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Conversational Threads

Where have all the fabric stores gone

Ragbag | Posted in General Discussion on

I have been all over the internet and in some cities and states where real fabric stores have died away.  When I say real fabric stores, I don’t mean quilting fabric, I mean quality fashion fabric (silks, wool, linen, etc).  JoAnn Fabrics used to be a wonderful FABRIC Store and at this point, especially at Christmas time, it has become a junky dime store.  Hancock Fabric has become the same way.

I am disappointed in some fabric websites where the pictures of fabric should be more detailed in order to get an idea of what the piece really looks like.  I want more from which to choose.  At this point, some upholstery fabric has more beauty than some of the “fashion fabric” I see out there.

There are only a couple of websites I’d recommend to fashion fabric enthusiasts:  Emma One Sock, Denver Fabrics, & Banksville Designer Fabric.  Websites that could do better are Sawyer Brook, Thai Silks, Gingerbread Hill & Leandro Fabrics. 


  1. Elisabeth | | #1

    I'm disapointed too with the dwindling number of fine fabric stores and the increasing amount of junk in the chain stores. Shopping online for fabric feels odd to me but at least it makes good fabric available. http://www.manhattanfabrics.com and http://www.appleanniefabrics.com have some nice fabrics to chose from.

    Edited 12/24/2005 8:25 am ET by Elisabeth

  2. SewNancy | | #2

    I can whole heartedly reccomend Emmaonesock. She even takes back cut goods! Excellent service. I also like Manhattanfabrics and have shopped in their NYC store for years. Paron fabrics. Delivery and service is excellent and next day here on LI.

  3. mimi | | #3

    Ragbag:  I have ordered from, and been happy with, fabric and trims from these online sources:

    I agree, there is a real market out here for decent fabric purveyors.  I would sew more often if I could get better fabrics!


    1. raven2run | | #4

      Oh this is such an issue for me! I just have to down load for a minute as I have found no one to talk to about this. I have been sewing since a child back in the 50's thanks to my mom, and later became a designer. I have been shocked to see what has happened to fabric stores. Obviously so few people take time to sew there was not enough business. Where would we be without the quilters..which seems to be who most stores are geared to any more. I hate to see this happening and have thought about it a lot.

      I see a generation of kids that have no idea what they're missing. The challenge, creativity and satisfaction of making ones own clothes and anything they can dream of, being lost. More than once I have talked to young women that don't have a clue how to mend, much less how to sew and make something. Who would ever have dreamed it would come to this? It makes me feel like someone from the stone age when I have ever suggested, "this can be fixed" and get a blank look. As a thought, I can't help but wonder if this could have any connection to the schools loosing their art programs? Or maybe so many moms having to work and not having time to teach? Maybe because there is so much cheap clothing..but the quality is gone. Maybe everyone is trying to move faster and faster? Maybe all of it. But I feel it is such a loss, and hope something in time will turn this tide of consummerism over creativity.

      1. SewNancy | | #5

        My sewing machine dealer has classes for kids and they are full. She runs a summer sewing camp and there were about a dozen kids there the day I went in. These are 8-12 year olds, girls and boys maybe there is hope!

      2. Ragbag | | #6

        It is very unfortunate that we have become a Wal-Mart society.  We think that cheap and made overseas means conserving our money. In reality there is no quality in the fabric and we put americans out of work by sending a garment out of the country to be made.  The garments that are made these days are throw aways of tomorrow instead of wearing classics the next year or more.  If there were quality in fabric and pride in what we wore we as a society would look fabulous.

        I really can't thank the quilters because I want more than cotton fabric.


        1. SewNancy | | #11

          Here, here. I can't agree more.

      3. mimi | | #7

        It truly is a shame, raven2run, that schools no longer offer a required sewing course.  Even down in the lower grades (I teach Kindergarten) there is hardly any time for crafts with our current emphasis on all things reading.  The other day we made picture frames out of three inch grapevine wreaths, heavy white art paper and curling ribbon:  I cut out the white circles (we cannot do this as a whole class because every minute of the reading program must be accounted for) and pre punched the holes; the children wove a ribbon over and under around the wreath and then tied a bow.  Cost $7.00 for me and they had something to give mommy or mom-mom, with their class picture minis inserted.  We had to do this on the QT, if the head of curriculum for our district had caught us at it we would have been in trouble!!

        Sewing is an optional course in the middle grades and high school, unfortunately. 

        Someone should open a high end fabric store, they would make a fortune!  I was taught to sew at eight, by my Aunt and the local Singer store.  I in turn taught my daughter, who crafts whenever she gets the chance.  I really think this sort of "homeschooling" is what attracted her to her profession (Marketing and Advertising).  She is very creative, resourceful and thrifty and knows how to use her imagination!


        1. woodruff | | #8

          Even forty years ago, the US was a much more agriculturally-based society than it is now, and vastly fewer women were part of the workforce. Partially as a result of this, the "domestic arts" were also much more of a part of a girl's upbringing than now: We learned sewing, needlearts, and cooking at our mothers' sides, and funding for school subjects like home economics was seen as desirable.However, with growing urbanization and well-paying jobs increasingly available for women (the legacy of social change and new laws), and indeed, the increased efficiency of farming (so that fewer farmers could actually feed more people), our way of life has changed enormously, and there really is no longer any great support for homemaking skills.Small, high-quality, independent fabric stores have died out, I think, not because of chain stores, but mostly because the home sewing market has become a tiny part of the economy. Even places like Joann's now tout themselves as "crafts and sewing" depots, with the accent on crafts.Perhaps there will be another social revolution if families once again see value in having a stay at home mother, but my guess is that the economic draw of two incomes will last a long time, and as long as that is the case, very few people will be so bold as to try to open brick and mortar fabric stores.

          1. mem | | #37

            I have three children and Have worked for 18 years of my twenty years of marriage . I still sew, have a large garden cook all our meals read books and have goodrelationships with my children and husband . I AM NOT a super woman.I just love to sew and have gained a skill which enables me to enjoy it I think that schools do need to offer these types of programes and that there needs to be a recognition of the importance of making things to our mental health.A lot of people dont know what they dont know and its a bit like exercise , its only when you look back on how you used to feel that you realise how good you feel now after putting in effort. We all need to get away from instant gratification it gets us into a lot of trouble. 

      4. annie33 | | #9

        Your message could have come from England.  We have exacly the same situation here in the UK.I have sewn everything from baby layettes to wedding gowns.dolly clothes to ballet tutus,but the fabric shops are getting harder to find.and when someone wants something made thats when the fun starts.   They do'nt have a clue whats involved because they have never sewed anything i.e at school.  I get so mmh when they cant get it into their heads that it takes time to get fabric, fit pattern, cut fabric, make up and fit properly.Bring back sewing an schools

      5. backcountryhome | | #10

        Total lack of "talent" is everywhere.  DS is a forestry major and was telling me about students in his college forestry class.  They were building a little cabin from scratch, he was sort of the foreman of the project and told these other students to cut the boards so many inches (it was fractions) long and he was getting varied lengths of boards.  He went to determine the problem and found out that these high school graduates majoring in forestry couldn't read a measuring tape!  DS was making sturdy furniture in 4-H at the age of 12 pretty much by himself!  It is so hard to comprehend that so many kids have no life skills.  I am so thankful my Mom taught me to sew and do for myself.

      6. User avater
        paddyscar | | #12

        "Where would we be without the quilters..which seems to be who most stores are geared to any more"

        This gave me a chuckle as last week,  my friend and I were saying, that the art of the quilter used to be based on using up the scraps and re-using the 'good' parts of worn out bedding, clothes, etc.  Now, the trend is to buy all new, co-ordinated fabric which is 100% cotton and a rather expensive.

        Joann's is the American chain within easy travelling distance for me, and over the years, the fabric section has become smaller and on the last few visits, I've noticed that about 1/3 of that is clearance and out-of-season materials.  The upholstery selection is minimal.

        There are still some selective fabric shops in ethnic areas in larger cities, but those are often more suited to formal wear rather than good wools, home decor and tailoring fabrics.


        1. SewNancy | | #13

          JoAnns is the chain near me too, and the only thing I buy there is notions and thread and and only when I have coupons.
          The fabric is garbage. Oh, I buy muslin a bolt at a time when I have the 50% off coupon.

      7. offerocker | | #14

        Hear, hear!

        I couldn't have said it better myself!

        We've (they, actually) have become a 'throwaway' society, and it is painful.  Good material can live on an on, in the hands of someone with sewing talent and imagination.  I too, have received those 'blank stares' about repairing/fixing something.  Like they haven't a clue!  Or maybe they just never even dreamed of 'fixing' anything.  I also think the current generation has never been 'without', or what we used to call 'poor', which is relative.  In order to save money, people became very resourceful.  That new dress would eventually wind up as a pretty 'rag' rug, after being part of a quilt, etc.  To me, it's the challenge of it all, and the pride in creating something...which usually gets compliments...  little do they know, eh?  Thank you, Mom.  Also, by saving money on some things, that money is available to spend on something more important, or can't be made. 

