Several years ago, when I had the fabric designing bug, I created a fun fabric and posted it to Spoonflower. If you have never heard of Spoonflower, it is a cool website where creatives can post their digital design files and turn them into fabric, wallpaper or wrapping paper. This is the website, in fact, that I used to produce the fabric I needed for my bridesmaids dresses for my summer 2009 wedding in Bar Harbor Maine (!)
Subsequently, I have created other fabric. Sadly, after I had it printed and shipped to me in northern Virginia, I never used it (!) There it sat for years. Finally, while down in Florida visiting my folks, I cut into one of my favorite prints called Pink Grapefruit Puffs. If I could imagine a grapefruit turned into flowers, well, this is the design in my head and brought to life. I enjoyed pairing this fabric with a black, white, and gray check fabric to make my sweet Eden an Antalya dress.
Every summer I retreat to the far northeast reaches of our country with my family to escape the traffic and heat of our Capital Beltway and breath in the fresh pine tree air of Maine. This year, my quest for lobster could only be trumped by my quest for fabric. In part I of this series, I told you all about two adorable modern fabric shops (not too far from each other) along Maine’s “midcoast” region. Today, I’ll tell you about two other places to procure yummy, sewable fiber that are also kind of close to each other: Under the Dogwood Tree in Southwest Harbor and Marden’s in Ellsworth, Maine.
UNDER THE DOGWOOD TREE
SOUTHWEST HARBOR MAINE
This shop has all kinds of on-trend items from stationary, apparel, jewelry, dry goods, rugs, artwork, children’s books to a cozy upstairs corner of modern fabric.
While they don’t have a large selection, what they do have is modern, fresh and current. I love the over-sized wooden spool they use to house some of the bolts.
Mixed throughout the shop (and it is no different in the fabric section) are old and new items. Aren’t these vintage buttons darling?
Off to the side corner near the stairway is a small section of sale fabric ranging from $4-$6 a yard.
I love the idea of this cutting table. I also appreciate the honor system the owner puts into our hands – allowing us to cut what we need, writing it down on a slip of paper to bring to the checkout downstairs. Unfortunately, the planks on the table are not even so your trip with the rotary cutter skips over fabric during the dips. It gets an A for form but a D for function.
I noticed a nice selection of Heidi Boyd patterns (who is a local Maine artist) for felted toys. They were so cute! I love it when boutiques carry items from local artisans. Yay!
Marden’s is a locally-owned chain of 14 discount supply stores. They exist only in Maine. You will find everything under the sun in this place. I could go on and on about the shoe department alone, but I want to let you in about Maine’s best kept FABRIC secret! Are you sitting down? No? Then go hit the restroom, get yourself a snack, put your phone in airplane mode (unless you’re reading from your phone, of course), hide yourself from your husband-kids-pets-nosy neighbors-whatever distracts you- because I am going to get your fabric seeking radar on HIGH ALERT! Feast your eyes:
Now, if you’re looking in the front row of this picture and are like “no great shakes” then I HEAR you. BUT, you did not prowl through each and every bolt of fabric in this joint (don’t forget the bottom shelves on the floor) as I did. Anna Maria Horner ring a bell? CHECK. Denyse Schmidt Chicopee collection anyone? RIGHT OVER HERE, Tula freakin’ PINK??? Ummmm Hmmmmmmm. “Fine” you say. “Fine, my local fabric shop carries that – what’s all the hoopla about?” you say. I’ll tell you:
$1.50 – $5.49 a yard
is what. And that $5.49 was mostly on select Riley Blake fabric (I don’t understand this, but this particular store had a minor crush on Riley Blake (not that there is anything wrong with that) and had all their fabric priced the highest – unless it was in the super-sale section.) I’ll tell you this – I didn’t pay a dime more than $4.50 a yard for my haul. Now, will there be some, let’s say, less desirable fabric you have to weed through? YES. But is it worth it? YES.
Above is a look at their sale section (yes a store who’s prices are less than $5.50 a yard has a sale section.) If you squint you might be able to make out that pink sign that says $2.99 a yard. Below is an example of some of their $1.50/yard fabric.
I had baby girl with me that day and I was torn over this vintage-looking rainbow fabric, also for $1.50/yard. (I wish I had gotten it.)
Here is some Denyse Schmidt for you. Again, all this was priced between $3.50 & $4.50 a yard:
Now, if you’re thinking “No problem, I’ll just give Marden’s a call and order some.” Good luck with that. They don’t ship fabric. They don’t take orders over the phone. So, you’ll have to take that leaf peeping trip this fall to Maine and hop a flight to BGR or PWM (don’t pick the wrong Portland or you’ll end up in Oregon.) Whatever you do, be prepared to spend hours in that place. Remember, I didn’t even go into the shoe department details. You might be wondering “How do they get this stuff?” Well, the inner journalist in me asked and basically one of the examples an employee game me was that there was a fabric store in some other part of the country that had a fire in their bathroom. Insurance company comes in and takes all the inventory away to replace it. The inventory wasn’t damaged at all. Marden’s steps in to buy it all. CHEAP. Thank you, Marden’s.
IF YOU GO:
- Allow a good 2 hours
- Don’t deprive yourself of a lobster roll while in Maine
- Bring me back some whoopie pies (also sold there)
- Store locations: Biddeford, Sanford, Scarborough, Gray, Lewiston, Waterville, Brewer, Lincoln, Calais, Houlton, Ellsworth, Presque Isle and most recently Rumford and Madawaska (and each one’s stock can vary.)
Oh please please PLEASE share your Marden’s victories with me in the comments below. Oh how I love to hear how a good bargain is procured 🙂
I don’t mean to put JoAnn Fabric down. Let’s face it, it’s the go-to place to buy so many items to feed your quilting-crafting-sewing hunger. Armed with those inevitable 40% off coupons, how can you go wrong? But, I must say, I was never really that enthused about their fabric selection. It tended/tends to be on the traditional (boring) end of the spectrum for me. But every once in a while, something catches my eye. A few weeks ago, after our first fall-like cool-down in the weather pattern, I was jonesing to make something Fall-y. H E L L O BURLAP FABRIC 🙂 Why, you’re not just burlap, you’re burlap with MUSTACHES printed all over you! Come with me to the cutting table why don’t you?
I had just figured out how to install an invisible zipper, so I was on an invisible zipper kick. So a plethora of pillows ensued. Here is how the burlap fabric got transformed:
After Mr. Mustache Pillow came together, I decided he was crying out for a companion. He needed something a little more Halloweenie. Jo-Ann to the rescue again! This time the burlap fabric had spiders all over it. SCORE! I made the throw pillow out of a slightly smaller size (16″ square) and added some piping-ish stuff to the edges (it reminded me of really wide shoelace material – I guess I could get up and go look at what it is called, but I’m sitting on my foot kind of funny and it fell asleep and I don’t want to go through the pins and needles phase, so sorry!) That was the trickiest part – getting the wide (1/2″) shoelace material to be a nice square on the front cover AND go around the edge of my pillow cover peacefully with the invisible zipper. But I channeled my inner Tim Gunn and had a “make it work” moment.
The most annoying part making these pillows? The burlap frays. Really Bad. I was fortunate that my sewing teacher loans me her backup serger. So, what do you think? What tricks do you have up your sleeve to make big seasonal changes on a tight budget? I’d love to hear your ideas 🙂