Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Thursdays with Laurel! Wrapping Up Another Year of Indie Patterns!

Wow what a year 2016 has been! With all the social turmoil and challenges, I am so grateful for my Thursdays with Laurel. Once a month, we meet at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley to dream with the fabric, patterns, trends and the valuable feedback from everyone in the store.

Our intent has always been to inspire and show you and our growing community what these patterns look like on a real person and give you tips to find the confidence to sew your own clothes.

Our Thursday timings have been going on for over 3 years now with more than 230 garments made! It has become a tradition in my life which is enriching and one of the sweetest times I have to look forward to! Laurel and I love to look through the fabric and all the patterns first and then we go out to lunch. There are so many fine places in Berkeley to eat!

What tradition surrounding fabric would you love to create more of in 2017? The sanctuary at Stonemountain is there for you to create your own traditions with friends and family!

Way back in January of this year, we proclaimed 2016 as the Year of the Indie Pattern. We wanted to celebrate all of the amazing independent pattern designers out there and share their great work. Do you remember this awesome list we put together? We carry all of these independent pattern companies and more on our website. You can shop them here or in our store.

Well, we've been super busy this year working through our collection of incredible independent patterns. This year alone we've made dozens of garments for the Fabric Lady blog. We are having so much fun sewing with you and we hope to bring even more inspiration and fun into 2017!

Below you'll see just some of the patterns we've made up this year. Looking back, we've maintained a pretty good balance between dresses and separates. I love looking back knowing that every piece was made with love and in Stonemountain fabric!


 Cabin Dress and Top 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, but the dress that Zan is modeling was made from one of our 100% cotton double gauze fabrics.


 Marianne Dress by Christine Haynes

We've made so many pieces this year, it's been hard to keep up with the blogging! While we haven't gotten a chance to blog about this one, we do love the Marianne Dress from Christine Haynes. A great knit alternative to a woven shift dress, this piece is comfortable like a t-shirt, with length of a dress. Great paired with leggings or alone.


 Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Files

Ginger Jeans have a modern and flattering cut with subtly shaped back pockets, slimming side seams, and a higher back rise to prevent "peekabooty." They are designed for stretch denim, so we chose a beautiful soft indigo denim with Lycra. (You can browse our bottom weight fabrics—stretch and non stretch—here.) And just to be uber creative, we topstitched our jeans in neon blue thread! Check out our selection of neon topstitching thread here! It's details like this that make the garments we create that much more special.

Our new favorite indie pattern from April is again from Decades Everyday, the Three's a Charm Jacket, featured in our sewalong. This unlined crop jacket is the perfect companion to short-sleeved and sleeves dresses, tunic and tees. The sleeves are three-quarter length and the front closure is a single button. It is fast and simple, and yet the styling does allow for some customization in the stitching, sleeve length, and or adding trims, etc. Read about our sewalong here!


 Arum Dress by Deer and Doe

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. Suzan's version is in a flowey rayon. It looks polished while having that secret pajama feel.


 Old Mexico Dress and Top by Folkwear

Folkwear is a pattern line we have carried for years - one of the original indie pattern lines! I haven't chosen a garment from them in recent years, so I thought it was time to add the Old Mexico Dress. It the perfect little top to wear with jeans, and giving a nod to my ethereal/hippie side, I chose a soft Liberty Tana Lawn print filled with suns, moons, and near east images. The top is super easy to make and I know my astrology friends are going to want one as well.


 Lark Tee by Grainline Studio

One of our newer t-shirt patterns is the Lark Tee from Grainline Studio. There are sixteen different ways to make up this simple tee-shirt with its modern, slim styling. With something as simple as a t-shirt, it's all about fabric choice. The simple lines of the Lark Tee allow you to be the designer, making the t-shirt uniquely you. The fabric I chose was a bold, graphic rayon knit with a huge border and repeat of the design.


The Linden Sweatshirt is everywhere! It seems like they're constantly popping up in our Instagram feed, on sewing blogs, and even in the store! This pattern is designed by Grainline Studio, one of our indie pattern lines here at Stonemountain. You will find it made out of sweater fabric, sweatshirt fleece, every type and weight of knit fabric, not to mention a few woven flannel versions. It's deliciously simple to whip up and that must be why it's such a favorite! Don't you love the peplum change we made?

The Morris Blazer is another favorite we haven't blogged about yet. We made it last year in a textured knit and loved it's versatility so much. This time around, we chose a white ponte knit, which will be great with tops and dresses and adds some lightness in spring and summer.


Lela Tunic and Blouse by Green Bee 

The Lela is a great pattern; it's easy and fast to work up. You could easily add length to the hem and use it for an "apres-pool" dress...and of course the blouse length would be perfect with jeans or crop pants this summer. you could also shorten the sleeves by leaving off the band.


Pilvi Coat by Lotta Jansdotter 

We are always looking for great books and magazines to inspire us on our sewing journeys. Sometimes it's just a photo of a dress in a catalog or fashion magazine that we wish we had a pattern for, and other times we find a sewing book with a photo of a cute pair of pants to be made. When we first got Lotta Jansdotter's new book Everyday Style, we knew we had to make something!

Thumbing through the beautiful pages filled with stories of real women and exotic travels we found the Pilvi Coat, a simple design for either a coat or a shorter jacket.  It's perfect for the beginner (look out for a sewalong!) because it is unlined, with raglan sleeves and no closures. Suzan chose a beautiful boiled wool-viscose for her first Pilvi.


Sudley by Megan Neilsen

We chose Megan Nielsen's Sudley Dress & Blouse pattern. We love it because of the variety of looks that you can achieve with just this one pattern. An added bonus it that the back is the same as the front, so the keyhole opening can be worn both ways!


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!


The Ultimate Shift Dress in this floral rayon was great for spring and summer. This versatile pattern would look equally great made up for a special occasion. With multiple options for neckline, collar and length, this is another great pattern you don't want to miss. We love the vintage style with modern lines.


Bettine by Tilly and the Buttons

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!


Dress No. 1 and Pants No. 1 by 100 Acts of Sewing

We are having a ball seeing the diversity that can be achieved with one classically simple pattern: Dress No.1 from Sonya Philip's indie pattern line, 100 Acts of Sewing. The drawing is deceptively simple, but just like her Pants No.1 pattern that gets our rave reviews. This dress pattern is as versatile as it is simple.

 Renfrew by Sewaholic

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!

Betty Dress by Sew Over It

For our Lizzie House garment, we chose to bring a little "Betty" into our wardrobe. Sew Over It, one of our new indie pattern lines, seemed to be channeling a little style from the ladies in the hit series Mad Men. We loved Betty Draper's on screen spirit and the chic 50's vintage look she inspires.


 Camas Blouse by Thread Theory

Enjoy the unrestricted comfort of a t-shirt and the put together elegance of a blouse. This blouse is designed to be COMFORTABLE and can be sewn in knits or stretch woven fabrics. It features shoulder and back yokes, elegant gathering, and a flattering curved v-shaped neckline placket.

The gathers create a flattering shape that is loose enough to float over the body rather than cling to it. The delicately curved hem can be tucked into trousers and skirts or can be left loose to float over skinny jeans. The slim sleeves end just below the elbow to create the perfect multi-season blouse. Instructions detail how to create a variety of closures - learn how to add buttonholes to a knit placket, add snaps or create a pull over blouse and skip button holes entirely. Fabric requirements are included for both a color blocked blouse and a blouse made from one fabric.


Tendril Dress by A Verb for Keeping Warm

The Tendril is a bias cut dress which shares the common characteristic of wrapping itself around the body, clinging to our curves in the most flattering of ways. It's no accident that the most luscious of silk nightgowns we love are cut on the bias in this same manner.

The Tendril is an easy pattern, with only two pieces, but as the designer suggests, you will learn a little about French seams and sewing on the bias of the fabric.

With love and blessings,
Suzan Steinberg & the amazing ladies of Stonemountain & Daughter

I would love to hear about what you are inspired to make. If you have a moment, please leave me a message here to let me know that you are finding this information helpful and inspiring.

Check out the Stonemountain Blog for our favorite notions, patterns and fabrics of 2016! 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Stepping Out in My Stretch Velvet Holiday Skirt!

At this December Solstice time of year, we see a gradual increase in light until it reaches its peak at June Solstice. We can work with this natural cycle in our creative lives. We can celebrate our "wins" and our creations. It's also an amazing time to reflect on our lessons learned and decide what we are willing to let go of as we enter this new year. What powerful intentions are you ready to dream into? 

My collaboration with Laurel and my entire team at Stonemountain & Daughter is a manifestation of my creative dreams. You can read back through this blog and see all our accomplishments and witness this community that we are a part of. I shared with you my process of "pruning" at my store and releasing the Sewing School that I created 20 years ago. I am feeling into the renewal and powerful intent of new growth in 2017 for my self, my store, and my community. I urge you to spend time with the Sun in these next few days and feel into this rejuvenating and restorative energy. 
One of my intentions is to share more about my background in cosmology (looking up at the stars and planets) and astrology (seeing where the cycles are and how we fit into our personal and collective story unfolding). 

As creatives, we get to shift gears through all our interests and responsibilities. Let's explore something fun to make for New Years and beyond!

