Friday, June 22, 2012

The Shopping and the Spoils...

...the lowdown on the fabric and yarn shops I visited whilst in Italy and Paris.

First stop, Rome; and before we had headed off on our trip I had read about Fratelli Bassetti Tessuti in a really excellent review which is also on the store website, and from which I also borrowed the below photo of the store exterior since I neglected to take my own.
Fratelli Bassetti Tessuti
Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, n. 73 00186 Roma

Well, well.  Oh my.  It's rare for a fabric store to leave me speechless and incapable of waxing lyrical about the multitude of lusciousness contained within, but this one is pretty mind-blowing!
Just read Elaine's review to which I have linked above instead.  It's a goodie.
Rather lamely, I ended up buying only one piece of fabric.  Confronted with all that fabric; my brain started out exploding with possibilities and then went numb.  In fact, it was not until a few days later than my brain managed to process, and then belatedly began to kick myself.
But: and there is a but.  Along with all that fabric wonderfulness, went sky high price tags.  So I am not beating myself up too badly over not having bought more.
My recommendation; if you are ever lucky enough to be in Rome and have time to visit this store; do.  Despite the high prices, it is nice to get a little piece of fabric for a souvenir, just because.
I bought this citrus-y pinstriped linen.  It wants to be a summer-y dress, when the time comes  :)  Or something summer-y.  I haven't decided exactly.  I was thinking of limoncello and lemon gelati when I bought it.

Now, to Milan.  
I had googled fabric stores in Milan prior to getting here but came up with zilch.  Then one afternoon, sitting in a cafe watching all the beautiful people strolling by, I happened to catch sight of a girl holding a carrybag printed with the unmistakeable motifs of a fabric store; roll of fabric, scissors, measure rule.  Could barely contain my excitement.  Fortunately could make out the name of the store, and immediately looked it up and headed out there... pronto

(this photo by me)
Tessuti Scampoli
Via Lario, 14  20159 Milan, Italy02 6886493

Another treasure trove. Not as large, therefore not as fabulously and overwhelmingly stocked as FBT, but still pretty fantastic. Here the fabrics were heaps more reasonably priced yet still very high quality; and plentiful enough while not so much as to overwhelm. There is the ground floor section which is not very prepossessing; but if you wander into the back corner of the store you find an unobtrusive staircase, leading one down to the basement which is where most of the action is.  Here were leathers, pure Italian wool suitings, silk velvets, linens and shirting cottons, tonnes of other silks, metallics, cotton denims for jeans, some cashmere knits, a whole wall of jerseys, some synthetic offerings ... lots of stuff.
I got more excited in this store, buying two pieces.
Pure Italian woven wool, for which I paid the paltry sum of E15.49/m (A$19.38/m)  Only my fellow Australians will know what you would pay for this fabric over here in Australia.  It's OK, I will understand if you hate me.  I would too  :)

I also bought a piece of silk velvet.  It is hard to see from the picture, but it is black pile, on an intensely neon orange background, giving it a sort of chocolate-y glow in the light.  Pure gorgeousness, no?
The downsides to this store: they do not accept credit cards and are a cash-only business.  Plus; the cashier, perhaps not realising that I could understand Italian since I had only spoken with a girl downstairs, made a vaguely rude remark about "Americans" on our way out.  I couldn't be bothered going back and sorting him out.
My recommendation: definitely still worth trekking out there.

Now, to Paris.  Aah, Paris.  The day I popped out to Montmartre to meet Donna I allowed way too much time to get there and turned up at our rendezvous about three quarters of an hour too early, haha.  Easy tourist mistake.  So to kill a bit of time I wandered up and down the fabric store street and checked out this one, where I could not resist starting my fabric buying spree a little early.  I knew Donna wouldn't mind...  :)
Sacre Coupons
4 bis, rue d'Orsel 75018 Paris
closest metro stop: Anvers

