I was visiting a friend in San Diego over the weekend. Once we got our fill of sun, sand and cool ocean air we decided to explore the local swap meet for a change of pace. While I was looking up info on the nearby Kobey swap meet I stumbled upon the National City Swap Meet that has about a dozen fabric stalls. What!?! Fabric! Trims! Notions! I’m in and so is my non-sewing friend who I forced to drive me there and help me dig. She’s so sweet.
**Tip #1: Bring a friend for extra muscle and moral support**
Digging for Treasures
I’ve shopped fabric stalls at swap meets before in Torrance. The fabric there were on tables, bolts and somewhat nice-ishly organized. The National City swap meet was a whole other story. The fabrics are basically thrown in piles on a tarps on the floor. There are sometimes skinny aisles for you to walk through. If there wasn’t an aisle I just had to walk on top of the piles to get around. Most of your time will be spent on all fours tossing cuts of fabric around.
*Tip #2: pre-wash all your fabric. Who knows where it’s been. Or in this case, you know exactly where it’s been.**
Prices were great if you compare it to the local options of Yardage Town, JoAnn’s etc. If your reference point is like mine where you can buy similar fabric for $2.50/lb it was good but not a bargain. Prices were $1.50-$2/yard. One of the stall was $5 for whatever fits in a medium size bag. Buttons, zippers, elastic, lace and other notions were not a steal of a deal either. The bra elastic was $0.50/pair.
**Tip #3: Ask for the prices before you spend all that time digging.**
**Tip #4: Ask if they will cut what you need. One place won’t cut anything under 5 yards so you have to take the whole piece. I sense a fabric swap in my future.**
**Tip #5: Bring cash in small bills. $1 and $5 bills. You don’t have any haggling cred if you whip out a $20 bill when you’re haggling over $0.50. Even if you’re a non-hag, they may not have small bills to make change for you. **
**Tip #6: If you can’t get them down on the price, sometimes they’ll throw in extra fabric**
I would say that the quality is on par with what you’d find that the Micheal Levine’s Loft aka much better than JoAnn’s. Most of it is good quality, quite a bit of knits and sheer polys. There was a stall with a handful of denim. I didn’t see much linen, silks etc but nothing is labeled so I may have missed it.
**Tip #7: Check fabrics for holes, tears, sneaker prints (LOL) and other imperfections.**
Some of the zippers were from reputable brands like YKK. Unfortunately the ones that I wanted where no one brands and I didn’t want to chance it. Failed zippers are not attractive.
Here’s what I scored. Lots of striped fabric. No surprise considering my recent obsession with the Kristen Kimono Tee. From top to bottom.
- My favorite is the bicycle print knit. It’s a really short width maybe 38″ and there was writing on it from a permanent marker so I don’t have too much to work with.
- The mustard and white striped fabric is a nice medium weight very much like the fabric I used to make my Burda ballet wrap. I think it would make a nice cardigan. Maybe McCall’s 6844 also known as THAT Cardigan Pattern.
- It’s hard to see by the way I folded the fabric but it’s a teal, grey and white large striped fabric.
- White with thin black stripes.
- Yellow and white stripes.
- Bra straps in purple, pink, yellow, camo and glittery silver. The silver was a sad loner so I got it for free.
Any suggestions on what I should make with these fabrics?
I spent $11.75 + $0.50 for admission to the Swap Meet. I got 8.5 yards of fabric for $9.75 for an average of $1.47/yard. And of course the fun of digging for treasures is priceless. Have you shopped for fabrics in unusual places? I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment in the comment section or drop me an e-mail at detectivehoundstooth at gmail dot com.