Alex, I’ll Take Italian Wools For $600!

There are sounds like heavy rain on a tin roof while you’re safe (and dry) under it or the happy purrs of a kitten snuggling on your chest that trigger happy memories. And then there are sounds like a sharp pair of scissors ripping through a stretch of stiff Thai silk fabric that trigger all kinds of sensory stimulations. Better yet, it’s great to see and hear someone tear the fabric with their bare hands. I think I’ve written before that textiles run in my maternal family’s side so it’s no surprise that I’m wired to spot the different kinds of silk, cotton, wool or linen from about ten feet away. It also explains why I always have to touch every piece of clothing I see–but as much I want to, I try not to do that with strangers. Blindfold me and I can still work my way through a fabric mill just by touch or smell; and I have to confess I love the smell of silk as much as a crispy new dollar bill. It’s not a particularly useful skill unless there’s a Jeopardy category on textiles! Alex, I’ll take Italian Wools for $600!

Here in Dallas, besides loitering at the upscale fabric retailers, any hardcore professional or amateur seamstress would know about the fabric outlets around the once seedy Harry Hines area:

My mom, my sisters, and I are no exception. We’ve spent many weekends at these fabric stores, going on 20+ years, rummaging through countless rolls of fabrics and finding inspiration in trims, buttons, pattern books, and most of all, each other.

Over the years, some of these warehouses have remained the same. Some have changed hands, and others have morphed into million dollar businesses as wholesalers. Don’t let the industrial facade fool you; some of these outlets may look like shabby storefronts, but one of the owners pointed us to a map he has on the wall of the 30+ outlets he has around the country. We love it that these textile entrepreneurs love Dallas enough to make this city their headquarter because nowhere else can we find such a fabulous selection of silks and linens at such incredible prices. Prices that I honestly can’t match even in third world countries where the dollar may actually have a pulse.

Anyway, speaking of silk, these bins below, stocked with rolls of all kinds of silk, are what fantasies are made of for me. I may talk a lot about ready-to-wear pieces here at my blog, but at the end of the day, there’s no better creative exercise than to walk through a room of piles of fabrics and imagine what your mind and two hands could collaborate to produce. I’d like to think that Coco Chanel herself would know what I’m talking about :D.

How fantastic is this embroidered dragon on a roll of gray Dupioni silk? I’d love to use it as wall covering for my office or even on my bed headboard, and my mom thinks it’d be pretty on an áo dài… the possibilities are endless.


  1. larkie

    ^ yesss! i just went through my mom’s stash and got a ton of stuff. but now i have to wait till my next trip to asia to get them made. i wouldn’t want to wear the things i sew myself (nor would anyone want me to, lol) but i love to design!

  2. April White

    I used to sew so I can appreciate all these fabrics. Thanks for sharing. I know the feeling of becoming overwhelmed in these stores; your mind floods with inspiration, but then trying to choose ONE is impossible. That’s how sewing enthusiasts end up with a big stash sitting in drawers and no finished projects. Ask me how I know!!

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