      8. user-83869 | | #16

        I own a fabric store in St. Louis, MO, Sew It Seams.  We only have fashion fabric-no quilting or home dec.  We offer adult and children classes.  The young girls (8-12 years old) in our area are asking for sewing machines for their birthdays and Christmas.  During the summer months we can't offer enough sewing classes for the kids.  We are now offering kids sewing class during the school year.  We have mostly girls but we have had a few boys.  These kids do great jobs and are so excited with their finished projects.

        We also are having alot of basic adult classes.  The ladies are 20's & 30's some even 40 years old.  I just finished our newsletter for the next two months and we have 2 kids classes scheduled and 5 adult classes scheduled (these are basic classes). 

        I know in our area our art is not dying!!!  (Thank goodness)

        ANY DAY SPENT SEWING IS A GREAT DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



        1. DebbieJ | | #45

          I'm new to this board and I am so thrilled to see this discussion. Our Joann's here, which is about to become a "superstore" carries nothing but junk. I asked for hair canvas the other day and they looked at me like I was from Mars! I asked if the new superstore was going to actually carry fashion fabric and they waxed eloquent on the updated craft section. Why they don't change the name to Joann's Crafts and Quilting Fabric is beyond me.

          I agree children aren't being taught sewing, but that's apparently not from lack of interest. One high-end fabric store I travel to (30 miles away) is constantly packed with all ages. The sewing classes are always booked well in advance, and even though their staff is VERY efficient and there are a lot of them, it can take upwards of half an hour to get your fabric because people are in there buying yards upon yards of expensive wools and silks. These are not pro dressmakers, these are the folks who like classy clothes in good fabrics.

          I also buy online from Denver Fabrics mostly. They're terrific, but I really miss walking through the aisles of a great fabric store seeing colors and feeling textures I just can't resist.

          By the way, some of us still knit socks. Even knitting in my spare time I can knit a pair in about two weeks. Hubby just loves them and since there is a great deal of washable wool available, they're easy care.


          1. ruffle | | #46

            When really trying to think through this good fabric problem, I think the problem may have originated with the lifestyle of people today. The whole genre of todays lacadasical lifestyle  "relax, take it easy, I'm not going to dress up etc".  The young people even come into CHURCH dressed like they were going to a picnic. Sooooooo...a fabric store will ONLY SELL  the fabric that there is a demand for. They are not in business for th good of their health!!  I always taught my kids, that your "dress for the importance of the occassion"!! I'm sure if the ytoung people of today  were called to go to tea with our Queen , or your President, at the White house, they probably would  not even have the clothes for that in their cupboard. I remember  checking out my kids clothes before they left the house, and if they were not right, I would make them go and change. But today the kids rule. OUR school halls are filled with girls who dress like prostitutes, and boys who have to hold their pants up as they walk, or they would fall down. We had our styles too, but they were NEVER  INDECENT. !!  There has been a breakdown, in the family structure.  They think STRUCTURE is a bad thing, but we still need a little structure to enrich our lives. Young women don't want to stay home and SEW, because they think THAT  is a waste of time, and they can go to the store, and buy it for a small pittance. I doublt whether we can turn it   around.    Ruffles                  

          2. offerocker | | #47

            I believe that television and movies have brought on a lot of this under-dressing problem, in addition to the music groups.  There's too much negative influence on TV, yet these 'actors' are plastered all over the magazines and held in too high esteem.  Also, the rock groups wear very little, and wear it skin-tight, then strut the stage while gyrating all the while.  And the lyrics...if you can make them out!  They are emulating the wrong people.  We need to censor our own much more than we have.  I remember a quote:  "The surest way to corrupt a youth is to have him hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently".  Amen.  There's too many sheep, and not enough intelligent leaders...who do not give in.    Give me Bill Haley anytime.  And Country & Western went from Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson, to so many flash-in-the-pans with nothing to say and nothing to wear. Parents, band together!  The teenagers may 'grow out of it', but you'll notice that every generation gets 'looser', and is less capable of maintaining control - they know nothing of that.  I think my soapbox just gave way!

          3. offerocker | | #49

            ...speaking of JoAnne's (fabric) junk store, I must relay something that happened at our store about 3 years ago.  Prior to this incident, I had worked there for a short time - before they went 'crafty' and yard sale.

            The manager was really great, everyone got along, knew what was expected, good training, etc.  About 2 years after I left there, and it had 'converted', I went in one day to find every sales clerk but one was GONE!  They all walked out after the manager of MANY years was fired due to some reason that wasn't true. (he was too close to retirement, I assume).  I was so proud of those girls!  The Co. had to send in people from all around PA to work in the store until they hired and trained new personnel.  The expertise they lost - and 'the faithful' were tremendous.  I only go for an emergency, keeping in mind they most likely won't have it anyway!

          4. Marionc032 | | #50

            I'll chime in too! It seems that there are still good fabric stores in the big cities, but in smaller cities and towns you're pretty much out of luck, and while online fabric stores can help fill the void, its really not the same experience. Most of my fabric buying is spontaneous where I may happen to drop into a fabric store to buy some notion but I'll stop and look around to see what fabrics are in. If I see something I like I buy it even if I don't have any specific garment in mind other than "this would make a great skirt, or blouse or jacket". I also like to feel the hand of the fabric before I buy it. A lot of online stores offer swatch service which is great but you have to have an idea of what you want before you can request swatches. I guess I'm lucky because there are still two stores in my area (both small independent operations) that carry some good fabrics although you have to search. I visit them fairly regularly just to see if they happen to have something good on the shelves, and whenever I do buy something I make sure to tell the sales person how rare it is to find good quality fabric and how thankful I am that they still do. I don't know if my comments ever make it to the store owner, but I figure it can't hurt to let them know that there are still people out there who want good stuff.While I'm at it here, I'd like to pass along the url for another online store. This company deals in tailoring supplies and carries a good range of hard to find notions specific to tailoring but they also offer a good range of fine woolens including cashmere. I've haven't ordered from them yet but I have contacted them to see if they would fill small orders and if they ship to Canada (they do on both counts). http://www.bblackandsons.com/store/store.htmlMarion

      9. mem | | #36

        All of the above I think . This is happening in Australia too. Shops are trying to cope by stocking cheaper fabrics but that just makes their business problems worse. I just wish that they would recognize why people sew which is to get QUALITY at a reasonble price or to make clthes that fit and look great..If I want cheap I can go to the local chain of mass market shops .I do think that the the shops that I have seen prospering and which sell quality are staffed by creative imaginative people who know how to sew and offer classes and support to their customers.

        1. Wallaby | | #103

          Hi Mem and friends

          Greetings Down Under from another Aussie.

          Google for http://www.superbfabrics.com then check it out.

          Designer fabrics from Europe are featured.

          The website shows a small selection of the many fabrics carried.

          Cooee from Wallaby.

          Edited 7/15/2006 5:32 am ET by Wallaby

          1. mem | | #105

            hello, I know about them . I have been to one of their sales at a Motel in parkville. Beautiful stuff and nothing under 80.oo$ per meter. I did buy some beautiful woven silk which i am going to make into a jacket.

      10. Shannon1 | | #99

        I agree with you about the lack of quality in clothing these days. It's getting harder and harder to find quality fabric, and I think you're correct about the lack of sewing ability in the average population. But now that I've said that, where do we go to get good quality fabrics? I'm contemplating a trip to NYC in an effort to get good fabrics available in the garment district. I'm sad that a city as large as Denver has so few good quality material stores, but that's where we are. Denver Fabrics gets good material in, but you have to get there when the good stuff comes in because it goes quickly.
        We had a fabulous fabric store called D'Leas, but the owner couldn't make it competing against Joann's, etc. They sell so cheaply that D'Leas clients complained about the cost of her material. She was reasonable and had great materials. Maybe our problem is that people aren't willing to pay for quality anymore. People want everything at discount prices, and that's not possible. I think we need to get back to the concept that we get what we pay for. Are we willing to pay the price for great material? Until we as consumers are willing to pay for quality products, we're going to be stuck with Joanns and Hancocks.

