Friday, March 30, 2018

Breaking the Mold with Sewing Your Destiny Wardrobe

I came from a family of mold breakers.  
Dad rebelled against traditional sales in fabric business and opened up a hippie fabric store in 1967 in Hollywood. Mom became a trail blazer in the record industry and was the highest paid woman for Promotion at A&M Records. She was a huge stand for women’s rights and equality and power and broke many barriers and molds in the 60's and 70's. 

And I continued their legacy.  Sewing, fabric, and music have always been my canvas for breaking molds.  Through them I broke the constraints of expressing myself as a woman.  Through my store I have championed women to express fully their creativity and their passion – beyond the molds of corporate patterns and what society thought they should wear on their bodies.

I started breaking existing molds early in life...
My Sunday playground was The Fabric Emporium, a ground breaking retail fabric store my father, Bob Steinberg, founded in West Hollywood in 1967. My love affair with sewing and fabric goes all the way back to the impressionable age of eight. Feeling the cotton drape over my young hands, seeing the paisley dance in the collective vision, loving the colorful and progressive embroidered patches, experiencing the smiles of customers as they found treasures to spark their dreams and hopes - all blew my mind open and expanded my imagination. 

I would pick my favorite African cotton prints and my father would have dresses made for me. I can still feel the soft colorful cotton on my skin while admiring the deep bells of the sleeves and the way they flowed when I walked. Wearing these dresses, fitted for me, I felt special and loved. I was breaking the molds of my own imagination.

A child of the '60's breaking the molds of mainstream fashion
Through my handmade garments, I became a unique expression of the late 60’s  — a child of the flower-child movement. I was turned on to fabric that ignited and symbolized a whole movement of alternative, “hippie” fashion. 

Sewing brought with it a whole new level of expression. I revelled in the freedom to make something personal to me. To completely free myself of someone else’s vision of what I should wear or be limited by what was in the stores.  

Love all our cottons from India!

Many of us may remember taking sewing in school. My own experience was very positive. I loved the strawberry embroidered appliqué from my Dad's store that I sewed on my bib overalls back in 1969. I struggled with straight stitching and fit, but felt so excited I had made something I could wear and share in our class fashion show. Finding just the right fabric for each of my projects was such a thrill. I have always found the fabric "talked" to me and guided me to what it wanted to become. 

Sewing enables us to break the molds of what we should look like and instead make clothes that fit us and truly support us to be who we are.  Think back to your relationship with your clothing.  Not many of us can fit "off the rack" when buying clothes. How often have you felt that you have "nothing to wear" – just because your body did not fit some imagined norm. Many of us do not want to go out in public and feel self conscious in our clothing. Trying clothes on is frustrating and often traumatic. Gaining sizes contributes to us feeling anxious in our clothes. 

I want to feel good, creative, and safe in my clothes, and I want you to as well! With sewing you can create something personal to you and perfect for your shape and style. Beyond what is in the stores, what garment do you wish you could create for yourself?

Championing sewists worldwide
From that first experience of wearing garments sewn for me, my passion for individualistic fashion and garment sewing has never wavered. Finding wool, silk, linen, rayon, and knits from designers around the world makes me so happy. Connecting sewists with fabric and patterns fuels my journey. 

We are ready to dream again and create garments that are creative, self-expressive, and flattering!

Even when sewing garments started to become a lost art, I stood strong.  When schools stopped teaching sewing, Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics stepped up to keep the flame of garment sewing burning. For twenty years, 1996-2016, we taught all ages how to sew and quilt. Running a school that has influenced and impacted many thousands of people in their relationship with fabric and sewing has been one of my life’s greatest contributions.

Celebrating 37 years in Berkeley and a new story
The current story of our industry and all retail is one of the shrinking and closing of brick-and-mortar stores. Over the past 30 years, many home sewists have left garment making for quilting, or stopped sewing altogether. 

My personal mission is to change this story, to break through and amplify the fabric world that my family started 99 years ago in California. I am here to empower and serve sewists — to champion their transformation, creativity, and passion. 

During the month of March 2018, we have been celebrating 37 years growing and evolving in downtown Berkeley.  Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics has always broken the mold of other fabric stores and now a new story is coming to life. This is the time to break through, be visible, and reach a wider audience. My Dad used to jokingly say, "we are a well known secret."

