Tuesday, July 10, 2018

What GSM Means and How to Use It

We recently added a GSM cutter and scale to our tool kit and we couldn't be more excited! If you're not huge fabric nerds like us, you may be wondering what a GSM cutter is and why we would want one.


GSM stands for grams per square meter, and is a standard measurement for fabric weight. The cutter allows us to cut out a perfect circle with an area of 100 cm, and the scale precisely measures the weight of the little fabric circle. We can then multiply that number by 100 to get the GSM of the fabric.

You can see a video of the GSM cutter in action here!

GSM can be converted to ounces per square yard, another common fabric weight measurement. As you would imagine, oz/square yd is mostly used by fabric companies in the United States and GSM is used pretty much everywhere else.

But knowing that a fabric has a weight of 210 GSM or 6.19 oz/square yd is not very helpful information if you don't have a reference point. So we have put together a handy guide of fabric weights that will give you a better idea of what those numbers mean and how to use them.



Though fabric weights are generally pretty straightforward (a heavy fabric will result in a more structured garment, etc.), there are some caveats to consider.

Rayon is a heavier fiber than cotton, but is also more drapey and fluid. This means that though our bamboo rayon knit is 7.4 oz/sq yd, it actually acts more lightweight than a cotton/spandex knit that is 5.16 oz/sq yd. You could easily make leggings out of the cotton/spandex knit, but the bamboo rayon would not be firm enough. The heavy drape of bamboo rayon knit makes it perfect for garments like maxi dresses and flowy tops (like the Ebony Tee!), but less ideal for garments that need a bit of structure.

Our Bamboo Rayon is 7.4 oz/sq yd or 250 GSM, but it's best suited for garments that have more drape than structure.

Cotton/spandex knits by Art Gallery Fabrics are 5.16 oz/sq yd or 175 GSM. They're firm enough for leggings and other garments that require fabric with a bit more heft.

In general, it can be difficult to get an accurate idea of knits even when you know the weight because of how they are made. Knitting uses more fiber or threads than weaving. A knitted piece of cloth will weigh more than woven piece that is the same size and content.



Additionally, many knit fabrics have some spandex or lycra content, which adds extra weight but doesn't make a knit feel or act heavier. Therefore, a knit that weighs 4.7 oz/sq yd can feel more lightweight than a woven fabric with the same weight.

For example, our Cashmeer Sweater Knit is great for sheer, summer weight sweaters and cardigans, while our Tencel Twill is great for pants and unlined skirts or dresses. They're the exact same weight, but feel completely different!

Our Cashmeer Sweater knit on the left is great for a lightweight Cocoon Cardigan, while the Tencel Twill is a good match for the Ulysses Trench. Two very different garments, but made with the same weight of fabric!

Knowing the weight is very useful information, especially if you're comparing woven fabrics. If you're looking to make a linen dress for summer, then knowing the weight will help you decide  between Nevada or Delave linen. Nevada is a medium-heavy 6.19 oz/sq yd while Delave is 4.4 oz/sq yd—a better weight for a warm weather dress!

Both are 100% linen and a great color for a sundress—how do you choose between Nevada and Delave when you're shopping online?

We know that shopping for fabric online can be difficult! We're really excited to have a new tool that allows us to provide our customers with more helpful information. Though we won't be able to cut and weigh all of the fabric in our shop, we will work on adding this information to the fabrics that are a bit more ambiguous, like our new Japanese Yarn Dyed Twill.

And as always, if you have questions about a specific fabric and its weight or whether it will work for a pattern, please ask! We are always happy to answer questions or send swatches of any of our fabrics. Just shoot us an email at info@stonemountainfabric.com or contact us through our Facebook or Instagram!


Monday, June 18, 2018

Let's Talk Linen

We loved the response to our rayon blog post, so we wanted to make a similar post about one of our absolute favorite fabrics—linen! There are so many reasons to love linen. It's a natural fiber, it drapes beautifully, it has great texture, and it becomes amazingly soft with washing and wearing. And of course, it makes gorgeous garments!

