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Free fabric scraps at this funky Chicago fabric store: The Needle Shop!

The Needle Shop - Chicago, IL
The Needle Shop – Chicago, IL

Anyone who does appliqué knows the value of a scrap. A small piece of fabric is all you need to make a big impact.  But if you rely on using scraps from your own projects AND you do a lot of appliqué… you start to run out of fresh options. So when I walked into The Needle Shop in Chicago and saw a large bin of free scraps, I got pretty excited!

What a fabulous concept! I have never seen such an offer in any fabric store, and I think it’s absolutely brilliant. After rooting through the scrap bin for a good 10 minutes, and feeling very grateful for my finds, I WANTED to find something to purchase from this totally awesome store. And this was not a problem.

The Needle Shop has tons of modem (primarily) cotton printed fabrics and many examples of garments made from their stock to provide lots of inspiration. I didn’t even go near their trims for fear that it would be just too tempting (and I haven’t done ANYTHING yet with my $40 trim purchase from Geneva.)

Don’t know how to sew? Not a problem – The Needle Shop also offers an assortment of sewing classes and from the looks of it – it’s not your grandma’s sewing school.

So if you find yourself in Chicago – make sure you drop by and help yourself to the free scraps. Just save a few for me!

Learn more about The Needle Shop, Chicago

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It’s inspiration Sunday and I’m inspired to make my own fabric

Spoonflower - make your own fabric
Spoonflower – make your own fabric

If you watch Project Runway, then you are probably familiar with the challenge where the contestants have to design their own fabric. They do their design work on their HP tablets and then the fabric is printed for them and delivered back to the studio. To be honest with you I think most of the prints they come up with are pretty hideous, but I do think the idea of making your own fabric is pretty cool.

I love the idea of creating a fabric design through a repeated embroidery pattern and have done a bit of experimenting with this technique. For example, when I made the skirt with the abstract flower designs inspired by my sister-in-law’s dress, I stitched out all of the embroidery prior to putting the skirt together. (Let me tell you… embroidering on a pattern piece sure beats the hell out of stitching out an embroidery design on a tiny little baby onesie.) I have grand visions of designing some embroidered fabric with some big bold designs using my mega hoop, but haven’t quite gotten to that one yet.

Anyway, getting back to the idea of printing a design on fabric. My friend, Anna, introduced me to a website called Spoonflower where you can submit your graphic and have it printed on the fabric. She is actually doing a project requiring her to print her husband’s family crest on fabric. One of the great things about Spoonflower is that it’s not that expensive to print the fabric – only $15.75/yard. So lets all design some fabric ourselves and see how hard it actually is.  Maybe I’ll see how hideous mine looks then have to go easier on the Project Runway contestants.

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Found a cute, independent fabric shop on the East Side

Fabric Plus in Woodriver, Illinois
Fabric Plus in Woodriver, Illinois

There is a term that we, St. Louisans, use when you live in St. Louis and travel across the Mississippi River into Illinois. We affectionately refer to that journey as visiting “the East Side.” Today I made this trip due to a University retreat over at Pere Marquette State Park north of Grafton, IL which is across the Mississippi River from St. Louis and a ways up north along the river on the Illinois side.

For those of you who can’t imagine natural beauty in a gritty city like St. Louis, you should definitely make this drive some time. It is absolutely beautiful, especially now that the leaves are changing color. And it was an amazingly clear day, so I enjoyed the view of the many sailboats that were out. (Yes – there are actually people crazy enough to sail on the Mississippi river among the huge barges traveling downstream.) But I digress…

Anyway let’s get to the important part of today’s blog: discovering a new fabric store. I get kind of tired of going to the same-old-same-old fabric stores in my area. So I get excited to see independent fabric stores anywhere I go, and I actually seek them out when I travel.

On my way up to the conference, I stopped in a little town in Illinois called Wood River. It has an old-timey looking downtown area. When I noticed a little independent hardware store on the main street, I typed “fabric store” in my iPhone, and lo-and-behold I discovered I was only a couple blocks away from this little gem: Fabric Plus.

Fabric Plus has a great selection of fabrics, and definitely stuff that you don’t see at every Hancock and JoAnn.  And here’s the plus… the owner of Fabric Plus also owns the costume shop next store.  A fabric store owner that also knows costumes???  Could there be any better place to go to buy supplies for your Halloween costume?  It’s worth a trip to the East Side.

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Franklin, TN quilting shop, Stitcher’s Garden is loaded with cute fat quarters

2013-08-03 15.01.04Hello from Tenessee! We are down here for a family reunion (my husband’s side) so of course I view this is as an opportunity to check out a new fabric store. I mean how long can you sit around making small talk with people you barely know?

So I Googled up Franklin, TN fabric store and discovered Sticher’s Garden less than a mile from our hotel. How convenient? I had to make my getaway.

