Tag Archives: stash

Buying Fabric in Bangkok

Bangkok is so far the best place I’ve been to buy fabric. Better than Hong Kong, better than Sydney, better than Melbourne, better than San Diego, better than Singapore and better than Auckland.

There is the possibility of civil unrest or terrorist activity in Thailand but these things can happen in our home locations, too, so keep an eye on your country’s travel advisories, the Bangkok local media and do your best to anticipate if there might be trouble ahead. We did those things, but no-one can predict an unpleasant event like the Erawan shrine bombing that happened on our last night in Bangkok. It was very distressing to hear of the loss of life and injuries, not too far from where we were staying. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families.

Street view over Sampeng Lane from the local overpass.

The start of Sampeng Lane from the local pedestrian overpass.

I heartily recommend Jills Quilt Site for its excellent Sampeng Lane map and her general advice on buying fabric in Bangkok. I printed out her Sampeng Lane map and brought it with me but sadly didn’t consult it until I was well past China World Mall.

I did go to Phahurat Market though and loved every minute of the fabric shopping there. They had a good selection of upholstery and dress fabrics and plenty of notions. Unexpectedly, we even stumbled upon a stall of Swedish collectibles and bonded with the Thai Muslim proprietor over our shared love of flea markets, known as loppis in Swedish. We didn’t share too many words, but loppis was one we all know.

Getting to the Phahurat Market and Sampeng Lane using Public Transport

We took the underground train to Hua Lamphong station (3 Baht for a visit to the rest room there and BYO paper, by the way), then the the number 7 bus to Phahurat Market, which is right next door to a Sikh temple. If the bus goes over the river and you haven’t got off yet, you’ve gone too far. The bus conductor was apologetic when this happened to us but it was easily fixed by boarding the next bus going in the opposite direction. No harm done, except for 20 Baht worth of additional bus fares. Which is nothing when you get paid in dollars.

Phahurat Market is a building, not a street market. It has four levels of clothes and fabric mostly, and a tasty food court on the fifth floor. I can recommend the chat samosa, a vegetarian samosa accompanied by a chickpea (garbanzo) curry. In a tropical country, if in doubt, go vegetarian. That’s my advice for maintaining stomach stability. It worked on this trip.

I bought some beautiful blue linen Phahurat Market, a bargain at 200 baht for 2 metres (and yes, I bargained, just gently, to get a small reduction.) We then headed back towards the station along Sampeng Lane, where I bought a sarong, something that is a holiday ritual for me. Every trip to Asia brings a new sarong for the collection. My beloved picked up a seam ripper on Sampeng Lane for literally pennies and we both enjoyed the adventure of exploring this part of town. The Sampeng Lane shops have home shrines within them, which was an eye-opener.

Here’s the loot:

A scarf, some linen fabric and a sarong.

A: Handwoven cotton scarf (180 Baht.)Purchased at Central World in support of HM Queen Sirikit’s birthday.

B: 2 metres of shirt weight linen fabric (200 Baht.) Purchased at Phahurat Market.

C: Cotton sarong of approx 1.8 metres length (250 Baht.) Purchased at Sampeng Lane. Probably Indonesian origin.

Put on your walking shoes, pack your fan and your water bottle and go have some fabric fun on Sampeng Lane. You’ll end your day hot and tired, but happy.

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Not Hoarding, Accessioning

Weaving supplies are hard to find, so you have to take your chances.

It’s been hot, hot, hot here in Melbourne, too hot to weave or do a whole lot of anything. The rainwater tank is empty and the garden is dead.

Of course it’s never too hot to browse online auctions and classifieds. Last week I spotted a yard sale at a place called The Weavers’s Cottage. That semed to good to miss so we went along early in the day before the real heat kicked in.

The hour’s drive was well worth it. Not only did I pick up this haul of yarn and supplies, but my beloved found two good quality saws for his tool shed. We like to think of it as accessioning. They’re just not making this stuff any more, not to this quality standard and not in our part of the world.

The yarn is a bit smelly and probably lived in a damp garage for a while before making it to my hands. A few days in out of its plastic bag in this weather should sort that out. The shuttles were dirty but are now usable after a good scrub in soapy water.

