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My Montreal trip, despite not being a sewing-centric voyage, turned out to be quite the sewing windfall. Not only did I come back with a beautiful satin, a stunning leopard print, and a funny fabric story, I think I may have also found the inspiration necessary to rescue my boring Swiss dot JJ blouse, which is still hanging unfinished on a hanger.

So I’m in my hotel room in Montreal, using the bathroom and flipping through one of those upscale magazines that are nothing but glossy advertisements for jewelry stores and restaurants in the area, probably called “Bon Vivant Montreal” or something cheesy like that. Oh what.  What. So I was reading on the toilet.  I was on vacation already, stop looking at me like that. Anyway, it was a fancy magazine, so that makes it classy. Sure, like you never do it. If they didn’t want you to do it, then they wouldn’t put fancy magazines in the bathroom. So obviously that’s what it’s there for.  Hotel sanctioned toilet reading. Whatever. Anyway you can’t make me feel bad about it because if I hadn’t done it, I would never have stumbled upon this ad:

Yes, yes, yes!  Is that black trim not exactly what I need to take my JJ from blah to badass?? Here’s a quick reminder of the JJ pattern, which I was currently rendering in white Swiss dot without the ruffles. To clarify, the pattern itself and design are not boring, just my version.

Incidentally, what sort of machine is she working on in that ad?  I realize I grew up more in the computer era than the typewriter era, but I was under the impression that typewriters took individual sheets of paper, not long rolls of paper like an adding machine- did that thing she’s working on ever really exist, or is this an indication that some 20-something year old kid designed this ad based on his/her misconceptions of the technologies of the past?  Whatever, let’s get a close-up of that blouse, ok?

Oh yes.  Sassy, sassy, sassy, and since I haven’t sewn anything on my blouse except the princess, side, and shoulder seams so far, I don’t have to unstitch anything to get started on Plan B! (I’ll skip the trim on the shoulders.) I guess I’ll be putting a ruffle on after all!

I haven’t done much bias binding, but I get the impression that the usual Wrights packaged tape might be a little clunky for this. What would you recommend instead?

Fabric addicts, tell me if this sounds familiar to you. You’re at the store, eyeing some pretty yardage. But you don’t need any new fabric, you feel like you shouldn’t spend any more money on fabric, it’s not 100% what you had in mind, and you reluctantly put the bolt back on the shelf. You walk out of the store feeling proud of your sense of restraint, your frugality, your ability to rise above and not succumb to the sick fabric addiction characteristic of mere mortal seamstresses.

But then a tiny pang of regret bubbles up, and you bravely push it aside and tell yourself you’ll work it off at home with 50 bicycle crunches, feeling smug about your clever idea to replace fabric with exercise. As the days go by, you find yourself thinking more and more about that fabric- the one that got away.  It starts to seem like every pattern in your collection would look great in it.  You look through your fabric stash and realize you have nothing like it.  You look through your closet and realize everything in it would go with that fabric. You search online and realize that everything out there is inferior. Meanwhile, the fabric you’re obsessing over is long gone, or perhaps you left it behind in another state or another country.  In any case you didn’t get it and now you can’t get it, and you also never got around to those crunches, did you?

This has happened to me a couple of times, and those fabrics still haunt me like the plaintive puppies at the shelter that I couldn’t bring home. But, it did NOT happen to me this weekend when I was fabric shopping in Montreal! And this typically long preamble brings me to my story:

I mentioned in my last post that the good folks at Sam Textiles offered the most cheerful service I encountered at the fabric shops on St. Hubert. I have to say that they were certainly the exception, and I was at first taken somewhat aback at the aloofness in most of the stores.  I was surprised that I generally was not acknowledged or greeted in most of the stores- even in NYC (not generally recognized for warm and fuzzy service, and I say that as a native New Yorker myself), a hello is pretty standard. But perhaps it was just a strange coincidence in the stores at Montreal, or perhaps it’s just a cultural difference – no big deal in any case, as the staffers weren’t rude, unpleasant, or unprofessional… except for one!

While prowling through one of the fabric shops (pictured above, and not one of the places recommended by readers), I discovered a black and white striped knit, and as you may remember, I’ve been trying to find one for a while and still haven’t quite found what I’m looking for.  This one wasn’t quite what I was envisioning either, perhaps a little too much sheen, perhaps a bit too heavy and coarse, but it was the only one I’d found that day and might have worked. It wasn’t marked with a price, so I brought it to the table.  The woman measured out the remainder of the roll and finding that it was only 1.7 meters told me that she would not cut it- I would have to take the whole piece or none, at $10 per meter. Fair enough. I stood there waffling for a minute on whether it would be worth it to buy twice as much as I needed, whether it was too shiny for what I wanted, Dan making sympathetic “hmmmm” faces. In the meantime, the woman was looking grumpy and impatient as though I were wasting her time. (Hint: if you want to minimize the necessary interaction with your customers, perhaps putting prices on stuff would be a good first step.) Finally I said thank you but it was not what I was looking for.  In response, the woman gave me about three seemingly endless seconds of the stink eye and then wordlessly turned her back to me and started rolling the fabric back onto the tube. Dan and I looked at each other in shock before suppressing giggles.

The first thing I said to Dan when we left the store was, “Wow, I wasn’t sure about that fabric in the first place, but she made me really glad that I DIDN’T buy it!” Thank you for that, impressively rude fabric shop lady – it’s three days later, and not the merest hint of regret over fabric not bought, nor tiniest twinge of guilt over bicycle crunches not done!

I don’t know what’s gotten into your beloved Selfish Seamstress, but lately she’s not feeling all that selfish. Oh, don’t get me wrong- I’m not going around giving hugs and offering to make skirts for co-workers. It’s not so ridiculous as that. But lately I just kind of feel like I’ve got enough fabric. Some of you praised my restraint on my recent trip to Vogue, admiring my prudence in walking out with just a wool remnant and a couple of Husqvarna feet. But to be honest, I wasn’t really holding back; I just didn’t see anything else that I wanted. In all FOUR enormous rooms of fabric. And this past weekend during my unexpected abduction, thanks to all of your wonderful suggestions I headed up to Rue St. Hubert, with tons of fabric stores crammed into a few blocks. There were stores ranging from miniscule to fairly large, couture quality to questionable, immaculately organized to jumbled. Many of the stores were primarily home dec, but there was more than enough to keep the home fashion sewer well-occupied for hours. And yet, I VERY NEARLY left Rue St. Hubert without any fabric at all.

I had Dan in tow and was pressed for time, so I didn’t take too many photos nor take much note of the shop names, but I was sure to hit two that were highly recommended by my trusty readers:

The former, Couture Elle, is beautifully organized and definitely a place to go if you, say, get nominated for a Best Actress Oscar and want to make your own gown. Many of the fabrics are beyond “special occasion” territory and well into the”once-in-a-lifetime” realm. And the latter, Sam Textiles, reminded me of a smaller Mood- comprehensive, high quality, and well-organized as well. Sam Textiles also had the friendliest service I encountered on my jaunt- the super cheerful employee praised me for being “smart” and knowing how to sew my own clothes (surely this would make most of their clientele “smart”?) and offered a hefty discount too when I was waffling.

Okay, so like I said, I nearly didn’t acquire anything at all. It wasn’t that there wasn’t anything good- I just wasn’t feeling tempted. I have a decent stash of wool basics to work through, and a stock of pretty prints and knits (more than I need considering that I rarely sew with either), and there just aren’t that many gaps in my collection at this point. Except for this:

I’m not 100% sure, but I think this is ultrasuede.  If it’s not, it’s something else that feels very realistically suede-y, without actually being suede. Here’s a close-up where you can sort of see the barely-there nap:

The back side is sort of satin-like, though not exactly in a standard satin weave:

Whatever it is, it’s soft, it’s luxurious, and it’s mine, thanks to the aforementioned hefty discount the Sam Textiles guy offered to entice me to buy stuff that I don’t need. Or do I?

