The gang at Michael's. He is the one on the left. :)
The purpose of my trip back east was two fold. First, I was eager to meet some of the sewists I have come to know via their blogs, the sewing forums, and email. Secondly, I was eager to visit some fabric stores that I knew only through their web site presence.
One such store was "Michael's." I quote the name, because that is exactly how it is bandied about among sewing associates. "I bought this (gorgeous wool) from Michaels." "I love ordering from Michaels." "Did you get the most recent mailer from Michaels?"
Frankly, this perplexed me. Where I live, Michaels is a ubiquitous craft store. If they have any fabrics at all, they are quilting cottons, not gorgeous wools. My first thought was maybe they sell wool online only.
I was very confused. For awhile. Finally, it penetrated my consciousness that the Michael's that folks were talking about is a completely different business. Michael's, the online store, is a high-end fabric wholesaler and retailer. They also have a brick-and-mortar location in Baltimore, Maryland, called A Fabric Place, which carries many more fabrics than they sell online.
Michael (the owner) deals in high end fabrics, like Zegna, Donna Karan, and Armani, but these fabrics are greatly discounted from what you would pay in, say, a conventional big-city-high-end fabric store. When I walked into his store that rainy morning, he was on deck and was so welcoming and gracious. He personally took us on the full tour of "A Fabric Place", which encompasses several rooms. There was so much fabric gorgeousness, that it was a bit overwhelming.
And yet, I managed to buy several pieces. Really gorgeous pieces, like the sage green cashmere/silk wool, the blue ikat silk dupioni, the zebra print cotton velvet, the Betsey Johnson cotton print which I have definitely seen for more elsewhere, and the embossed skins. (I have no photos to show as these fabrics are winging their way to my home.)
The two pieces of green leather I bought were embossed with polka dots. <swoon> The regular price for his skins are $8 per square foot, but he gave them to me for $4 per square foot. If this sounds enticing, Michael said that if anyone calls him and mentions the offer on "Sham's blog" that he will give you the same price. (And, no, I didn't get anything in return for passing this offer to you. I am happy to promote businesses that are worthwhile, especially independents, just for the satisfaction of helping them out.)
He has lots of skins in lots of colors, a few embossed, but many not, so give him a call if you are interested. He has excellent customer service. You can also request his swatches if you'd like to go that route, though I don't know if he swatches his leather pieces.
I also want to mention that Carolyn, of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic made me aware that Robin, of A Little Sewing worked near Michael's. So I shot off an email asking if she could join us for lunch and a little fabric shopping. Peggy and I were delighted that she could make it! It was so nice to kibbutz with her over pizza followed up with some nice quality wools. And, just as I expected from reading her blog, she is incredibly nice and fun to chat with.
Peggy, myself, and Robin
and one with Michael!
Robin mentioned that she might come out to visit us west coast sewists and I hope she does!
Edited to Add: I received my box of fabrics from Michael's and posted them here!