Sunday, September 21, 2008

Pattern Review & Sawyer Brook

If you are a sewer, check out the PatternReview website. PatternReview was started by Deepika out of her frustration with sewing. She said she wondered why the garments came out so nicely in the pictures, but when she made them they never did. So, she reached out to the online community and PatternReview was born. I have been a member of PatternReview for a couple of years, but I have not been a full-fledged participant. One of the monthly emails mentioned a trip to Sawyer Brook (SB) Fabrics. With the demise of Fabric Place, I thought it would be a great chance to check out a new fabric source. A PatternReview member offered her mini van for carpooling out to Sawyer Brook, which is in Clinton in Central Massachusetts. How could I resist?

Hubby dropped me off in Arlington for the carpool. Five of us, who had never met before, headed off to SB. We rode out Route 2 to Route 495. The weather was beautiful. It was a crisp, clear, sunny New England day. There is no better place than New England when the weather is great! We drove past deep green trees and rolling hills. There were many roadside shops that are full of bright orange, milky white, and dark green pumpkins. The mums were in brilliant colors of orange, purple, red, yellow, and white. The scarecrows are out already, too! With all the rain, we had a cruel summer. I'm not quite ready to let it go, but I am enjoying early Fall.

We arrived in Clinton after almost an hour. Clinton is an old mill town, complete with brick buildings and railroad tracks. SB is in one of those old buildings. On the way up the worn wooden staircase, there were antiques such as a wicker baby carriage and an old school desk complete with a hole for an inkwell!). SB shares the second floor with an antique dealer so we saw lots of furniture pieces as we made our way to SB.

The SB space is made up of two rooms. We were set up in the anteroom. We were treated to pastries and apple juice as we waited for the trunk show. Barb, SB's owner, showed us their newest arrivals. SB sells fabrics of the highest quality for garments. I was impressed with how soft each piece was. Some of the fabric pieces were:

Liberty of London fine wale corduroy
Diane von Furstenberg double knit
Marc Jacobs rib knit
Jones of NY blends
Anne Klein blends
Anna Sui viscose -- colorful print
Oscar de la Renta tweed
Herr Wolle herringbone
Loro Piana (Italian makers of fine cashmere)
Nicole Miller metal blend (not metallic thread, but metal!)

Barb also explained some things about fabric. Viscose is a method of producing rayon and, most of the time, is a fabric that was made in Europe. Viscose can be considered a high-end rayon and is washable in most cases. Quality knit is harder to find in the states. It's very difficult to find high-end natural fibers.

After the trunk show, we were allowed to shop in the back room. The Sawyer Brook inventory is relatively small, but each roll of fabric is of the highest quality. The prices range from $12 - $30 a yard, 58"-60" in width. You will buy fewer yards because the fabric is wide. They have the softest denims and wools. They have any type of lining you might need in any color. The same goes for YKK zippers. They also have a button matching service. Yes, button matching! Barb explained that after working with a customer for awhile, based on the garment, they know what kinds of buttons to suggest. They also have a swatch subscription you can sign up for (at a cost).

I bought one of those soft denims and a cute, delicate conversational print decorated with dressforms. There were about 30 of us. I believe each one of us walked out with a little something in a green bag! In the email, Deepika asked each of us to bring the oldest garment we'd sewn. I didn't bring anything, since my oldest item is probably somewhere in California. However, many women did! One woman brought a wedding dress she'd made. Another brought a shirt she'd made for her son when he was little. There were dresses, christening gowns, aprons and even coats! The ladies of Sawyer Brook were so kind to let us come in and take over for a few hours. They opened the shop especially for us on Saturday -- they are not open on the weekends. Thanks so much, Barb!

After fabric shopping, we went to Meadowbrook Orchards in neighboring Sterling for lunch. There was much more than lunch going on there! I absolutely loved this place! There was a beautiful apple orchard behind the building and two gorgeous willows in front. The restaurant was full of people who'd gone apple picking. The restaurant was decorated like a country kitchen. There was an old farm stove, a potbelly stove heater, and an old-fashioned cash register. (These are all non-functioning, by the way.) We placed our orders before we left SB, so we gathered around and chatted while we waited for our food.

The food was delicious. I had a tomato and cheese sandwich on wheat and Thai chicken soup. Yummy! They make the bread and pastries on site. They also make pies that you can take home and bake! It would have been nice to soak in more of the surroundings, but it was already after 3pm and time to get back home.

All in all, it was a fun day of fabric shopping, sharing, good food and meeting new fabroholic friends. PatternReview will be going to NYC on October 11! If you are looking for the finer fabrics for garments, don't hesitate to check out the Sawyer Brook website! :)

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