After all, doesn’t everyone need a sassy leopard trench, like this one from Karen Millen? Perhaps another good use of my McCall 5525 pattern, already nicely graded and altered to fit me? If you’ve been keeping score, you might remember that I already made myself a leopard trench back in 2007:

But that trench is made of velboa, which in the intervening years has gone sort of limp and matted, and I rarely wear it now because every time I put it on, I kind of feel like I’m wearing this:

So I think it’s time for a grown up version! It’s funny, I never thought I would have *two* leopard print coats. Leopard print (and its buddies cheetah and jaguar) is one of those polarizing things.  People generally either find it chic or tacky. Where do you stand on it?

Welcome to the Montreal edition of The Selfish Seamstress!  (Wow, go Rachel- first person to guess, and nailed it!) Having a great time in this lovely city after having been whisked off to it in a most mysterious fashion.

So far we’ve eaten our fair share of poutine, and wandered around the charming cobblestone streets, which on first glance look very much like textbook old Europe:

But when you look closer, you realize that all of the shop windows are packed with Native Canadian crafts, Montreal Canadiens reproduction hockey jerseys, and other bits of Canadiana:

Just by chance, we happened by Fabricville (Quebec’s version of Fabricland), and I couldn’t help but take a quick jaunt through it. No pictures of the store (trust me, it just looks like a Hancock but with all of the signage in French), but I found this gorgeous vintage-inspired rose-print dull satin (with just a tiny bit of stretch) that I couldn’t walk away without;

A close look at the beautiful smudgy navy flowers:

Three meters of it are already tucked into my suitcase and begging to be made into a late 50’s/early-60’s style cocktail dress with a bit of Mad Men flavor.

But now the Selfish Seamstress is hungry for more! Where are your favorite fabric haunts in Montreal?  Tell me quick because I get whisked back home tomorrow!

The Selfish Seamstress has been taken hostage! Unexpectedly roused at 5:00AM this morning, told to pack clothes for the next three days and bring my passport. Yes on sunglasses, no on hiking boots, maybe on bathing suit. Bring comfortable shoes for walking, one nice dress, and one nice pair of shoes. I’ve been told that temperatures will be in the mid-60’s at this thus far undisclosed location.

Where am I being taken, and more importantly, what fabric stores will be there?

Place your guesses for where I’ll end up, and please provide crucial corresponding information for fabric shopping in said destination. I’ll let you know where I am when I find out!

My stash, which is not tremendous by most standards (haha, my finger slipped and I originally typed “moist standards” which sounds gross!), consists primarily of two categories of fabric:

1) Stuff that I love and I am saving for the right moment and the right project. This includes most of my wool suitings, some cream cashmere coat fabric, pretty shirtings, a few dressy fabrics and vintage pieces; and

2) Stuff that I’m just not excited about, purchased on impulse or out of poor judgment, or acquired in some other way. This group includes stuff like plaid flannel that Dan bought back when he thought he wanted to make doggie jackets for all three of his parents’ dogs, even though I cautioned him that after he made one, he might not feel like making two more (hence two different kinds of plaid flannel in my stash!), elaborately embroidered burgundy georgette eyelet that I can only see myself wearing as a lovely 2-piece suit at the weddings of my grandchildren in the year 2065, and some pale periwinkle wool coating (Periwinkle coat? On me? What am I, a giant American Girl doll??)

Lately I’ve been wanting to reduce category 2, trying to put some of it to good use and get it out of my collection. Here is where I am: 

Yawwwwwwwn. This is some cotton dotted swiss in a very very pale lavender. It’s essentially white unless you hold something that really is white right up against it. I bought this fabric about 8 years ago when I was younger and cuter and it made more sense to wear white dotted swiss.

