Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Three's a Charm Jacket - Come Sew along with me!

We love sew-alongs here at Stonemountain. We take a pattern that we know everyone will love: one that is easy, has a great style and is versatile.  It's pretty easy to pick the sew-along garment as by the time we start the project, many of our customers and our own staff have already tried the pattern and they already love it!

Our current sew-along is a huge success - so many of you are still joining in making the Given a Chance dress by Decades Everyday.  What a variety of colors, textures, combinations and fabric choices we see - each dress totally unique with the sewist's own fashion flair.


Our new favorite indie pattern for April is again from Decades Everyday. Our sew-along features the Three's a Charm Jacket. This unlined crop jacket is the perfect companion to short-sleeved and sleeves dresses, tunic and tees. The sleeves are three-quarter length and the front closure is a single button.  It fast and simple, and yet the styling does allow for some customization in the stitching, sleeve length, and or adding trims, etc. Read about our sewalong here!

Laurel and I each chose fabric to make this jacket: I choose a lightweight eyelet with a washed denim look, as well as a woven cotton with tiny polka dots. Laurel chose a burnt orange denim... almost the same color as one of her favorite spices, turmeric.

For our first "Charm" jacket, Laurel made the Eyelet jacket following the suggestions on the easy to follow instructions. The eyelet jacket is but a whisper, like wearing a very lightweight sweater.  I love it because it's perfect for work - not too bulky or heavy to make me too warm, but just enough weight to keep the chill off on these cool days.

For our second Charm jacket ( for me again - yay!!) Laurel was in the mood to add some special finishes to inside of the jacket. Many sewists love to take the time to finish off the seams with a professional binding. This jacket could easily be lined, but we're not going that far - let's keep it simple.

Laurel choose some leftover fabric from Cotton and Steel to make bias strips that she would use to bind the edges of the facings... just for the fun of it.

She bound all the edges of the facing and hems. Using this technique does take more time and of course is not necessary, but we like to show you the whole range of possibilities. We know many of you who follow Fabric Lady are advanced sewists!

The jacket was then constructed in the same way as the Eyelet jacket. But check out the inside of the finished jacket - it's almost as pretty as the outside!!

Well, not quite...

I'm wondering how many Three's a Charm Jackets can a girl own??

With May on our doorstep and the sew-along happening, Laurel got started on her "spicy" denim jacket.  With denim, it's always a good idea to pre-wash the fabric - not just for shrinkage, but the process can make the fabric softer and that was the effect Laurel was after.

We joke about the difference in our forms - I'm rockin' it around the hips and Laurel has the "Girls" going on up top.  My jacket was a perfect size 36 with no adjustments needed.  But if Laurel used the bust measurement that would seemingly fit, the shoulders would fall down to her elbows.  That's why we learn to do FBA's or full bust adjustments.

The making of Laurel's jacket was just the same as my two jackets.  Because she chose a denim fabric, she decided to spend the time doing some classic top-stitching as well as adding flat-felled seams. Things can go haywire while sewing and for us it's not different - Laurel's serger was in a rebellious mood, so the inside finishes are not a pretty as she would like.  It's okay that it's not perfect... the outside looks pretty good!

She also added a bound buttonhole.  I guess she will be shopping for a button from our awesome Button wall when she comes down in a few weeks.

And she finished off the facing edges, just for fun. Read about how more finishing options on the Stonemountain blog!

Miss Colette, Laurel's mini-me, rocking the Southwest look in her new Three's a Charm Jacket...

Wouldn't this jacket be awesome in a faux leather... Or elegantly made in a Duponi Silk?  That's what sewalongs are all about - getting ideas as we see each others creations - each one unique to it's creator.

Check out the end results and more jackets made by Stonemountain staff on the blog!

How can it get any better than this? Please join us and make one of these amazing jackets for your next project - you won't regret it!

Thanks for playing and sewing along with me!
Fabriclady, LuckyLady
Love to hear from you and to see photos of your projects!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Be Still my Hippie Heart! Love this Lela Tunic!

Our second indie pattern for 2016 is Green Bee's Lela Tunic. This is another of those that we've had in our stash for a bit and just decided to finally sew it up. The Lela Tunic features dolman sleeves with neckline and sleeve edges that are are finished with bias.

Laurel and Suzan! Laurel is wearing her new Three's a Charm Jacket.

