OK, I’ve been bad

But I have good excuses for the long absence. I’ve been touring the world visiting family. Literally. London to Taiwan (via HK) to New Zealand (via HK) to Australia to Los Angeles to Columbus and back (via Los Angeles). Mea Culpa on the carbon footprint. And it isnt’ as glamorous as it sounds. I’m totally fried from all those flights. I need a holiday!

On the plus side I did check out fabric stores all over the world. The only omission is in Taipei, where I didn’t discover where the fabric district was until it was too late. But since then, I’ve made a point of seeking them out.

So here’s the low down of where I visited. And my latest acquisitions.

Taipei,  Taiwan

There’s a whole bunch of fabric shops to the northwest of Taipei Main Station around Nanjing West Road (南京西路) & Dihua Street (迪化街). I only found out because the bus to the National Palace Museum passed by these shops. And now I Googled, there seems to be a fabricholic’s paradise called Yongle Fabric Market (永樂市場)… Must. Visit. Next. Time…Drool.

Christchurch, New Zealand

Christchurch is rather too suburban for my taste. Especially as I don’t drive. It was next to impossible to find the fabric stores. So I only got to visit one: Fabric Vision‎ (39 Main North Road, Papanui, 8053).  And within 5 minutes of arriving it was closing for the day ( it was only 4pm). Looks like a typical suburban fabric store. Not huge, but enough variety when you’re desperate. Needless to say I didn’t get anything here.

But I did experience some earthquakes. A bit like bad air turbulence. Luckily it only lasted a few seconds. Any more I would have freaked out.

Sydney, Australia

Sydney feels a bit more like NYC, but more outward looking. I mean towards the harbors and sea. So maybe that’s why it doesn’t seem to have a centralised fabric district. I could only track down two fashion fabric stores: Tessuti Fabrics (110 Commonwealth St, Sydney NSW 2010) and The Fabric Store (21 Cooper Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010). Neither are huge. Both seem to organise fabrics primarily by color. What does that says about Aussies? 😉

I did have minor success here. I got these lovely asian looking nylon-spandex silky prints from The Fabric Store. They are designer fabrics, but I can’t remember who. And anyway, it wouldn’t have mattered as I won’t buy something just because it’s designer. The only disappointment is that the print is naturally just one side. So the wrong side is rather ugly. And being totally synthetic, it might get a bit sweaty to wear. Imagine if it were pure silk….

And at $30/yd, it’s up there with my typical NYC purchase. Ouch.

Los Angeles, California, USA

Even before I left London I was excited to stop by Los Angeles. For I had Googled and found a LA Fashion District site indicating there’s a Fabric District. Plus from Project Runway Season 6 I knew there was a branch of Mood Fabrics in LA.

The problem is LA is another very spread out town. And by now I’ve lost my chauffeur – aka le Boyfriend. I end up spending most of my time on buses, because frustratingly Mood isn’t in the Fabric District.

But boy was I glad to have stopped by Mood. For when I got to the Fabric District, I was rather disappointed to find mainly small cheap shops, many selling pretty much the same not so high quality stuff.

(Sorry, picture from Google Map. Too tired to take any of my own.)

But hey, if you want $1/yd fabrics to experiment with, this is the place for you! Never have I found fabric so cheap. (OK, maybe Taipei or some 3rd world markets if I had visited.)

If my suitcase had been bigger and US Airways not charging the earth for baggage, I might have picked up some of these dirt cheap fabric anyway. For fitting muslims they might just fit the bill. But as I was on a trip taking me from the height of summer (28°C) to the depth of freezing winter (-6°C), there was no room for mindless purchases.

Here are what I managed to pick up in LA:

Faux fur
Flesh color jersey
Flocked denim

All from Mood. Roughly dressed up how I envision I’ll use them.

Faux croc leather in red & brown (from LA fabric district)
Grey denim with a touch of stretch (from Mood)

I think the faux leather might have been from Deco Design Fabrics, 512 East 9th Street in Downtown Los Angeles. I got them primarily to make handbags, after being inspired by Bags You Can Make blog.

The denim is to replace my beloved Miss Selfridge peddle pusher jeans that I worn to death. But I might try to squeeze a tailored jacket out of it too.

All together these cost me like $125 for 8 yards. That’s like a tenth of what I spent on my last trip to NYC! (Give me luxury fabrics over designer anything any day! :-D)

Oh, and one mustn’t forget the lovely Fashion Bookstore inside the California Market Center building on 110 E 9th St. It’s got an amazing range of fashion & apparel books & magazines, including plenty of sewing, fitting, pattern drafting ones. I wished I had more time to browse.

Columbus, Ohio, USA

And Columbus has…Jo-Ann’s. And more Jo-Ann’s! I’m sure I’d find something to buy if my stash wasn’t overflowing. But there’s nothing special here that would have parted me with my money despite myself.

