All you really have to do is mention the phrase “city full of cats,” and you’ve got Selfish’s attention. Throw in some fabric shopping, and I’ve got my hotel room booked.  And I’m filling it with fabric.

Dan and I are on vacation in Istanbul. We headed out to the Grand Bazaar today, and I finally understood why my stuffy British 5th grade teacher would always say, “Behave yourselves.  This is NOT a Turkish bazaar!” to us when the class got rowdy. It was complete sensory overload with massive crowds and thousands (not an exaggeration) of shop owners trying to draw your attention, and wallet, to millions of items for sale.  [Some terms people called out to me today in attempt to get my attention: “Chinese!” “Japan!” “Ching chong! “Ni hao!” “Konichiwa!” and my personal favorite, “Hey! This is your neighbor! I found your neighbor!” (said by shopkeeper as he put his arm around a random, puzzled-looking Asian man.)]

Amidst all of the chaos, I stumbled upon the lovely Gülipek Tekstil in the fabric section of the bazaar. The shop is delightfully serene and organized, and it’s bright and airy compared to the other fabric stores, which skew somewhat cramped and dark. The offer wonderful, gracious, non-pushy service, and amazing quality silks for very reasonable prices (their asking price was about $18/meter, though asking prices in Turkey tend to have some give…) Feast your eyes and drool with your mouth (ew, not on your keyboard):

This store was definitely the gem of the entire bazaar for me. If you’re craving a little fabric shopping in Istanbul, don’t miss it! They stock only silk, and in the ever-elusive 140cm/55″ width. Better yet, they stock mostly what I consider to be “practical” weights of silk (i.e. more twill than chiffon).

There are a number of other little fabric shops along the fabric row of the bazaar, though not much offering fabrics that would work in my everyday wardrobe. There are quite a lot of traditional Turkish hand-loomed fabrics which are lovely but better suited in weave, weight, width, or drape to decor sewing, and lots of glitzy, twinkly, sparkly stuff. Don’t you think Selfish would look great in gold hologram foil?

Here are some other offerings that couldn’t quite tempt me:

So what did I end up with?  Oooooooooohhhhhh….

Dan took that photo and I just had to put it in because it makes the silk look so luscious. Here’s a more informative picture:

These are all silk.  The beige and orange one on the left is a silk twill from Gülipek.  The aqua and brown geometric in the center is also from Gülipek- it’s the same weight as the silk twill (sort of a light dress weight), but it has a satiny surface, like a heavier-than-ususal charmeuse. And the teal and brown on the right is also a sort of dull, somwhat heavy charmeuse, but from a different store, the name of which I didn’t note.

And because a seamstress cannot live on silk alone, a couple of other purchases. The brown swirly print with tuquoise accents on the left was sort of pushed on me by an cheery old salesperson with whom I was communicating mostly through hand gestures and numbers punched into a calculator. I’m not sure I actually agreed to buy it, but he started cutting it anyway, and I guess I’m not sorry, as it’s a great print. Strangely enough, I just discovered that The Slapdash Sewist picked up the same fabric on her trip to Istanbul (what are the chances??) and that she also had the exact same suspicion that this “100% cotton” was actually rayon. (Hey, Trena!  Wanna be twinsies?) The gray and white cotton hand-loomed ikat is the only fabric I bought that falls into the category of traditional Turkish textile. Like many of the other turkish hand loomed fabric, it’s very narrow (probably about 16″ or 18″ wide?) and I’m hoping to squeeze a pencil skirt out of it, if I’m not underestimating the width of my rear. It’s crisp like a taffeta with a nice sheen and I think the ikat weave will look very current. They also had some beautiful hand loomed silk ikat weaves in rich, intense colors, but they were only about 12″ wide, and I would have needed a LOT of yardage to piece everything together and match the large-scale pattern.

After today, I think I’m pretty much shopped out (not just on fabric, but on a whole mess of ceramics and lamps and spices and sweets on which Dan and I decided to splurge.) And so I think I’ll now turn my attention away from the men trying to get my attention, and towards Istanbul’s other delightful aspects.