I think I made an unsuccessful dress from it back then and ended up with nearly 2 yards of “remnant” (The Selfish Seamstress in 2002 was neither good at dressmaking nor estimating necessary yardage.)

I’m trying to whip this up into a JJ blouse, which I’ve made up before to good results in green voile with a woven stripe:

I’m not going to do any ruffles this time.  White dotted swiss *and* ruffles on me would make me look like I’m trying to recapture my 7th grade piano recital days. So far it’s not looking great. The fabric is not stiff exactly, but has an unappealing lack of softness to it. I’m thinking the result is going to look prim and prissy and not in a good way. In a boring way. We’ll see how it goes though. Right now it’s making me drowsy.



It hurts me to think
Of wasting precious fabric
On your sorry ass.

Check out the Selfish Seamstress Store for haiku goodies- proceeds will be donated to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

Sigh. Look at those Miu Miu heels. The Selfish Seamstress once considered learning how to whittle just so she could have a pair of these shoes. With a rather dainty foot (size 4.5 or 5 US) she has a hard time finding pretty shoes that fit, given that most stores don’t even stock shoes smaller than 5.5 or 6, and that kids’ shoes, well, often look like kids’ shoes. Naturally she has often fantasized about becoming an expert shoemaker and being able to make any shoes she could dream up or copy any shoe she saw. (It should be noted, however, that this was her motivation in learning to draft, but the closetful of custom-made, perfectly fitting designer knockoffs has yet to materialize.) Since she has not had the opportunity to sew in recent weeks, she’s once again become fixated on this fantasy.

Mary Wales Loomis has published a manual on making your own shoes at home with her adorable hand-drawn illustrations like the one above. As she promises, the process requires no special or expensive equipment. I did buy the book, but after reading it, I found the whole process rather intimidating – the sort of thing one would probably rather learn by watching than by reading, like, say, filling a cavity or giving someone a perm. The book has been around for a long time and is pretty informative, but I have seen very few accounts from people who have actually tried the process, fewer who have had success with it, and even fewer resulting shoes. I get the feeling that if I try it, I will end up with a big wonky mess.

And so my latest obsession is with the idea of taking a shoemaking course. As it turns out, there are many seminars (well not many, but a handful) for laypeople who want to learn to make shoes. They’re not fashion certificate programs; they’re not intended to make you a professional cobbler or train you for a job at Jimmy Choo. Just seminars or continuing education classes in which you’ll make a pair of shoes, possibly of your own design, using professional equipment, and subsequently become completely addicted to making your own shoes. Courses range in price from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars, and wow, are they tempting.

Those are some pictures from Prescott and MacKay, which in addition to offering a variety of shoemaking courses also holds other tempting classes including millinery, tutu making, and bag making in London and San Francisco. They look like they’re pretty serious about their accessories.

Cleveland dwellers, or those who can travel out there for two days, can take a class at International Shoemaking Design, whose emphasis is on fun and sexy shoes- spectators, pumps, strappy sandals, mules… nary a Croc nor Birkenstock in sight! Check out these fun shoes from the site- you can’t buy them so you’ll just have to make them yourself:

New Yorkers have an enviable array of choices, including lots of options at the Manhattan JCC (2-month courses are less than $300!), a sandal and evening shoe course at Make, and an upcoming stiletto-making course for rank beginners from Koronya!  That’s right- four days of your labor at Koronya, and you could walk out in a pair of these:

Damn, yo.

So yeah, you can bet I’m going to be thinking about these courses when planning my next vacation, not to mention eyeing vintage fabric remnants with a whole new perspective: How would that look on my feet?

And in case I do have the good fortune to take one of these classes and end up with a closetful of adorable and covetable custom footwear-  don’t ask, because you already know the answer.  No.

