Three major challenges faced Piper Tupper when she tried to sew her own clothing in her 20s: she didn’t have her own sewing machine, she found the available patterns complicated and fussy and the finished products just didn’t look good.
“I thought apparel sewing wasn’t for me. But it wasn’t me, it was the patterns,” says Piper, who has owned Esther’s Fabrics on Bainbridge Island (established 1959) for the last year and a half. When she first took ownership of the store she focused on re-vamping the quilting section, and now she’s setting her sights on apparel.
When Piper first tried sewing apparel she used patterns from big sewing brands like McCall’s, Butterick and Simplicity, and inexpensive synthetic fabric from big box stores — the only options available to her at the time. These days there’s a lot more choice, and that makes for easier sewing and more fashionable results.
“A lot of smaller independent pattern companies have sprung up in recent years, and they’re available in more places — including at Esther’s Fabrics. The patterns have less pieces, simpler lines, and they’re drawn up with the sewist in mind. The patterns consistently produce more fantastic apparel,” she says.
Pattern in hand, sewists can browse Esther’s Fabrics’ revamped selection of quality fabrics that feel good against your skin — and look good too.
“I’m filling the store with modern prints, current colors, and solid staple chambrays and linens. Expensive couture fabrics are gorgeous but they don’t fit our lives in the Pacific Northwest. I find customers are liking our good quality staple fabrics that are more wearable and a joy to work with.”
Like many beginner sewists, when Piper was growing up she borrowed her mother’s sewing machine, and often relied on her mother’s guidance to help her decipher patterns. Now, Esther’s Fabrics can be that hub of knowledge and supplies for the next generation — complete with classes and sewing machines for sale.
What’s new at Esther’s Fabrics
- Sewing machines: The store now has a curated selection of Janome sewing machines for sale! There is also a long arm quilting machine available for rental, and machines for use in sewing classes.
- Apparel sewing classes: Along with their regular selection of beginner sewing classes, kids sewing, open-sew and more, this spring Esther’s Fabrics is hosting a selection of apparel sewing classes. Learn pants fitting, sewing with knits, and more. Explore all available classes at esthersfabrics.com/classes.
- Sew along to Design-it-Yourself Clothes: Patternmaking Simplified: Learn how to create and adapt your own patterns and make your whole wardrobe, following the guidance of your instructor and the popular book Design-It-Yourself Clothes. This class will run on four consecutive Sundays: Apr. 2, 16, 23 and 30.
Find Esther’s Fabrics at 181 Winslow Way E on Bainbridge Island, an easy walk from the ferry to Seattle. Learn more at esthersfabrics.com and follow them on Facebook and Instagram for news and inspiration!