Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ikat Beauty!

2015 is off to a wonderful start here at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley!

As many of you know, there are more and more exciting fabrics and patterns to entice us into the world of sewing garments! It is our mission to support all sewists make choices with more confidence and have a higher rate of success. Here in this blog, Laurel, my amazing seamstress, friend and blog partner, shares many tips for sewing each garment that transfer throughout all projects. If you are new to my blog, please take some time to scroll back in time to see the amazing garments we created in 2014!

To all of you who visit me in the store and say "hi" and for all the moments we get to share. Let's do more of that in 2015!!!

 As I mentioned in my last blog, there are many things that make me smile! All the new fabrics being imported from India rank high on my list of fabric loves!

Now onto the inspiring topic of IKATS!!!

Ikat is a weaving style common to many world cultures. Likely, it is one of the oldest forms of textile decoration. Ikat weaving styles vary widely. Many design motifs may have ethnic, ritual or symbolic meaning or have been developed for export trade. Traditionally, ikat are symbols of status, wealth, power and prestige. Because of the time and skill involved in weaving ikat, some cultures believe the cloth is imbued with magical powers.

To get really technical, Ikat is a dyeing technique used to pattern textiles that employs a resist dyeing process on the warp fibers, the weft fibers, or in the rare and costly 'double ikat' both warp and weft, prior to dyeing and weaving. In ikat, the resist is formed by binding bundles of threads with a tight wrapping applied in the desired pattern. The threads are then dyed. The bindings may then be altered and the thread bundles dyed again with another color to produce elaborate, multicolored patterns. When the dyeing is finished the bindings are removed and the threads are woven into cloth.

And to get really real, we love ikat fabric and I love keeping it in the store.  We took one of our simple dress patterns, New Look's 6013 to make our ikat print dress.  Remember, this is the same pattern that we used for our Japanese Print, and the same pattern that we made up in muslin for a perfect fit.

This little dress pattern is a snap to make and sewing on our ikat print is just as easy. 
Seams and dart press into shape with a hot iron.

Use a pressing ham on these curved sleeves for a polished look.

Ikat fabrics do ravel, so you will need to finish off seams with a serger 
or use some other seam finishing treatment.
(You can see all the different colored threads that make up this gorgeous fabric!)

Laurel finished off the faced neckline with a double row of topstitching.

And just like that, I'm right in step with our Funky Dress Revolution!

Yep, there's that cool copper zipper down the back. Magical!
I am SO Berkeley!

Creatively Yours,

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Let's Get this Sewing Party Started!!!

Happy New Year Fellow Fabric Lovers!

Welcome to 2015 - The Year of Garment Sewing!!!

If you are anything like me, you crave a unique wardrobe created with fabrics you love and full of garments that fit you!  Why not spend some time at our pattern table (or in our webstore) and pick out designs that will flatter your figure and make you smile. Or you can start by cruising our fabric aisles to see and feel what calls out to you! All our fabric is yummier than ever - year round cotton, not just special occasion silks, Italian wool, comfy rayon and knits for every day running around…how can it get any better than this?! 

My seamstress Laurel and I spotted this beautiful Asian inspired "chirimen" rayon - it came in two different patterns and each of us wanted a dress from it. The two of us tend to gravitate to the same fabrics though our body types are totally different.

After seeing our Mary Jane in a (Vogue 1390) loose fitting dress at our Sandra Betzina event in November, I wanted this design, too.  Laurel wanted something more fitted, so she chose the New Look 6013 pattern, which we have already mad twice for me. Either design will be smashing in this rayon fabric. And, needless to say, Laurel made a muslin first to ensure a great fit!

Since Laurel actually had an upcoming event to wear her dress, we started there. We used a soft cotton batiste to inner-line the body of the dress to add a little weight to the rayon.  We also chose a black linen-look rayon fabric for the sleeves and added a band around the hemline to "frame" this busy pattern. Remember: it these design details are the very things that make your dress unique to you.

