Saturday, May 12, 2007

Treadle Yard Goods - a fabric store experience

Nestled in a quaint neighborhood in St. Paul is this small, yet fabulous fabric store. I had heard of the store, had met people who worked there, had sewn for clients who purchased their fabric there, but never actually went there.

That changed Friday afternoon when I found myself with a free afternoon and an appointment that left me only blocks away from the shop. A few months ago I had been given a rather large gift certificate to the store as a thank you gift. I've been waiting for the right time to visit the store and Friday was it.

The store has no parking lot so I drove around for a few minutes before locating an on-street parking spot. When I walked into the store on my immediate right were rolls and bolts of yummy silks and other fancy fabrics. On my left was a half wall of bright and cheerful cottons - some Amy Butler fabrics. In front of me were more bolts of linens and other natural fiber fabrics, a small selection of trims, thread, and other assorted notions. Button selections were scattered through out the store.

The altered denim skirt from the Spring 2007 issue of Altered Couture magazine was on display as either a customer or an employee had created it.

Before I left I picked up a copy of their class offerings and noticed that an altered skirt class is being held this summer. I might sign up for the class as it would be fun to interact with a group of creative souls.

There are other model garment through out the store designed to entice you to try both the fabric and the pattern. One summer dress in a polka dot brown linen made me think twice about a pattern I had purchased last year and then decided against making.

Traveling into the store, near the left front (on the other side of the wall of colorful cottons at the entrance) is a warm and cozy reading/sewing area situated directly in front of the large store window that overlooks the sidewalk and busy street outside. There are chairs to sit at and a table to place your items. It appears that area may be used for sewing classes. The walls surrounding the area are lined with cotton batiks, novelty cottons and other cotton prints.

As you move back into the store there is a limited selection of knits, but they are high quality. The rayon/lycra blends felt like silk, draped beautifully and I knew I wanted some. But at $20 yard I will go back to purchase some with my pattern and exact yardage in hand. My frugal nature won't allow me to purchase at that price "just in case I find a pattern I want to use it for." Although I just couldn't pass up a fun cotton/lycra knit print in shades of pink and coral.

The very back of the store has wools, sale items, and a small remnant bin. Again a limited quantity but great quality. Of course I had to look at the remnants and purchased a white cotton knit and a fun ladybug cotton print.

In the middle of the store is a large cutting/check out area that extends into a long sit-down counter where the pattern catalogs were located. There were comfy stools to use when browsing through the catalogs which included not only the Big 4, but many independent pattern companies such as Folkwear and Decades of Patterns. The sewing book and magazines were located in a short rack that extended the entire length of the pattern catalog counter. The selection was limited but high-end.

The sales staff are situated inside that large area where they are readily available to assist with cutting fabric or chatting with customers. I was there on a Friday mid-afternoon and there were four sales people working. I'll admit I was surprised that no one acknowledged my presence until I had been in the store close to ten minutes. I guess the hugs are reserved for the regulars visitors - and there appeared to be quite a few of them coming into the store.

The two ladies that did acknowledge me were very friendly and we exchanged small talk. They were available when I wanted to ask questions but were respectful when I was just browsing. I suspect if I brought in patterns and asked for assistance with fabric choices they'd be more than willing to share their opinions and expertise with me.

For a small store and a Friday afternoon, when many of us are working, it was a busy place. Not crowded, but always someone coming or going. Always a smile and a kind word at the cutting table for the customers. The question "what are you making" asked out of genuine curiosity not as a corporate policy.

I'll be back, gift certificate in hand ready to bring home some of the treasures tucked inside Treadle Yard Goods. Pin It

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