Friday, June 6, 2014

Fabric Show & Tell: Fabric Shopping Across The Border

With the floor outside my craft room still under construction (aka all my projects at a stand still), I thought it would be a good time to do a little show & tell of some fab new fabrics I picked up a few weeks ago.  The husband and I took a kid-free weekend jaunt across the border into Canada.  Amongst our other adventures, I spent a few hours fabric shopping. Soooo nice.  

I head over there at least twice a year and always score some great stuff I can't get around here.  Today I'm going to share some of my latest finds and the 411 on fabric store differences in the US & Canada.

Store Options:
Here in the US the big chain sources for most fabrics are Jo-Ann, Hancock, Hobby Lobby and Calico Corners.  In Canada there's Fabricland and Len's Mill Stores.

What They Offer:
Besides fabric, Jo-Ann & Hobby Lobby also offer craft supplies and home decor. Fabricland just has fabric & home decor items like bedding, throw pillows & drapes.  Len's Mill offers all sorts of fabric and craft supplies, but also carries overstock clothes, packaged food, toiletries and other random stuff (we've bought plastic vuvuzelas, garden spades and socks there).  

There's a bit of difference in pricing and I don't mean the exchange rate.  Here most quilting cottons are pretty inexpensive, but in Canada they can be $$$.  Like $14.99/yd for the same prints that go for $7.99/yd here. Same goes for Cuddle/Minky or Laminated Cotton fabric - upwards of $20/yd for low-end versions that would cost about $10 at home.  

However, knits & apparel fabric can be snapped up for very little in Canada.  I always find great stretch fabrics that would cost a fortune over here.  I found this fun blue & white interlock to make another wrap dress with and a unique textured green jersey and both were about $6/meter over at Fabricland:

The detailing on the jersey is really nice too:

For unusual knits, Len's Mill is my go-to place.  Warning though - they definitely don't spend much overhead on store design or pretty displays.  The one we usually visit is a giant warehouse with concrete floors and stuff EVERYWHERE.   Like a cross between a dollar store, hoarder's basement and fabric liquidator.  Some of it looks like it's out of a time warp from 1987.  Seriously.  What it lacks in ambiance it makes up for in hidden gems like this unusual pink & green tie dye ruffle fabric:

And this fun crochet chevron.  I think this would be great as a drape-y summer top over a tank:

Most fabric is sold by the meter (or should I say metre?) in Canada.  That extra 3 inches is a nice bonus.  At Len's Mill you can buy your fabric by the yard or meter and they have prices for both on each bolt. These beautiful textured knits were just $5/yd:

That store is also good for some hard-to-find or retired cottons, some at a pretty decent price.  I discovered these adorable prints from the Marty Loves Mars collection by Camelot Cottons.  Beyond cute:

I also loved these colorful apparel cottons (found at Fabricland).  Can you believe they were each only $2.74/meter after the exchange rate?!?  Insane!!!  At that price, I was able to grab a few of each. So many project possibilities with these...

It's a lot of fun seeing what's different between the two countries and findings things you can't get at your usual spots.  If you ever have the chance to visit other countries, definitely scope out their fabric stores. You may find some hidden treasures like I did! 


  1. Well, now I wish I lived closer to Canada. I am on a knit kick right now, but need fun prints in my life!!

  2. beautiful fabric, great finds! Let's all get together for a weekend in Canada!

    1. Thanks and I love that idea. I'm always looking for a reason to get over there and find some new goodies!

  3. Hmmmm! I live in Montreal and we don't and never had Lens Mills which is only found in Ontario. We still have Fabricville but the fabric is ridiculously expensive and unfortunately not many people knit or sew around here. Fabric and yarn if found, is a real luxury! So even if you get a good exchange rate you have to factor in the price of a passport to cross the border now at $160.00!!! Not worth my while to go shop in the states!!! LOL!!

    1. Not sure if Fabricville has different prices than the Fabricland sister stores in other regions. Like I said, apparel fabrics in the locations I frequent are good, quilting cotton, not so much. Less demand where you are could explain the higher prices there. Yes, Len's Mill is found in Ontario - they have 10 locations. There do seem to be a lot of small independent stores in Montreal from this list

      FYI - you don't have to have a pricey passport to cross the border - you can get an enhanced driver's license (it's offered in both the US & 4 provinces in Canada, including Quebec). For our state it's US$45 the first time and less to just renew every 4 yrs. I looked it up and for Quebec it's CA$40. Not too dear in cost!

  4. I love, love, love the chevron-like fabric. I'm hoping to find some like it - would you happen to know the name?

    1. I checked the selvages and they look to be exclusive designs for Fabricland/Fabricville stores. Put out by R.E.D. International Textiles (with no individual print names).

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