Buying Fabric in San Francisco

Front of Frabric Outlet store showing signage

Here’s what it looks like from the outside

I made a visit to Fabric Outlet in the Mission District of San Francisco in order to post a review as a community service to you all.

In truth, I was was pretty keen to to see the place as it had such good reviews on line.

I’d been to the Mission District before, where Fabric Outlet is located, in order to visit Gracias Madre vegan Mexican restaurant, which Tinkerer and I were invited to on a previous holiday after requesting an authentic San Francisco dining experience. I loved Gracias Madre but I think it’s fair to say that Tinkerer regards vegan cheese as a bridge too far.

I remembered the area around the 16th and Mission BART station as grimy and impoverished. This time I visited in the mid-morning and I found the area downright unpleasant.

If you decide to visit, wear closed shoes, or at least your Birkenstocks to get your feet off the ground a bit. I understand that homelessness and poverty are complex problems to solve, but getting a street cleaner out on a regular basis should be manageable by the local authorities. The stench of urine around the BART station was overwhelming. And don’t get me started on the pigeons. If you have a bird phobia at all, stay away.

Interior view of fabric Outlet showing rolls of ribbon

And the inside

It was a short walk to Fabric Outlet and I recommend visiting if you have a need for a specialty fabric or anything unusual such as fake fur, or leather, or sequins. The range is excellent and includes notions, patterns and upholstery fabric. Prices seemed reasonable to my inexperienced eyes and they had a 40% off promotion running on the day I visited. Sadly for me the promotion didn’t include oil cloth, which was the one thing I was looking to buy.

The style of the store was also more human than you might find at a fabric store at a suburban mall, perhaps due to it being located in a basement and having fewer bright lights to dazzle you.

The only fabric I brought home that day was a couple of metres of new quilting type fabric from Thrift Town next door. I’m still not sure if it is 100% cotton or a blend, but as I’m planning to use it for rug weaving I’m happy either way.

 

 

A Warm Welcome at In Between Stitches in Livermore, CA

Quilt samples on display, pineapple quilt and bolts of fabric

Not usually my cup of tea but I even thought these pineapples were cute.

I bought a $4 silicone thimble at In Between Stitches and I received a warm welcome on a 38 C degree day, which I believe is 100 F. Regardless of your measurement system, I think we can agree that’s a hot a hot day. Hot enough for ice cream, but that came later.

If the weather was warm, the welcome at In Between Stitches was equally so. I met one of the owners who took the time to chat with me, told me which is her favourite quilting magazine, wished me a good visit to California and even sent me away with a complimentary copy of Better Homes and Gardens Quilt Sampler Magazine from 2010 in which their store was featured. This is easily the most authentic and friendly response I’ve had when I’ve mentioned this blog to any quilt store proprietor, in any country and I am thankful and appreciative. These people do so much more than parrot ‘Have a nice day’ when you leave.

Cutting area inside the store with work in progress and quilts hanging on the wall behind
They offer classes, have a beautifully designed shop and the samples are to my mind tasteful and inspiring. If you’re in the Livermore area, visit this shop at 2190 First St. You won’t regret it.

Photos were taken with permission.

A Virtual Friend becomes a Real One in Virginia City, NV

Court House at Virginia City, NV

Court House at Virginia City, NV

This weekend I had the pleasure of meeting one of my virtual friends Michelle, who blogs at Sleepy Cat Hollow. We started following each other’s WordPress blogs some years ago, then exchanged a mail or two and connected on that other social networking site.

This weekend we got to meet Michelle and her lovely husband. They were kind enough to introduce us to geocaching and to the historic silver mining town of Virginia City in Nevada. It was delightful to have the opportunity to turn a virtual friend into a real one and to meet some people with a knowledge of the area that goes back to their childhood years. 

Thank you Michelle and Lee.

A Visit to Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Supplies

img_0363In the interest of research I made a trip to Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Supplies at Pacific Commons in Fremont, California. The location is quite beautiful, as you can see from this car park photo. It feels like those hills follow you wherever you go in these parts, and they are spectacular to look at, particularly when the setting sun exaggerates the contours of the land by casting deep shadows. I got to Pacific Commons by bus, itself an adventure in this state where the car, SUV and truck reign supreme.

Shelving units at Jo-Ann's

It’s a spacious store

Generally I’m finding bus travel to be convenient and easy, though sometimes you can be faced with some serious walks just to get from one place to another once you reach your destination, particularly when you are going to a new shopping centre in a suburban location. It appears the planners assumed you would be driving, rather than walking, from one shop to the next.

I had read about Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores  as a place where many sewers get their fabric. The range was large and the whole shop was huge.  Many blog posts mentioned  making purchases only with a coupon and I could see why, as prices seemed to be on the high side. Financially, you’d definitely better off buying fabric in Bangkok though no shop I have seen in Bangkok could match Jo-Ann’s for range. And then there’s the cost of the air ticket…

Bolts of unpatterned fabrics on display shelvesThe selection of upholstery fabric was really impressive and it was good to see both upholstery fabric, fashion fabric and quilting fabric all in the same shop. That doesn’t tend to happen in Australia or New Zealand.

I bought a couple of dress patterns and some crochet cotton to continue my band weaving using a finer weight yarn, in the hope it will give me a better finish.

The checkout operator generously let me use my 40% off coupon even though it hadn’t downloaded correctly to my phone. Full marks for customer service on that one.

 

Nomadic Weaving Sami Style

I’m away from my big looms right now. My temporary status as a nomadic person gives me the opportunity to try my hand at Sami style band or tape weaving. The Sami are the nomadic peoples of northern Scandinavia but the tape weaving tradition is well established  in Sweden also.

If you’re interested in getting up and running with this technique yourself, this Band Weaving site, written in Swedish, has photos that illustrate the components clearly enough that you could get by without reading the words.
Here’s my kit.

Wooden band weaving supplies, backstrap and heddle

Portable. Perfect!

Here’s my warping board. In my enthusiasm, I forgot to make a cross and I paid the price with tangles later, but it was nothing that couldn’t be fixed.

And here’s the work in progress.

Tape weaving showing heddle harness and  shuttle

Not bad for my first project

I plan to apply steam to finish the tape to try and get it smoother but first there is a lot more weaving to do. Next I will experiment with different fibres and colours. The fine holes on the Stoorstålka heddle are a bit limiting on using heavier yarn for the pattern threads it seems to me. I wonder how others have dealt with that. I can’t be the first.

Butterick 5347 – A Breezy Summer Dress

This has already proven itself to be a very wearable summer dress. I found the pattern at my local thrift store and used the smallest multi-size available, which was 16. 

I read recently that the big pattern companies haven’t changed their sizing in a very long time and that you need to use the measurement charts rather than your normal dress size when selecting a pattern. Based on this experience that sounds about right. I wouldn’t buy a ready-made garment in size 16, but this dress was a reasonable fit. Admittedly it is designed to be loose fitting, so there’s a bit of intended wiggle room (aka pattern ease).

Pattern and construction adjustments: roughly two inches of length removed from the bodice, bust dart extended, longer zipper than recommended as I used a zipper from my stash, no hook and eye closure above the zipper, French seams on the side seams which resulted in seams of about 1.8cm instead of the called for 1.5 cm.

What I would do differently next time: slightly lower the bust dart, make a small full bust adjustment, better workmanship on the zipper, stronger stitching at the start and end of the sleeve, follow the construction instructions.

I got myself in a spot of bother by inserting the zipper before sewing the neck/arm facing, which meant I couldn’t turn the two back sections through the facing. I got out of trouble but not turning the facing at the armscye and instead sewing through all thicknesses from the right side. developing the solution took a bit of thinking and was a valuable learning experience. I should, of course, have anticipated the problem, but I didn’t.

Cotton summer dress with cap sleeves

I had the perfect button in my button box


This dress was my first project with my new Janome sewing machine. Rather than spending time sewing scraps I decided to just get on with a real project to get familiar with the machine. I had to unpick a little more than usual but I had a wearable dress at the end of the process. Happy with that.

Fancy Fox Finished

 

Seems we’ve hit winter here in Melbourne and the available light is not great for photography. The maximum temperature in Melbourne today was 14 C  (57F) and when I got up this morning the living room was not far above that temperature. So far I’m layering with woolens and resisting the temptation to turn the heating on but I expect to weaken soon.

I’ve been chipping away at hand sewing the binding on the Fancy Fox quilt. It’s a task I quite enjoy but one I prefer to do in natural light, which means on weekends, generally.

The quilting was done by professional long armer Pam Hammer, who suggested the modern design to go along with the modern quilt. Tinkerer dropped this one off to her so Pam and I chatted on the phone. Initially Pam thought it was a strange variety of house quilt but then she turned it around and the foxes leaped out at her.

I’m looking forward to handing this one over to a beautiful baby girl who I haven’t met yet, even though she must be getting towards a year old now.

Now, it’s back to the looms.