Thursday, November 28, 2019

Staying in the Present with Sewing


I have seen this excerp from an old Singer sewing book pop up several times on social media and each time I read it, I have to laugh. Who does this any more?

The ending paragraph is humorous, but if I take another objective look at this vintage advice, or at least re-read the first paragraph, I can see some truth in those words. 

"Prepare yourself mentally for sewing...
Good results are difficult when indifference predominates" 

The reality is that many of us breeze through our sewing projects with a specific "goal" in mind and a timeline to control.  We need a new dress to wear to a wedding, our pants are all worn out, we need a jacket, etc. The joy of actually making the garment somehow escapes us and it becomes just another task to complete, a problem to solve or a skill to master.

Sewing is like most things in our lives - when we go about daily living, we don't actually think about what we are doing. We let our minds wander to a thousand other thoughts ("did I pay the electric bill?"), rather than paying attention to what we are doing in the moment, especially if we done "it" a million times over.

Mindfulness is about being present in the moment, taking it all in - basically paying attention to everything around you as you do the activity.  We often think of mindfulness as a meditation of sorts (and indeed it can be meditative), but perhaps rather than trying to avoid our distracting thoughts, we basically start to "notice", or tune into the thoughts we have, the noises we hear, the emotions we feel, the whole ball of wax.  Anything can be done mindfully, even cleaning the dishes in the sink. 

To sew "mindfully" would be to fully immerse yourself in the experience - noticing the thoughts you're having about the garment, the environment of your sewing space, the hum of the machines as you sew, or the cat parading across your fabric.

Not to get all Zen here, but rather than think of every aspect of the project as a task to check off a mental list, try focusing on each step or stage as an end unto itself.  

So go in the moment for your sewing day.

Think about how you chose just the right fabric...

Or pour over your stash...feel the textural differences in your fingers. 
Take your time with it...

Cutting out your pattern is often a test of your creativity, 
especially if you're a little short on fabric or matching stripes. 

Or are you noticing how sharp/dull your scissors are? 

Taking the time to iron can be so satisfying while making a huge difference in the outcome of your garment.

Are you loving your sewing environment - even if it's only the kitchen table? 
Are you enjoying the fact that you cleaned your sewing room last week after you 
finished your last session? I just love a tidy space.

Perhaps a warm beverage adds to the experience...don't tea and sewing go together? 

Is your equipment nearby...having the right thread so 
you don't have to make a last minute trip to the store is a good thing.

To get into the swing of mindful sewing, start with something simple - 
one of those TNT (Tried N True) patterns you've made before.

Remember, it's about being in the present moment and enjoying each step, not fretting about whether it's right or wrong

Maybe try something that requires hand sewing - there's nothing more cathartic than gently pushing a needle and thread through fabric.

And finally, it's important to be non-judgmental with your sewing. Every seam doesn't have to be perfect, every sleeve doesn't have to be pucker-free.  Approach your sewing project with a sense of gratitude for the day and for the 
opportunity to wear a me-made garment...

Remember, you're feeding your soul.

And in the end, cut yourself some slack if it doesn't turn out the way you expected.

And if you need to put on cozy pajamas to get started, just go right ahead...
it's all good.

Whatever you do, however you begin, however you finish... just be present.

Let's celebrate that we live and sew in a culture that respects the time and creativity we are expressing. It's finally okay to be different. In sharing, we all inspire and actually support one another to keep creating. 

We create in a community that actually cares. All skill levels welcome!

As a fabric store owner, I am so grateful that we have survived to live in these times and to be a part of this sewing renaissance with you all. Thank you for supporting my blog and my store

Wishing you warmth, creativity, and love in this holiday season,

follow me on Instagram @fabriclady3
email me at or email my store with any questions at

Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley
since 1981 (full service brick and mortar and online pageant of fine fabrics, patterns, and notions)
2518 Shattuck Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94704

Oh the sleeves on this rayon Dove Blouse by Megan Nielson are fabulous!

Come experience some Stonemountain Magic in our Berkeley location or at our web store

Thursday, October 31, 2019

The Indie Pattern Movement is Rocking our World!