Linen is made from flax plants and may be one of the oldest textiles in the world. Cloth made from wild flax was found in a prehistoric cave in Georgia and determined to be over 30,000 years old, and Egyptian mummies were often wrapped in linen. That we even know these things demonstrates the strength of flax fiber—linen shrouds have been found perfectly preserved after thousands of years!

These days, high-quality flax is grown in Europe and the linen is produced in many countries like Lithuania, Poland, France, China, Austria, and Germany. Some of the highest quality linen is made in Ireland, Italy, and Belgium. Our Nevada Linens are made in Ireland, where there is a long history of linen production. But like many fabrics, the linen chain of production is not centered in one area. The flax may be grown in one country, spun into yarn in another, and woven into fabric in another.

Just a few of the many colors of our Nevada Linen!
Though linen is not as misunderstood as some fabrics (like rayon), there are still some misconceptions about the fabric. Yes, linen can be very wrinkly, but it doesn't have to be! Our friend and local instructor Sandra Betzina has a great tip about how to pretreat linen so that it has lovely soft wrinkles instead of hard creases you need to tackle with your iron.

Before you preshrink, set a wrinkle-less finish by ironing the linen with the hottest dry iron possible. Next, wash (with a little detergent) and dry in the hottest water and highest heat setting you have. Take it out of the dryer when close to bone dry. You will notice that smaller softer wrinkles have replaced the hard crease usually associated with the fabric.


Here's an example from Fabric Lady's blog post about her favorite lightweight jackets. On the left is the linen before washing and on the right is after washing and drying according to Sandra's tip. Creased and somewhat stiff linen becomes soft, beautiful, and ready to become garments! 


Another misconception is that linen can't be washed because it is too delicate or it will shrink. Though it is true that linen will shrink like most natural fibers, this doesn't mean it can't be washed. Following Sandra Betzina's tip above will also preshrink your fabric so that you can later wash it without worry. After pretreating, we like to follow the general rule of washing linen garments on cold and line drying. Regularly using less heat will keep your fabric in better condition longer, but regular washing will make linen wonderfully soft over time.

So What Can You Make?


Let's get to the fun part—sewing! Linen can have a bit of a reputation for being a home dec fabric, but it's not just for curtains and napkins anymore. At Stonemountain, we've used linen to make dresses, tops, jackets, pants, overalls, skirts—pretty much every garment you can think of. And because linen comes in so many different weights, you can find a linen to use for any project. Here are some of our favorite garments to sew in linen.

Dresses


A linen dress is a dream in hot weather! It will help you stay cool while looking so chic.

The Farrow Dress by Grainline Studio has one of our favorite dress features: big pockets!
The new Myosotis dress by Deer & Doe has a super cute silhouette, especially for summer. 
The Tea House Dress by Sew House Seven is a favorite around here. It looks good on everyone!
This natural Linen Twill is beautifully understated and has a soft, washed feel. The twill texture gives it a subtle sheen.
Printed 100% linen is less common than solid colors, which makes this digitally printed linen even more special.
Nothing says summer quite like gingham! This Italian linen mini gingham strikes the perfect balance between fun and sophisticated.


Jackets


When you need just a light layer, a linen jacket is the perfect thing.










Pants & Overalls


Linen pants can be like secret pajamas! They're soft and floaty, perfect for when you don't want to wear jeans.






Of course, this is just a small taste of the many, many different garments you can make with linen. Linen can be used for any pattern that calls for woven fabric—the trick is just in figuring out the right type and weight for your project. Whether this is your first time working with linen or your hundredth, we're always happy to help you find the perfect fabric.

So what do you think? Is linen on your list for summer sewing?

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Your Me Made May Creations!

