Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Two Fabrics, One top - The Floreat

The Floreat Top paired with Emerson Pant made out of linen!

There are so many creative possibilities when we sew, learn, and experiment with the fabric we love! The Floreat by Megan Nielsen is an asymmetrical dress or top that can be made out of either a knit or a woven fabric. Most patterns have to be adjusted to have this dual use, but this simple pattern, with clean lines, is extremely versatile and perfect for spring.

Laurel and I chose one knit and one woven fabric to make this top. We can't wait to see how they compare and how each top fits into our handmade wardrobes!

So many views to play with!

So we thought we'd test it out.  For the knit version, we chose the crop version  (View C) with short sleeves.  Our fabric is a soft organic cotton and hemp knit with a gentle slub texture. With so many high quality knits available, it's hard to choose! 

Love this color range on the Organic Cotton & Hemp Jersey at Stonemountain
Olive, Denim Blue, Terra, Shell, White, Black, Mauve, Brick Red, Red, and Navy!

If you've been sewing for a while, you do know that you can virtually make an entire knit garment using only your serger.  It takes practice, but the finishing on the inside is tidy and very professional looking.

Keep your pins close together and pull them out as you go along - even a sleeve can be set in using a serger...and remember...


We did stitch the Floreat's neck band on with a standard sewing machine, as it requires a little bit of stretching.  After it's safely sewn on, you can then serge the edge for a neat finish.

Don't you just love the Kylie and the Machine garment labels that are available for your me-mades? We chose the This is the back for this shirt.

Insides as pretty as the outside!

If you don't have a fancy cover stitch machine, just pop in a twin needle for the hemming.

Hint: If you don't happen to have two spools of the exactly same thread for your twin needle, just wind some thread onto a bobbin. Voilá! Matching thread! We use a larger stitch length for this top stitching technique.

Pretty cool!

So, if we want to try the Floreat in a woven fabric, just how different are the construction techniques? You'll find the neckline treatment is the main difference between the knit and woven versions, but the sleeve construction will differ as well.

The knit version has a bias neckband, whereas the woven top has a facing and an opening in the back with a hook & eye for ease of getting it over your head. The woven dress version will have a zipper down the back.

There are so many amazing choices for this versatile top or dress in woven fabrics. Check out our website to shop our linen and linen blends.

Laurel chose to make a woven Floreat, out of some left over metallic linen she had used previously for a dress.  She decided to use the wrong (non-metallic) side of the fabric for a more casual look. 

Facings are usually under-stitched to keep the them in place. It's a simple row of stitching on the very edge of the facing that catches the seam allowance. The facing can also be stitched down if you prefer. And for a closure, all that's needed is a small hook and eye to secure it at the neck.

The second difference between the two fabric versions occurs in sleeve construction. The knit sleeves are sewn to the armhole flat, then the side seams of the garment are sewn up from sleeve hem to the bodice hem. The woven sleeves are constructed separately, then inserted into the armhole, adjusting the ease and matching the notches. After the woven sleeve is set in, you can then finish off the edges with your serger (or a zig-zag stitch).

Laurel did a quickie "pattern hack" on the sleeves of her Floreat, as they did come out a little fuller than she prefers.  She made a small pleat in the edge of the sleeve...very cute.

Double row of top stitching on the hem.

Laurel can't wait to wear this sweet, springy Floreat.

 Whether you choose to use knit or woven fabric, the Floreat is a great beginner to intermediate project. The knit version whips up pretty fast - Laurel made mine in a little over an hour. The woven version is a little more time consuming as the fabric has less "give", so it has to be eased together.

Which version do you like? Why not try one of each! We have some great knits for a soft dress version and the woven version would be awesome in a rayon print. We look forward to seeing your Floreats on the 'gram!

You can read more about constructing both versions of the Floreat on the Megan Nielsen blog!

Sewing is no longer an isolated, individual craft. It has evolved to a shared experience, empowering folks to sew garments that we love. There is such a welcoming, supportive, and inclusive community of creative people to connect with.

Thanks again for reading along! 

Suzan Steinberg
in Berkeley since 1981

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Outside the Lines - Our Favorite Pattern "Hacks"

We all do it. It's part of the fun and satisfaction of making your own clothes. Some of us stick to the pattern for our first go at it, but if it becomes one of our go-to patterns, it doesn't take long before we are making changes to the pattern, just so all our garments don't look exactly alike. Maybe we will take inches off the hemline and turn a dress into a tunic.  Or maybe we will use the sleeve from one pattern and add it to another, peplums and ruffles added or removed, and so on.