Secure the inner lining to the fabric using a zig zag stitch
Nothing says Asian influence like Chinese red on black…
so red thread for the serged seams and, 
just for grins, why not add a bright red zipper?

Securing a facing is either done by tacking it by hand or sewing it by machine,  usually resulting in a top stitched effect.  Laurel's first inclination was to just add a stabilizing top stitch to the neckline facing...but since we're going all out here, let's try a fancy stitch...

After making the Key Stitch pattern in red thread, it became more than obvious that the line of red stitching was too pretty to hide (we can thank her hubby for the suggestion - "Why would you hide that?!). So instead of turning the facing at the neckline seam, she shifted the facing upward to expose the beautiful key stitching. To secure the facing, a "stitch in the ditch" technique was used.

Oh so very pretty!

Laurel's dress inside out…
Details that only you can see make it unique!

And, the finished dress - total perfection!

We have to say it looks amazing on our Laurel! 
She wore it to her friend's "Fancy Coat" dinner, 
where a group of friends all wore their fancy coats, 
celebrated womanhood and shared some great food.

(In case you wondered, Laurel's "fancy" coat is a vintage Joseph Magnin swing coat fashioned in silk faille fabric, not a fabric that you see too much these days…)

 It sounded like a great evening! Now I'm anxious to see the Sandra Betzina design made up for me in this luscious rayon print - sometimes its nice to make an average day special by wearing something special! Truthfully, you can dress this fabric down if need be...pair it with some leggings or boots. The fabric would make a great short jacket too, check out the chairmen rayons we have in stock below (or find another great choice!): 


Have a dress that you've made?  Send us a photo! We all inspire each other and that's what makes sewing SEW FUN!!!

Creatively Yours,

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dreams Do Come True! Twelve Months of Fabulousness!

Looking back over the year, I have to say it has been incredible! Of course, there were many challenges, but overall the last twelve months were based on creativity, connection and joy! Owning a fabric store can be the best job ever. After 33 years in my family business, I feel blessed for the work that I do and more in tune with our mission to support the creative community around us. My own personal path has underlined the importance of kindness and the strength of feminine values in all aspects of my life, especially here at our store. I strive to make your experience at Stonemountain & Daughter an inspiration! I love working hard on creating classes for the garment sewist, quilter and crafter of all levels. My buying team is excited about buying for our customers and offering the best fabrics, notions, patterns and other accessories at the best value.

As much as the fabric is part of our family, so are the people I am blessed to work with. Natalie, our buyer and Mary Jane our operations manager, make coming to work a loving act! Our staff of 21 sales associates and 14 instructors make this one of the best stores around!

The other reason why 2014 was the best year ever, was my collaboration with Laurel of Laurels Quill. We started out with a shared commitment to inspire others to sew and create and it evolved into a deep friendship and love. Picking out fabrics, patterns, notions and putting it all together and then blogging about it…this is a dream come true! Thank you so much Laurel for sharing your talent not just with me and my closet, but with the world of sewing. What more is possible in 2015?

Fashion is one of those things that you have to think of in advance. Buyers and designers are always a season ahead of the retail customer, and buying fabric and designing and sewing a wardrobe is no different. In the bleak months of winter, we pondered the serene beauty of wintry weather and at the same time started thinking about Spring garments - admiring the soft woolens on the colder days, but  yearning for the warm sunshine when we could wear a light blouse...

As Sewists, we don't always get it right. I believe that is the single most challenging aspect of making your own wardrobe - we may think a particular style will work, and we love the fabric we've chosen, but sometimes you have to throw in the towel.

Knowing When to Quit 

My seamstress and collaborator Laurel became "France focused" long before she left in September. For her, it was all about making some garments that would hold up for a three week drive trip. I was inspired by her search for easy garments, using fabrics that had a little stretch and remained fashion forward.  Together we learned that sometimes you can sew something and get exactly what you're looking for rather than purchase it in the department stores and settle for something less than perfect.

