Shopping for Fabric & Yarn in Amsterdam

Unlike on Prince Edward Island (my latest vacation locale), there are a good number of fabric shops in Amsterdam, along with a good number of blog posts on fabric shops in Amsterdam. The one I used was the Seamwork Guide to Amsterdam, but of course this is my own take on it.

Ever since I’ve started travelling without my family and their itineraries, I’ve started to make my trips revolve around fabric and yarn shops. I always feel slightly guilty that I didn’t go to more museums instead, but at the end of the day fabric shops are how I see new places and what they have to offer. In Amsterdam, just walking to the fabric shops I got to see so much of the city.

Anyways, on this trip I really spent most of my time in fabric and yarn shops, and I have no regrets. Here’s where I went and what I thought:

The first place we visited was the very well-known yarn shop, Stephen & Penelope, made famous by owner and knitwear designer/celebrity, Stephen West. I went in knowing that their yarns are pricey (around 30 euro a skein on average), but I couldn’t go to Amsterdam and not check it out. Many of the yarns there were imports that I can get in various Canadian yarn shops, and I didn’t feel the need to pay in Euros + 21% VAT for something I could get at home. The only yarn I was tempted by was Stephen & Penelope’s in-house yarn brand which was just recently released, and pretty well priced at 20 euro a skein – but I didn’t have any projects in mind for it, so I passed it by.

Right next door is A. Boeken, a small but impressive fabric shop. I went there twice, since the notions section was so impressive that I needed one trip for fabric and another trip for trims and buttons. It was pretty busy and hard to look around with a lot of focus, so I only got two fabrics there. I didn’t find anything there that was really extraordinary, but their prices are reasonable and they have every trim and button you can imagine. I bought loads of trims as well as some metal eyelets for some sneakers I plan to make (I had SneakerKit ship me another kit while I was there). They seemed a bit understaffed and it was a bit hard to find someone to cut yardage for me but I otherwise found the staff nice and helpful.

Right down the nearest side street to A. Boeken is Tinctoria. I didn’t plan on buying anything there but I did a lot of natural dyeing in school and had to check it out. The fabrics there were beautiful, but quite expensive (I can imagine the work that went into them, so they were priced fairly, just out of my price range). The owner had a huge basket filled with off-cuts and pieces with mistakes on them, and she said I could dig through the basket and she would price the pieces by weight. I found some beautiful velvet scraps, but then realized I had enough scraps at home and didn’t need to buy more.

Across the little canal bridge from A. Boeken, Stephen & Penelope, and Tinctoria, is Capsicum Naturstoffen –  I went in because A) it was raining, and B) I felt like I needed to visit all the fabric stores in the city. I wasn’t really expecting to find the most exciting fabric I would find on my trip. The store itself is lovely – beautiful textile homewares (pillows, tableclothes, etc) and scarfs, as well as some garments. The fabric they have is folded up, rather than on bolds, and just kinda looks like giant pillows on a shelf. The woman working there was incredibly helpful and explained the pricing and manufacturing processes of the fabrics. I chose a beautiful double ikat cotton with colourful squares on a cream background and I love it so much. It was pricey (and on the lower end of the range in the store – the hand-woven jacquard silks were 110 euro a metre), but it was a really lovely “treat” to bring back from my visit to Amsterdam.

IMG_20190512_195119_405

One morning we hopped over to De Steekwhich was close to our Air BnB in the Jordaan neighbourhood. I hadn’t seen De Steek on any blogs or guides, but it was on the list of stockists for Papercut Patterns, and I was in search of a Meridian Dress pattern in print (spoiler – De Steek doesn’t actually carry Papercut Patterns). De Steek is focused on sustainability, and a lot of their fabrics are deadstock or ecologically made. I bought some nice cotton seersucker and a neat “eyelet” knit. They also carry lovely lingerie and legging kits, as well as Merchant and Mills and Named patterns. They have a sewing studio so if you need to get your sewing fix on while abroad, that’s the place to go.

IMG_20190512_195110_211

We spent a morning checking out Albert Cuypstraat market, an outdoor market which I think is open 7 days a week. I didn’t take any photos because I was kind of overwhelmed by how much stuff was there. The market has food and weird off-brand socks and stuff, but they also have fabric booths that sit outside actual fabric stores. There are quite a few along Albert Cuypstraat, but the ones I went to were Kniphal and N&N Stoffen. I really liked Kniphal (they have amazing upholstery fabric if you’re looking for any) and they had lovely garment fabrics, but none that I especially wanted. I couldn’t quite tell how they were organized but it was fun to just browse around. N&N Stoffen had a lot of knits and baby fabrics (like double gauze with little whales on them and whatnot) and no fabric that really interested me, but I did like their selection of books and magazines. I ended up going home with a La Maison Victor book of dresses (called Jurken 2) as it had loads of dress patterns I think I’d like to use.

Another amazing shop I visited was actually in The Hague (or Den Haag as the Dutch call it), called Cross and Woods. I went there with my friend Priscilla who I met through Fibreshare, and it reminded me a lot of The Workroom and EweKnit here in Toronto (especially since EweKnit is also a sewing/knitting shop). A lot of their fabrics were Merchant and Mills, Nani Iro, and Liberty, all of which I can get at EweKnit, so I didn’t do any fabric shopping there. They had gorgeous yarns that I couldn’t get at home, and I had a lovely time picking out some skeins with the help of the very kind store owners.

And that’s it! Please comment if you think I missed any shops worth a visit. If you haven’t been to Amsterdam, I hope this helps in planning your textile-y trip!

Following the Prince Edward Island Fibre Trail

FibreTrail5

So as you may or may not know, we just got back from a trip to the little island province of Prince Edward Island (aka, PEI). It was our first time there, and I was especially excited about the PEI Fibre Trail, which is pretty much a map of textile-related producers and artisans around the island. There are quite a few stops, and we were only on the Island for a week, so I had to narrow it down to a select few places.

FibreTrail6

Our first day in PEI was pretty windy and rainy, so it was a perfect day for yarn shopping, in my opinion. We drove out to Belfast, which is conveniently home to both Fleece and Harmony and Belfast Mini-Mills. I follow Fleece and Harmony on Instagram (I love their branding), and I’ve squished a few skeins of their yarn over at The Purple Purl in Toronto, so I was really excited to visit their shop and sheep (hehe). They have a lovely shop, with windows that look into their processing facility. It was really difficult not being able to buy huge sweater quantities of yarn, and it was heartbreaking knowing it might be a while until I get around to knitting what I did end up buying.

FibreTrail3

FibreTrail1

Still, though my stash output is slow, I couldn’t leave Fleece and Harmony without a skein (or three).

FibreTrail7

Then we drove over to Belfast Mini-Mills, which is only about a 5-minute drive away. We parked by a little flock of shy and surprised sheep (and a donkey), which we later learned are more for show (not used for wool or meat). There are also some funny looking chickens (that run around loose), bunnies, and dogs on the property. Linda, one of the owners and our guide, also introduced us to their crow (whose name escapes me), who they had rescued and has become their pet. He likes hamburger meat and shiny things, as I assume all crows do.

FibreTrail11

We also had a tour of the facility where all the magic happens, and got to see all the wonderful things that go into making wool products (including their industrial felter!). I was too excited about the dogs saying hello to me during the tour, and failed to get photos of the machinery.

FibreTrail8

The shop at Belfast Mini-Mills is amazing. They stock a great selection of yarn and roving milled on-site, including exotic varieties such as qiviut (a type of yak, I believe), samoyed (the dog breed), angora, and more. Their superwash merino comes in beautiful colours and is very reasonably priced. I didn’t buy any yarn, as last year my FibreShare partner visited Belfast Mini-Mills and mailed me a skein as part of my package. I loved it so much that I called up Belfast Mini-Mills and ordered 4 more skeins, and made a Rock Creek pullover out of it. They also have all sorts of wonderful gifts – sheepskin rugs, mittens, slippers, children’s books and toys, even jewelry. I didn’t walk out of there empty-handed – I bought a sweet little felted sheep made in Peru, and some sheepskin teddy bears as baby gifts for my future nieces/nephews.

FibreTrail9

Our next stop was in Montague, where we visited Artisans on Main, which was a lovely gift shop in the small town of Montague. It’s stocked with beautiful items all made by artisans local to the island. While it was a lovely shop, I’m not sure it warranted a trip to Montague, as in the rainy weather we couldn’t walk around and find much else to do there. We did drop in Stitches & Crafts, which was just up the road, but as it stocked the same sort of things you might find at a Michaels, we didn’t find much reason to stick around.

FibreTrail12

The next day we visited Green Gable Alpacas, because I love alpacas and just had to see some up close. At Belfast Mini-Mills our tour of the place was free, so I kind of assumed Green Gable Alpacas was as well (I guess I didn’t quite do my research, because rates are on the website). The owner kind of mumbled something about taking care of admission when we went back to the shop, and then brought us inside the pen.

