Sunday, September 30, 2012

Canadian Yarn and Craft Stores

Yarn and Accessories

Valley Yarn (Surrey, BC)
River City Yarns (Edmonton, AB)
Exotic Fibres of Canada Ltd. (Innisfail, AB)
Make One Yarn Studio (Calgary, AB)
Gina Brown's (Calgary, AB)
Custom Woolen Mills (Carstairs, AB)
The Wool Emporium (Saskatoon, SK)
Zen Yarn Garden (Ontario)
Sweet Paprika Designs (Montréal, QC)

Yarn and Other Crafts
DeSerres (Stores in Ontario and Alberta, Head office in Montréal, QC)

Crimson Orchid Designs (Edmonton, AB) - stitch counters
Yarn Harlot (?, ON) - high-profile author and blogger

Monday, September 3, 2012

Winnipeg and Manitoba Fabric Stores

Local Stores

Northwest Fabrics / Marshall's Fabrics - (575 Berry St.)  Once Northwest Fabrics, then Marshall's Fabrics, then Northwest again!  Hutterites are often there,  so you know it's good!  My favourite store, this low-frills store has thousands of bolts stacked side-by-side in a large warehouse.  They expanded a fair bit the last two years (and more than just fabric!), so I gather they're doing well.  Expanded section of quilting fabrics, including some designer ones (Amy Butler, etc.)   Count on them for inexpensive trims and elastic.  They keep adding more and more other notions every time I come back.  They also have a large selection of decor and drapery fabrics.  Staff is okay to deal with (there is one woman who works there who has a rather big personality, but I've been polite and never had a problem with her).  Kwik Sew, New Look, and It's So Easy Patterns available.

Mitchell Fabrics - (637 Main St.)  This store has been around since the 1940's, and is located downtown just north of the concert hall.  If you are looking for anything, chances are you'll find it here.  Cottons, wool, fancies (including some stunning and expensive bridal and high-end fabrics), and lots of drapery, upholstery, and original retro fabrics.  You can also find specialty fabrics such as goretex and moisture-wicking sportswear.

Mook Fabrics - (25 Keith Road)  A friend says they have an impressive selection that's reasonably-priced. 

Bombay Fashion & Fabric - (305 McPhillips ...tucked in the corner beside Giant Tiger at Logan)  Silks and Indian apparel, including saris and jewelry.  Cottons, brocades, and taffeta. Small store, tightly packed, but lots to look at.  Staff was very helpful (when I've been there an Indian woman and her daughter were working, and the daughter spoke English.  She even pre-emptively offered to help me find another bolt in the back when the bolt I wanted was short and the other bolt of green on the floor wasn't quite the same colour!)  You will swoon when you enter this place.

Carellean Sewing Centre - (1685 Corydon Ave. near Renfrew) This shop used to be located on Academy Road, but is now further south, close to Mona Lisa Restaurant.  I haven't been there since they've moved, but I recall them being very friendly and helpful.  They have sewing machines, patterns (Stretch and Sew, Kwik Sew), fabrics (including supplies for making lingerie and bras), and often offer classes.

Quilt as Desired - (661 Pembina Hwy. just south of Grant) Obviously a quilting-centric place, but if you're looking for cottons and sewing machines, they've got them.  Some notions, too.  I've only been there once, but it was a good experience.  Sewing cabinets, Quilting books, patterns, and classes.

Sewer's Depot Fabric Centre / ABW Sewing Machine Company - (309 Logan Ave close to Main St.)  Web site seems to have expired, but I think they're still there.  From what I recall, they have a lot of cottons.  Not sure what else they have, as I haven't been there.

Sew Sewing and Embroidery Warehouse - (15 Keith Rd. very close to Red River College).  Home and industrial sewing machines, sergers and accessories.

Sew Inspiring - (1887 Ness Ave. near Ferry Rd.) Sewing machines, sergers, embriodery machines, quilting patterns, some notions.

Economy Textile - (1500 Logan Ave. near Dublin)  Never been there.  Seems to sell few inexpensive flannels and cottons by the meter, though they sell other pieces by the pound too (including rags, shop and car towels, etc.)  So if that is what you want to work with, then it might be worthwhile.  Doesn't appear to be a sewing-centric place.

