Friday, March 17, 2017

There's still time for a Toaster!!

It could be one of those years where we just bounce from winter right into has happened before in our sunny state.  But more often than not, we get a few days of warm weather in the early months of the year and we are lulled into dreams of springtime...then BOOM! It's raining again and 40 degrees. Even in spring, many parts of our pretty state feature a cool delta breeze in the evening, so we keep our sweaters handy year round.

That's why we love this Toaster Sweater, From Sew House Seven.  Depending on the knit fabric you choose, it can ward off the chill in air and look smashing and cozy at the same time. I know I will be loving this on those foggy Berkeley mornings throughout our summer! It's all about layers, right?!

The Toaster is another one of our patterns that is perfect for a beginner, especially Version #2.  The "funnel neckline" is easy to execute, as the facing is just an extension of the bodice's neckline.

If you want your Toaster to be "toasty", then we suggest a soft sweater knit - something with a little more bulk than a lightweight jersey.  And if you really want to stay warm, you can always pick a soft fleece.  The side seams on Version #2 feature a high-low hemline (like a vent).

My favorite version of the Toaster is this multi colored "topaz" sweater knit - I can just see wearing it by the fireplace in Tahoe, or cuddled up on the couch with my kitty.

Laurel made her Toaster out of one of our patterned sweater knits.  She increased the length, omitted the side vents and shortened the sleeves. With so many variations of style you can choose and knit choices here at Stonemountain & Daughter, how can you go wrong?

Another twinsy moment, sort of...when we get a new pattern at the store, we both want to make it, but many times our choices of fabric are different. Likewise, many on our store team pick the same patterns and we all look different. That's one of the great things about making your own wardrobe: when you find a pattern or design that you love, you can make it over and over, and with a few minor changes in fabrics and styling, each version looks unique.

Keep on Sewing!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

March 20th Celebration! 2017 is our Year to make what we Love! Choose, Sew, Wear, Repeat...

SAVE THE DATE!!! Come visit Laurel, Lauren, Liz, and myself for a celebration of 
Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics'
 36th Year Anniversary! 

The four of us will be talking about our favorite indie patterns and how we build our me-made wardrobes.  Learn about new patterns, get advice on pattern selection, and check out all our finished garments at this free trunk show.

See you on March 20, 2017 at Noon!

Special one day sale! 25% off all our patterns all day long!
Suzan is wearing a Sudley Blouse & Laurel is in a Schoolhouse Tunic. Liz & Lauren are both wearing Willow Tanks.

If you've been following my Fabriclady adventures for a while, you probably noticed that we have become obsessed with certain Indie Patterns.  (Hence the trunk show!)

Sometimes the simplest of patterns can have a totally different vibe just by changing the fabric. As women and sewists, we like the ease of a simple and straightforward pattern.  There's a certain freedom and spontaneity that comes with knowing you can whip out a garment in a couple of hours.  So why not make it over and over again?

100 Acts of Sewing patterns are all of the "make it quick, wear it tonight" type.  Dress No. 1 is a real hit with our customers as well - obviously, I can't seem to get enough of this pattern!  I think everyone in our store has made at least one of these simple dresses.

100 Acts of Sewing - Dress No 1 Rocks our World!
We like layering it - just changing the hem length makes a whole new style.

Thinking ahead to Spring, we have chosen three light weight fabrics to make Dress No. 1:

A wonderful 100% yarn-dyed cotton from Anna Maria Horner's Loominous 2 collection.

Layered with another stunning Loominous piece!

And a colorful cotton wax print from our African Import section.

Another pattern that continues to speak to our Springtime longings is Grainline Studio's Alder Shirtdress. We've only made View B, but why give up on a sure thing?  It's like buying shoes in every color when you find one that is a knockout! Same thing here - an Alder for everyone!

The Alder is an intermediate sewing project  with lots of pattern pieces - but if you've sewn a collar before you should be fine.

My Alder out of a soft ikat, hot off the sewing machine!

Laurel's Alder, made of quilting weight cotton print.

My second Alder Dress will be in a soft cotton double 
gauze from Japan. 
You know how I love fabrics with a celestial theme!