Patterns hacks are prevalent among sewists who have been at it for a number of years.  It's all about the sewing adventure - finding the style, fabric, and fit that suits both your body as well as showcasing your unique fashion aesthetic. And interestingly enough, the indie pattern designers are even starting to put out "hacks" on their own patterns.  We love it!

We started this post thinking we'd list our top five pattern hacks, but after some meaningful dialog over lunch, Laurel and I listed at least that many in the first five minutes of our discussion. We've been at this collaboration for over five years, and I think our first make together was even a design hack. It was a Sandra Betzina pattern, a simple bias cut shell, that we decided to use two different fabrics – silk/lycra charmeuse and black rayon/lycra knit.

This photo feels so long ago! Can it only be 6 years?
Almost any modification can be considered a hack...something as basic as changing up the facing to bias binding on a neckline or armhole.

Laurel loves an all-in-one bodice facing rather than bias binding on the 100 Acts Of Sewing - Dress No. 1. The pattern calls for the use of bias tape on the neckline and armholes, but a facing gives a nice clean finish that she prefers.

Dress No. 1

We've changed up this basic pattern so many times, we lost count. We've modified the neckline and length so we could layer a tunic version over a dress version.

And how many different ways can you change up a Sew Liberated - School House Tunic?

From gathers, to pleats, to changing the front opening, it's such a great pattern with so many possibilities. We've even added cuffs to the sleeves.

There are times when you just can't find the right pattern to fit the image that you have floating around in your mind. The real "hackers" will buy the closest pattern that matches that image then cut, paste, edit, change, etc. the whole pattern...sometimes combining a sleeve from another pattern or changing up a collar. It's a way to make a pattern your own. One reason why we sew is because we don't want to wear what everyone else is wearing, right?

Laurel draws on her patterns to help her visualize how they can be hacked.

Peplums and ruffles are an easy change to most patterns.  We added a peplum to Granline Studio's Linden Sweatshirt, a real favorite of many sewists.

The peplum turned out so cute and added a real feminine touch to this lightweight knit version.

And of course, adding a ruffle to any hemline, neckline or sleeve gives a simple pattern a whole new look. We made the Matcha top as designed the first time...

But the second version in a beautiful silk print was begging for a ruffled sleeve.

Who says you can't chop at a sleeve and change the whole look of the classic sweatshirt? Using a variety of colors and prints make your version unique. Color blocking and fabric variations are a hack of sorts, and always a winner. We love using striped knits as bias bindings. Let the textures and patterns of the fabrics create the drama.

Hacks can be as simple as an embellishment added for drama or in this, case to cover a flaw in the fabric that we overlooked at the cutting stage. We turned this Here & There dress into a top, but missed the center front fold mark in the fabric.

Fabric flaws happen occasionally...and sometimes we miss them.

No problem...a little bias strip and bingo!

We love 100 Acts of Sewing's Pant's No. 1. The easy elastic waist and loose fitting legs work up well in almost any fabric. For fun, we added some detail by adding cuffs with a button! Finishing with a button just adds to the individuality of your pants.

To make this hack, finish the side seams of the pants separately before stitching them together. Stop stitching a few inches from the end and press the seams open to create the split hem.

Create the cuff by cutting a strip of fabric that is twice as wide as the finished cuff + seam allowance. To make one tab, cut two pieces of fabric in the shape you would like + seam allowances. Click and download the template below to make a tab with the final dimensions of 4 1/4" x 1 3/4", including 1/2" seam allowances.

Sew these pieces right sides together, leaving the square edge open. Trim the edges, turn right side out, and press. Sew the buttonhole.

Baste the tab in position on the cuff piece, making sure to leave seam allowance at the bottom edge.

Fold up the seam allowance on the long cuff edge without the tab, wrong sides together. Fold the cuff piece in half, right sides together, and stitch each short edge.

Turn right side out and press. Attach the long edge of the cuff that doesn't have the seam allowance pressed up to the pant leg, right sides together. Fold the cuff and topstitch, stitch in the ditch, or hand stitch the cuff closed.

Sew a button to the other edge of the cuff and you're done! We like to sew the button a little further over to create a cute pleat at the pant hem.

What are your favorite pattern hacks? Please share your creative ideas and inspire all of us to continue to make our garments unique and special.

In support of your creativity,
email me at fabriclady3@gmail
Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Yes, you can make jeans!

With so many people sewing garments again, it should be no surprise that sewing jeans is a big success! There is no other article of clothing that is more ubiquitous in closets around the world than jeans. And for that, we probably should give a shout out to the masters and creators of this wardrobe staple, Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss who made the term "jeans" a household word.

Originally made for workwear, jeans have evolved from the rugged denim pants of years ago to high fashion wardrobe necessities. Much clever marketing has highlighted the changes in jeans over the years and even a few spoofs...

