent Laurel home with enough fabric to give her the widest latitude in designing the Lela. On the cutting table, you can see that the pattern graphic is not exactly symmetrical, a common theme with many big graphic prints. We also noted that it had some distracting eyeball-ish circles which if we weren't careful could end up in the wrong place on my body.

The only tried and true way to deal with big graphic prints with big long repeats is to copy your pattern pieces onto tracing paper. (There goes that "finish by morning" goal!) The semi-transparent patterns pieces allow you to move the design over the various parts of the fabric to see which area looks best for each section of the garment. It also allows you to better match at the seams and other areas that require a good connection.

Once you have all the pattern pieces recreated in tracing paper, the fun begins as you move the pieces around on the fabric to determine the perfect placement. With wovens such as this rayon, it is fine to even try the crossgrain of the fabric if you like the design better.

Not a fan of these "eyeballs". All kidding aside, we girls have to be careful about where certain shapes are placed in our garments, if you catch my drift...navel area, chest, etc...need I go further?  

I ended up sticking to the length of the grain line and placing the large diamond shaped down the middle, carefully avoiding the circles and trying to make it as symmetrical as possible.

Once the tunic front placement was determined, it was easy to plan the the two yoked panels in the front and the cuffs on the sleeves.

Even despite our best efforts, we don't always get the outcome we want.  When Laurel started to attach the front yoke, it became apparent that she didn't quite get the fabric design EXACTLY in the center front.  Whoopsie! Fortunately, she was able to adjust the sizing of the tunic down, shifting the design slightly to the left. (The Lela tunic is very generous in sizing!)

The result for the front was better, but the back section was still a tad off - she didn't make any adjustments to the back. This off-center thing can happen with big prints, especially when the design is not symmetrical—sometimes you just have to do your best to center it. In other words, just let it go.  You are probably the only one who would ever notice. We don't always sew to win the county fair's first prize...we sew because we love it!

Check it out!!!

A 8" slit up the sides for this tunic!

The sleeves had to be adjusted because of the front tunic shift (smaller, shorter)
The Lela is a great pattern; it's easy and fast to work up. You could easily add length to the hem and use it for an "apres-pool" dress...and of course the blouse length would be perfect with jeans or crop pants this summer.  you could also shorten the sleeves by leaving off the band.

Come in and check out our summer fabrics - we'd love to show you some other fabrics for the Lela!

Creatively Yours,

One of our Stonemountain staff, Claire, shows off her use of big prints!

Upcoming Fabric Lady blog where we will cover 
the cutting and sewing of this Big Print for my wrap skirt!