When we think of making something quick and easy for a holiday party, nobody ever thinks, "Gee, I think I'll make something velvet!" We have all read horror stories of slipping and sliding off the table and bunching up at the seams.  Perhaps for all these reasons, Laurel postponed making this adorable Megan Nielsen skirt, the "Axel," because I chose a yummy stretch crushed velvet. You have to feel this to fall in love! 

This will be the perfect skirt with a funky top for New Years!

Love my new Axel Skirt with a silk "My Easy Top."

Start to finish, one hour—maybe two if you're not Laurel.  You can decide to make it up in the afternoon and wear it that evening!  Pair it with a silk blouse or a holiday sweater, and you're set!

Look how different the option in the middle is!  Come by the store to see our finished garment on display in the Fashion Room.

Okay, let's get started!  The Axel has two pattern pieces for version 1.  The handkerchief hem skirt piece is the same for the front and the back.  Version 1 only takes a little over 2 yards of 60" fabric.

Like all velvet fabric, our crushed velvet has a very obvious nap, so all pieces must be cut in the same direction, preferably with the nap laying down toward the hemline.

Stretch velvet is no different than other knits - you should cut off the selvage edges before laying out your pattern pieces to ensure the fabric lays flat all the way to the edges.

We've read lots of techniques for sewing velvet - starching seams first, hand basting, tape, etc.  By far the easiest and most fool-proof method is to invest in a walking foot.  They take away all the issues with sewing velvet!  The feed dogs on the upper part of the presser foot pull the top layer of fabric along at the same speed as the lower feed dogs.  The result is a perfectly even, unpuckered seam.  It's a miracle!

After sewing up four pinned seams and adding a waistband (just a folded band attached to the skirt with a zig zag stitch for stretch), all that was left was to hem the skirt.  Serging barely shows on this velvet, so we decided to just leave it as is.  You could always turn the hem under and stitch, but we took the easy way out!

We did add some fray check on the corners of the hem to keep the serged edge from unraveling.  Fray check is your good friend and a must have in your sewing kit!

We have a whole new selection of velvet fabrics in a variety of colors, just in time for the holidays.  Which color would you choose?

Both Laurel and I also chose this gorgeous burnout velvet to make something special.

May the glow of candlelight and the warmth of love around you fill your season,

Axel Skirt with Show and Tell "My Easy Top"
 ~ available in our store!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

We Make a Crowd Favorite Our Own! A New Take on the Linden Sweatshirt!

2016 has indeed been the Year of the Indie Pattern. I hope that you have enjoyed our choices and tips given throughout the last year! We are always looking for the next great pattern and fabric to inspire you. Today we will treat you to something special from Grainline Studio!

The Linden Sweatshirt is everywhere! It seems like they're constantly popping up in our Instagram feed, on sewing blogs, and even in the store! This pattern is designed by Grainline Studio, one of our indie pattern lines here at Stonemountain. You will find it made out of sweater fabric, sweatshirt fleece, every type and weight of knit fabric, not to mention a few woven flannel versions. It's deliciously simple to whip up and that must be why it's such a favorite!

Our Linden is not really a sweatshirt at all. Because the pattern is so easy, there are many ways to change the pattern up to make your Linden YOU! And don't we just love breaking the rules!

What fabric would you choose for your Linden?

We chose a very lightweight jersey knit to make our top.  It is accented with a heathered grey jersey knit which we used on neckline and sleeves.  To make our top little more day-to-evening, we added a gathered peplum at the bottom. Peplums have been around since the 1800's and were very popular in the 1940's to 1950's. We think they've stayed in style as they are flattering to most figure types and they can add an element of softness and femininity to a silhouette.

We remember a time when a crop of designers in the 80s were making wardrobe "capsules" consisting of 3 to 5 jersey knit garments that could be layered and tied in every conceivable way to make a dozen different looks. These knit garments were at the start of the serging, or overlocking, revolution for designers and home sewists alike. You could sew an entire garment on your serger without ever touching your sewing machine. These days many of the modern machines have stretch stitches and overlocking capabilities, so it's easy to finish off your handmade garments.

But you have to admit, it's still great to be able to sew a whole garment using a serger. Our Linden top does have a few places where Laurel used her traditional sewing machine, but she mostly stuck to the serger.

The neckband and sleeve cuffs are applied by stretching our grey contrast fabric of the bands to the bodice top and sleeves.  Laurel sewed them first, then serged the finished edge and then top stitched the band in place. We will say that the more knit bands that you apply, the easier it gets.  Practice makes perfect!

Our finished Linden top, with a peplum change-up!

The design details make it so much fun!

Loving my new Linden with my Ginger Jeans 

As this very intense and creative year wraps up, I hope that we have been able to inspire you to create some unique clothing of your own. Let's see what more we can dream into for 2017.

Thanks for sharing the ride!
Sewing Resource Center since 1981