Fabric in Boston: Winmil Fabrics and Sew-fisticated

It’s a good thing I bought fabric in Boston, or this would be a picture-less post! After losing my photographs to a tragic ‘Card Read Error,’ one of my first thoughts was that I would have no pictures for my Fabric Shopping on Vacation posts. It was almost as sad as losing all of our actual vacation photos. No evidence of us visiting Harvard or riding Codzilla (driven by an American Idol contestant!) no Boston skyline by sunset as we did the Duck Tour, no photos of us at Cheers where everyone knows our name. No sunset pictures of the Washington Monument, no pictures from Washington, period!

But I’m not going to dwell on things I can’t fix… at least I have the memories, right? (That’s actually one of my biggest worries, is forgetting the wonderful times we had, if there are no photos to remember the trip. I feel like I’m constantly forgetting things, and it’s nice to have photos to trigger the memories. Even when we were away, we’d look back through the photos and be amazed at how much we’d already seen and done…)
So – back to the Fabric Report!

I don’t have a ton to say about Winmil Fabrics. I didn’t buy anything, and while prices were good, there wasn’t much that called to me. (Ever have that happen? You’re all geared up to buy stuff and yet you walk out with nothing.) And since I don’t have any photos to share, let’s move on.

Sew-fisticated was fairly easy to find even though I didn’t check the directions before venturing off on the Green Line to Lechmere. (Leech-meer if you’re wondering how it’s pronounced, that’s how the subway voice said it!) The subway system in Boston is so easy. We bought 7-day passes so we could ride as much as we wanted, and I’m sure we got out $15 worth and then some. There’s maps in every station, maps on every train, and even the walls are painted the colour of the line. Green wall = green line. So easy!

Anyhow, when you get off in Lechmere, just walk down the hill and eventually you’ll find a shopping centre about 10-20 minutes down the road. Sew-fisticated is in the shopping centre next to T-mobile and Dunkin’ Donuts (which I’ve figured is the US equivalent to Tim Hortons.)

At first, I wasn’t too excited by the front-of-the-store selection of polyester prints.. but if you venture further in, the fabrics get better. Silks at excellent prices ($6 to $9 a yard!) and wools starting at $1.99/yard. Yay! I took probably 50 sneak-photos but sadly they’re gone. My favourite was the sign telling you to cut your own trims. Help yourself!

Here’s what I bought, all at awesome prices for good quality. Totally worth the trip!

Sheer silk chiffon print, pretty and only $6/yard. Ok, I don’t usually sew with sheers that often, but I LOVED the turquoise-ness of this one. I’ll make it work.

I was iffy about this purple and lime silk charmeuse print but I’m glad I bought it. It’s a great fall-like print and yet so soft and pretty! If I remember correctly this was $6/yard too.

Oooohh..I love this silk print. I’m not totally sure what to do with it due to the wide stripes of print but I had to have it! Probably a dress. This one may have been $9/yard but maybe it was only $6 too. Either way, a total deal!

This luscious 100% wool in cherry red was only $5/yard! Can you believe it? It’s slightly thicker and has a bit of a texture to it. There was a fantastic section of woolens, the blends were all $2.99/yard and the pure wools were $4.99. I was originally thinking Beignet but maybe a little fitted jacket would be nice, it’s definitely thick enough for a jacket or coat.

I also picked up this bluish purple wool as well, for a skirt or perhaps a dress.

And this nice lightweight 100% wool pinstripe, I’m thinking pants. Even though I have yet to sew a successful pair of pants.. this fabric would be perfectly elegant! (I bought enough yardage to make a test pair first.)

I know summer’s nearly over, but this white cotton eyelet was so pretty! I thought the pattern was cool and a little different and the price was something around $3 per yard.

The best part of Sew-fisticated? The conversation I overheard between the manager (I’m guessing) and an employee. It went something like this: (Names are made up. I hope I’ve captured the spirit of the conversation properly!)

The manager is standing at the cutting table and cash register, working out the schedule for next week with the other fabric cutting girl.
Manager: What happened to Suzie?
Other employee: I think she quit.
Manager: What? Why didn’t anyone tell me? Here, I’ll call her.
(Manager picks up phone, dials.)
Manager: Is this Suzie?
Manager: Why’d you quit? What, you don’t like us?
Manager: Well, we don’t like you either!
(holds up the phone to the other girl cutting fabric)
Hey, Suzie says she doesn’t like us!
Other girl: Well we don’t like her either!
Manager: See, Jill doesn’t like you either! And none of the customers do either.
(Customers are either looking confused (me) or laughing (everyone else).
Manager: What, you have an interview already? Well I hope they don’t hire you. Does your mother know you quit? Aren’t you going back to school soon anyways?
(She listens, then continues.)
Manager: Well, I hope you don’t get the new job. And if you do, I hope they don’t give you any hours.
(Conversation continues like this for another minute or two, then the manager ends the call and goes back to the schedule.)
Hey, we had Suzie on for tomorrow. Jill, can you work tomorrow?
Jill: No, I have to drive my sister to the airport.
Manager: Darn. Ok, I’ll call Suzie.
(picks up phone, dials.)
Manager: Suzie? Hi, it’s Sew-fisticated again. You need to work 10-4 tomorrow, ok? Yes, and then you can quit. Ok, bye!

Isn’t that quite a funny conversation to overhear? It felt very laid-back, like I’d just dropped by my neighborhood fabric store and everyone knows everyone. (Probably they did and I was the only outsider.) I’d hang out in there just to see what happened next.
Prices were unbelievable, quality was good (lots of silks, wools and linen) and it was easy to find things. No mirrors, which is always a peeve of mine. I like to see what fabrics might look like wrapped around me like a dress. At these prices though, if purple isn’t my colour when I get home, it’s not a big loss.

Anyways, there they are, the latest additions to my fabric collection. I’ll write about my trip to G Street Fabrics next – with photos!


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19 Responses to Fabric in Boston: Winmil Fabrics and Sew-fisticated

  1. Kati August 25, 2010 at 6:30 am #

    OHHHHHH Tim Hortons!!! How I miss it! Dunkin’ Donuts can’t hold a candle to Tim Hortons. I did find one Tim Hortons in the US, and it was fantastic, its in NYC near Rockafeller Center. I need to get myself to Canada for donuts.

  2. Amanda S. August 25, 2010 at 7:49 am #

    I love all your purchases, especially the first two. Did you think about maybe a bias skirt with that striped silk print? It’s always hard for me to come up with a patten for a wide stripe. I hope I didn’t scare you too much about the silk chiffon. The one you bought is lovely. Just steer away from bias binding and you probably won’t have any trouble. :) Sorry about your lost pictures!!!

  3. sulovessew August 25, 2010 at 10:04 am #

    Welcome back, surely miss seeing your FOs. Thanks for the fabric hauls post, they are so inspiring and can’t wait to see what you are going to sew with them.

  4. Whitney August 25, 2010 at 10:15 am #

    That phone conversation was awesome. And just so you know, Tim Hortons is SOOOO much better than DD! I went to Toronto last summer and had Tim’s every day I was there, and I don’t even eat doughnuts at home!

  5. Tasia August 25, 2010 at 10:22 am #

    Go figure – I write a post about fabric and you guys end up talking about doughnuts :)
    I’m a big fan of Tim Hortons myself though! I love their steeped tea. I know, it’s a weird thing to crave. Maybe a honey cruller now and then too :) Guess where I’m going for lunch now!
    @sulovessew: I know, it’s been AGES since I sewed anything. I promise, more FOs coming soon!
    @Amanda S.: No you didn’t scare me, I was scared already! Haha. The style I have in mind for the silk chiffon has bias binding on it too but the way it’s constructed is much more simple than your gorgeous dress.

  6. Erin August 25, 2010 at 11:38 am #

    Great fabric choices! Especially love the first and last ones. That eyelet IS different and just beautiful! Reminds me of the hefty roll of 6″ eyelet trim I found at the thrift store last week. I didn’t buy it only because the embroidery was brown, not white like the rest of the fabric and I didn’t want to bother with dyeing it. Now I kind of wish I had grabbed it!

    One thing I’ve noticed about myself since I started sewing on a regular basis is I’m much more picky about what a buy. I know what I’ll use and what will end up in the pile for months on end, haha!

  7. Maureen August 25, 2010 at 2:45 pm #

    Welcome back from your trip! Thank-you for sharing pictures of your purchases with us. I can’t decide which of your fabrics I like best – Maybe the purple and lime – definitely, the red wool! I’ll be eager to see what you create with them.

    The white eyelet reminds me of an African wedding dress I bought at the thrift store – there has to be about 8 meters of fabric in the dress (which includes a train and a wrap). I have no idea what I’ll use it for – but with that much fabric the possibilities are endless.

  8. Renay August 25, 2010 at 2:51 pm #

    eeep I love the purple print!

  9. Tasia August 25, 2010 at 2:56 pm #

    Oh good. I’m happy to hear you all like the purple print! I was debating whether I liked it or not, and in the end I went for it. Your feedback is reassuring me that I made the right call :)
    @Erin: And I’m the opposite, the more I sew the more I justify buying more fabric, even if I don’t know what it’s going to be! It’s like having a blog gives me an excuse to stockpile fabric. Oops.
    @Maureen: Oh cool, I love the idea of refashioning thrifted items! It means you can thrift-shop for any size if you’re planning to use it just for fabric. Hm, that’s a good idea for a post (and for a visit to the local Value Village…)

  10. The Sew Convert August 25, 2010 at 7:22 pm #

    I love the first two prints, the cherry wool and the lovely eyelet fabrics. Great choices!

  11. Greta August 25, 2010 at 7:55 pm #

    tell me what you mean by “I was originally thinking Beignet”. I googled it and, speaking of pastries, found a New Orleans-style puff (the specialty, I now remember, of Tianna in “The Frog Princess”). Anyway, I LOVE that wool. You are fortunate to have striking enough colors to wear it. If I put it on, my face would fade into the far horizon. I also love both purple prints, and the purple silk and the eyelet. The prices are insane. I spent one day last week fabric shopping in NYC and blew a modest wad on full-price (but fabulous) yardage at Elegant Fabrics on 40th btwn 7th and 8th.

  12. Tasia August 25, 2010 at 8:44 pm #

    @Greta: Oh, sorry about that, now that I read it back that does sound pretty vague! Beignet is the name of a skirt pattern by Colette Patterns.
    Here’s the link to check it out:
    It should make sense now! I know, the prices were insane. I almost wish I’d bought more!

  13. Brumby August 25, 2010 at 11:45 pm #

    Oh I LOVE that cotton eyelet! And what a bargain price! I have a few ideas in my head for cotton eyelet garments for summer, but cannot seem to find any nice ones here. I am green with envy!
    Welcome back though, and look forward to seeing your dresses etc for SSS too!

  14. Monetm August 26, 2010 at 7:51 am #

    FYI..they probably weren’t joking at Sew-Fisticaed. The manager there is one of the scariest people I’ve ever met. I will e-mail you a particularly disturbing story involving a small child who was lost in the store once.

    I wish I had known you were coming here…I would have introduced you to the amazing owners of Winmil and taken you around!! I am so sad. Looks like you got some great deals, though!! I can’t wait to see what you make.

  15. EL August 26, 2010 at 1:02 pm #

    Ah, sew-fisticated…. Stuff (and staff) changes there all the time. Glad to see you found something you like.

  16. Margie August 27, 2010 at 9:11 am #

    I’m glad you were able to get to Sew-Fisticated! I buy all my fabric there and love the prices. Also, the stock changes regularly, so each time I go I feel like I find new treasures. I’ve never been to the one in Cambridge though, since there’s another in Dorchester right near my home.

    I have eyed the striped silk several times myself. I love the colors and the design. But, I’ve never bought any cause I have no idea what to make with it, and too many unfinished projects to come home with something I don’t have a plan for.

    I’m glad you had a good time in Boston! I’ve lived here for 6 years and think I may be the city’s biggest fan :)

  17. Audrey August 27, 2010 at 12:35 pm #

    Thanks for the reviews of Winmill and Sew Fisticated. We are thinking of making a road trip to Boston at the end of the month and I was looking for some leads on good fabric stores there. Those are some lovely fabrics you bought. I am always a sucker for red wool fabric; the color and the texture, nice! I was in Toronto for work a couple weeks back and every morning someone stopped by Tim Hortons and bought in several boxes of donuts and muffins for the work team. They were yummy, but not low cal.

  18. amber August 30, 2010 at 9:08 am #

    You totally scored in the fabric department. :) That fabric store convo is too funny – thanks for sharing it with us.

  19. shadi June 1, 2013 at 6:53 pm #

    Hi Tasia
    I just discovered your blog. I am born sewaholic again !!!! I sewed for many yrs and quit and back into sewing again. I live in Boston and I felt that I wrote the story myself. Everything you said about Winmill and Sewfisticated is true. I have my own stories about sewfisticated myself which is along the same line as yours.
    I loved your fabrics. I hope you loved what you make out of them. I love to see pictures of your creation out of these fabrics.
    many thanks for having this blogs and nourishing our appetite for sewing.