  4. solosmocker | | #15

    When I was thirteen I would spend hours perusing the local fabric stores. There were fabric depts in beautiful dept stores. There were Mom & Pop operations that would have very unique offerings. And, because we lived in an area rife with textile and clothing mills, there were back doors where, if you knew the right name of the right persons, they would let you in to peruse the scraps. The scraps were then sold to eager seamtstresses like myself and the " dooropeners' at the back of the mill would put the money in their own pocket. It was an exciting way to spend a Saturday and oh, what my five dollars would come home with! I also had a Mom who sewed out of necessity and resented it. However, she highly encouraged me to sew and as broke as we were, there was always that five dollars to go buy fabric.
    Today, ahh, it is so different. There is Joanns and Hancocks. I shop two or three times a week at Joanns but only for buttons, a thread to be matched, a discounted pattern, some calico, but not beautiful garment fabric. But now, how much beautiful clothing am I personally wearing compared to ten years ago? It's sweats and sweaters. Gorgeously tailored suits are hanging in my closet. Silk blouses are occasionally paired with jeans and killer shoes. I don't know. It is just different. I do my garment fabric shopping at one of those Mom & Pops that still gets killer sample cuts from the garment district of New York. It is a rare store and a total treat to go there. It is in Manchester, New Hampshire and is called "Fabric Fix" if you are interested. The staff is extremely knowledgeable and encouraging. The dupionis and tussahs and worsteds are to die for. Truthfully, however, I am doing a great deal of heirloom sewing for my grandchildren. Websites and stores for this type of fabric and pattern abound, particularly in the South. Fabrics are of the highest quality, with Swiss and French laces, Swiss organdies and batistes, the tiniest of pipings and so on. I have emigrated from "fine" sewing and tailoring for myself and daughters to "fine, heirloom" sewing for grandchildren. I guess there really isn't much difference. I just wanted to make these observations, from the eyes and hands of one who has sewn for 45 years.

    Edited 2/4/2006 7:47 pm ET by solosmocker

    1. ruffle | | #20

      Boy...these messages say it all. I am 77 yrs old, but I remember on Home Ec day in high school, most of the other girls hated it, and I couldn't wait for the day to come. I tailored a herringbone tweed suit at 14 and got the highest marks ever attained in that school. I guess you have to be "to the manor born~!!"We had such beautiful fabrics, that you could get away with a very plain pattern, because the beauty was in the fabric. Two years ago, I gave my five grandaughters ( who are the only ones living near me) sewing lessons all summer, and they loved it. We had 5 girls and 3 sewing machines. It is lovely now to hear them say they have made shorts, and one is making a coat. funnily enough, my mom never sewed a stitch except to mend clothing, and yet my sister & I not only sewed, but did every craft known to man. A new day has arrived now. MY 6week old great grandson was coming up from the States to visit me in Canada. Being as I have a knitting machine, I hurried up and knit two baby sets of sweater, bonnet and booties. this was 5 yrs ago. When they arrived at my door, the little 6 week old baby had to be dressed in about $600 worth ov "Baby Gap " clothing!! Complete with a ski jacket, with zippers everywhere, and Gap baseball hat, and Nike runners, and  jeans in hard denim, with all the appliques and again zippers everywhere. I NEARLY DIED, AND FELT VERY FOOLISH STANDING THERE WITH MY KNIT  BABY OUTFITS.So I guess that day is over.!! But when you think of it. who is this dressing for??Certainly NOT THE BABY !!the harsh clothing was very uncomfortable for him, and he was squrming the whole time, until they got him in his softer sleepers . The young parents of today, MUST  dress their kids this way to be cool. It's too bad, because it also robs us of the joy to sew and knit for our grandchildren. I have 12 grandchildren and 10 great grand children. ...and the latter is only from 3 of the grandchildren. I WILL NEVER LEARN HOW TO MAKE GAP CLOTHING hah  hah  !!  Just a tip about fabrics. In Canada we have a great many East Indian and Chinese immigrants, and their fabric stores carry lovely materials for the Saris etc. I don't know whether it is the same in the States. 

      1. solosmocker | | #21

        Amen! A kindred spirit. I am sure there are many others reading this post as well.

      2. offerocker | | #27

        I understand what you are saying!  I don't dare make or even purchase anything wool for a gift - no one wants to do hand-washing.  My mother was amazing with her sewing talents, and thankfully passed on the interest to me.  I believe that part of the problem recently is due to 'mothers' working outside the home.  They then have less time for textile arts in any form.  But, since they're working, they can purchase those 'cutsie' outfits, and it costs nothing in 'time' or investment in learning.  But what they are purchasing is junk, and not worthy of handing down to another child.  A lined, wool 'snow suit' - jacket, pants zippered also at the ankles, and beanie hat was made by my mother for my brother, then about 3 years old.  He is nearly 58, and that blue wool suit is 'still in service'!!!  One Christmas, she made numerous outfits for my doll (outfitted with a new wig).  The beautiful 'fur' coat was made from my brother's old chenille Roy Rogers bed spread.  Everything was perfectly tailored and coordinated.  That was my best Christmas ever, knowing all the time she put into it, and managing to do it in 'secret'.  But I later found that although I still had the doll,  the clothes had been given to my cousins for their dolls!!! 

        The "PRIDE" in what's worn today is not in its fiber and workmanship, but in 5-cent labels! 

        1. pinkit | | #28

          Hi Everyone:  I have been following the conversations with great interest.  I would like to ask FitnessNut, since she has lived in many Canadian Citys, about Montreal and its Fabric possibilities.  I live in Central Vermont and out family sometimes takes trips to Montreal.  Would there be any good places to Fabric shop as I tend to agree with all the previous posters.

          1. FitnessNut | | #29

            I adore Vermont and can't wait to get back there on a trip sometime soon (I hope). We used to go there often when we lived in Montreal.I know that not very long ago someone else was asking about fabric stores in Montreal and I posted with a list of my favourites. I'll check the search function and see if I can come up with the reference. Meanwhile, I have to say that I haven't been to Montreal since 2001, so any advice I may give could be outdated....However, there is a wonderful area where there are tons of fabric stores along one street. It is Rue St. Hubert, north of Jean Talon, a few minutes' walk from the Jean Talon metro station. This is a must-see, in my opinion. You can also find fabric sources in the St. Laurent & Chabanel area, just north of Hwy. 40 (take the St. Laurent exit and head off to your right). This is the fashion district, so you will find everything there, from junk to glorious. But you have to be patient and go into the buildings and read the list of occupants - it isn't always obvious which is selling fabric and who is even open to the public. There are some stores at the street level though. There is also an independent store called Mink's on Greene Avenue in Westmount with fabulous, upper-end textiles. Beware that it is fairly expensive, but for a sensory experience not to be missed.Hope this helps.Sandy

          2. FitnessNut | | #30

            The discussion I was referring to is 2488.7 Hopefully this number will show up as a link when it is posted....otherwise, I typed Montreal into the search and found it in one of the top couple of listings. There are addresses and phone numbers of my favourite stores there, so if nothing else, the addresses will help you find a good shopping area.Have a wonderful time, whenever it is that you go!Follow your bliss ~~ Joseph CampbellEdited to say that the link didn't work....I'm trying again!

            Edited 1/7/2006 12:07 pm by FitnessNut

      3. mushermom | | #68

        I am a bit younger then you but even at 50, I am feeling more passionate each day that my childern learn some of the "traditional" skills such as sewing, woodworking, baking, etc. Unfortunately we do not have any grandmothers left and only one grandfather but I try to pass on the skills that I learned as a child. Your grandchildren certainly have a treasure in you!!

  5. Teaf5 | | #17

    Our local Joann's is about half crafts and half fleece, fleece, and more fleece, in ghastly colors and prints--very frustrating for anyone looking for beautiful garment fabrics! Each season, I can find only one or two new bolts of fabric, usually in the "suitings" section, that would be worth sewing or wearing.

    That said, I agree with the poster who asked us to consider what we actually wear and how what we wear has changed. There is really no point in sewing jeans or a turtleneck if a major manufacturer makes ones that fit you. Few of us need to make our own socks and underwear nowadays, even if our grandmothers did, and does anyone really want to do that anyway?

    The key seems to be to find something we enjoy making and wearing, and then looking for sources, like this forum, that will help us to locate the fabrics we need. And, if each of us shares our passion with at least one other person, we can keep the skills alive.

    1. solosmocker | | #18

      Very well put and ditto on the fleece.

    2. sandign47 | | #34

      We have been discussing this subject here in Dallas for a while now.  Yes, we are lucky to have the Perth Street area,IF you have the time to drive and spend hours looking.  If all the time was looking a beautiful fabrics it would be ok, but you have to weed through so much "other" stuff to find it.  We are have Kay's which is pretty high priced but nice fabrics and then there is always Richard Brooks.  Absolutely gorgeous fabrics but unless it is in his clearance room I can barely afford to even look!  Best fabric I've ever seen though.

      Our Hancock's and JoAnn's are terrible.  Very little quality fashion fabrics.

      And the schools...a friend of mine said her daughter was taking Home Ec.  They project was had sewing a felt monkey!!!!  Not even a stuffed one.  The reason...the teacher didn't know how to make clothes and they didn't have enough sewing machines, so they had to make do!!!  How terrible!

      I remember when all of the nice department stores had fabric departments.  My mother worked for years in the JC Pennys fabric dept.  I wish there was a way to get these young girls interested in sewing again.  There has to be a way.  I'm all for getting sewing back in the forefront again.  I'm hopoing this is just a cycle and that it is almost over.

      I'll get off my soapbox now. 



      1. cyclegirl | | #56

        There's a great store in Hurst, The Grapevine Collection. It's a small store, but oh the fabrics! You really should check them out. I go there on my lunch hour sometimes just to run my hands on the fabrics and talk to the owner and employee. So nice to be able to talk sewing and ask for help.

