Monday, April 18, 2011

Trip Wrap-Up

My recent vacation back east was 9-days long. I've already covered my visits to A Fabric Place (aka Michael's) and FabricMart under separate posts, but those were not the only fabric stores we visited.

Not by a long shot.

Peggy was very thorough in planning this trip, which included stays in Philadelphia and Washington D.C., as well as the central Pennsylvania area.

Here is a partially annotated summary of the fabric stores we visited:

  • FabricMart in Sinking Springs, PA. Blogged here.
  • A Fabric Place in Baltimore, MD. Blogged here.
  • G-Street Fabrics. We visited two locations, the first in Rockville, MD, and also the one Falls Church, VA. We visited the Falls Church location twice - I really love the $2.97 tables at these stores! I discovered that they restock those tables on Friday afternoon so, of course, we had to go back. :)
  • Pennsylvania Fabric Outlet. We visited two locations, the first in Lancaster, PA and also the one in Lemoyne, PA. These were the only discount stores I visited where I found nothing to buy. You know how discount stores can be hit or miss on any given day and, for me, these were a miss.
  • JoAnn Fabrics. During my visit to the east coast, JoAnn's was having a rare week-long sale called the "Daffodil Rush" sale. This included patterns (which I didn't buy because I am stocked up on patterns) and half off their Red Tag fabrics. When I shop at my two (sorta) local JoAnns, they do not have decent Red Tag fabrics. But I was very impressed with the Red Tag fabrics at the stores in Pennsylvania, so I visited several (these stores are everywhere) and came away with some worthwhile booty. I visited the stores in Carlisle, PA, Arlington, VA, and at least three others where I never asked their location.
  • JoMars. We visited two locations, first the one on I Street in Philadelphia, which is in an area that has suffered depressingly under the poor economy. We arrived here at the end of a long day and were all exhausted (and Carolyn's cold was getting worse). And yet I managed to find some nice fabrics hidden amongst the mediocre fabrics. The next day we visited the store on Jackson Street (also in Philly) where I found even more goodies. :) If you aren't familiar with JoMars, be aware that they sell other items. When you first enter, you see cheap shoes, luggage and the like, and the fabrics are hidden deep in the store (either in the back or upstairs), so don't be confused.
  • Exquisite Fabrics in Washington D.C. This store has beautiful fabrics, but they are pricey. I didn't find anything here, but maybe it's not fair because I stopped here after visiting FabricMart and A Fabric Place. I hadn't been in the store long when when my cell phone rang and I stepped out to take the call, so I may have missed some great fabrics and good prices.

We also visited a variety of clothing boutiques in our travels. My favorites were Tiger's Eye in Lititz, PA and Helia's, which has a location in Georgetown, Washington D.C., and another in Alexandria, VA. I managed to purchase items at all three boutiques. :) I have talked a bit about these in this blog entry. I also enjoyed the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, VA. I found a necklace there and, on a recommendation from one of the artists in residence, a nearby yummy Lebanese restaurant called Pita House.

What did we skip? Initially we planned to hit Fabric Row in Philly, but Carolyn was in the throes of a nasty cold and, while she rested, Peggy and I decided that there were places we'd rather spend our time visiting, such as several Philly boutiques.

D.C. Cupcakes in Georgetown

And, just because I want to include a few other pictures...

I did wait in line for cupcakes at D.C. Cupcakes. I guess I have to watch the show now to see why this line was so darned long. The Red Velvet and Pumpkin Spice with Maple Frosting cupcakes that Peggy and I enjoyed were good. Not great, but good.

Washington D.C.

And, yes, I took a tour of the Washington D.C. Mall. It was my first (and possibly last) time to D.C., so it seemed like a good idea. I didn't take any pictures on the tour but, as I walked past the Iwo Jima Memorial on the way to Arlington Cemetery (where I was starting the tour), I noticed the hands on the statue's flag pole and was inspired to take a few pics. I really like the unity of the hands.

Iwo Jima Memorial
It took me several shots and some luck to get that perfect "unfurled flag" moment.