Who can forget SNL's "Mom Jeans"?
Today, we have jeans that are "not your daughter's", ripped, faded, low rise, high rise, button fly, skinny, stretch, pull-on, etc. etc. We wear them everywhere, we cut them off, we stitch and patch them, and basically wear them until they are in shreds. Jeans are the perfect layer for comfort, fit, style, and all the activities that feed our soul.

And now, yes, we make them ourselves! It used to be rather a badge of honor among sewists—"I made my jeans!"—particularly because it was thought that all those pockets, fly openings, and top stitching were somehow too difficult to manage. But as indie pattern designers began jumping on the jeans bandwagon, more sewists (young and old) gathered the courage to at least attempt to make a pair of jeans. And therein lies the secret—you actually have to sew a pair to really appreciate that when taken step by step, jeans are not that difficult and certainly a lot of fun to sew!

Three things make sewing your own jeans a true joy:

  1. The sheer variety of patterns to choose from
  2. All the fabulous fabrics available (jeans don't have to be made from denim!)
  3. Topstitching! 

There is also so much help available—from sewing tools to community support. Pick up a kit with everything you need, then go check out the Instagram hashtag #nofearnewjeans for inspiration, and you're ready to tackle sewing jeans!

What pattern to pick?

The first thing to do when picking a jeans pattern is considering the fit. How do you wear your jeans? Do you like a relaxed, boyfriend style like the Morgan Jeans from Closet Case Files or a slim line like the Safran Pants from Deer and Doe? One of the most popular jeans patterns, the Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Patterns, has a classic fit with a number of options that suit nearly every wardrobe and style (including mine!). And if you like to switch it up, patterns like the Dawn and Ash Jeans by Megan Nielsen give you enough options to make different jeans for every day of the week!

From Closet Case: Morgan and Ginger Jeans

 From Deer and Doe Patterns: Safran Pants

From Megan Nielsen Patterns: Dawn and Ash Jeans

From Cashmerette Patterns: Ames Jeans

From Papercut Patterns: Otsu Jeans

With so many patterns to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start! We're always happy to help with choosing patterns and fabric—just stop by the store or shoot us an email at

All about the fabric

When it comes to jeans, denim is obviously the star of the show. If you're making stretch jeans like the Ginger or Ash patterns, look for denim with spandex or lycra and 15-20% stretch.

A common misconception about stretch denim is that the spandex content determines the amount of stretch, but that isn't necessarily true! Our Robert Kaufman Super Stretch Denim 8.6oz - Indigo actually doesn't have spandex, yet it has 20% stretch and excellent recovery. And though the Cone Mills stretch denims shown below both have 1% spandex, the 11oz has 15% stretch and the 12oz has 10% stretch.

Cone Mills - 12oz Stretch Denim - Dark Indigo
Cone Mills - 11oz Stretch Denim - Indigo

If you're making a rigid jean like the Morgan or Dawn patterns, look for 100% cotton and pay attention to the weight. 10oz is a good medium weight that will make comfortable, everyday jeans while a heavier weight like 14oz will make more rugged and stiffer jeans.

And remember—denim is only the starting point! When you make your own jeans they can be made out of practically anything. Laurel made a pair of Morgan Jeans out of a printed cotton/linen blend and they turned out amazing!

Topstitching is like icing on the cake

All jeans, whether RTW or handmade, feature at least some topstitching. You can go the subtle route and pick topstitching thread to match your fabric, or go all out with some neon thread! Choosing the right thread for your jeans is what makes them unique to you.

My Safran Jeans with a pop of pink to highlight those cool pockets.

Liz's neon pink-accented Ginger Jeans

Our favorite thread for topstitching is Mara 70—it's lighter than Mara 30 so it's easier to sew with on home machines, but it has enough weight to stand out.

Our rainbow of Mara 70 top stitching thread

Mara 70 thread in Rust on Catherine's non-stretch jeans

Jump on the jeans making bandwagon!

There's something so powerful about wearing jeans that are made just for you. No more fitting room struggles or paying hundreds of dollars for jeans that don't fit quite right. 

Our Lladybird Ginger Jean Kit has everything you need!

Some of our favorite jean makes!

Ginger Jeans are so easy to wear!
Love these Safran Jeans on Lauren!
Olivia got a perfect fit on her Ginger Jeans!

Catherine made a pair of button-fly Dawn Jeans!

Liz made these Ginger Jeans in a class with @lladybird!

Lauren made these amazing Morgan Jeans too!

My Safran Jeans and Tea House Top

I hope that you see that you can make jeans!

Thanks for reading along,
Owner, Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley, CA
2518 Shattuck Ave. @ Dwight Way

Come visit us in downtown Berkeley or our website!