Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Last Semester for Classes at Stonemountain & Daughter

20 years ago I dreamed of teaching classes here at Stonemountain & Daughter in our upstairs discount fabric room. 1996 was a sewing school desert in the bay area. Since we began our school, I have been blessed to see it grow into one of the most successful in-store sewing schools in the country: a place to come and learn how to sew, design and play with our amazing fabric while growing our sewing community. Our classes have helped Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics survive by teaching the next generations how to create and use the fabric they love!

It is with mixed feelings that I announce, for a variety of important reasons; we will not be offering classes after the end of June 2016. I have so much gratitude for the sewing community that has grown with us at Stonemountain & Daughter. Please join me in thanking and showing gratitude for all the instructors, past and present, who have inspired us and shared their gifts with you all. I want to thank my amazing staff for all their support to the teachers, the students, our classrooms and me. It has truly taken a village to provide our community with top notch sewing classes!
It’s been a great ride for 19 years and such an honor to do this school with you! We have taught many thousands of sewists of all ages. Currently, we have 1 – 3 classes each day of the year and have reached an unsurpassed quality level. Now it is time to pass this legacy onto other teachers and businesses in our sewing community. We will have a handout for you to find local places where you can continue to advance your skills and get the sewing support you need.
I’m excited about dreaming into what more is possible for Stonemountain & Daughter and me! We are also thrilled to find a new focus for our upstairs and transform it into a complete designer fabric discount space!
Our heart and primary mission is to provide the highest quality fabric, independent patterns and quality notions at the best prices. This decision will help us survive in this economy and stay focused on serving the community’s fabric needs.
With so much gratitude and hope,
Suzan Steinberg
Owner, Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics

Since 1981 in Berkeley

Friday, February 12, 2016

Head in the Clouds over Independent Pattern Choices! Yay Indie Pattern Month!

At the end of 2015, several of our collaborative team really felt that 2016 was going to be our best year yet. We all sensed a new creativity just waiting in the wings to come forth and explode into an avalanche of exciting creations, new opportunities and a fresh take on our approach.  We launched "Indie Pattern Month" on January 1st, and it was a fabulous success! 

Every day for thirty-one days we highlighted one our awesome Independent "paper" pattern makers.  Indie pattern lovers from all over showed off their beautiful indie pattern creations and we were truly inspired.

My head is spinning at how many stunning fabric/pattern combinations our customers shared. Naturally, I had to jump into the action too and, lucky for me, Laurel of Laurel's Quill (as well as my seamstress and friend) was eager to create some awesome looks for us both during our own January Indie-Sew-A-Thon.

Please stop by our store or our virtual pattern table on our website to explore our pattern collections. It's super easy to use and see all our choices. Plus you can order it from the comfort of your home. Just know that the shipping will be less when ordering only patterns  on our website store (our PayPal over estimates for patterns, but we refund the difference!).

Here we are the delicious fruits of our labor. Enjoy!

I love this dress. Let me say that again. I love this dress. The fabric is soft and drapes beautifully - who doesn't love all the gorgeous rayons by Cotton + Steel? It's not that difficult to make either. I had to laugh when Laurel (who you know is an accomplished seamstress) sewed the entire skirt on backwards and had to rip it all off and start again. Nobody's perfect!

Bettine Dress by Tilly and the Buttons Patterns!

We've made this pattern before, only as a top. I wanted to make up the long tunic in red (my new power color), for the sheer "drama" of it all. Laurel made another Obi belt to make sure we don't hide my waistline - now that's drama!

Love this tunic! Kintamani by Bali Collection.

The Arum, by Deer and Doe
This is the second time that Laurel has made the Arum.  We love this pattern for its easy style and bonus:  it looks great on all body types.  Laurel used one of our heavy ponte knits, even though the pattern calls for a woven fabric.  I love the detail of the faux leather patch pockets - she just used a pocket pattern from another pattern and added them to the sides. We sell Deer & Doe patterns in our store only, not on our website. So call us at (510) 845-6106 or email me at to purchase this one or any of their designs!

