Fabric Shopping in Australia: Perth etc

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Fabric shopping during this trip was both a pleasant surprise and rewarding. Prior to the trip, I contacted Carolyn from handmadebycarolyn on fabric shops in Perth and surrounds. She kindly provided me with a comprehensive list coupled with their locations on Googlemap on the shops that she knows of/visits. Armed with that list, I only plan to shop in Perth/Fremantle. However as we journey along, I also found 2 other shops located at 2 different quaint little towns. I was ecstatic!

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#1 Potter’s Textiles
3 Auckland Street
North Perth, Western Australia 6006
Opening hours: Mon to Fri 0900 to 1600

While at Perth, I planned to shop at Potter’s, and if time permits Fabulous Fabrics. I only made one stop at the former and man, it was really good enough. Potter’s is not exactly a fabric shop but more like a warehouse. The fabric swatches are displayed neatly on the rack at the shop front for you to browse through.

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There are also end of bolt and other discounted bundled fabrics placed in the bins for you to select from.

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Once you have made your selection, let the staff know and they will proceed to the back to cut and prepare your fabrics.

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Prices at Potter’s are also very affordable, average of AUD12 and above. Fabrics are of various width. Those that I selected are about 50″ and above. That made me a very happy shopper! I spent about AUD100.

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That made me a very happy shopper! I spent about AUD100.

 

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#2 Sew Gentle Era
91 Hampton Street
Bridgetown, Western Australia
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 0930 to 1700

While driving through Bridgetown to Ballingup, I thought I saw what looked like a fabric store. While planning for our itinerary at the region, we did a google street view and it confirmed what I spotted! Off to Bridgetown we go. I was really elated to find such a well-stocked fabric shops here in a quaint little town. Fabrics are sorted according to colours.

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They also have a variety it wool, notions and other knitting stuff.

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A major bonus point of this fabric shop is that there is little corner for children to entertain themselves!

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Most fabrics are American. I spotted quite a number of Timeless Treasures. This is one shop that I truly enjoy to shop at!

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Besides these two fabric shops, I also happen to chance upon a knitting shopping in Denmark. They have a small collection of fabrics but pretty expensive. I also found basic cotton at Denmark Shopping Center.

 

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The “Casual Snow White” Tank

I have been wearing my blush blouse a little too often lately and I needed another basic that I can rotate it with. Then I unearthed this little treasure that I have been keeping in my stash – a vintage (I assume?) white cotton gifted from my grandmother-in-law. What shall I make then?

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I came across this, which I thought would be perfect for a little sunsandseasweetheart adventure at the end of the year! A basic blouse, minus the sleeves.

 

This blouse is drafted based on a basic V-neck pattern that I learned from my beginner’s sewing class, with some adjustments made in the waist and the shoulders. It is lined with French Dior in off-white to add a warm undertone beneath the sheer cotton.

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I particularly love the embroidered scallop hem on the main fabric.

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It has a raw organic look, while the French Dior provides a lustrous comfort on the inside, which I absolutely love! The lining was attached in the concealed manner, which gives it a polished look even from the underside. It was a mess when I attempted it the first time so this time round, I documented a tutorial on attaching a concealed lining.

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Because the v-neck provided an opening that is large enough for my head to pass through, this blouse does not require a zipper. Yay! To more basics like this, without zippers!

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Fabric Shopping in Singapore: Ang Mo Kio

I was running errands at Ang Mo Kio Central and discovered a fabric shop! Wow, I never knew that Ang Mo Kio has one. I am so surprised because I am not unfamiliar with Ang Mo Kio. Looks that I’m not that familiar after all. Since I frequent one of the haberdashery shop in the area, I am going to share with you these hidden gems in the heartland of Ang Mo Kio.

