Getting my colors done was probably the most valuable thing that I’ve done yet as a seamstress. I started sewing my own clothes obviously because fit in RTW is awful, but more because I felt like I had an impossible time finding colors that worked for me clothes off the rack. Fast forward 5 years and lots of garments later, and I’m starting to find my style. Adding the element of color to all of this makes it feel like I’m looking at me IN my clothes, not just being a clothes hanger. Does that make sense?
So when we started planning our vacation this year to NC and back again, knowing we’d be driving, the hubby asked where I’d like to stop. Where there’s fabric, obviously, right? Because if you’re traveling, you might as well be fabric shopping.
First stop was Needle Nook in Wichita. Now I can’t say that Wichita is some great travel destination, but Needle Nook is a great, great store. Ann St. Clair is a wonderful lady to talk to, and the ladies that work there are equally charming, funny, knowledgeable, and kind. And the fabric? Great quality knits of every type that will not at all break your budget. I think the priciest thing I bought when I was there was $7.50/yd. And by quality, I mean knits that actually are not unfortunately sheer, and feel lovely.
You will not walk out without wanting to sew your own bras either. Ann’s DVDs and books on bramaking are second to none. She guides you through every single step, and if you ever get confused, you can call the store, and she’s more than glad to help you figure it out. I actually made one after taking a class with Ann when she came to our Expo in July, but nursing and the literally 8 different sizes I am during a day makes making my own bras right not a bit impractical. When I’m done with nursing for good, I’m going there though. If you’re on the fence about bramaking, there’s laces in every color imaginable plus a few more to help you see the possibilities. And they will swatch and mail order for you because they’re awesome like that.
The day I was there, I was shopping for my friend Linda in addition to myself. I had my swatch paddle, and I had hers wandering around the store holding up the colors to fabrics and evaluating them. By the time I was done, I found this really pretty light blue knit with silver stripes:
I also got her more of the same white floral knit that I got and a pretty pink knit with gray heathering through it but they didn’t photograph well (not surprising given that I snapped this on my phone in the hotel room at 9 pm). It was a weird experience seeing all that fabric getting cut. I looked at Linda’s pile and immediately felt like I was staring at Linda herself. I’m so excited for what she comes up with out of what I found for her.
The second store that I went to was near Chapel Hill, NC (in Carrboro). Mulberry Silks is in an old textile mill that has been turned into a small mall with adorable little boutiques. They’ve kept all of the original wood floors and big beautiful windows and high ceilings. In the store, they have a studio area for classes. I have a hard time imagining sewing there as it’s just so pretty. If you’re looking for laces for formal wear, this is a good stop. And as their name implies, they do have a good selection of silks. Their stuff is not cheap, but it is quality. Me being me, I found this Italian wool/cotton sweater knit. It feels like a very fine, lovingly made baby blanket–soft, warm, and like a hug. Normally I wouldn’t pay $18/yd for fabric (it was on clearance, yikes), but I’m learning to make an exception for sweater knits. I’m learning to buy quality sweaters as investment pieces because it’s hard enough to find sweaters (or sweater knits) in good colors for me let alone to have those sweaters wear out after a season. I really hate how acrylic yarns age, and they irritate my skin, so if it’s wool or cotton, it will be mine.
Chicago was great. A lot to take in in a couple of days, but we did as much as we could. Between museums, I stopped off at Evanston and the downtown Vogue Fabrics and came away with some good finds there too. I feel like I’ve read people having better luck at the Evanston store, but I felt like I had a lot better options at the downtown store, so I’m glad I thought to check it out. What? 5.99/yd bamboo spandex? Peach ponte? Yes please. I visited New Rainbow Fabrics and Fishman’s. Rainbow had a lot of bold designer prints (read, too much black) and prom wear fabrics and Fishman’s had so many beautiful silks and wools. Neither store’s inventory fits my place in life right now, so I walked away happily.
Phew, that’ s a lot. I’m glad I did it, and whenever I travel, I love being able to fabric shop. There’s bound to be something that you can’t find close to where you live and it’s fun to be able to see what other people are making someplace else.