Thursday, July 25, 2013

"Sew" many choices...

This whole wardrobe adventure has my head spinning! When I first got this idea of having someone create a new fashion look for me, I knew that owning a fabric store would perhaps be an advantage when it comes to selecting fabrics. But with so many style ideas and so many fabric choices at Stonemountain & Daughter, I have to admit that actually planning a coordinated wardrobe takes some serious forethought.

My PFC ("Personal Fashionista Consultant") and new friend Laurel and I started with some miscellaneous choices just to test the waters - a few knits,  a silk here and there. But as the weeks have passed, we are pretty much "full tilt" into this adventure and starting to really get serious about fabric and style choices. Having a wardrobe created for you only makes sense if it all fits together- it becomes your personal fashion statement.

For instance, the some of the latest fabrics I've been choosing are starting to look a little more Fall-ish, despite the fact that the Summer is still alive and well.  Did I mention that I'm also trying to plan some outfits for a little island fun in the Fall?

Island fun?? A woman can dream!!

I chose this soft rayon batik to make Victory Pattern's "Satsuki" top
Bonus - it will look great with my white linen crop pants!

Fall fun?? I love the colors and weather in the fall!!

This Polyester knit is a great choice for New Look Workroom #6098.  
This "Project Runway" top has a figure flattering band at the waist and three-quarter length sleeves.

We just got in some beautiful lightweight raw silk noils and I couldn't resist - a deep brown to go with the knit above and a pretty periwinkle that will go with my new Sandra Betzina top (the dark ochre colored noil was Laurel's choice for herself). We love the nubby texture. Let there be crop pants all year long! In the summer they look great with sandals and in the winter, I can get my comfy boots out. I love clothes that I can wear year round with different looks.

In the spirit of "this old thing?", I dug this knit out of my stash.  I fell in love with it long ago and I still love it. It is screaming maxi-skirt, with enough left over for a simple strapless "tube" top. Sandy beaches here I come!!

Ah....back to work choosing fabrics and helping customers!
If you are looking for anything you see in my blog, please feel free to email me at

Stay tuned, we have completed so many outfits and will be sharing them in the weeks to come here in my blog and also will be featuring the garments themselves in The Fashion Room at 
Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics.  For those who are new to me and the store, we are located 
off of downtown Berkeley @ 2518 Shattuck Ave. @ Dwight Way Berkeley, CA 94704

It's all so much better in person!!!

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Blessings and joy,

And on the health side of things, I completed 39 days of the Whole9 Nutrition reset and now am staying fairly true to a Paleo diet.  I have never felt better and it's a fun way to eat. Here are some wonderful recipes that are on my list to try:

This weekend I am going to make the sweet potato hash with fried eggs! Yumm!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Summer Perfect!

One of the best things about living in the Bay Area is the mild weather.  While everyone else is sweltering in the summer heat or freezing in the winter storms, our climate remains relatively stable.  Because of the consistency of our temperatures and foggy days in Berkeley, I wear a lot of the same clothing all year round in my store, Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics. I can wear lightweight wools and heavier knits even in the summer and so most of my wardrobe consists of neutrals, blacks, etc.

Now don't laugh, but I have never owned a pair of white pants - I thought Laurel (a born and raised Sacramento Valley girl) almost choked when I told her. Imagine my genuine surprise and pleasure when she delivered these awesome white linen crop pants to add to my new wardrobe.

I slipped them on and they fit like a dream. Obviously, I am starting to re-think this whole color thing! I just happened to wear that beautiful Sandra Betzina silk blouse yesterday to work.

I feel fabulous in these clothes and colors!!

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I'm a Linen Lover!

If you ask around, you will find that there are "linen lovers" and "linen haters." Both are passionate in their opinions, some backed by personal experience with the fabric, some just anti-anything that doesn't look like it just came out of the dry cleaners.

Count me among the the lovers of linen - especially at this time of the year. These hot California summers wreak havoc on our ability to stay cool and I have found that my best offense is wearing natural fibers such as cotton, silk and linen.

Linen textiles appear to be some of the oldest in the world: their history goes back many thousands of years. Fragments of straw, seeds, fibers, yarns, and various types of fabrics which date back to about 8000 BC have been found in Swiss lake dwellings. Dyed flax fibers found in a prehistoric cave in Georgia suggest the use of woven linen fabrics from wild flax may date back even earlier to 36,000 BP. (Wikipedia).
File:Linen cloth.jpg
Linen cloth recovered from Qumran Cave 1
near the Dead Sea.
Linen fabric feels cool to the touch. It is smooth, making the finished fabric lint-free, and gets softer the more it is washed. The tendency to wrinkle is often considered part of the fabric's particular "charm", and a lot of modern linen garments are designed to be air-dried on a good hanger and worn without the necessity of ironing.

Sandra Betzina, one of my favorite Vogue designers and instructors here at Stonemountain, gave us some hints about preparing linen for sewing:

"If you want for your linen to wrinkle a lot less, do the following: Before you preshrink , open the windows and iron the linen with the hottest dry iron possible, to set a wrinkle-less finish,which is already on the fabric. Next, throw in a little detergent and wash and dry 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."

We thought we'd try it. I wanted another pair of the pencil pants (New Look #6163) made out of the Debussy Denim. I chose our Handkerchief Linen in a soft beige.

Here's the fabric before Laurel washed it:

And here is the linen after it was "Sandra Betzina'd"):

The once semi-crisp nature of the linen is transformed 
into a dreamy, soft fabric perfect for summer pants!

