Thursday, August 14, 2014

Making A Quilted Coat Part I

Welcome to Part I of How To Make A Quilted Coat 
My name is Natalie and I am the buyer at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics. I also help out with managing our social media and website.

I love to quilt and I especially love to make quilted garments! I don't use any patterns for my quilted coats, I just make it up as I go along, so I thought I would share my process with you all in hopes of inspiring you to try something new. Try 'quilting outside of the block,' as we like to say...

Step 1: Choosing fabrics
As you quilters may have experienced, it can be overwhelming to choose fabrics for a quilt. There are SO MANY amazing options for color, theme, composition, pattern and so on. I tend to start with a fabric or group of fabrics that I love and choose coordinating fabrics accordingly. 

With this project, I decided to go with a black and white color theme. I love the graphic nature of these textiles, especially when they are all thrown in together. I know all of these patterns may seem like too much when put next to each other, but I enjoy the contrast in textures and the way these prints and patterns all play off of each other. While many of the fabrics I use are from Stonemountain, I also recycle clothing and use antique, vintage or dead stock fabric when I can find it. With this particular project, 8 of the 10 fabrics I've chosen from are from Stonemountain.

For the first panel (pictured above), I started playing around and trying out different combinations of the fabrics. Each piece is a 4" square, so it doesn't take long to piece together a panel large enough to cut out the coat pattern pieces. The dimensions of this panel ended up to be 39.5" by 29.5".

Step 2: Experimenting When I finished the piecing for this panel (right), I decided that I wanted to add another element to it. I'm sure many of you are thinking that it looks crazy enough with just the black and white fabrics, but I've never been one to shy away from adding more prints, colors, textures, etc. To me, more is more!

I've always wanted to experiment with applique over my piecing, so I chose this 70's inspired floral print. It's a large scale print of flowers in bright orange, yellow, green, pink and white. AMAZING! I love vintage dresses in this style, but they're almost always made from polyester and I'm so happy I found it on a cotton. The photo above on the right is a test shot of what the applique might end up looking like. I chose organic shapes that contrast with the harsh, geometry of the piecing. I will most likely be hand sewing these applique on. Hand sewing is not something that I do often, but I think it's important to practice these skills. If I get too impatient, I can always go back to the machine!

Step 3: Mixing It Up Starting on the panel for the back of the coat, I decided to change things up. When I made my first quilted coat I used the same piecing for the whole garment. The back and front were the same, but on this next coat I want things to be different. So, I started playing around with the fabrics and found a way to incorporate the floral fabric into the mix. 

Above left is an image of the pieces on my floor as I was experimenting and moving things around. I like working with 4" squares because it gives me parameters for working. As I talked about before, there are endless possibilities when it comes to quilting, so it helps me to make rules for myself and I decide if I want to stay within them. The photo above on the right is for scale. I know, it's hard to imagine what this would look like in person, so I thought I'd throw that one in.
This is my process of piecing together a panel. Nothing I make is planned, so this is just an idea of what it's like to be in the studio with me. Of course, there are many variations in between these photos, but this is generally how I build a quilt top or panel. The finished panel (below) ended up being 46" by 33".

Time to start quilting!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Quilting Outside of the Block

As you go to open our newsletter or blog every other week you may be thinking... WHAT ABOUT THE QUILTERS?! We know that not everyone is a garment maker and we want to assure you that we haven't forgotten about our quilters!

While the independent fabric stores of the world are dwindling, it seems that more and more of the ones left are choosing to focus on quilting. While, of course, we love our quilters, we do our best to cater to ALL of our demographics and to offer something different!

In this week's blog we're focusing on our amazing quilters, everyone from beginners to advanced. Meet our new buyer, Natalie, and see what she's up to in the sewing studio. Not a quilter yet, but curious about learning? Meet our wonderful quilting teachers and read all about our classes. There's bound to be one just for you.
Always Creatively Yours,

Suzan Steinberg,

Meet Natalie, our Buyer and Director of Social Media.
After studying Fiber Arts and Experimental Fashion at the Maryland Institute College of Art, Natalie came to Stonemountain & Daughter. She started as a sales associate and became our new buyer this past April. Natalie's love of textiles shows in her buying work here at Stonemountain, as well as in her creative work at home.

Q. How did you start sewing?
A. My first sewing project was a stuffed tree ornament that my grandmother helped me make. She's a quilter and also made clothing for my sister and I when we were young. It wasn't until I was in high school when I really started experimenting with sewing - first altering used clothing from thrift stores and then moving on to making soft, stuffed sculptures.

Q. What do you like to sew?
A. I love to quilt, as you can probably tell! I am constantly inspired by quilting because it brings together such a rich mix of textiles, textures, patterns and colors. Quilting tells a story, because each piece of fabric has a history. I also like to sew bags, accessories, decorations and simple garments. I love any project that I can finish in a day - I find it so satisfying.

Q. Who do you sew for?
A. I mostly sew for myself. For a long time I thought that I wanted to make my living from my sewing, but it became more work than it was worth. I've done a couple of costume projects for friends, but I prefer to keep it pro bono. Sewing for myself keeps me inspired and motivated and I want to keep it that way!

Q. When did you start quilting?
A. I completed my first quilt (If you can call it that!) for an assignment, during my first year of college. I didn't return to quilting until my senior year when I included quilted panels into clothing that I was making for my thesis exhibition. I've never used a pattern or made a 'traditional' quilt. I'm a person who tries to figure things without reading the directions, so as you can imagine, I've spent a lot of time reinventing the wheel when it comes to quilting.

Q. Where do you get your fabric?  
A. Most of the fabric I use is from Stonemountain (big surprise!) but I also love to reuse clothing from thrift stores and fabrics I find at antique stores and estate sales. Ever since I started sewing, I've been using scrap fabrics or clothing for my projects.  

Q. Can you tell us about your quilted coats and bags?
A. I made my first fully quilted coat (pictured above) the year after I graduated from college. I was determined to continue making work after leaving school, so I created assignments for myself. I had really enjoyed experimenting with quilting in college and felt like I wasn't quite finished exploring the possibilities, so I made my first coat, which was something I had dreamed about for a long time. It was a process of trial and error, the hardest part being the binding of the armhole seams. But it all came together, resulting in what I refer to as my Technicolor Dreamcoat.

The second coat (pictured right) went a lot smoother, but required no piecework. My sister made the pattern that I used for both garments from one of her favorite vintage coats. I added the shawl collar, hood and pockets to make it cozy. This coat is much lighter than the first, so it's great for the transitional seasons. It's also reversible!

The bags came after the coats as an attempt to create something that I could market and sell. They were fun, but took a lot energy and I ended up giving many of them away to friends. But, I learned a good lesson, and although it can feel selfish sometimes, it's important to sew for yourself!

Q. What project are you working on next?  
A. I've just started piecing together fabrics for a new quilted coat, which I am very excited about. I will be blogging about my process on the Stonemountain blog (, so be sure to check in and see what I'm up to! 

Fern Royce has been sewing since she was ten and quilting for 17+ years. Her love of quilting became a passion after inheriting a Bethlehem Star quilt made by her great grandmother. She especially loves quilting history and studying vintage quilts. She enjoys incorporating "unconventional" fabrics and upcycled clothing into her quilts. Early in her quilting journey she discovered the work and books of Gwen Marston, who remains to this day her greatest source of inspiration. Due to Gwen's influence, she learned to create her own unique quilts that do not follow patterns or rules. She is thrilled to have an opportunity to teach liberated quilting.

 Mary Hall Patrone began sewing at the age of six by watching her Aunt create beautiful garments and wedding dresses. She has been sewing since!  In 2008, she returned to school earning her degree in 2010 in Apparel Design And Merchandising. She works as a Teaching Assistant at the College of Alameda in the Apparel Design And Merchandising Department, working in flat pattern design, draping, and advanced line design. Mary loves working with students of all levels! She also teaches quilting, tote bags, costumes, and owns/operates a home-based embroidery business.

Ann Tarabini
is a quilting instructor who teaches beginning and 
intermediate level quilting classes in the public school system 
and in local shops. As a K-12 teacher, she has been 
teaching sewing skills to students in home economics and after 
school programs for over 25 years.

Angie Woolman is a popular Bay Area quilting expert who teaches at Stonemountain & Daughter and throughout the area. She teachers our Freeform Quilting classes and Those Hand Quilting Stitches. She specializes in color and color layout for quilt design.

- Calling All Quilters -
Now is the time to sign up for that quilting class you've been eying!

Here are just a handful of the great quilting classes we offer here at Stonemountain. Whether you are learning a new skill, brushing up on old ones, or just want to meet other quilters, we have a class for you!
705: Beginning Quilting - Quilt As You Go
A fun and easy introduction to quilting. Make a small quilt while learning the "quilt as you go" method. You will quilt small sections of your quilt and then sew them together. Some sewing will be required outside of class. This process of quilting is great for beginner and advanced quilters alike...

This class is great for quilting newcomers! Experienced quilters will learn to sew quicker and grow their creativity by adding this looser form of cutting, piecing, and designing to their work. Expand your knowledge of fabric selection strategies, color usage, and "freeform" techniques. Fabric choosing with Angie guides student smoothly into the cutting and sewing that needs to be done...

Crazy quilting can be used to make large quilts or small wall hangings. You can use the technique to add interest to traditional quilt blocks/quilt borders...

749: Those Hand Quilting Stitches with Angie Woolman
The process of working cloth by hand is meditative and a welcome change from the pace of machine work. Learn to transfer a design to your quilt; work in hand-quilted touches; add a design to your quilt top; and know which thread and batting to use...

771: Beyond Cotton Quilts with Fern Royce
This class will show you how to use fabrics like silk, linen or rayon in your next quilt. Learn how to back or prepare these non-traditional fabrics so that they can be used in quilts or wall hangings. Different types of stabilizing products will be discussed and demonstrated...

777: Quilt Lab with Fern Royce
Always wanted to learn how to quilt? Have a project stalled due to technical questions? Need a few hours to focus on finishing your project? Quilt lab is the perfect answer to all of those issues and more. Work independently with teacher support...

View our full list of quilting classes here.

Read about what Suzan and her seamstess, Laurel are getting into next...

Some fabrics are just too pretty to not use again.  I find that when I'm picking out fabrics to buy for the store or have made up, I can usually envision several different garments that would work up beautifully... Read more