Sewists around the United States and the world are discovering our vast collection of fabric, patterns, notions, and expert service. Everyday I give thanks to the talented and creative women who broke the mold of corporate patterns and began drafting and marketing their own patterns to fuel our Indie Pattern movement. 

This is our time to actualize our full potential. This is our time to break the glass ceiling that has been limiting our self expression and visibility.
This truly is a grass roots, feminine powered movement!

What constraints are you ready to break through with sewing?

Picking out Kantha cloth and an ikat for my Kalle shirt!

Can you see how your relationship to your own creativity, to sewing, and your Destiny Wardrobe is a metaphor for breaking molds in your life?

Whether you are curious about sewing, already sewing your own garments, or wish to collaborate with another sewist (largely my path), the time is now. If you are feeling a call for something more, let your curiosity guide you to sewing. 
Of course, it would be fun to receive a compliment on a dress you have made and be able to say "Thanks, I made it!".  But beyond that, ask yourself ‘What is the next mold that you want to break in your life?’  And how could sewing help you break it?  What kind of fabric would you choose – sensual velvet, comfy knit, or soft silk? What would be just the right pattern for a top or dress? And what would it mean to you to have made it and be seen wearing it?

And if you sewed that destiny garment, what impact would this have on your life? 

I get chills when I look back and see the impact created by the 200+ garments I have blogged about and displayed in my store. It is clearly time to sew a garment or more. Your garments can make an impact too!

Through sewing, I was part of the movement that broke the mold of mainstream fashion.   Beyond the constraints of store bought clothing, we seeded a new era of natural fibers and art-to-wear.  We are creating clothes that fit our individual bodies, styles, and personal comfort. And through this we can let our vision and creativity fly wild and free.

We can let our authentic color explode into the world.  And through our destiny wardrobe, we can fully express our new story of resourcefulness and possibility.  Enabling us to show up authentically in the world, and to sew garments that matter deeply – as they reflect all that we are. 

Now is the time for which we have endured and survived. There is a new movement of sewists and makers around the world creating on a level new to all. Join us!

As always, I am standing with you celebrating your creative potential.

From the heart,
email me at

Please join me on instagram - fabriclady3 and my store can be followed at Stonemountainfabric

Sharing and supporting boosts and helps us all with our creativity, right livelihood, and prosperity projects :)

#destinywardrobe #clothesthatmatter #garmentsewingrevolution
#stonemountainmagic #keeponsewing #handmadewardrobe #handmadestyle #slowfashion #creativeprovocateur

Thanks for being a part of the Stonemountain Magic!

Visit my store in person!
2518 Shattuck Ave. @ Dwight Way
Berkeley, California 94704

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Sew Clothes That Matter and Create Your Destiny Wardrobe

Something new is happening: just when almost all the fabric stores have closed, people are sewing clothes again! A worldwide movement of sewing clothes that matter is being fueled by sewists sharing through blogs, fabric stores, and social media. 

The world of sewing has changed from the time of our mothers and grandmothers. No longer do we rely on those old corporate patterns for a new generation of pattern designers has emerged.

My journey of creating garments from the amazing fabric in my store has been dedicated to showing how new independent patterns look on real people. This inspires courage to try sewing them which in turn leads to more sharing in the store and on social media. As sewists bravely share, community is created.

Sewing is about stepping toward and becoming our destiny. The clothes we create and sew are not only for ourselves, but also have a creative impact in our world.  As we see the difference we can make, we are empowered to create even more; this is our collective destiny. 

We can feel this is an unprecedented time in history for the world, women, and all makers. The internet has made it possible for each of us to connect with so many. Instagram and blogging are but two of the new ways our creative community is coming together in powerful numbers. This sewing movement is a new story of possibility and collaboration for all .

I love cotton ikatsCotton + Steel knits, and Sew Liberated patterns!

Each of the 200+ garments we've made over the last five years of blogging has allowed me to see how we can make a difference individually —  wherever we are, whoever we are. 

We do not have to be anybody but ourselves. We are enough, right where we are. Sew and create for the body you have, and it will inspire others!

Tea House top in ikat, Melilot shirt in cotton sateen, and my Cocoon Cardigan in metallic sweater knit.