What is feeding this garment sewing renaissance?

The biggest change in our industry ever are the Indie Patterns - new pattern designers from around the world and in our own backyard.  These patterns are truly bringing our sewing community together into a world-wide happening.  We are rising up together as we create, sew and share with each other.  The Social Media platforms like Facebook and Instagram provide the vehicle for that sharing - we can see each maker's interpretation of a pattern to help us fuel our own creativity. 

Wiksten Shift Pattern shown with Yarn Dyed cottons

Indie Patterns for every occasion!
As you look at the garments made up in my store, in sewing and style blogs, and of course through hashtags on Instagram, you gain confidence in expressing your own personal style, knowing that you can make a particular pattern your own and that you can be successful in creating a unique garment.  It's all about personal expression.

Why choose Indie?

Indie patterns are classic, fun, different, expressive, unique, and usually simple to execute and comfortable to wear. 

Isn't this Floreat dreamy?!

Many are made for all body types, which has also unleashed a whole "love your body" movement - instead of seeing the endless plethora of perfect body photos so common in the  sewing world of the past.

Caroline and Catherine look amazing in their Arenite Pants by Sew Liberated
Indies are ideal for the great fabric choices available, in all the fibers - cotton, rayon, linen, silk, wool and synthetics.  There are so many knits and woven fabrics to choose from, we love that Indie Patterns tell us what types of fabrics are best suited for any given pattern.   If you're more experienced, many of the these patterns can be altered somewhat to fit either knits as well as woven fabrics.

And let's not forget that simple "hacks" and alterations of the original design, whether ruffles, pockets, sleeve and hem length adjustments all help to make the pattern more unique to you.

Several years ago, Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics (STMD), chose to carry Indie patterns exclusively. From an economic view, it was the right decision, but it has turned out to be the fuel that set us on a whole new path - one of connecting with our world-wide community, not only with other sewists but with the pattern designers themselves. 

I love my River Dress by Megan Neilson, so much we have made it 3 times
 We have been privileged to host many of our local designers here at the store, listen to their perspectives on garment sewing and wardrobes in general.

We are unique creatures, and our wardrobes should reflect that individuality.

What we chose to wear in our everyday lives says a lot about us.  We're certainly not subscribing to the old "Clothing makes the person" theory, but we can all agree that our wardrobe choices can certainly reflect our personal style, our personalities and even more importantly, our souls.

That's what we love about the Indies - unlike the factory produced RTW train or the nondescript "everybody's wearing this" pattern mentality, we can chose patterns from designers that we know poured their hearts and souls into their designs. We read their stories and about their processes on Social Media. We see them wearing their own designs. And they encourage us to make their designs our own.

Our community is growing exponentially. Some of our favorite makes and makers are from "across the miles". The beauty of our shared experiences is only a click away - we can buy fabric online and Indie Patterns. We are proud to have seen our online community grow, even as we prepare your patterns and fabrics for shipping here at the store.  We too get to experience your creativity, just as can your maker-friends.

Stonemountain Magic!

So, join in on the garment sewing renaissance  - chose an Indie pattern, pick some great fabric and sew yourself silly. You will grow to love saying

 "Thanks, I made it"!

New Top and a new pin

I sure love my job!! Thanks for making it special everyday.

Happy Sewing!

follow me on Instagram @fabriclady3
email me at or email my store with any questions at

Fabric Lovers Unite at the Mountain
Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley
since 1981 (full service brick and mortar and online pageant of fine fabrics, patterns, and notions)
2518 Shattuck Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94704

Custom designed pin for only $12 

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Learning to feel with our eyes and finding fabric online!

I have been talking with a lot of sewists coming into the store about buying fabric on line. Some have not made the leap because they have Stonemountain & Daughter Fabric nearby where they can come in to see and touch it in person. Most sewists do not live near by and need to figure out how to find fabric and patterns that inspires them.

