Friday, February 17, 2017

Bralette Complete!

If you've been following the Stonemountain blog lately, you know that making bras and undies is my new 2017 sewing goal!  You also may know that I recently had great success dyeing fabric and notions to make a bralette.  Well, she's finished!

Before I get into it, I need to tell you that this dress form looks a little ridiculous because we had to seriously pad the girls! My boobs are way bigger than hers 😂

But anyway.  I used our Bralette Kit and the Sweet Sixteen Bralette pattern from Pin-up Girls.  The kit and the pattern are available online and in store.  You could also pick out your own materials and come up with something all your own. We've got everything you need at the Mountain!

This pattern has a ton of sizes and variations.  You can make it longline, you can do a foam cup, and you can mix lace and fabric in a number of ways.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Dyeing Bra Making Fabrics and Notions

One of the trickier parts of bra making is collecting all your supplies and findings.  There's a lot of different little pieces!  And even if you have all the components you need, getting them all to match is a whole other beast.

This is not to say that everything has to be exactly the same color when making lingerie.  Sometimes contrasting colors can be really fun!  For example, I love love love this Watson bra set by Cloth Habit:

But if you do want your project to be one color, there's another way, rather than scouring the internet and ordering tons of swatches.

You can dye it!

I recently had such success with dyeing lingerie fabrics and notions, and I just had to share how easy it was!

First things first, here are some quick rules to ensure success.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

2017 Sewing Plans and a New Pattern Company!

Among other things, 2016 was a big year for my sewing.  In April, I made my first pair of jeans! Handmade jeans had been a personal sewing goal for some time, and it felt awesome to accomplish that.  So much so, that I made three more pairs of jeans last year!

I'll still continue to make jeans (I have some classic indigo high waisted Gingers planned in my head...), but I wanted to expand my skills further this year while also adding to my me-made wardrobe.  So to follow up my jean-making extravaganza of 2016, I thought I'd turn to something equally intimidating in 2017:


I've spent so much time drooling over handmade lingerie on Instagram, and it's time I make those lacy dreams a reality! Especially once I saw Miss Make's Rifle Rayon bra...if that doesn't inspire you, I don't know what will.

I mean, COME ON.

But before I dive headfirst into making a full on underwire bra, I thought I should ease in with a bralette.  I've been eyeing the Watson Bra pattern for quite awhile, but I wanted to find some printed pattern options that we could offer here at Stonemountain.  I also wanted to find a variety of underwear patterns for us, especially indie ones since we're discontinuing our Big 4 patterns.

This was a big part of why we decided to start carrying Jalie patterns!  Not only do they have underwear patterns, they've got lots of stuff for men and kids, too.  Plus the size ranges are HUGE on these things!  This underwear pattern is literally for the whole family.  So many styles, all in one pattern!

Jalie #3242

I'm really interested in using some of our wide stretch laces for this boyshorts pattern from Jalie.  You only need a little over a yard, which makes this a quick and inexpensive sew!

Jalie #2568

Jalie also has options for nursing and maternity wear, which is very hard to find.

From left to right:  Jalie #3131, #2788, and #3132
In addition to Jalie, we have ordered and are eagerly awaiting some bra patterns...but for now, here's a sneak peak!

Keep an eye out for some more blogs on the subject of bra making and lingerie this year!


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Our Favorites of 2016!

It's been an amazing year for us here at Stonemountain! There truly has been no shortage of inspiration, whether it was a new pattern, fabric or tool. We've rounded up our favorites of 2016 for you, just in case you missed them!

Top Patterns of 2016

1. Linden Sweatshirt from Grainline Studio
The Linden Sweatshirt gives a modern update to the classic sweatshirt. Featuring a relaxed fit, raglan sleeves, and a graceful slightly scooped neckline, this sweatshirt is perfect for fall layering. View A features long sleeves with cuffs and falls to the mid hip with a lower ribbing band while View B hits at the high hip and has short sleeves. You can also mix and match sleeve and body lengths to create multiple versions of this sweatshirt.

