Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Dahlia for Fall

We are in one of our most favorite sewing/creating seasons: 

I'm not sure if it's the warm colors or the rich fabrics or the pattern detailing that makes fall fashion designs so appealing, but we love being part of the fabric industry this time of year. Fabric colors and textures of fall seem to pull from the natural world than at any other time of year - everyone wants to embrace the earthiness of a rich brown wool, the coziness of a warm red plaid flannel, or the comfort of a soft dark green ponte knit.

I love the ease of wearing dresses for work, adding boots and leggings to them for the fall weather. I find I prefer dresses because they are uncluttered, less hassle, and more comfortable than a two piece outfit.  Our independent designers shine in the dress design arena, so I enjoy featuring their unique dress designs in my work wardrobe.

Colette has added to her easy yet visually interesting designs with the Dahlia dress. We love the detailing at the waist.

We chose a soft, but large scale plaid for the Dahlia...perfect for my fall season mood.  Be sure to check out the other colors this "Peppered Plaid" comes in!

Peppered Plaid - 100% Cotton Loveliness!

Whenever you are working with fabric where matching is crucial, like this large plaid, be sure to IRON/PRESS the fabric before you start your pattern layout.  Many cotton blends have wrinkles and creases caused by shipping and storage of the bolts that are easily steamed out.  

The Dahlia has a seamless center back and front with a narrow-at-the-waist fit, which means - you guessed it - the dreaded side zipper. To make it more exciting, Colette's instructions call for an invisible zipper.

In order to make this tricky installation process a little easier, Laurel changed up the order in which she assembled the dress. Instead of putting in the zipper after the side seams were sewn under the arm and in the skirt, she assembled the front and back sections but did not sew them together at the side seams, leaving her the freedom to perfectly match the two sides of the zipper, without having to fight/re-do/seam-rip/cry over the side "opening."

Looks good, doesn't it?  Laurel did a fantastic job pattern matching on this dress, and I can't wait to wear it again!  It even looks good with leggings underneath, which is perfect for work when it cools down a bit.

With a great quality cotton, Laurel's workmanship, and Colette's great pattern, this dress is a winner!

What are your fall sewing plans?

Creatively yours,

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Creativity To The Rescue!

Finding a fabric that you loved in the store but you get it home, begin your project and then think, "Really?!" can be soul crushing for those of us who *bleed* fabric. Before you toss that fabric into the scrap pile, re-think how you might change your original design idea to rekindle your "loving' feeling" for the offending fabric.

Grainline's "Tiny Pocket Tank" got us all excited by its simplicity and semi-fitted versatile shape. At our last wardrobe planning session, we picked out a soft ikat in a rich olive color to make another pair of Sewing Workshop's "Hudson" pants.

My monthly wardrobe planning process is a collaborative effort - together with a couple of my creative staff members and Laurel, my seamstress, we work together to pick fabrics and patterns that best express our collective design aesthetic. Working towards a common goal of creating inspiring wardrobe pieces that I would wear, we manage to create garments that we all love.

To pair with the olive ikat pants, we found a soft off-white double gauze for the tank to best coordinate with he pants and yet stand out on its own as a visually interesting piece.

Double gauze is, very simply, two layers of very soft gauze that are tacked together with little stitches that are somewhat invisible. I have previously featured on this blog the double gauze plaid in my Liverpool Shirt.

After pre-washing her fabric, Laurel took a closer look on the cutting table and found that the color of the gauze was not the nice off-white that we thought we saw in the store, but in fact, a greenish-grayish off-white, resembling something akin to a drab dish towel or putty. Try take your fabrics to the store window's natural light to make sure of your color choice, keeping aware of the time of day as morning light can be more yellow and afternoon light can look blue. Suffice it to say, the idea of a drab colored tank top not sound appealing to me or my seamstress. What were we thinking?!

Solution: Be creative and shift gears!

Laurel came up with the idea of incorporating the olive ikat fabric into the top.  She also thought the gauze fabric might be better suited to something like the Scout Tee, thus adding sleeves to soften the overall look.

The Scout Tee uses a bias strip for the neck binding. Laurel cut bias strips of the ikat design - even though the design wasn't on the true 45 degree angle of this fabric, it would still have enough of the stretchiness of a true bias (this was done since ikat does not have a symmetrical or regularly distanced pattern like printed fabric, so it looked better to keep the fabric design symmetrical).

And since we loved the tiny pocket on the original Grainline Studio pattern, we added our own tiny pocket, also made in the ikat. With our creativity now flowing, maybe we need to add a cute button detail!

Laurel cut sleeves out of both fabrics, but ultimately decided to use the ikat.  The resulting design changes and addition of the contrasting ikat changed the whole vibe of the cotton gauze from dirty T-shirt to casual color-blocked fabulous.  It looked like we planned it that way from the beginning!

I'm not much for "matchy-matchy" outfits, but I have to admit, paired with the ikat Hudson pants,  the result looks pretty cute on the Zanikan.  This top would also be great with a pair of jeans and it is so very soft!

The bottom line is, don't be too quick to toss aside a length of fabric in which the love is lost.  Chances are, if you re-think your initial design and let your creativity loose, you can probably salvage the love relationship of any fabric!

Come by the store and check out this great Scout Tee top and the wonderful versions of the Hudson Pant I have fallen in love with! We have so many of the FabricLady garments hanging around the store, so be sure to look up as you walk our aisles!

Creatively Yours,

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Can't Get Enough Ikat?! Neither Can We!

We have been raving about ikat fabric for months now and we still can't seem to get enough of it!  It's such a versatile fabric - easy to sew, unlimited patterns and colors, a wide variety of weights to suit your style and season, and so different from everything in other stores!  Check out the selection we have in our online or—even better—stop by and visit the Wall o' IKATS at Stonemountain & Daughter!

We already made several dresses, a couple of pairs of pants, and even a woven t-shirt. This month we're adding to the "dress revolution" by using Colette Patterns' Laurel dress.   It's a beginner pattern, and several of our staff have already made up this "chic and simple" dress with a semi-fitted shape.

We wanted to make use of coordinating ikat patterns, just to add some cool color blocking to this simple dress.

The dress has a back zipper which allows you to adjust the fit if needed and gives you the opportunity to add a cool contrasting zipper for fun.  It didn't take Laurel long to whip out this dress for a fitting.  I had worn a pair of my favorite leggings that day - I love the combination of dresses and leggings, even in the summer.

The fit was great, but we both agreed that it need to be shorter, so we sent it back to Sacramento with Laurel. Once she shortened the hem, I still felt it lacked the final detail to make it a really special dress, so Laurel suggested pockets!

Colette's version has a curved pocket, but we decided a square patch pocket would better suit this "square block" pattern.  Laurel added a little strip of the white ikat to better integrate the contrasting pocket and matched the ikat pattern, too!

Just what this dress needed!  Can't wait to strike out in this sassy piece. The sleeve reminds me of the cute clothes I used to wear when I was a kid playing in my dad's fabric store.

The Laurel! 


Belted or unbelted? Both ways are great!!!

What other garments can you make with our beautiful ikats? Pants!

The Sewing Workshop's Hudson Pant is very loose fitting, ankle length pant with an elastic waist which are all factors to make this pant super comfortable. Not having to wear tight-fitting pants for work is certainly appealing.

TIP:  Because ikat is a woven design where the pattern is on both side of the fabric, instead of a printed design, it is best not to assume that it is the exact same design on both sides of the fabric.  For this ikat, we noticed there was the subtlest difference in both sides of the fabric - once side had a touch more of the black threads showing. Make sure you pay attention to this ikat fabric detail when you're putting together your garment.

Best part of these pants other than the ninety minutes it takes to make them? The long darts that go from the calf down to the ankle.  This great detailing keeps the comfortable pants from looking too slouchy.

Love these Pants - made up 3 times now!

Love the detail on the leg for these Hudson Pants - so easy to wear and sew!

To complete the casual look for these pants, we found this great dark red cotton with a fabulous and yet subtle texture to make the woven Scout Tee, one of our new "go-to" patterns from Grainline Studio.

Great Fabric + Inspiring Pattern = Successful Sewing! 

Love Love Love the Scout Tee!

How can it get any better than this?

Now I know which is my back and front!!!

Great when friends stop by to visit!

Laurel and Suzan on a good day!

It's been so wonderful to see so many great designs available in current patterns!  We love how easy and wearable they are. Yes, we can sew and create the wardrobe of our dreams! The quality of fabric is the best it's ever been at Stonemountain & Daughter and now that the patterns are catching up, it is opening up a world of inspiration and sewing! Join us in the Garment Sewing Revolution - Sew Local and Sew Berkeley!

Here is a sneak peak of my next Laurel Dress! Sewing is the greatest!

We just love to have fun with using the selvages!

P.S.  Have you heard that Stonemountain & Daughter has a swatch packet you can get through the mail or in our store? Check our our new Fall 2015 Capsule Collection Swatch Packet!

Creatively yours,
a.k.a. FabricLady

Monday, September 14, 2015

It's why we sew...

A few weeks ago my seamstress and friend Laurel came down for one of our fitting/lunch/wardrobe planning days at Stonemountain. Over lunch she recounted a window shopping day she had recently, on the search for a dress to wear to her high school reunion this coming fall. In fact, her hubby' reunion in Texas is later this year, so she was on the hunt for some ideas - you know, one of those smashing little dresses that will make the old girlfriend ever so slightly jealous (LOL!).

Even if we make the majority of our wardrobe, sometimes we just want to see how ready to wear styles might look on our frame. That's why we window shop, trying on dresses to help us imagine what we might wear to a special occasion.  If we're lucky, we might even score a new dress off the rack. But because we sew and are able to recognize quality fabrics and good workmanship when we see them, even window shopping can be a disappointment. Laurel's recent expedition was not without challenges.

First, how do you even find anything? 
With the sheer number of choices, you would think you should be able to find one dress you like...

Second issue: who wants to show up for the party looking like everyone else?

You want something unique, but most of us who are of a certain age 
can't imagine some of today's "styles" working on our bodies...

For Laurel, many of the designs were not suitable for the "knock 'em dead" look she was after. We can image wearing this simple sheath design, but its way too corporate business looking for a party...

This fabric was unique and feminine, BUT unless you're twenty something,
it's way too short.

Conclusion: Making the perfect dress is why we sew! When we see a gorgeous piece of fabric,  we imagine all sorts of garments that we could create.  And best of all, we know it's unlikely that we will see someone with the same outfit across the dance floor.  Our creations are unique to us.  They fit us like a glove.  They speak to who we are as designers and sewists.

Two sewists can use the same pattern and just by changing the fabric make the garment unique to themselves.  For instance, we've had this unique La Fred Helena dress hanging in our shop for quite some time, but it just caught Laurel's eye this month.

Laurel chose a gorgeous rayon knit to make one for herself. 
You won't find this print in the department stores, so her dress will be uniquely her.
It won't be worn for her reunion, but it's a perfect example of why we make our own dresses instead of buying off the rack.

I too love a dress that will speak to the Berkley girl that I am.  Sometimes the pattern is classic but a fresh take on fabric brings it to life all over again. For instance, take this Boho Chic look that's been around for ages: Vogue 9124.

Let's make it up in a gorgeous rayon border print. 
 I can't wait to see how Laurel works the fabric's border into the design!

The fall season is just around the corner, so it was inevitable that we would get distracted away from the "Reunion Dress Mission".  Fall speaks to each of us in different ways - the colors and textures of fall fabrics are infinite. We chose this silk knit first because of its unique color block pattern.  So why not pair it with a solid fabric and make a color blocked top with Vogue 9067 to wear with some nice black jeans?  So very fall...so very Laurel! 

After our day of wardrobe planning and dreaming, we still didn't find the right look for Laurel's two reunion events this fall, but we were off to a good start with this fabulous silk...it's definitely a show stopper.  Stonemountain often stocks these one-of a kind fabrics - I think a long flowing maxi skirt could be the ticket. It's a definite "maybe".

There's nothing complex about picking out just the right look and fabric for a special occasion:  You go with what strikes your fancy. Fabric speaks to those of us who listen. The option of facing jammed aisles of ready made dresses is often overwhelming - it's so "noisy". But a wall of beautiful fabrics...touching them...holding them up to our face; we can see the image of our garment start to take shape. We are creating something uniquely us...an outward expression of our inner soul and spirit - it's almost magic.

And it's WHY we sew.

Creatively yours,


Cabin Top
Take a look at some of the fabulous garments we have been creating - you just can't buy these in the stores! What are you ready to make for Fall?
Given a Chance Dress!