Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Finding the Right Fit

One of the main reasons that we sew is to create a garment that fits us correctly. Most sewists will agree that getting a pattern to fit is the toughest part of sewing garments for yourself since our bodies are so different from the "fit model" and dimensions of the pattern.

19 years ago, I began our sewing school at Stonemountain & Daughter to help home sewists get the right fit, by having instructors on hand to help mark changes when you try on a garment, to teach students how to choose which size to make then adjust by measurements, and learn the easiest and best techniques for garment sewing. We offer over ten different classes focusing on different garments to fit (Make a Well-Fitted Pants Pattern, Make The E.S.P Dress, Fitting The Plus Bust) as well as our general sewing classes, perfect for continuing students, where you can bring in your own project and learn how to get the right fit (Beginning & Beyond, Mini Beginning & Beyond, and the ever popular and versatile Sew & Fit Lab).

Many beginner to intermediate sewing students give up altogether on sewing when their garments don't fit right and the idea of "how to fix it" is daunting. Because the challenges of pattern fitting can be so frustrating, we love when Sandra Betzina is back at Stonemountain teaching us how to fit a pattern or showing off her new patterns.

You always learn something new at a Sandra Betzina class. With her teaching style of no-nonsense, practicality, not too detailed or loaded with complex theories. Just great hints and tips on how to make a better fitting garment, she is the perfect guide through the puzzling world of pattern fitting. It doesn't matter how experienced a seamstress you may be, you still have something to learn from Sandra.

Laurel, an accomplished sewist for over 50 years, joined us for Sandra's Pattern Fitting class and I asked her what she nuggets of knowledge she acquired. Here the four NEW things she learned from Sandra's class:

1) Darts are a good thing.
It's perfectly acceptable to add a dart at any place in the garment.  Sometimes we can get too hung up on the original design of the garment and think that by adding or removing details from the pattern, we're ruining the original idea of the pattern designer. Adding darts to an armhole or neckline changes the way the bust or back fits, often for the better.
Quote by Charles James, American designer, at the High Style exhibit at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco 

2) Use the "lengthen or shorten here" lines.

Those little lines on your patterns are there for a purpose of a better fit.  Go ahead and cut that pattern on that line and add your length instead of trying to cut the shoulders shorter, the sleeve longer or the crotch deeper, which can create additional fit issues that are harder to correct. Just remember: whenever you lengthen or shorten, narrow or widen, add or subtract to one pattern piece, you will have a corresponding pattern piece that will also need to be adjusted so that the seams match up correctly. This means you will be adjusting more then one pattern piece.

3) The grain line on a pattern is THE most important feature on a pattern.
There's a reason why you lay a pants pattern on the straight grain line of the fabric: They will NOT hang well if the grain line is off and even a tiny difference to the grain line will make all the difference in the world for a great looking pant.

4) Once you have a pattern that works great, don't risk having that flimsy paper tearing. Iron on fusible interfacing to make your pattern durable.
Preserve your pattern pieces by applying a fusible interfacing fabric to the backs of the pieces.  Don't use steam to apply it or your pattern will shrink. What a great hint, given that many of us use the same pattern over and over again.

Most of the tips, hints and how-tos that Sandra covered in her class are detailed in her books Fast Fit and Power Sewing Toolbox 1 & 2.
Remember the 1-Hour dress by New Look (6347) that we had such a time fitting?  We're making it again and this time with a better fit. 
New Look 6347

This time we're using a gorgeous rayon batik from my stash. This dress would be great in any flowing rayon or soft drapey fabric!

Now that Laurel has a dress form in my size, fondly named Zanikan (fyi, my nickname is Zan - short for SuZan), she is able to make some changes to the pattern so that the dress will fit better.  

Another of Laurel's takeaways from listening to Sandra was that fitting at the bust is crucial.  In the original New Look 6347 dress we made, that bust darts were too low. So Laurel started on this second dress with fitting the point of the bust dart where it should be first and adjusting the rest of the pattern from there.

We are also adding a zipper down the back, even though the original design did not call for it.  The use of the zipper will allow me to get in and out of the dress so we can fit the back and waist to my torso.

Whatever your making, if you're not sure of the fit, then make a muslin first (we've said it before, and we'll say it again)  Once you have the perfect fit in your pattern, you will use it over and over again (a perfect excuse to iron on fusible interfacing, like Sandra said!). 

Having a dress form helps, Laurel admits. Both Zanikan and Laurel's Colette are a mainstay in her studio and boy, has she been cranking out the garments - some for her, most for me (yay!).
Verb for Keeping Warm Endless Summer Tunic, Grainline Studio Scout Tee, Vogue 1313, New Look 6268, Sew Liberated Schoolhouse Tunic

Creatively yours,

We are also super excited to have Sandra Betzina back for an inspiring Fashion and Fabric Trunk show to inspire you on Thursday October 22, 2015 at 6:30. Please go to our website for more information. You can call us directly to register at 510-845-6106. Hope to see you then for this fabulous party and opportunity to play with Sandra in her "favorite" fabric store! 

Please email me at fabriclady3@gmail.com if you want more information about a class or the find the perfect class for you!

My fabulous team is now blogging at stonemountainfabric.blogspot.com

Here is a little bit of the latest blog and I encourage you to follow us there as well!

Stonemountain Style Hacking: Finding Inspiration In Ready-Made Fashion

It's summer and the fashion magazines and retailer catalogs are out in full force, touting breezy, comfortable, beautiful clothes. We are finding endless inspiration, flipping through these images and imaging how easy many of these outfits are to make. This post is all about dissecting and breaking down a ready-made or ready-to-wear outfit, so you too can say, "I can make that!"

 To best re-create these styles, or to hack them, we look at three very important elements:

  1. Take note of the cut of the garment and drape of the fabric (i.e. where the seams are and how the fabric falls on the body).
  2. Search our pattern books to find a similar style to the garment we wish to recreate. 
  3. Search Stonemountain for a fabric that best matches the fiber, drape, weight, and overall look of the inspiration piece. 
to read more, please click over to stonemountainfabric.blogspot.com

Monday, June 22, 2015

Summer Tees....

With warmer weather just around the corner, we're already starting to revamp our closets and drawers to move out the sweaters and jackets to make room for easy breezy summer garments. And nothing says summer like a summer tee shirt. They are a warm weather staple - easy to care for, cool to wear, and best of all, easy to make.

When we get new designs in from our independent pattern designers, we always try out the tee-shirt patterns. Shapes' Four Good Measure top is a loosely fitting tee that we made out of several knits last year, including a digital print from France.

Tilly and the Buttons' Coco tee is a snap to make.  Laurel made the longer version in a rayon print.

Pamela's Patterns has "The Perfect T-Shirt." We have used this pattern several times, using various knits.

And we loved Burda's easy t-shirt pattern, #7645. (We also made the tank!)

This month, Grainline Studio's Scout Tee caught our eye. It's not very often that you find a tee pattern that is designed specifically for woven fabrics, so we thought we'd give it a try.

We chose a soft lightweight cotton lawn.  The pattern has a lower back hemline than the front, short cap sleeves and works up in a jiffy. It's the perfect little tee for the beginning sewist.  In fact, we're even teaching a class specifically on this pattern in August and October!

You could wear it out, tucked in, or belted! 
Summer perfection!!

Laurel made her Scout tee out of one of our lightweight Ikats.
Now that will look cute with jeans or shorts!

She also gave the neckline a little extra detail by just letting some of the bias facing show and then stitching it down in the ditch.

Think about making this pattern up in a pretty silk...wouldn't that be great paired with some jeans for a "casual elegance" look at a Summer music festival? I'd love to see it made up in a soft Rayon challis too.  Even a lightweight linen?

I love this Scout Tee so much, Laurel is making me two more cotton tops for this summer!!!

Last but not least, I love my new favorite flowing top, New Look 6268!!!

Sew many choices!

Cheers to a summer full of sewing up essentials that will last season after season!

Happy Sewing,

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Loving the ethnic fabric and free flowing ease!

We are all over the ethnic look for this summer.  Some of our imported gauze fabrics from India are just perfect to get that free-flowing look so prevalent in the 60's and 70's.  And the best part is that they never seem to go out of style and are perfect for any age!

I wore my gauze palazzo pants, New Look 6271, on vacation and loved them so much that we made a second pair. My wonderful Burda 7645 rayon/lycra knit top is the perfect pairing!

 Laurel made her pants out of this lightweight rayon challis... yum! If you weren't blessed with long willowy legs, make these pants extra long, pair them with some wedge heeled shoes, and voila! You have that long lean look!

These wide-legged pants look great with a tee-shirt or even a more loose blouse,
 such as New Look 6268.  This is another very easy blouse to work up.  

We chose another imported gauze with a border.  Laurel placed the pattern pieces on the cross grain of the fabric to make sure we highlighted the border along the selvage edge of the fabric.

Again, this pattern uses a self belt, but it would look cute without the belt.  Very soft and flowing!

 And since we're gaga over gauze, we thought A Verb for Keeping Warm's "Endless summer Tunic" would be fun to make up in a cotton gauze.

We love the quasi-batik look of this cotton crinkled gauze or try one of our cotton double gauzes! . 
Can't wait to see this little number finished!

All of these patterns are a breeze to sew and we love the infinite variety that just one pattern can give you by using different fabrics.  Drop in to pick out something fresh and breezy to add to your Summer Wardrobe!

creatively yours,
Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics
in the creative hub of Berkeley!

Stop by our website or store for a visit to our creative well!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Origami Cranes for Everyone!

Origami is the art of paper folding. The goal is to transform a flat sheet of paper into a finished sculpture through folding and sculpting techniques. Modern origami practitioners generally discourage the use of cuts, glue, or markings on the paper. We found a great cotton print that featured paper cranes and it seemed that everyone who saw it in the store wanted to make something from the soft fabric. Right next to it we highlighted another Asian inspired print, which coordinated with the paper crane print.

Claire, one our sales associates (and a big inspiration to me) was the first to make her Origami dress.  She used The Laurel Dress by Colette! For other great dress patterns by Colette, check out this link to Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics.


I chose an Anne Klein design from Vogue, No. 1382.  We decided to use the grey paper crane print for the top and bottom sections of this simple shift and the coordinating small white and black pattern for the mid section.


When Laurel added the facings, she used the coordinating print and let a tiny piping edge show aroung the neck and armholes.


Love how this turned out and especially love the interesting dart that fits so well!


Time out for some loving in our new clothes - it's so much fun knowing where and how your clothes are made! Thanks Laurel for two great years of making clothes together! xoxo

Here's a wonderful photo with Natalie and her amazing Marcy Tilton Knit dress Vogue 8904!

Laurel was in love with the red version of the origami cotton, but couldn't imaging wearing all that red. We both said "a bag!" at the same time.  You can check back on our previous post to see how the purse is constructed.  I love how she used three different prints to add detail to her bag.


Check out the oversized button on the bag's front.  This red wooden button, from our Stonemountain button "wall", is attached with a tiny cord made from bias tape, threaded through the large holes and tied in a knot.


She used the coordinating Asian print for the lining. 

Thank you so much for following my blog and the adventures into sewing and creating! It's a very exciting time for me as the owner of Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics...it truly is a dream job (for 34+ years now!!!) and I am blessed to have this great work to do. I hope that you will continue to join Laurel and myself as we keep igniting the flames of creativity through garment sewing and wearable fashion.

wishing you the best,