Doesn't look very enticing from the outside, huh?  Appearances can be deceiving; this is a small store it is true, but stuffed to the gills with gorgeous fabric.  Prices, mediocre.  Not as cheap as Milan, not as dear as Rome.  I found here another piece of silk velvet; green pile on a pink background, giving it a mossy appearance.  This is one of "my" colours, so I grabbed it, thank you.
Donna and I went into a neighbouring store, the name of which I cannot remember, which had a mind-boggling range of buttons, and I bought: some charmingly wonky pewter ones, and some delicately carved copper-y brown ones... (it's OK, I did buy more than 3 each, this is just a representative sample)
I re-visited Sacre Coupons a few days later when Craig was at the conference, and bought a length of soft ivory, finely woven, pure wool; and which needs almost no input from me to make it into a perfectly gorgeous light and floaty scarf.  Cassie really really really wanted this one, but... so do I!  I might let her borrow it every once in a while.  If she's good  :)

Finally, Donna took me to visit L'Oisive The, a perfectly lovely tea-shop and knitting cafe. 
L'Oisive The
10, rue de la Butte aux Cailles ou 1, rue Jean Marie Jego
75013 Paris
closest Metro stop; Place d'Italie

Here I bought 4 skeins of hand-dyed French wool, in a shade of French blue, no less!  
I'm envisioning a little nipped-in waisted cardigan.  One day.  Soon.  :)  I have a few other little things that really should be finished off first.  But I will get 'round to it.  All of it.  
I will not suffer from thisfabricistoogoodtocutup-itis, I promise!


  1. Perfect souvenirs to remember your holiday and individually they're just beautiful. Look forward to seeing them all made up :)

  2. I can't wait to see what magnificent things you conjure up. I'm mossy green with envy but am slightly consoled by the thought of a trip to London next year. Think I'll pack light!

  3. Pure gorgeousness!
    I love your picks, and thanks for your fabric store reviews. Because, while I am dead jealous, I take comfort in the fact that I am actually not that far away!

  4. Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Lucky you! The haul looks great - I especially love the mossy silk velvet (sounds divine even). I have to say I get a bit overwhelmed when faced with a huge selection of fabric. At least you didn't come home empty handed (as if!).

  5. Thanks so much for that report! Not that I expect to get there, but I enjoyed seeing it vicariously. I love seeing what you bought because I know I will see all of these things made into beautiful pieces. You are nothing, if not consistent. :)

  6. lovely to see your purchases. When I was traveling to Italy frequently I wasn't sewing as much, so I was only focused on shoe shopping :) now I would be a fabric maniac. And the clerk calling you an American - funny. I have never understood why sales clerks in Italy disdain tourists who are in fact purchasing something! and speaking Italian I understand them - so I usually let them know I understand, just to see the looks. Oh well. your stuff looks dreamy and I want those buttons!

  7. Such lovely souvenirs! Won't it be nice to remember the trip while cutting and stitching these wonderful fabrics!

  8. Souvenir fabric is the best-I love tho use it and relive my holiday. Your choices are luscious!

  9. Lovely fabrics, and even better souvenir hunt story, particularly your eagle eyed spotting of a fabric shop bag walking down the street!
    I really enjoy sewing with holiday fabrics, it is like having a little bit of holiday all over again.

  10. What wonderful fabric shopping experiences! If the remaining hours in your trip were anything like the fabric stores, you had a very good time indeed.
    I'm looking forward to seeing the garments you sew up with these lovely fabrics.

  11. Great picks. I am looking forward to seeing how you use the velvets and can't wait to see the yellow pinstripe made up.

  12. Thisfabricistoogoodtocutup-itis sounds just like me! Great way to travel, fabric shop to fabric shop!

  13. He he, the first time I sew something on my own, it was from a piece of fabric given by a friend of my mother coming from Roma... And now I'm finishing my stash coming from Sacre Coupons & other Marche Saint Pierre. So you went to one of the favorite places I used to go when I lived in Paris!
    It's the first time I'm able to post a comment on your blog, I want to tell you I enjoy it very much!

  14. Lovely fabric and gorgeous wool! I love the colour.

  15. Lucky you. Shopping for fabric in Europe made me realise how much our fabric stores are adding on. I'm not sure shipping costs that much!!

  16. Violette, thank you so much for your comment, I have tried to reach your blog too but have been unable to so far. I can't understand why there should be a problem :S

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  18. I'm in the unfortunate situation of having to spend 6 weeks in Italy...

    I've been putting together a map of fabric shops in Milan, for when I finally get away from the mountains.
    I'll let you know how I go!

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