The combination of choosing the right fabric, patterns, and notions for your body is magical with Indie Patterns — so much simpler than with the old corporate patterns of yesteryear. Indie Patterns along with the awesome quality of imported fabrics is fueling our Garment Sewing Revolution at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics

Stasia dress in rayon knit & Farrow dress in rayon/linen.

Join me in this series of blog posts and beyond as we journey together and awaken our potential as creators to impact the world around us. 

L:  Laurel and I with Sonya of 100 Acts of Sewing patterns.  R:  Wearing my Ebony tee in reversible rayon knit.

Throughout all times, fashion and clothing was directly influenced by the fabric available. Never before have we had access to such stimulating and beautiful fabrics as we do now. Never has there been a time of greater opportunity for making clothes that matter.

Let's join our voices and garments together to create the world of our yearnings! This is the time we have been waiting for. The door is opening and we are being called to create something more: Our Destiny Wardrobe!

As always, I am standing with you celebrating your creative potential.

Suzan Steinberg
Owner, Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley CA
email me at

P.S. If we're not connected on Instagram yet, come connect with me here and my store here.

Sharing and supporting boosts and helps us all with our creativity, right livelihood, and prosperity projects :)

#destinywardrobe #clothesthatmatter #garmentsewingrevolution
#stonemountainmagic #stonemountainfabric 
#handmadewardrobe #handmadestyle #slowfashion

You can view the top 10 pattern picks for 2018 over on the Stonemountain Blog.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

A Definite Must for our Destiny Wardrobe: The Scout Tee

Lately on Instagram we noticed that many sewists are showing their "Tried and True" patterns, or TNTs. A TNT pattern is one that you've made so many times that you know it will always fit and you can experiment with different fabrics. As we begin to put together our Destiny Wardrobe, we want pieces that we can make in a variety of fabrics. Even though it is the same pattern, each version communicates a little bit of who we are through the careful selection of fabric.

One of our all time favorite TNT patterns is the well fitting Scout Tee, by Grainline Studio.  It is so basic that even a beginning sewist can master it.  It might even be a good introduction to your first set-in sleeve! Over the years we have sewn up many patterns from Grainline Studio and I love them all.

Ok let's get started and discover the magic of the Scout Tee and create Clothes that Matter! Not only is this basic tee a wardrobe must, but by buying the pattern we are also supporting an independent business who cares about all of us! Grainline Studio is a "pattern shop featuring modern, fashion-forward patterns that fit seamlessly into your wardrobe. All of the patterns are drafted with a contemporary fit and they take extra care to provide clearly illustrated instructions that are easy to follow to ensure a professional finish. You can take comfort knowing all of the patterns are drafted and executed by professionally trained team with your ease of use in mind."

The first time I put on this stretch velvet Scout Tee, I was at home in it! It was so nice, Catherine wanted to try it on too! This top looks great on every generation and shape that we come in.

We have made the Scout Tee several times in a variety of's a great layering piece and perfect for our wardrobe, regardless of the season. Tucked in or out, it's a hit!

We love its can dress it up or keep it casual.

Laurel has made several as well...our cottons prints are a perfect choice for a casual top paired with jeans or crop pants. Maybe it's time to think about using some of the fabric you have been "saving" for just the right project? This might be it :)

 Teal Silk/Rayon Velvet, Cotton Wovens, Silver Crushed Velvet Knit, Scout Tee Pattern, Silk Velvet

The Scout can also be pepped up in a more luxurious fabric such as silk (perfect under a suit jacket).  But we thought we'd push the envelope even more and try a stretch crushed velvet! I wanted to have an everyday velvet top to wear. This fabric is so beautiful and easy to take care of and doesn't wrinkle. Velvet is also trending right now – we see it everywhere in RTW and that's why you're seeing a large selection at Stonemountain. If you are new to sewing velvet, here's a few hints:

1) If it's your first experience, then choose a crushed velvet.  It is so much more forgiving than a smooth velvet – and you can iron it without worrying about marks. We chose a gorgeous grey and a solid black, both in crushed velvet.

2) Invest in a walking foot or even-feed foot for your machine – it's amazing how simple it is to use on velvet. The walking foot pulls the fabric through from BOTH the top and the underneath feed dogs.  Laurel says she leaves her walking foot on her Viking all the time (she's blessed to have two machines). It also comes in handy for wools and other heavier fabrics.