Me Made May was started by sewing blogger So Zo "to encourage people who make their own clothes to develop a better relationship with their handmade wardrobe," but it has evolved into a month-long celebration of handmade garments and sewing (especially on Instagram!). We love Me Made May because it's a time when the sewing community comes together to show off how me-mades fit into an everyday lifestyle. Polished blog photos and in-progess shots are great, but it's nice to see how a handmade wardrobe actually gets worn—whether it's a lazy Sunday, an ordinary work day, or a special event.

Our absolute favorite part of Me Made May is getting to see how all of you use your Stonemountain fabric! It's such a treat to see how you have transformed our fabric into beautiful garments. 

Here are a few of the gorgeous me-mades that were tagged with #stonemountainfabric during Me Made May:


@cedarlaneknits made a beautiful Metamorphic Dress out of our Sandwashed Rayon

This Cleo Skirt by @noelleharrison looks great in Robert Kaufman Stitched fabric

Love how @macojack used these two ikats in her Saltbox Top

@yavannareynolds made a beautiful Zadie Dress from two different knits

@lizadoodle52 made a gorgeous Datura Blouse from an unfortunately out of print silk/linen blend

A perfectly summery blouse from @moooshelle in our Tropical Leaves rayon

An incredibly lovely Stasia Dress in our hemp jersey by @_sarah.stitches_

Love this Coppelia Cardigan by @_allykart

This Merchant & Mills Top 64 by @aleschmidt_bbel is so lovely

Love a Dress No. 2 and this gingham version by @faithgomezclark is so good

Every time this Nani Iro Isca Dress by @theladywholunches popped up in our feed it made our day!

@slowintention made a beautiful modified Willow Tank from our teal green silk noil

Perfect Ames Jeans in our Allegro Denim by @thegreenviolet

To make Me Made May even more fun, we randomly picked three sewists who tagged #stonemountainfabric to win an indie pattern of their choice. Congrats to @momowool, @pompombandana and @sewdontsleep!

@momowool made a hacked Beatrix Top with some amazing pattern matching
@pompombandana hacked the Given A Chance dress into a beautiful blouse using Loominous and Mariner Cloth
@sewdontsleep is casual chic in navy corduroy Morgan Jeans

And of course we showed off our me-mades too!




If you participated in Me Made May this year, what did you learn? Me Made May left us feeling so inspired (and only a little exhausted from taking photos every day!). Even though May is over, we would love if you continued to show off your Stonemountain makes because we love seeing them! Tag @stonemountainfabric on Instagram or use the hashtag #stonemountainfabric so we can be sure to see all your beautiful creations.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Rayon, Viscose, Tencel, Cupro, Modal – What Does It All Mean?

Rayon is one of our favorite fibers because it always has a beautiful drape whether it's a knit or a woven. It's often soft, usually lightweight, and relatively easy to care for – but what is it exactly? And what about those other fibers like viscose, tencel, cupro, and modal? Rayon is one of the most misunderstood fibers, so we want to demystify some of the misconceptions and confusing terms that surround this great fabric!

So What is Rayon?


Rayon is the catchall term for fabric made from regenerated cellulose fiber. Rayon is often mistaken for a synthetic fiber, but it is actually made from wood pulp and other plant materials. It was developed in the early 1900s as an alternative to silk and has since been used in all sorts of applications, from commercial to industrial.

One of the great properties of rayon is that it is cool to the touch. This and its breathability make it a perfect fabric for warm weather. A swingy rayon dress or blouse will help keep you cool and comfortable when it's the middle of July and the humidity is out of control!

Bamboo Rayon


The bamboo plant is a sustainable source of the raw materials used in the production of rayon. We love our bamboo rayon knits because they are incredibly soft, breathe wonderfully and drape beautifully!

Our favorite jersey ever! This is our Bamboo Rayon in Clay.
The Briar Tee by Megan Nielsen is so fun for summer, especially with high-waisted pants and skirts!

