Shopping Adventure

This month, after planning all summer to visit fabric stores in Portland, Nancy and I finally found 3 days to escape.

We shared the driving and on the first day we hit 2 stores- Josephine’s and Bolt.

Nancy has bought fabric from Josephine’s in the past and it seemed right to visit the most expensive and exclusive one first. Besides the most luscious wools and silks they also have the ubiquitous Liberty cottons displayed like this on wooden cutting boards:


At $36-45 a yard and mostly teeny tiny prints, I was not tempted. Nancy bought some gorgeous brownish/burgundy wool for pants and some very cool solids for jackets.

Next we moved unto Bolt situated in the funky Albert Street neighborhood filled with cool shops and restaurants. Nancy found some silk for blouses and I bought 2 remnants of cotton. Now, I know some of you will just say, “Hey Mrs. Mole, those are just ordinary quilting cottons” but I rarely get out of my sewing room to shop so these caught my eye and they were on sale in the remnant bin…always treasures in those bins!fabric-1 There were lots of more Liberty cottons and natural fabrics and quilting cottons. We decided that what they need is a mirror in the main section of the store with better lighting for people who want to see the colors next to their skin.

For dinner we dined at Nostrana and Nancy introduced me to a Budino, a rich little concoction like a creme brulee but with a salted caramel layer. I was assured that if eaten after the Meatball Monday special, it would not add to my hips.

Day 2, we visited Fabric Depot in the morning and found they were having a 25% off everything sale. I found some lovely poly chiffons to make some sheer jackets/blouses. Nancy found some things as well and by the time we got them cut and priced, the check-out line was very long at the cash registers.

That’s when I remembered that you can pay for fabrics around the back of the store where they do the special ordering and mail order. We left the line and skipped around to the back desk and were out in no time.


Lunch was delicious at Pho Van and if you click on the link you can see over 100 photos of the location and the food. Stuffed to the gills, we left to find a Starbucks for a hot mocha before we set out to find the next fabric store.

If you have never been to Mill End Store, you owe yourself a visit if you are ever in the Portland area. This place is HUGE! Everything is laid out well and it is clean and bright and the clerks are super helpful. Nancy found some of the most unusual fabrics for jackets and a wool blend fabric for a long cozy robe. The prices were very good and if you are a senior, they have discounts every Tuesday morning from 9-11 am. Since we were there in the late afternoon, we missed out but the prices were so low anyway it didn’t matter.

I found another poly chiffon in these colors and it will look nice over a black tank top as the other one abovefabric-3

Day 3, we started the day with a morning walk to a darling little coffee house called Twenty Six. It was raining that morning and it would have been nice to sit inside to stay warm and toasty but as with so many coffee bars…it was filled with old coots/retired grandpas and their laptops. There were no tables open inside so we had to sit in the un-heated back patio. We thought they might have patio heaters but no such luck. We enjoyed our coffees and a blueberry scone while chatting with her daughter-in-law who lives next door.

Nancy wanted me to experience Helser’s on Alberta Street for a hearty brunch, so while waiting for a table we walked down to another fabric store/Bernina dealer called Modern Domestic. They have classes and lots of cotton fabrics and of course, Liberty fabrics. While being a light and airy store, we didn’t find anything that had to go home with us, so we browsed shops along the street before heading out for another Starbucks. You may wonder why we keep sipping coffee…are we caffeine deprived…well, no, but since I had no cell phone or internet connection, I needed their WiFi to download my email and daily edition of the UK newspaper The Daily Mail, my favorite read for gossip and politics.

Our last port of call was Cool Cottons on Hawthorne. slide_imageIt was in a darling pink house packed to the rafters with gorgeous fabrics. Nancy found some of the softest flannel for a night gown and I found a companion piece for my first purchase, the black cotton with blue circles.



Before dinner we wandered through a delightful garden shop called Garden Fever.ย  They had the most unusualย  collection of things for the home and garden and it will certainly be a place to re-visit next time. There were so many things to touch and think about.