To be honest with you, I wasn’t expecting much. Stitcher’s Garden is billed as a quilter shop, so I imagined the selection of fabrics would be fairly traditional (read: old lady). But I was pleasantly surprised.

Stitcher’s Garden had tons of modern cotton prints- it was overwhelming. Immediately I regretted bringing my three-year-old with me – because I needed to focus on browsing.  Anyway – I found some amazing and cute cotton prints that will be perfect for appliqué.  I am sure you will be seeing them soon.

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It’s inspiration Sunday – and I’m inspired the headbands my kids made at sewing camp!


Last week my two girls went to a sewing class at Jackman’s Fabric in St. Louis. I don’t often write  about Jackman’s because I don’t go there that often – it’s a bit out of the way for me.  Also, they are a Babylock dealer – not Bernina  (and I own two Berninas), so I can’t go to them when I have issues with my machines. Anyway – Jackman’s is a great fabric store and I have been going there for years. But, what really impressed me about them lately, is their sewing classes they offer for kids.

Sending the girls to sewing class was kind of a last minute decision. My sister had signed up her 10-year-old daughter for the class, and my two girls just happened to be available. The only issue was that the class was for 8-12 year-olds and my little one (Ilse) is only 7-1/2. So… we had to stretch the truth a bit to get her in. (Sorry Jackman’s)

The title of the class was “Pajama Pants,” and the objective was for each kid to make a pair of pajama pants after the 2 day, 2 1/2 hour sessions. But after the first day – both my girls had nearly completed their pants! Impressive.

On the second day the girls got to do a couple of extra side projects. Adelaide (my older daughter) made a little bag, and my niece made a super cute headband. The headband is made with a small piece of cotton fabric doubled over and secured with a piece of elastic. The great part about this design is that it can be easily embroidered prior to construction (as opposed to the pre-made knit headbands – which I find to be a huge pain in the ass to embroider). I also think this style has a more high-end look.

So the girls and I now have plans to make some headbands embroidered with some cute designs and names.  Once we get to it, I will be sure to post our finished products and a template to help you make the headbands too.

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Fabric Outlet on the Eastern shore of Virginia

Fabric store on the Eastern Shore of Virginia
Fabric store on the Eastern Shore of Virginia

Hello from the Eastern shore of Virginia. Today I am heading to Atlantic City, New Jersey after having dropped off my girls at my in-laws house in Norfolk, Virginia. They are staying in Norfolk for the week for a little grandparent bonding time. I coordinated the drop off with some work I have in  New Jersey, which is how I found myself driving up the Eastern Shore of Virginia, Maryland and Deleware.

I wasn’t expecting to find any fabric stores like I’ve encountered on recent travels like Citycraft in Dallas or even Sewcial in Madison, Wisconsin. Actually I wasn’t expecting to encounter any fabric stores at all because from what I have heard, the Eastern Shore is pretty rural.  So I was extremely surprised when I saw a sign for “Fabric Outlet” shortly after I started up the Eastern Shore while still in Virginia. I had to pull over.

When I entered the parking lot I noticed that there was a “Closed” sign on the front door. However, just as I was about to pull away a guy in his truck emerged from his truck, walked up to the front door and flipped over the sign to “Open.” So, I jumped in my car to go check it out.

The octogenarian woman who appeared to be the store owner looked at me like I was nuts when I walked in and exclaimed, “This is the best surprise, EVER!” My elation soon diminished as I scanned the tables for fabric of my liking.  But after exuding such enthusiasm, I felt like I needed to buy SOMETHING.  I picked up 10 yards of elastic and 2/3 of a yard of a simple, cotton print.

When I got back in my car I realized that my fabric store stop set me back a bit on my schedule which made catching the Cape May ferry from Delaware to New Jersey very tight.  Oh, Lord – the things I do for fabric…

The Fabric Outlet on the Eastern Shore of Virginia
The Fabric Outlet on the Eastern Shore of Virginia
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How the most awesome fabric store, Citycraft, in Dallas, saved me from missing my flight.

Citycraft Independent Fabric Store in Dallas, Texas
Citycraft, an independent fabric store in Dallas, Texas

I have been working in Frisco, Texas the past two days. Prior to my trip, I discovered a really interesting looking fabric store in Dallas, called Citycraft. Due to my work schedule the only time I had to get to the store was this afternoon prior to catching my flight back to St. Louis, and I didn’t have a lot of time.

When I was finally ready to leave for the airport via Citycraft I checked its location once again on my phone.  But here was the weird thing.  The last time I had checked I recalled Citycraft being close to the airport.  Now my phone was saying it was about 20 miles out of my way.  Was it worth making the trip?