  6. User avater
    susannah_sews | | #19

    The same is happening in Australia.  We have some discount stores that offer a lot of craft fabric, plus some dressmaking fabric, but there is often little expertise.  The staff are ususally not sewers, and have little knowledge about the fabric they sell, which is usually poorly presented.  Even buying patterns can be a problem - I called in the other day to get a vogue pattern, was told that the size I wanted was out of stock, and there was no definite date for when it would be reordered (a minimum of up to two weeks).  Much as I would like to support a local retailer, it is easier, quicker ( and not much more expensive) to log onto the net and order the pattern from the US!

    On a visit to British Columbia, I had a good time visiting fabric stores in Vancouver, filling up any extra space in my case with assorted lengths of silk and lightweight wool, but I noticed in researching before my holiday that even a city this size doesn't have a lot of easily accessible outlets for the enthusiastic home sewer who wants something of quality.

    An Australian web based supplier of silk fabrics might be of interest for some fellow Threads enthusiasts   -  the site is http://www.silksewing.com.au

    The choice is not wide, and some of the colour reproduction suffers when reproduced on computer screens, but the fabric I have ordered from there recently was just lovely (and colours were actually nicer than on screen), and the presentation was delightful (wrapping in purple tissue with an orange ribbon - it was like receiving a present!). 

    As to colour matching, they apparently will send out swatches, which overcomes the problem of precise colour matching. 

     I was also impressed to receive a  follow-up email, enquiring as to whether my order had arrived safely, and was I satisfied with it.   The sort of old-fashioned commitment to the customer that we don't encounter very often!



    Edited 1/3/2006 6:38 pm ET by Susannah_sews

    1. User avater
      Thimblefingers | | #22

      If you're ever in Edmonton, Alberta, we have a top-notch fabric store - Estees Fabrics.  She goes to Europe and orders her fabric there - gorgeous Italian wools and silks, Swiss cottons, etc just for starters.  The store is an absolute dream to visit - they encourage you to touch the fabrics and enjoy the experience.  If you're not near here, they have a website - http://www.estees-fabrics.com - and do mail order.  The site itself doesn't give any actual fabric swatches but if you have something in mind, you can e-mail them and they will send out swatches.  When I lived away from Edmonton up north and needed fabric for customers, I frequently ordered this way - just gave them and idea of colour, weight, content, etc. and they were always able to come up with something suitable and wonderful.  They have customers all over Canada and some from the States.  This one is worth a visit or an e-mail consultation - you will find some the world's most beautiful fabrics here.

      1. FitnessNut | | #23

        OMG, I LOVE Estée's Fabrics and Estée herself. Such a wonderful lady. I have just spent the past four years living just outside Edmonton, making a living designing and sewing custom clothing. She referred clients to me and I took them to her to purchase the fabrics....a win-win situation all the way around. I've only been gone five months and I miss her so much. I'll be ordering from her to be sure, as Ottawa doesn't have much in the way of fine fabric stores. She also has the most amazing selection of buttons I have ever seen.I've lived in many Canadian cities and this is perhaps the best fabric store I have ever seen!

        1. User avater
          Thimblefingers | | #31

          Sandy, I just have to mention that I also did custom sewing with referrals from Estees.  I first met Estee when I took a ladies tailoring class from her at NAIT - the first class she ever taught.  I eventually ended up sewing for her when she had her couture sewing business and was one of her first employees at her store (doing sewing) when she first opened.  I then moved away from Edmonton for a number of years but continued ordering fabric from her.  Since I've been back, I also taught sewing classes for her, but am now headed in a slightly different direction as I am studying Education and hope to eventually teach "Fashion Studies".  I want to get those young gals out there who are really interested in sewing (and there are many), headed in the right direction to a life-long love and appreciation of sewing and, maybe, influence the educational system in some way to encourage the art.  And, you are absolutely right about Estee - she is a wonderful person and that makes shopping at her store an even better experience. 

          1. FitnessNut | | #35

            Wow, that is such a coincidence! Makes me wonder if we've ever met in her store...you never know ;-)I applaud your determination to see that the future of our craft is ensured. I'm always amazed by people's response when they learn that I've made something I'm wearing. (And for some reason, they always pick something simple, not the difficult piece, LOL!) Truly, it isn't rocket science, and it is very rewarding. How far one wants to take it is up to them. I was very fortunate in that I was able to study fashion design at the college level, however that is certainly not something everyone would be interested in pursuing. But going beyond a simplistic or rudimentary knowledge of the craft can be an uphill battle, since there are so few resources available anymore. So the more experienced teachers out there, the better! And since you've been taught by someone whose skills are exemplary, I know that you'll be great!

        2. MarieT | | #57



          I live in Ottawa also and I would recommend C&M Textiles on Merivale Rd.... or if you're up for a road trip to Montréal, you DEFINITELY must look them up on rue St. Hubert.  The Ottawa store, like the one in Montreal has a lot of home dec stuff but their collection of woolens and silks is definitely worth a gander.  They also carry a very interesting assortment of coatings and bathing suit fabric.  The staff seem quite knowledgeable and quite experimental in their dressmaking.  They also have a reliable assortment of findings.



          1. FitnessNut | | #58

            Marie, thank you so much for passing this information along to me. I used to live in Montréal and know C&M Textiles on Rue St. Hubert quite well, at least the wool and silk room, LOL. So how much like the Montréal store is the one on Merivale? I'm not big on the home dec fabric, as I'm definitely a fashion garment sewist. Oh, and do you know offhand whereabouts on Merivale it is located? I don't remember seeing it, so obviously it isn't jumping out at me ;-)I'm so happy to hear of another good fabric store in Ottawa. More exploring to do!!!!!

          2. MarieT | | #59


            I'm always happy to share good finds.  The store in Ottawa is not nearly as huge as the one on St. Hubert; there is no clearance room nor the different little nooks and crannies that you can find on St. Hubert but, it's still pretty good.  The home dec stuff is mostly limited to samples (the upholstery yardage has to be ordered) so it fits well into the smaller store size.  Their collection of bathing suit fabrics is the best that I've seen by far.  As for the woolens and silks, they have a 15-20 foot section of wall dedicated to woolens.  Nice woolen knits too.  There is a substantial section devoted to silks of all kinds.  They also carry the chinese brocades that would make such great coat lining (one of my next projects).  They definitely cater to the higher end of the market.  I've been very impressed with the calibre of the staff.  Everyone of them is obviously a sewer with a wealth of experience.... and they sew high-end, sometimes quirky stuff.  I've always been happy with the service and the advice.  I've been sewing for 25+ years (off and on) and find that I still learn from these ladies.

            They're located in the Emerald Plaza at 1547 Merival (phone number: 727-1547).  They're kinda hidden away in a corner so you have to look.  If you're not familiar with Emerald Plaza, it's on the East side of the street and is two or three lights sought of Baseline.  They are in the plaza just north of HomeSense and Bouclair.  If you go in at the lights closest to HomeSense, you turn left at the nearest stop sign (if you turn right, you'll find yourself in front of HomeSense).  You then go up a short driveway with a parking lot on either side and turn right at the next stop sign.  The plaza has a TD Bank on the left, then a public library and then, after the library, you have C&M and then a post office and a Super Pet store (can you tell that I've been there a few times?).  They also carry Kwik Sew patterns (one of the few places in town that do) and Jalie. 

            Have fun!


          3. FitnessNut | | #60

            Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!! I am so pleased that you shared :-)I've probably driven by there more times than I can count....have been in to HomeSense (but not BouClair, yuk!), and recall seeing the pet store, but unfortunately not C&M. (Or maybe fortunately for the wallet!) I was just at Costco yesterday afternoon....too bad I didn't know or I'd have made a trip up the street. Maybe I'll see you there one day. I'm always interested in meeting people with a shared love of high-end textiles and sewing.Do you live in that general area? We live further down Hwy. 416, just on the other side of the Rideau River from Kemptville.

          4. MarieT | | #61

            Hi Fitness Nut,

            Yes, I live close enough to C&M to do damage on a regular basis -- although I am relying on the Internet more and more for ordering fabric (I'm a big fan of EmmaOneSock).  I've been sewing for years -- it used to serve as therapy when I was in university.  Great antidote to the stress of exams, or an effective procrastination tool.. depends how you look at it.  Anyway, I've spent the last 11 years raising a son and a daughter (now 11 and 7-1/2 respectively) and sewing for them and the house (once bought 43 metres of fabric at C&M in Montreal to cover two walls with wall-to-wall drapes... never doing that again!).  I'm starting to get back to sewing for myself.  I've missed it soooooo much.  It's still hard to find the time but I just insist now. For me, it's better than a trip to Hawaii (well, almost).   I'm determined to fine tune the fit for a pants pattern so I can "whip them up" as need be.  I was intrigued by the recent articles in Threads on fitting so I'm going to put it to the test. A friend is helping me with the measurements, etc.... we'll see how it goes. I'm 5'3"-1/2 (still working on 5'4") and off the rack rarely fits.  I also refuse to pay ridiculous prices for unlined pants made of poor fabric, etc.