We chose to make the longer tunic style in a beautiful soft double gauze by Nani Iro.  We have a Nani Iro Cabin in the works, and several of our Stonemountain staffers have made garments with this double gauze.  It's easy to sew, especially when the pattern is simple, such as the Lela.

The "Poppy Trip" pattern has a cute border along the selvages, so we decided to incorporate that edging into our design.  Remember, it's all about making a garment "yours" by adding design details that reflect your personality.

The Lela tunic has slits up each side—that's a great place to add detail. Laurel applied the border print to the slits by sewing it on top of the fabric, almost like you would apply a decorative zipper to the back seam of a dress.

She also added the edging to the sleeve, which is pieced.

And a little detail to the back yoke - why not!

The Lela will be so easy to wear, and I can't help but notice that our rendition has a little hippie vibe going for it. I can see me wearing this with some soft white linen pants this summer.

Cheers to spring sewing!


Friday, March 25, 2016

Stash Busting or Building?

You can read a lot of articles and posts by sewists and crafters about stash busting projects - anything from strip quilting to bags and purses to just finally making up a pattern that you've had for months...even years!  While we love seeing people enjoy sewing of any type and using long-forgotten pieces of fabric, there's something intrinsically satisfying about the thoughtful "accumulation" of beautiful fabric.

We're not talking about "hoarding" here - such an ugly word - we're just thinking that 2016 might be the year for Stash "Building"! I am so excited about what's happening here at Stonemountain with respect to fabric buying.  For years I have spent hours and hours pouring over samples, going on buying trips, and trying to keep Stonemountain on top of the "best fabric stores" lists. But with the addition of several capable and creative young women, fabric buying has taken on a whole new fresh approach and I'm loving it!

This day is like most days - there's always something new arriving.  It's like having your birthday over and over, as the huge boxes are unloaded and placed at our doors.

 Then, it's all hands on deck...sorting, marking, pricing, and placing it up on the shelves.

What makes this process so fun is that our customers get to enjoy the show as well.  It's funny how some fabrics don't even make it to the shelves - one person will see a particular bolt and before you know it, three others are coveting the same fabric.

This beautiful crinkle fabric never made it to the shelves...gone in the blink of an eye!

My seamstress and friend Laurel was down yesterday and we collectively dubbed 2016 as the Year of Stash Building.  On fun garment fitting days like this, she spends considerable time scouring through the shelves to see what's new at Stonemountain. She says she is in the "building" stage this year, and from we can see, her stash at home is becoming quite impressive.

Are you Busting or Building? There's always an ebb and flow in creativity: sometimes our sewing is off the charts, and we use up a lot of fabric that has been languishing in our studios and closets for too long. (If it's been there "for years," maybe you should think about giving it away to someone who will enjoy it!) It's after those busy production times that we love to add back into our stash to keep it at a level that we can manage, yet continually fueling our imagination and creativity.

So...hoarding? No. Truthfully, excesses of any kind tend to weigh you down, so everything in moderation we say, and that includes your fabric stash. There's a balance in life that brings joy and peace, especially in the areas of nurturing your creative spirit. So, keep your stash organized and purposeful...just enough so that your imagination and creativity are constantly fed and your machines are humming.

Creatively Yours,

Monday, March 21, 2016

Endings & Beginnings…further reflections on ending classes and what's next!

Sandra Betzina, teaching one of our early classes downstairs!
Last month, I announced that we are no longer going to be offering a full program of classes upstairs for sewing and quilting after June 30, 2016 (read the post here). This began an in-depth conversation with our tribe of sewing instructors, students, fabric lovers and other teaching studios in the greater Bay Area.

Although it has been tough for us to hear from many students about their sadness, shock and disappointment, we understand that this feedback stems from how much value they have received and the amazing opportunity that these classes have provided.  We appreciate all that we’ve heard from lifelong students, as well as others just gearing up to jump in.

Here are some words from our community:

- I am glad you are growing and will be continuing to offer quality fabrics. That is very heartening! I cannot wait to see what you will offer upstairs!

- Thank you for the wonderful service you provide to the whole area. You fill a very important need, and I for one really appreciate that you are here and staying!

- Thank you so much for being there.

- Change is hard for many of us. Thanks for taking a step in a new direction. Discounted designer goods will add a fabric opportunity for us that we don't currently have in the East Bay. I'm excited to see what you will be offering.

