when I didn’t buy fabric

I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect red cotton knit for a 4th-of-July dress. I’m thinking something red/white with a solid white tie collar. For this particular project, I have a vision. I found some good red knit options on fabric.com, but couldn’t help wondering if something perfect perfect wasn’t still out there. I really wanted something striped. So Friday after we did the bedroom routine with the boy (which always concludes in a really deep, satisfied breath), I told my husband I was going to Fabric Depot.

photo 1


So as the sun was setting I made the 30-mile drive into Portland for some late-night fabric shopping. Portland is home to really great fabric stores. Fabric Depot is this warehouse-sized store filled with unending bolts of every kind of fabric you could imagine. Frankly, it’s overwhelming if you don’t go in with a specific project in mind. I came at the perfect time. The store was quiet with few patrons crowding the aisles, and I headed straight toward the knits.

I didn’t check out only the red bolts. Obviously. I started at the back and slowly made my way through the bolts, methodically touching (dare I say caressing?) the many fabrics that caught my eye. I found this awesome graphic print that would make for a great fall number:

photo 2


And I swooned over this floral knit:

photo 3


And let’s not forget to talk about the navy/ivory polka dot knit that I can’t even figure out what kind of knit it was. It was heavier and very textured. It was almost a woven, but definitely still a knit. I could picture whipping up another Mabel out that one.

Then I got down to business and attacked the red bolts. One had the perfect red/white stripe, but was all polyester and felt awful to touch. Solid red bolts were aplenty, but I knew that I really wanted a red/white print. I stumbled on some perfect prints, except that they were on wovens. And I need knit. I did land on some beautiful striped organic bamboo knit that would have been perfect–except that it was $23/yard. And I’m needing economical fabric for this project. So. I went back through the aisles of knits, scouring them for something I may have missed. I thought about getting a cut of some of my non-4th-of-July favorites, but the prices were still in the $20s.

So I left empty handed. It’s always disappointing to not find what you’re looking for, but I still have the fabric.com option. And I’ll confess that I felt even a little triumphant at not buying anything. It’s like, “See honey, I don’t always buy all the fabric!” And really it felt good to know what I wanted and to walk away when I couldn’t find it. I’m glad I didn’t compromise my project vision with a sub-par buy.

After I left I navigated the dicey side streets to find a Dairy Queen, because, well Oreo Blizzards. You understand. I’m sure that on this space I’ll be recounting many fabric excursions that do end in even more fabric, but I thought it prudent to also document the times I don’t buy fabric. And I’m definitely still making that 4th-of-July dress. Just wait.

When have you not bought fabric? Or have you ever bought fabric and then regretted it later? Is that a thing?

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  1. Sonia
    Posted June 11, 2014 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    While I’m not a red person at all, I loved the red/orange/yellow floral print that you had a picture of. You are so amazingly talented. I wish I could do that well when I sewed clothes.

    • Charlotte
      Posted June 13, 2014 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      Thanks so much, Sonia! I have certainly had many, many flops in the learning process. Good thing I think it’s fun!

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