Author Archives: bstonedesigns

About bstonedesigns

Barbara Stone Designs has been a full service Alterations and Custom Clothing business since 1981. Barbara started her training at UC Santa Barbara, where she majored in Art. Wanting to work with her hands, she then earned her Dressmaking and Alterations Certificate at Shasta College in Redding, CA. After that she honed her craft by taking workshops and classes all over the United States, studying with teachers from all over the world. Some of the classes included advanced tailoring, pattern making, image consulting, design and color, moulage, proper fit, and many classes on specific construction techniques such as lace applique, working with sheers and satins, interfacings, and dye techniques. Barbara continues to advance her skills. Her most recent workshop was on teaching an on-line class which she hopes to offer very soon.

Double Cloth Coat Hem

Have you have ever wanted to alter a double cloth coat but weren’t sure where to start? I recently hemmed a coat made from a gorgeous wool double cloth and thought I’d share my experience.

Double cloth is basically two different layers of fabrics intertwined to form one heavier fabric which has a supple yet supportive hand to it.  In other words, it is rarely lined because it handles so well on its own. It is mainly used for coats and jackets.

The fabrics can be different or they can be the same. In this case, the fabric is double-faced and it’s the same fabric on the inside as well as the outside.

Because the two layers are treated as one, the hems and seams are handled differently than other fabrics. Many coats and jackets are made reversible because of the construction.

This coat needed to be hemmed about 7 inches, so I first cut off 6 1/4 inches. Then I peeled the two layers apart about 3/4″. You can peel about 1/2″ using your fingers, but then you need a sharp razor blade to cut the fibers to peel more. It’s very easy to peel apart but for your first time, I recommend you practice on the part your scrap first.

Here is the double cloth peeled apart.

Here is the double cloth peeled apart.

After the layers are peeled apart, I stitched some 1/4″ organza ribbon on the outside layer to stay the hem and keep it from stretching. I also stitched the inside layer about 3/8″ from the edge. This helps to keep the fabric from stretching and also gives me a “lip” to fold. I trim about an eighth of an inch from the edge first because in this case, I wanted the inside layer to fold just slightly to the inside of the coat. Some double cloths are folded evenly.

Here you can see the stitching line on the inside layer and the organza ribbon stitched to the outside layer.

Here you can see the stitching line on the inside layer and the organza ribbon stitched to the outside layer.

I pressed the outside layer 3/8 inch to the inside, creating a nice smooth hemline.  I folded the inside layer so that is landed slightly to the inside of the hemline and pinned.

Here are the two layers folded and pinned, awaiting the handstitching

Here are the two layers folded and pinned, awaiting the hand stitching

The entire hem is then hand stitched in place, using 1/4 inch stitches.

Here is the finished hem compared to the original.

Here is the finished hem compared to the original.

Working with double cloth is a lot of work but especially if you like hand work, it’s very satisfying to do.





Wedding Trends 2014

If you have recently gotten engaged, you may be wondering what the current wedding trends are. Fortunately for us here in Northern California, the weather is mild and that makes it a bit easier to shop for a Spring/Summer gown. I hate to think about trying on a strapless dress during blizzard temperatures.

Wedding gowns come in all shapes, sizes, and colors now. So no matter what your figure is like, you can find a dress that suits you. There are many guides in magazines and on-line about what silhouette and color is right for your body type and skin tone but honestly, you won’t really know what works for you until you try on some gowns. I always recommend that a bride makes an appointment with her nearest bridal salon as soon as the engagement is set. Try on the gown that you think you want and then try on several silhouettes to be absolutely certain you have the style you want. Once you order it, it’s yours; most bridal salons have a no return policy.

We’re still seeing strapless gowns, empire waists, ball gowns, Grecian looks but there are a few trends that are really popular this season.

The most obvious one is color. A bride can now get a dress in  champagne, pink, red, and even black! In fact, as I researched this article, I had a hard time finding white and ivory gowns. It’s a good thing because very few people look good in stark white and the ivory has to be just the right shade for your skin tone. Pink looks good on just about everyone and champagne and beige add lots of choices. As for red and black, well, first of all in some cultures, red is the preferred color for brides so I get that. And it might be fun for a Valentine’s Day  wedding. I understand how some women may want to wear a black gown but it would have to be a very formal wedding. And I question whether or not the bride would feel “bride-y” enough. And what about a veil? I haven’t seen any black veils … yet.

The most popular silhouette has got to be the fit-and-flare. “Fit-and-flare” is a term that encompasses anything from a mermaid shape to a more traditional A-line. We mostly think of the va-va-voom look, very close fitting through the bodice, hips and thighs, and flaring out at the bottom. And speaking of “va-va-voom”, old Hollywood glam is very popular this year. That fashion encompasses everything from the 30’s slinky to the Audrey Hepburn tailored look.

