Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Loving my Reeta Dress!

The Reeta Dress


It's not often that you find a shirtwaist dress that's isn't overly fussy to sew. Most patterns are designed literally like a man's dress shirt in the bodice, complete with a collar stand, pockets etc. The Reeta by Named is part of their "Playground Collection." We like the implication that it's a casual wear pattern, and we especially like that it's pretty easy to sew.

Pattern description: Midi-length shirt dress with button closure at the front, drawstring closure at the waist. Sleeves with wide, sewn-in turn-ups, shirt collar and yoked bodice, breast pockets with box pleats and deep vents at side seams.

Suggested fabrics: Choose a light or medium weight fabric with drape. The pattern sample is made of rayon. We love the drape of rayon, so we're going to stick with what works best.

Version made & fabric used: We made the dress as is, but left off the breast pockets and drawstring at the waist. We chose a lovely floral rayon print to make this.

How I plan to wear this: 

The Reeta is a perfect work dress—soft, drapey, lots of ease and I won't get too warm while I'm running around the store. It's really an all-season dress—perfect right off the machine for spring through fall, and when the weather cools into winter, I see tights and/or boots as a fashion option.

Alterations made:

We didn't change much with the pattern itself. As I mentioned, the camp collar is an easy application. Be sure to use a lightweight interfacing for the collar and the front button-up closure, especially if you are using a rayon—you don't want it to be too stiff.  

I'm not a drawstring waist kinda girl, so Laurel just made a casing with bias tape for an elastic waist.  I LOVE belts, so this change was perfect!

 Favorite details:

I'm on a new fashion trend (for me) lately—I want to wear my dresses a little longer. The midi length of the Reeta is perfect...and who can go wrong with deep vents up the side seams. Love!!!

Oh, and BTW, the cuffed sleeves are a breeze—the sleeve is just cut extra long for a deep hem, then turned up and secured.

Final Thoughts: 

If you haven't made a shirt dress before, do consider the Reeta by Named. It's funny how Laurel usually knows what's going to be a winner as she putting it together. She will text me with photos of the garment on "Zanikan" (my dress form), and quip "you're gonna love this one, Zan." Our last Fit and Fun Day had Laurel deciding she better make one for herself. It may be a TNT (Tried and True) pattern going forward—one you remake again and again.

Love and Creativity!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Must-Have Garment Makes

How many things in your life are non-negotiable? We could all list several character items that ultimately define who we are as a person - trustworthiness, loyalty, being loved and valued, living in the moment,  making a contribution, etc. Whatever thing you might think of, we know instinctively they are important to us, as we come back to them over and over again when we are looking for friends, a partner, or even a new endeavor.

"Must-have" or  "I need it now" things are probably negotiable, in truth.  But when we see something we like, it feels non-negotiable. We are drawn to it like honey and we know in hearts that "It is Right."  Our garments reflect choices that make us feel better about ourselves and express our creativity and uniqueness. Most sewists would tell you that's why they make their own garments...to have that freedom of expression.  So "must haves" become non-negotiables - a particular hemline, a belted waistline or a certain sleeve design. Our choices revolve around those things that fulfill that image of ourselves in our brains—until the next big thing comes along.

Wardrobes constantly change, and therefore so does our list of must-haves. Maybe there are certain colors or shapes you don't usually gravitate towards, but it only takes someone saying "Dang, girl! You look amazing in that!" to inspire you to branch out.

One of the pluses (huge plus!) of my owning a fabric store is that new patterns and fabrics are a daily experience, so what used to be on my must-have list is in a constant state of flux.  I could almost have a new list of must-haves every season. So technically, all these looks below are not necessarily "non-negotiable," per se, but they are among the garments that to me are timeless and will always be a integral wardrobe staple of my wardrobe. I just change the fabric, perhaps do a small pattern hack and Voila! Something new!

So what is on my list of "Must-Haves?

1.) A good, lightweight coat...

The Pilvi by Lotta Jansdottercoat is so simple to make 
and just by changing up the color, the fabric, the length, you can make it your own.

2.) A great tee-shirt...The Scout Tee!
Who says you can't make a tee-shirt in crushed velvet?

The Scout Tee is designed for woven fabrics.

The Lark Tee by Grainline is a close fitting knit tee, in either short sleeves, 3/4, or long.
The Lark Tee

3.) A pair of "you were born for those" jeans...
Love these pockets on the Safran Jeans by Deer and Doe

The Morgan Jeans by Closet Case patterns are designed for non-stretch fabrics.