To Investigate for Review:

Winkler Softlined Fabrics 204-325-9992
204 Main St S  Winkler

Harris Sewing Centre 204-888-3370
1846 Portage Ave  Winnipeg

Bernice's Fabric Gallery 204-877-3955
111 4th St  Reston

1240 Fife St  Winnipeg

Style India
102 Mandalay Dr  Winnipeg

Fabric Sales
79 Pine St  Grunthal

Fabric Centre 204-943-8523
624 Dakota St  Winnipeg

Simply Sewing
516 Broadway Ave  Killarney

Fay's Fabric Villa
101-320 Main St  Steinbach

Needle's Eye Sewing Centre

Charles M Home Limited
1670 Church Ave  Winnipeg

Quilter's Cottage
277 Main St  Stonewall

Overseas Fashion & Fabrics
829 Ellice Ave  Winnipeg

Quilt As Desired
661 Pembina Hwy  Winnipeg

Mercerie Vimar
B-261 Vaughan St  Winnipeg

Helen's Fabric's Plus
Suite 102-320 Main St  Winkler

Breezy Acres Variety Store
289 Main Ave  Plum Coulee

Neena Fashions
694 Sargent Ave  Winnipeg

Interior Images
1440 Rosser Ave  Brandon

Kathy's Fabrics 204-745-3074
16 1st Ave SW  Carman

Cotton Cottage
1-45 4th Ave NE  Altona

Jocelyn & Co
Suite A-77 1st av  Gimli

429149 B C Ltd
1225 St Mary's Rd Unit 115

Home-Tex Fashions Inc
580 Roseberry St

Chain Stores

Fabricland (Three Winnipeg Locations, one Brandon location)

Commentary written in 2012.

So for dealing with Fabricland, I recommend:
  • use the pattern books to look at large scale pictures of what you want, or use the internet instead.  Consider then purchasing your patterns online (especially if you don't want to pay for a $25 Fabricland membership).
  • look for fabric elsewhere first (unless you can find something in the bargain section and you have the time to sort through it)
  • look for trims at Northwest Fabrics / Marshall's first, then try Fabricland if you can't find what you need
It's been Western Canada staple for a quite a while, but there have been lots of changes in the last few years:
  • New fabrics are priced quite high, though they have some interesting prints.
  • You'll find that if you have a membership AND the fabrics have been out for a while, then you can actually find something of reasonable price, i.e. what it should have been in the first place.
  • They carry a lot more trinkets and accessories than they used to, but they are often very expensive.  
  • They still have a bargain section which can have some good finds, but you have to often sift through a big mess.
  • Lots of patterns, but they now store them behind the counter.   In order to look at the leaflet or envelope, you now have to hunt someone down to help you out.  If you want to study the pattern leaflet, be prepared to be looked at like you're a criminal.  As a result there is little or no opportunity to compare pattern details.  I understand they've had some problems with stolen patterns, but the difficulty with this change means online shopping is probably easier (and sometimes even cheaper, even if you have a Fabricland membership).
I've always remembered this store fondly, but I've had a lot of negative experiences in the last two years.  Staff is often surly, and they seem to have a lot of turnover (I can understand to some degree... they're paid very low wages, the logistics make the job difficult on them, and the job is hard on the feet).  I've had this problem at all three Winnipeg locations in the last three years; I've only had one positive experience during that time.  Cash is often very slow (if there's even someone there).  Since fabrics are surreptitiously priced high, the %-off signs vary, and they don't scan bar codes for bolts, mistakes are often made on pricing (because the staff has to remember which fabric it is and what % off it is, or they have to run and find the sale sign!).  The whole pattern thing is a turn off for me; if it's that hard to examine a pattern, I may as well buy online (and it's often cheaper there, too).

I went to find wool suitable for pants the other day, and couldn't find anything.  Any wool they had was actually a bad synthetic blend, or something ridiculously expensive (for its quality) that would only be suitable for a coat.