            It would be fun to meet if you come in to check out C&M.  We sewers (I wish there was another name for what we do.... makes me think of manhole covers and sewage) are a dying breed.  Most of my "needlework" friends are into quilting or embroidery.



          5. SewNancy | | #62

            I too have been trying to perfect a pants pattern. I recently started over with a Burda Mag pattern and used the 2 recent articles in Threads by Joyce Murphy and it was the easiest and best so far. I just cut another muslin of the pattern with the changes and hopefully that will do the trick.
            Good luck to you.nancy

          6. MarieT | | #65


            I've done some minor lenth adjustments on my pattern (I'm using an out-of-print Kwik Sew pattern -- I love their patterns for knits so thought I would check the fit on their other patterns)  and, having re-read Joyce Murphy's article, I'm going to leave it at that and proceed to the muslin fitting.  But I do have one question:  when marking the crotch depth, why do we mark from the cutting line at the crotch and not the seam line?  It seems to me that we are raising the crotch point by 5/8" by doing that. Is this some unconscious ease allowance?  It might seem persnickety but 5/8" counts for a lot when you're not overly tall!  Any thoughts or insight would be welcome. 

            By the way, I've also been relying heavily on the Singer Sewing Pants that Fit  book -- it's been a great help.  It's unfortunately out of print (a friend lent me her copy) but I highly recommend it (although it does show the crotch depth at the cutting line, as does Joyce's aritcle!).  



          7. solosmocker | | #63

            Marie, how about the title "sewist"? That's what I usually settle for, unless I can be more specific and call someone an embroiderer, a smocker, a quilter, ets.

          8. MarieT | | #64


            Sounds like a reasonable option.  Do people usually understand what you're referring to or do you need to clarify?  I haven't put much thought into it yet but I probably should.



          9. solosmocker | | #66

            Sometimes it gets a smile and a comment that it is a great idea instead of using "sewer". Sewer is not a problem really in conversation, but in print it is just awful. I wonder if it is in the dictionary, I doubt it. Maybe we will start a new word!

          10. MarieT | | #67


            I just checked my handy Canadian Oxford Dictionary and it's not there.  Also checked sewer and it's from the "Old English" -- definitely time to retire it (it doesn't even have its own heading in the sewing sense so obviously the manhole idea is much more prevalent).  I think we could start something here.... maybe open the floor up to suggestions....


          11. mimi | | #69

            Marie, why not use the word seamstress?  I much prefer it over "sewer", except on the rare occasion that I make a real stinker of an outfit!

            Then there is always the term "fabric artist", which covers all the bases:)


          12. offerocker | | #71

            I totally agree with the term "Seamstress".  In fact, that's a word I heard my mother use about her grandmother (when I was very young).  My mother was a seamstress, in addition to a 'designer', in her ability to reupholster, make draperies, sew, alter patterns on the fly, ad nausea.  I've been a seamstress since she taught me how to sew, both by machine and hand.  I'm also a "weaver", but a weaver and seamstress don't necessarily do both, and some weavers aren't 'designers', but simply copy what they see, and aren't creative in making own designs or color schemes.  We may call ourselves whatever we feel comfortable with, as long as we're comfortable when challenged on it, LOL!  I feel that the term 'artisan' is vague, and also leaves people wondering just "What do you REALLY do?".  Also, I don't understand the difference between artist and artisan.  Everyone in this thread is an artist, and material is our medium, whether or not we manufacture  it by means of combining different materials, weaving, or use ready-made. 

          13. sueb | | #72

            To me there is no difference between the words artist and artisan, it is purely by means of preference the way one sounds vs the other in a sentence that I prefer the word artisan.  However I think there is a big difference in the implication of using the word crafter vs artisan.  It is my opinion that the artisan is one who works without pre-established patterns and creates works that make the viewer stop and wonder or ask how or why that was done the way it was.  An artisan can work free form with only their internal muse to guide  them and finds inspiration independently without having to copy someone elses work.  A crafter works within the boundaries of established patterns and prepublished guides.  Now there's absolutely nothing wrong with that and it's not to say that the crafter creates items of any less value or beauty than the artisan it's just the difference in the source.  I think that if your going to use the word artisan to describe yourself you need to put a word in front of it, ie: textile, fiber, metal, paper etc in order for people to know what you do. 

            just my opinions !

          14. offerocker | | #73


            I think that is a perfect description!  And I agree that we need to identify our area of expertise when using the word artisan or artist.  Kathleen

          15. mygaley | | #74

            Dear sueb:  Thank you so much for all your advice through this forum.  Whatever you call yourself, you are certainly good at it!  Since I was unsure of these words I looked them up.   My Webster's Collegiate seems to indicate that artisan and craftsman are more closely related than artisan and artist.  I probably should invest in a more up-to-date edition, as to my ear artisan sounds more artistic and generally with-it.  One of my drapery customers calls me the fabricator, which is okay with me, except it sounds like I make up things that are not true!  By the way I call myself a custom designer dressmaker--around here the word "custom" lets the inquirer know what prices to expect.  Keep the wonderful advice coming.  Galey


          16. mimi | | #75

            I guess I would call myself an artisan, since I hold no advanced degree in any of the mediums I use.  My skills are advanced enough that I am comfortable deviating from the path set forth by most pattern companies and "craft books".  I usually alter/manipulate every pattern I use! 

            I treat all instruction guides as "suggestions" and have for a long time!


          17. rsolish | | #76

            I just wanted to add my 2 cent.
            i always thought that living in Israel we get the worst choice of fabric and the worst quality (unless you really want to pay high)
            but then i found a whole street of fabric stores in Tel Aviv- they have all kinds of stores- special occasion,wool, cottons fleece, everyday ware and so on.
            I was just there and I hope it will keep on flourishing and getting better. if we keep buying and showing our children good examples i hope the good quality clothes will keep on.
            Good luck to everyone
            Netanya Israel

          18. sueb | | #70

            I've always liked the term "textile artist" or "artisan".  I'm not just a sewer but I am a weaver and I work in silk fiber sculpture as well as art quilts and fiber collage so I've always hated to use the term seamstress or sewer since it doesn't even begin to touch what I do.  Textile artist encompasses all types of work in the textile medium. 

          19. Marionc032 | | #77

            I always used to use "seamstress" but it seems a little archaic, like postman is now mail carrier or some other non-gender-biased job title. I guess men who sew would object to being called seamstresses ::grin:: but sewer makes me think of gutters too! Nowadays I skirt the issue and just say that I sew.Marion

            Edited 2/3/2006 9:33 pm ET by Marionc032

          20. mimi | | #78

            Maybe we ought to use an updated, politically correct term:  fabric-addicted or maybe machine-dependent :)  Now if only we could get someone to time-share housework with us so we could spend more time feeding our addictions...


          21. solosmocker | | #79

            You make me laugh. How about, "my machine and I are co dependent;" or Pfaff (sub what applies) is an enabler." Thanks for the smile.

          22. milagromt | | #80

            What an interesting discussion!  My daughter and I are determined to open a fine fabric shop in our town of 80,000. 

            We had a meeting with the Small Business Institute here yesterday.  They were quite discouraging, claiming no one sews anymore!  There are too many cheap imports off-the-rack that people can buy rather than sew a quality garment.

            We, of course, totally disagree.  Finding this discussion brings me great hope!   I think there is great interest.  We sort of envision a knowledge sharing part of the shop, where those with experience can instruct and mentor those willing to learn.

            What do you see as the characteristics of your ideal fabric shop?

          23. mimi | | #81

            Where are you opening a shop?  Anywhere near Delaware?

            My ideal shop...hmmm...would have lots of natural fiber fabrics in addition to the poly blends.  It would also have quality notions, both high and low end.  It would have a variety of buttons and other fasteners.  It would have knowledgeable sales people, not just bored college kids (I'm getting tired of telling clerks that 1/3 is not greater than 1/2).  It would have a range of pattern lines in a range of sizes.  It would offer classes on sewing to the novice as well as to the advanced.  It would have a local connection to a sewing machine repair shop!

            I'm getting dizzy with the possibilities!  Good luck with your shop!


          24. sueb | | #82

            I'd love to see a department dedicated to surface embelishment and textile arts.  Silk paints, beades, fibers, threads, foils.  Tons of books - all the latest and not just the traditional quilt books, books on surface design, fabric books, doll making etc.  And independent patterns - not just the vogues, buttericks etc but patterns from marcy tilton and lois hines.

          25. milagromt | | #83

            One whole area of our shop would devoted to suface design including hand embroidery (actually all needlecrafts) dying, batik, printing etc.

            Education is a key element of the shop, we would love to have classes of all kinds, for all levels.

            I think Joanns has a corner on the pattern market but we would like to carry independent patterns of all sizes and hire designers to make simple, interesting patterns for our shop.

            I may open the question of the perfect shop to the general discussion, thanks for your replies!