Rayon Crepe

Rayon crepe was a very popular choice for dresses and blouses in the 1940s and we love the vintage vibe that these textured fabrics have. Now rayon crepes come in so many colors, prints, and varying levels of "crepiness"!

This Italian designer rayon crepe is so pretty! It's called Flower Crown and we have it in both Cream and Navy.
Rayon crepe is perfect for the sweet & stylish Eve Dress by Sew Over It.

Rayon Challis


Challis is probably the most well-known type of rayon. It's lightweight and fluid, which makes it ideal for drapey blouses, dresses, and skirts. And it comes in so many amazing prints!

Love this twist on a classic stripe! This is the Scribble Stripe Rayon Challis.

A rayon challis Charlie Caftan by Closet Case Patterns is the floaty, chic summer dress of your dreams!

Other Rayons


Rayon comes in many other variations as well – it can be textured, sandwashed, sueded, and woven in different ways to change how it drapes and feels. This versatility makes it so perfect for all kinds of garment sewing – you could fill your wardrobe with rayon and not have two of the same garment!

Sandwashed Rayon in Denim Blue
Slubby Kahlo Uneven Stripe rayon
Textured Rayon - Rose Stripe


Viscose


Though viscose originated as an alternative method to producing rayon, it now is considered an interchangeable term. "Viscose" is typically used in European countries, which is why our Italian designer rayons are called viscose.

This beautiful Italian viscose sateen has a soft, brushed feel and a subtle sheen.
When you're working with a print, it can be best to keep things simple. The Ogden Cami by True Bias is perfect for that! 


Tencel


The word tencel is actually a trademarked term for a fiber called lyocell. The manufacturing process for lyocell is slightly different from other rayons and results in very little waste product. This makes tencel/lyocell more sustainable and eco-friendly!

Though tencel can be made into all sorts of different weaves, the type we see most often is twill. Tencel twill is a great bottomweight for making jackets and pants. One thing to note with tencel is that it tends to get shiny when pressed with a hot iron. We recommend turning down the temp and using a pressing cloth.

This Heavy Tencel Twill is the perfect weight for pants and jackets, yet is wonderfully soft and drapey!
The Burnside Bibs by Sew House Seven are one of the hottest patterns for summer! So stylish yet easy to wear.


Cupro


You may know cupro by its trade name, Bemberg, which is a popular fabric for lining. Cupro (or cupromonium) is the name given to rayon fibers made through a process that uses copper and ammonium. Its slinkiness and slight sheen make it a great alternative to silk.

Just look at the lovely sheen in this Lavender Cupro!

A cupro Roberts Collection jumpsuit would look so fancy, but actually be secret pajamas!


Modal


What makes modal different from other rayons is that the fibers are designed to be stronger and more resistant to shrinkage. This makes modal easier to care for because it won't shrink as much as other rayons if it gets tumble dried. Both wovens and knits are made from modal and they're always extremely soft!

The color of this Thistle Sueded Modal is so pretty!

A modal Kielo by Named Clothing would be the perfect dress for date night or lazy Sunday brunch!


Sewing with Rayon


Many beginning sewists shy away from rayon because it has a reputation for being difficult to work with. Though it's true that the liquid drape of rayon can make it trickier than cotton, it just takes a little more care. Try Flatter (a starch alternative) to make your rayon easier to handle before cutting. Use weights and a rotary cutter to cut out your pattern, rather than pins and scissors. And don't forget to staystitch your curves after cutting to keep them from getting misshapen!

We know that rayon is super easy to wear, but how easy is it to care for? Rayon used to have a reputation for being dry clean-only, but nearly all modern rayon can be machine washed. However, we recommend keeping it away from the dryer. Rayon tends to shrink and you don't want your lovely summer sun dress to become a micro-mini! If you're not sure how your fabric will react to washing, just test a swatch before throwing your full yardage in the washer.



What do you think about rayon and all its cousins? If you've never sewn with it before, we hope that after reading this you will give rayon a try!