A good portion of their fabrics are laid out in vertical circles.  It shows off more of the print of the fabrics, but makes it difficult to a fabric if there's something you're looking for.  The labelled areas (shelved) are knits, linings, denim/twill, and drapery.  Anything else you want to look for will be in the unlabelled central area which I can only describe as the "cluster****" area.  If you're looking for anything that isn't in the labelled areas, be prepared for some attitude if you ask for help from the staff, as it's "not their job to shop for you" (which would be true... if the area wasn't a cluster**** and it wasn't impossible to find fabric in areas that aren't labelled.)

I miss the days when most patterns were $3 to $8, and they often had $0.99 sales at end of seasons.  Those days are gone, and it wasn't even that long ago.  Expect to pay $8 to $33 for a pattern.

I especially loved the recent "sale" on quilting cottons and flannels all over the place on the vertical tables.  The catch was that almost none of those tables with the sale signs had the "right date" on the bolt, so they weren't actually on sale.  And $22 per metre for quilting cotton?  I don't think so.

Despite the results of poor logistics and other hair-pulling experiences, this is one of the few places to look at pattern books from multiple companies (and considering Winnipeg's lack of sewing stores, the only place in the city to find patterns on hand from some companies).

The other perk is some great finds in the bargain section on occasion, and they have a large selection of trims, which are often on sale.  They have good quality thread, and a large selection of closures, clasps, other hardware and buttons.

Patterns: Vogue, Burda, Simplicity, New Look, McCall's, Butterick.

Fanny's Fabrics is gone (as of a few years ago).  So sad.  I wonder in the lack of competition has contributed to Fabricland's problems.

Considering taunting Jo-Ann Fabrics and Hancock Fabrics to enter the Winnipeg market.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Winnipeg Yarn Stores

LYS, or "Local Yarn Stores" in Winnipeg

  • Ram Wools - (989 Portage Ave.) This Winnipeg icon has been around for quite a while.  It used to be downtown, then out in The Maples, but is now a co-op in the Wolseley area on Portage Ave.  Nice variety of quality yarns, friendly staff.  Books, leaflets, workshops, needles and accessories, etc.
  • Wolseley Wool - (162 Lipton St.) Started as a corner in Wolseley Wardrobe.  It expanded to the point where they opened their own store in Wolseley just a couple blocks down the road.  Nice variety of quality yarns, friendly staff.  Books, leaflets, workshops, needles and accessories, etc.

Chain Stores 

(where you can find several things, including yarn)

  • Michael's - (Polo Park area, and another location east of St. Vital) Often pricey, but some selection.  Keep an eye out for sales.
  • Zellers -  (multiple locations in Winnipeg) Zellers is converting to Target in Fall 2012, so this may change at any time!  They actually had a surprising variety last time I looked.
  • Wal-mart - (multiple locations in Winnipeg) Red Heart acrylics. Bernat cottons in small and very large skiens.  Very little of other.

Knitting Web Sites - General

  •  - The holy grail of knitting and crochet web sites.  A well-laid-out site that allows you to catalog what patterns you've made, search for new ones to make, and view other users' projects.  Catalogs free and for-sale patterns.  Lots of discussion boards, too.  A huge online community.
  • - Free pattern e-magazine that's been around for some time.  Cooler, wearable projects than the typical dowdy stuff you see in 1980's pattern books and leaflets.

Sewing Sites

Generic/Idea Sites

Specific Pattern Sites

  • - German-based company Burda transcends the normal big four "pattern company" style by offering online content, occasional free downloads, user content, and magazines with multiple patterns.
  • - Source for regular, designer, and couture patterns.  A place to get a dress or pant moulage / sloper pattern.  A few men's patterns.
  • - Patterns.  Decent selection of costume patterns.
  • I haven't found a web site for Claire Schaeffer specifically, but has a listing of most of the patterns she's produced (through Vogue Patterns.)

Skills Upgrade/Idea Sites

  • - Illustrated techniques, some new ideas, advice on choosing the right tools or fabrics
  • - Couture designer, writer, frequent contributor to Threads Magazine.  Often has accessible workshops.  PDF patterns and moulage available on his web site.
  • I haven't found a web site for Claire Schaeffer specifically, but has a listing of most of the patterns she's produced (through Vogue Patterns.)  Her patterns are great for learning machine sewn couture and true couture (hand-sewn) techniques.

Other Needlework Sites