I so love Laurel in this Arum pattern by Deer and Doe!

I'm loving my new red fashions. This Davie dress is made from a yummy lightweight ponte. Perfect for work or going out to a concert, but comfy, like wearing a fitted T-shirt.

So cute! Love my Davie Dress! Thanks Sewabholic!

 We chose another rayon, this time a rayon batik. The photo on the pattern cover was so cute with the bright pink zipper in the back, we couldn't resist copying.  So adorable!

One of my favorite tops now! The Orla by Tilly and the Buttons.

This is a beginner's pattern which is why it had been to popular in our sewing community.  The interesting thing about this knit pattern is that it tells you right up front that it's made with "negative ease".  In other words, while we are so used to making garments with "room to spare", the Moneta is made to fit snugly on your frame.

Thanks Collete for another Classic Dress - the Moneta!

 This is such an easy and quick layering piece to make. If you can set in a sleeve and sew a straight line, you can whip this one out in no time. Laurel did not even put a finish on the edges of this knit - that maintains the flat effect on the seams and down the front, much like a soft sweater.  I can wear this cardigan with everything - would be great in an array of neutral knits, too!


Another great layering piece - this one is a "muslin" of sorts - Laurel just used a piece of lightweight ponte knit just to see how it might come together.  We might suggest sticking with a very lightweight knit or woven fabric. That little pocket is definitely "tiny".

This goes with everything! Love my new Draped Front Cardigan and my Tiny Pocket Tank

The Cabin, by Blueprints for Sewing
Both Laurel and I have made this great top several times (also a dress, which is below).  The Cabin can be made using any type of fabric.  This zebra polyester crepe is wonderfully flowing (there are two unicorn prints version of this fabric, too), but the dress that Laurel is modeling was made from one of our 100% cotton double gauze fabrics, created by our manager, Lauren.


The Magic Pencil Skirt, by Pamela's Patterns 
It doesn't get any easier than this knit skirt.  You can make this in one of our beginner's classes and we will also do a future post on the sewing process.  It's SEW very easy!!

Great with anything! The Pencil Skirt with my Zebra Cabin Top!

Laurel wearing Lauren's Cabin Dress! Made out of our 100% Cotton Double Gauze - dreamy!
I love soft rayon blouses, and the Aster top is no exception. Rayon is so drapey and it can be worn untucked, like I prefer, or tucked into a nice skirt or pair of slacks.

Love this Aster Top with my Pamela's Magic Pencil Skirt in Grey. 

Sometimes you just have to see something made up in order to see if you like the design.  The Lela tunic floated in and out of our pattern choices each time Laurel and my team planned our next series of garmentsThis month we just decided to go for it, and I couldn't be happier. It is the perfect top for work, and making it up in the double gauze was a touch of brilliance.

Oh my! Love this cotton double gauze print for my Lela tunic

Whose head wouldn't be in the clouds after our Indie Pattern Month? We have never been more inspired to keep this creativity train rolling throughout 2016, seeking out new patterns and fabulous fabrics to share with you,  so that you may be inspired to sew. 

Many of the patterns that we've featured are easy to make, but if you need some further inspiration, check out our list of classes.  Half the fun of sewing is sharing and learning with others. You'd be surprised how many tips and hints you can pick up in even one class!

Now that we all see what these fabulous independent designers are up to, perhaps you will see why we have made a recent decision:  We will not be re-ordering Vogue, Kwik Sew, Burda and New Look patterns. For years, they have been undermining the efforts of Brick and Mortar fabric stores, like mine, with predatory low cost pricing of their patterns in both large chain stores and online. We have hung in there with them, but it is now time to trim this branch off our tree and focus where the joy and excitement is!

I so look forward to the Magic of Sewing in 2016 with each of you!

