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The Good Old Days - Remembering Old Fabric Shops

The Good Old Days - Remembering Old Fabric Shops

Old 06-25-2011, 08:40 AM
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Discussions about old fabric stores (long before they were called “quilt shops”) on another thread got me & my wife to reminiscing about who sold fabric back years ago when she started sewing as a teenager, what fabric was available at the time, and how fabric was handled back then.

She didn’t get to buy much new fabric, but when she did, it was usually at Woolworth’s. Once in a while, she may have bought some at the JC Penney store, but she remembers Penney’s more for the stairway that you had to go up to get to the women’s and girl’s clothing. It wasn’t a full two-story building, but had departments and offices up on the second level. It seems to me that it had those air tubes that the clerk put a ticket and your money into a canister and shot it up to the office. Your change and receipt would come swooshing back down in a few minutes. Similar to modern drive-in banks, but the canisters were metal and only about the size of a small juice can.

We have an old measuring/cutting table in our shop that has the meter mounted on the side of it from the days when fabric was measured and nicked with the meter, and then your fabric portion was ripped from the roll or bolt. We’ve never used it, but keep it set up just for fun. I found the meter along with two others up in the attic shortly after we bought the shop. The table or bench that it’s mounted on is 10’ long x 4’ wide x 2 1/2’ high, and has a storage area underneath.

Can you remember where you first bought new fabric?

For those who have never seen one, here’s a couple of photos of a fabric measuring meter.

CD in Oklahoma

Fabric Meter - Side View
attachment-216384.jpe

Fabric Meter Face - The large numbers are yards
attachment-216385.jpe
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Old 06-25-2011, 08:44 AM
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Oh I remember those meters....they used to use it at the Ben Franklin Store where i purchased fabric...a few years ago..LOL
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Old 06-25-2011, 08:44 AM
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i've sewed a LOT over the years and cannot recall the actual puchasing of the fabric. however, i remember going with my mother to buy fabrics. some were at woolworth's and remember the knicking and ripping method. we lived in an old manufacturing district, so my mother shopped a lot at their mill end outlets. it was mind boggling. i miss living near those :)
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Old 06-25-2011, 08:44 AM
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I remember buying fabric for my high school sewing project. Seems to me it was from the drugstore, but I could be wrong about that; Woolworth's was right next door. The fabric I bought was a large yellow plaid for a dress -- something I wouldn't dream of buying for a dress now! Remember the measuring machine in your pic also, and the nicking of the fabric, and the ripping.
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Old 06-25-2011, 08:46 AM
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My 1st fabric came from Woolworths when I was a teenager & I remember the meters as well.
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Old 06-25-2011, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by ThayerRags
Discussions about old fabric stores (long before they were called “quilt shops”) on another thread got me & my wife to reminiscing about who sold fabric back years ago when she started sewing as a teenager, what fabric was available at the time, and how fabric was handled back then.

She didn’t get to buy much new fabric, but when she did, it was usually at Woolworth’s. Once in a while, she may have bought some at the JC Penney store, but she remembers Penney’s more for the stairway that you had to go up to get to the women’s and girl’s clothing. It wasn’t a full two-story building, but had departments and offices up on the second level. It seems to me that it had those air tubes that the clerk put a ticket and your money into a canister and shot it up to the office. Your change and receipt would come swooshing back down in a few minutes. Similar to modern drive-in banks, but the canisters were metal and only about the size of a small juice can.

We have an old measuring/cutting table in our shop that has the meter mounted on the side of it from the days when fabric was measured and nicked with the meter, and then your fabric portion was ripped from the roll or bolt. We’ve never used it, but keep it set up just for fun. I found the meter along with two others up in the attic shortly after we bought the shop. The table or bench that it’s mounted on is 10’ long x 4’ wide x 2 1/2’ high, and has a storage area underneath.

Can you remember where you first bought new fabric?

For those who have never seen one, here’s a couple of photos of a fabric measuring meter.

CD in Oklahoma
i worked at JAY'S in Patchogue New Yrk, we had one of those measureing machines
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Old 06-25-2011, 08:49 AM
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The Joann's I just went to had one of those machines for measuring and knicking yardage too. I was very surprised to see it there.

I remember these in the fabric stores too, when I was younger. Woolworths, JC Penny's and Sears for fabric shopping :D:D:D
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Old 06-25-2011, 08:51 AM
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J C Penney's had fabric and the measuring meter when I was young and it was located on the second level, like a mezzanine because you could look out over the first floor.
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Old 06-25-2011, 08:52 AM
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I remember the meters, wonder why they are no longer used. seems like they would be faster and more accurate than the new way of pulling the fabric off the bolt against the measure on the table.
We would buy fabric at Woolworths and Penneys. Sometinmes Mom would order from the Sears and Montgomery Wards (She called it Monkey Wards!) catalogs, but not often.
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Old 06-25-2011, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by greensleeves
J C Penney's had fabric and the measuring meter when I was young and it was located on the second level, like a mezzanine because you could look out over the first floor.
Yes! Mezzanine! Thank you! That’s the term I was looking for.

I wonder if the mezzanine was a sort of trade mark of JC Penney Stores?

CD in Oklahoma
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