On the other hand, I love browsing these warehouse size craft shops. If I have one nearby I’d no doubt squander lots of loose changes in it!

And the conclusion?

There is still no place like home. That’s NYC, not London (despite me being here like forever now). The wallet might be happier else where, but there’s still nowhere that beats NYC garment district for sheer concentrated fabric lushness.

Care to contradict me? Where do you love to shop for fabrics and why?

Fabricholic Hell & Fabricholic Heaven

Le Trench had hit a hitch. I was concentrating so hard that my tracing wheel broke under the strain. So, fine, I finally placed an order online for a new one – no, I can’t find any locally. But days later, still no package. Luckily, while stewing over what to do next and starting on homemade shoulder pads for Le Trench, I stumbled across a sneaky back up tracing wheel hiding in the back of a sewing bits & bobs drawer. So tracing will commence again tomorrow.

In the meanwhile, of course I couldn’t help myself and started browsing for yet more fabrics online. Am oggling over luscious knits at Tia Knight’s ebay store (& her own website which offers free shipping on orders over £50). Thankfully there’s so much choices that I’m paralysed into not ordering more. Not just yet anyway.

Fabricholic Hell…

And also in the meanwhile, I’m suffering a Fabricholic’s worst nightmare: The Battle of the Moths. My walls are covered with Mama & Papa moths’ blood stains. And the freezer too has been taken over by clothing in an attempt to exterminate those pesky Baby moths. I haven’t gotten around to the fabrics just yet. I’m praying that the boxes they’re in protect them to a better extent than my closet, which has curtains instead of doors because London apartments simply don’t have enough space for outward opening closet doors.

And here’s the load I’m fighting for. You think I’m kidding when I say 191 fabrics and counting? Ha! Here’s the proof: pages after pages of swatches. And that’s not including the latest load. (And what I might just order from Tia Knight any day now.)

The swatch books was an attempt to get on top of the fabrics. I thought if I can carry swatches of what I have with me when I go fabric shopping, then I’ll be less likely to end up with more of the same. There’s only so many washed out pastel habutoi a girl needs.

That it did help a bit. But so far no luck matchmaking fabrics to patterns, and the expectant piles of fab clothing yet. Not even after I’ve measured & noted how much I have of everything. I’ve given up identifying fibers. Like many others I have no luck with the burn tests. And as I have a reputation for burning pots & kettles, I thought it safer to keep away from boxes of matches.

On the rare occasions I did find a match for a pattern, it was also getting hard to keep track of which box the candidate slept in. So eventually I numbered all the boxes (and trunk), and noted the number on the swatches.

My 26 boxes + 1 trunk of catalogued fabrics. Not including the latest uncatalogued pile…

Fabricholic Heaven

At least the moths and I have something in common: An obsession with fabrics. I’ll probably come back in the next life as a moth for all the moths I’ve just killed.

And when I get swatted, please send me to this heaven, with all expenses paid & unlimited fabric budget of course!

Fabric Heaven…B&J Fabrics in NYC
(where all my hard-earned cash goes to rest)

Rules are meant to be broken right?

Tacky or Edgy?

Having riled against cheap fabrics what do I then do? Order some potentially tacky snake-skin print jersey over the internet of course! 😀

So the deed is done. In a few days, my stash would have gone up by 6 pieces or 18 meters. Three more and it’ll tip over. (If only the stock market is doing as well!)

At least none were over £2.99/m, and a couple even £1.99/m. And luckily I found the shop’s own website (www.minervacraftsandfabrics.co.uk) so was able to get free delivery as well. I had originally found the shop on eBay and would have paid at least £15 in postage. But the shop was very helpful. They helped me cancelled my eBay orders so I can order direct and save. Whether they can help me with tacky fabric choices or not is a totally different matter!

Here’s a couple that could be duds or gems:


Don’t ask. I always seems to fall for muddy colored fabrics that look interesting in themselves but terrible on me! }:-) I’m hoping these will look more Vivienne Westwood or Jean-Paul Gaultier than, erm, cheap club kids?

Vogue 1159

As for next project, I’ve settled on Vogue 1159 Donna Karan dress. Like a few others I’ve decided to go for a plain knit, but in a mid- to light-tone to better show off the drapes. At the moment I think it’ll be either one of  these new acquisitions:

At £1.99/m, the dress  will cost me a mere £4 if I succeed. Amazing. I’m not sure what to do for skirt lining though. Presumably it needs to be stretchy. But stretch lining come in such limited range of colors. I might try to do without the lining. Need to study other’s attemps more.

And I will definitely do something about the low armhole, see if I can raise it a bit at the pattern stage. Thank goodness for Pattern Review (though website-design-wise I like knitters’ Ravelry much better). I’m also not entirely sure I like the back sleeve view. A bit too sporty looking for me. One to sleep on.