3) You can serge the seams if you have a serger/overlock machine. This velvet is actually a knit, so there is some stretch to it. A serged seam is great, but a stretch stitch or small zig zag would work just fine too.

The Scout Tee has a simple design – no darts, easy bias neck binding, etc. Here is the inside of my Scout.

Not like we purposely pick out the same fabric, but we do end up with the "twinning" thing going on frequently. Here are the two friends, Colette and Zanikan relaxing in the studio. Notice that Laurel made a longer sleeve on her Scout by just adding length to the pattern.

The Scout calls for a bias strip to finish off the neckline, but you could easily purchase a pre-made bias binding to finish off the neckline.  Or if you are more of an intermediate sewist, you could trace a neck facing off the pattern and make it in another fabric.

I am going to wear this black velvet version 'til it falls apart!!  So in love with it!

Why not try a Scout in an ikat...or a lightweight linen, or soft rayon or even a double gauze? The possibilities are endless!

2018 is really shaping up for us all to make and wear clothes that matter. They are the foundation of building a destiny wardrobe that represents our unique talent, style, fit – and they bring us together as a community around the world. Thank you for all your support both personally and in my store. We truly are making a difference and I can feel the Stonemountain Magic really catalyzing us all to sew to new heights!

Peace, love, and prosperity,
email me at

Please join me on Instagram - fabriclady3 and my store can be followed at Stonemountainfabric
Sharing and supporting boosts and helps us all with our creativity, right livelihood, and prosperity projects :)
#destinywardrobe #clothesthatmatter #garmentsewingrevolution
#stonemountainmagic #stonemountainfabric #keeponsewing #handmadewardrobe #handmadestyle #slowfashion

Monday, February 12, 2018

Creating Clothes that Matter! From "Meh" to "Yeah!"

Being able to improvise with your sewing is a practiced skill. We have all tried patterns that don't work on our bodies or fabrics that turned out to be the wrong choice. As we continue to work on making clothes that matter, improvising when things go astray is a valuable tool.  There was a reason why we chose a pattern or a fabric in the beginning, so not abandoning ship at the first glitch not only strengthens our sewing skills, but also gives us confidence as we build our wardrobe.

Even the most experienced sewist can make mistakes, have wonky seams, and have to re-start garments. And sometimes the fabric works against creating that perfect garment. Initially, we chose this beautiful cotton from Anna Maria Horner's Loominous collection to make the Here & There Dress/Top, part of her new Simple Start pattern collection.

Choosing the fabric and pattern is the first step!

The top has two versions for the back - a "wrap" look or a diagonal insert, as shown above.  We opted for the Version B diagonal insert, but we planned to adjust the length for a top.

The Here and There top is indeed a "Simple Start" to your wardrobe. It has basically three pattern pieces: front, back, and back insert.  We cut our insert on the diagonal of this plaid. You can complete this cute top in five relatively simple steps:

1) Sew the shoulder seams
2) Attach the back center insert
3) Complete the bias bound neckline
4) Sew up the side seams
5) Finish off the sleeve and hem edges 

When pressing the garment, Laurel noticed a couple of things which might have resulted in a new addition to the donation pile.

1) The fabric had a slight fading down the center front.  This can happen to fabrics as they sit on the shelf or are exposed to light.  We try to catch those pieces before we sell them, but often the line is so faint that you can miss it in the layout.  This one we could not avoid.

Right down the center!!!!!
The second thing she noticed was that the back insert was a little wonky and upon a closer look, she realized that she had basically eliminated the tiny pleat on one side of the enter back, causing the whole back to hang funny.

We probably could have lived with the back thing, but since the whole garment lost some of its spark from these two issues, it was time to start ripping. It took as long to undo this mistake and fix it as it took to make the whole shirt! "Momma said there'd be days like this, there'd be days like this, my Momma said"....

The fix for the front fading line was simple enough.  Since the back had a nice diagonal insert, why not cut a bias strip and cover the faded fabric?  You have be meticulous in your cutting, pressing and pinning of the strip, but it's better than tossing out a perfectly wearable garment, albeit slightly flawed.