The Alder Dress requires 9 buttons up the front, so picking out the perfect button from our huge button wall makes this and every dress unique.

Laurel is just like between sewing for me, she sneaks in something for herself. I think she's making another Alder for herself out of a Nani Iro double gauze that she's been hoarding in her stash. We just love double gauze!!! I wonder what buttons she will pick...

And Heaven knows we have both loved the Pilvi Coat from Lotta Jansdotter's book Everyday Style. We each have two already. It's such an easy make - you kind of want one in every color!

Laurel's is 100% wool and fully lined and mine is an unlined wool/viscose blend.

Laurel is making her third Pilvi out of our soft winter white wool/viscose blend.  It is unlined, easy to make in a few hours, and wears like a warm sweater.

Do you have a favorite go-to pattern? After you've made a pattern once, you get to know how it fits and you can easily make adjustments on your second go-around.  We learn something new in making each garment and we try to impart those little nuggets to you, our readers.  Thank you so much for making Fabriclady part of your day - we so appreciate your support and feedback.

If you have a question about a technique, fabric, or pattern that you've read here, please do comment on our posts - we try to respond quickly, just so you can really enjoy your sewing experience.

Hope to see you on March 20th at Noon! You can r.s.v.p. here!

Go Indie! 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Jalie Cardigan - Don't you want one?

Owning an amazing fabric store sure has it's perks! It truly is a job that some folks dream about and I know why! My dream job is made so much sweeter with collaboration of all kinds. Laurel, of Laurel's Quill, along with my loving team at the store, all stay focused on what great new patterns, fabric and notions we can find for your next sewing inspirations. Lucky me, because I get to experiment and wear so many unique and expressive garments! Many of them are up around my store  and I hope you can come in soon to see them.

SAVE THE DATE!!! Come visit Laurel, Lauren, Liz and myself for a celebration of 
Stonemountain & Daughter  (36 years) and Indie Patterns! 
We will have a trunk show and lots of information on how to navigate all the new patterns available!

See you on March 20, 2017 at Noon!

Next we're trying out one of our new indie patterns from Jalie. Jalie is a mother-daughter duo who create "practical patterns for the whole family". It's just another reason why we love our Indie designers - women creating for other women. There's always a story behind each designer and how they got started in the industry.  Many of our indie designers give a little piece of themselves in each garment - you can feel their hard work, endlessly pattern testing, refitting, and modifying.  And we feel like we're part of the whole creative process when we "go indie". You can stop by my store, Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley to see the whole catalog of patterns we now stock! We also have many of them up on our website and happy to mail them to you anywhere or hold them in our store for pick up!

So let's get started with Jalie! We love this Jalie Cocoon Cardigan - perfect for one of our new sweater knits (we have tons in stock right now!) and perfect for adding a touch of warmth in the store while working or just out and about!

The Cocoon Cardigan is a simple design - a drapey, loose-fitting cardigan with full length sleeve complete with a fitted cuff (stays put when you push them up).

The instructions are printed right on the pattern sheet itself, so be careful not to toss them out with the scraps. Laurel cut them out and taped them to a separate piece of paper.


Our sweater knit was a hair short of the 60" width requirement, requiring a slight shortening of the sleeve length. Laurel also made sure that the front and back pattern pieces were placed in the same direction on the knit (to ensure proper hanging on the body) which utilizes more fabric. We were left with a very skimpy strip in which to cut two of the very, very long bands.

Let's forget that I own a fabric store and could have easily cut another foot of fabric off the bolt. You are not likely to run back to the store, especially if you're 100 miles away like Laurel. Our second band is a little wonky, but do not fear - we can "patch it". Sweater knits with a pattern like this one are very forgiving and with a little magic zig zag stitch, it should work. 


 Laurel cut two swatches of the fabric, making sure that the knit ran in the same direction and carefully pinned the swatch to the holes in our band.


The machine is set on a zig-zag stitch with a moderate length and width, enough to catch both the edge of the hole and the swatch beneath it. Do sew slowly!!! Then trim the back of the swatch patch for less bulk.