2. Scout Tee from Grainline Studio
A woven t-shirt with capped sleeves and scoop neck. Fitted at the shoulders, this top falls into a loose shape below the bust. This pattern is perfect for a fabric you want to show off since their are no seams or darts to interrupt the print.

3. Ginger Jeans from Closet Case Files
Another pattern that has become a popular wardrobe staple are the Ginger Jeans from Closet Case Files. This pattern will convert even the most timid sewists into jean geniuses! Engineered for flattering fit, View A features a comfortable low rise with narrow stovepipe legs. View B is sexy and high-waisted with skinny legs and a tummy-slimming pocket stay. Designed for stretch denim, Ginger Jeans will hug you in all the right places.

4. Three's A Charm Jacket by Decades of Style
From Decades Everyday, a microline of Decades of Style, comes an adorable and versatile jacket! This charming, unlined cropped jacket is the perfect companion to short-sleeved and sleeveless dresses, tunics, tees, and more. Pattern features 3/4 length sleeves, an optional single large button closure, angled front darts, and side bust darts. A top-stitched facing makes finishing fast and simple!

Written to answer the many questions of what Lotta Jansdotter wears and how she developed her own, personal style. Everyday Style is a pattern book/inspiration guide anchored by five easy, versatile sewing patterns—skirt, dress, blouse, pants/shorts, and jacket/coat —and highlighted with quick DIY accessories, including hats, bags, scarves, and jewelry. Photographed over the course of a year in her life in New York, Tennessee, India, and Sweden and organized by season, Jansdotter shares her sources of inspiration and how she and her friends mix and match her key pieces while working, playing, resting, and traveling.

6. Dress No. 1 from 100 Acts of Sewing
Dress No. 1 from 100 Acts of Sewing is a sleeveless dress that is extremely wearable and easy to make with a flattering A-line silhouette. The neck and armholes are finished with bias tape facing and top-stitched patch pockets add both flair and utility. This has consistently been a best-seller because of its versatility and we know you'll love it too! Check out Fabric Lady's versions of the Dress No. 1 here!

7. Dress No. 2 from 100 Acts of Sewing
Dress No. 2 the long sleeved sister to Dress No. 1. With many ways to make the dress your own, it's sure to become a wardrobe staple. This flattering A-line cut works well on all shapes and is a great transitional wardrobe piece. The neck is finished with bias tape facing and optional patch pockets.

Invaluable Tools of 2016

1. Clammy Rulers
We love Clammy Rulers! Created by Latifah Saafir, you can use these tools to cut magnificent clamshells, circles, half circles, quarter circles, and orange peel shapes. Available in 6", 8" and 12" sizes. 

2. Tula Tools 
These are as beautiful as they are utilitarian. Add some flair to your tool box with these lovelies!
Available in 4", 6" and 8" shears, 5" curved EZ snip and left-handed 8" shears.

3. Bias Tape Makers
Small and simple, yet big in convenience. Make bias tape as easy as 1-2-3. Just slip the tape in one end and pull it out the other as you iron. We love making our own bias tape and adding style and personality to the details of every sewing project! Available in 1/4" to 2" widths.

4. Tulip Needles
What sets Tulip needles apart is their smoothness, flexibility, and strength. The Hiroshima-made needles are polished lengthwise so that they glide through fabrics with ease. This smooth fabric piercing is also made possible by the needles' points, which have undergone special high-density abrasive polishing treatment for sharpness. Last but not least, the needles have just the right amount of flexibility so they are resistant to bending or breaking.

5. Kai 11" Ergonomix Scissors
Our favorite scissors! The 11" blades make for quick cuts and the quality Japanese craftsmanship assures you years of use to come. These are an investment you will never look back on, just ask our sales associates. We use them everyday!

6. Sublime Stitching Labels
Add these fun sew-in labels to your handmade items so everyone knows you DIY! Four phrases available include: 'Made by Unicorns', 'This took forever', 'Made with irony', and 'Made with #@%!'.

7. Neon Thread
Neon thread makes the best accessory! Six pack of Mara 100 thread includes neon coral, pink, orange, yellow, green, and blue. Each spool has 1000 meters/1094 yards. Mara 100 is one of the world’s finest threads, ideal for hand or machine-sewing. The ultra-strong Gutermann Sew-All Thread is crafted from 100% premium polyester and greatly reduces fraying. No fiber fly and no abrasion!

Favorite Fabrics of 2016

1. Cotton Ikats
Our extensive collection of cotton ikats continues as one of our favorite sections of the store. The Dakota collection is especially popular. Shop the collection and our fat quarter bundles

This collection is filled with whimsical images and vibrant colors. The company features the designs of 5 amazing women, plus the recent addition of Rifle Paper Co. You can always expect beautiful quality from their fabrics and original designs.

3. Bamboo and Eco Knits 
Our Eco Knit section includes a wide variety of hemp, bamboo and organic cotton and blends. These knits are known for their softness and quality. They sew up like a dream!

4. Corduroy 14 Wale
Classic cotton corduroy in neutral and fall colors. This small Wale corduroy is a great addition to your wardrobe. A perfect weight for skirts, jumpers and blazers. 

5. Loominous and Loominous II
Part of Anna Maria Horner's Loominous and Loominous II collection, which features woven rather than printed designs. These beautiful fabrics are soft 100% cotton, 44" wide, woven in India, and would lend themselves nicely to all kinds of sewing projects.

6. Viscose Boiled Wool
This beautiful boiled wool and viscose blend gives you the look and feel of a 100% boiled wool with the added drape of rayon. Perfect for boxy jackets and tailored coats. 60% viscose, 40% wool, 100% yummy!

7. BOLT by Girl Charlee 
We love this bright and upbeat line of high quality cotton/spandex knits. All BOLT by Girl Charlee knits are printed on white signature combed cotton spandex knit. This fabric is very soft, 8 - 8.5 ounce light to mid weight, and has a nice 4 way stretch making it suitable for all applications. BOLT fabrics are preshrunk so you can expect less than 5% shrinkage!

What are your favorites of 2016??? You can check out Suzan's favorites from 2016 over on the Fabric Lady Blog!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Staff Spotlight: Lindsey Trueman

We are lucky to have a staff of talented and creative sewists, all with their own focus and style. Lindsey Trueman joined the Stonemountain Team in 2015, while she worked to earn her MFA in Fashion Design from the Academy of Art in San Francisco.

Lindsey recently completed her degree and was awarded the opportunity to show her thesis collection at New York Fashion Week. This is an honor bestowed to only thirteen of their graduating class. Everyone at Stonemountain was so proud and excited for Lindsey, as we knew how hard she had worked on her collection outside of her time in the shop.

We had the chance to speak with Lindsey about her experience in the world of fabric and sewing.

StMD: When/How did you start sewing?
LT: My mom taught me how to sew when I was very young - she sewed a lot of our clothing growing up and had been sewing her own clothing since she was young. Both of my grandmas sew as well, so I was surrounded by it! I don't really remember a time when I didn't know how to sew, it was such a common part of my childhood for my mom to be making things. 

StMD: Tell us about your first trip or earliest memory of visiting a fabric store.
LT: I don't distinctly remember one specific time visiting a fabric store, but I do remember taking trips to get fabric frequently. I was always excited to see what my mom would choose, and it was such a great experience to be surrounded by beautiful fabrics and so many possibilities!

StMD: What is your favorite fabric to work with?
LT: This is a tough choice - I am completely in love with wool, especially coating. I love how you can mold it and create such beautiful tailoring with it. I have also grown to love linen, being completely surrounded by it over the last year working on my senior collection - it has a mind of it's own and does what it wants. “Just listen to the material. What is it going to say? Just wait. Probably the material will tell you something.” - Yohji Yamamoto; I've heard often is that fabric will tell you what it wants to do - this was the case with linen for me. I hadn't worked with linen much before starting my collection; it taught me so much, how to release control and how to listen to what the fabric wants to become - in the end this was much more beautiful than it would have been had I forced it to do something it didn't really want to do. I also adore using all types of repurposed fabric, especially leather. Taking apart a second hand garment or textile connects me to it's life and story, this connection to an item inspires me to honor its history by giving it a new life and new story where it will continue to be valued and appreciated.

StMD: What have you learned about fabric through your experience at Stonemountain?
LT: I have learned so much from working at Stonemountain! Probably one of my favorite (and geekiest) things is how to do a burn test to determine the content of fabric. I have also learned a ton about all of the kinds of fabric that exist - so many varieties of wool, silk, cotton, interfacing! I feel sometimes like I've learned through osmosis, just being around all the fabric and helping customers choose the right materials for their projects teaches me so much!

StMD: What is your favorite area of the store?
LT: This is definitely a toss up between the fashion room and upstairs - there are so many incredible silks, wools and linens in the fashion room but there is almost no better feeling than the treasure hunt upstairs when a new shipment of designer samples arrives! SO many amazing gems to be found for so cheap!

A peek at Lindsey's inspiration board.

More images and notes on her process can be found on Lindsey's website, along with this explanation:

The inspiration for my thesis collection began with a photograph I recently found of my great-great-grandmother, Mary Esther Brereton-Ingram, when she was in her early 20s. She passed away in 1920 when she was just 27 years old only two weeks after her last of six children was born. She was so close to my age when she died, but had such a different life - I am deeply haunted and inspired by this photograph and her story. She was so young but had so much fierceness, dignity, wisdom and grace in her eyes. Inspiration also came from my indigenous heritage as well as from Christopher Nemeth’s repurposing of old postal sacks.

Lindsey's collection on the runway at New York Fashion Week

Runway photos by Getty Images
In order to be as sustainable as possible, the fabrics used are repurposed antique textiles (linens and grain sacks), designer end cuts (brocade, wool, cotton) and linen, a naturally eco-friendly fabric. Antique grain sacks bearing original graphics, initials and embroidery were repurposed to create tailored silhouettes with a rough edge, juxtaposed with linen and cotton gauze to add softness. Melody Hesaraky, M.F.A. textile design, created the burnout brocade print for Look 5. Garments appear to have already had their own life and story, giving a sense of their history and the people who used them. I want to honor that history and simultaneously modernize it -- in the same way that I want to honor my own heritage, draw strength from it and build a legacy for the future.

See more of Lindsey's work at and follow her on Instagram @lindsey.gail.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The New Colette Sewing Planner!

I recently had the chance to visit Portland, OR for the first time ever, so I had a lot on my to-do list.  If you follow me on Instagram (lauren_leigh46 😉), you may have already seen my insane Voodoo doughnut.  But in addition to Voodoo, Powell's, and the Rose Garden, I knew I had to make plans to visit another Portland landmark:  Colette Patterns headquarters!

Stonemountain and Colette have had a longstanding relationship that is mutually beneficial:  we send them lovely fabric, and they supply us with fantastic sewing patterns.  As a buyer for Stonemountain, I am often in contact with pattern companies, making orders and giving feedback.  With Colette, I already felt like I knew the entire team, even if I never met them in person before.  They had always been so friendly and kind over email, so I totally felt welcome visiting their studio.  Which is GORGEOUS, by the way!

In addition to meeting the team, I was given a super special sneak peek into their next project, the Colette Sewing Planner.  I'm kind of obsessed with planners, so I was thrilled.  I've spent the last month contemplating my fall/winter wardrobe with the help of this little book, and now that's it's officially released, I can show you!

First off, the packaging and layout are beautiful.  I'd expect no less from Colette!  The cover has a fun foil effect and the 7" x 9" size is great.  Not too big, not too small.  The cute design on the inside is made up of symbols and lines you'd see on a pattern.  There's also a pocket in the back, which I consider essential for any planner.