FibreTrail13

We visited the pregnant female alpacas, who had been sheared just days before, and were showing off their new haircuts. To my disappointment, we were told that alpacas like their personal space, and we didn’t get to touch them much. We learned about the alpacas for about 10 minutes, and then we were brought to the pen where the males were kept, and we got to feed an apple to the one llama, and that was our tour. Both Eitan and I were both kind of surprised to be charged for it, but we didn’t mind supporting a Canadian farm. I didn’t buy any yarn, as, like I mentioned earlier, my yarn stash isn’t moving very quickly these days, and truth be told, I don’t especially love alpaca yarn. I was drawn to a skein that was made to match the incredible rusty red earth of the island, but when I learned it would cost about $60 I decided against it. $60 just isn’t worth the cost of a mere yarn squoosh, so I settled on a sweet little felted alpaca to go with my little felted sheep.

FibreTrail14

We also stopped at MacAusland’s Woolen Mill, though I didn’t really feel it was worth the stop for us. We had visited the Potato Museum, which is nearby, so I thought we might as well drop by, but it’s quite far from central PEI where we were staying. It must be worth the trip to some people, though, because it was quite busy, even though we only got there an hour before closing.

FibreTrail15

I think MacAusland’s is famous for their woolen blankets (which I’m not especially in need of), and their yarn was being sold at Belfast Mini-Mills, so there wasn’t much to see. I was hoping to see all the production and machinery at work, but when you walk in you’re brought right into it without any real explanation of guidance (the shop is up the stairs). It’s very dusty and noisy, and I kept worrying I would walk into some dangerous machine by accident. Upstairs they have piles of their woven blankets, and huge white sacks of their yarn. Their yarn could best be described as “woolly wool”, and is the sort of wool that makes you think of itchy wool sweaters you hated as a kid. One of the folks we met earlier on the Fibre Trail told us that they don’t use any “special” sort of sheep for their wool (pretty much the sheep used mostly for their meat).

FibreTrail16

An unplanned stop on the Fibre Trail that we made was at Ewe and Dye Weavery, and we popped in for just a second. We hadn’t intended to go, but we had some spare time on our last touring day on the Island, and decided to drive down to Victoria-by-the-Sea. It was an absolutely lovely little town – very picturesque – and we saw Ewe and Dye Weavery on the main street, so we popped in. It’s a sweet, tiny little shop (much like the town it’s in), but didn’t find that much caught our eye.

FibreTrail18

One of my FAVOURITE stops actually wasn’t “on” the Fibre Trail. I found Five Arrows Fabrics on Instagram months ago, and got in touch with owner Natasha just before our trip. I had assumed Five Arrows was a bricks-and-mortar store, but Natasha actually sells fabric from her own home to garment sewists on the island (as well as online). She began selling fabric because there was a real lack of garment fabric for sale on the island (though there are a few quilting fabric stores). There isn’t even a Fabricland/Fabricville, which you can find pretty much anywhere else in Canada. Anyways, I just HAD to go to the only garment fabric shop on the Island! Thing is, Natasha didn’t treat me like a customer, she treated me like a guest, and welcomed me and my husband into her home. She offered us tea and introduced us to her husband and boys, and we had a really lovely chat about sewing and life on the island. While she told me there was no expectation to buy anything, I knew that once I had seen the Nani Iro she had in stock, I wasn’t leaving without it (I bought some lovely blush pink bamboo french terry as well). Natasha is starting small, she says, but I definitely think it’s worth checking her out 🙂

FibreTrail17

Are you hoping to visit PEI soon? If so, I would be happy to share tips and must-see places that really made our time on the Island special.

Tutorial: Make a Ruched Elastic-Waist Skirt

RuchedSkirt

When I was a teenager, I pretty much only ever sewed one skirt pattern – a rectangle with a ruched elastic waistband. I made a version in cotton voile, which I wore on my first date with my husband. I made a version in flannel, before I knew how to choose appropriate fabrics for projects. I made a very bulky one out of cotton sateen, and one out of cheap cotton/poly batiste (which I am embarrassed to say, I still wear at home). It was just an incredibly versatile pattern.

I made all those skirts using instructions from Anna Maria Horner’s blog, where you can still find a PDF of the pattern for a lined skirt. I’ve since developed my own method of making this skirt, which I find quicker and uses less fabric (I found that most fabrics I used had no need for the lining). AMH’s pattern will work great for you if you’re using a very lightweight or sheer fabric.