The wonderful tie-dye inspired knit top with my new linen pants will go with so much for the summer. It is New Look 6102. I will write more on this in a future blog.

Laurel made herself a great pair of crop pants using the Nevada Linen - read about hers on Laurel's Quill. It was her pattern design, but easily modified to fit my shape. 'We can be twins!' we laughed together.

 We have a pattern here at Stonemountain from the Sewing Workshop that 
features a pair of pants very similar to Laurel's design. 

I chose two handkerchief linens for my crop pants and used the same pre-washing tip from Sandra: a soft celery green and a crisp white. White linen pants are classic for summertime, and yes, you can go to the local Tommy Bahama shop and get a great pair for some $$. But isn't that the whole point of fashion sewing for yourself - that whole idea of "money saving, get exactly what I want"?

These unlined pants are super easy to make - few seams, a waistline casing for elastic, and machine hemmed. I love this lightweight linen, but I will need to exercise some forethought when I pick out my underwear! LOL!!

Here I am being fitted for these amazing handkerchief linen pant!

...and here they are done! I cannot wait for Laurel to come visit me on 
Thursday with all these goodies!!!

White Linen Crop Pants
Celery Linen Crop Pants

Wow was this a great "fitting" experience! Sorry Laurel that my Whole9- 30 Day Nutritional eating plan has you taking in my pants again!  I love this photo which catches the ecstasy of having clothes made 
and how good it can be!

All this sharing is making me hungry! I love cooking up chicken with lots of organic vegetables and adding coconut milk, basil, tumeric, curry and lots of love! I am on day 39 (yep 30 was not enough for this body) and feel the best I have ever felt - I love seeing and feeling the results in my body.

Ok, so I admit I have a sweet tooth! In fact I have never gone 38 days without any type of sugar or honey before. So when Mary Jane, my co-worker and the manager of Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics, told me about Fudge Babies made from dates and walnuts and cacao nibs, I got excited and went home and made them out the healthy ingredients I had in my pantry! Oh by the way Mary Jane is now on day 18 of the Whole9/30 Day reset!!! Go Mary Jane!!! I can't wait to share these with her when I see her.

Ingredients:  Organic Dates (pitted), Raw Walnuts, Raw Cacao Nibs, Ground Vanilla & liquid organic vanilla, Coconut Butter, Coconut Flakes (optional) - all blended together and then made into these bite size yummy Fudge Babies of Bliss!  Let refrigerate and eat cold!

Take a look and don't you wish you could try one!

Happy Sewing and Healthy Eating!
a.k.a. FabricLady

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Taking the Nightmare Out of Making Pants

We all want a pair of pants that fit right. We want a pair with:

  • just the right amount of "room" in the seat - not too tight, not too baggy
  • just the right amount of ease in the legs for our figure type
  • just the right length - not too high water, but fashionably toying with our ankles
There is probably an answer to getting the perfect fit on a pair of pants that takes the trial and error out of the mix, but I'm not sure we know it. There are dressmakers and designers who are experts at pattern making.  There are classes that you take to learn the fine points of fitting a pattern.

But sometimes the simplest ideas work too: Make a muslin first! Maybe because Laurel can't hop over here to the store everyday, she chose to make a trial pair of pants out of cotton muslin to check the fit on my ever-changing body before cutting into the fabric that I chose. Smart girl!

After a few adjustments at the waist and hips, she was able to disassemble the muslin and use it for a pattern.  The beauty of this process is that now I have a pattern that I can use over and over again any time I need a new pair of slacks.

I chose the Debussy denim which has 62% linen, 35% cotton and 3% Spandex (don't you just love a little Spandex in your fabrics?). This fabric is remarkably soft for a "denim" like fabric and the small amount of Spandex makes it perfect for pants. I chose New Look #6163.

Another element of sewing pants that some find a little daunting is the dreaded zipper. I love these Beulon Knittted Tape zippers.  

The trick to putting in a zipper? Baste it in FIRST.  I love Laurel's trick of using a contrasting basting thread - she runs her basting thread right along the edge of the zipper teeth and then sews it on the right side of the garment so she can see how close she is to the edge AND keep the placket straight at the same time.

We all want to finish garments quickly so we can wear them right away and today's sewing machines are feature-rich on time saving settings and stitches.  But just because your machine CAN make an hemline stitch doesn't always mean you should use it. A case in point: this denim fabric did not do well with a machine hem.

Check out how it pulled on the weave: 

Solution - do a sample of your stitch first. If it doesn't look right, then don't be in such a rush that you forget the value of hand sewing. All those ladies in the 1800's couldn't have been that wrong! Look at the hemline on my slacks - beautiful!!!!

And the finished product?? Love these pants!  I sent Laurel home with some awesome Nevada Linen/Flax to make another pair! You can read more about my adventure's on Laurel's blog at Laurel's Quill!

All this visioning for a new wardrobe has me hungry for healthy food. It's amazing what having your measurements can do for motivating me in treating myself to a month + of all Whole9 Nutrition!

Here is what I made over the weekend for breakfast! Yummy organic eggs with organic vegetables and leftover grilled salmon from the night before. Put a little avocado on top and we are set!  Plus here's a peak into my refrigerator - it's so inspiring to just see veggies (the protein is in a drawer).

a.k.a. Daughter

p.s. I just want to say how inspired I am by those of you joining me in eating well. I am on day 25 and loving it. I have never felt better and I have no more joint pain and my weight and measurements are going places that I haven't been in years! Gee I sure hope these pants will still fit! I love reading your comments and letters about how you are trying the Paleo, Whole9 Nutrition Reset too! What more is possible for us all?