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#1 Kar Bee Ang Mo Kio Textiles
720 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6
#01-4112
Singapore 560720

Opens from around 1100-1630
Closed on Monday

Kar Bee has a sizeable shopfront, selling a variety of fabric. They have plain and printed (polka dots, checkered, floral and cartoon) cotton, shirtings, some laces (from Japan according to the owner) and the really mature prints for grandma blouses. Prices are for cotton rather reasonable, not outrageously expensive, starting from $4.50/m. The laces are about $18.50/m and the shirtings from $28/m. If you stay in Ang Mo Kio, or happen to be in the vicinity, and feel like buying some fabrics, you might like to check it out.

 

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#2 Elsie Departmental Store
709 Ang Mo Kio Ave 8
#01-2607
Singapore 560709

Opens from 1030-2030

I used to frequent this shop very often, during the very early stages of my jewellery making days. I used to sell handmade jewellery to earn some extra pocket money. Now that I am sewing clothes, Elsie is my best friend whenever I need some last minute supplies. Besides jewellery making supplies (rhodium parts, swarovski crystals and pearls etc), they are very well-stocked with a wide variety of yarns, ribbons, trims, threads, zips, beads, some buttons and other craft materials.

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Basically it is a departmental store of craft supplies. Elsie also conducts knitting lessons, which is quite popular. On top of that, they have a small selection of knitting patterns available for copy.

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Now besides Chinatown and Arab Street, you have one other option (though location is not really central) for fabric shopping in Singapore!

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Fabric Shopping in Japan: Keihoku and Kyoto

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#1 360 Gallery and Cafe
〒601-0276 京都市右京区京北西町5-1

Fabric shopping at Keihoku was not planned at all. While at Keihoku, our airbnb hosts tailor-made a tour for us, according to our interests and preferences. Upon knowing that I make my own clothes, they suggested a visit in the evening to an artisan’s gallery. After a day of visiting a traditional village and trekking, we made our way to the gallery. The gallery is managed by an old couple: the lady makes the clothes, while the gentleman makes wooden furniture. Besides managing the gallery, they also own a cafe which only opens on weekends. We were so lucky to be visiting them on a Saturday.

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So, right at the entrance of the gallery are baskets of discounted fabrics. I picked up three bundles, about 6 meters, for 10,000¥! Imagine my delight!

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Baskets of discounted fabrics for sale

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Keihoku, to me, is a soul town/village because it houses many artisans who are honing their skills in various aesthetic fields. There are furniture makers, potters, designers all living in this quiet village of Keihoku! I would definitely love to spend more time at Keihoku and immerse myself in her soul.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset #2 Nomura Tailor
Shijio Outlet
京都市下京区四条通麩屋町東入ル奈良物町362
1000-1930
Opens everyday

Teramachi Outlet
京都市中京区寺町錦上ル円福寺前町278
1030-1930
Opens everyday

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If you are in Kyoto and are planning to do some fabric shopping, Nomura Tailor is the place to go! There are two shop fronts in Kyoto: one 3-storey high along Shijio, and another smaller one at Teramachi Street. I tried to do a google translation of the address to English but google maps is not able to identify both outlets. For friends who can’t read Japanese or Chinese, I have attached the map above for your reference. The one with the inverted tear pin is the Shijio outlet, while the shop highlighted in red, north east of Shijio, is the Teramachi outlet. I don’t have specific directions on how to get there. Fabric shopping fabric was planned as a part downtown shopping. We took a bus to town and walked everywhere so my direction was all over the place. The nearest subway station would be Kawaramachi Station on the Hankyu Kyoto line, which links Kyoto and Osaka.

Personally, I was overwhelmed at the Shijio outlet. When I first stepped into the store, gosh they are soooooo many pieces of fabric! So where do I start from? I only had time to shop at the first level which contains most, if not all, the cottons, linens and the Japanese prints. The second level contains the laces, polyesters, wool etc and the last level houses the tools and notions.

First level of Nomura Tailor at Shijio

First level of Nomura Tailor at Shijio

At Nomura, there are pieces of pre-cut fabric hung around the shop for customers to view and feel the fabrics. When you wish to purchase any of them, let the staff know and they will locate the entire bolt, which they will bring to the cutting station.