Arlington National Cemetery

The Wharf at Alexandria, VA

My Pilgrimmage to FabricMart

Any of you who has followed my blog much will know that I love to order from FabricMart. Their great prices, quality fabrics, generous cuts, and $8 flat rate shipping makes them very appealing to the discerning shopper. As a jobber, they don't carry every single fabric you might be looking for, but if you go in with an open mind to see what they have available, you will find treasures galore.

In fact, Carolyn and I often joke about who loves FabricMart more.

We joke, but seriously... it's me. :)

When Peggy invited me back east for a fabric-related road trip, I was ecstatic to realize that she was only an hour or so from FM, so that became a focus for the trip. And of course I invited Carolyn along. And Noile. (Peggy is such a good sport and had encouraged me to invite a couple friends.)

The night before, all three sewists warned me not to get overexcited because, well, maybe I was expecting too much, but it was even better than I had hoped. If you doubt it, just look at how ridiculous I look in this picture with Robert, the owner.

Seriously, this is embarrassing. Had someone just made a salty comment to crack me up? I can not think of a single celebrity who would give me an expression as goofy as this one.

(By the way, thanks to Carolyn for these in-store photos as I wasn't thinking much about capturing the experience. And thanks to the camera-shy Noile for taking some photos outside with my camera.)

We met just about everyone there, including:

  • Robert, the incredibly gracious and generous owner who let us run through every corner of the store &ndash even to the back where the fabric was coming off the trucks and to the Basement of Delight.
  • Julie, of Julie's pics.
  • Chris, who handles billing – her name on the "from" line when you get your boxes. Chris told me how I can use my Discovercard for online orders (the form only allows Visa and MasterCard). And she told Carolyn what magic she needs to get her boxes faster, just like she used to.
  • Sharon, who makes the mystery bundles (and who cut most of our fabric).
  • Jenna, whom I have spoken to on the phone and also helped out with the cutting.
  • The strong guys who carry the ginormous bolts around, 'cause, you know, someone has to do that.
  • The "Roller Master" who puts the fabric onto smaller bolts for the store and to send to retail establishments.
  • Jennifer, who was preparing wholesale orders in the dim basement and remained steadfastly gracious even when I pestered her endlessly to let me take some fabric from the only bolt of to-die-for fabric heading to Stone Mountain. (And no, I didn't get any.)
  • The girls who fill the orders and one, in particular, who cut off the 1-1/2 yards for a customer's order so I could buy the rest of the bolt.

The only person not there that day was Sue, of Sue's pick, which was a shame, but it's not like we warned them or anything. ;) I must apologize for the names I've forgotten. But, like other unnamed intense encounters, my blood seems to rush from my brain to other parts of my body &ndash in this case, my credit card.

So, what did I buy? Here's a sneak peek.

My bounty. The blue and green fabrics on the lower left are linen jersey, but I also got black.

When I returned to San Francisco last night, there was a sizable box waiting on my porch. I haven't opened it up yet, but when I do, I will post some better pictures. Including pics of the linen jersey that Carolyn has already posted about.

And here's a little more background to that story...

The night before our visit to FM, the four of us were chatting, late in the night, over some serious candy carnage. I mentioned that I would really like to find some linen jersey on this trip and that the only linen jersey I had seen for sale was in very limited colors and cost megabucks (around $25) per yard. Imagine my delight the next day at FM when that truck rolled in and started off-loading linen jersey. Robert innocently showed us a couple bolts of the newly arrived jersey, and the staff looked on, amused, as the four of us ran pell-mell through the store to the loading dock in back. Robert allowed us to grab the bolts in the colors we liked.

So, let me just say, if you are anywhere near Sinking Springs, Pennsylvania, that FabricMart is well worth a visit. They have fabrics that are not on their site, including the table of sale bolts. There's not much else in the town, but take some friends and have fun. They even fed us homemade treats – that chocolate covered peanut butter egg made by the local Mennonite church ladies sustained me through the experience. :)

Oh, and Robert mentioned the possibility of having a FM open house in the near future. Get on his mailing list (or become a fan on Facebook) so you will be notified of any events. I can't make it back for this, but it's worth going if you live within a few hours drive.

I don't know if I need to say this, because I say it all the time, but this post is entirely my opinion and is not in any way a paid advertisement. I have never shilled for any business. (And if I did, I'd tell you. :) )