Anyways, if you’d like to learn how I do it, please follow along! If you can sew a straight line on a sewing machine, you can make this super-easy skirt! The hardest part is inserting the elastic.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1.5-2 yds fabric of your choice (I like flowy fabrics like rayon, you can use any lightweight fabric such as cotton voile/lawn. You could probably use silk, but it’ll be a bit trickier to sew the elastic channels).
  • Matching thread
  • Safety pins (I like to have both regular ones and the tiny ones on hand)
  • 1/4″ wide elastic – enough for 3 times your waist measurement
  • Seam ripper

Measuring and Cutting:

The only piece you’ll need to cut for this skirt is essentially a large rectangle.

For the width, you’ll want to measure at least 10″ more than your HIP measurement. I recommend cutting more than that, though, because it will give you more gathers at the waist. I went with the width of my fabric from selvedge to selvedge – 60″.

If your fabric isn’t very wide (44″ for example), fold the fabric in half and cut two rectangles at HALF your desired width.

The width you choose doesn’t need to be precise – just choose less width for less gathers (just make sure it is bigger than your hip measurement), and more width for more gathers (I find between 60-80″ total width is ideal).

For the length, determine your preferred skirt length, and add 2 3/8″ (for the waistband) and 1″ (for the hem). For example, if you want a 25″ long skirt, your rectangle will need to be 28 3/8″ tall.

CuttingLayout

Sewing:

Start by sewing the side seams, right sides together (1 seam if you only cut one rectangle, 2 seams if you cut two rectangles). Finish the seam and press open (I like to serge the edges first, before sewing, using a 3-thread overlock stitch).

SkirtStep1

Then, you’ll want to fold over the top edge of your skirt 1/2″ and press. Then fold again 2″ in, and press well. You can pin the fold in place if you want, but if your folds are crisp I don’t find it necessary. Make sure to keep the fold the same width all the way around.

SkirtStep23

Now we’re going to stitch the elastic channels. Make sure the folded edge of your skirt is lined up with the 3/8″ mark on your sewing machine. You want to make sure that you stay at (or slightly, slightly past) that line – if you go below it, your elastic may not fit through. Stitch all the way around until you meet back up with the beginning.

SkirtStep6

Move the edge of the skirt to the 6/8″ mark, and stitch around like you did before. We will be creating a gap between the first elastic channel and the second one.

Repeat this step one more time to create the second elastic channel. At this point, I’ll have run out of lines on my machine to measure by. You can either mark your machine with a line of tape, or do what I do, and keep a careful eye on the distance between the presser foot and the previous line of sewing (for me there is a 1/8″ gap between the edge of the foot and the stitch line).

SkirtStep7a

Then, flip your skirt over so that you can see the bottom fold of the waistband. Carefully stitch right along the folded edge.

SkirtStep8

Now for the final row of stitches. Line up your needle between the last two rows you stitched, and sew all the way around. I flipped the skirt back to the right side, but you can do this from whichever side you prefer.

The elastic channels are now finished! Your waistband should look like this.

SkirtStep9a

Now we can actually insert the elastics. At the back/side seam, on the INSIDE, carefully seam rip the first, third, and fifth channels. Make sure you don’t seam rip the seam at the right side of the skirt.

SkirtStep10

You’ll have three little holes through which to thread your elastic.

SkirtStep10a

Now, cut off three lengths of elastic, each the length of your waist measurement (you can subtract 1-2″ if you want a tighter waistband. You can also tighten the elastics before sewing up the casing).

Attach a small safety pin to one end and a large one at the other. Make sure the pins aren’t pinned too close to the edge of the elastic, otherwise they might tear off in the middle of the channel, which is pretty frustrating – trust me.

SkirtStep11

Insert the end with the small pin into the first open channel, and use the pin to inch the elastic through.

SkirtStep11a

SkirtStep11b

Push the elastic all the way around the skirt, until you reach the opening again. The large safety pin should act as a “stopper” and keep the elastic from being pulled all the way through.

Once the elastic has been pulled all the way back to the beginning, pin the elastic ends together so they don’t slide into the skirt.

SkirtStep12

Repeat this process for the other two pieces of elastic. Your waistband should look like this.

SkirtStep13

Make sure the elastics aren’t twisted, and sew the pinned ends together. I like to sew back and forth several times to make sure it’s secure. Trim the elastic ends about 1/8″ from the stitching.

SkirtStep14

Pull the waistband to help ease the elastic ends inside the channels. Try on the skirt and make sure you’re happy with the snugness, and make sure the gathers are evenly distributed.

Use a ladder stitch or whip stitch to stitch up the channel openings. I find that after all the stretching, the gaps between the channels have opened up a bit as well, so I stitch the whole seam closed to make sure everything is secure. Sometimes the first channel opens up on the right side as well, so stitch that closed if you have to.

