Saturday, July 17, 2010

International fabric shopping

I was on vacation recently, visiting family in Montreal. I had the opportunity to go check out the fabric district. Sadly, I did not have a camera--I forgot it at home, and my cell phone only works inside the United States. I used this post from the Selfish Seamstress for recommendations for where to go. I had clear goals in mind: I wanted knits to make simple dresses and/or shirts out of, and I was hoping to score some cheap windbreaker fabric for Teresa's coat.

Did I ever accomplish my goals! I scored slightly over 3 meters of this lovely gray knit, which was on a clearance table for $1.98/meter.

I bought 3 more meters of this stripe, which I love and the rest of my family isn't so fond of, for $5/meter.

Those two fabrics came from different stores, and I don't remember the name of either store. I'm sorry. I also got windbreaker fabric! It's blue with adorable polka dots. I wish it were a fabric I could make a dress out of! This was quite reasonable too, at $5/meter. I do remember which store that came from, I think--it was called St. Hubert or something along those lines. And it was enormous and on a corner. Sadly, I haven't got a photo of the windbreaker fabric. It came home from Montreal in a box of books (I did much more book acquiring than fabric acquiring) under the back seat, and my mother has requested that the books stay in the car until such time as we have the ability to deal with them well. And apparently shoving the box under my bed (there is no free shelf space in my room at all) does not count as dealing well.

While I was doing this shopping, I got a chance to try out my loser French. I realized as soon as I climbed on the metro that I should have looked up some of the phrases you never learn in French class, but are oh so useful for fabric shopping--"Is this dry-clean only?" "Can you tell me whether you sell any cotton knits?" "Can you tell me how much this costs? (Okay, so I probably learned and promptly forgot that last one. Ahem.) I did know how to say a few things in French, and I would say I spoke English in only about half the stores. Which I consider pretty good. My greatest success was the time I asked for three meters, and the lady at the cutting counter said that there were slightly more than three meters, and I had to buy it all. And I understood her!

My greatest failure was when I walked into a different store and the man behind the cutting counter said something utterly unintelligible. I gave him what I assume was a very blank look and said, "Pardon?" He slowly repeated himself: "Comment ca va?"* Oops. I hastily racked my brains for how adverbs worked and triumphantly replied, "Bien!" He laughed and said, "You speak more English than French, eh?"

*This means "How's it going?"

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