Yarn and weaving shuttles from a yard sale

Smelly Yarn, Great Shuttles

In the spirit of de-accessioning my next project will be a small rag rug to cement some of my newly learned skills and use of some of Tinkerer’s old business shirts that we have washed and broken down. After that, now that I have some rug weight yarn, I feel a krokbragt rug coming on.

Stash-busting Fabric Purses

Fabric purse decorated with pink trimAmerican Patchwork and Quilting is a great magazine, one I would happily pay money for if only I could get it delivered to Australia. They also have a number of excellent free patterns at AllPeopleQuilt.

When I say ‘free,’ you do have to register to get access to the free patterns. Other patterns are available to buy. Once you register, they email you a set of project ideas from time to time. I think it’s well worthwhile registering as it’s a high quality site and I have found the free stuff to be all I need.

reversible purse with red dotted fabric and a muted green lining

I’m keeping this one

These purses are made with the Reversible Purse pattern, one of many free bag, purse and tote patterns available on the site. The one with the floral design is planned as a gift. It won’t look good reversed, which was my design decision. The dotted print purse is reversible. I’ll be keeping that one for myself and I doubt very much I’ll ever use the green side.

I’m happy with these and happy to have consumed a little of my stash, too. Each purse requires half a yard of fabric for each side. The instructions are OK, but get easier once you’ve completed your first purse. Nothing unusual, there.

Basket Weaving

No, I’m really not planning to take up basket weaving but I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to buy Canework by Charles Compton, de-accessioned from the Handweaving and Spinning Guild of Victoria’s library and on sale at their textile bazaar, held this morning.
inkle loom, cotton and linen yarns

The photo shows my purchases from that sale – an inkle loom and shuttle, one roll of cotton yarn and two of linen (both from Sweden) and some ratchet wheels for that day we decide to build our own loom.

I got to chat with some guild members I hadn’t met before and even swapped knot techniques with one of the senior members, who was pointed out to me as the inkle loom expert. This delightful lady was of retirement age and willing to share and enthusiastic about learning. Once she explained to me that the inkle loom warp is a continuous circle and that I need to thread alternate warp ends through the heddles, it all fell into place. I did take the opportunity to borrow a book called Inkle Loom Weaving by Frances B. Smith from the guild library as a reference though. The guild charges members 50 cents per book borrowed which is something I’ve never come across before. Perhaps the charge is to fund the library’s accession program. I’d love to know.

The knot technique I taught the lady was an English knot or fisherman’s knot, one I’ve had to do a few times lately after messing up my most recent warp so badly that all I could do was cut it, sort it out and retie it over the warp rod. That will be a blog post for another day, but the lesson learned is that two crosses are NOT better than one.

Meanwhile I’m stash busting with a log cabin quilt. I’m calling it a warm hearted log cabin because it has larger central squares than my previous log cabin. This setting is called barn raising.

Log cabin quilt vlocks laid out in barn raising setting

Barn Raising

I decided on a log cabin because I wanted something to do where the piecing would just flow without too much thinking or fiddling about. Work is busy at the moment and I just wanted to be able to cut and sew without running back and forth to the ironing board or fiddling with triangles.

I went to Generations Quilt Patterns to look at what they had to say about layouts. They had advice on how to make sure no two log cabin blocks abut each other with the same fabric. I din’t want to be that particular. It seems to go against the spirit of a scrap quilt. I just tried to make sure I mixed things up a bit as I went.

A Stash of a Different Kind

Just what I needed. Weaving has given me the opportunity to start a yarn stash as well as a fabric stash.

cones of yarn for sale at the handweavers and spinners sale

A table full of warp yarns

The Victorian Handweavers and Spinners Guild had their biannual (I think) yarn sale last weekend. I went along and brought home a couple of cones of yarn for warps (one pure wool, one a blend), an unwanted chain of cotton warp for a rag rug and some soft and blue knitting wool for a scarf weft. It was all extremely well priced so I felt I could take some risks. A friendly shopper next to me passed on a couple of tips on what not to buy, as did the lady who took my money.

What not to buy is cones of light coloured wool that have dirt or stains on top. I was told the marks often won’t wash out. I see it in the same terms as not eating the yellow snow. [Frank Zappa had something to teach us all.]