I decided to go for it… with the mantra: “I will not miss my flight for a fabric store, I will not miss my flight for my fabric store…. I will only spend 10 minutes in the fabric store…” running through my head.  Then I noticed the highway I was driving on looked very similar to the one I had taken from the airport.  Was Citycraft actually near the airport as I had originally suspected?

Ummmm…. yeah.  I had completely forgotten that I had flown in to (and supposed to fly out of) Dallas LOVE airport and not Dallas Fort Worth Airport.  Had I chosen to forgo fabric shopping at Citycraft I would have been at DFW and most likely missing my flight.  How serendipitous! And yet how completely STUPID of me.  I guess I get really excited and distracted when it comes to fabric.

So when I made it to Citycraft I actually had a few minutes to browse and OMG OMG OMG!!! They have such beautiful fabric.  I discovered a fabric designer called Kokka – which is awesome.  You’ll be seeing much more Citycraft fabric soon on the blog as I nearly bought out the store.

If you make it to Dallas, you must go to Citycraft.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s the #1 attraction in “the big D.”  In the meantime – check out their web site:

Gorgeous fabric at Citycraft - Dallas
Gorgeous fabric at Citycraft – Dallas
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Fantastic fabric store in Madison, Wisconsin: Sewcial

Hello from Madison, Wisconsin. Here’s the great thing about your husband working in Madison for the day and being left with all the kids: dragging them to the fabric store. If you are a regular reader of this blog you probably know that I love to check out cool independent fabric stores when I travel to different cities. And in Madison, there is a really great one: Sewcial.

Sewcial: independent fabric store in Madison, Wisconsin
Sewcial: independent fabric store in Madison, Wisconsin

Sewcial reminds me a lot of the Fabric Nosherie in St. Louis as they have a lot of retro cotton print fabrics and focus primarily on quilting. Owner, Sarah teaches sewing lessons of all types in the back of the store.

Sarah is lovely and so is the store, so when in Madison – definitely check it out.

Oh and I indulged in a bit of Chevron print fabric. I have no idea what I will be using it for, but I could not resist.

Thanks, Sarah of Sewcial and all the best to you!!!

My daughter, Ilse, explains her vision for her next outfit.
My daughter, Ilse, explains her vision for her next outfit.
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I just spent $40 on a piece of trim at a Geneva fabric shop

There is nothing like a cute, independent fabric store that gets me to spend A LOT of money on fabric and notions. But at the same time – paying a lot for a special piece of fabric or notion is one way to make sure I actually use it.

Walking through the old city in Geneva this week, I discovered a quaint and beautiful fabric store. I wish I could tell you the name of it, but unfortunately (or fortunately) Swiss stores in historic areas do not employ bold American-style signage – so I missed getting the actual name of the store. (The area is not large – I am sure if you visit the old city in Geneva you could stumble upon it as well).

Like a bumbling American tourist, I “ooooohhhhhed” and “ahhhhed” my way through their offerings and tested the patience of my fellow travelers (see picture below). While the emphasis of the store was on traditional embroidery and cross stitching – I was still able to find a piece of sweet cotton printed fabric (perfect for appliqué) as well as the most elegant and embellished piece of trim that I am hoping to combine with a piece of silk a friend picked up for me from China years ago and is still sitting in my cabinet.

Even though this piece of trim is really to die for – I might have been able to pick up something like it back in the States. What I can’t buy is the memories of Geneva that I will always associate with this beautiful, expensive piece of trim.

My very patient friends at this beautiful Geneva fabric store.
My very patient friends at this beautiful Geneva fabric store.
Very expensive trim.  Yes - I am a sucker.
Very expensive trim. Yes – I am a sucker.
Store information - I just found it.
Store information – I just found it.
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Independent fabric store in Stowe, Vermont

Hello from Stowe, Vermont! We are enjoying some late season skiing and a family Easter gathering at our vacation home in Vermont.

Stowe is a great little ski town that has an eclectic collection of shops and restaurants. Although I have been coming up to Stowe for over 10 years, I never checked out the independent fabric store in town, Stowe Fabric and Yarn.

So I finally stopped in yesterday to see what they had to offer. Stowe Fabric and Yarn is a small store filled with primarily traditional quilting cottons – with not much in the way of mod prints. There are also quite a few finished handmade goods in the store for sale. I wish I could tell you the name of the artist, but it has escaped me.

I found the yarn collection to be more inspiring than the fabric, but not being a knitter…it doesn’t help me out. If I ever do want to become a knitter, though, the shop owner offers free knitting lessons on Monday and Wednesday from 4-6 pm.


Stowe Fabric and Yarn in Stowe, Vermont - an independent fabric store
Stowe Fabric and Yarn in Stowe, Vermont – an independent fabric store
Inside of Stowe Fabric and Yarn
Inside of Stowe Fabric and Yarn