Probably the most popular ever pair of Jeans - The Ginger Jeans, by Closet Case.

4.) An ever-versatile casual dress...
Dress No.1by 100 Acts of Sewing - we've made this pattern so often in many different fabrics!
I highly recommend the E.S.P. Dress by Decades of Style in a fun fabric you have been stashing!

5.) A pair of go-to pants...
Pant's No. 1 by 100 Acts of Sewing - sew simple!!
Shown with my all time favorite Tea House Dress or Top, by Sew House Seven - just amazing, right?!
My new favorite - Lander Pants by True Bias

and 6.) Something that reflects your inner soul...
The Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated. Her patterns are amazing!

And since our wardrobes change with the seasons and with new patterns and fabrics, we can update our "Must-Have" list any time we are moved to do so. So many patterns, so little time! Of course I keep a list of Must-Have fabrics - you can pretty much see what they are the minute you walk into the store.

One of my favorites - the Cinema Dress by Leisl + Co

What are your Must-Haves in your wardrobe?  Do you change it up very often or do you stick with TNT (Tried and True) patterns and fabrics?  I have learned that my tastes have changed over the years, mostly because I am surrounded by a knock-your-socks-off staff, a whole cache of cyber-sewist friends, and a willingness to put myself out there. Whatever your particular "destiny" or life-calling, you were made to do this:  to be a wardrobe trendsetter, to let your me-makes speak your own personal truth. And by all means, keep that mental list flexible and be open to new designs and new fabrics.

All that being said, my only true "Non-negotiable" is being at peace with my surroundings - don't really care what I'm wearing...
I love you, Mother Nature!

Love always,

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Fit and Fun Days

Every four to six weeks my seamstress and dear friend Laurel drives from Sacramento to Berkeley for a day of collaboration with me, aka Fabriclady. We call our days together "Fit and Fun" for a reason - it's not just about fitting and finalizing the month's makes, but it's also about having fun in the process! I thought you might enjoy a peek into our process of creating a Destiny Wardrobe. 

Trust me, it takes a village and everyone at the store jumps in with opinions, suggestions and help. Laurel puts our ideas to work, but before she puts her pedal to the metal, a lot of planning goes into our day together.

Before this happens...

My team picks out the latest pattern releases for consideration...

Current projects seen here: Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated; Metamorphic Kit available at Stonemountain; Stevie Tunic by Tilly and the Buttons; Reeta Midi Shirt Dress by Named;  Southport Dress by True Bias; River Dress and Top by Megan Nielson

We like to focus on new fabric arrivals for the patterns. There are so many possibilities, but we try to stick with fabrics that our customers would also like. Some fabrics are repeat choices, but perhaps in different colorways and print patterns.

Some for me...

...and some for Laurel!

Dream Fabrics!

All the "possibilities" are put in a pile for pondering...we view, discuss, eliminate, add, etc. And all that work necessitates a little friendship/catching up time over lunch. After lunch, cappuccinos are an absolute MUST.

The afternoon is busy, busy, busy. The fitting session is also the photography session, so that we can document our progress. Laurel has been sewing for me for five years, so usually the first try-on of a finished garment is right on target. But not always..

Yikes...too low for me :)
A whole lot of fitting went into this one!
It's why we sometimes need to make a muslin FIRST.

My Ogden Cami muslin made out of leftover fabric from a pair of pants!

My Lander Pants muslin - a little here and a little there!

I probably don't need to tell you how important photography is for a website, blog or social media. We are constantly working on new ways to change up and improve our photography.  What ends up happening on a Fit and Fun Day is that there are several of us snapping pictures of the same garment. And that makes for variety and perspective. We don't use professional photographers for these sessions, mainly because we want you to know that even your best phone photos can work. We enjoys seeing others' creative efforts on social media...you inspire us to try new poses!

Loving this new Maya Top from Marilla Walker!

Testing out my new No. 1 Pants out of a soon to be release cotton/linen from Robert Kaufman!

The new Kolkata Cloth made into a Kochi Kimono is amazing!

Stacia Dress by Sew Liberated!!!
Loving it in this textured Polyester knit!

Of course, we all get in the act...like the day we all wore our Lander Pants...

Dream Team all wearing Lander Pants and shorts!

