Contributed by Jessica Bartram
Designer Fabrics is a Parkdale landmark, a mecca for those who make their own clothes or are planning an interior design project. Its massive size and mind-blowing selection sets it apart from all the other fabric stores in the city.
My first time in the store I was searching for the perfect fabric for my prom dress, which I'd decided to make myself since none of the designs in stores at the time appealed to me (taffeta's not my thing really). Upon stepping through the door I was stunned by the sheer variety of fabrics staring me in the face. There was upholstery fabric, from simple solids to ornate brocades, rolls upon rolls of cotton prints and rooms devoted to trimmings - buttons, tassels, ribbon, lace, you name it it's in that store.
And that's just the downstairs - once you wade through the yards of fabric piled high in the ground floor you'll find a narrow staircase that takes you up into another seamstress' dream. Every price range is catered to - you'll find solid-coloured cotton broadcloth and some acrylic fabrics coming in well under $10 a yard, while the glass cases on the walls boast one-of-a-kind beaded and embroidered silks along with other fantastic designs, one of which was being sold for almost $800 a yard.
The salespeople are knowledgeable and efficient, getting you your seven yards of rayon or three yards of raw silk with little delay. I was once lucky enough to get a half-hour lesson on how to make a bias-cut skirt by one particularly kind employee, though I don't believe that's common practice - I think she was just shocked I was attempting to make a dress without knowing the proper way to cut out and sew the skirt.
Designer Fabrics is always bustling with people, some who obviously have a very specific goal in mind and are marching around the store collecting the ideal puzzle pieces to help their project come together, some, like I tend to do, just wandering through the aisles upon aisles of beautiful fabrics looking for one that just might become my next great dress.
Oh, and I did end up finding my ideal prom dress material and yes, the project worked out and I wasn't forced to buy myself a taffeta horror from the local mall.