- The classes I've taken there were wonderful- sad to see them go, but excited to see what you do next! And an extra yay for discounted designer fabrics!

- Good luck in your next upstairs venture.

- Best of luck with your new business plan!

- I completely understand, and am grateful for the opportunity to take a few more classes over the next few months! I'm glad you'll find more balance and I'm confident that you're doing what's right for the store. 

- I'm happily registered in 6 classes! I had hoped to work my way through all your classes over the next couple years, but I'm glad I could squeeze in a few before they go away. Thanks!

- I am a businesswoman so I thoroughly respect your decision and I adore your store.  So I bless you with all my heart, despite feeling at a loss for what do I do next. I can only imagine how tough the business is with competition of online and the big box stores like Joann’s.  I hope this move strengthens your bottom line and makes your responsibilities less stressful.  I hope to be your good customer for a long time!

During the last 20 years, we have taught many thousands of students to sew, stretching across all generations.  It has been an inspiration to see you all come through our doors and leave with that first completed project. Providing these classes has been one of Stonemountain’s substantial contributions to our sewing community and we are so grateful for the time and impact we’ve had. On a personal level, the time I have dedicated to providing these classes has been an amazing service project and a gift from my heart and passion. 

To be very clear, I came to this decision based on looking at ALL current economic realities, long-term trends heading our way, the vast amount of time it takes to schedule, produce and administrate the classes, and the great benefits of selling fabric in the upstairs bargain room. 

If we want to survive as a truly independent, family-owned, brick-and-mortar fabric store, we have to be realistic. We can no longer afford to have what has basically been a non-profit school within our store. After 20 years, we are stepping down and supporting others in our community to take over the important step of teaching sewing and quilting.  We believe that in the long run, this decision will allow our community of sewists to stay strong and grow. We are dedicated to being a community center for quality and affordable fabrics - one of the last remaining independent fabric stores in the country!

After a great deal of inner thought, I have come to realize that ending the sewing classes is not only best for Stonemountain & Daughter but it is also in harmony with the highest intent for my own personal life. 

Looking forward, I am excited about working with all the other sewing schools in the greater Bay Area. I have already been meeting with many of them personally to see how we can work together. Some of our own instructors have already set up classes for you to go to. Barbara Beccio will be teaching at Stitch Sewing Lab, a beautiful studio, based in Berkeley on Gilman at 4th street. 

One of our awesome instructors, Terry McClintock (right)
We are currently gathering information of all the various teachers and schools. We hope to post these on our website and have a handout available in our store as things for summer and fall come together. There really is nothing else out there like what we have been doing, so it may take time for others to step up and fill this vital need in our community. It is our intent to refer customers/students to local teachers!

As we wrap up our stellar program, our classes are filling up quickly. Please visit our class catalog to see where you can jump in and take one of our last amazing classes at Stonemountain! Thank you all for supporting our classes and instructors and helping Stonemountain Classes be one of the most successful sewing schools in any fabric store in the country. 

Our commitment to education and inspiration is still strong and I look forward to working closely with my team to find innovative ways to engage with our community of sewists around the world! There are many ideas coming forth now for us to get excited about! (sew-alongs, in-store demonstrations, youtube channel, more content developed in our blogs and newsletters)

It is my deepest hope that our student base will continue to shop with us and support our family run community sanctuary for the feminine arts.

We hope you can join us in our Decade’s Everyday Three’s a Charm Jacket Sew Along this month. Click over to the Stonemountain Blog for more info!

with love and hope and a lifetime of dedication,

Monday, March 14, 2016

March Indie-Bliss! - What's up next!

Why end a good thing? Our January Indie Pattern Month celebration highlighted all the great independent pattern lines that are featured at Stonemountain. We saw a lot of your creations worked up in great fabrics, and we made up a few of our own. We didn't want the fun the end, so we've picked out a few new designs to work on!

Sewaholic's Renfrew top features three different neckline treatments and three different sleeves.  Many times sewists will want to keep the basic shape of a pattern design but make some changes to the pattern to make it their own.  The Renfrew top does it for you! We will be making View B out of this soft rayon knit in one of my go-to colors - purple!

The Lark Tee by Grainline Studio is one that we will be featuring in a class soon.  Our fabric is very bold graphic rayon lycra knit. It was fun trying to decide how to use the fabrics unique print on this simple tee shirt.  There is no such thing as having too many tee shirts and your fabric choices are the key to making each one unique and totally you.