Dinner that night was next door at Lucca’s on NE 24th Street. We had a small pizza covered with fennel sausage and a Caesar salad.

In the morning, we packed and headed home with our delicious new fabrics. Soon you will see what garments are created with Nancy’s fabrics. Mine will take a little longer as there are brides to finish before Jan 1.

Hope you are all catching up with raking leaves and getting the garden ready for the winter…I know Mr Mole has been very busy with his leaf blowing and leaf collecting for next year’s compost bins.


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39 Responses to Shopping Adventure

  1. mary anne says:

    loved the whole account of your adventures and like your fabric choices very much. wish I lived or had reason to be in that area! we are unfortunately past leaf blowing and final harvests here…SE Wisconsin got blasted with our first snowstorm…about 9″ at my door!

    • mrsmole says:

      My jaw dropped after reading about your snow already! It is the same for me reading blogs about fabric stores on the East Coast…those folks have all the advantages!

  2. Bernadette says:

    Mrs. Mole- I was so happy to read this post. It was very much a “Palate Cleanser” for you as much as it might be for your readers. You seem to exist in a Bridal Purgatory of sorts- like a Super Heroine ready to rescue the downtrodden and oblivious from the clutches of the Bridal Machine.
    I had one “close save” with a dear friend. She ordered her dress according to the rules of the house, which always involve a dress two or three sizes too big. My friend was quite upset, as the strapless dress was now not fitting after alterations, and the salon was pressuring her to “just take it, it was fine.”
    I accompanied her to yet another fitting, and saw the problem. The seamstress had overfitted the heavily beaded mermaid style gown to her slim hips, “booty-izing” the dress and causing the bodice to slip down and reveal unwanted cleavage. I pointed out the issue, and the in-house seamstress informed me that this was the style in demand by most brides.
    I gave her instructions for fixing the dress and explained that my friend was a modest, forty-nine- year-old first time bride who was to be married in a High-Catholic Mass, did not want a low-cut bootyfied wedding dress and it needed to fit her requirements, not those of the seamstress’s usual client. She finally agreed to fix the dress, and my friend looked like the angel that she is on her wedding day.

    • mrsmole says:

      Sweet sweet Bernadette…you are an angel saving your friend from booty=hell! You see what we have come down to…tight and nasty dresses that would make a poor priest blush! Your description of my life seems just about spot on…it does feel like Bridal Purgatory a lot, so getting away for 3 days was a blast of fresh air…I felt like a dog with its head hanging out of the car window…sniffing new smells and my ears flying in the wind!

  3. EasilyAmewsed says:

    This is helping me get jazzed about my day after seeing the Muse concert in Portland. I’m going to check out Mill End and Fabric Depot, which I’ve not had the chance to do in years! Maybe I’ll have time to check out one of those eateries you mentioned. : )

  4. mrsmole says:

    Wear comfortable shoes and bring money…those 2 stores are huge and you will be tempted to fill the shopping cart! The food places were all so different and the menus very extensive, especially the Vietnamese one!

  5. Nancy says:

    I love the Mill End Store. I’ve been shopping there since the 1970s, when they were located slightly closer to Portland on the same street. Fabric Depot is closer to my house and I shop there regularly. You should come sometime in the summer when they have their outdoor sale where you never know what you will find.

    • erniek3 says:

      I was going through the closet to pull things I no longer wear, and realized that none of those flops are from fabric from Mill End. Fabric Depot is wonderful, and I love how they embrace the Portland pattern history (and they’re just off the Blue MAX line), but Mill End is my lucky star. The pants I made in 1978 from this crazy print twill I bought there are still in the rotation.

  6. June says:

    Sounds like a fab trip! So glad that you had the opportunity for some “me-time”!

  7. fabrickated says:

    What a great adventure. It seemed to be as much about eating as anything else, which is just great in my book. I know what you mean about Liberty – the soft lawn cotton is really nice but most of the patterns are way too ditsy – and from a distance most of them turn to a purpley grey sludge. Or brownish. I love that blue and white one at the end. I think it comes in light grey, aqua and orange too. Anyway what fun to spend quality time with Nancy and just get away from mountains of white tulle and shiny stuff and be normal for a few days – nipping into coffee shops to read the Daily Mail! Good luck with those leaves! We seem to have gone from bare trees to snow this weekend.

