Shopping blog featuring products made by people not factories.
The number one question people ask me about the things I make is: where do you get your fabric? I’m happy to say that my primary source is a local chain of fabric stores with deep roots in Washington DC: G Street Fabrics.
With three sprawling stores in the DC area, G Street easily rivals the best stores in any major city with a garment district.
Founded in 1942 by the Greenzaid family, my favorite fabric emporium started out as a humble side business. Family patriarch David Greenzaid moved to Washington, DC from New York City during the Depression and sold bolt ends and various notions to the city’s tailors as a way to make ends meet. The business slowly grew, until a tiny storefront sprung up on 11th and G Streets, called simply enough: G Street Remnant Shop.
The original store closed briefly in the 1950s, but was reopened by David’s son Judah at 805 G Street. Many of the stores’ current customers still remember that storefront fondly. The original store was only 100 square feet, a far cry from the current 20,000 square foot flagship store in Rockville, Maryland. The Rockville store opened in 1983 when the DC location could no longer contain its massive collection. As the business continued to expand, second and third stores opened in Centerville, Virginia in 1994 and Falls Church, Virginia in 1999, easily matching the Rockville store’s size, as well as variety and quality of fabric and notions.
All three stores in the area now sell much more than just remnants and notions. Each store has several huge departments covering all the major fabric categories: quilting cotton, upholstery and home decorating, evening wear, denim, knits and other fashion fabrics, men’s suiting, and of course, bridal fabric.
And the abundance doesn’t stop there. G Street also has extensive collections of sewing patterns from both major and obscure pattern companies, a very well stocked sewing machine department featuring Bernina brand machines, and an absolutely huge notions department. Next time you need a button shaped like a bumble bee or tangerine ball fringe, there’s only one place to go!
The best part about G Street, aside from the incredible variety of fabric and sewing goodies, is their extremely knowledgeable and friendly staff. I shop regularly at all three stores, and employees never fail to ask me what I plan on making with the fabric, ribbon, or whatever I happen to be buying. Additionally, G Street maintains a very long and varied curriculum of sewing, quilting, and home decorating classes at all levels. Not only can you hire their experts to recover your couch for you, you can also take a class there to figure out how to do it yourself!
Judah Greenzaid and his sons still own all three stores, and “Mr. G,” as he is called, still works on sourcing fabric for the stores, and even staffs the cutting tables at the Rockville flagship. All three stores are open seven days a week, 10:00 am to 9:00 pm Mondays through Saturdays, and 11:00 am to 6:00 pm on Sundays. Visit the web site to view the class schedule and other events.
Nathan Vincent: My work explores gender permissions and the challenges that arise from straying from the prescribed norms. It questions the qualities of gender by considering what constitutes masculine and feminine. It critiques stereotypical gender mediums by creating “masculine objects” using “feminine processes” such as crochet, sewing, and applique. [More…]
Allison Taylor’s story as a crafter begins in a familiar way: she first learned to crochet at her grandmother’s knee at the tender age of six.
Despite her grandmother’s considerable skill as a fiber artist, not to mention her infinite patience, crocheting didn’t quite stick with Allison that first time around. Six year olds aren’t famous for their attention spans, so it’s not really that surprising!
It wasn’t until much later when Allison was a college student that she picked up crochet hooks and some yarn again. Although she had never gotten into the knitting, crocheting, sewing, and other fiber arts that her grandmother had mastered, Allison had always admired her grandmother’s talent and skill with needles, yarn, and fabric.
When her grandmother became ill and was no longer physically able to craft, due to side effects of a stroke, Allison was inspired once again to take up the craft she had not been able to master as a little girl.
She made her grandmother a blanket, to show her how much she appreciated her, and how impressed she had always been with her fiber skills. Blankets are still Allison’s favorite thing to make, and friends and family can count on one for a gift whenever there’s a wedding or baby on the way.
Allison was “hooked” on crochet from then on, and turned her hobby into a side business with her Etsy shop that opened in 2008. Although she has a day job unrelated to crafting, it in no way diminishes her fierce love for making.
The best part for Allison is having strangers own something she made with her own hands: “It’s a way of sharing something tangible with people across long spaces, which is so rare,” she says. “It’s really exciting and touching, and I never get over it.”
She also feels a connection to her grandmother every time she picks up her crochet hook, another feeling many crafters can relate to. The emotional connection associated with creating and sharing handmade goods is probably one of the big reasons handmade is so popular these days.
The most popular item in Allison’s shop is the best friends beanie, which also happens to be her favorite thing to make for the shop! Customers also respond well to her continuum scarves and continuum collars, with their unusual shape.
Like most of her creations, Allison let the continuum scarf emerge on its own, without too much planning ahead from her. Her general technique is to pick up her crochet hook and yarn, and experiment with different stitches until something she loves emerges.
You can find Allison’s crocheted gems in her online shop. If you see something you like but are fixated on a certain color, don’t worry because Allison loves to do custom work!
This week was the final episode of Lost. There are may fan sites where people hypothesize about the details of the show, like where the island is supposed to be. We know it’s somewhere in the Pacific, some say Bali. Jakarta is also a pivotal location to the storyline, so I thought I’d showcase some local sellers from this magical place. Oraber is an Indonesian painter and printmaker who studied painting, but has evolved her craft to doing mainly printing, especially woodcut. This piece is a great image of many themes within the Lost series, which I attribute to the mystical energy of this part of the world.
As designer Maria Theresa says, the clothes we put on can be inspired by our constant changing moods, and can inspire or subdue them. This dress reflects the ethereal nature of the Lost story, if I were on the island trying to sort things out I think it would be just the thing to don. The designer wants each piece to be an extension of the wearer and reflect who that person is.
This pillow is named the “Tree of Life,” and it called out to me as I sat and watched the final moments of the show. Jakarta resident, Kainkain, is a talented embroiderer who now calls design her fulltime job since she discovered Etsy. This particular design is a fitting end to this story. The tree is both delicate and stand sure, and as such, it is a perfect reflection of how each and every one of us experiences life, no matter what far corner of the earth we find ourselves.