          26. mimi | | #85

            Mary:  I made my daughters wedding dress last year.  We had to drive to Rockville Maryland, outside of Washington DC, to get the fabrics (80 miles one way).  No one in the whole state of Delaware sold silks of any kind.  I ended up with silk charmeuse and two layers of silk chiffon, plus the silk threads to go with them.  When the dress was finished, I did silk ribbon embroidery around the neckline and the hem.  Once again, I had to send away for the materials!  Thank God for the internet.


          27. mainestitcher | | #86

            Just yesterday morning I had a talk with my Mom (she's in her seventies).She commented that when she was young it was much more economical to make clothing than to buy it. I remember an older colleague who was a bit younger than my Mom. She remembers her own mother making her a couple classically styled skirts each fall for school. She remembered feeling a little jealous of a classmate who got a whole new wardrobe each fall. But she also remembers that when she graduated, those wool skirts her mother made were still nice enough looking and stylish so could wear them to work, while her classmate's cheap trendy clothing had probably been relegated to the dustbin. I think, in the fifties or sixties or so, things began to change. As far back as I can remember, the general population of say, North America, has been pretty eager to buy new colors and silhouettes every spring and fall. I'm not saying it's right, or should be that way, just seems that it is that way.Our society has gotton progressively more casual, too. In some areas, it's quite common to see young people shopping in pajamas. Ugh. I think that the average person does not differentiate between the linen blazer she can get from Land's End (for hmmm...Are they up to 150 dollars now?) and a hand crafted one. And if she can be told the difference, is not willing to pay the difference. I can't make a special occasion dress for myself for the price charged for a new one in a department store, to say nothing of charging for my labor. I'm mystified by folks who insist people can save so much money by sewing: those folks haven't purchased decent material lately. If someone is willing to make a wedding dress gratis for a friend or relative, that may be the exception. I still think though, that there are a few who wish to express themselves with sewing, surface embellishment, fiber arts, etc.,and people who desire something other than whatever everybody else is wearing. Those are the folks who'll keep an independent fabric store in business.

          28. mimi | | #87

            Mainestitcher:  I have been sewing since I was about 8 (my aunt taught me and then sent me to Singer for classes.  I think she was protecting her sewing machine!) and I have always been happy to have the skill.  I have made most of the clothes my daughter wore when she was young, all of her prom dresses, except the first one, and her wedding dress.  I have passed on the skill, too.  When I was given my dream machine as a birthday present, I gave her my old kenmore.

            Yesterday, beleive it or not, I actually found decent fabric at my local Joann's.  They have lovely cottons from india right now, and some other ethnic fabrics.  It is about time!


          29. Marionc032 | | #88

            I don't think sewing is a question of economics anymore--at least not to me. Its a question of quality, originality and fit. In my case, I've never bought into the "trends". Even in my twenties I believed that today's trend is tomorrow's "omg, what was I thinking!", so I've always leaned to the more classic styles. I don't like working with cheap fabric because it just doesn't look good for long, if at all. One of my earliest lessons in this was when I splurged on some really good swiss cotton fabric for a blouse. Because I'd spent so much money on the material, I took extra care in making the garment. It turned out great and it wore like iron and looked good for years until the cuffs started fraying. Since then I try to buy the best quality fabric I can find and am willing to spend the money because I think my time is valuable. I'll spend the same amount of time whether the fabric is cheaper or more expensive, but my labour will usually glean better results with quality fabric and my time is well-spent when I end up with a garment that will last and wear well. I don't know how often I've been in a fabric store watching someone buy some cheap (usu polyester) fabric, and I know they're going to spend a good amount of time making the garment only to end up with something that looks, well... cheap! All the skill in the world won't make cheap fabric look good so why waste your time?If I were to launch a fabric store, I'd concentrate on natural fabrics and harder-to-find professional-quality notions and for sure I'd have an online retail component that offered the same fabrics that I have in the store and not just rely on walk-in business. Oh, and tailoring supplies, they seem to be so hard to find--at least in my neck of the woods, and even online its hard to find a source.Marion

          30. sueb | | #89

            I agree it's not a question of economics anymore because there are plenty of low end retail stores with inexpensive factory made stuff readily available to buy for those who don't want to spend a lot of money on clothing. 

            I don't think there's such a thing as an "inexpensive sewing project" anymore.   Threads, interfacing and fabric itself is expensive - even when it's considered cheaply priced.    I know for myself I sew and weave for myself because I like the option of choosing my own yarns and fabric combinations and styles and because it feeds my soul to create something myself.  I like walking through my home knowing that I created the window treatments and the rugs and the quilts etc 

            But not everybody thinks the way we do.  I've had the personal experience of sitting in a booth at a fiber arts show selling my handwovens and had people pick up my things, balk at the price and comment that they can go to Walmart and buy the same thing.  This person is of course not my target market !  But it illustrates my point that for a lot of people there is no appreciation for wearing something that was made by someone by hand with a great deal of thought.    I know that I love to wear the hand knit sweater that I paid a handsome price for because I have an appreciation for the work and the love for the craft that the knitter put into it.  I wear it and I feel special knowing that it wasn't created in a factory along with thousands of others that look just like it.  It's an original and I didn't flinch at the price because I understand the value of what I was getting. 

            I think that for the most part today's sewer sews for the love of the craft and the satisfaction of creating something from scratch with their own two hands.  I think there are still a good many of us that appreciate a handcrafted product made by someone who loves what they do.    Maybe this is why so many out there have an appreciate and longing for the older Threads Magazines.  For a lot of us who have been sewing for many years we're a bit hungry for the past when there was no such thing as a super discount store where you can buy everything from bananas to fabric to tv's all in one place.  We appreciate the time it takes to sit down and take needle to thread and create from scratch.

            just my opinion  : )

          31. User avater
            Thimblefingers | | #90

            Well, I still consider sewing "economical" even when I buy expensive fabric.  To me it's an apples to apples comparison.  That jacket may have cost me $300  to sew but it's not comparable to the $15.99 Walmart Jacket.  It's comparable to the $800 Holt Renfrew (or Neiman Marcus for you Americans!) jacket in quality, style, and finishing.  I really have saved money by making it.  (Well, that's my excuse, anyway, for buying fine fabric!)

          32. offerocker | | #92


            I agree with you 100%.  I too am also a weaver, although have been 'away' from it for awhile.  I knit, sew, crochet, tatt, do hand-stitched pieces for coverlets, cross stitch, tapestry,etc.  I 'shop' by feeling the fabric, be it either material yardage or yarns - natural fibers always!  It's always a joy to have someone (who appreciates) comment on something that I've made and am wearing.  It's made for myself, but if someone else notices and comments, that's an added bonus.  Weaving is sooo creative!  AND time-consuming, and expensive.  But the end results are beyond comparison, in their indivisualism, beauty, and the good feeling of wearing the garment, or using the rug.  We know how to care for the fabrics, and they will outlast us, all the while bringing beauty and pleasure to us and others.  As far as prices go when selling - people who  make those "Wall Mart" comments belong in Wall Mart!  They do not endeavor to go beyond what is 'on the rack'.  I do not hesitate to pay more for something hand made and unique; I understand that the price would be double if the maker/artist had actually counted ALL of the hours hunting and choosing just the desired materials and color combinations, playing with those colors, making samples, planning, and the time to not only make the garment regardless if it is sewn or 'off the loom'.  Nothing is off the loom anyway!  There are immaculate hems, fringes of 20 varieties which match the object, the first washing, etc.  Then there is the loom waste, equipment, and aching back.  I doubt that I could psychologically handle weaving for the Public...one needs to be able to predict trends, colors, etc.  Our tastes are not always that of the purchaser.

            I would need to weave for myself, then if someone else likes it, that's fine.  Far fewer people knit anymore - they can "get it cheaper readymade" - but they cannot get a hand-knit sweater for the same price!!  Just as one can tell 'quality' ready-made clothing from 'quick & dirty', some people are never exposed to ' quality', and do not recognize it.  I feel we are lucky to know the difference and appreciate it.  I guess that's why my closet is overloaded - classics just don't go out of style.  What we do is study as we create; we're not 'copiers', and that is one of the joys of wearing something unique.

            I think that too much magazine space is used on 'embellishments'.  Embellishing does cover a lot of sloppiness in construction though.  It is an art form, I agree, but it seems that it is becoming an unbalanced subject in the area of sewing...imho!

            Now, if I could only learn to spin!  Too many interests, not enough time.  But it's lovely when you can utilize something of each area of interest, without overdoing it. 

            I do not understand the comment: "Oh, I could never do that!"  Get that big toe out and get it wet, my dear!  I will confess to saying that about tatting.  It just took the right book for my brain to 'connect'.  Now I find it relaxing, as everyting else I do with my hands, from sewing to gardening.

              An added note about purchasing a hand-made item:  I feel that it is a 'present'  from the maker to me!  There is a concrete connection between the maker and user.  Our delight in their wares is that portion of the price that is not on the ticket. 

