Monday, April 28, 2014

Creatively Yours...

In my years as the Daughter of Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics I have have been blessed to be surrounded by many creative women, men, customers, staff, and fellow sewing enthusiasts. In our 33 years in Berkeley, fabric trends have changed, styles have come and gone, and yet, our business hums on in a gentle wave of highs and lows.  

We have endured, we have weathered, we have grown and we have flourished.

Despite the many successes and little victories of the past, I've never been more excited than with the NOW that is happening at Stonemountain. This past year, we have seen an abundance of changes and I have felt the tide rising to a new level of excitement. It's contagious, and it flows from everything and everyone associated with our store.

From a fresh coat of paint...

 and a new logo (one of our variations)...

to a renewed emphasis on garment sewing...

a more deliberate approach to social media...

and exciting new website looks...


The store is BUZZING and there's never been a better time to come in and join the excitement. Of course you can shop online by using our convenient Online Store, but let me personally invite you to come in and share the creative and visual experience that is Stonemountain.
Touch and feel the fabric!
Take a class!
Talk to our excellent staff!
Start a project!

Whether you are quilter, crafter, student or expert seamstress, 
Stonemountain & Daughter is your go-to place 
for all things creative! 

Always Creatively Yours,


Monday, April 21, 2014

Working With Stripes

Burda's four gore skirt pattern No. 3152 is the "go-to" pattern for the summer! This breezy skirt pattern can be made in both woven fabrics as well as soft knits.  Either way, we love how simple it is to sew - four seams, elastic waist and hem!

For the woven look, I wanted to use that beautiful rayon batik challis that we worked up in a sleeveless top last summer.

Together with the skirt, it's an awesome look for spring and summer. I love the way this batik flows, and the best part is that it always looks crisp and fresh.

For the knitted version, I chose a striped ponte knit. I want it to be cut on the bias so that the stripes form a chevron pattern. Laurel made this same skirt for herself in a soft rayon knit. Sewing stripes is not difficult, but it takes a little extra effort to make sure that the pattern matches, especially with a chevron pattern that will be so visible at the center front and back.

I won't have to worry too much about the selvage edges of my ponte knit, but the rayon knits like the one Laurel chose, tend to have selvages that pull slightly, so it's very important to trim them before you lay out your pattern pieces. You can already see just by trimming a section of the fabric edge that the selvage was knitted tighter than the rest of the yardage.

Anytime you cut out a pattern on the bias of the fabric, the pieces should be cut in a single layer, one at a time. For striped fabrics, this is even more crucial. Laurel uses her table's edges to line up the stripes, ensuring the best possible match in the chevron stripes.


 Most paper patterns, and this Burda skirt is no different, are semi transparent. For cutting on the bias, you can draw a 45 degree line against the grain line, which is indicated on your pattern, and use that as a guide to position it on the striped fabric.

This rayon knit is so slippery on Laurel's waxed table, so a little Scotch tape here and there helped her hold the stripes in place while cutting.

To match the stripes for the perfect chevron pattern in the center front, use the actual fabric section that you just cut (the front right panel, for instance) - not the paper pattern - and place it directly on top of the fabric to cut the front left panel. Be sure to put right sides together and match the stripes as you pin it. In the photo below, you can see what happens when you sew the seams - the chevron appears.

This soft maxi skirt is a great wear for spring and summer alike.

Two skirts, same pattern!
Laurel and Zan - same skirt pattern, different fabrics!

As if we haven't had enough of sewing stripes, why not try try The Perfect T-shirt by Pamela's Patterns in a striped knit? I chose a dark teal and grey combination, with the high rounded neckline and short sleeves.

Even though this T-shirt won't be cut on the bias, the same care in fabric preparation, layout and cutting still applies.

Pamela's Perfect T-shirt is a cinch to long as you choose the "perfect size".  Instead of reading the pattern first, Laurel dove right into the cutting out part, choosing my usual size. However, the pattern uses a different bust measurement to pick your size. Measure above the fullest part of the bust to pick your size (lesson learned - always read the pattern BEFORE you begin!).

So, naturally the T-shirt, is as cute as it is, was huge on me. But alterations are a fact of life when you sew for others, so a few nips and tucks and it will be fine.  We'll make the smaller size next time.

Can't wait to show you the finished T-shirt!  It's such a great style that we're making it again in another knit. I'm glad Laurel loves sewing on our knits...she says there is nothing more satisfying than "stitchin' in the ditch" of a beautiful knit. We love it too!

Come in and pick out a nice striped fabric for yourself…we have a huge selection of cotton, rayon and polyester knits. You could make the Burda skirt out of a woven stripe cut on the bias as well. There's are stripes galore waiting for you at Stonemountain & Daughter!

Creatively Yours,


Weekend Project - Let's get Crafty!

There are just as many Crafters who come into Stonemountain as there are Quilters and Dressmakers. Whether you need a costume fabric, binding or nice pillow fabric, we have something for everyone. We love them all! For a change from our usual garment/wardrobe planning, I thought it might be fun to try one of the more crafty projects I found in our pattern books for spring.

I love this large size bag from Marcy Tilton (Vogue 8843). Laurel and I thought it might be fun to make one for each of us.  I think these bags will make great travel carry-ons.

Laurel had already taken home some gorgeous embellished knit several months ago but had not yet decided what she wanted to make with it. For my own bag,  I chose a lighter weight cotton/linen "canvas - like" fabric with little airplanes all over it and a textured green silk/linen blend.

You know those projects that you want to start NOW even if you have something else (sometimes for someone else) to make? Well, Laurel started on the heavier fabric (her bag!) over the weekend. It probably wasn't a bad idea, given the bulk of the fabric - you know, do the hardest part first! She invited a fellow sewist friend over so they could basically tag team the construction.