61 end warp on the warping board

My First Warp

In weaving class we’re using Bendigo Woollen Mills 3-ply for our warps. I was one of the last to pick from the yarns available to the class and I ended up with some blue, some pink and some white. These would not have been my first choices but as this is just a learning piece it probably won’t matter that it’s ugly. In fact it probably would have been ugly with or without more appealing warp colours. It’s my first weaving project after all.

My class loom isn’t fully dressed yet. That should happen next week and I expect it will be hard work to get that done. After that I’m looking forward to seeing what can be accomplished with a four shaft loom. At home I’ll be practising using my two shaft loom. The working yarn blog has given me some inspiration about the possibilities.

The Bento Box Quilt is ready to Bind

My seven year old niece will be receiving a bento box quilt as a gift for Christmas. I hope she likes it. I chose a girly heart motif for the quilting, which was done by Pam Hammer.

Close up view of the Quilt before Binding

I had to go shopping to find the right red fabric for the binding

The red binding fabric is a Kona cotton, a new fabric that’s new to me but which I’ve seen used by a number of modern quilters. It came from GJs Discount Fabrics in Brunswick East, courtesy of a $10 gift voucher that came along with my enrolment in the AQS Symposium. At $14 a metre, the Kona is roughly twice the price of the Prisma plains that Spotlight stock, with no discernible quality difference. GJ’s has a wall of Kona fabrics in a huge range of tones and it’s possible that Kona offers a wider selection of colours than Prisma do.

GJ’s Discount Fabrics is easily reached on either the Number 1 or the Number 8 tram, probably my favourite Melbourne tram routes because they both pass through some lovely parts of town. Both trams conveniently take you to stop 126, right outside the door on Lygon St.

Looking across Lygon St to GJ's Discount Fabrics

GJ’s Discount Fabrics

Brunswick East isn’t a part of town I would describe as lovely, but rather as gritty. It’s semi-industrial but appears to be in the process of gentrification as I passed two massive building projects on my walk down Lygon St. GJ’s is worth a visit as they have a huge range of 100% cotton fabric for patchwork. I saw some dance and specialty fabrics but not a whole lot of dress fabrics. The ‘discount’ in their name seems to be more a marketing claim than a reality, at least when I visited. Their $2 fat quarters are a good buy but I didn’t spot any other bargains. The staff were very friendly and while I was there one of them was on the phone to one of her suppliers, trying to track down a particular fabric for a customer.

Bento Box is the Answer

The question was what to do with my Gypsy Bandana pink fat quarter bundle.

Cover shot of Karen Snyders Book Bundles of FunI’ve been thinking about that one for a while and I finally got my answer from Bundles of Fun: Quilts From Fat Quarters by Karen Snyder.

The book cost a massive $5 at one of those remainders book sales, the kind where they temporarily fill a vacant retail space with a whole lot of (mostly crappy) books. At that bargain price I felt it was worth the risk and I’m confident I’ll get my money’s worth.

Bundles of Fun has only a handful of reviews on Amazon, but they’re mostly positive. The patterns seem OK but I’m a little frustrated by the layout and organisation of the book. I’m also amazed that the author found a way to sneak in a photo of her wedding day. I wish her well but when I publish my book there certainly won’t be any wedding snaps in it.

The Bento Box quilt pattern was described in two variations – one made with a single fat quarter bundle and the other made with two. I’m going for the larger sized quilt but may reduce it by one row of blocks as the recipient is still only seven years old and not that tall. I bought Prisma plains to complement the fat quarter colours.

One of the Prisma fabrics was double the price of the others. I asked why and was told it was organic cotton because, “some of our customers prefer more ethical choices.”

Pink and lime green fabrics before cutting

Can you spot the Ethical Choice?

Hmmm. I assume the cotton was still grown in a mono-culture, mechanically harvested and chemically processed, before it was dyed the poisonous lime green colour I purchased. I wonder what the levels of carbon emissions and waste generation were in that process. Was I really making an ethical choice or was just supporting the latest trend in consumer products marketing? I don’t know.

The lime green bled colour like you wouldn’t believe in the pre-wash stage, too.