Friday, March 25, 2016

Stash Busting or Building?

You can read a lot of articles and posts by sewists and crafters about stash busting projects - anything from strip quilting to bags and purses to just finally making up a pattern that you've had for months...even years!  While we love seeing people enjoy sewing of any type and using long-forgotten pieces of fabric, there's something intrinsically satisfying about the thoughtful "accumulation" of beautiful fabric.

We're not talking about "hoarding" here - such an ugly word - we're just thinking that 2016 might be the year for Stash "Building"! I am so excited about what's happening here at Stonemountain with respect to fabric buying.  For years I have spent hours and hours pouring over samples, going on buying trips, and trying to keep Stonemountain on top of the "best fabric stores" lists. But with the addition of several capable and creative young women, fabric buying has taken on a whole new fresh approach and I'm loving it!

This day is like most days - there's always something new arriving.  It's like having your birthday over and over, as the huge boxes are unloaded and placed at our doors.

 Then, it's all hands on deck...sorting, marking, pricing, and placing it up on the shelves.

What makes this process so fun is that our customers get to enjoy the show as well.  It's funny how some fabrics don't even make it to the shelves - one person will see a particular bolt and before you know it, three others are coveting the same fabric.

This beautiful crinkle fabric never made it to the shelves...gone in the blink of an eye!

My seamstress and friend Laurel was down yesterday and we collectively dubbed 2016 as the Year of Stash Building.  On fun garment fitting days like this, she spends considerable time scouring through the shelves to see what's new at Stonemountain. She says she is in the "building" stage this year, and from we can see, her stash at home is becoming quite impressive.

Are you Busting or Building? There's always an ebb and flow in creativity: sometimes our sewing is off the charts, and we use up a lot of fabric that has been languishing in our studios and closets for too long. (If it's been there "for years," maybe you should think about giving it away to someone who will enjoy it!) It's after those busy production times that we love to add back into our stash to keep it at a level that we can manage, yet continually fueling our imagination and creativity.

So...hoarding? No. Truthfully, excesses of any kind tend to weigh you down, so everything in moderation we say, and that includes your fabric stash. There's a balance in life that brings joy and peace, especially in the areas of nurturing your creative spirit. So, keep your stash organized and purposeful...just enough so that your imagination and creativity are constantly fed and your machines are humming.

Creatively Yours,

Monday, March 21, 2016

Endings & Beginnings…further reflections on ending classes and what's next!

Sandra Betzina, teaching one of our early classes downstairs!
Last month, I announced that we are no longer going to be offering a full program of classes upstairs for sewing and quilting after June 30, 2016 (read the post here). This began an in-depth conversation with our tribe of sewing instructors, students, fabric lovers and other teaching studios in the greater Bay Area.

Although it has been tough for us to hear from many students about their sadness, shock and disappointment, we understand that this feedback stems from how much value they have received and the amazing opportunity that these classes have provided.  We appreciate all that we’ve heard from lifelong students, as well as others just gearing up to jump in.

Here are some words from our community:

- I am glad you are growing and will be continuing to offer quality fabrics. That is very heartening! I cannot wait to see what you will offer upstairs!

- Thank you for the wonderful service you provide to the whole area. You fill a very important need, and I for one really appreciate that you are here and staying!

- Thank you so much for being there.

- Change is hard for many of us. Thanks for taking a step in a new direction. Discounted designer goods will add a fabric opportunity for us that we don't currently have in the East Bay. I'm excited to see what you will be offering.

- The classes I've taken there were wonderful- sad to see them go, but excited to see what you do next! And an extra yay for discounted designer fabrics!

- Good luck in your next upstairs venture.

- Best of luck with your new business plan!

- I completely understand, and am grateful for the opportunity to take a few more classes over the next few months! I'm glad you'll find more balance and I'm confident that you're doing what's right for the store. 

- I'm happily registered in 6 classes! I had hoped to work my way through all your classes over the next couple years, but I'm glad I could squeeze in a few before they go away. Thanks!

- I am a businesswoman so I thoroughly respect your decision and I adore your store.  So I bless you with all my heart, despite feeling at a loss for what do I do next. I can only imagine how tough the business is with competition of online and the big box stores like Joann’s.  I hope this move strengthens your bottom line and makes your responsibilities less stressful.  I hope to be your good customer for a long time!

