That Disapproving Glance

>> Monday, April 25, 2011

I buy most of my fabric online. I don't live close to an amazing local quilt shop and, as a grad student on a budget, I have to watch my pennies. I therefore shop online and never buy anything not on sale. But my sister found and bought me a Living Social deal for G Street Fabrics, and I had $50 to spend which was handy since I'm participating in the DC Modern Quilt Guild's Kona charm pack challenge and needed a base solid. (Of course, as I write this, I remember that the DCMQG card gets a 10% discount at G Street and I forgot to use it. Darn.) In any event, I went to purchase multiple yards of Kona (I ended up deciding on mustard) and while I would never spend $7/yard on it, the deal made it effectively $3.50/yd (at least in my head) and it was a gift anyways. While there I spied some Central Park Trefoil in Reservoir, and since I needed to spend $50, I decided to buy some of that as well.

I brought the bolts up to the counter to get the yardage cut, and the woman helping me asked what I was making. I replied, "a quilt." At which point she put the 2 bolts next to one another and smirked, disapprovingly. Now they don't coordinate exactly, but they look fine together. Moreover, I never said I was using them together (although I might use the Trefoil on the back of the quilt I'm making), but she assumed I was incapable of making decent fabric choices. Mind you, the quilting cotton selection at this G Street (there are 3 locations) is not, in my opinion, incredible if you like modern fabrics. There are some nice prints amidst the ones I dislike, but it wouldn't be my first-choice shop. And now, deal aside, I'm even less interested in supporting them: the prices are high (standard for a local shop), the selection is, for me, middling at best, and the service is less than impressive.

As it happens, when I got home, I saw this wonderful confessional post about things we don't often say aloud, or put in print/on screen in blogs. I liked that Rachel wasn't afraid to acknowledge she doesn't like every "hip" thing out there. And the waterfall of comments were engaging, honest, fun, and thought-provoking to read. For the record, I'm also not a Pips fan (too cutesy), only found a few Innocent Crush fabrics interesting (but haven't bought any), wasn't enthralled by Tufted Tweets, hate Denyse Schmidt's Greenfield Hill line, and ignore all giveaways that require anything other than simply leaving a comment. I like blogs whose full posts show up in my reader and rarely click over if they don't. I spend too much time reading blogs and not enough time sewing, but I can read blogs from anywhere and can only sew where my machine and material are. I really should name all of my quilts after crime shows since I watch all sorts of shows while piecing and quilting (Criminal Minds is my current show-of-choice; aside from the whole sleuth thing, I really like the random literary name drops in each episode.) And finally, I respect local quilt shop loyalty, but I refuse to fetishize it: as noted above, local loyalty isn't always deserved.

I also appreciated Deborah's response which is, as usual, thoughtful as she asked the flip side of Rachel's question: what makes you feel empowered as a sewer? I love a good online tutorial, and right now I'm really excited about figuring out how to sew circles. I first encountered Lynne through DQS10 (she's my awesome, on-top-of-it swap mama), and I decided to plunge in with her Quilt Along. Because I never follow directions completely, I'm sticking with 2 big circles and I'm not going to use the quilt-as-you-go method. However, I've pieced the dresden circles (I suppose I should take some pictures) and am now approaching the actual circle sewing. Lynne is tremendously generous and her blog is full of all sorts of fantastic tutorials. I certainly find that empowering. In addition, I just won a copy of Rebecca's Curlicue Crush pattern from Lesly at Pickle Dish. It's the first stand-alone quilt pattern I'll own, and I hope I finally figure out the whole curved piecing thing. Lesly's doing it as a quilt-along as well, which will be nice for support in my inevitable seam-ripping.

And that picture up top? I'll be showing the whole quilt as soon as I know it arrived at its destination.


webmailaddress2 April 25, 2011 at 9:00 PM  

I've been to the G Street Fabrics in Rockville, and I felt the same way you did. Their fabrics were way expensive, and it wasn't really my taste either. There are way better options online.

~Michelle~ April 25, 2011 at 9:09 PM  

Ooh, the smirk...I think we've all gotten that at one point! (even my hubs got one when I sent him to a LQS to buy a zipper for me) And seriously - $7/yard for Kona cotton?? That seems expensive! I wouldn't have paid that price w/out your coupon :) I'll be curious to hear what you think about the Curlicue pattern - and how you end up being efficient with the curved sewing.

LT April 25, 2011 at 9:11 PM  

I went to G Street with the same deal. And I agree 100% that they don't have a great selection for more modern prints. In fact, I was surprised that there was Central Park there. I haven't had any negative service, some indifferent, but usually nice, friendly, and helpful. But I won't be going there for most of my fabric purchases. I've been to the Artful Quilter in the Burke, VA and they were super helpful the few times I've been there. Thanks for blogging, it's always nice to see what you create.

Karissa April 26, 2011 at 2:15 PM  

Wow--sorry to hear you got such a cold reception at the fabric store! I am a big supporter of my LQS, even though they don't carry a ton of modern fabrics (they specialize in Civil War repros, which are SO not my thing). Still, the owner taught me how to piece and quilt, and has become a really good friend of mine (like, crazy drinking buddies kind of friend). She has a fantastic eye for matching fabrics, and whenever something stumps me, she always helps me figure it out.

I guess what I'm saying is I support her by buying $7 yards of Kona occasionally, or $9.50 yards of pretty much anything else, because if she weren't there, I would either have to rent a car to get to a fabric store or buy everything online. I do quite a bit of online fabric shopping as it is, so whenever I can support my LQS, even if I pay more, I think it's worth it. Then again, the customer service I get is excellent, so I have no problem spending a bit more per yard.

Sewjournal April 26, 2011 at 6:26 PM  

Well said. I usually buy online from the US as fabric is expensive here in Australia. But that's not the only reason. The LQSs always moan that nobody supports them or values them and we'll all be sorry when they've gone but they offer appalling customer service for the most part. They sigh if you ask for help getting a bolt off the shelf to look at it. They don't even look up or greet you when you walk in the shop. They don't bother to inform you either on their websites, blogs or on their recorded telephone messages when or even whether they are going to be open over a long weekend. Need I say more?

I also agree with you over many of the "twee" fabrics that seem to have found general favour recently. What a lovely rant! lol

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