SkirtStep15

Then, lay your waistband flat and stitch in the ditch at the seam to secure the elastics and keep them from twisting around too much in their channels.

To finish, turn up and press the hem 1/2″ twice, and sew. You’re done! Try on your new skirt and give it a twirl!

If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below!

The Ultimate Guide to Online Fabric Shopping in Canada

BlogShopTour_webI think something a lot of us Canadian makers struggle with is online fabric shopping. There always seems to be such a great selection of fabric available online on American or European-based websites, but it never seems worth it to pay high shipping fees or risk hefty duties. Also, isn’t it nice to support Canadian businesses?

Over the past year, I’ve been doing a lot of research on fabric shopping in Canada. There’s actually more out there than you’d think. There are many, many shops that sell quilting fabric, and some of them sell garment fabrics such as rayon, knits, linen, and flannel.

There does exist a similar list on The Finished Garment, (do check it out, as it is more extensive than what I have here – I just found it difficult to remember which shop sells what, and I wanted a list more specific to the types of fabric I find myself looking for), as well as a Pinterest board, but I wanted to provide more of a guide than a list, with a bit more information about individual shops, to help you find what you’re looking for. Also, this list includes primarily apparel fabric stores, as well as a few quilting shops that stock some great apparel-friendly fabrics (which isn’t to say you can’t make great garments out of quilting fabric!).

Do you know some great apparel-fabric websites? Please let me know, and I’d love to add them to the list!

DISCLAIMER: I’d like to note that this list is not sponsored in any way. I simply wish to share these great shops with you, so you don’t have to do the research yourself! I’d also like to point out that I haven’t shopped from all these stores, so I can’t speak for the service/shopping experience for all of them.

My Favourite All-Around Amazing Fabric Shops:

  • Blackbird Fabrics – knits, twills, printed viscose and cotton, etc. Caroline curates her shop amazingly – you won’t necessarily find loads and loads of fabrics, but it’s about quality, not quantity. When I order from Blackbird, I know that whatever I’m getting will be of amazing quality. She also sells patterns and notions.
  • Matchpoint Fabrics – deadstock/sustainable fabrics. Michelle only just recently launched Matchpoint, so the stock isn’t the biggest, but again, it’s quality over quantity. I love the idea of sustainably sourced fabrics, and buying local is a big plus as well.
  • Spool & Spindle – knits, flannels, cotton & viscose prints, lining, Japanese fabrics etc. I love Spool & Spindle. I almost always find something I want to buy. Spool & Spindle is also a bricks-and-mortar store based in Waterloo, Ontario (sometimes I have my friend at U of Waterloo pick up my orders for me). They stock high quality fabrics as well as notions, patterns, and thread (I love a one-stop-shop).

Online-Only:

  • Mulberry & Macnab – stockists of Atelier Brunette, Nani Iro and Merchant and Mills garment fabrics. A small but lovely selection. Based in Hamilton ON with a local pickup option
  • Fine Fabrics Canada –  rayons, garment cottons, bamboo, sewing patterns. This shop carries a nice selection of garment fabrics (including Atelier Brunette and Lady McElroy), as well as printed sewing patterns that can be hard to find elsewhere, such as Sew Over It and Nina Lee patterns.
  • Cutters and Cloth – cotton, knits, tencel, silk noil. Cutters and Cloth is a pretty new shop (as of writing!) and the selection is small but lovely. Lots of Lady McElroy prints and solid-coloured garment fabrics such as double gauze, silk noil, and linen.

Brick-and-Mortar Shops with Online Ordering:

  • The Workroom – quilting cottons, lawn, rayon, knits, notions, books. The Workroom is one of my favourite shops to visit in Toronto. The store itself is gorgeous, and they stock a lot of “designer” fabrics (Robert Kaufman, Nani Iro, Cotton + Steel, Liberty of London, etc.). They also sell Bernina machines and accessories, lots of books and magazines (such as Japanese sewing books and Making magazine), tons of indie and vintage patterns, and amazing notions and tools.
  • Needlework Hamilton – quilting cottons, knits, rayon, lawn, etc. Needlework is a great little shop based in – you guessed it – Hamilton, Ontario. They sell a lot of great apparel fabrics such as Robert Kaufman and Nani Iro. I always like to keep an eye on them and see what they get in stock (for example, they just got in tons of colours of raw silk noil!).
  • Fabrications – quilting cottons, rayon, knits, lawn/chambray, etc. Fabrications, based in Ottawa, has a pretty solid stock of apparel fabrics. They stock lots of knits (solid and print), Nani Iro, double gauze, chambray, and more.
  • EweKnit – quilting cottons, lawn, rayon, chambray, knits, etc. I love EweKnit, another Toronto-based store. The actual shop is gorgeous and full of colour. They stock great fabrics such as Liberty of London, Merchant & Mills, and Cotton + Steel. Also, as the name suggests, they stock a huge amount of yarn!
  • Threadcount Fabrics – quilting cottons, rayon, canvas, knits, lawn, double gauze, etc. Threadcount was originally online-only, and only just recently opened up a bricks-and-mortar store based in Souris, Manitoba! I am always tempted by the prints sold by Threadcount – lots of Cotton + Steel, Dear Stella, and Art Gallery Fabrics!
  • European Textiles – various apparel fabrics (cotton, knits, lace), quilting cotton, upholstery fabrics. European Textiles is based in Hamilton, Ontario. It’s one of the few online shops I’ve found that sells stuff like satin, silk, lace, etc. If you need something a lil’ fancy, this might be the place to check out!
  • Patch Halifax – quilting cottons, rayons, knits, etc. Patch Halifax has lots of great “designer” fabrics from companies that produce garment fabrics as well as quilting fabrics, such as Cotton + Steel, as well as Nani Iro and various knits. The only frustrating thing is the cottons aren’t organized by type, so it’s a bit tricky to sort out lawns and canvas from the quilting cottons.
  • Fabric Spark – quilting cottons, lawn, rayon, knits, yarn-dyed, etc. Fabric Spark is based in east Toronto. They primarily stock quilting cotton, but have a handy little section of garment fabrics that includes Robert Kaufman Essex Linen, Nani Iro, knits, and boiled wool.
  • Five Arrows Fabrics – knits, cottons, linens. Five Arrows is a PEI-based fabric shop, and they pretty much only stock Merchant & Mills fabrics as well as some knit basics, but gosh, the Merchant and Mills stuff is lovely!
  • Maiwa – handprinted/dyed cottons and linens. You may already know Maiwa, which is based in Vancouver, BC, for their natural dyestuffs. But they have some incredible vibrant handwoven and block-printed fabrics, as well as white/undyed natural fabrics for dyeing.
  • Spool of Thread – cotton chambray & lawn, rayon & bamboo, knits. Based in Vancouver, Spool of Thread is a sewing studio with a small but lovely stock of fabrics and patterns online. They stock Lady McElroy fabrics, as well as Atelier Brunette, which can be tricky to find in Canada.

Specializing in Knits/Jerseys:

  • Watertower Textiles – activewear knits, scuba, bamboo, etc. I recently stumbled upon Watertower Textiles when looking for fabric online. They stock tons of knits, including prints and knits great for leggings!
  • Prairie Love Knits – jersey, sweater knits, quilted knits, European knits. Another stumble-upon, Prairie Love Knits has a nice variety of knits, including stretch lace and notions.
  • Sitka Fabrics – jersey, minky. Sitka Fabrics has lots of great printed knits I haven’t seen elsewhere, as well as some great Euro knits and organic cotton knits. They also have actual knitted fabric, which is beautiful!
  • Fabric Crush – jersey, swim knits, quilting cottons. Fabric Crush has a large variety of knit basics and lovely prints. Be sure to check out their swim knits if you’re starting a swimsuit project!
  • Simplifi Fabric – organic fabrics; jersey, terry, fleece, athletic knits, thermal knits, wovens. Simplifi is a bit pricey because they stock organic fabrics, but they have a lovely selection and stock knits you might have trouble finding elsewhere.
  • L’Oiseau – sweatshirt knits, bamboo, jersey, wovens. L’Oiseau stocks some great prints that I haven’t seen elsewhere, as well swimsuit knits, bamboo, and merino. They also stock some great wovens, including poplin and eyelet.
  • West Coast Fabric Boutique – jersey, double brushed poly, swim knits. West Coast Fabric Boutique has a lovely selection of knits and jerseys, with lovely prints and sweatshirt knits to choose from!
  • Fringe Fabrics – jersey, sweater knits, quilted knits, ribbing. Fringe Fabrics has an amazing selection of knits – there are some great jacquard knits, legging knits, and cuffing, as well as a huge range of solid basics. I particularly love the Hamburger Liebe brand for something a little different!
  • Bibs & Boots – knits, flannel, and minky. They also sell adorable baby apparel!