I have no shame. I actually headed up towards my friend’s wedding an hour early so that I could stop by Vogue :)  I spent 45 minutes shopping in taupe satin T-strap heels and seafoam teal lace and with silk velvet trim. 

The Evanston store is the flagship Vogue store, and it’s huge- four large rooms of fabric and then a couple of smaller rooms with trims and equipment. Most people prefer the Evanston one to the downtown one, but visiting again I remembered that I actually prefer the downtown one.  For some reason I always feel like the fabric in the downtown branch is a little more “serious” and the stuff in Evanston is generally more novelty and colorful, with lots of dressy fabrics and prints:

Having already stocked up on prints at Whipstitch, I wasn’t too interested in most of Vogue’s current offerings.  But I did peruse their massive selection of remnants:

And pulled out a lovely gray plaid wool remnant (I know, so very typical of me), which will become a skirt at some point:

Oddly, I’m feeling mostly fabric-satiated at this point.  I don’t have an enormous stash, but I’ve certainly got more than I need.  It’s sort of like being offered dessert when you’re already full- just not that interested.  I did, however, pick up two lovely little additions to my Husqvarna feet family:

Those are a 7-groove pintuck foot and an invisible zipper foot.  I currently have a cheapo plastic invisible zipper foot, which always seems to gradually push the zipper away from the fabric edge in an annoying way.  I’ve heard the Husqvarna zipper foot is brilliant though. As for the pintuck foot, I didn’t know what kind to get and the Vogue people were remarkably disinterested in helping. 7-groove seems like a good starter one though. I’m actually miffed because I noticed right after buying it that the chrome is already chipping off the foot (you can see a little brass-colored spot on it at the bottom of the second picture).  The feet weren’t packaged, just loose in a box. But I won’t have time to go exchange it before I leave, so I hope the chrome doesn’t continue to peel. 

Heading home tomorrow, suitcase ever so slightly fuller than when I left!

Ok, my travel is coming to an end with a wedding in Evanston (coincidentally the same Chicago suburb where the Vogue flagship store is located. Hmmmmm. Is there anything wrong with going to a fabric store dressed in wedding guest attire?) And as of tomorrow I should be reunited with my sweetheart at home whom I have missed terribly after a weeklong separation. Oh, I hope my darling Husqvarna has been true while I’ve been away!

First up, a quick update on Arielle: the wonderful Cidell of Miss Celie’s Pants has volunteered to collect and consolidate all packages for Arielle.  She will send them to Arielle’s courier service so that Arielle doesn’t have to pay to receive dozens of individual packages. Thank you, Cidell! (I apologize for not offering to take care of this myself- for those of you who have not already figured it out, the Selfish Seamstress does not live in the US, so it would be expensive for most of you to ship to her, and expensive for her to ship out!) Also, if you haven’t already, do stop by Cidell’s blog and wish her a happy birthday.

At this point, I believe that everything on Arielle’s wishlist has been promised. If there is anything additional you would like to offer, you can email her at lakaribane[at]gmail[dot]com to ask what she needs. I believe she has near-daily access to email at this point.

And now, for those of you who have been worried that your selfish needs have been ignored by my blog for the past few days, don’t you worry. I found something that you might want. As you know, I’ve been on a little bit of a print kick lately, and I was scoping out some Alexander Henry lately when I stumbled upon this fabric called “Perfect Pattern“, the ultimate fabric for the sewing-obsessed:

Oooh, see?  It’s fabric printed with pattern pieces! Is that not the sewingest fabric ever!  And it’s somehow much cuter and edgier than fabric printed with, say, buttons or spools of thread. I can’t see wearing this fabric (perhaps some of you could swing it as a novelty skirt though) but if I had a sewing room, I’d be snatching up  yards of it (the third one is my favorite) for curtains, seat cushions, and other decor details. Adorable!