The finished bands, one with patches in two places.  Can you tell the difference? When we sew the folded band onto the cardigan, we will be careful to have the two patches on the underneath side of the sweater. 


 Sew two shoulder seams, two side seams, attach the band and cuffs and voila! A new sweater! Instead of sewing the seams with a zig zag stitch, we used a serger, even to attach the band.

It was an easy make right up until Laurel tried it on - the sleeve cuffs looked skimpy and because she knows me (we've been making garments for almost four years!), they were sure to be too long, making the sweater look "baggy" on me. Granted, the Cocoon Cardigan is supposed to be full , but the sleeves just didn't look right.

 Solution: cut the sleeves off an inch and widen the cuff.

And instead of serging the cuff on, we opted to use a zig-zag stitch to attach it to the sleeve, then finish the raw edges off with our serger. Much Better!!

Now let's hear that voila!!

Can't wait to wrap myself up in this cocoon!
 For Laurel's Cocoon, she chose a double knit that she picked up a few visits ago from our upstairs designer sale fabrics.

Once we got the kinks worked out, this ardigan was easy and fast.

Don't you want one too?? Come check out our sweater knits - the lighter weight knits will be a great transition piece into Spring.

So now do you see why we picked this new pattern? Not only is it super easy to make up (now you know how!), it's adorable on! 

We hope to see you on March 20th at noon in the store!

So much love!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Can't Get Enough of this Pilvi Coat! One Coat - Four Fabrics!

Pilvi Power!

The Pilvi Coat, Part II

We are mad about Lotta Jansdotter's Pilvi Coat.  Our original test coat (see our first blog on the Pilvi) was done in a lovely orchid boiled wool with rayon, and we loved it so much we thought we'd try it in other fabrics. And the fun of it is that Laurel is making all three at the same time!

We hope to inspire you to make one of your own. This coat for all seasons could be your next project! Join us in our sew-along coming up in March, or you can get a head start on making your own now!

 Sewing is good for our soul, heart, and personal growth. Strolling the aisles in my store, Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics, is like visiting a fabric sanctuary. 2017 is off and running and we all need to sew more! I hope you will take the time to stop by or look through our website. We have all our independent patterns up on our virtual pattern table and it's easy to use. We mail all over the world, too!

Let's get started! Yes, sewing out of a book is different for all of us, but this works! For the price of the book, you get lots of inspiration and all the patterns within, including this Pilvi.

Book available in our store and on our website!

1) Yes! Another boiled wool/viscose for FabricLady (Moi), only black this time! It is my go to jacket for around the store and running around town. 

2)  A red boiled wool with lined sleeves for Laurel.

3) But first, a muslin tester for fit, out of an amazing sweater knit lace
...ahhhh so fine and still available at Stonemountain & Daughter!

4) And a lightweight Italian wool for Laurel's friend Katie.

Four different fabrics, each with its own unique characteristics, feel and look, so naturally we will use different techniques for constructing and finishing suitable for each fabric. The coat is designed to be unlined but in our trio, we will be lining the sleeves in Katie's Italian wool, just to make sure they slide easily over blouse and dress sleeves. Laurel eventually plans to line her sleeves in the Red boiled wool after the lacy sweater knit "muslin."

The Pilvi has basically eight seams (six really, if you sew the entire length of the sleeve and side seams in one step as the directions specify).  Deciding how to finish the seams is based on the fabric's propensity to ravel and fray.  For instance, knits never fray, so no finishing is really needed.  Since our boiled wool is a knitted fabric, we are not finishing the seams at all. But the fabric is bulky so we are top stitching both sides of each seam.

                          Inside of Sleeve Seam                                                     Outside 

Laurel's sweater knit has a lace overlay and since she's hoping to wear it as a quasi sweater coat, she is serging the seams together for a finished inside.

The Pilvi coat's easy construction consists of sewing the sleeve armhole seams to the front and back pieces first. We followed those steps with both the boiled wool and the sweater knit coats.

Katie's Italian wool is a loosely woven fabric and will naturally fray until it falls apart. Her coat will be basically unlined, so we want the insides to be pretty and polished, so we will be using seam tape to finish off the edges. As we discuss later, we are attaching the sleeves in the traditional way, so once the side seams were "Hong Kong" finished, we sewed them together. (We sewed our seams together first, then applied the seam tape, so as not to stretch the fabric.)