Love that it's spiral bound!

Before you get to planning any projects, there's a section in the beginning that is like a condensed version of Colette's Wardrobe Architect.  It will really help you narrow down and focus on what you actually enjoy wearing.

Then it's time to get to planning!  After this introductory section, there's two main sections:  one for spring/summer, one for fall/winter.  At the beginning of each seasonal section, there's some pages to get you started.

First is a two-page spread on your goals for this season.  I love how focused this made me.  I'm always planning new projects when fabric arrives at the store (it's so dangerous!), but sometimes I can get carried away.  I really need to keep myself concentrated these next few months, because in addition to sewing my me-made wardrobe, I'm making my wedding dress!  When I'm not working on that behemoth of a project, I want to be working on more simplistic, everyday wear that I can be comfortable in both at work and at home.  I'm all about cozy this season!

This will be the first and last time you see me draw...

The next pages also help you think about the big picture.  One is for inspiration and the other is for your color palette, but I pretty much used both for inspiration.  This was so much fun to make.  It was arts and crafts time!

My fall aesthetic can best be described as "Dog with Flannel Blanket in Boat."

From there, there are lots of pages for designing your individual projects.  These pages are the bread and butter of the planner.  One side has a place you can write everything down, and the facing page is gridded for sketching.  However, I can't draw to save my life, so I printed out line drawings of the patterns along with further RTW inspiration.

When I first saw these pages, I realized how much more I would enjoy this book instead of a basic sketchbook.  I love the idea of planning my sewing, but realistically I'm just not going to draw it out.  Writing it down, however, really appeals to me!  And the prompts given are perfect.

Safran Pants by Deer and Doe in Black 10oz Stretch Denim

I never really thought about which "learning resources" I use for each project, but now I do!  The Linden Sweatshirt is a basic design so I won't need any help with the actual sewing, but I definitely used my co-buyer's Linden expertise to determine which size to make.  Thanks for the help, Liz!

Linden Sweatshirt by Grainline Studio in Cloud 9 Organic Cotton Interlock with Ivory Bamboo/Cotton Ribbing

I also like that the supplies list is broken up into what you have and what you need to buy.  How many of us have unthinkingly bought notions that we already have at home??

Kelly Anorak by Closet Case Files

Did I mention how much I liked my little art project?  It was so much fun to scour the internet for inspiration.

Oslo Cardigan by Seamwork

There's something about seeing your thoughts down on paper that really keeps your brain more organized, you know?

Rosari Skirt by Pauline Alice (a pattern we don't have now, but may in the future!) in Merlot 14 Wale Corduroy

After all the planning pages, there's a Resources section which has some appropriate tips and tables.

The little sewing tips on the bottom of the page are peppered throughout the entire book.

I love the multi-sized croquis at the end, too.  Let's be honest; one size never fits all.

And at the very end, there's pages to reflect.  I think this is really important for home sewers to do often.  I know it's important for me, at least.  Sometimes when I get sucked into an Instagram hole or when I read sewing blogs, I get overwhelmed by the amount of things I'd love to sew.  It probably doesn't help that my job surrounds me with amazing fabric and patterns, either.  But by taking a step back to reflect, I am reminded of my own awesomeness!

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I deserve to feel proud of my accomplishments, right?  I did that "2016 Make Nine" thing on Instagram last December where I planned nine garments I'd like to make in 2016.  I told myself then that making my first pair of jeans was my ultimate goal.  And now I've made four!

Now that I've shown you my fall/winter wardrobe plans, let me show you some of the garments I've checked off so far!

Cardigan sweaters are my favorite way to keep warm.  Easy to throw over any top and so comfy.  I'm a sucker for a soft sweater knit!

The Oslo Cardigan is just so cozy!