Hi everyone:

Thank you again for all of your generous offers to send sewing gifts to Arielle! I’m sorry, but I’m on a business trip so I have not had an opportunity to respond to you all, but will do so soon.  I received an email from Arielle yesterday and she is very, very moved by the outpouring of generosity.  She was thinking, however, that it might be best if all of the items could be consolidated into a single package and sent at once, since she has to pay for all of the packages to get to her from her US courier address. At this time I am waiting to hear back from her about whether there is someone in the US who could handle collecting and consolidating all of the items.  If so, I will email everyone who has promised things and let them know of the updated address. So if you have something for her and haven’t yet sent it, could you please hold off on doing so until I hear back from Arielle?  Thanks so much!


Oh my goodness, your emails are pouring in so quickly that I can barely keep up – (not to mention that I’m trying to pay attention at a work conference!)  Thank you so much for your incredible generosity- I’m sure Arielle will be back up and sewing in no time thanks to your kindness!

I’m trying to compile a list of all of the promised items, and so far, here is what has been offered in the emails I have received so far (if you received a response email from me, then I’m counting the items you offered in this list):

  • Buttons
  • Zippers (regular and invisible)
  • Dress pins 
  • Thread (all requested colors)
  • Hooks & eyes
  • Snap fasteners
  • Steam-a-seam
  • Chalk, marking pens
  • Tracing paper, tracing wheel
  • Hand sewing needles
  • 3m tape
  • Seam rippers
  • Bobbins
  • Glad Press ‘n’ Seal
  • Ironing board cover
  • Rotary blades (both sizes)
  • Miscellaneous patterns and fabric

To help you out, this means that the only things left on her wishlist that are not yet covered are:

  • Ballpoint pins
  • 1/2″ shoulder pads

For those of you who would still like to send her things and not yet emailed me, it would probably be best to send the sort of things that “one can never have too much of”, e.g. pins, tape, zippers, tracing paper, snaps, rather than the things that one doesn’t need many of which have already been promised (ironing board covers, tracing wheels).  Email me at selfishseamstress[at]gmail[dot]com for her US courier address.

To answer some of your questions, I’m not sure at this point what other items may be helpful to her- she does have sporadic email access so you can try to contact her directly to ask (lakaribane[at]gmail[dot]com).  And I’m not sure if things need to be packaged in any special way as she did not specify, other than to say that you should not send any liquids of any kind.

To those of you who have kindly offered to send money to me to purchase items for her, I apologize, but I’m not too comfortable sending or receiving money. I do appreciate the generosity of your offer- perhaps Arielle would appreciate a warm email from you instead; I’m sure she certainly understands that it is more expensive than it is worth for non-US residents to send a box of pins to a US address and would just appreciate that you are thinking of her. Again, I am very sorry that I can’t be more helpful on that front, but I’m nervous about handling or sending other people’s money.

I haven’t received a pattern wishlist from Arielle, so I’m not sure what kind of patterns she is looking for.  If I receive a list from her, I’ll be sure to post it here.

Thank you all again for your kindness and generosity- it’s truly heartwarming to see this community take care of one of its own.

Dear Readers:

Have you ever had one of those terrible days when it seemed like everything that could go wrong was going wrong, and everything that could possibly frustrate you, irritate you, exhaust you, or stress you out was happening at once, and at the end of it all, all you wanted was have a few moments of sewing and serenity to yourself? If so, this may help you to understand a tiny bit of what fellow sewing blogger and Haiti resident Arielle (Lakaribane on Pattern Review) is going through right now.

Arielle is a warm and lovely member of the online sewing community whom you may recognize from her enthusiastic and positive comments on other blogs, in addition to her own beautiful work. I and many others were ecstatic to hear that Arielle survived the massive Haiti earthquake, but she is now struggling with the aftermath of the destruction and has some harrowing stories of what she has lived through and is still experiencing every day. In my comparatively pampered state, I can’t even begin to imagine the horrors, fear, and loss that she has survived. But one thing I can identify with is when she tells me all she wants to do is sit down and sew.

