Today, I didn't go to the...fabric shop

In which alternatives to the run of the mill shopping experience are offered.  YAY!

OK.  So I don't need any more fabric. But Mama S got a great new pattern and I wanted to try it out in various fabrics to see how it makes up.  Plus I wanted to get some knit fabric to experiment with the twin needle on the amazing Elna sewing machine I was given.  Given!  Thank you to R who handed it down to me.

Anyway - Sydney fabric shops depress me. Lincraft and Spotlight are just so dismal and they smell like cheap plastic.  Tessuti at Chatswood is too expensive for my budget.  The Fabric Cave about which I have heard great things is a little too are the Surry Hills fabric stores.  What was that great dance one that used to be in town?  Joan Barrie.  Such a great store with all its wonderful stage make up and false eyelashes and out there fabrics.  Sigh.  Those were the days.  My 15 year old self's wanderings would include Joan Barrie, Jazz Garter, Phantom Records, the Vintage Clothing Company and Blue Beat clothing store all on Pitt St, if I recall correctly - down the grungy end.

I digress.

So...I went to Vinnie's.  At Vinnie's, fabric is $1 a metre.  Can't really beat that, except for my fave church opshop where I often pick up a whole length for a dollar..but hey.  And, as luck would have it, the Vinnie's lady rocked up with a huge sack of new donations to put out just as we arrived.  It was like Christmas.

We found a cute knit for fiddling around with - I am thinking little tops for Little Miss O...or maybe shorts?  Or a skirt?

Some beautiful Thai silk to try the trousers pattern.

And as an extra bonus offcuts of gorgeous laces to make ball gowns for dollies.

And the total cost?  $8.  Added bonuses?  They're all secondhand AND the money spent goes to help Vinnie's do their work.  Nice.

Tips for shopping for fabric at opshops;

  • Some sell by the metre, some by the piece so be aware that prices may vary
  • Take your pattern details with you so you get the right amount of fabric for what you want to do
  • Know your fabrics by feel or at least be able to give it a rough guess so you pick the right fabric for your project
  • Take a tape measure so you can measure up any fabric you find to see if it fits your project
  • Wash fabric before using
  • To ensure agains moths etc. pop the fabric in a ziplock bag in the freezer for 3 - 5 days.
Happy sewing!


  1. I have similar memories of the city shops from younger days as well. We might have crossed paths....!

    Well done on your finds. Sadly my local Vinnies doesn't seem to sell fabric or haberdashery any more. Seems to have gone all upmarket. They currently have a $500 jumper displayed for sale in the window by some little known (at least by me!) French designer....

    1. Haha! We may have indeed. I was the stroppy one in the 60s silk coat and black lipstick. :)

      Yes - I know how you feel re the prices. $500, though. Wow. Come out to the Northern Beaches. Still many bargains to be had. I could even take you on a tour...or at least tell you where to get the best coffee.


add to any