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Toronto – Big City Notions

Last week I finally got to visit Toronto after years of flying over it and meeting friends for airport layover lunches!

Jenny in Toronto!
Jenny in Toronto!

There was so much to see and do, so we really had to narrow things down, with only 3 days to play with, people to see and music to hear! I managed to tour most of what Toronto has to offer to the sewing world. I visit the charming Kensington Market and even got to see the famous Honest Ed’s! My friend Erin picked up an old hand painted poster with ‘Cotton Leggings $6.99’ for me as a keepsake before the doors closed for good! Thanks Erin!

We got a tram to Queen and Spadina (aka the Design District) to check out the fabric stores. Folks tell me that this area used to have a lot more, but times are a changing so some of the wholesalers have moved out of the downtown area or closed down altogether. I still found a lot of shops that have stood the test of time. Some were easier to navigate than others.

My favourite (and the friendliest) fabric shop along this strip was Downtown Fabric. I picked up a gorgeous mandarin orange silk jersey to make a dress – hopefully before the spring… Most of the retailers were very welcoming and helpful and it was nice to see all the fashion students out gathering ideas for their projects!

Daniel from Downtown Fabrics doing the burn test!

If you’re not used to these kind of fabric shops, the choice (and level of organization) can sometimes feel a little overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, there’s a different vibe than our smaller shops here on Vancouver Island, but you’ll mostly be surprised at how friendly and helpful people can be when you open up a dialogue. You have to remember that many of these shops opened at a time when sewing was more common and people generally had more basic knowledge of fabrics.

Shopping tip – Take patterns out shopping with you in order for staff to be able to best help you. Patterns all include suggestions for the best results!

The Wool House – Toronto

The Wool House was pretty cool. The shop was so beautifully organized with wool and shirting stacked from floor to ceiling in the most orderly of fashions. It really takes you back to the days when folks were all having bespoke tailoring. I also loved the ‘Handyman Wanted’ sign in the front window!

 

 

 

I was so excited to visit some sewing studios on this trip! I managed to squeeze in visits to The Workroom and the Make Den. I picked up a rad bodysuit pattern from Closet Case Patterns from The Workroom (I will post pics once I’ve had a chance to sew one together!). The Make Den had an awesome leather studio upstairs and the gals working there were super friendly too!

For all you knitters out there, you have to check out Romni Wools (very friendly!!). It’s also on Queen Street and it’s a total dream! They don’t do a lot of classes here, but this giant space is literally wall to wall yarn.

Romni Wools – Toronto

 

Colourful yarn stacked on shelves
Romni Wools – Toronto

We caught up with our favourite Victoria milliner Tierre Taylor for some jazz at The Rex on Sunday night. She always looks like a million bucks! We do hope she comes back to visit soon as we miss her workshops here at The Makehouse. I have to say, her design work is really blossoming after a couple years in the big city, you can see her latest works here.

Tierre Taylor – photo courtesy of Now Toronto

On my last day I met up with Kristiann Boos – the designer behind Victory Patterns. We’ve been stocking Victory Patterns for over a year now, and it was so great to learn more about how Kristiann got started. We just ordered some more patterns, which should hopefully arrive in the next week. Come by and check out her line, we currently have 6 styles in stock (and more Lola‘s on the way!)

Kristiann from Victory Patterns
Kristiann from Victory Patterns

I really enjoyed my brief visit and there’s so much to see in Toronto for textile lovers! I’m only scratching the surface with this post. If you plan to visit, I can only encourage you to keep some space in your suitcase and spend at least one of your days touring all fabric and yarn stores (oh and the food… there’s so much good food)!

Next stop… London! Stay tuned for spring travels!

Jenny

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