There’s a lot of talk these days about “shopping local,” and while I’d love to say I shop locally for my fabric, the truth is that I don’t. I would love to shop more frequently at *my* local shop in Ann Arbor, but sadly they cater to a very different type of sewist than I — one who is more traditional and enjoys a wall full of batiks, for instance — so I have a hard time finding the fabrics I want there (and yes, if you’re wondering, I have offered my feedback, no surprise to those of you who know me in person). Lucky for me, Pink Castle will soon be opening a new modern quilt shop and fabric studio here in Ann Arbor (yippeee!!!) which I am sure to visit on a regular basis. Since they’re not open to the public yet, I thought I’d highlight some of my favorite local fabric shops from my travels this past year instead. These places both inspire me to sew and give me hope that sewing will be alive and well in the next generation.

Now first let me say that I do think it is great that we have an online community of sewing enthusiasts who support each other virtually, through blogs and instagram and facebook and such. And I think it’s fantastic that we have such a great selection of wonderful online shops as well, because it makes it much easier for those who do not have local shops or who live far away from civilization to find and purchase fabrics they love. But over the course of a few years, I have been making a concerted effort to turn that virtual community into a real one; to meet my virtual friends in person and to visit as many brick and mortar shops in my travels as I possibly can, so that I can both support those shops and raise awareness by blogging about them. And can I tell you, as fun as making friends on the internet is, it is a bajillion times more fun to finally meet those friends face to face. And so important to have a place to gather, talk and sew.

This year I made a point of visiting local shops that carry a great selection of fabrics and supplies for modern quilters and sewists, and that offer classes to help encourage new sewists and pass on old skills to the next generation. I still have a ton of shops on “the list” that I’d still like to visit yet, of course, and I can’t wait to check off even more of these as time goes on. If you live near any of these shops, I hope you know how lucky you are to have them nearby and that you make a point of visiting them first and frequently!

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Dry Goods Design, Ballard Washington

The most recent shop I’ve visited is Dry Goods Design, just north of Seattle. Dry Goods’ owner, Keli, has just opened Make*Do*Mend, a sewing studio space directly behind the fabric shop where she is now offering a number of classes. As you can see, the sewing studio is absolutely stunning.

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With a modern navy, yellow and grey color scheme, original artwork by Blair Peter of wisecraft, and lovely fabric wall decals, this sewing space is fun and inviting. I was honored to be invited to help celebrate the Make*Do*Mend space’s grand opening earlier last month, so I gave a little presentation on sewing garments. But mostly it was just so fun to be in this space, talking to people and hearing about their latest projects…it made me wish I lived right around the corner.

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The Dry Goods fabric shop space is equally charming, with lots of color, a comfy couch, and plenty of fabrics to keep you busy for a long time.

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See more pics of both the Dry Goods shop and Make*Do*Mend sewing studio here:


Nido, Burlington Vermont

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I visited Nido early last fall (where I gave another talk — see the blog post here) and it did not disappoint! The antique decor and amazing selection make it a must-visit if you are in the Burlington area! In addition to fabrics, Nido carries a wonderful selection of yarns as well.


Purl Soho, New York City

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Purl is another must-visit if you ever find yourself in New York City. I’ve never seen such an amazing selection of Liberty Lawn in one place, and their wall display of fabrics in embroidery hoops is pretty much now iconic. I had the opportunity to stop by Purl Soho a couple of times as part of Heather Ross’ sewing/fabric design weekends that I participated in this past year (see the blog posts here and here).


Whipstitch, Atlanta Georgia

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Though Whipstitch’s owner Deborah Moebes recently transformed her shop space into a dedicated sewing studio for the local Atlanta sewing community (check out her amazing class selection!), these photos of the shop from my visit last March (see the blog post here) are still a lovely visual inspiration to anyone with dreams of ever opening their own space. I can’t wait to go back!!

I hope this little tour has inspired you to go out and support your local shop, or if you don’t have one, support an independently-owned shop that’s local to someone else. They are such an important part of our communities and deserve our support! Do you have a local shop that you love?

Categories: travel
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19 Responses to My Fabric Shop Stops of 2012

  1. A bit early but I did visit my local quilt/fabric shop today! We have a Canadian chain store that I’ve been to a few times but today I was in the LQS on our main street and it was quite charming. Just bought notions as I had a 20lb baby I was carrying in the carseat, and it was mainly recon mission. Very nice though, way more organized than our chain store and the old building is pretty cool, very ‘old town Winnipeg’.