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Plain cottons and some polka dots

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Nani Iro!

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Checkered and etc

Once you are done selecting the fabrics, proceed to the cutting station/cashier and let them know how much you want for each design. A point to note is that you need to cut and pay for the fabrics at each level before proceeding to the next. While the staff aren’t exactly very fluent in English, they understand basic English and I was able to communicate with them by pointing and hand signals.

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The store at Teramachi Street is more crafty and definitely less overwhelming. It has a variety of cotton, gauze, linen and other notions mainly for craft work and quilting. Fabrics are all displayed in bolts. Similarly, you let the sales assistant know which fabric you want, they will bring the bolt to the cutting station.

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Prior to the trip, I set some targets and boundaries for fabric shopping. I wanted to buy some basic prints such as plaid, checkered and stripes. Fabrics should also be ‘made in Japan’. Altogether I bought a piece of green-blue plaid, black-white checkered, blue-white stripes, white-flowery-lacey print and 3 pieces of Nani Iro fabrics, all made in Japan. They fit my bill and are the perfect souvenir from Kyoto!

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Fabric Shopping in Singapore: Arab Street

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It is a love-hate relationship with fabric shopping at Arab Street. Love because I particularly enjoy the vibe here and drooling over all the beautiful laces. Hate because the prices here are a little higher and the selection changes all the time so you really wouldn’t know what to expect for each visit. Nonetheless it is still a lovely place to visit. Some of my favourite hidden finds, places to eat and shopping are located here. Arab Street is located within Kampong Glam. It is an area of rich history and culture, which can be traced back to pre-colonialisation times in Singapore. If you are visiting from other countries and planning to immerse in some Malay-Middle Eastern culture, Kampong Glam is the perfect place to go!

I don’t usually buy fabrics from Arab Street unless I am looking for something specific that Arab Street has. I come here for French Dior/german sidoll, batik, ribbon supplies, or just to try my luck because I can’t find what I want every where else.

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How to get there
The nearest MRT stations are Bugis on the East-West Line/Downtown Line and Nicoll Highway on the Circle Line. You will need to walk for about 5minutes to get to Kampong Glam which is where Arab Steeet is.  I usually get to Arab St via the Bugis side. If you do, when you see the Sultan Mosque, you know you are at the right place.

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Sultan Mosque

 

If you are looking for lace for evening or bridal gown, you can try Arab Street, which is a street of fabric shops. I did for mine but found nothing: either too expensive or not what I want. I find the laces, especially the nice ones, particularly expensive. Most of the time you also need to purchase the entire roll of lace (about 5-6 yards). There are some selections which you can purchase by the yard/meter too. I don’t have any recommendation because different shops carry different laces at different prices. There are also so many different designs for lace. What my friend and I did when we were shopping for her bridal gown, was to comb almost every single shop and see what they have to offer, shortlist a couple that we fancy before returning to finally purchase the lace that she likes and fit her budget. These shops carry different laces all the time as most of their customers buy in high yardages. If you fancy something that fits your budget, it is best that you get it immediately.

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How a typical fabric shop in Arab Street would look like: mannequin, and fabrics

One of the main reason I make a trip down to Arab Street is for the French Dior/German Sidoll. It is a fabric that feels very much satin (silky soft) without the shine (looks like duchess), and much lighter than duchess. It falls and drapes very well. It can be used as lining or the main fabric. It doesn’t leave behind water marks like satin does: bonus point!

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72 Arab Street

I used to purchase my French Dior from Molkan because I know one of their sales lady very well. She gives me good discount, is spot on with colours and provides very good recommendations. However she has left to further her studies and the shopping experience is not the same any more. Nonetheless, they have a wider range of colours compared to other shops.