We've already seen how cute the Camas Blouse by Thread Theory can be on Instagram.  We loved this soft rayon knit and we are not above using it again for our Camas.

Not one but three Decades Everyday's Three's a Charm Jacket: two for me and one for Laurel. We chose two denim fabrics (the grey polkadot and the burnt orange). This cute jacket would work in almost any fabric - several of our staff members have already created their own #3sacharmjacket. The third jacket will be lightweight denim-look cotton eyelet.

Pop on over to our Stonemountain blog to read about our community sew along! I hope you will make your own Three's a Charm Jacket!

Were you inspired by our Indie pattern focus? Did you create your own unique version of a particular designer?  Drop by the store or send us a photo or tag us on Instagram.  Sharing your work with others is what makes us all want to join in the "memade" revolution!

Ok, now it's time to get it done!

See you all soon,

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Last Semester for Classes at Stonemountain & Daughter

20 years ago I dreamed of teaching classes here at Stonemountain & Daughter in our upstairs discount fabric room. 1996 was a sewing school desert in the bay area. Since we began our school, I have been blessed to see it grow into one of the most successful in-store sewing schools in the country: a place to come and learn how to sew, design and play with our amazing fabric while growing our sewing community. Our classes have helped Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics survive by teaching the next generations how to create and use the fabric they love!

It is with mixed feelings that I announce, for a variety of important reasons; we will not be offering classes after the end of June 2016. I have so much gratitude for the sewing community that has grown with us at Stonemountain & Daughter. Please join me in thanking and showing gratitude for all the instructors, past and present, who have inspired us and shared their gifts with you all. I want to thank my amazing staff for all their support to the teachers, the students, our classrooms and me. It has truly taken a village to provide our community with top notch sewing classes!
It’s been a great ride for 19 years and such an honor to do this school with you! We have taught many thousands of sewists of all ages. Currently, we have 1 – 3 classes each day of the year and have reached an unsurpassed quality level. Now it is time to pass this legacy onto other teachers and businesses in our sewing community. We will have a handout for you to find local places where you can continue to advance your skills and get the sewing support you need.
I’m excited about dreaming into what more is possible for Stonemountain & Daughter and me! We are also thrilled to find a new focus for our upstairs and transform it into a complete designer fabric discount space!
Our heart and primary mission is to provide the highest quality fabric, independent patterns and quality notions at the best prices. This decision will help us survive in this economy and stay focused on serving the community’s fabric needs.
With so much gratitude and hope,
Suzan Steinberg
Owner, Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics

Since 1981 in Berkeley

Friday, February 12, 2016

Head in the Clouds over Independent Pattern Choices! Yay Indie Pattern Month!

At the end of 2015, several of our collaborative team really felt that 2016 was going to be our best year yet. We all sensed a new creativity just waiting in the wings to come forth and explode into an avalanche of exciting creations, new opportunities and a fresh take on our approach.  We launched "Indie Pattern Month" on January 1st, and it was a fabulous success! 

Every day for thirty-one days we highlighted one our awesome Independent "paper" pattern makers.  Indie pattern lovers from all over showed off their beautiful indie pattern creations and we were truly inspired.

My head is spinning at how many stunning fabric/pattern combinations our customers shared. Naturally, I had to jump into the action too and, lucky for me, Laurel of Laurel's Quill (as well as my seamstress and friend) was eager to create some awesome looks for us both during our own January Indie-Sew-A-Thon.

Please stop by our store or our virtual pattern table on our website to explore our pattern collections. It's super easy to use and see all our choices. Plus you can order it from the comfort of your home. Just know that the shipping will be less when ordering only patterns  on our website store (our PayPal over estimates for patterns, but we refund the difference!).

Here we are the delicious fruits of our labor. Enjoy!

I love this dress. Let me say that again. I love this dress. The fabric is soft and drapes beautifully - who doesn't love all the gorgeous rayons by Cotton + Steel? It's not that difficult to make either. I had to laugh when Laurel (who you know is an accomplished seamstress) sewed the entire skirt on backwards and had to rip it all off and start again. Nobody's perfect!

Bettine Dress by Tilly and the Buttons Patterns!

We've made this pattern before, only as a top. I wanted to make up the long tunic in red (my new power color), for the sheer "drama" of it all. Laurel made another Obi belt to make sure we don't hide my waistline - now that's drama!

Love this tunic! Kintamani by Bali Collection.

The Arum, by Deer and Doe
This is the second time that Laurel has made the Arum.  We love this pattern for its easy style and bonus:  it looks great on all body types.  Laurel used one of our heavy ponte knits, even though the pattern calls for a woven fabric.  I love the detail of the faux leather patch pockets - she just used a pocket pattern from another pattern and added them to the sides. We sell Deer & Doe patterns in our store only, not on our website. So call us at (510) 845-6106 or email me at to purchase this one or any of their designs!

I so love Laurel in this Arum pattern by Deer and Doe!

I'm loving my new red fashions. This Davie dress is made from a yummy lightweight ponte. Perfect for work or going out to a concert, but comfy, like wearing a fitted T-shirt.

So cute! Love my Davie Dress! Thanks Sewabholic!

 We chose another rayon, this time a rayon batik. The photo on the pattern cover was so cute with the bright pink zipper in the back, we couldn't resist copying.  So adorable!

One of my favorite tops now! The Orla by Tilly and the Buttons.

This is a beginner's pattern which is why it had been to popular in our sewing community.  The interesting thing about this knit pattern is that it tells you right up front that it's made with "negative ease".  In other words, while we are so used to making garments with "room to spare", the Moneta is made to fit snugly on your frame.

Thanks Collete for another Classic Dress - the Moneta!

 This is such an easy and quick layering piece to make. If you can set in a sleeve and sew a straight line, you can whip this one out in no time. Laurel did not even put a finish on the edges of this knit - that maintains the flat effect on the seams and down the front, much like a soft sweater.  I can wear this cardigan with everything - would be great in an array of neutral knits, too!


Another great layering piece - this one is a "muslin" of sorts - Laurel just used a piece of lightweight ponte knit just to see how it might come together.  We might suggest sticking with a very lightweight knit or woven fabric. That little pocket is definitely "tiny".

This goes with everything! Love my new Draped Front Cardigan and my Tiny Pocket Tank

The Cabin, by Blueprints for Sewing
Both Laurel and I have made this great top several times (also a dress, which is below).  The Cabin can be made using any type of fabric.  This zebra polyester crepe is wonderfully flowing (there are two unicorn prints version of this fabric, too), but the dress that Laurel is modeling was made from one of our 100% cotton double gauze fabrics, created by our manager, Lauren.


The Magic Pencil Skirt, by Pamela's Patterns 
It doesn't get any easier than this knit skirt.  You can make this in one of our beginner's classes and we will also do a future post on the sewing process.  It's SEW very easy!!

Great with anything! The Pencil Skirt with my Zebra Cabin Top!

Laurel wearing Lauren's Cabin Dress! Made out of our 100% Cotton Double Gauze - dreamy!
I love soft rayon blouses, and the Aster top is no exception. Rayon is so drapey and it can be worn untucked, like I prefer, or tucked into a nice skirt or pair of slacks.

Love this Aster Top with my Pamela's Magic Pencil Skirt in Grey. 

Sometimes you just have to see something made up in order to see if you like the design.  The Lela tunic floated in and out of our pattern choices each time Laurel and my team planned our next series of garmentsThis month we just decided to go for it, and I couldn't be happier. It is the perfect top for work, and making it up in the double gauze was a touch of brilliance.

Oh my! Love this cotton double gauze print for my Lela tunic

Whose head wouldn't be in the clouds after our Indie Pattern Month? We have never been more inspired to keep this creativity train rolling throughout 2016, seeking out new patterns and fabulous fabrics to share with you,  so that you may be inspired to sew. 

Many of the patterns that we've featured are easy to make, but if you need some further inspiration, check out our list of classes.  Half the fun of sewing is sharing and learning with others. You'd be surprised how many tips and hints you can pick up in even one class!

Now that we all see what these fabulous independent designers are up to, perhaps you will see why we have made a recent decision:  We will not be re-ordering Vogue, Kwik Sew, Burda and New Look patterns. For years, they have been undermining the efforts of Brick and Mortar fabric stores, like mine, with predatory low cost pricing of their patterns in both large chain stores and online. We have hung in there with them, but it is now time to trim this branch off our tree and focus where the joy and excitement is!

I so look forward to the Magic of Sewing in 2016 with each of you!

Love and Sewing,