Love and Sewing,


Monday, February 1, 2016

Pamela's Magic Pencil Skirt!

We've seen a lot of simple skirt patterns over the years, but I think Pamela's Magic Pencil Skirt has to be one of the easiest skirts to fit and assemble. It features a figure hugging shape with either a high waist version or a natural waist version.

There is one (yes I said one) pattern piece to cut out - the back and front of the skirt are exactly the same. There are darts in both the front and the back - the magic starts with the fitting.

The waist has Pamela's Fantastic Elastic, which is cut one inch smaller in length than your waist measurement. Since we are making our skirt version that fits at the natural waist, Pamela recommends cutting the elastic down to a 1" width. Most elastic can only be cut lengthwise, but Pamela's Fantastic Elastic can actually be cut width-wise too!

We chose a lightweight 60" wide ponte knit for our pencil skirt. A black slim skirt such as Pamela's is a great addition to any wardrobe because it is so versatile - boots, tights, fancy blouses or sweaters - whatever you pair it with, the results always yield a sleek and trim silhouette, regardless of your size.

In preparation for the fitting, sew the front and back darts (all four of them!) and the two side seams. Also sew the ends of the pre-measured waist elastic together to form a ring.

To fit the skirt, try it on right side out, with the elastic on top of the skirt at the natural waist.


If the skirt pulls at the abdomen, you may need to release the front darts. If you have a flat derriere, you may need to release the back darts.


Since no one really has a straight back, you may need to raise the back of the skirt to accomodate a waist tilt and eliminate a baggy look at our seat. Trim the excess fabric from the back and mark it. (Remember that the front and back look exactly alike and you'll want to remember which one is the back!)


Voila!! A magic pencil skirt!

Pamela claims that once you made your initial skirt, it should only take you an hour to make the pencil skirt. Sounds like a challenge, huh? And why not up the ante a little by doing a "recycle" project?  We had started a long pencil skirt (different pattern) in a heavy weight reversible poly ponte print, and after trying it on we scrapped it.  Let's just say the pattern would look great on someone like our Natalie here at the store - you know, that pencil thin body that everything looks great on - but it was not kind to my hips.  Both Laurel, Lauren, and I said in unison..."NO, take it off. That's a definite NO."

But Laurel says "be thou NOT a waster of good fabric." She ripped it apart as it appeared to be big enough to remake into the Pamela Pencil skirt.

This previous long skirt just did not work for me at all.  Let's see what Laurel cooks up!

What is so beautiful about this heavy knit is that the "wrong side" is just as beautiful as the plaid side. In truth, I can get a lot more wear out of a solid gray knit skirt, so we decided to go for it.

Laurel did run into a snag (literally!) sewing on this fabric. It's very heavy and firm, so her first machine kept skipping stitches.  Even after changing needles and thread tension, it didn't seem to work very well. Laurel is blessed with two machines, so she just switched and was able to correct the stitching.  But we know not everyone has that luxury, so do you have any ideas on how she could have adjusted her first machine? Let us hear them!

We had to put a seam up the back (we're recycling, remember) and leave the small slit up the back. Even with the thread issues and changes, start to finish: ONE HOUR!!!  Amazing!

This is really a great skirt for everyday or special occasion. We love this skirt so much we are even offering a class on making it! Come get inspired with our instructor, Terry McClintock and make one of your own! Here are the dates: 
(607A) Feb 29, Mon 10:30 - 2:30 pm
(607B) Mar 31, Thurs 10:30 - 2:30 pm
(607C) May 7, Sat 1:30 - 5:30 pm

We are off to such an exciting start at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics. Our independent pattern lines are doing great and we are having so much fun watching our customers try them with great success. Indie patterns and our fabric - a match made in fabric heaven.

Hope that you can take the time to visit us in Berkeley this year! Also take a look at the many fabrics, notions and all our patterns up in our webstore for your convenience.

Thanks again for being a part of this caring and creative community,

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