For Katie's woven wool, we will follow a more traditional sleeve application, because we are lining the sleeve.  We sewed the sleeve lining together, as well as the woven wool. Each sleeve piece (lining and wool) were then sewn together at the armholes, wrong sided together. The result is a smooth finished sleeve on the inside as well as the outside of the garment.

Lined sleeve, to be attached to body of coat along the arm hole/shoulder seams:

The neck facing for the Pilvi is a simple piecing together of a sleeve facing and the back facing, then attaching it to the front neckline facing which is a part of the coat easy four seams! The facing is then stitched down to the body of the coat. We trimmed (AKA graded) and clipped our neckline seams on all three fabrics, but it is especially necessary on the boiled wool because of its bulk. The clipping helps the curve lay smoothly.

After turning and pressing the facing down, we are top stitching the boiled wool and sweater lace down, as the the pattern suggests.  The facing edge is serged on the boiled wool and trimmed right along the top stitching on the sweater lace.

Katie's woven wool facing will be applied in the same way as the other two coats, serging along the facing edge.  We could also trim the edge with seam tape, but Laurel was concerned that the added bulk (albeit small) might cause a slight ridge in the front of the coat, given the fabric's lightweight hand.  We also added a lightweight interfacing to the facing before serging the edge.

The Pilvi design features inseam pockets on the sides of the coat, but we thought we'd do a tiny pattern hack and add large patch pockets on the coat front. We love inseam pockets, but with the bulk of the boiled wool and lace, we don't really need any "extra" hippiness at this stage of the game. We could attach the pockets without lining ( just turn the edges and stitch down) for both the boiled wool and the sweater lace, but we opted to line the pockets for the lace. The woven wool is too lightweight not to line the pockets.

Patch pockets are a snap - just decide on a size if you have no pattern.  Cut two pockets in your fabric and two in a lining fabric.  We folded it over and stitched down the edge before placing it on the coat front.

Try the coat on and decide where you want the patch pockets to be, then measure the distance from the center front and the hemline to make sure the are evenly placed. Do you notice that Laurel rotated the lace on the pockets so they would show up a little more with this busy pattern?

And just one more pattern hack, but on Katie's Italian Pilvi - we are adding cuffs! Much like patch pockets, cuffs are nothing more than tracing the bottom edge of the sleeve, deciding how deep you want the cuff, and cutting a rectangle shape.  Just make sure you add width at the top of the rectangle so that when you turn it, it lays smoothly on the tapered nature of the sleeve.

Why do we know that? Ask Laurel how she had to rip off one whole cuff because it bunched up around the sleeve. It's best to work up a "muslin" cuff and baste it on the sleeve to make sure of the fit.

Katie's Italian wool (picked from our fabulous new designer collection upstairs at Stonemountain & Daughter) finished off great.  Working with a fine wool woven is a little trickier in that everything shows and there is no "give" in the fabrics, so a perfect fit is important as you sew.  You also have to take extra care during the pressing sections, so you don't want to leave shine marks on the fabric.

Since this unlined coat is so simple, we added a little design feature on the patch pockets and the cuffs : covered buttons! Laurel took a small tuck in the patch pockets then added the buttons. Making the Pilvi your own is what this simple pattern is all about, whether you change the pockets, alter the length, add cuffs, whatever.

Four Pilvi's, four fabrics, multiple techniques. If you are a beginner, we might suggest trying the lightweight boiled wool/viscose or a cotton or denim or even the sweater fabric such as the one Laurel used for her wearable muslin. The design and pattern are very forgiving.  If you're an expert, go for a beautiful wool and even creating a lining for a luxurious winter coat.

The Pilvi Rules!!

Can we see your Pilvi's? Send us your makes so that we can inspire others to sew a Pilvi! If you are out of town, we can even put together a kit for you! Book (pattern), fabric, and thread!

Cheers to more Creatively & Fun in 2017!
Owner, Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics
2518 Shattuck Avenue Berkeley, CA