Buy It or Sew It
Easy Bias Skirt 

There's nothing like Spring to inspire change.  Stonemountain celebrated 33 years at our Shattuck location in 2014, and like all truly successful ventures, change and renewal is a normal part of doing business. Collaboration inspires each of us to be more than we were, to think bigger than the box we're in and to let our dreams rattle our minds to new levels. April was a time to let the Muses take over and inspire us to undergo a web design, a fresh new look at fabric and a more focused outlook on garment sewing. In short we inspired each other.  Magic!

New Social Media Looks
Working With Stripes
Great Bag!
Kiki Ramone

With Summer around the corner, isn't it funny that people start thinking "in color"? Years ago I had my colors "done" by a professional, and like many women I have kept that color palette of swatches ever since. Some people know instinctively what colors in fabrics will look and feel good, but some of us need a little help. I for one am semi stuck in the blacks and greys, but as Summer approached, my peeps urged me to step out of my comfort zone and try a few of those swatch colors I've been carrying around forever. Isn't that what friends are for?

Your Colors
Fabric Stash 

The Bay Area is a hodge-podge of coolish, foggy, mild, sunny, wet, etc. weather conditions all throughout the year, regardless of the season.  Generally the weather is the same - mild - but once in a while we'll even get a heat wave. Berkeley summers may require a jacket or sweater in the evening, but sleeveless tops are always a great option here...especially while working at the store.  I love a great tank and when you find a great pattern, the fabric choices are endless. 

Summer Tank

Summer is one of the best times for traveling. We thought that we'd focus on some easy travel garments.  Knits are a perfect "pack and go" fabric, not to mention the comfort of wearing them. Ponte knits are especially nice, as they have a little more weight and don't wrinkle as much. We had fun with this fabric, just knowing that there was a time when you wouldn't be caught dead in a "double knit".  But this timeless fabric was trending for the upcoming Fall season.

Ponte Knits
Selvage Edges
Easy Travel Skirt
Travel Pants 

A lot of our readers and customers are NOT expert Sewists.  They visit the store to find a great fabric and a simple pattern. Laurel (who is an accomplished seamstress) mentioned that she used to make a garment during the day just to wear that evening.  So naturally, we thought we'd test it with a pattern that boasted "Easy 1 hour" dress. (Note: "Note so much!") But there is something to be said for taking your time and adding detail to a simple pattern - don't we just love a simple t-shirt pattern?

One Hour Dress
Do-Over for a Pretty Knit

By September of 2014, we were in full fledged creativity and metamorphosis! Our planning/fitting days with Laurel took on a whole new vibe, with the help of staff members who wanted to jump in with their ideas.  We were on a roll with our Funky Fall looks - garments that our customers could see were hand created! We combined colors and textures, prints and solids and added some great details to each garment. Creativity abounded and we haven't stopped since.  More Magic!!

Lynn Mizono Dress
Funky Fall 

We had such fun planning garments for our "Funky Fall" wardrobe. We wanted to try pairing different fabrics together - Natalie made the cutest little peplum blouse, so naturally I loved it and wanted one for myself. Laurel was just coming home from her French vacation full of design ideas, but after being away from her sewing machine for so long, it took a while to get her back in the "Berkeley Groove". We worked with fitting issues this month and the ins and outs of making a muslin.
Sewing "Zen"
The Muslin 

I've been obsessed with dresses this Fall, for some reason.  There are so many dress Patterns out there and many of them look alike, so you have to add your own touches to make them "yours".  We thought since Sandra Betzina was coming to Stonemountain for an evening class that we would make up some of her patterns for the event. Many of our staff joined in by making up their favorite Sandra B. design.  The evening class was awesome! Love Sandra!

 "Frances" Dress from Green Bee 
Sandra Betzina 

We wrapped up the year in our "Little Black Dress". Because we worked so hard on the fitting  (using the muslin) it turned out to be a sweet little number that I will wear for a long time.

Little Black Dress
Bright Prints 

Coming Soon!!!

We are already knee deep into planning for 2015. Keep FabricLady on your list of must-read blogs so you don't miss all the exciting designs coming up!

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog on this day. Life is so much sweeter when it is shared.