We lose track of the number of sewing friends who ask us this question; “Where did you get your beautiful fabrics?” While teaching and manning our booth at sewing expos the last two weekends we consistently replied, we buy fabric whenever and wherever we see it! Because of our fabric buying addiction, we often shop in our own stash for fabric to make a new sample or fill a hole in our wardrobes.
One such special garment is the Tree of Life Tabula Rasa on the new fall home page header. I had planned to write this blog post about its fun inseam buttonholes with linen frames, its wide band with a faux shawl collar, and the many design features like the wider band and the tucks at the back neck inspired by the cotton woodblock fabric’s repeat. But all I could think about was the trip to France in 2008 where I purchased the fabric.
Our good friends John and Susie and our daughters Anna and Sarah met Jim and I in Provence for the Christmas holidays. One of our first day trips was to L’Isle Sur la Sorgue to fill the pantry of our rental house at the Sunday market. But I also wanted to hunt for the Michel Biehn Shop. I had read about the legendary textile shop in a travel magazine and was determined to find the beautiful old home that housed the shop and museum quality antiques. Michel Biehn is known in France for his books about traditional Provençal textiles, foods, and home decorating. His collection of antiques and costumes was housed in two rooms and the other rooms were filled with hand-blocked cottons for purchase as scarves, pillows, bags, garments and best of all, by the yard.
It was quite an adventure choosing which fabrics to buy. There was literally a wall of fabric bolts, many of which coordinated in color and design. I chose a black and red floral first and got 1 1/2 meters in hopes that it would coordinate with an Indian woodblock print I had received as a gift. I thought about stopping there, but the temptation was just too great. I chose the 3 cottons used in the Tree of Life top because I loved the print and the colors. But there was also a group of terra cotta colored fabrics that caught my eye so I chose three of those prints too. I bought 1 meter of my two favorites in each group and 1/2 meter of the third fabric for accents.
When I returned home after a wonderful trip, I was delighted to find that the red and black floral coordinated quite well with my stash fabric. Here you see it stitched up into a wonderful quilted jacket. The three coordinating terracotta cottons were stitched up into a Tabula Rasa for my traveling companion Susie who was in fabric heaven with me that day in L’Isle Sur la Sorgue.
When we were checking out at Michel Biehn that Sunday, we learned that the owner and his beautiful fabrics were moving to Morocco in search of a new creative vision. I am sure glad I experienced his wonderful shop before it closed. The garments I made with the lovely fabrics remind me regularly of that inspiring day and that memorable trip to Provence.
Where is the most exotic place you have purchased fabric? Is the fabric now part of your wardrobe or awaiting inspiration in your stash? Share your stories with us and we promise to share more travel logs with you that answer the question, “Where did you get your fabric?”
Happy Sewing, RAE
PS, I am headed to London and Bath for Christmas 2015. Any suggestions for fabric stores there?
4 thoughts on “Where Do You Get Your Fabrics?”
I have dupioni silk from Hong Kong, and I didn’t go there! I have a friend who works for a bank with HQ there and she was sent to work in Hong Kong for 6 months. I asked if she would bring me back silk. I gave her a list of a few places I found online and her bank co-workers helped her get there. They knew the fabric district because many of them sew. The shop was having a sale and I got my silk for $5 a yard! And the bank has many people who travel back and forth regularly. When they found out how little room silk takes up in a suitcase, they offered to bring fabric home whenever I want more.
Way back in 1966 another young couple (yes, I was young then) and their small kids moved in to the garden apt. next to ours. F. also sewed and had studied in Belgium and then apprenticed with a Brussels couturier for several years before emigrating to Canada and starting a family. I learned so much from her. During their first trip back to Belgium my friend visited her mentor who sent her home with a pile of remnants from the couture “shop”. I was the lucky recipient of a beautiful white & gray wool boucle which became a classic wrap skirt. It seemed to go with anything and was my “go to” skirt for years while working (with a few adjustments along the way). When I began working in a more casual environment I finally sadly sent it off to the consignment shop – the fabric still looked like new – talk about quality fabric! This coming weekend I will be travelling to spend our Canadian Thanksgiving with that same friend, her children, and grand children………..ah………so many fabric & sewing stories we’ve shared over the years.
There is a wonderful fabric shop in Bath Don’t remember the name Just ask where the wool shop is and the shop is just across the street in a little alley
I was there last year in May
Hope you find it!
Thanks for the tip and all the good stories. RAE