A good pressing and Voila! From Meh to Yeah!

We definitely need some cute buttons, right?

Love this back!!!

Making mistakes, poor fabric or pattern choices, and fitting issues are the three most common reasons people stop sewing for themselves. We agree that it's certainly discouraging to work hard on a garment and not be happy with the result. But learning from our mistakes and getting back on the horse is the surest way to eventually be happy with our garments. "I wonder how can I use this experience to help support me to make a leap ahead?"

As we just saw, when things don't go as planned, we discover more about the pattern, about the fabric, and even about our own life that can be shared with others. It truly is the time for us to give permission to ourselves to be really imperfect! It may be time to learn more skills you may need to cultivate through local classes, blogs, youtube, and other tutorials all around us.

You can even search through my previous blogs for inspiration. Check out what I did previously from some of the cottons from the Loominous collection!

Dress No. 1 from a previous blog

Top No. 1 is a hit! Read about it on this blog

We love how our InstaSisters from all over the world share their sewing trials and tribulations right there for us all to see (and learn from). Creating a Destiny Wardrobe (more details on what this is all about in my next blog!) starts with one successful garment that you love, so make it an easy one to get started.  Choose a fabric that speaks to you and ignites your vision. As you hone your skills and develop new capacities, you will find that wearing me-made garments or "Clothes that Matter" will boost your confidence, help you express your creativity, and inspire others. This is how we are catalyzing a worldwide movement. We are now creating a world that is more collaborative and interconnected. Your me-made clothes and my clothes make a huge difference and matter!

Let's turn towards the challenges and hold them without judgment about us and others.

Join me in contributing our gifts, whatever that looks like!
Suzan Steinberg
email me at
follow me on instagram - fabriclady3

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Finding Style and Purpose in our Sewing with Merchant and Mills Patterns - The Ensemble

One of our newer pattern lines features a duo of patterns that we believe belong together to form the classic "ensemble": a lightweight coat and a shift-style dress. It's our first crack at Merchant & Mills, a pattern company out of England "with the intention of bringing style and purpose to the overlooked world of sewing". That's a mission that resonates with us at FabricLady and Stonemountain!

The Strand Coat is relaxed and lightweight, featuring unique side seam styling and side pockets.

The Strand Coat Pattern 
"A simple unlined coat for cutting a dash in the city"

"a gentle A-line silhouette"

To complete our total look, "The Camber Set" dress is about as simple of styling that you can ask for...short set-in sleeves with a loose fit that just slips over the head.

Our fabric choice for these two garments is LINEN! Linen has become our favorite year-round choice because it is an excellent fabric for layering. I am really excited about how our linen and cotton ikats will all play together! 

We chose a more "solid" linen for the coat as I thought it would go with more things as an outer layer. The coordinating large striped linen was perfect for the dress. I was a little concerned about the wide stripes, but all my fashionista staffers chimed "Oh heck yeah, you can wear those horizontally!" and I knew it was a good choice. Unfortunately, the blue stripe colorway has been discontinued but we have the equally lovely Burgundy and Forest Stripe.

The Camber Set dress would be an easy make in a solid colored fabric, but the large stripes add to the cutting and sewing time (if indeed you hope to match the stripes in your garment). Frankly, nothing says "bargain" in RTW clothes like a plaid or striped garment that does not at least attempt to match the pattern. And since we want our wardrobe to scream professional, we did our level best to match these formidable stripes.

The Camber Set dress has deep french darts, so right away we have to make a choice where to try to match the stripes on the long side seams.  Wherever you have a bust dart, it is better to work at matching the stripes at the sides from the hemline upward toward the armhole. That is the largest expanse of fabric where unmatched stripes would show the most. We matched our side notches (below the darts) on the front and back pattern pieces.

HINT: To sew the sides together, use your pins lavishly, pinning at every stripe intersection. If your machine isn't kind to pins, then by all means baste the sides together before your final seam is stitched.

If side seams don't quite match at the armholes or the hem, we say it's better to match the stripes on the lower half of the dress and trim away the 1/4" discrepancy.  Remember, nothing is perfect.

The bottom half of my dress to the hemline - Oh snap!!!!

