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,


  1. I remember visiting your store when I attended the ASG Conference a few years ago!!! I had such a great time and loved the fabrics I purchased!!!!

  2. Hi Tee! So great to hear from you…hope you can come visit us again soon…we also do mail order :)