During the last 20 years, we have taught many thousands of students to sew, stretching across all generations.  It has been an inspiration to see you all come through our doors and leave with that first completed project. Providing these classes has been one of Stonemountain’s substantial contributions to our sewing community and we are so grateful for the time and impact we’ve had. On a personal level, the time I have dedicated to providing these classes has been an amazing service project and a gift from my heart and passion. 

To be very clear, I came to this decision based on looking at ALL current economic realities, long-term trends heading our way, the vast amount of time it takes to schedule, produce and administrate the classes, and the great benefits of selling fabric in the upstairs bargain room. 

If we want to survive as a truly independent, family-owned, brick-and-mortar fabric store, we have to be realistic. We can no longer afford to have what has basically been a non-profit school within our store. After 20 years, we are stepping down and supporting others in our community to take over the important step of teaching sewing and quilting.  We believe that in the long run, this decision will allow our community of sewists to stay strong and grow. We are dedicated to being a community center for quality and affordable fabrics - one of the last remaining independent fabric stores in the country!

After a great deal of inner thought, I have come to realize that ending the sewing classes is not only best for Stonemountain & Daughter but it is also in harmony with the highest intent for my own personal life. 

Looking forward, I am excited about working with all the other sewing schools in the greater Bay Area. I have already been meeting with many of them personally to see how we can work together. Some of our own instructors have already set up classes for you to go to.

One of our awesome instructors, Terry McClintock (right)
We are currently gathering information of all the various teachers and schools. We hope to post these on our website and have a handout available in our store as things for summer and fall come together. There really is nothing else out there like what we have been doing, so it may take time for others to step up and fill this vital need in our community. It is our intent to refer customers/students to local teachers!

As we wrap up our stellar program, our classes are filling up quickly. Please visit our class catalog to see where you can jump in and take one of our last amazing classes at Stonemountain! Thank you all for supporting our classes and instructors and helping Stonemountain Classes be one of the most successful sewing schools in any fabric store in the country. 

Our commitment to education and inspiration is still strong and I look forward to working closely with my team to find innovative ways to engage with our community of sewists around the world! There are many ideas coming forth now for us to get excited about! (sew-alongs, in-store demonstrations, youtube channel, more content developed in our blogs and newsletters)

It is my deepest hope that our student base will continue to shop with us and support our family run community sanctuary for the feminine arts.

We hope you can join us in our Decade’s Everyday Three’s a Charm Jacket Sew Along this month. Click over to the Stonemountain Blog for more info!

with love and hope and a lifetime of dedication,

Monday, March 14, 2016

March Indie-Bliss! - What's up next!

Why end a good thing? Our January Indie Pattern Month celebration highlighted all the great independent pattern lines that are featured at Stonemountain. We saw a lot of your creations worked up in great fabrics, and we made up a few of our own. We didn't want the fun the end, so we've picked out a few new designs to work on!

Sewaholic's Renfrew top features three different neckline treatments and three different sleeves.  Many times sewists will want to keep the basic shape of a pattern design but make some changes to the pattern to make it their own.  The Renfrew top does it for you! We will be making View B out of this soft rayon knit in one of my go-to colors - purple!

The Lark Tee by Grainline Studio is one that we will be featuring in a class soon.  Our fabric is very bold graphic rayon lycra knit. It was fun trying to decide how to use the fabrics unique print on this simple tee shirt.  There is no such thing as having too many tee shirts and your fabric choices are the key to making each one unique and totally you.

We've already seen how cute the Camas Blouse by Thread Theory can be on Instagram.  We loved this soft rayon knit and we are not above using it again for our Camas.

Not one but three Decades Everyday's Three's a Charm Jacket: two for me and one for Laurel. We chose two denim fabrics (the grey polkadot and the burnt orange). This cute jacket would work in almost any fabric - several of our staff members have already created their own #3sacharmjacket. The third jacket will be lightweight denim-look cotton eyelet.

Pop on over to our Stonemountain blog to read about our community sew along! I hope you will make your own Three's a Charm Jacket!

Were you inspired by our Indie pattern focus? Did you create your own unique version of a particular designer?  Drop by the store or send us a photo or tag us on Instagram.  Sharing your work with others is what makes us all want to join in the "memade" revolution!

Ok, now it's time to get it done!

See you all soon,