HINT: Wait until you have matched, pinned and sewn your side seams before finishing the seam edges, lest they stretch, making it that much more difficult to match the stripes. Press your seam open, then finish off the edges with a serger or zig-zag stitch.

HINT: According to Laurel, when you're working with a large stripe such as this woven fabric, set in sleeves are a little more of a challenge. Her advice when cutting out the pattern is to match up the bottom of the armhole with the bottom curve of the sleeve as best you can.  The top of the sleeve will rarely match when the two are sewn together, unless of course there is a full moon and the stars are perfectly aligned!

Not perfect, but not bad either...

We love machine hems that don't show!!

Cute little bias neckline in the front and a yoke in the back...

Onward to the coat! The Strand Coat is relatively straightforward in its instructions, just like the Camber Set dress. And since we don't have any stripes or pattern to worry about, it goes together rather quickly. At first glance, the two-pieced back looked very large, but we then remembered that The Strand features side seams that are brought toward the front.

Loving how the back of the Strand coat hangs and fits!

HINT: Interfacing at the pockets is vital if you don't want your coat to sag and lose its shape, since it is unlined. Our fabric is loosely woven, just like the dress fabric.

Two in-seam pockets in this coat!!!

We were sailing along smoothly until it was time to attach the front and neck facings to the coat front.  This process is relatively simple...unless of course it includes some inseam hooks and eyes for the front closure. The purpose of putting the closures hidden within the seams is just that...the bulk of the hook and the eye is hidden in the folds of the fabric, between the facing and the front fabric. You don't see any of the hand sewing. The front is designed to just meet together and the metal hooks don't show.

Sometimes, the brain just overloads...we know what it's SUPPOSED to look like when we're done...BUT.

Just follow the instructions (or just imitate the the drawing in the pattern) ...and trust that it will work. However, here's the thing about sewing on hooks and eyes: it takes time. We used some oversized coat hook and eye pairs.

Looks like they are going to line up...

HINT: The next step is even more time consuming...when you sew on the front facings, you must leave leave little gaps where each hook and eye is placed and then finish off by hand. The whole process took Laurel almost two hours (very "fiddly", she says) Truthfully, it's not really a coat for beginner sewists, despite its simple lines. Of course you probably could do an easy pattern "hack", and just leave off those hidden closures.

In the end, the Strand Coat is a very loose fitting coat.  We made a size 12 which matched up with my measurements, but it does look large through the shoulders. The picture on the pattern envelope also looks like it drapes off the shoulders, so maybe we're okay. 

I might want to roll up the sleeves...

The whole notion of making a coordinating coat and a dress harkens back to an earlier fashion time to me. And though we rarely wear such an "ensemble" (especially at Stonemountain), both of these patterns will look great as separates–paired with leggings, boots or jeans–befitting my laid back style. That being said, this coat would be really beautiful in silk shantung, boiled wool, velvet or even a shiny brocade for a fancy night in the city. That's the beauty of making your own get to pick what you wear, when and where you wear it! Many of you are also working in the corporate world and these patterns might be perfect for you!

All together it gets a thumbs up! 

2018 is off to an amazing start! Never before have we had so much opportunity to make clothes that matter. So much has been opening up for me personally with respect to my fabric store and the potential for greater impact and leadership. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog series that I am excited to share.

Thank you for joining me, Laurel, and all of us at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics, in this co-creative worldwide movement of sewing clothes that not only feel good to wear, but make an impact as well.

Join us in sharing your #memade garments! We love seeing everyone's creations on Instagram through @fabriclady3 and @stonemountainfabric. This is where we can truly inspire and catalyze each other to show up and step toward our life's potential!

We are not alone! Together we are making a huge difference.

FabricLady and Laurel, collaboration, joy, and so much creation!
I am wearing the Strand and the Tea House Top and Laurel is wearing the Pilvi Coat!

GREAT TIP from Sandra Betzina! If you want your linen to wrinkle a lot less, do the following: Before you prewash your linen, iron the linen with the hottest, dry iron possible. This will set a wrinkle-less finish, which is already on the fabric. Next, wash and dry your linen in the hottest water and hottest dryer you have. Take out of the dryer when close to bone dry. You will notice that smaller softer wrinkles have replaced the hard crease usually associated with the fabric. Repeating this process will lessen the amount of wrinkles over time.