One of my favourite sewing bloggers is Peter Lappin from Male Pattern Boldness. Peter, who lives in New York, has been sewing for the past 7 years and has already noticed and lamented the general decline in fabric shops. I was interested to learn following one of his posts that the problem that has been going on here in Australia for a good 20 plus years is not unique to our shores. People from all round the world responded to Peter's post with similar stories.
Instagrammers are right onto this problem, but from the perspective of supporting fabric shops that are still out there offering up fabrics for us to buy. If you follow any sewing Instagram accounts you'll often see posts showcasing shops they've visited. So that's what I'm going to do as well - occasional blog posts about Melbourne fabric shops. Or fabric shops I visit on my travels and shops my readers visit too! If you find a great little shop, take a photo or 2 and email it to me with perhaps a little story about your find!
I'm making a start this week with Spotlight. I know it's not the most inspirational of shops but it is the biggest in Australia and the one we so often end up in. My own relationship with Spotlight is definitely 'love-hate'. One year they'll have roll after roll of great fabrics and the next they'll have nothing but crap. As far I'm concerned right now they're going through a good phase and over the years some of my best outfits have come from fabric bought at Spotlight. That includes this chiffon 'butterfly' skirt made 6 or 7 years ago during that brief period when fabulously full ruffled skirts came back in vogue. You have to admit it's fairly extraordinary fabric - it's got little chiffon 'butterflies', stitched all over it, that flutter and fly. Then there's the 10 flared chiffon gores front and back with a ruffled lining. The skirt flounces and bounces with a mind of its own!
Peter proposes several reasons why sewing and fabric shops have been in decline, including 'fast fashion' where clothes are available so cheaply they're considered disposable, a less formal society, reduction in value given to technology classes at school and women now being in the paid workforce. I'd add to Peter's list by saying contemporary society has become less hands on - that we don't manipulate materials ourselves as much anymore. By that I mean we get people in to do things for us instead of doing it ourselves- from gardening to conducting a children's party. Children play on iPads instead of making mud pies. Adults spend weekends at the supermarket, on the computer or drinking coffee instead of making model boats, tinkering on the car or sewing. What are your thoughts?
I'm looking forward to sharing with you some of Melbourne's other fabric (and haberdashery) shops because, although there's not so many of them anymore, they certainly are diverse. Don't forget to send me your gems too!
PeterLappin's post is at (scroll past his opening about a giveaway winner to get to the guts of the post):
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