            Thank you, Sue, for all you have done - so marvelously.


          33. solosmocker | | #93

            Sue, would you be able to share the name of your tatting book? This is something I have wanted to learn for some time now. I currently do a lot of smocking and heirloom childrens clothing and this would be a great tool for my tool chest. Thanks,

          34. offerocker | | #94


            I'm Kathleen (Offerocker), not Sue, but I'll assume you're asking about the Tatting book that finally worked for me.  I got it from eBay, but they have it intermittently.  The title is To Be...Or Knot To Be  a Tatting Manual, by Beverly Cash and Jennifer Freudenburg.  It may be under the title "Tatting book: an Illustrated instructional manual"  Seller ID:  mscholtens, or Email:  email: [email protected]It's a very nice, spiral-bound book and worth every penny!  Also, it's not expensive.

            Let me know how you make out.  It's very well-written - like a friend sitting with you, telling you what to do.  Kathleen


            Edited 2/13/2006 7:00 pm ET by offerocker

          35. solosmocker | | #95

            thanks so much! I am on the lookout. I think I will try the local library. Greatly appreciated. I love new challenges and this one is getting closer to the top of the list.

          36. offerocker | | #96

            I believe this particular book is too new to be in the Library.

          37. ruffle | | #97

            there is another way of doing atting. There used to be a Chinese gal named "Yo" who always came to the machine knitting seminars, and she had another way of doing tatting with diggrent sized hooks...very much like a crochet. I have the hooks and book here somewhere, but it would take me 3 days to find it~! You probably know what I mean. I do both kinds of tatting. the original is very fine, and his other mehod is much bigger, however for children's clothes, or heirloom work, it might be better. Maybe if you google it or go to Ebay you would find it.

          38. offerocker | | #98


            That's a new one for me!  I know of needle tatting, but don't remember whether or not there is a hook on the end.  I'd be interested in knowing more!  Thanks for writing.  Kathleen

          39. ruffle | | #100

            My gooness when I look at my spelling, how can you know it was one a.m. Yes about the hooks, they are different sizes, and have a hook at each end. You could probably find them on EBAY,

          40. offerocker | | #84

            My ideal Fabric Shop would have many completed items: clothing outfits that mix & match (sell that fabric!), purses, curtains, chair pads, more purses, and for sure knowlegeable personnel.  Also, quality notions, relative to what type of sewing you want to advocate.  Give customers ideas!  Above all, have fun, and I hope you do!!!

          41. FitnessNut | | #101

            Hi Marie,I wanted to let you know that I finally got to C&M yesterday afternoon. I was thrilled to discover that their selection was everything you said, and more! Just like the Montreal store, only better, and with more space. What a fantastic selection of interesting fabrics! I can see that I'll be heading that way often and doing some damage to the visa card whilst there, LOL! Once again, thank you for letting me know of their existence in Ottawa.Sandy

          42. MarieT | | #102

            Always a pleasure to share the wealth!



    2. user-87404 | | #32

      I began sewing out of need.  I favor my fathers side of the family with large shoulders (14)  and large rib cage with a size 10 body from the waist down.  We are an athletic family and both my daughter and I have the biceps to confirm that so, you learn to sew to accomodate the body. 

      I too would agree that our society has become a throw away, immediate gradification society.  Additionally, that in general, have absolutely no concept of proper fit.  I am disappointed that our youth are not taught proportion and balance for outfits.  And further disappointed that women over the age of 40 attempt to dress is the same type of attire as their daughters.

      I feel that it is a combination of lack of knowledge (yes it does make your butt look big), a need to comply with the "fashion statement" of the moment, a need to have it now and the availability of low cost goods.

      Perhaps we are just lucky but in the Portland, Oregon metro area we have many many options available to fulfill the needs of the quilter to the designer and everything in between.  Josephine's Dry Goods, Mill End Outlet, Fabric Depot (a full acre of fabric, supplies and classes) and enough Jo-ann Fabrics to satisfy the needs of quilters and crafters alike, while further down the road in Corvallis and Eugene are home to Rainshed and Green Pepper.

      So, perhaps the marketing effort towards the age group of the tweens should play more towards the benefits of clothing of your choice in the color and fit that flatters you rather than just quick and easy. 

      This and $3.50 will buy me a mocha in the northwest.....

  7. Berniece | | #24

    Dear Ragbag
    After reading all the replys to your message it seem that we all have the same problem all over the world, even here in Australia.
    I have to travel for 2hours by train to get to a "real Fabric" shop.
    In the 60/70's I taught at a Adult edcuation collage, dressmaking /millereny/Lingerie/ ladies' tailoring. These were 3year coarses and were fully booked for the duration.These classes have since vanished,and we are left with the very odd number of shops teaching basic sewing.With all the new Embroidery machines on the market I wonder what people are embroidering on,surely not quilts all the time!
    We have a few on-line fabric shops, but I like to "feel" the fabric before I buy it.
    Bring back the fabric shops, please.

    1. solosmocker | | #25

      They are embroidering on sweatshirts they bought from WalMart.

      1. Berniece | | #26

        Thanks for that.It is too hot in Australia for them, as it is Summer.

  8. fabriclover007 | | #33

    There are fabrics to find, you just have to be able to afford to travel to get to them.  For years my vacations have all been sewing related; I read online or in books about fabric stores then plan my vacation to visit one of those cities.

    I used to travel to Vogue Fabrics in Chicago once a month.  Vogue is my all-time favorite; beautiful goods; reasonable prices.  I like that they also carry some inexpensive fabrics as my budget can't always stand the designer quality.  I recently relocated to the East Coast so now I am fortunate enough to be in the area with G Street Fabrics.  I used to think I would have died and gone to heaven if I could just be near G Street; so many classes and such beautiful fabrics.  Alas, it's taken me many years and detours due to family obligations before I could make my dream come true of living here, but sadly there does not seem to be much offered in the way of classes anymore.  And to be truthful, I had to cut back on my fabric purchases as I've accumulated fabric for the last 25 yeas.  Everyone has stuff that it's so beautiful you can't bear to cut into it.    Still I'm looking forward to being able to go New York, even if I don't buy as much I still love to fondle it.

    Someone else mentioned the way we dress now.  I still wear a jacket to work everyday but my silk blouses have gone the way of sweaters.  I rarely wear blouses anymore.  I have tons of blouse fabric so short of using them for linings I will probably never use them.

    But, there's always more fabric to fondle.


  9. Kimosmamasan | | #38

    One place to find out where the fabric stores is:


    You can look up lots of things besides fabric stores there. I have visited the site since it's I found it 3 years ago. The site keeps growing.

    Truly where have the fabric stores gone? They've put things out that people apparently wanted. People stopped making clothes with quality fabrics. Why carry inventory of beautiful fabrics if they don't sell? Sometimes bean counters (AKA accountants) are making the decisions about what to sell. But if inventory doesn't move, the store isn't going to sell it.

    When I travel on business (on those rare occasions), I always scope out the fabric and yarn shops (and even quilting shops as I enjoy that, too). Sometimes I find some real gems. I usually carry a collapsible duffel bag in my suitcase so I can haul home my treasures...... ;D

    We sewers also need to support those local shops when we find them. Sometimes we can find the same thing on the internet a little cheaper but is it worth it to have your local shop go out of business because they can't sell their merchandise? After all the shop owner does have to make a living.

    Someone mentioned the cache of the 5 cent label meaning more than the fabric. I don't know about the rest of you, but I've done some shopping in RTW lately and I'm very disappointed in the crappy fabrics that are being used. Cheap and sleezy fabrics that grace the shelves of discount stores (which shall remain nameless) are sometimes nicer than the fabrics seen at formerly venerable shops like Ambercrombie & Fitch, the Limited, etc.

    I'm looking forward to the ending of the "negative design ease" in teens clothing. My 17 yo step daughter wears shirts that when off the body appear to be cut for my 5 year old niece. Sorry. I try to remember "this too shall pass" and I'm not doing particularly well with it. ;D  Teenagers. What a trip. What a strange, unusual, and sometimes very weird trip.

    Thanks for starting this thread and SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHOPS! If you have a local shop that has so-so fabric (not one of the big boxes like Joann or Hancock), ask them to carry something that you'd actually buy. My local quilt shop, Klassy Katz in Bartlett, TN, carries dressmaker fabric. She has a source for it since she started out as a clothing sewer! You might be surprised if you ask your local shop to carry something you think might sell. What's the worst answer you get..... 'NO!'.

    Have a great one!!!



    from the Land of Elvis

    1. Teaf5 | | #39

      Good suggestion, Susan, about asking a local shop to carry something different, though I wonder how far I would get asking our only local shop--a very upscale, artsy quilt store--to stock anything one could use for garments! They refuse to stock zippers, buttons, or anything other than premium quilting thread; I can't even get interfacing or twill tape there.
      To complete any project, even a small patching job, we have to rely on our own stash or drive to another town-- certainly not encouraging for new or even experienced sewers! I also like the earlier post about visiting fabric shops while on vacation, but how do you get the rest of the family to go along with you? Although they are creative folks, too, I really can't see my husband or teens waiting while I buy yards of delightful fabric, and I'd hate to miss the family hike or boat trip they'd rather do instead.

