Absolutely, local fabric shopping is available to me - and I avail myself of it (though I did less so during the years of the strong dollar, given that my local big box shop disappeared from downtown and I was routinely disappointed by the offerings at some of the larger fashion district stores). But times change so I've been doing more local recon in the District, and I'm very pleased by what I've been able to find of late.
To clarify, on the knit front, 5 years ago I couldn't source good local bamboo jersey, tencel, modal or terry (I'd never even seen it!). It was cotton, rayon or poly all the way and, really, a girl gets sick of rayon. I'm not big on most cottons (they don't tend to have good recovery and the colour goes chalky) and I will not touch polyester, durability notwithstanding, because it feels hideous to me. I also found the quality of the rayon to be hit and miss, often corrupted with synthetics.
But let's get on with the fun because, these new fabrics, do make dreaming of new garments very enjoyable:
|Oooooh - lots of pretties!!|
I bought 10 yards over all. Most of what I purchased was at this place I've never paid any attention to before. I mean, I'm sure I've been in, but I don't remember.
Alas, I can't recall the name but I can say that it's next door to Moog. OK, I street-view Google-mapped it and it's called Chu-Shing Textiles. BTW, I can't find much about them online but what I have found completely corroborates my experience: likely family run, extremely well-organized (they had me at hello) and expensive. What's not to love? Let's not forget the elephant in the room: Yeah, I've bought 10 yards of fabric in shades of blue and not a pattern to be seen. If we were to catalog every yardage I've ever bought, 80 per cent of it would be in shades of blue/grey/aubergine, 10 per cent would be cerise or fuchsia and the rest would be, well, who the hell knows?
What I really like about this haul is that the SA at Chu-Shing confirmed that she sells all of the fabrics I purchased, in many colours, and that they're continuity stock. So no need to freak out when and if I want more.
Lavender / Grey Modal Jersey
You know I freakin' LOVE the modal. And it's almost impossible to find anywhere (though more available now than ever before). I bought 2 yards at 70" wide (like unicorn width!) which is enough yardage to make a dress and a top, I suspect. This fabric has awesome recovery and lovely drape. It doesn't photograph particularly well, the colour is smokey but it's more on the lavender than grey side of the spectrum. See the bottom fabric of the first photo in this post for a better sense of the colour... It was (don't quote me on this - all the prices started to blend) $20/yard. Chu-Shing does cut yards, not metres, which when you're looking at fabrics of that dollar-value, can start to make a difference if you purchase in volume.
Bamboo French Terry Jersey
Gillian's always talking about the terry and I don't know where she finds it because I've NEVER seen it in a store before. She maintains that it's got lovely hand and drape but all I could envision, before I met this particular fabric, was a short robe from 1976 or a tennis skirt - you know, really bulky, non-stretch and kind of creepy to the touch. Now Gillian knows her fabric, so I've kept an open mind. But I was still shocked when I found this navy bamboo terry. It's very sleek. It has beautiful stretch and recovery (it's not overly firm). The loops on the wrong side are so tiny that they fade into the fabric (see the second photo below).
|Navy Bamboo French Terry Jersey|
|See how TINY those loops are? But they're so cozy soft...|
|Bamboo French Terry Jersey|
Apparently French terry isn't generally made from bamboo. This stuff is definitely of excellent quality and the price supports that. I believe it was $24/yard for 50" width. Keep in mind that tax adds 13% on all prices here (after the fact), so this wasn't a cheap haul. I got 1.25 yd of the navy (that was all they had left) and 2 yds of the slate.
A propos of fabric and pricing, I do want to detour very slightly: For years, and I know I'm not alone here, my sweet spot price for stretch fabrics was 8 - 12 bucks a yard or metre. As I've improved in my craft - and as I've had the chance to wear a lot of self-made garments many, many times - I've come to realize that my sewing may not be perfect, but the finished product warrants the best fabrics I can afford. The reason I spend a lot of money on high-end RTW is because I appreciate not only the design, but the execution (which has everything to do with the hand, weight and drape of the fabric). Good fabrics recover well. They look beautiful from a distance, and up close. They last without pilling. So if you're going to spend 15 hours making that damn dress, use a fabric you won't loathe the look of in 6 months.
Now, having said this, I've had a lot of difficulty finding fabrics of the quality I feel happy to spend $25 bucks a yard on. So I'm really pleased (understatement) to say that I've found a place locally to fit this niche. Online, it's hit or miss. Blackbird Fabrics, in my limited experience, has had the best jersey I've found online, but the cost is prohibitive (and it's in Canada). If I'm going to spend more than 15 bucks a yard, optimally, I need to feel it first. So perhaps the tanked dollar has facilitated a new awareness - not to mention that the improved quality of fabric in the fabric district seems to be playing along nicely.
Navy Cotton Jersey
|Navy Cotton Jersey|
FYI, I bought this at my regular place, the name of which I cannot remember but it's on Queen West, right next to the Wool House and it's in the basement. It's run by the nephew of the King Textiles owner. They sometimes have some good jersey (of all types) and sweater fabrics but it's hit and miss. I believe I spent $12 bucks a yard for this and I got 3 yards... It's 52"wide.
Electric Blue Bamboo Jersey
Finally, back at Chu-Shing, I found a DELICIOUS bamboo jersey. Lord, once you've found bamboo jersey, the regular rayon stuff just seems cheap. This has awesome hand and even better drape than the modal. It's substantial but not bulky. It would make great leggings or yoga pants or a dress or a top or anything, really. The colour is saturated and beautiful.
What you'll note about all of these fabrics is that they are predominantly natural - bamboo, rayon (modal is made of rayon) and cotton. (Sidebar clarification from Tanit-Isis: "Modal, Tencel, and bamboo are all varieties of rayon/viscose." I didn't know that! I mean, I knew about modal and tencel being part of the rayon family, but I thought that bamboo was fluffy like cotton! Don't ask me why.) Yeah, they've all got spandex in them (that's what gives them awesome recovery and drape), but there's no other synthetic to obstruct the natural properties. And yeah, we can debate the naturalness of rayon, but I'm in the camp that says, extrusion or no, it's more natural, to the feel and with wear, than "synthetics" (as I have known them). Sadly, now I have to come to terms that bamboo isn't a cute fluffy that can be turned into fabric fibre without excessive chemical intervention. Live and learn.
FYI, Chu-Shing sells a synthetic, very substantial and firm stretch fabric (a bit like scuba but more like the stuff they make bandage dresses from) for 45 bucks a yard. It is awesome, though I'm not so much in a bandage dress phase. It would go extremely well with leather, intercut, to make pants or a skirt. It's also sold in many colours.
So that's the latest haul. $200ish bucks and 10 yards later, I have at least 7 garments worth of material. Not bad when you view it through that lens.
Thoughts or feelings?