Arielle’s home was destroyed and she has had to move. This is what became of her former sewing space:

Needless to say she lost a lot of stuff, including sewing stuff. Fortunately her sewing machines are still intact, but she lost patterns, tools, notions and some of her stash as well (it sounds like she had some heartbreaking Emma One Sock losses!) Unfortunately the current state of things in Haiti means that not only is money incredibly tight, but also that one can’t just walk into a shop and buy new pins- it’s not business as usual and goods are scarce.

Arielle still has limited internet access at the moment, but I asked her to take stock of what she has and send a list of things that she needs to replace. Now that I’ve received her wishlist, I’m hoping that perhaps some of you would like to send some of her wished-for items to her. To receive postal mail, she is currently using a courier service in the US which means you would send items to a US address and they will subsequently get forwarded to her by a private shipping service. This means that things won’t disappear in the Haitian mail (apparently a huge problem) and also that you’d only have to pay postage to ship to a US address.

Arielle has broken her wishlist down into “necessities,” “luxuries,” and “oddities.” If you would like to send her something, please send me an email at selfishseamstress[at]gmail[dot]com and let me know which item(s) and how many (if applicable) you would like to send. I will update this list to reflect purchases and email you back with Arielle’s courier address so you can ship the items to her. Here is her list:


  • Tailor’s chalk or other marking tool
  • Polyester sewing machine thread : black, white, navy, gray, brown
  • Tracing paper
  • Dressmakers’ pins, LOTS
  • Ballpoint pins for knits
  • Seam ripper (is this a sign?)
  • Class 15 bobbins
  • Rotary cutter blades: 60mm, 45mm
  • Buttons
  • Hand-sewing needles
  • Zippers, skirt and dress length, regular or invisible
  • 1/2″ shoulder pads
  • Hooks and eyes, skirts and pants sizes
  • Snaps, various diameters
  • Ironing board cover (I had one of those ruled ones but it is caput! Now, any will do)
  • Steam-a-seam, regular or lite (it’s addictive!)
  • Patterns (list to be forwarded soon, needs updating)
Oddities :
  • 3M Magic Tape
  • Glad Press n’Seal


Arielle has lost a lot more than sewing notions in this terrible tragedy and as much as we might wish we could, we can’t undo what has happened. But we can help to brighten Arielle’s day and get her back to the joys of sewing- please consider sending her a little treat!

Shhhh… don’t tell, but last night I played hooky. I skipped out on a conference function (with some 3000 delegates, I’m hoping no one noticed.) The Selfish Seamstress gets tired of smiling at colleagues all day, because she was born without the smiling reflex and therefore has to contort her facial muscles into a simulated smile-like positon for the sake of maintaining social norms while interacting with people. Instead I met up with a dear old friend, and we went for a casual belated birthday dinner (his birthday, not mine), but perhaps of more interest to you, we made a little side trip to the fantastic fabric shop, Whipstitch.

It’s a good thing that Whipstitch wasn’t around back when I lived in Atlanta because I’m sure I’d have been spending too much of my meager student salary there and making up for it by not eating. Whipstitch is nothing short of a fabric candy store:

The store is full of lovely multi-purpose fabrics from design masters like Amy Butler, Michael Miller, and Joel Dewberry. And as you know, I am somewhat print-challenged, but I very much wanted to grab up two yards of everything and pack it into my little roll-aboard suitcase. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about prints though, it’s that I shouldn’t buy them unless I can envision myself in a garment made from them. And so I picked out this dainty black and white floral from Sharon Evans Yenter which looks so wonderfully wearable:

I know, leave it to me to ferret out the black in a rainbow of a shop! It’s 100% cotton, I think, but has a very silky hand and lovely drape. Dainty florals aren’t usually my thing but this one is so soft and pretty, and I can see this made up in a lot of ways- I’m currently pondering it for a slim blouse, or perhaps as the top or bottom of Simplicity 2724 with a contrast fabric:

I may have picked up another adorable fabric too, but I can’t tell you about that one yet. Soon though. I have my reasons. Do not question the Selfish Seamstress.

Whipstitch itself is a charming, independently operated store (don’t you just want to cheer for wonderful, local, independent small businesses?)  in a neat little area of Atlanta, and they just moved into their lofty new space two weeks ago from their previous, smaller digs. They’ve already got a selection that will have you drooling and trying to restrain yourself, but there’s more on the way to fill out their lovely open space. Can you imagine what a paradise it will be when they’ve got this filled?

It won’t get too crowded though, as they’ve got a great open area in the back where they hold sewing classes. I really don’t remember the last time I saw such a pleasant fabric store. Hancock and Jo-Ann fill a need but offer little in terms of ambiance. I love the cramped and crowded offerings of the NYC garment district, or the massive emporia like Vogue, but none of them have comfy armchairs that make you want to sit down and soak up the fabric-y serenity. Whipstitch does, and looks like a studio, loft, shop, and classroom in one.

The business is co-owned by Deborah and Chrissy- unfortunately I missed Deborah and the time of my visit, but got to chat with the delightful and sweet Chrissy:

As you can see, she loves her some fabric:

Swing by on your next trip to Atlanta (I know I will), and these ladies can hook you up with more pretty than will fit in the overhead compartment.

Oh, and for those of you who have no immediate plans to head to the deep south, you can feed your addictions at Whipstitch’s Etsy shop!

The Selfish Seamstress, being your run-of-the-mill self-absorbed, sewing-obsessed eccentric, is generally uninterested in reading anything on topics other than:

1) Sewing
2) Herself
3) Why cat friends are better than people friends

As such, she’s not one to get terribly engaged in United Airlines’ seat pocket magazine, Hemispheres, as so few of the articles deal with those very important subjects. Nevertheless, as she was flipping through something pretty caught her eye:


I tore the article out of the magazine, and then, as you can see, it got a little crumpled in my bag.

Maybe I’ve been hiding under a rock and am the last one to know, but in case I’m not and there one or two of you out there who haven’t yet heard, H&M apparently has a home decor line which is heavy on the textiles! Yes, this from Hemispheres:

“H&M Home launches its spring line of textiles and soft accessories featuring a pop-inspired aesthetic – think psychedelic pillows depicting Viking princesses, paint splattered duvet covers and graphic throw blankets… The bad news?  So far the linens are available only online in Sweden and its Nordic neighbors (plus Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands)… the jawdropping prices (4.90 to 49.90 euros, or around $6.50-$68, for everything from candy-striped cushion covers to organic cotton bed sets), are earning the company plaudits fro design-hungry bloggers around the globe.”

Forget about cushion covers; I’m picturing the dresses I could make from the bedsheet version of that purple flower pillow and they’re looking very good indeed. And this tablecloth too.

I’ve got a bit of a love/hate relationship with H&M.  On one hand I love the fact that they bring design to the masses, and on the other hand I’ve got guilt over their labor practices (one of the many reasons that I sew for myself). If I had a third hand, I would use it to point to their inconsistent quality and workmanship. But this new development is going to make it interesting. I’m downright giddy at the thought of H&M perhaps one day selling fabric off the bolt, like Ikea or Marimekko, a potential game changer. Did I mention that I might have to go to Helsinki next month?

About this blog

The Selfish Seamstress loves to design and sew garments, but only if she gets to keep them. I'm Elaine, known in the online sewing world as elainemay, and welcome to my selfish sewing blog.

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100% of sales proceeds are currently being donated to the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

Total donations to date:
$270.00 to the Atlanta Humane Society
$464.00 to the American Red Cross
$119.56 to Doctors Without Borders

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