“Chain” Stores/Brands:

  • Club Tissus – various garment fabrics (silks, lace, cottons), upholstery fabric, quilting cotton, notions. Club Tissus is only in Quebec, but they ship all over Canada. It’s another one of the few websites that stocks “fancy” fabrics, and they have quite a nice selection and a beautiful website. They also have all the notions and tools that you’ll likely need for your sewing project (like I said, I like a one-stop-shop). My main issue is that they don’t have free shipping deals like most online shops do, and prices are presented with the member discount (the “regular” price is in small), which you have to pay for. Also, only members get to take part in sales.
  • Fabricville (Fabricland) – pretty much everything sewing-related. Just about anyone who lives in a Canadian city knows Fabricville (or Fabricland outside of Quebec). They stock all sorts of fabric, but I’m not a fan of their selection. I often buy notions or tools here, since few other shops sell zippers, thread, etc. Like with Club Tissus, they offer no free shipping deal – in fact, the more you spend, the more your shipping costs.
  • DailyLike – oxford cottons, sheeting, canvas, knits. DailyLike is a Korean lifestyle brand, and DailyLike.ca is based out of Richmond BC. This is the website to check out if you love cute floral or animal-print cottons. They also have notions, stationery, and washi tape! How can you resist?

Shirting/Suiting Fabric & Menswear:

  • Sultan’s Fine Fabrics – wool, suiting, shirting cottons, linings. Sultan’s is a brick-and-mortar store in North York/Toronto, and he stocks stacks on stacks of high quality fabric. I have yet to find true dressmaking fabrics here, but doesn’t mean it’s not there. I recommend checking out the store in person, as the online selection isn’t anywhere near as impressive.
  • Thread Theory – jerseys, linings, some wovens. You may know Thread Theory for their patterns, but they also sell a small number of fabrics and notions in their online store.

Liberty of London Stockists:

  • Hyggeligt Fabrics – quilting cottons, lawn. Hyggeligt stocks tons of gorgeous quilting cottons, but if you’re seeking the much-sought-after Liberty Tana Lawn, you can find it here.
  • Dinky Doo – quilting cottons, linen, lawn. Don’t let the cutesy name fool you – Dinky Doo sells a great variety of the classy Liberty Tana Lawns. They also stock tons of Robert Kaufman Essex Linen and Cotton + Steel rayons.
  • EweKnit
  • The Workroom

Quilting Shops with Garment-worthy Fabrics:

  • Weave & Woven – quilting cottons, knits, oxford cotton, faux fur. Weave & Woven is based in Dundas, Ontario. I often find myself drooling over their selection of adorable oxford cottons and Nani Iro fabrics. They carry very fun printed knits and some rayons as well.
  • The Fabric Snob – quilting cottons, knits, fleece, flannel. The Fabric Snob has a lovely selection of knits, fleece, and flannel. I can also tell you from experience that Lindsey will package your order very lovingly!
  • Pins and Needles Fabric – quilting cottons, knits, corduroy, double gauze, rayon. Pins and Needles has a nice selection of prints (including Art Gallery Fabrics and Cotton + Steel), as well as notions such as Aurifil thread, ribbon, and print bias binding. They also sell patterns and adorable doll clothing kits!
  • Fridays Off – quilting cottons, linen, knits. Fridays Off has a small but nice selection of apparel fabrics including Robert Kaufman Essex Linen and solid knits.

Notions & Tools:

  • Sussman’s Supply Co. – zippers, ribbons, gemstones, feathers, etc. Based in Hamilton, Sussman’s is the place to find any trims and notions you’re missing. I happen to love them for their selection of invisible zippers, which can be hard to find online elsewhere.
  • Bra-makers Supply – pretty much speaks for itself! Based in Hamilton, this is the place to stock up for your bra- or corset-making endeavors.
  • Farthingale’s Corset Making Supplies – again, speaks for itself. They also carry millinery supplies, hoop steel, and tutu making supplies!

Used/Vintage Fabric:

  • Ian Drummond Stash – assorted vintage/rare fabrics. Ian Drummond has a vintage clothing shop, but he also collects and sells an amazing selection of vintage fabrics. I love to follow his Etsy shop and see any new finds that have been added. Also, if you’re based in Toronto, you can choose local pick-up and save on shipping!
  • The Old White Cupboard – vintage fabrics, linens, and trims. A lovely selection of vintage fabrics, mostly cottons, but you can find some quilts and linens as well.
  • The Fibre Trade – cut/pre-owned fabric, yarn, unfinished projects, quilting cotton. The Frade is a new and amazing website for selling, trading, buying, or donating fabric or yarn from/for your stash. Check them out and find some previously unwanted fabric a home! You can search listings by location if you want to shop local.