And here are my Safran pants with their crazy neon highlighter yellow topstitching.  I adore the fit of Deer and Doe patterns on me, and these are no different.  I actually made no adjustments whatsoever!

Shown with my Tunic No. 1 by 100 Acts of Sewing in a Me + You batik

And just in time for your fall sewing, we have the Colette Sewing Planner in stock now!  It's available online and in store.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

❤, Lauren

P.S. Thanks again to the lovely ladies at Colette for a fabulous time!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Community Project: Social Justice Quilts

This past summer, we were contacted by a young woman who told us that she would like to bring a group of high school students in to choose fabric for a special program they were participating in. The students soon arrived at opening one morning, with their fearless leader, Sara Katherine Trail. Sara guided the awestruck teens through the store, allowing them to explore endless ideas and encouraging their eager enthusiasm. 

As the students piled fabric on the cutting tables, our staff assisted the excited group and soon grew curious. What were they working on? When asked, the students drew forth sketches of their quilts-to-be. These incredible illustrations depicted their experiences and frustrations with various social justice issues. Sara and the students left with their supplies in hand and we couldn't wait to see what they made. 

The quilts were completed in July, culminating in a final show of the pieces. We were thrilled to see what the students created and had to learn more from Sara about the program and how she got involved. Read on to learn about Sara's incredible sewing journey and see the social justice quilts made by East Bay high school students. 

Our high school visitors explored the whole store, choosing from fabrics, buttons and trims.

Sara (in coral) assisted her new-to-sewing students every step of the way.

How did this project get started?
I used to teach (along with my mom and mentor, Eleanor) a free after-school sewing class at my church for teens who wanted to learn how to sew. After seeing my sewing projects and watching my peers express their interest in sewing and fashion design, my pastor, Henry Kelly, went to Walmart and bought a dozen sewing machines to use for the classes. I brought fabric from my home and Eleanor also donated her time and fabrics; we taught kids how to make purses, quilts, pajamas, pillows, and even prom dresses for some of the high schoolers. The classes were fun and even at the age of 10, I knew that I had found my passion in teaching sewing classes!

I decided to start the Social Justice Sewing Academy (SJSA) when I realized others may want express themselves in the ways that I had, by combining sewing and social justice. Together a tremendous amount of positive energy can be directed towards creating change through combining sewing and social justice efforts. I knew that sewing was a valuable skill that young people should have the opportunity to learn. I received the Stronach Prize at UC Berkeley, which provided the resources needed to purchase machines, fabrics, and materials to start a sewing class. The SJSA in Berkeley this summer gave me the opportunity to expand standard classroom instruction to include sewing instruction. It was a powerful experience. The feedback from the high school students really let me know that the SJSA is a positive experience for students. They leave the class knowing how to sew and how to process their societal concerns into beautiful artwork that will be admired by many.

What is your role?
My role, as a reflective educator devoted to teaching young people how to engage in activist-art making, is to center my teaching around how art can impact the social injustices faced by individuals and communities. The academy creates a space for students to become activists, to be leaders, and to speak of what’s important to them. The academy gives students a forum to express themselves and a tool to find their voice. My role is to facilitate intellectual growth and provide new ways for students to become activists.

What is your connection to sewing and quilting?
My family comes from a line of quilters. During slavery, my great-great grandmother, Margaret Smart, was a quilter who used scraps from discarded clothing to make quilts for her family. At the time, women who could not sew quilts to keep their children warm risked their children dying in harsh winters, as most slaves’ quarters had no source of heat. Sewing was a matter of survival. I have a quilt that Margaret Smart made in the mid-1800s. My 86-year-old grandmother, Emma Cox, gave my mom this quilt from her grandmother and my mother passed it down to me. It is a priceless treasure to my family and I.

My mother Katrinka Trail and my Aunt Emory both love to quilt. I began using my first sewing machine at four years old which horrified my grandmother. My mom told my grandmother that if I ran my fingers under the machine (which she had locked to a slow speed), she would take me to the emergency room and that my injuries would not be life threatening. But I really wanted to sew. My mom reminds me that I often cried until she let me sit in her lap and guide the fabric underneath the needle. I learned to sew straight lines on the sewing machine at a young age. I did not prick my fingers until I was 12 years old, while trying to sew and talk on the cell phone at the same time. I hid this injury from my mom and never tried to sew and talk on the phone again.

Outside of my earliest mentors (mom and Aunt Emory), my biggest mentor is Mrs. Eleanor O’Donnell. I met Eleanor at a quilting class at the age of 11. She saw my passion for sewing and offered to teach me advanced quilting techniques in her home. My parents dropped me off at her home 4 or 5 evenings every week after school. Eleanor is an incredible quilter and responsible for my quilting talent and styles. From 6th grade until I graduated from high school, Eleanor was always there, behind the scenes helping me grow and develop in quilting. Her kindness and patience as a mentor is a gift I can never repay. Because of Eleanor, I was offered an opportunity to write the book, Sew With Sara and create the DVD, Cool Stuff to Sew With Sara.

Mrs. Laverne Edwards also mentored me in fashion design. Laverne is a retired college professor of design and color theory. She is the most talented dressmaker I know. For countless days and hours, Laverne taught me tailoring, pattern design and color theory. When we watched Project Runway together, I would sketch the design, and then we would make the garment later that afternoon. Teaching me how to visually see a garment, sketch it and create a 3D reality is invaluable. It is because of her years of mentoring that I was able to land a contract with Simplicity Patterns and design a pattern line, Designed with Love By Sara. Laverne’s color theory instruction helped me when I was offered the opportunity to design fabrics, Biology 101 Fabrics and Folkheart Fabrics by Fabriquilt.

Sara met her helper, Robin Gadient (top right), by chance at the cutting counter at Stonemountain.

How did the students choose their topics?
The SJSA's mission is to help young people develop a sense of agency and critical civic engagement through art activism. In addition to the sewing aspect, students are responsible for reading select texts that are rooted in sociology, history and political science. Readings used in SJSA were chosen because each author represents a unique viewpoint to a particular demographic. For example, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me addresses challenges African Americans endure, while Debbie Irving’s Waking up White discusses how white privilege can be overcome. SJSA only lays the foundation of topics; students have freedom to critically analyze these topics and contemplate other social justice issues that adversely affect themselves or their communities. Students typically mine through the news, are inspired from topics discussed within the curriculum, or focus on an issue that personally resonates with them or their loved ones for their social justice art quilt topics.

How did you meet the woman who helped you and what was her role in the project?
Upon taking the first SJSA class down to Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics, I met Robin Gadient who was showing us her high quality hand-embroidery work! After a brief conversation, I asked if she would be willing to come in to give a hand embroidery lesson to the class the next week- to which she excitedly agreed. After learning about her multi-cultural, inclusive, and creative perspectives on social and racial justice, I invited her to join the SJSA team and she agreed upon the role of the Creative Director. She was extremely helpful in the success of the first sessions with SJSA through teaching sewing instruction and contributing countless hours after class prepping for the upcoming week and even came to Chicago with me after the first session ended and helped out even more!

How did the students react to quilting and working with fabric?
Students were at first very excited at the idea, but all of them told me they had never sewn before so they expressed a bit of nervousness. However, after the process began, everyone became immediately comfortable with the idea and very anxious to go to the fabric store and get started! Check out this video to see them work on their projects!

What was your favorite part of the process of creating the quilts?
The level of community that we created during the sewing process of the quilts was definitely my most favorite aspect. Seeing students helping each other, having students volunteer their lunch time, and seeing the high levels of passion and creativity radiating from every student was amazing to witness.

Will you be doing any more projects like this in the future?
I am currently working on establishing the Social Justice Sewing Academy as a permanent program in partnership with a local high school.

We're so excited to see what's next for Sara and the Social Justice Sewing Academy. To learn more about this and other amazing projects, visit the SJSA website: