As a bit of a reward for getting the new website running and getting through the Thanksgiving shopping frenzy, I took a road trip to Fabric Row in Philadelphia!
The idea of a bunch of independent fabric stores all in one place is very novel to me. I first encountered it in Manhattan, which made sense because of the Fashion District. Where I grew up (Massachusetts) there were a bunch of independent fabric stores, but they were widely distributed like any other store--one every 4-5 towns. Not nearly as many as there used to be, with chain craft stores stocking cheap fabric.
After I went to Japan and found out that there was an entire street there dedicated to all kinds of fabric, I was like "Maybe this is a thing that exists in other places too!" and started Googling.
Turns out, yes! The closest one to me after Manhattan is Fabric Row in Philadelphia, and so it got onto my list. It's about 3.5 hours drive in no traffic, BUT I have to get through NYC, so there's always traffic. So went down on a Friday night, wandered around, left on Sunday morning.
So what was there?
It was a lot like The fashion district in Manhattan! Most of the stores were small with fabric rolls crammed into every corner, in a kind of fabric-y chaos that makes the mess in my sewing room feel airy and organized:
But not all of them. Like Manhattan, more established stores were a bit more orderly, though the general trend was more towards high end fashion fabrics vs dressy-casual type stuff.
The reason is, Philadelphia also has a few large fashion schools! So more haute couture business focus than people who just like to sew focus. Not really small doll friendly.
It wasn't a total bust though, I found some thin, unique, and hopefully doll-friendly fabric at one store, Fleishman Fabrics & Supplies. It was also the best organized, least claustrophobic store I went into, and the cutting minimum was 1/8 yard (vs 1 yard at most other stores). If I went back, I would 100% go to this store & probably just this store.
Remember, I'm looking at things strictly from a fashion doll perspective! There were several stores that would be great if you wanted suiting material or home decor fabric, along with all the runway focused stuff.
Besides that, though, I got some pretty good doll supplies! Just not sewing doll supplies.
I picked up a series of extremely fine tipped sable paint brushes from Games & Gears. What's so cool about these brushes? First, their sable series has a size 0000 detail brush (aka 'eyelash brush' for painting individual hairs on dolls). I go into every art supply store I see, and that's NOT something you find easily! The only other brush I have this fine is imported from Japan. Second, they're made cap-able, with a tip that comes off and can be slid into the hollow body for protection during transport or storage. <3
There was also a Blick art supply store in Philadelphia! I didn't even know they had physical stores! So I picked up some faceup supplies and made a horrible mess of myself in the pastels section (I to find the ones with the finest pigments! ...The employees helped me out with cleaning wipes afterwards. I wasn't THAT bad, but they keep them behind the counter. It's apparently not a unusual thing.)
Art supplies are a lot like fabric, IMO. Sometimes, you just need a bottle of whatever to replace the thing you used up, but nothing beats walking down the paintbrush aisle and looking/touching the bristles, or testing out the different pastel brands. Being able to do that saves at least as much money as shopping at online stores, and gets you a much better result!
So that's my weekend fabric/doll shopping trip to Philly--definitely some good stuff to be had that made the drive worth it!