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96 Arab Street

Then I found out that some of the other shops also sell the same fabric but is known as German Sidoll. One of it the shops is called ‘Princess’, which is under the same boss as ‘Warma, ‘Aladdin’s, and ‘Angel, all located along Arab Street. They are well stocked with laces, satins, some printed cotton, mostly catering to the Malay community.

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90 Arab Street

There is this other shop, own and run by a Chinese. It has a little bit of everything: cotton, faux leather, lace, chiffon, satin etc. I usually purchase cotton lining or chiffon from them because they are well stocked with a wide variety of colours.

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Chiffon and cotton lining in any colour that you ask for

 

#4 Bian Swee Hin and Co
107 Arab Street

If you are looking for Batik, this is where you should go. The batik ranges from $50-hundreds, depending whether the prints are machine printed, hand stamped or hand printed. The more intricate the workmanship the more expensive each piece is. They also sell the embroidered fabric for the kebaya blouse. The shop is a little dark and small, but take your time to look around. You might find something you like.

#5 Kin Soon – House of Ribbons (Minton Ribbons)
36 Arab Street

Further down Arab Street, nearer the end towards Nicoll Highway, there is a shop selling tons of ribbons of various colours, designs and sizes. I purchased ribbons for my wedding here. They also sell some laces and materials for hair accessories and such for bridal use. You will definitely find something you want here.

Opening hours of the shops vary, but they generally opens around late morning/noon and closes at around 6pm-7pm. A point to note, you are highly encouraged to visit the washroom at the MRT stations or the mall before making your way to Arab Street and Kampong Glam area because washroom is really scarce.

The “Aprils in Paris” Skirt

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetFor the month of April, I was inspired by blooming cherry blossoms which are so spectacular in Japan, Korea and Paris! I wished I was there to see the cherry blossoms in person but work schedule doesn’t allow me to. I have the perfect fabric to join in the season. If I can’t enjoy the view in person, I might as well wear it! The fabric was from the Mauerpark Flea in Berlin, at 3€/m. It feels a lot like a cotton blend of some sort, smooth to the touch, lightweight but heavy enough to fall nicely, just a tad sheer but is negligible. The fabric, however, wrinkles rather easily.

It was tough deciding what to make with it. Initially I wanted to make a cheongsam for this year’s Chinese New Year but I didn’t have time. I could still make one for next year’s. I was also considering a shift dress, pleated flare skirt, pencil skirt, or a fit and flare dress with sleeves. So I scrolled through the millions of photos of cherry blossoms on my Facebook and instagram. It seems like the whole world was in Japan and Korea catching the spectacular sight. Allow me to side track a little here, among all the photos that flooded my social media, this series by Nathan Wu is my favourite! Nathan shot for my prewedding photoshoot (on film!) and I really love his works. His works focus a lot on capturing the natural lighting, to create a dreamy romantic feel. I also love the soft pastel hue in the photos. This series of cherry blossoms, however, is shot on DSLR. Nonetheless, the cherry blossoms were in its peak of the bloom and the lighting during sunset was equally perfect and magical.

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Amazingly beautiful, isn’t it?

Back to what to sew. After looking through the photos, I knew that it gotta be a flare skirt: I would love to twirl among these blooms! So a pleated flare skirt it is! I used a very simple knife pleat.
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For the finishing of the skirt, I used a biased tape instead of a waistband or interfacing.
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As for the hem, it is a baby rolled hem done with my serger. This is my favourite heming for skirts with curved hems!
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It’s about wearing cherry blossoms so why Aprils in Paris? Aprils because it is my birthday month and April is often when spring starts kicking into action. I hope that one day, while I am still young, I will get to travel in April and witness all the blossoms of Spring. And Paris? I am dying to return to Paris, this time with the husband, the city of love, city of lights. I fell in love with Paris in 2012 and I can’t wait to be back! A trip around France would be perfect too. Cherry blossoms do bloom in France and other countries in the temperate region 🙂 Or maybe one day I will go chasing for sakuras in Japan.