      1. ladyinred | | #91

        A possibly overlooked place to buy fabrics is the more "ethnic" stores. I visited Vancouver and took a long bus ride to a fabric store in the Indian section of town. They had beautiful fabrics for reasonable prices, and even though I won't use the silk for a sari, I bought it anyway.

    2. offerocker | | #40

      This may belong in another 'thread', but maybe we can start if from this.  You mentioned: "My 17 yo step daughter wears shirts that when off the body appear to be cut for my 5 year old niece. "  My question is "WHY".  Maybe if parents banded together, they would have THEIR own  'peer pressure' group, as to what teenagers wear, instead of the teenagers.  After all, who buys their clothing and lets them wear it?  If parents continue to bow to their children, I wonder what the next generation will be wearing????  I do not mean this personally, but maybe it's time to take back the reigns.  Our girls are too precious to be dressing this way.  Thank you for letting me voice my opinion.

      1. solosmocker | | #41

        Amen to your comments. I just wanted to add that I am bound and determined to teach my tiny grandaughter to sew. My grandmother taught me and I will teach her. I will take her to fabric stores and show her how to touch and drape the fabric. I will let her raid my stash for goods, to be made up in anything she wants. I will let her set on my lap while we do those first stitches. I will help her with doll clothes. I could go on and on but I WILL DO THIS !

        1. offerocker | | #42

          Thank you.

          I applaud you and your determination!

          The best way to learn is as you described, especially from a loved one.  I learned a lot through 4-H in addition to my mother, who 'could do anything'.  That seed of interest is most important, don't you think?  Plus the challenge to try 'other methods', and solve problems. 

          I've found a good source for fabric is by recycling great woolens from suits, jackets, coats found at local Salvation Army store.  They usually have certain 'color tickets' 1/2 price every day.  Wednesdays here everything (except one color) wearable is half price!  I've found some beautiful fabric with designer labels.  Never too young to learn about recycling and 'other sources'.  It takes time to weed out the man-made fibers, but well-worth the hunt - and she can also learn about different fabrics and their 'hand' at the same time.  Have fun!  They are lucky children/grandchildren!  Hats off to you.  I know you'll enjoy it too, eh?  

        2. offerocker | | #43

          I just happened to think...I am also a weaver, learned later in life.  Maybe now would be a good time to also teach her that.  Not the potholder stuff, but there are small weaving looms, all set up that you both could use to 'discover' that art.  I'll get you a link, if interested.  She may end up designing her own material also!!

          1. solosmocker | | #44

            Thanks so much. I would love that link. bunny

          2. offerocker | | #48

            Here it is, Bunny!  I just ordered two plastic boxes, $7.50 for 400 pins.  Don't think I'll run out, do you?  They just added it to their web site after I inquired why they appeared on a Link, but the Swiss pins didn't show on their site.  You'll need to go to Sewing notions or needles; pins are at the bottom.



            Looks like some nice material, and oodles of nice  patterns also.  Have fun!  Kathleen  

          3. solosmocker | | #52

            Thanks, Kathleen.
            I would also like to add "how 'bout those casual Fridays?" Well from my work vista, I have seen them turn into casual everydays. There are very few people today who wear professional clothing. When I went back into the work force, one of the rules was "dress like the job you want to have, not the one you have." I saw that pay off numerous times for numerous people. It is just a different world today. One of the reasons I liked my job that I just retired from is that it gave me a chance to wear really nice clothing and fulfill that need by sewing my own. bunny

          4. offerocker | | #53

            I had the same experience before I retired.  But now, what do I do with silk suits, etc.  I enjoyed being 'dressed', and the respect.  One drawback is that I no longer had a place to wear my 'better' clothes, so now I dread wearing most of my heels!  I was more conscious of my posture then also, and made sure I stayed 'fit' to look good in those clothes.  Anyone for some size 4-8 good suits?  ha ha  I can't find it in my heart to just get rid of them.  I'm now more comfortable in GOOD size 10, or relaxed 10, or just give me a 12 and call if comfy.  I am long from waist to crotch, and go from waistline to hips in 2 seconds.  I'm 5'6", 132 lbs.  But of course, it's all in the wrong place!  I DO NEED to make myself a pant pattern that fits, because 'off the rack' is so very time-consuming for me, (rarely fit) and very expensive, as some of 'the labels' fit better, of course - but then they don't have the mandatory pockets!  I used to make ALL my clothes - when I was single, of course.  I needed to, with scoliosis!  Had surgery since marriage ( 25 yrs), which helped immensely, but anyone who has back problems could spot mine also.  (takes one to recognize one).  I wear longer dresses and skirts now, so that I can get away with lower heels and sometimes nylons.  But I still love the natural materials - cotton, silk, linen, fine hemp for summer, and fine wool for winter.  I shop by the 'touchy-feely' method, LOL.

            You are so right about HOW one dresses.  This is long, but will relay an incident that happened when I was around 20.  I lived in a large city (1st job, away from home!!), and was at the largest dept store.  I waited at a counter for many long minutes, watching 2 sales ladies watchine me...they were very busy talking.  After awhile, I left, as I decided they weren't interested in helping me.  A couple days later, I dressed to the 'nines', in my yellow 'walking suit', matching gloves,  handbag , shoes, and hat - this was mid '60's at most.   WELL, did I ever get attention!  These same women couldn't wait to run and wait on me!  When asked "Can (not 'may') I help you", I replied:  "I doubt it!", turned on a dime and walked away.  Hey, I subtly got my revenge, and it felt good.  Further proof of how we present ourselves, and the reaction/response.

            A well-dressed woman will usually be perceived as one with authority or respect.  


          5. solosmocker | | #54

            I could have written your last post. I, too, have a closet of beautiful suits. I did look into a program "Dress for Success" which helps disadvantaged young women with clothing appropriate for interviews. You may want to check it out for your suits. Just type "Dress for Success" into Google. It is not active in our area but is in our former state, but I think I will bring my suits to New Hamp. to help someone out who is less fortunate. It's a great program.

          6. offerocker | | #55

            SOLO, I'm embarassed that I didn't think of that.  What a wonderful idea!  Like passing the relay stick, eh?  I'm so glad you wrote me about that; I'll certainly look into it in our area, or find something similar.  I'll feel better, 'passing them on', rather than selling them for too little.  These women have earned the right to have what we earned before them.  Hugs,  Kathleen

  10. acslifer | | #51

    You might want to try Michaels Fabrics (they are online) and have beautiful fabric at fair prices.  They have occasional clearances at which point the prices are wonderful.   I also buy silk organza for interfacing and china silk for lining from Super Silk and they are on line also.  Reasonable, fair and prompt.

  11. SewNancy | | #104

    You've missed http://www.manhattanfabrics.com. They are about as good as Emmaonesock with more fabrics. They even send a free piece of fabric with your order! Great service and good prices. They are the website of Paron fabrics in nYC where I have been shopping for years.
    If you are ever in the Asheville area of NC, stop in at Waechters fabric shop on Charlotte Street. They have great fabrics, buttons notions and trims and they are improving their website all the time. I was just in town visiting and did buy some fabric to add to my ever expanding stash.

  12. Rowena80233 | | #106

    Local Fashion Fabric Stores

    Another voice of frustration here about the lack of local fabric stores.  I do understand many of the causes, they are very clear and a symptom of several larger root causes. 1) We have skipped, at least, 1 generation of home sewers. We have done away with the home economics programs/classes in schools which is where most were exposed to sewing. Sewing does have a mathematical basis along with creative thought, visual design, problem-solving, etc., etc. but we don't seem to recognize it for teaching those skills. We never encouraged boys to learn those skills.  Too bad, there were many fine male tailors who were respected for their skill.  2) Girl Scouts and 4H are no longer promoted and encouraged but instead are seen as uncool but they were once also primary exposures to sewing. 3) Clothing is so mass produced in low-income countries that we no longer see it as a necessary skill.  However, maybe the focus should be updated to that of quality and as an creative outlet rather than one of frugality and economy. 4)Proper fitting and pattern adjustment was never adequately a part of traditional basic learning to sew programs but certainly should have been since many were disappointed and discouraged with what they produced as garments. 5)It's not instant gratification in our current 'want it now' world.  It takes time to build the skills and to create something worthwhile. 6) Virtual (online) shopping competition has forced local stores out of business but these products are so very tactile that it's impossible to provide a real substitute for the joy of touching/feeling and being surrounded by lovely, quality fabrics.  We have forgotten, or not been exposed to, that level of pleasure and the opportunity to compare side-by-side a number of fabric choices.7) Women are too worried that they will not appear to be professionals in whatever vocation they are involved in if they also build 'homely skills'.  and on and on. 

    Our generation of sewers needs to be vocal and active in teaching and preserving these skills.  It's the only way things might change.

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