want to go fabric shopping with liesl?

If you were to ask me if I wanted to go fabric shopping with Liesl, my answer would be, “Well, not today. But thanks for asking!” But that’s only because I’ve gone fabric shopping with Liesl more times than I care to count. Heck, I’ve even been asked to go fabric shopping for Liesl.

That happened once (and only once), years ago when I was in Tokyo for work. Liesl asked me if I could find some time to do a little fabric shopping for her. “I don’t have anything in particular that I want,” she said. “Just find a great fabric store and buy me some Japanese fabric that you think is interesting.”

I did as I was told. I had a crafty colleague who directed me to a few good fabric stores. I spent the morning before my flight left visiting several, and I bought a bunch of what I thought was great fabric. I put it in my suitcase to take home, and I was so proud of myself when I unpacked it to show Liesl what I bought for her.

She was really kind about it, but her feedback on my purchases went something like this. “Oh, that’s a great print! I saw that at Purl last time I was there. Ooooo, I really like that one. They have that at Purl too. That’s a nice print! I bought some of that a while ago and still have it in my stash.” And on and on. One cutting after another.

So for me, personally, I learned my lesson. Liesl knows more about fabric than me. (Heck, she’s forgotten more about fabric than I’ll ever know.) And having me go shopping with her or for her won’t give me a warm feeling inside, and it certainly won’t earn me any bonus points with her that I can cash in later for a back rub or an evening off doing the dishes.

But I know lots of people who love going fabric shopping with Liesl. She knows all the places in the Garment District to get interesting things, and she knows so much about fabric that shopping with her turns out to be not only a fun but also an educational experience.

That’s why our friends at Creativebug asked Liesl to take them fabric shopping when they were in New York a while ago. And you know what? You can come along. Best of all, you get to do it for free!


Fabric 101 with Liesl Gibson


Creativebug has just released a new, free workshop called Fabric 101. In this workshop, Liesl takes you to B&J Fabrics here in New York to shop for fabric. She shows you a few basic fabrics that you’ll frequently see when you go fabric shopping, and she talks about what to think about when you’re shopping for fabric. Here’s how Creativebug describes the workshop:

There is a lot to consider when selecting fabric, from understanding the difference between woven and knit fabrics to grasping the fundamentals of drape. Liesl demystifies the basics, and then goes on to discuss the unique qualities of the most popular fibers available: silk, cotton, and wool. You’ll walk away from this class with a better understanding of what kind of fabric will work best for the project you’re making, and the confidence to experiment with new fibers.

There’s no cost to take the workshop. Just register on the Creativebug site, and you’ll be able to shop with Liesl!

But before you do, take something from my experience. Don’t try to buy her any fabric. She’ll be super-nice about it, but chances are she won’t really be impressed. Want to impress her? I can help you with that. Show up with chocolate. It doesn’t matter what kind or how much. Just make sure it’s chocolate.


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  1. Masha

    I was really excited about this, but it seems you have to give your credit card number and enroll for a free trial membership to view 🙁

  2. Participating is not an option, since I live slightly out of the region (The Netherlands), but this post had me laughing out loud 😉

    1. Ah, but you can join in virtually by watching the Creativebug video!

  3. Heck, I would go food shopping with Liesl.

  4. Haha, this is hilarious, Todd!! And thanks for the tip about chocolate. I’ll have to remember that… 😉

  5. Actually, I’m good with ice cream too. And Nicole, we could grocery shop for ice cream and have all sorts of fun!

  6. For those of you who wrote in about needing to provide a credit card, Creativebug has generously waived that requirement for the near future. All you need to do is register for a free account with them to be able to view this workshop.

  7. April

    Hi, Todd! I’m impressed that you were able to at least pick out fabrics she liked and were familiar with. I mean, you could have come home with an Anime novelty print, after all. 😉

    1. An Anime novelty print! I knew my assortment of fabrics was missing something! Darn.

  8. I just used 15 minutes of our precious internet time to watch this and it was excellent.
    So many great tips and I love the plug for wool.

    Thanks Liesl.

    PS Matilda (4) sat on my lap for the whole video and then asked when we were going there.

  9. Jennu

    Well, that was a lovely 15 minutes. A very nice basic intro. I wish it were available online without a membership b/c I would love to direct people to watch this instead of answering their questions. I just know that when I do, they will NOT want to become members. But their loss! 🙂

    I can’t wait for future installments of the different types of weaves… gaberdine, twill, poplin, lawn, etc. The existential fabric questions… what makes an X, x.

    I find that seeing it is so much easier to the understanding that just reading it!

    Now, I need to go there with a huge amount of money (when I find some in the couch cushions) in my pocket and shop.

    Oh and the white Liberty lawn with the turquoise flowers? That print was used in the Target Liberty line. This I know, b/c I have a huge scarf, something like 60″ by 40″ that I intend to hack into to make a summer dress for my daughter. 🙂

    Oh and Liesl, do you know of any great fabric shops in Toronto?

  10. Hi Jennu,
    I’m Kristiann from Victory Patterns, Todd asked if I could make some recommendations for fabric stores in Toronto. Here’s a few of my go to places in the fabric district near Queen and Spadina and just a few notes on each to give you some guidance:

    King textiles: (161 Spadina Ave) – Two floors with a large range of apparel fabrics, notions and trims. I love it because some of their stock is vintage from late 70’s and up, so you can find some fun prints. Prices are reasonable.

    Downtown fabrics: (436 Queen W) – You’ll find some really beautiful quality fabric here and the price reflects the quality, but he has some really beautiful stuff. You can wander around the basement too, if you ask.

    Designer fabrics: (1360 Queen St W) – The bottom floor caters to upholstery and it’s super organized. Upstairs you’ll find apparel fabric with a large range in quality and price.

    Leo’s Fabrics: (400 Queen W) – Has a good variety of both causal and formal fabrics, very good quality.

    Chu Shing: (440 Queen St. W) Beautifully organized with a great selection of silk chiffon and silk charmeuse, lycra, and bamboo and tencel jersey in a large variety of colors

    Affordable: (531 Queen St. W) – Packed with all sorts of fabrics, very hard to navigate, but you might find just what you’re looking for.

    The Workroom:(1340 Queen St W) – They specialize in modern quilting cottons, liberty cottons, and have recently started getting in some beautiful chambray.

    MacFab: (755 Queen St E): Great for hard to find notions and trims, beautiful apparel and upholstery fabric.

    The Wool House: (454 Queen Street W) They specialize in, you guessed it, wool! It’s super organized and pricey, but they have beautiful fabric.

    Fabric by designer: (I can’t find the address online, but it’s near the Wool House.)This is discount basement store, he purchases fabric ends from designers, so you can find some really nice stuff here. You can generally find reasonable prices here.

    Utex Silk: (555 Richmond st building) Beautiful silk imports with a large variety of substrates, weight and colors.

    There’s a lot more shops in between the stores I’ve listed here, but on your search, keep your eyes out and you can pop in to find your own favorites.

    Have fun exploring, I hope you find some gems out there!

  11. Sarvi

    Wow, now I want to go to Toronto too!

    Many thanks to the folks at CreativeBug for sharing this. As a film nerd I appreciate how well it’s been shot and edited! Yay for quality sound and imagery!

  12. Luci

    Is there a list of Liesl’s favorite fabric shops in NY? I am planning a weekend trip and would love to be pointed in the right direction!

    1. Luci, Liesl made this list a few years ago. Most places are still in the same locations today: http://disdressed.blogspot.com/2006/11/ch-ch-ch-changes.html

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