Mid afternoon is time to put our feet to the fire and make some decisions about our next garments. Fabric is measured and photos are taken of our choices. Laurel takes her own photos as well...she says it's so she can remember what she's supposed to make! And not telling any tales out of school here, but sometimes neither one of us can remember...so we text back and forth throughout the month... "What view are we making?" "Did you really want those long sleeves?"

Which one should go on top for this Metamorphic Dress???

Amazing Rayons at Stonemountain, click here! The indigo rayon print is here.

It's usually four or five o'clock before we send Laurel back to the valley with a bag full of new garment makes. And so the process begins all over again. It is a smooth running machine, this collaboration that we have going. It's such a blessing to have a great staff at the store who help make this day a real treat. 

And lucky you, they are available to help you plan your own garments, select fabrics and make suggestions.  Our store is a "happening" place for our sewing community.  Come on in and have your own Fabric Fun Day!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Let's Get Fancy!

You can tell by my online presence that I am all about fabric.  Granted, I own a fabric store, so I guess that's a given. But even if I didn't, I'd still be in love with fine fabrics - I'd still appreciate the entire spectrum of textile choices that today's fabric sources offer to home sewists. Perhaps that's what keeps me inspired here at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics - stocking fabrics that can turn your wardrobes into clothes that matter. 

I'm so proud of my staff for keeping Stonemountain on trend.  They have a feel for what's happening in ready-to-wear and are picking fabrics that our customers are wanting to add to their own wardrobes. One of the big trends in special occasion fabrics this year is embroidered tulle or mesh. It looks daunting for the average home sewist, but in reality, it's pretty easy to work. The variety of prints and patterns is extensive, from subtle pattern and color changes to vibrant floral prints.

If you are like me, you get so inspired to see what others are doing with fabric you love. Check out what Kat Makes made out of our embroidered tulle!
Isn't she lovely! Check out Kat's blog!

If you're going to try one of our embroidered tulles, we suggest making a "toile" (fancy word for a muslin) first.  With any special fabric that you are not used to, making a muslin for fitting purposes will save you from making a costly and ill-fitting mistake.  We might also suggest that you think about buying a quarter of a yard extra so you can practice sewing on your special fabrics as well as making adjusting on your machine to handle their unique qualities.

Laurel's granddaughter got married this summer, so she chose one of our embroidered tulles to make a dress that would be paired with a metallic linen slip dress. Not sure of the styling she wanted, she purchased two different tulles - one for a wearable muslin and one for the wedding. (Okay, not everyone would have done this, but it's Laurel, and she doesn't mess around)

For the wearable muslin (to wear for a fundraiser dinner)

And for the wedding...

Still trying to decide on a pattern...

As with any fabric this sheer, seaming needs to be as narrow as you can make it.  And if you have a serger, so much the better.

Serged seam...
or Sew then serge

trim those darts...

Bonus - four dresses! two metallic linen "slip dresses" and two special occasion dresses
Perfect for a Gala, but Laurel made some adjustments to the length of the bodice for the final version.

Oh, and of course Laurel the GOB (Grandma of the Bride) was lovely.  She also totally remade her daughter's MOB dress (which came in a hideous red instead of burgundy), as well as altering the bride's gown and even whipped out Schoolhouse Tunic Dress for her mom out of one of our Rayon challis prints.  Four Generations of sewing bliss!

Laurel's Mom taught her how to sew at 10, Laurel taught her daughter in her teens...
just got to get that granddaughter on a machine!

In choosing my own fabrics and patterns for my personal Destiny wardrobe, I tend to stick with casual, comfortable and uber-wearable styles that I can wear to work - easy care clothes that don't fight with my body. I have a couple of different wardrobes - one for work, one for vacation, and maybe one for my casual nights out. I don't have a lot of "dress-up" occasions in my life, but that doesn't mean that my personal preferences keep me from appreciating the fine silks, beautiful woolens, and soft velvets that grace the shelves at Stonemountain.

When I do have the occasional need for something "fancy" - perhaps a night in the City or a wedding, or when I want to look casually elegant, I certainly have a lot of choices.

Oh you beautiful silk...

Silk Noil can be dressed up or down...
Velvet is not just for dress-up...

Tried and true Linen is not always casual... metalic linen is "da bomb"!

For your next special occasion, think about coming in to see our embroidered tulle collection or our selection of silk prints or our great wall of velvets. Many of these fabric begged to be touched but are available online as well. If there's something you can't live without, tell us - we are always looking for new fabrics!

Thank you so much for reading.

Peace, Love, and Sewing,
Suzan Steinberg
Fabric Lover
Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics