Vacay Like a Sewist

Vacay Fabric Shopping

For the past few years I’ve been adding fabric shopping to our vacation itinerary. On this trip I only managed to hit two stores. In Madrid I browsed Ribes y Casals. I had scoped out a few other stores near our hotel but after a full day of touristy sites, hills and heat I was out of steam.  I didn’t get any pictures of the store. It was a fairly large store with a really wide array of fabrics. They had everyday fabrics, home dec and even flamenco fabrics. The fabrics I was eyeing was a bit too basic, which was the opposite of my London shopping experience where everything was too fancy. I just couldn’t justify hauling back a yard of rib knit when it looked like something I could have picked up anywhere.

In Portugal I hadn’t scoped out any shops. Fortunately I spotted Feira dos Tecidos walking down the street. I immediately stopped Mr. DH and jaywalked across the street.

Portugal feira dos tecidos

Feira Dos Tecidos had a great selection of fabrics. They have fabrics piled in bins and tables like a fancier Michael Levine’s Loft. The store also had a nice selection of notions, trims, zippers etc.

feira dos tecidos inside

I found a piece of fabric I just had to have. It was love at first sight. I can’t explain my joy because it’s so super touristy. Where else can I get Lisboa fabric than in Lisboa. Obrigada Fiera Dos Tecidos!

Lisboa Fabric

The scale is large because it’s a home dec fabric. I was thinking a bag/tote. I’m tempted to make a jacket but I don’t think I bought enough. Any suggestions for patterns?

Vacay Sewing Magazine Shopping

In Spain there are newsstands on every other corner. They carry a surprising number of sewing magazines. I picked up 3: Patrones, Modelos and Anna Moda.

Spanish Sewing Magazines

Modelos is my favorite of the 3 for their fabric choices and styling. Every page looks like a page out of a fashion magazine. I love the prints they used. My favorite is this sheer chevron print. Paired with a matching mustard solid collar, it’s just fab.

Modelos 1

Another great print is this one with nesting dolls. Who knew nesting dolls prints could be so fashionable.

Modelos 3

Their pattern sheet comes in 5 colors and in 4 sizes.

Modelos Pattern Sheet

If they don’t have your size they’ve included their grading rules!! So brilliant.

Modelos Grading Rules

Patrones is my second favorite. They have knock off patterns from RTW. The cape pattern below is a copy of the Spanish clothing company PULL&BEAR. What great details.

Patrones 1

Their patterns are also pretty fashionable but I don’t think as fashionable as Modelos. Plus they keep putting jackets on all of their outfits. Some of the jackets worked but some were just plain awkward. The Michael Kors jumper below is pretty great. When the jacket goes on it hides the details and all you see are saggy thighs.

Patrones 2

The pattern sheet also comes in 5 colors but only 3 sizes. I didn’t see any grading instructions but I might have missed it.

Patrones Pattern Sheet

My least favorite of the 3 sewing magazines was Anna Moda. It’s just not my style. I think I need to just look at the line drawings because I’m sure there are some great patterns.

Anna Moda 1

Their pattern sheet comes in 2 colors and 4-5 sizes.

Anna Moda Pattern Sheet

Bonus Tip: Google Translate Camera

If your Spanish is rusty like mine and you want to read your Spanish sewing magazine NOW, download the Google Translate app. It has a camera function that will translate the words for you instantly. For Android you can even batch the data so you can use it without using cellular data or WiFi which is perfect for reading signs and menus. The translation is a bit buggy when the text is not clear or when your hands are shaky. It’s still way faster than typing words into a translator.

Google Translate App

Happy Sewing Shopping,

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Even More Fabric Shopping – superbuzzy

Sewing Mojo Mystery

I’m not sure where my sewing mojo disappeared to.  I know I packed in up in the move…  I faintly remember unpacking… so it must be here somewhere… maybe Waffle took it outside and buried it in the back yard… I don’t know…  I’m just hoping it’ll show up soon.  In the meantime I’m starting to think that the decrease of sewing mojo is inversely proportionate to the increase of sewing related activities.  For the math-y sewists

For the graph-y sewists

sewing mojo correlation graph

Anyone else seen this correlation in their lives?


 Most Recent Non-sewing Sewing Activity

I’ve been doing lots of non-sewing sewing things lately.  My most recent activities seems to be fabric shopping because I surely need more fabric to reach S.A.B.L.E (stash acquired beyond life expectancy).  If you haven’t read my attempt at S.A.B.L.E at the swap meet, you can catch up here.  Yesterday I headed to superbuzzy which I’ve been dying to go to for a while.  superbuzzy is buzz as in bee, not buzz as in drinking.  Just thought I needed to clarify that for some of you.  ahem.  So if you haven’t been to the store or been to their website let’s take a mini tour shall we…

superbuzzy is Super Cute

superbuzzy postcard

This pic is of their postcard and it summarizes the style of the store; cute, sweet and Japanese.  The store is located on Main Street in Ventura, CA which is a super long street with lots of little nondescript shops.  You know you’ve arrived at superbuzzy when you see the bee.

sewbuzzy sighting

A Peek Inside

For those who can’t get to the store you can live vicariously through the following pics or you can shop their website Everything they carry in the store is on their website and most of what they carry is from Japan.  The exception would be some of the patterns and maybe some of the books.

First off they have mostly cotton flat weave fabrics.  I’m not a quilter but it looks like quilting cotton.  All of the fabrics are colorful, has great prints and overall just adorable.

superbuzzy cute quilt fabrics


more fabric

more fabric

superbuzzy did I mention they have quilt fabrics

even more fabrics

superbuzzy even more quilt fabrics

Did I mention they have fabric?

superbuzzy geeky quilt fabrics

Fabrics for the geeky sewists

In additional to fabric on the bolts they also have a good selection of fat quarters and 1/8 yd cuts.  I love the decor.  You can sit a chat with Domo Kun for awhile.  And look at the cute honey comb tiles on the floor.  Just spectacular!!

superbuzzy honey comb tiles and Domo Kun There was a section of denim and a couple of knits which is more garment sewing than the other cottons.  Yes, I know lots of people sew clothes from quilting cotton.  That person is just not me.

superbuzzy garment fabrics


superbuzzy also has a few laminates for super cute table clothes or bags.

superbuzzy laminates

In the back they have an extensive selection of Japanese sewing and crafts books and magazines.  The only other place I’ve seen this many Japanese books is the book store in the Mitsuwa.  At the Mitsuwa there wasn’t nearly as many sewing, knitting, crocheting and other crafts books.  I also spied copies of Molly Makes which I’ve only seen online.  What a treasure trove.  I would have loved to grab a few and sit with Domo Kun and thumb through them.  I was just overwhelmed by the # of books and since the spines are written in Japanese it was hard for me to just peruse.  It’s probably best of review the selection online and drop in and purchase the book.  Sorry about the blurry pic.  Maybe I should have purchased that book on the top shelf “taking great photos”. LOL

superbuzzy books

In the back they also have yarns and embroidery floss.

superbuzzy yarn

And then there were the patterns.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that they carried Oliver + S, Colette, Amy Butler, Christine Haynes patterns along with some Japanese pattern lines.  I can just hop in instead of buying online and impulsively checking the mail box.  Oliver + S and Amy Butler patterns are perfect for the cotton fabrics they carry.

superbuzzy patterns

There’s way more fun stuff like notions, needle felt supplies, snacks etc that I didn’t take pics of.  Just check it out on their website. Lastly I can’t forget to mention that they also have sewing and craft classes.  If you’re into modern quilt, the Ventura Modern Quilt Guild has sew ins here.



How Do I Find My Sewing Mojo?

Now that I’ve done a sufficient amount of fabric shopping, pattern shopping, reading sewing blogs, blogging, organizing the sewing room, reorganizing the sewing room, I need to get back to sewing.  Any tips on how I get my sewing mojo back?

Happy (actual) sewing,Signature small


Fabric Shopping at the National City Swap Meet

Swap Meet Fabric Stall

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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Reuseable Bag for Your Fabric Store Haul

Just Window Shopping, I Swear

I’ve been known to go to the Michael Levine Loft “just to look” and somehow leave with 15-20 lbs of fabric.  In my defense, at $2.50/lb that’s the equivalent of 4 itty little yards from other fabric stores.  9 times out of 10, I didn’t bring my nice canvas reuseable bags that are in my trunk.  As I said I was there “just to look”.  The bag the store gives you is a huge version of a grocery bag.  The bag is so thin or the haul so big, the handles cut into your shoulder and could give at any moment.  Walking the few blocks back to the car is dangerous business.


If the Bag Fits

In comes my lightweight-takes-up-little-space-water-resistant-durable-stylish reuseable bag. The bag is a sizeable 15” x 22” x 6” (WxHxD) opened and folds up into 4” x 7” x ½” and only weights 1.6 oz or 45 grams.  It fits perfectly into my purse so I’m never without a bag.

Reuseable Bag



• 1 yd Ripstop 60” width.
• Thread
• 2-4” length of 1” sew in zelcro
• Basic drafting supplies: paper, pencil, ruler
• Permanent Sharpie marker for decorating (optional)


Drafting the Pattern

Pattern piece #1: body of the bag
1. Draw large rectangle 12” wide, 19” tall. This will be the body of the bag.
2. Draw a skinny rectangle 3” wide and 17” tall, centered on top of the large rectangle. This will be the handle of the bag. The 2 rectangles should be 36” end to end.
3. Using a cup or small dish, curve the corner where the skinny rectangle meets the large rectangle. Your pattern should resemble an upright bowling pin but with straighter edges.
4. Mark the right edge of the body rectangle to cut on the fold.
5. Label with “cut 2 on fold” arrows

Bag Body Pattern Drafting

Pattern piece #2: pocket flap
1. Draw a rectangle 7 ½” wide and 3 ½” tall.
2. Use a cup or can to curve the bottom flap corners.
3. Label with “cut 2”

Flap Pattern Drafting


Selecting the Fabric

I’m using Ripstop because it’s really strong and light weight. My JoAnns carries every color of the rainbow. If you want to put a design onto the bag you need to pick a color that the ink will show up. I picked bright yellow for spring and also because I can find it in the deepest, darkest depths of my purse.


Decorating the Bag (optional but highly recommended)

If you want to decorate the bag, do it before cutting. That way if you screw up, you can start over. You’ll waste fabric but not fabric AND time. Plus, it’s easier to center the design for cutting. The areas that I decorated on the Kid Rock reuseable bag are:

  • the front body of the bag: pic of Kid Rock
  • the top back which is the back when its folded up: Kid Rock lettering
  • the flap: its suppose to be a guitar pick

Areas to decorate

I use a permanent Sharpie because it’s permanent, comes in a lot of colors and a variety of tips.  Draw a picture free hand with a Sharpie like I did. Or print a design and place under Ripstop and trace.



Sewing Instructions


  1. Body: cut 2 on the fold
  2. Flap: cut 2

Cut Pieces

Sew the Body of the Bag

  1. Sew the side seams of the bag using an enclosed seam for tidiness and strength. Like in these pillow cases.
  2. Sew the bottom seam using an enclosed seam.
  3. Fold the corner up 3”. Tack into place using a wide width zig zag stitch with zero stitch length.


Sew the Handles

  1. Sew handles of front bag together, right sides together.
  2. Finger press seam allowances to one side. 2 rows of topstitch.
  3. Repeat for back bag handles.
  4. Sew a ¼” seam allowance all around the edges of the handle.
  5. Fold over the fabric along the stitch line twice and topstitch.


Sew the Flap

  1. Sew along bottom curve of the flap at 3/8”
  2. Trim to ¼”
  3. Turn, finger press, 2 rows of topstitching
  4. Sew onto body of bag.


Sew Closures

  1. Decide on the shape of your Velcro pieces. I decided to use hearts on my Waffle bag. And a guitar pick shape on the Kid Rock bag.
  2. Cut out 1 of the shape on the soft half of the Velcro. This is the loop side. Sew this piece to the bottom inside of the flap.
  3. Cut out 2 of the shape on the rough half of the Velcro. This is the hook side. If you look closely you’ll see there are tiny little hooks. Sew one of the pieces to the top front of the bag. Fold up the bag using this diagram. Sew the remaining piece of Velcro to hold the bag closed.




Folding the Bag

  1. Fold down the handle
  2. Fold in the left side
  3. Fold in the right side
  4. Fold from the bottom up
  5. Secure the flap with the Velcro closure

Folding Instructions

Congrats you’re saving the environment and looking stylish.  I’ve been struggling to find time, at the right time of day, to take pics of me with the bag.  So here’s the next best thing to show the scale.

Scale of Bag

Happy sewing and shopping,
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