Well, our visit to Fabric Mart was a roaring success! In addition to me and Cidell, 5 people were able to join our spur-of-the-moment trip. The group photo shows Layla, Mary, Claudine, Cidell, Lisette, me, and Diane thoroughly dazed and sated after our 3(!!!) hour visit to the store. We really felt like we'd been in there for only an hour.
The drive from Baltimore took about two hours and Fabric Mart was easy to spot once we got into town. The parking lot isn't large, but they don't get too much in-person business and we had no trouble finding a place.
You can enter through the front of the store (didn't get a picture, sorry) or the back, from the parking lot. We came in through the back. Here I am about to enter the store for the first time. Can you feel the anticipation?
We were greeted by Sharon, with whom many of us have had email correspondence. She was incredibly nice and patient with us and gave us a tour of the palace grounds.
The area you enter is the store. Down the center of the store are the clearance items--generally there is not enough yardage to sell online. Once it gets into the store's clearance area, prices are 50% off marked. Most of my purchases came from this area. Where the items are available online I provided a link below.
Then you keep going. There's a cutting area, a back room, an upstairs, and a downstairs. The areas are marked with letter codes (B=Back, D=Downstairs, and so on--so now I know where their product codes come from!). You can wander the shelves at will, writing down codes. There is a computer in the front where you look up fabric content and price based on your code. If you decide you want something, you just grab it off the shelf and bring it to be cut.
The whole time we were there, the cutters were steadily working on online orders. It seemed like a happy workplace. The cutters were joking with one another and everyone was incredibly nice. This makes me doubly glad to shop there in the future. Happy employees and a non-chain business--what more could you ask for?
After much contemplation, it was finally time to get our fabric cut. Sharon had so much patience with us--we ended up getting 97 yards as a group! I was responsible for more than my fair share, I'll confess: 27 1/8 yard. Cidell beat me at 28 yards.
I think the look on my face in this photos shows it all.
The fuchsia wool/cotton/lycra blend on the right was my splurge fabric, a Julie's Pick at $12.99/yd. For this quality fabric, I consider the price a bargain. It's lighter weight, but totally opaque. It will make a gorgeous work dress.
The nylon jacquard is, I think, my only mistake. I was really drawn to the color and the weave, but I didn't really feel it until I got it home. It has a scratchy, uncomfortable hand. It would be ok for a purse, but the color wouldn't work for a purse. I think one mistake is allowed.
My second mistake was being too influenced--I LOVE the mustard ponte and I only bought one yard of it. I wish I'd bought 3. This was from the clearance section so it's not available online. Alas.
These pontes are great quality and you can't beat the $4/yd price! The turquoise is totally my color and I was influenced by the sweatshirt dress Cidell was wearing that day in getting the heathered charcoal gray.
The bright print with the black background hasn't made it onto the website yet, but it is meant to eventually in the ITY section. The border print was in the clearance section and Cidell and I had a bit of a tug of war over it. Let's just say, I'm small but I'm fierce. LOL. It will be a wrap dress.
Love these two prints! The cotton was from the clearance area. I can never have enough bright colors.
The peacock-style print on the right is a rayon challis. It's another fabric that hasn't yet made it onto the website but is supposed to join the other rayon challises. It will be be another Burda 09-2007-120 tie front blouse, and hopefully soon.
I also got some underpinnings: 8 yards of a nice light gray lining ($1.99/yd) and 1 yard of black tricot ($1/yd)
After all this, you can imagine that we were ravenous! We tried to go to the pizza place just down the street, but it was closed. We all piled into Lisette's minivan (imagine 7 grown women emerging from a minivan, it was kind of hilarious) and headed to Frank's Pizza to tally our purchases and plan our next stop.
You didn't think there would be more?
The PA Fabric Outlet, which has a store in Philly and a few other locations, is based (I believe) in Lancaster, PA, which just happened to be on our way back home. Unfortunately, I forgot to take any photos inside but it is a big store famous for its notions and trims. They also have plenty of fabric.
I couldn't resist two more knits, an orange red medium-weight knit that will make a nice top in a fiery color to keep me warm through the winter, and a purple wool-blend (based on my burn test) knit for $7.97/yd. You really can't beat that price. It will make a great t-shirt dress, though I am contemplating other uses for it.
I also stocked up on notions. The best find was this elastic reflective piping for athletic-wear at 25 cents/yard. That is a crazy price for this notion. They also had pinchy toggle cord stops in a bag of about 24 for $3!!!! It costs $3 for two of these at Joann. Lisette and I split a bag. I also picked up some zippers from the 8 for $2 barrel (plus two more "by the each").
Then it really was time to get home. I managed to heave my suitcase onto the train, two metros, and finally made it to home sweet home, exhausted but entirely pleased.
All photos are here.