Tutorial: Low/High Bust Adjustment on an Empire Waist Bodice

If you’re like me, you hate making muslins and just want to get on with making an actual garment. I have little patience for muslins, and I always want them to magically work on the first try. Though we all know this is rarely the case, I always get frustrated when something needs to be fixed – especially if it’s complex enough that I’ll need to make another muslin after making the adjustments. Since I have many upcoming projects that require muslins (all of them are from either Japanese pattern books or vintage patterns – both of which aren’t tailored for the average 21st-century American figure), I decided to just do all my muslins at the same time, and then have them out of the way for a while.

LBAPattern

I have been most excited about my vintage McCall’s 5142, which was a bit expensive for a vintage pattern, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it and had to have it. I’m lucky, with vintage patterns, because I have a B-cup (in patterns but not really in retail size, meaning the measurement taken above the bust, just under my armpits, has a 2″ difference from my full bust) and if I buy a pattern marked with a 34 bust, the only adjustment I have to make is for the waist (because vintage patterns seem to always have impossibly tiny waists).

With most patterns, my bust tends to be a bit lower than on the pattern. Usually this is fine, and worst case I just have to lower the darts. With my vintage McCall’s, since it has an empire waist that is cinched just under the bust, my muslin was not looking good (the midriff “band” wrinkled upward toward my bust). In my internet research I couldn’t find much on a low-bust adjustment (LBA from here on out) for an empire waist dress – so here’s how I managed to do it. I’ve seen a lot of vintage patterns in a similar style, so this probably won’t be the only time I have to make this adjustment.

LBA1

Start by tracing off your pattern pieces (ESPECIALLY if you’re working with a vintage pattern). Make sure to mark the grainlines on both pieces, and if it’s marked on your pattern, trace off the lengthen/shorten line as well (marked in pink). If this line isn’t marked already, you can approximate it somewhere between the armscye/armpit and the bottom of the pattern piece. Note that the marking is perpendicular to the centre front, not the grainline.

LBA2

Cut along the lengthen/shorten line.

LBA3

Next you’ll have to lower the bottom half of the pattern piece by the amount you need to lengthen the bust. Ideally, the bust point would be labelled with a + with a circle around it, but my pattern didn’t include it. If the bust point IS labelled on your pattern, determine your bust point by measuring from the top of your shoulder to highest bust point (the nipple in more common terms). Now measure from the shoulder to the + on the pattern (don’t include the shoulder seam allowance) – the difference between your body measurement and the pattern measurement is how much you’ll need to add.

If you don’t have the + mark on your pattern, you can do what I did. I slashed my original muslin horizontally across the bust, and pull the midriff band down to fall under my bust (just warning you that this will look a bit funny). I measured the gap created where I slashed, and used that measurement (for me it was 1.5″).

For our example, I’ll use 1″.

LBA4

Make sure the grainline stays lined up. Place a piece of scrap paper underneath and tape it down.

Using a ruler (or a french curve if the seam line is curved, as it is on the right side of my pattern piece), true up the side seams.

LBA4a

Trim away the excess paper and the main bodice piece is done! The same process will have to be repeated for the back bodice piece so that the side seams line up.

LBA5

The same length we added is going to be taken away from the midriff band. For my pattern, there were notches indicating where the band is to be matched up with the bodice. I drew a line above these notches, perpendicular to the centre (marked in pink). Then, measure up, using the measurement you added to the bodice, and mark a parallel line across (marked in black). Since our measurement is 1″, there is a 1″ gap between the lines.

LBA6

Now, fold the pink line to meet the black line (make sure you fold evenly the whole way across) and tape the fold down.

LBA7

The curve will look pretty jagged, but we’ll fix that. Tape a scrap piece of paper under the top of the pattern piece.

LBA8

Now true up the curve – you may have to chop off the part where the notches are, but just make sure that the line blends into the original curve before you reach the side seam – ideally you don’t want to shorten the side seam.

Mark the new placement of the notches (marked in pink). Trim along the new line that you’ve drawn.

LBA9

And you’re done! Make sure you make a muslin to be sure that it fits.

It’s important to note that this process will lengthen the bodice – I’m pretty tall, so lengthening patterns is often a step I have to make anyways. If lengthening the bodice will bring it below your waistline, I wouldn’t recommend this process – unless the midriff band in your pattern is quite wide at the side seam. In that case, you can probably shorten the midriff band at the side seam. In my case, I didn’t have the width to spare.

This adjustment is also meant for those who don’t require a small/full bust adjustment – in fact, a full bust adjustment also requires the pattern to be lengthened slightly, so it should also help with the low bust issue. (You can find a tutorial on a FBA here).

This adjustment should also work for a high bust adjustment, if you shorten the bodice and lengthen the midriff band.

If you have any questions, please let me know!