There are a lot of small pieces to cut out, as you can see with my fabric choice - fabric, lining and interfacing for some of the sections.  Don't be intimidated and don't rush it. It takes time to make - it's not hard, but there are a lot of steps to complete. That's what a weekend project is all about!

All sections of the bag suggest interfacing. Laurel used a lightweight Pellon for the side sections and a heavyweight Pellon for the bottom section of her bag. She chose a lighter weight interfacing altogether for my bag.

Sewing a heavy fabric and all the layers can be a little challenging. Remember to switch out your sewing machine needle to a size 100/16 needle and take it slow! (This bag can be made out of leather, too.)

She chose a imported printed cotton for the lining fabric. One of the lining sections has a pocket for your cell phone, lipstick, etc.

Laurel and her friend Elizabeth worked on her bag for several hours together, then Laurel finished it off by herself.  It was a great weekend project, and taking your time with the construction means a professional looking bag in the end. It can be a lot of fun to have a sewing partner...that must be how sewing circles came to be as sewing is better with a cup of coffee and a friend.

Elizabeth is hand sewing - she introduced Laurel to Stonemountain last year!
Here is her finished bag - it's going to be great as a travel accessory - that's why I chose mine with the airplane fabric. Its the perfect size to slip it under the seat in front of me!

Laurel used a heavy separating zipper for her bag, but you could probably get away with a simple polyester zipper.  You may even wat to try a "purse" zipper, made exactly for this use.

Laurel finished mine a few weeks later. I love the green lining (it's a silk linen blend). It was definitely easier to sew than the heavier fabric that she used...but again, take your time!

Even thought the pattern does not mention adding an insert into the bottom of the bag for stability, it's easy enough to make one. We used some bag stabilizer, and cut the shape of the bottom panel a little smaller than the pattern. You can cover the stabilizer with your lining fabric and voila! A flat bottom. Laurel made one for each of our bags - if you like the slouchy look, then just remove the insert.

Both bags will be on display at the store to inspire you to try something crafty for your spring wardrobe!

Hope you all have a great weekend! Even though it may rain here, I just love spring!

From our sewing studio to yours,

Thursday, April 17, 2014

My new custom dress from Kiki Ramone!

I love Linen! 

Ruth from Kiki Ramone made a custom dress for me. It's so fun and easy to wear!

Some people steer away from linen because it wrinkles, but I consider it an elegant wrinkle!

Bias tape is great for finishing necklines and armholes in sleeveless garments because it is less fussy than a facing. Plus you don’t need a serger and it can provide a unique design element in your workone of the reasons we love making our own clothes! 

Handmade bias tape is an opportunity to add a pop of color or a fun fabric. For this project Ruth used her own pattern, but handmade bias tape can be used to finish many other patterns instead of a facing.

Here’s what she used to make her own bias tape:

- a 36” metal ruler

- Clover pen style Chaco liner - rotary cutter
- self healing mat
- 18” clear design ruler.

For this bias tape project, Ruth used fabric from my “Daughter’s Choice” section at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics - I love this fabric! 
(Remember my beautiful Sandra Betzina Voile top Vogue 1291 out of it?) 

It is a light 100% cotton voile. You can also use quilt weight fabric and even woven rayons. 

Ruth used 2/3 of a yard for this, which gave her nice long pieces and also a little extra for the next project.

Use your Chaco pen and ruler to mark out the fabric every 1 3/4” at a 45 degree angle. Your self healing mat will have guides marked on it. 
For a more narrow bias tape, you can make your strips 1 1/4” wide. 

Cut carefully with rotary blade, using the metal ruler to make straight cuts.
Sew them together right sides facing each other. Keeping the diagonal edges makes the bias tape lay more smoothly on your garment.

Press down each seam and then press the tape in half lengthwise.

Pin the bias tape to the unfinished seam lining up the raw edges. Sew at your normal seam allowance, press flat and sew the bias tape down. 

When you use the bias tape to finish a seam, you can decide to have the bias on the inside as a classy finishing element, or on the outside as a fun design detail.

For this dress, I chose to have the bias tape showing on the outside. 

I love the way it frames my face and brightens up the dark brown linen. Thanks Ruth!

Cheers to sewing it your way!

What more is possible?

creatively yours,
Owner, Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics
2518 Shattuck Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94704

Stop by and feel the beauty!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

It's all about the Photos!

I've been working with my creative team to update our various social media platforms - all things Stonemountain! That means everything from giving our website a fresh new look to creating a brand new logo. We've spent a lot of time brainstorming about ways to capture your attention and to inspire you. We have done a lot of the groundwork so far, so stay tuned to see the result of our revamp!

One of the areas that we decided that we improve is the photography on our website and blog posts.  A few weeks ago, I picked up a professional lighting set-up that we could use here in the store to capture the beauty of projects, including those of our customers.  Laurel came down for her regular fitting session and we had a blast testing our new "studio".

Here are some of the photos that we took, all showcasing the completed garments that we have already blogged about:

Here's the set -up...lights, backdrop and me in the black corduroy A-line skirt

This blouse is the cutest ever with the denim bias-cut A-line skirt

I can wear this little corduroy with so many of my tops, like the Vogue 8636 by Marcy Tilton

Okay, let's strike that model's pose, Ruth! We used the same voile for our blouses!

 Can't put that phone down for long!!!!

 Another look at our two voile blouses....

Remember the Sandra Betzina blouse Laurel made out of the cotton voile (Vogue 1291) We made another one using that awesome stretch silk and some matching organza for the sleeves... we haven't blogged about it yet, but we still wanted to keep testing our lighting set!! So much fun!!!

 FabricLady and her Dressmaker, March 2014.

I'm super excited about what my creative team and I are cooking up for you!

Stay tuned and keep on sewing!

Creatively yours,