Friday, March 28, 2008

Online Suppliers of Natural Fabrics

I wrote a post like this for my old blog, String and Scissor, and thought I'd do an updated list for natural fabrics (cotton, wool, linen, bamboo, etc.) along with a list of stores where you can buy organic fabrics.  I've also noted if the shop is PayPal friendly for all of you with Etsy shops who have a balance burning holes in your pockets.
I will continuously update this list.  If you have any suggestions or additions, please let me know by commenting.


Linnet  (PayPal) $29 per half-yard for most linen.  This is a Japanese business;  I've linked to the English website.  I LOVE to look, but its a bit too pricey for me.  They have a beautiful selection of every kind of linen fabric, trim, and notions I can think of.  Fabrics in a variety of weights.  I love the simplicity of this site and its fabrics. (PayPal) $5-$9 per yard.  Solids and yarn-dyed.  Pure linen, linen/cotton blends in a number of thicknesses.  (PayPal) $5-$20 per yard.  The ~$5 per yard linen is a blend of Linen/Rayon/Polyester; $10 per yard for pure linen; Above 
$10 for Italian or Import Linen.  They even have cotton/linen jersey.

SIMPLY DESIGNED COTTONS (you have to check these out):

Nani Iro  from Kokko Fabrics:

Photo:  Nani Iro 2008 Collection

Japanese double gauze cottons, Linen canvas, cotton double-knits, among others in the most interesting prints.   Also look under the "sewing" header to find the best free patterns I've ever seen.  You may have to get Google to translate the page.  
(too) Easily found at:  PurlSoho  SuperBuzzy 

Tana Lawn Collection from Liberty of London 

From England, some of the finest cotton available in beautifully stunning prints.  I don't know of many places in the states that carry it, but you can get it both in the brick and mortor store and online at Purl Soho.

Photo:  Shinzi Katoh

A Japanese zakka designer, he has the cutest line of cotton fabrics (and almost everything else from table wear to aluminum bottles) bearing his illustrations.  His designs come in cotton cloth, laminated, knit, canvas, and quilted yardage.  He also has a line of fabric tape.  Some fabrics and a good selection of linen tape available  SuperBuzzy.   You can also check various sellers on Etsy by typing in Shinzi Katoh as a key word. 

Near Sea Naturals  (PayPal) $11-$114 per yard.  This is another store I wish I could afford.  They've got a wide selection of cotton, wool, and natural blends in knits and wovens and in several weights.  They also have organic elastic banding, trims, lace, and yarn.
Harmony Arts  Wholesalers of organic woven and knit cotton.  Great patterns and matching solids.

Wholesale and Discount Buying:
Near Sea Naturals

Thursday, March 27, 2008


My three-and-a-half year old decided to dress himself today.  He's never shown any interest in self-dressing before, so I haven't made him do it.  He had no problem with the shirt, but the pants...  

This afternoon, in his room by himself, he took every pair of pants he had out of the closet, made a pile in the living room and tried on each on very methodically.  Most were backwards at first, then the waist band scrunched up around his belly.  And then all at once, he got it.  He has hit a milestone:  learning to put on one's own pants.

I've been wanting to come up with a few designs for the store that I can reproduce in several sizes.  So far I've had no luck finding a template for pants.  By template I mean that I like to find a pattern I can use just for sizing, but alter it until its sufficiently different.  

So far, I've failed miserably.  The monologue in my head is decidedly negative.  Etsy sales are miserably slow and I don't have any "signature" items I offer consistently in the shop.  Everything is a unique item that I don't feel like making again.  I see other shops selling the cutest kids clothes - at least a few items a day - everyday and it really gets me that I haven't been able to do it myself.

But today, like my son, I hit a milestone.  Finally, a pair of pants I like that I don't mind reproducing.  I am finally confident that I can reliably and consistently reproduce a design that actually appeals to me.   Although I used a pattern for a template, it was altered to make a new size and slightly new style.  

Even better, I have corrected my sizing problem.  The first time I make something, I always shoot for a 2T because I can try it out on Liv.  Lately though everything I make has been turning out too big.   OK, I don't really measure my seam allowances and err on the side of too big so she can grow into things.  This time I "eye-balled" it and then decreased it to what I thought was too small *POOF*  it fits.

Also on the pants front, Liv learned to take off her own pants.  Something I really don't want her to do, but a milestone for her none the less.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Craft and Landscape Architecture in Portland

On my recent trip to Portland, I felt just like this rock sitting in a Japanese garden.  Alone and the center of my own universe, but still longing for those in the distance.  I felt this way even on the plane ride, having just left my children and husband for a little adventure with my Mom and Sister in Portland, OR.    I love my kids more than anything in the world, but I've only had one other "vacation" in almost 4 years. 

I'd never been to Portland, but couldn't have been more ready for a long weekend with very little responsibility in what has to be one of the craftiest and naturally beautiful cities in the States.  I had a long list of places to visit the first day.  

When we left "heaven" (thats what I've dubbed my sisters place since she lives only a few blocks away from many of these places) we hit The Knittin Kitten - a big craft thrift store.  Purchase One:  5 sweater knits at $2 a yard.  Can't beat it.  

Next, Scrap.  I've heard so much about this place.  How people have found oodles of gorgeous vintage fabric for next to nothing.  No such luck this time.  I bought a bag of scrap leather for a dollar and a bag of scrap paper (Purchase Two and Three).  How fitting for a place called "Scrap".

In the afternoon, we took the elevator to the second floor of Heaven and got off at Kinokuniya, a japanese bookstore inside of Uwajimaya, the largest Japanese grocery I've ever seen.  I really had to restrain myself here.  Kinokuniya had at least 3 head to toe bookshelves full of Japanese craft books.  I found at least 10 that I really wanted, but picked just one to take home (Purchase Three).  They also sold the super cute folders, stickers, and notebooks I've seen some sellers offer on Etsy.  

Finally, Powell's Bookstore.  The absolute biggest bookstore I've been to - ever.  The size of a city block and several stories tall, I didn't manage to make it out of section A by the front door (the sewing and craft section).  Final purchase:  used books on creating your own patterns.

In all, I'd rate my shopping day "not too shabby with a whole lot of restraint".  I just wish I could have gotten to more thrift stores.  Next time.

Below are a few photos of places we visited that satisfied the landscape architect in me.  First, the Multnohma Falls and then the Japanese Gardens.  Both fabulous.  I must have taken 100 photos of walkway details (drains, pavement, walls, benches) and trees.  

If you don't know a landscape architect, thats what we do.  We take pictures of the ground, benches, drains, statues, and light poles just in case we might use them in a future project but can't remember where we saw them.  If you're out walking with a landscape architect, don't be surprised if they ask to take a photo of you next to that lovely fence you just passed.  Rest assured, you will almost definitely end up in the lower left hand corner of the photo as you are just being used for scale.