Sewing meetup awesomeness at The Common Thread in Austin (with lots of love for stripes, clockwise from L): Me, Melissa of Melly Sews, Angela of So Made, Melizza of Pincushion Treats, Sara, Susan of Moon Thirty, and Susan of Miss Lulu Sews
So Austin turned out to be the perfect family vacation spot—and sewing mojo reboot inspiration. I somehow managed to attend four (!) sewing-related meetups in slightly over a week, sew a skirt, acquire an excessive amount of pretty new fabric, and even go to a crafty birthday party for Dixie (of Dixie DIY). (I must thank Susan for being the most amazing sewing hostess ever and for making all of this fun happen!)
Unrelated to sewing, I baked allergy-free bread, made homemade tamales on a hotplate, ate many tacos, met up with a cartoonist friend, swam in Barton Springs Pool and went on a movie date with my husband to the Alamo Drafthouse. It was a good time.
At The Common Thread a week earlier, with Dixie of Dixie DIY, Susan and Angela
My three-year-old daughter had some stitchy fun herself at the Thinkery children's museum:
And joined me for two of the sewing meetups. But I must say that one of the NON-highlights of the trip was her running around Stitched Fabric shop during a sewing club gathering, pins in hand, yelling "Poop soup!" and giggling maniacally, with me madly chasing behind. Sigh...
Austin fabric shopping is very different from the NYC fabric shopping to which I am accustomed. In Manhattan, I can stroll a few blocks over to the Garment District on my lunch break, and find myself in very large (and sometimes dim, dusty and crowded) stores, easily overwhelmed and at a loss for what I actually want or need. The selection is huge, but sometimes maybe a bit TOO huge.
In Austin, I had to get in a car (oh, GRRR, how I hate driving!) to reach the little shops I visited, but they were calmer, better-lit, more well-curated and had a more personal touch and intimate customer service approach than, say, Mood (not that I don't love Mood! but you know what I mean). I came away with some truly special and high-quality pieces that I can't wait to stitch into, especially the knits.
- Location: 701 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704
- Vibe: Relaxed, welcoming, elegant. A well curated selection of high-quality woven and knit fashion fabrics, including eco-friendly and organic fabrics in a range of fibers (even hemp and bamboo), and in styles from quirky and bold to elegant and refined. The fabric is beautifully displayed and there were lovely sample garments out for inspiration. Jeanie, the owner, was very welcoming, knew all the Austin sewists and seems to regularly host sewing meetups. Prices are fair, but this isn't a discount shop by any means (though there is a small sale/remnant rack in the back.)
- I couldn't resist: Riley Blake cotton/spandex gray and white polka dot knit and some lovely gray and white seersucker (the top top fabrics shown)...
...And this scant amount of Echino cotton/linen blend fabric. It was on sale, and there's barely enough for a straight skirt:
TexStyles Designer Fabric Showroom
Susan wishing she had a reasonable excuse to buy some $85/yard French silk charmeuse
- Location: 2605 Jones Rd Ste D Austin, TX 78745
- Vibe: One-of-a-kind designer fabric finds, from the over-the-top to the fancy, ranging from about $7/yard to much, much higher. Lots of great knits (including some fantastic sweater knits, which aren't easy to find), loud bold prints, bright colors and sequins. The fabric is packed in tightly on the racks and it's a small space, so a bit of hunting and digging is required to turn up gems.
- I couldn't resist: A yard of black and blue zig-zaggy knit print to make a fun tee.
I also randomly got to meet Daniel Esquivel (of Project Runway fame) who was super friendly and showed us some fabric designs he was working on:
On our second visit to the store, Little Z enjoyed grabbing the fabrics a little too much and I had to take her outside before she ruined anything:
Stitched Fabric (at the Austin Fabric Coop)
- Location: 6601 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78752
- Vibe: Knit paradise on earth. It is probably for the best that I don't live in Austin, as this place might be a problem for me. I have never before been in a shop where it was so painful to walk away without taking 90% of the store items home with me. There were knit stripes, and knit prints, and knit polka dots, all in good weights with excellent stretch and drape and recovery (something I struggle to find, even in New York). There were plenty of woven fabrics too, but I wasn't paying them much mind because the KNITS.
AND I got to see some of the Cake Patterns envelopes I've illustrated at large in their natural sewing-shop habitat:
The prices are fair (but not discount cheap) given the quality and there is a "free scraps" table with some surprisingly large scraps.
- I couldn't resist: Purple/gray/red thin-striped knit for a skirt (scroll up) and green and white polka dot knit (enough for a dress):
Plus a good amount of wax print fabric from the free scraps table for a dress for the little girl.
We were so sad to leave Austin and all of our friends there (old and new), and I hope those of you attending Pattern Review weekend have a fantastic time!
P.S. Also while at the Thinkery, little Z and the husband and I had fun with a giant microscope to look at some different objects very closely including knit jersey fabric, corduroy fabric and my daughter's little plastic Princess Tiana doll: