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Fabric and the Evolution of Joann's (at least for me)

Last week I set out to Joann's to purchase a red "carpet" for our Hollywood-themed work event. One of the perks of a career in marketing / communications is getting a chance to dapple in the lighter side of business. I settled on a bolt of red felt, which worked spectacularly. I tried to convince my coworkers that we have an arts and crafts day and create some Valentine's Day decorations to adorn the office, but no one was buying it.

I just couldn't resist this. It will make a cute knitting pouch or lining for something...

Anyway while at Joann's, I spent some real time digging through the fiber - the first time in years and made some pretty surprising observations . First, a little background. I used to live at Joann's, The Rag Shop, even the Wal-Mart fabric section (don't judge!) and knew the fabrics by heart. Most of my time was devoted to the wall of calico. My main obsession was batik fabric, which I could never find amongst the standard fabric templates, and funky colors of corduroy. Basically, I just looked for anything different. I would have walked miles for this gem:

this was my "pricey" purchase at $3.95/yd.

But, with a healthy fabric stash and piles of clothes I've hoarded over the years with intentions of cutting up coupled with my recent jonesing for fancy, designer fabrics, it's been some time since I've seriously looked through Joann's (I've been in twice before to round up materials for the Weekender Bag, but managed to stay on task - plus, I didn't know what I was missing!) Oh, and until recently I lived really far away.

MY OBSERVATIONS (both of them):

Joann's is Ginormous. Was my old Joann's just really crappy or they all just five times bigger now? Seriously, my old Joann's had your usual fabric area, home dec, maybe an aisle devoted to unfinished wood, some dried flowers and some baskets thrown in a corner. And also junky kid crafts. These new-fangled Joann's have 5 aisles devoted to scrapbooking, a rubber stamp (?) aisle, a ribbon section bigger than my apartment, even a framing dept! I actually think all these additions are good, but I just wonder how all this happened under my nose.

Batik fabric!

I guess this craft revival really did happen, huh? Or is it really just the supersize trend?

The fabrics. Oh, how I love thee! I had tears in my eyes when I saw at least 5 or 6 shelves devoted to batiks! (but, where were you when I needed you?) After a quick walk through the $1/yard aisle, I was already pushing my hand-held basket (what was I thinking, right?) along the ground with my foot and stacking it with bolt after bolt of dirt-cheap fabric. I was even sweating! When I got to the cutting counter, I actually felt bad for people waiting behind me. At least they got to stare at all my pretty fabric. :)

I'm seeing lots of skirts and totes and pouches and maybe even a hat or two...

I think this one is my favorite and at $1/yd., you can't go wrong!
In other sewing news, I saw on YaiAnn's blog that Amy Butler is finally selling the bag I mentioned a few months back - but only as a premade item (for $112!), no pattern. Grrr. So bummed, but I'm gonna strike back and make my own pattern. I'd be happy if it's half as cute!

I think a nice, classy skirt for work...

As for my pile 'o WIPs flashed on my last post, I'm dutifully working on each and every one of them and making some decent progress. I'm officially captivated by Demi, which thrills me. I was worried its complexity would become a headache for me.
Hopefully I'll have something finished to report soon!


Anonymous said…
Oh my that shop sounds amazing! We don't have anything like that in the UK, selection is generally pretty poor. I like the stuff you bought!
lobstah said…
Back when I used to actually sew (well, try to sew...I was never very good at it), I used to hit up Joann's a lot. Definitely was hit or miss--some cute stuff but a lot crap too. Then a few years ago when the GIANT Joann's came to Buckland, I was in heaven. I'm totally in love with the gigantic button section there! The Joann's nearest me is still the old, tiny model :( :( :(
I also used to go to Hancock Fabrics in East Hartford or Fabric Place in Cromwell (though I heard a rumor that may have shut down)? I've found some different stuff there.
How awesome would be to go to NYC to a REAL fabric shop?
Stacey said…
I used to live right near 2 joann's - they were like you described - small, with little sections for stuff and a decent but not great fabric section. The closest one is now about 45 minutes away, and the last time I went my jaw dropped when i walked in the door. The fabric section was HUGE ( of course it couldn't have been like this when I had 5 quilts in a year to do) and they had so much stuff! Yay to the new Joanns!
Anonymous said…
I think my Joann's is still the old and crappy kind, but luckily as far as crafting goes, we just got a new Michaels - it is fan*tas*tic.

Love your fabric scores - I especially love the green gem and the tweedy skirt fabric.
Oh, if only I possessed even the smallest bit of sewing mojo... but alas, I am confined to using only eyeless needles.

Can't wait to see more of your fab wips!
Unknown said…
The fabric that's destined to be a skirt.... did it end up as a skirt? It looks like wool, and I've got some of that and I've been wondering what pattern would do it justice (and if I really need to line it or not).
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