Fabric Shopping at the National City Swap Meet

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.**

Swap Meet Fabric Stall


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.

Swap Meet Bra Elastics

**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.

Swap Meet Zippers



 The Score

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?

Swap Meet Fabric Score

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.

Happy shopping,

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6 Responses to Fabric Shopping at the National City Swap Meet

  1. Raye Ann Clayton says:

    Great finds! Suggestions: bicycle into a tank with teal binding. Skirt with teal stripes(if it’s thick enough), cardi with the mustard stripes…I bet you can actually make a capsule

  2. Accordion3 says:

    I like the bike print too!
    Make a Tshirt or tank top from it. Or, maybe use it as the bodice in a knit dress like the incredibly popular Moneta.

  3. aleah says:

    Wow, sounds even dodgier than the place in Solvang was! Great finds, though. I love that bike print! I say tank top, maybe even with FOE straps/binding if you don’t have enough fabric for shoulders. The mustard stripe is lovely too. I would make a dress, obviously, but a cardigan is a good idea too.
    I love that all the weird discount fabric piles have striped knits lately!

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Three Way Mirror Tutorial

Finished 3 Way Mirror

I do love a funny sometimes pun-y blog title but decided to go the booorrrring route this time. Alternative blog titles that were left on the editing room floor:
• See No Evil, Hear No Evil: The Ultimate Guide to Fitting
• The Butt Ugly Side of Sewing
• Fitting Yourself Without Twisting Yourself



Back to Business

This tutorial will walk you through how I made a 3 way mirror for my sewing room. At the end I’ve included some ideas for those who are limited in space and money. Continue reading

7 Responses to Three Way Mirror Tutorial

  1. Pingback: Tutorial: DIY three way mirror | Sewing | CraftGossip.com

  2. Betsy says:

    I like the title “fitting without twisting,” I’m all about the bad puns. Great idea with the mirrors! I have super rigged-up set-up, but I think yours look really nice.

  3. aleah says:

    Your sewing room keeps getting more amazing! Nice job. I love your skill-set specific instructions – and your pink drill.

  4. Aura Oriano says:

    Woah! That is super crafty. You should get a lot of fitting use out of your project! I’m envious!

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What Have I Been Sewing? Not Much Lately

Where Did the Past 1.5 Days Go?

A couple of posts back I told you about my organizing spree on the site, which included adding a tab for my finished projects.  I decided to add my pre-blog finished projects.  I already have all the photos from the pattern reviews…shouldn’t take me that long… right…

I had 127 finished projects!!  I’ve been sewing on and off for decades but only started documenting my projects since 2011 in order to write pattern reviews.  So these are my projects since 2011 or about 3.5 years.  For data geeks like me, that comes out to over 3 items/month.  You see this was around the same time I’ve swore off RTW.  Instead of buying more expensive, ill-fitting RTW that I was just going to *outgrow* in a few months, I jumped back into sewing.

Continue reading

13 Responses to What Have I Been Sewing? Not Much Lately

  1. Pingback: Three Way Mirror Tutorial - Detective Houndstooth

  2. Jill says:

    I’m digging the analytics! And I’m honored to be in one of the 12 “other” projects you sewed for. We use the changing pad all the time. JW is the most stylishly changed baby :D

    • That my item is being used is a gift to me. I can’t tell you how many people don’t wear or use the things I sew them because it’s “too special”. Or they’re just lying to me and secretly hate it but can’t throw it away cuz I might ask about it. :|

  3. Tassie says:

    Very impressive. And I love charts and graphs.
    Silhouette patterns should put you on their pattern envelopes, they would sell a lot more! I never like Sil. patterns from the pictures, then people sew them up and they look so good.

    • Aw thanks Tassie. I’m sure my modeling skills are not up to snuff. If I remember the story right, Peggy use to update her envelope covers but people would get confused and buy it again thinking it was a different pattern. So she stop updating them. I remember asking for the jean jacket pattern. When they handed it to me, I was thinking “no, this is not the pattern,” and almost didn’t buy it. I don’t know which scenario is worse.

  4. Betsy says:

    Wow, your sewing is pretty prolific! I am with you, mostly selfish sewing because it is not always appreciated. I am the most impressed with 16 projects for the dog. He/she must have quite the wardrobe. I am still trying to make a raincoat for my dog. He’s not very appreciative, but a necessity anyway.

    • I would say that my dog probably appreciates the beds. He definitely doesn’t appreciate the costumes, so maybe those should be reclassified as self sewing. What kind of dog do you have? Are you making a rain coat with or without a hood?

  5. Vanessa says:

    Your statistics are impressive!! I don’t have any experience sewing Silhouette patterns, so I will have to check them out. Yay for getting into pattern drafting–I am interested in it myself!

    • Definitely check out Silhouette Patterns. Peggy does a free webcast twice a month also. She coordinates sewing expos around the country. I haven’t used her patterns in a long time but I really like what she’s doing to help people sew better. Oh and she has a PBS show on sewing. She’s one busy lady but super nice.

      What kind of pattern drafting are you interested in?

  6. BeccaA says:

    Great analysis! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Carrie says:

    Impressive analytics!! I can imagine how much work this took to tally up all the projects. I’m the same as you on most accounts (selfish sewing of mostly tops). I’d love to do something like this – especially to get a better sense of which patterns I actually use – then maybe it will stop me from buying all those patterns I never touch!

    • If you’re going to do it, don’t wait 3.5 years like I did. Luckily I had most of the info on Pattern Review and the rest was in my closet. Thank goodness for selfish sewing. Once everything is in Excel, the analytics were super easy. How many projects have you racked up?

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Look Mom! I Got an Award.


Can I say that I’m a day late and a buck short… again? First I’m late to the Kirsten Kimono tee party.  Now I’m not 1, not 2 but 3 months late in thanking the 2 lovely sewists that have nominated me for a Liebster Award. My first award was from the super funny, pizza loving Mads from Life in a “Mads” House in early April. My second award came a few week later from speedy, sewing super woman Aleah from No Time To Sew.

In case you’re wondering, yes, these are my 2 followers I keep referring to. LOL J/K. I have more than 2 followers but definitely under the 500 followers per the The Liebster Award rules send on down from the blogger gods.

Since I’m sure everyone who hasn’t been hiding under a rock is already aware of the award, rules, questions, nominations yadda, yadda… Let’s begin.

Continue reading

12 Responses to Look Mom! I Got an Award.

  1. Jill says:

    Oh thank goodness there’s a 3 month lag time, cause you know me these days-taking an involuntary hiatus it seems. But thank you for the award :)
    And I have to say, your online vs. IRL personalities are very much the same, but I’m really appreciating your written humor a lot!

    • I’m pretty sure notifying the my nominees is still on my to-do list. And you have a very legit reason for your hiatus. I’ll put a note in my calendar to visit your blog in 3 months. At that point I expect a carefully thought out response to my very serious questions. :)

  2. aleah says:

    Ha, I love your questions! You are hilarious! (And you know I’m team No Pins, and my stash seems to mutiply when I get cat hair on it, which is a given in my house…)

    • Yes! Another player on Team No Pins. It would be funny to have jerseys made and we can compete on a sewing obstacle course. I think you must have brought some cat hair here cuz my stash did multiply exponentially…

  3. Julianne says:

    LA drivers are appallingly nuts. I must admit, in certain situations I’ve been forced to adapt the general attitude, only to survive traffic. And I always feel dirty after.

    I’m working on my questions and nominees but it’s hard!

  4. Mads says:

    Love your answers, especially #6 and #9! And OMG California Pizza Kitchen is sooooo good! I eat there so frequently that I received a black rewards card with my name embossed on it–big surprise, right? =)

  5. Carrie says:

    Ooooo Thank you so Nhi! Since I’m on a semi-blogging hiatus (clearly I still read blogs daily!) I will also follow the 3-month lag time to post :)

  6. Accordion3 says:

    An award! Thankyou!
    Response blogpost coming soon.

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11 Responses to Maria Denmark – Kirsten Kimono Tee

  1. Pingback: Fabric Shopping at the National City Swap Meet - Detective Houndstooth

  2. Rebecca says:

    Great tops. Nice tip on stripe matching. I haven’t seen it done that way before.

  3. Pingback: Look Mom! I Got an Award. - Detective Houndstooth

  4. Kyla says:

    I definitely need to try this pattern! Love both of your versions… and that fabric pile is exciting :) So much potential! I nominated you for the versatile blogger award; just posted details: http://kylachristine.wordpress.com/2014/07/06/the-versatile-blogger-award/

  5. Vanessa says:

    I agree that this top is a fast sew, with a great fit! I made two of these, and I love my tops. They get plenty of wear! Your tops look great, I especially like the mint striped one!

  6. Raye Ann Clayton says:

    You are not the last to hear of this pattern…that would be ME!
    But, I have already downloaded it, thanks to your review :-)
    They are super cute, and I do love the stripes!

  7. aleah says:

    You always have the brilliant ideas I would never have thought of – you have solved my stripe matching problem! Holy cow you’re a genius!
    I like the mint stripe version – how did I not get a hunk of that fabric? Looks like something I’d buy :)

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