Another very popular trend is the “poofy” ball gown. The bodice is generally fitted to the natural waist and the skirt is over-the-top layers of tulle or organza. The trains on these dresses tend to be slight, what is called a “sweep”.  Pockets are also very popular in the huge skirts.

Anna 6-15 011

“Poofy” organza ball gown

The biggest trend this year will be lace. We started to see it last year but I think it will be even more popular this year. Brides like the romance and  the vintage look of it. But lace is a very personal preference so be sure to actually try on a lace gown before you order. It can be price-y, depending on the type of lace. A Chantilly or organza lace will be less expensive than a traditional Alencon and the more beading, the higher the cost. Also, lace will add to the alterations cost.  So if you are on a budget, you may want to go with a plainer lace or stay with satin or chiffon. A wedding gown is one of the most expensive garments a woman will ever buy so make sure you have plenty of time to choose just the right one and do make sure you have allowed enough time to get it altered properly. And no matter what design you choose, remember that they are all beautiful creations and you really can’t go wrong…kinda like the groom!

Custom Lace Wedding Gowns

Lace Wedding Gowns are really on trend this year and with that in mind, I’d like to share my process for a custom lace gown that I  made recently for a New Year’s Eve wedding.

After consulting with the client, we decided on an ivory beaded Alencon lace re-embroidered with gold thread. The base was a 40mme silk charmeuse, lined in silk habotai. I like to prepare a fabric “sketch” for the client so she can see how the fabrics look and feel together.

Fabric "Sketch"

Fabric “Sketch”

I had to tea dye the English netting to match the ivory of the lace. Shown here are samples of the dyed netting.

Tea-dyed netting

Tea-dyed netting

I used muslin for the toile which worked perfectly for the silk but the lace was so stretchy that I ended up taking it in twice to get the “va-va-voom” fit that the bride desired.

Fitting Toile

Fitting Toile

First, I made the silk sheath and fit it exactly to the bride’s body. We also made sure the neckline was just as we wanted.

Front View of the silk sheath

Front View of the silk sheath

Back View of silk sheath

Back View of silk sheath

The bride wanted the necklines as low as possible but we also had to fit her undergarment.

Next, we added the lace over the silk sheath. This is where I took in the lace twice to get a really close fit.

Lace over silk sheath

Lace over silk sheath

Once I got the fit we wanted, I could finish off the neckline and sleeves.

Close-up of neckline

Close-up of neckline

Then the fun part ~ placing the lace on the skirt of the gown! Here’s the “sketch” with the happy bride. I ended up changing it somewhat in the final so that the design was balanced. It was not a symmetrical lace so it had to look balanced as opposed to symmetrical.

First Fit of the skirt with lace pinned onAnd here is the finished gown!

Front View of gownBack View of gownclose-up of sleeve detail









Wedding Gown Alterations: Beadwork

Wedding season is upon us and if you are one of the many brides who got engaged over the December holidays, you are (hopefully) looking for your wedding gown.

If you are like most brides, you will need some kind of alteration to the gown. Like all clothing, dresses come in basic sizes and then must be tailored to fit an individual body. Almost every gown needs at least a bustle; most need to be hemmed. Maybe you need the waist nipped in a bit or the darts adjusted. All of these are pretty standard alterations and add  to the cost of the gown.

If your dress has beadwork, that adds even more to the cost of the alterations. That’s because the beading has to be removed, either by breaking the beads or tying them off, before the seam can be sewn. Whiskeytown 019

On the dress shown, I had to remove the beads from around the seams and  tie them off so that I could reuse the beads. Yes, the dress came with the little package of extra beads but there are never enough to complete an alteration. If you are lucky enough to receive extra beads with the gowns ~ they don’t all come with them ~ there are just enough to do minor repairs.


After the new seams are sewn, I like to check the fit on the bride before replacing the beadwork.  I don’t want to have to re-do the alteration if the bride wants it “just a little tighter”.

Once the fit is approved by the bride, I replace the beads. The beads are all sewn on by hand, trying to copy the exact design. This dress’ beads were a pretty easy pattern to copy. Some can get pretty complicated and require more time to sew.

Here is the completed gown. I sewed the beads on by hand, copying the exact pattern of the beadwork.

Here is the completed gown. I sewed the beads on by hand, copying the exact pattern of the beadwork.

If you are a bride who likes “bling” on the dress, make sure your budget will allow for the cost of the dress and the alterations.