While my store has had a website since the 1990’s, it has really been the last few years that Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley has made a jump to share the majority our fabrics with the world through our online store! Earlier this year we upgraded and put together an amazing website full of beautiful fabrics, patterns, and the notions you may need to confidently sew garments.

What has made it easier to shop online and push that button? What is fueling this growing trend? Are you able to confidently buy fabric through the web or do you need to go to a store and feel it in person?

People are beginning to be able to see a fabric image or a garment made out of that fabric and say YES, that will work for my project.

We are learning to feel with our eyes!

For a successful garment, we use three senses or questions when choosing fabric

1  How does it feel? 
2  How does it look?
3  Common sense - How much does it cost? Will it work for my project and budget? 

Before online choices, we could feel it in person or maybe got swatches.

We would never buy a fabric without feeling it. It has been our only way to see the true color, feel the softness and weight, and for the fabric to talk to us. 

Up until now! Yes, our brain is being rewired to feel the fabric using our vision function and make the leap with growing confidence to hear what the fabric wants to be. 

Yes, fabric talks to us right? I want to be a blouse, I would make a great dress. In fact, shopping in our store can be very tempting because each fabric is speaking and sometimes loudly

I am always encouraging our shoppers to walk around with their hands out and feel all the fabric as you walk by. We learn more about the various fibers and weaves that way also.

This is now becoming true with photos and videos that allow the fabric, clothes, and patterns to be seen and even felt in a brand new way - especially when shown with a good description.

Don't these photos just jump out at you? Our talented social media manager, Catherine Nolan is taking fabric photography to a new level! 

What has also changed is the where we buy fabric. The majority of the chains mostly sell a lesser grade of fabric to keep the price point low and often there is little consistency to what you find, so you are taking chances.

In our store, every piece we sell is hand picked and the highest quality. Having the right quality fabric for your project is key.

Way back in the 1980's, the last peak of garment sewing, there was no consistency for fabric quality. Unless you felt the fabric, you never really knew what you would get. At that point fabric stores started closing in each community and small quilt shops started popping up.

Finally the manufacturers of the quilting cottons shifted from making the lesser quality that the chains sold to a higher quality that was consistent throughout the market and quilters confidence rose. 

Much of this current indie pattern revolution started with making garments out of this higher quality imported quilter cotton. Fabric and quilt shops were able to sell online because of this new consistent quality that raised confidence to buy based on print and the knowing the quality was what they wanted along with a growing familiarity of brands.

It’s always been about the fabric talking to us and letting us know what it wants to be. If you are lucky to have an independent local fabric store nearby, like Stonemountain & Daughter (STMD), then it’s amazing to be able to walk the aisles and touch everything. Nowadays there are fewer and fewer quality garment fabric stores, so buying on line is the way to go, if you know where to go and what to look for! 

At my store, we are very careful about making sure the photographs we put out there on our email newsletters, Instagram, facebook, and our website are as color true as possible. Technology has really stepped up these last few years to make this more achievable. The photos featured here are examples from our Instagram page and newsletters. 

We do everything possible to help you find the right fabric for the indie pattern you are ready to make.

We have always made it a mission to help people find the right fabric for their projects. It’s all about the fabric, right?! It’s why I love my job and what we do. 

Our fabric choice is everything. Ask yourself: What does this fabric say to me?  How does it feel? Or more importantly, how will it make ME feel when I put it on?

So how do we make sure our garment will be a success and our fabric choice a right match?

First off look take some time and look through great websites, like STMD for fabric that gets you excited. Build a wish list! Then you can check through Instagram and follow hashtags like #stonemountainfabric and quality fabric stores for current inspiration. 

On the STMD Instagram page in our stories, we often show videos of the fabric being held and moved, so you get a deeper sense of if that fabric will work for a garment you have in mind.

If you are unsure, you can always email us at STMD and ask if your choices work for the pattern; if particular colors go together; fabric or pattern choices. We are happy to help and to guide you toward a more informed purchase.

If you are new to sewing or coming back to it after taking a break for decades, you are not alone! Let's have fun together exploring all the fabulous new independent patterns and the fabric we love finding.

Thanks for reading along! 


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