    • mrsmole says:

      Shopping does leave one hungry and thirsty! Grey Sludge…perfect name for a motif…ha ha! We watched a documentary on Liberty a while back and it seems they can come up with some wonderful fabrics for home dec but continue to make the apparel fabrics in teeny tiny prints…such a shame!

  8. Now I am jealous. I need a fabric shopping holiday. I think it was August last I travelled for fabric! Too long! I am glad you had a good time!

  9. Ann says:

    I’d like to come with you next time! Ha ha – not possible. I live in UK.

  10. accordion3 says:

    What a fun time you had! Checking out beautiful fabrics with a buddy is always good.

  11. Sharon says:

    Lucky you! I am so jealous. A girly weekend away and oodles of fabric shops.

    • mrsmole says:

      But Sharon, you know we have to pay after we play…work stacks up and deadlines remain so it is all back to business once I got home. Trying to make some time to crank out a few new things with my new fabrics…we shall see!

  12. Tia Dia says:

    YAAAY! A well-deserved eating and shopping spree! I loved your post, meandering in and out of stores. Can’t wait to see all the pretty things you’ll make up for yourself and Nancy.

    • mrsmole says:

      You won’t have to wait too long, I am sneaking in my own things as fast as I can and Nancy is dropping off her fabrics tomorrow after pre-shrinking and drying them.

  13. Shari says:

    Cool Cottons is now on my list. Have loved Mill End forever. It used to be our second stop between the airport and Lincoln City every Thanksgiving (land, drop off flute, shop Mill End, listen to gronking husband who wanted to get to the rental house before dark…)..
    Alberta Street is wonderful! Bolt ws closed when I walked past, but a visit to Pencil Test bra shop and dinner at the Tin Shed were reward enough that day.

    • mrsmole says:

      You certainly live a lot closer to those places than I do and can take advantage of them! Husbands can be a real drag at times…they do have street lights for night driving!

  14. What a wonderful girls escape – and it involved buying fabric so even better! You have some nice pieces and I’m sure everyone will be interested to see what you have planned. Hope the freedom has recharged your batteries.

  15. Leslie says:

    You missed the Pendleton outlet near the Mill End Store! Close out prices on past season fabrics, lots of scraps and notions in bulk, along with blanket seconds and interesting stuff. But thanks for introducing me to Cool Cottons. I haven’t been there.

    • mrsmole says:

      Mill Ends had lots of the same Pendleton remnants and we were looking for lighter weight fabrics so we skipped it. At least I know where it is if I ever need nice thick wool. I have even bought the wool blanket binding on a roll and yarns from them online and on eBay where some of the remnants are sold.

  16. Bunny says:

    Now that’s my idea of a great time, fabric, food, friends and fun! I am jealous. How far of a ride is it from your home base?

  17. mrsmole says:

    Five hours for 300 miles…a bit of a ride for fabric, no?

  18. symondezyn says:

    I’m so happy you got a chance to do some lovely fabric shopping, and enjoying time, great food and coffee with a dear friend – you totally deserve it ^_^

    Really good idea to place mirrors near the Liberty cottons – I’ve never seen one that appealed to me – especially at the price they charge – but if I were I’d want to see them against my face; those tiny prints might look nice up close but not everyone can wear them well; they end up locking like drab old fashioned nightgowns ๐Ÿ˜›

  19. selina says:

    Fab that you got a break. You deserve it. Have to say I know a lot of people flip for Liberty prints and we’ll done them they are a great British tradition. I just can’t take to them. And they are so flimsy for the price of them. Back to porridge now. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Selina

  20. Valerie says:

    A road trip with good company to feel the breeze, buy fabric and eat..bliss! I am glad you had a good time. Thank you for all your Bride-Zilla stories throughout the year.

  21. prttynpnk says:

    Drooly- I am utterly drooly, reading this.

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