Fabric Shopping on Holiday

And a pledge…

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Three weeks in South Africa, all over now until the next time.  I just hope it’s not another 5 years!  Now fabric shopping on holiday sounds like a fabulous thing to do, buy up all those pretty things you can’t get at home and grab those things that are cheaper elsewhere because of a decent exchange rate.  I really wanted to go with a fairly empty suitcase, to take full advantage of my situation, but I’d made so many lovely things for my Sew Seasonal Wardrobe that were begging to be allowed into the suitcase that I ended up with just 3 kg to spare!  Oops.

No matter, some stuff taken was to be distributed, so I thought I’d do my bit to help the local economy.  Now I must add that Mr Not-Compulsive tried very hard not to let me within 5km of a fabric store, but in the end he relented.  I was directed to a store/factory shop in Roodeport called Chamdor.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a large fabric store!  It was a warehouse!  Thankfully half was soft-furnishing fabric and half the dressmaking fabric was stuff I wasn’t interested in. There was a lot of fleece (going into winter), lycra and poly-blends.

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Trims of all descriptions and so many zips!
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The central aisle has end to end cutting tables, lined with anything you could want for your sewing project. Fabric stores with shopping trolleys – yes please!!

I saw a girl who was guarding a couple of rolls of border printed viscose & after asking nicely where she’d found them, proceeded to empty the shelves!  There were so many lovely colours and patterns, it was going to be a struggle to decide which couldn’t be left behind.  The price was R56/m, which I worked out to being about £2.25/m.  Man – how could I leave anything behind at that price!?!?

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The viscose I couldn’t leave benhid, I bought 3m of each, just to make sure I had enough!

Then I found the button stands and the trim and the zips and the threads and sewing machine accessories….  £55 later I emerged triumphant, two bags in my hands and a husband who kept saying, “I don’t know where you’re going to put all this.”

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The Three cats logo of Da Gama Textiles Shweshwe

And then I was good, oh so good.  I avoided all other fabric temptations until we got to the Eastern Cape.  Da Gama Textiles is based in that province and they are the sole manufacturer of authentic Shweshwe fabric.  I was going to have some to bring home, come hell or high water.  The factory shop is located outside of East London and boy was there a lot to choose from!  Original indigo sat side by side with teal and turquoise, greens, reds, pinks, oranges and browns.  This was going to be harder than I thought!

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In the end I bought a deep turquoise piece for a dress for Daughter No2, an orange circle print for Del and a striking red design that reminds me of Mid-Century Modern prints for a friend in Chicago.

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Shweshwe fabric from Da Gama Textiles
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This gorgeous blue will be a dress of some sort for daughter no 2

Now some of you know exactly what I have here, and others wondering what on earth Shweshwe is.  I could go into a huge explanation, but there are many sites you can find the information on, Meerkat Shweshwe sell many different ranges online and have a history of the origins of the cloth, Da Gama obviously have their background in the industry, and African Fabric have good information, as well as a huge range of coloured and original indigo Shweshwe for sale online.

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The 3 cats on the reverse of all authentic shweshwe. Beware of copies!

While we were at Da Gama Textiles, we did a bit of bin diving.  Da Gama print more than just Shweshwe.  There are big fabric bins in the factory shop full of test prints, seconds etc that you buy by the kilogram.  We had a little hunt for different pieces of mostly soft furnishing fabrics, and came out with a good selection of bits and pieces that I’ll use to make cushion covers, table runners and other goodies for the summer table outside.  And that was it!  Once we’d distributed all the gifts we’d taken to all our friends and family, there was plenty of room for the fabric purchases.  And 40 vintage patterns….

And now we come to the crunch.  I really don’t need to buy any more fabric this year.  No, seriously, I don’t.  So I made a pledge, and told Mr Not-Compulsive, so I have to stick with it.

Fabric pledge
No more fabric shopping this year!!

Now I have a fabric diet to stick to and things to make…

Author: Anne W

I love fabric, and sewing. And I could do nothing else but sew, all day, every day, if I could!

21 thoughts on “Fabric Shopping on Holiday”

  1. WOW.
    Cannot begin to thank you for thinking of me!
    Last thing I did last night was start researching this fabric, and first thing this morning sent you another email.
    Then I read this post and recognized all your sources & am twice gob-smacked!
    Oh my goodness!
    Thank you is not adequate. xx 💕

  2. I never thought about fabric in South Africa. I’ll be going to Cape Town next June for work and just looked online and there are many fabric stores in the area. I’ll keep my list and try to get in a visit or two!

  3. Your fabric haul looks great! I can feel my heart beat quickening just be reading about it! I’ll be going on my holiday soon, so hopefully I’ll have similar stories to tell – although I’m not quite ready for a 7 months stash diet – eeeep! I hope it goes well for you and your stash lives up to your expectations!

    1. Enjoy holiday fabric shopping! It’s addictive. 🙂 I hope the stash depletion esercise works well, after seeing my mother’s stash of wool I realised I had to do something about my fabric hoard.

  4. What a great fabric haul! Looks like you will have some fun sewing it up! I could NEVER make a pledge to not buy more fabric. Maybe for a month but 7?!! I would never be able to keep it! Good luck to you!

      1. Me too… I was just reading my post from a few months ago where I said I had 231 pieces of stash. And in the last few months I have probably added 50 more. (BAD) I need to sew faster…

      2. See, I haven’t even counted the pieces, let alone the lengths! I just know there are boxes and bags full of fabric, so full that the lids cannot go onto the boxes and the bags keep falling out of the cupboard in a fabric-avalance everytime I open the doors!

  5. OMG, seriously, who could have passed any of your purchases up! Such yummy colors…I have tried to make such a pledge but just can’t stick to it! May the gods be with you.

  6. I’m glad you had a lovely holiday. South Africa is on our list of places to visit. My husband has been and loves it.
    As to fabric, I do think you were very restrained 😉
    And you’re very brave to take the pledge. Good luck. I can’t wait to see what you make!

    1. It’s the most beautiful place, even after almost 20 years here in the the UK, South Africa is still home. As for restrained, there was only so much free space in the suitcase! 🙂

      1. My husband’s first wife was South African and he fell in love with the country when they visited. Even my little boy is desperate to visit. Oh…and I’d’ve just shipped the fabric! 😉

  7. Wow, I have fabric envy! How fantastic to have some lovely new stash to choose from, looking forward to seeing what you make. I think I may need to share your pledge too actually, that definitely applies to me. Sarah x

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