North Carolina used to be the textiles capital of the USA, and even today there are quite a few factories struggling along. We are also associated with fabric shopping, and in the good old days, one could spend days going from factory outlet to factory outlet stocking up on the product of each factory. Well, those days are no more, but there are still some pretty thrilling fabric opportunities in my part of the world.
As I posted a few days ago, I need a dress. I decided on the design, and even found a pattern I could adapt. Next step – fabric shopping. First I looked through my own large stash of vintage fabrics, but my mostly cotton prints were just not what I needed. Next thought: Mary Jo’s. Mary Jo’s is a Gastonia institution, a sewer’s destination, to some, Nirvana. But with time running out and the fact that the trip would cost $40 in gasoline, I decided to look a bit closer to home.
For a small city, Asheville has some incredible fabric shops. I decided to first check out Waechter’s Silk Shop. Waechter’s has been around forever – actually since 1929. I first went into the shop years ago with a friend and her mother, who was looking for fabric to make a coat. I was already sewing and was completely blown away by Waechter’s. It was in a long narrow shop on Wall Street, and it was almost like going back in time. And that was in the late 1960s! I made my first purchase there – Pendleton wool for a jacket – in the late 1970s, shortly before they joined the exodus out of downtown.
They ended up in their present location, on Charlotte Street, near the Grove Park Inn, and they are still the first place I think of when I want a quality fabric. They even have a nice selection of Liberty Tana lawns – priced at $36 a yard! In fact, the first Tana lawn I ever bought was from Waechter’s in the 1980s. I paid about $12 a yard and absolutely loved it.
They have a very nice selection of silks, and I pretty much decided on a blue/green dupioni. But there was a line at the counter, so I decided to check out the secord store on my list, the House of Fabrics. The House has been around a very long time too. I can remember shopping there in the early 70s. The best things about this store are the owners. They are an elderly couple who know their business. I was fingering the dupioni when she came over to help. And in this store, you really get help. Buying fabrics from a person who really knows her fabrics is an experience that one rarely gets at your local Hancocks.
She wanted to see the pattern I was using, and I whipped out the McCall’s from 1963. She was obviously delighted with my choice, going on about how the dress was perfect for the fabric, and how pretty the dresses were in the early 60s. She was really interested when I told her that I sell vintage patterns, saying that she was sure I was doing well with them because the Butterick Retro patterns were her biggest sellers. But, she added, so many people can’t wear them because women do not have waists, these days!
So, here is what I ended up with, though the actual fabric is a bit brighter and greener. My photo-shop skills just did not do it justice. The dress is about finished, and since some of you have asked, I’ll post a photo when it is completed.