The most common question I get from both local customers and fellow sewing enthusiasts is also one of the biggest challenges of running Restitch Studio in Central PA. "Where do you buy fabric?"
If I was closer to NYC or Philadelphia, or any major metropolitan area for that matter, I'd simply take an afternoon whenever needed and drive in to the fabric district. Abounding with fabric and notions stores, I'd certainly find what I need.
(In case you are travelling this summer and want to check out some of these places, in New York, this is 7th Avenue between 34th and 39th St. In Philadelphia, Fabric Row is 4th St. between Bainbridge and Catherine St. Even Pittsburgh has a few fabric stores concentrated in the Strip District neighborhood.)
But here in Central PA, in most cases, I have turned to the modern wonder that is the internet for most of my fabric shopping needs. The good news is that many online fabric stores offer very affordable swatching, costing anywhere from $.50 to $5.00 depending on the store and the fabric. Some offer a rebate if you buy yardage of the fabric that was swatched.
So without further ado, here are the places I find fabric most often:
http://www.bandjfabrics.com/Quite expensive, but GORGEOUS, $.50/swatch, maximum five swatches/week
http://www.lowpricefabric.com/The online home of Michael Levine fabrics, an LA based store. A 3x3 swatch price varies dispending on what fabric it is, but the full cost of the swatch is credited to you if you buy that fabric within 30 days.
http://www.thaisilks.com/All kinds of silk. I actually have their swatch kit if you'd ever like to look through it-- they are always adding and changing stock, so there may be more than what I have.
https://www.fabric.com/More of a Jo-Ann type of store, but online. All types of fabrics and price points, HUGE selection. Most fabrics are available as swatches for $2.00, some are as much as $5.00 depending on the fabric.
http://www.dharmatrading.com/They sell Artist quality fabrics and yarns. That means it is all white or natural in color. They also sell lots of dyes & fabric paints. Great deals on silks, as long as you want white/natural. I don't dye for customers, because there are too many variables, but you are welcome to give it a go, then I can turn your beautiful dyed creation into a lovely garment!
http://www.spoonflower.com/welcomeThis one is a little different. You can go there and buy any print/pattern you see, printed on any of the dozen or so types of fabric they have. OR you can design your own to be printed. I have the swatch book of plain (pre printed) fabrics that you can look through, but once you know what design you want, it is best to buy a swatch of the fabric printed for $5 to see the actual color. As a bonus, they also print on wall paper, wrapping paper and wall decals! Their blog is a great place for inspiration!
Locally, there are a few resources:
Jo-Ann Fabric- by the mall; okay selection, coupons available if you join their mailing list.
Walmart- on North Atherton St.; limited selection of basic fabrics. Also worth noting it can be hard to find somebody to cut the fabric for you.
Surplus City- Bellwood exit on I-99 South. It is closed on Sundays. The selection is hit and miss, they buy out other stores, sometimes there's a ton of great stuff, other times, nothing I want. It is great if you need fabric to use as table cloths or something along those lines.
Woolrich Company store- North of Lock Haven, about an hour from State College. They sell a limited selection of their USA made wools. Many used by Civil War re-enactors. Perhaps call first to see what wools they have available by the yard before trekking up there. 39 Boardman Dr, Woolrich, PA 17779 · (570) 769-6464
Stitch Your Art Out- In Pine Grove Mills. They sell fabric for quilting and also a wide variety of yarns. They offer classes in sewing and various types of needlework.
Frye's/Moyer's Sweeper & Sewing Center Inc.- On East College Ave. in State College. The main crux of the business is vacuum cleaner and sewing machine repair. However, they also offer classes and have a selection of quilting fabric. I never noticed the fabric until one day last spring... there was a sale and every quilter in Centre County was there stocking up!
Do you have a favorite website or store that you buy fabric at? Please share your experience below so we can all benefit!
So here's the short version of this story:
K, (who lives in PA) is in her brother's wedding which will take place in California (where he and his bride-to-be live.) The bride wanted all of her bridesmaids to have a dress made by a designer she knows in southern CA, out of the fabric she chose.
K, a wife, mother, and full time employee, wasn't able to get away to California an extra time in the months leading up the wedding, as was required by the designer, for fittings, so she found me. I was able to get the same fabric and designed a dress for K that fit her style, while keeping with the feel of the wedding she will be in. Here is the process and the results:
The fabric choices-- straight from Los Angeles. There are 3 pictured, but the color differences are so subtle, it is hard to tell! K chose a Silk knit-- very similar to a silk charmeuse, but with a tiny bit of stretch.
Draping and making the pattern- Because this dress has a very flowy feel to it, I draped the entire dress on the dress form, which was close enough to K's size to be a good starting point.
After the pattern was completed, I stitched together the rest of the muslin, I even tried it on once to see the shape of the neckline on a real human!
K came back for a fitting of the muslin. We adjusted the length of the halter, brought in the bodice a bit and added more gathering to the center front of the skirt. (No pictures of that fitting per K's request.)
Next came cutting and sewing, and I remembered to take exactly one picture during that process:
So here it is, all sewn together! I even made bow ties to match for the ring bearers!
Here is K trying it on during her final fitting! I can't wait to see pics of her in the wedding!
Update: Here is K in the wedding in California!
I'm Denise Meyer, apparel designer in State College, PA, saving the world one clothing problem at a time!