Saturday, May 31, 2014

Your Color Comfort Zone - Embracing our Full Spectrum!

Do you remember having your "colors done"? A consultant basically put you into a seasonal "box" of fashion colors and that color palette became YOUR colors. John Kitchen did mine back in the 80's. You could not venture into a store without your trusty little packet of fabric swatches that guided your fashion selections. If you were a "Fall", then you only choose garments that were avocado, rust, brown, gold, etc. Your season usually corresponded with your natural coloring - blond, brunette, red-head, etc.  The problem with this whole seasonal approach to color is that when we often put ourselves into that color box we think we only look good in reds or blues, etc. and we don't branch out to try new palettes.  Sadly, we rarely deviate from "our" palette.

I've been thinking a lot about color these days with the approach of the summer season.  As I look at the wardrobe that we've been creating, I see a lot of darker colors, probably because I tend to like them and think that I look good in them. Trust me, you can never go wrong with black, gray or navy, and my wardrobe shows it. I wear what makes me feel good...and that can change on a daily basis!

Remember the famous pink dress on red-headed
Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink?
But summer calls for a lighter touch, not only in fabric content, but also in color. Not everyone can wear pastels, but doesn't everyone look pretty in pink? But there is also an abundance of vibrant jewel tones and mid-range brights in a variety of fabric choices - cottons, silks, knits and linens. These are the fabrics of summer and they are among my very favorites.

When you shop for fabric, just like anything else, it's always good to have an honest set of eyes on your choices. Put the fabric up to your face and check yourself out in the mirror. Turn and show your girlfriend and if her eyes cross, perhaps that brilliant grass green may be a little much for you. Keep trying colors outside of your comfort zone - you may be surprised to find that even though that yummy coral that isn't in your little tiny little 1/4" X 1" book of swatches, you look radiant in it. Go for it.

Even though I added yet another black piece to my wardrobe with dreamy black linen pants, Laurel is working on a tunic top out of this great new double sided cotton voile.  It's not a color that I would naturally pick for myself, but when we held it up to my face, it worked. We just got in a beautiful selection in all tones for you to choose from at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics.

We will use the striped side for the inside of the cuffs and collar for a fun contrast.

We keep bringing this Marcy Tilton dress - Vogue 8975 - out of the pattern drawer, looking for just the right fabric.

I think that Laurel and I finally settled on this awesome rayon/lycra knit in a luscious teal. It's hard to capture the true color in photography, so I added a Hex color butterfly insert for you. Love this color for summer!

I also added a little red to my summer wardrobe.  This Marcy Tilton Vogue pattern 8636 is one of my favorite knit shirts. I love the way it turned out...and it goes with all that black stuff in my closet...LOL!

What colors are you going to brave this summer?  Do step outside your comfort zone and pick a tomato red, a sunflower yellow or even the Pantone color of the year, Radiant Orchid. Stop by the store and cruise our aisles for the color that inspires your next creation - we have them all!

Okay, even I can't step that far on most days, but is it yours?

Creatively Yours,

Monday, May 19, 2014

Work That Stash!

Creative people develop their own manner of working and sewists are no different.

Over the years, I've noticed that some customers come in with a very specific idea of what they want and spend hours wandering through the store looking for just the right fabric, while others come in  with something to match or coordinate with a skirt or a top they already own. And then there are those who "accumulate" cuts of fabric - yard and yards, just for the sheer joy of possessing a thing of beauty that each piece invokes.

I love all our customers regardless of their fabric-buying proclivities, but I have a soft spot for the "Stashers." The old adage "she who dies with the most fabric wins" makes me laugh, and I have to admit there is a certain joy which comes with a pile of luscious fabrics lying in wait for the inspiration, the snip of the scissors, and the hum of the sewing machine.

The Stashers

I remember the glory days of garment sewing way back in the 80's when it was common to buy many different types of fabric at one time - back then the Stashers were the home sewists, seamstresses and budding fashion designers. But, many different trends began to lead our customers away from garment sewing - the obvious ones include the dressing down of America. Casual Friday led to casual everyday and jeans and t-shirts took over. The price of clothes dropped as our domestic garment manufacturers left the US and went overseas, more women joined the workforce and had less time for sewing, and schools cut sewing classes. Not to mention the large national fabric store chains (won't name any names here), who began a predatory pricing campaign to wipe out all the small independent fabric stores around the country with their deep consistent discounting. Their partnership with big pattern companies contributed to the demise of most of the brick and mortar fabric stores.

Thanks to you, Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics has survived with a handful of others. We have always sold cotton fabric, since 1967 when my Dad opened Bob Steinberg's Fabric Emporium in Los Angeles, and as more vendors entered the market with high quality, lovely cotton prints, the quilting industry expanded. We grew with this trend and love having the huge selection of cottons for all quilters, crafters and garment sewists.

The Quilter's are the New Stashers... but it's time for the Renaissance of the Garment Sewing!  As I've been focusing on garment sewing, our Fashion Room at Stonemountain has become a revitalized oasis of Knits, Silk, Wool, Linen and so much more!

In my wardrobe planning, I tend to pick out several fabrics at once, rather than the "buy for one project, finish it!" creative process. I'm blessed to be surrounded by beautiful fabrics everyday and during my day I can't help but be inspired by fabrics that would be fun to use in a garment. I try to pick out fabrics and patterns for my wardrobe that our customers can sew themselves, even though we have some gorgeous fabrics that lie in wait for our designers and more experienced sewists.  And I'm lucky have a seamstress who shares my vision and who loves having a pile of fabrics to play with, all in various stages of completion. She says she gets bored if she doesn't have umpteen projects in the works!

Stash Busting

So here's the scenario - in case you're wondering how to work with a seamstress, this is how Laurel and I work together. Visit Laurel's blog, Laurel's Quill here.

  • I may spot items in the store that I like beforehand (or maybe not - I may just choose in the moment!)
  • She comes down to Berkeley once or twice a month with completed or in-process garments
  • I try on the in-process garments and we make adjustments for fit...take photos for you
  • We comb the aisles of Stonemountain for potential fabric selections
  • We browse the pattern books to find the perfect on-trend looks
  • Back and forth dialog, something like this (after a year, we're very frank, LOL!):
"Does this color look good on me?"
"Nope, makes you look like you haven't eaten in three days"
"What about trying this style?"
"Yep, that'll work."
"What about this knit in a long maxi?"
"Mmm...not so much"
And so on...until we get the right mix. 
I love how my staff weighs in on our decisions and selections too!
  • We make a pile of fabric bolts and check to make sure they coordinate with our existing wardrobe choices
  • We get the fabric cut, bag it and I send her home...

Here's our latest STASH....

A little linen, and lots of knits...

And here's how we're working that stash...

Striped ponte knit worked up in this versatile Burda skirt.

Can't go wrong with a nice black linen pant...

Details, details, details...We're adding these buttons at the hem of the linen pants...
 I can't get enough of this Marcy Tilton look - let's do it again!

Stonemountain has a lot of small remnants available - the fabrics range from wovens to knits and everything in between.
This knit remnant will make a cute tank top..

We're going to try this Pamela Perfect T-shirt again...only this time in the Small size.

 Like our customers who enjoy accumulating fabric ( I won't EVEN USE the term "hoard" - such an ugly word!), Laurel always makes time to pick out some fabric for herself.  In between making my wardrobe, she's putting together her Paris wardrobe for this Fall.


 Did I mention that somewhere in our whirlwind planning/shopping day, we squeeze in a quick lunch. Sharing a meal with someone is always a good way to cement a friendship!

What's in your stash?

Creatively Yours,