  2. Anna says:

    Sew to Speak in Columbus, Ohio is the best shop ever!!! I was just there today, but I may go back on Thursday! The fabrics are great and the staff is super friendly. (They aren’t paying me for advertisement, I swear!)

    • Rae says:

      Hi Anna!!

      April and Anita are dear friends. Their shop is definitely at the TOP of my list, and I hope to make it there sometime this year!! You are very lucky!!

    • Janette says:

      I am a big fan. I’ve taken two classes there and hope for more. It’s a gem in Columbus where fabrics are very limited.

  3. Michelle says:

    Here is Asheville we have Waechter’s Fine Fabrics, which is all glorious apparel fabric. It’s turned me into quite a fabric snob! The employees are incredibly helpful and knowledgable. The owner has helped me pick fabrics on several occasions. If you or any of your readers ever venture this way, I highly recommend a detour to Waechter’s in Biltmore Village.

  4. Nina says:

    We don’t really have “quilt shops” here in the UK, but I did recently visit Raystitch for the first time (it used to be an online-only shop but now it’s also real) and it was lovely. Very relaxed, helpful staff and a few more ‘ethical’ options than your average sewing shop (organic fair-trade cottons, for instance). Also, not that I was looking for one, but there were MEN there! Plural!

  5. Kristi says:

    Just wondering I will be going on a road trip with the family this summer through Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Oregon and Wyoming. Any quilt shops I should stop and check out. With four kids we always need a break to run around and go potty on road trips. Might as well be at a fabric store! :)

  6. nopinkhere says:

    I don’t usually visit the nearest quilt shop as it really is a quilt shop and I don’t quilt.
    But I do shop at one farther away and love their classes. In fact I’m going to one next week!
    Stitch Lab in Austin.

  7. treen says:

    I went to my local quilt shop today because I know I won’t be able to go Thursday, and picked through their trims section – they have the most huge rick-rack I’ve ever seen. It’s awesome! They have some really nice prints but for the most part, I seem to be in the same situation as you – it’s a lot of batik and not much of the fabric I want. The owner had never heard of Lizzy House when I asked about the pearl bracelets print today (which I WANT and I WILL HAVE! Thank heaven for online shops!)

    But what they DO have there is one of those huge quilting machines that can be used by the hour, and if/when I get around to making my king-sized quilt in a couple of years, I have every intention of using that machine.

  8. Katie says:

    My favorite local shop is Urban Arts + Crafts in Kansas City, MO. Amazing selection of modern designers. I wish it was closer to my house so I could get up there more often. Or maybe I don’t–my pocketbook probably couldn’t handle it!

  9. Lisa Burger says:

    Purl soho is AMAZING! My husband made sure we made it there on our 1 day trip into NYC from PA (where we were visiting family). We live in SD, CA and I’ve bought online from them so it was a dream to be inside! ;)

  10. Kelly says:

    I have access to some pretty cool quilt shops in Salt Lake City, and there is a store that specializes in apparel fabric called Yellow Bird Fabrics. But I still have a hard time finding fabric that I use the most, like good quality organic knits, denim, chambray, and Japanese imports- so I usually end up buying that stuff on line. I did have a chance to visit Bolt (awesome!) in Portland, OR recently, and whenever I am home visiting my parents in Spokane, WA I go to The Top Stitch, a very cool shop :)

  11. Thanks, Rae! I agree wholeheartedly with you! I just started working part-time at a quilt shop here in Columbia, SC, (Creative Sewing Machine Center) so if you EVER find yourself here you should definitely come in or we could host you as an Event, happily! The reason I was hired was to connect our store more to the online virtual sewing world, starting a blog soon for them and helping to tie it all together. We cater to both those that love that wall of batiks, but also those that love the more modern designers! It’s been a fun process! Thanks for supporting us!

    -Vanessa

  12. Colleen says:

    Patched Works in Elm Grove (Milwaukee), Wisconsin is one of my favorite shops! They have a room of traditional fabrics and a room of all the latest, modern fabrics! I love, love, love this store!

  13. Phiona says:

    Rae! Thank you for your kind words about nido. It was so lovely to see you again last fall and to have you speak at our anniversary party. Must get to Dry Goods Design next time I’m home, looks like my kinda place! xx

  14. KerryQ says:

    Sadly, I just visited my LQS last weekend with my 9 yr old who is getting into sewing/fabric hoarding. I raved to her beforehand that the shop is a feast for the eyes as it is arranged by color. (A healthy dose of batiks and repros are present as well.). Well, it changed hands last year, and it was a dump. It looked like an episode of hoarders. I’ll give it another try in the future, and hope it was just bad timing.

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