Those of you who have been reading along for some years might remember that last time I was in Chiang Mai I went fabric shopping with the lovely Gaye. Unsurprisingly, we lined up another day of shopping for this trip! Gaye kindly drove up from Lampang where she lives, and met us at Baanbooloo shortly after breakfast. Then it was on! We all piled into a songthaew and headed off to Warorot market.
We popped into a pharmacy to buy a couple of cold bottles of water. The pharmacist spoke good English – said to Dan “you Aussie, no tip!” with a grin and a wink. Then asked “who do you go for? I go for Bulldogs…”
Then it was around the corner to stop number one – notions. This shop was PACKED with notions. I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many in one place! You name it, they stocked it. I bought YKK metal zippers for my planned Ziggi jacket – a long separating zip and four shorter ones, all with nice zipper pulls – think the total cost was around A$6. Absurdly cheap.
From there we went around the corner to the Hmong market. All the components for making traditional Hmong clothing can be found there, as well as clothing already made. It is where the locals shop. I am sure that we are charged farang prices, but that’s fair enough.
We bought embroidered shoes here – for Clare, for me and for Stella. It’s hard to find things to fit Stella in Thailand, so she was thrilled with these. I also bought two lengths of pleated embroidered skirt fabric – but I left them behind! SOB! Either at the cafe where we had lunch, or at Baanbooloo. They are checking for me.
By this stage Louis had joined us, and took us around to one of his favourite fabric haunts. This place is a wholesaler but is happy to sell retail as well (I think that everyone is happy to sell in whatever manner provides income). They had masses and masses and masses of old textiles and new textiles and fabrics – but Louis knew to ask to go upstairs, which is where we found the motherlode and where Stella made herself a comfy bed.
Most of the fabrics don’t have prices on them. You take what you are interested in to the lady at the back counter, who feels them and assesses them then gives you a price. You then accept or decline. If you accept you tell them how much you want, then another person takes it up the front and measures it out for you. Then another person brings it back to the first lady, who totals it all up. She accepts payment – unless you want to pay by credit card, in which case another person takes you and the credit card around to a shop nearby to pay – another person does that transaction. Meanwhile someone else is packing all the purchases into a bag for you. Thailand has loads of staff in each shop – customer service is excellent!
These are all silks or silk/cotton blends (I like a bit of cotton in my silk – provides a bit more strength and ease of care). Clare chose the stripes for her, and the rest are mine! They are only around one metre wide, so I bought a fair bit of length. The green one is super soft and floaty – there are around twenty metres of that one! I also bought some yo-yo trim and a table runner.
We had lunch in the same upstairs cafe as the previous visit, and Stella repeated her previous effort of getting chocolate sauce all over her face when eating waffles.
We piled the rest of the family into a tuk-tuk and sent them back to the hotel with our purchases. Then Gaye and I continued on our merry shopping way. Some shops sold both ready-made clothing and fabrics, so it was always worth taking that second look past the clothes to see what other treasures might lie within.
Art By Hand was one of those shops – Gaye had sussed it out on a previous visit, and we discovered a number of lovely handwoven fabrics that were hard to resist. I bought a double gauze that was red on one side and navy on the other, three lengths of handwoven striped fabrics, and a length of printed cotton that was only 40 baht per metre (A$1.50). When we exclaimed at the low price the shop assistants said “not hand printed, printed by machine” – therefore they felt that it was extremely well justified. Five metres later I was happy!
I giggled at the models on these packets of hair dye. What were they thinking?
We found this length of Ikat at another shop. It’s around a metre wide, a couple of metres long. I am still trying to figure out what some of these skirt lengths will become. I figure that many of them will need to be pieced with other fabrics. Pattern suggestions very welcome!
And here is the fabric that I bought with a purpose. While I’ve been in Chiang Mai, Susan Kahlje has been teaching in Melbourne. I would definitely have been doing some of her classes if I was home – but that just wasn’t an option since we were away! Craftsy sent me a discount coupon since it had been a while since I had bought one of their classes, and they had just released Susan Kahlje’s Couture Lace Skirt class. So I bought the class, then the fabrics! We tracked down yellow cotton guipure lace, matching silk fashion fabric to go underneath the lace, and eggplant coloured cotton/silk for the lining (I’ll underline to provide support with something else from stash). Then we nipped back to the notions shop for a matching yellow YKK zip and I was all sorted for around A$40 total. Stay tuned for a slow sewing project later this year!
So that was our fabric shopping day! We headed back to Baanbooloo for some very welcome bottles of Chang.
Dan and the girls eventually joined us – they’d gone out for a massage while we were busy spending baht. We relaxed and chatted and attempted to solve some of the problems of the world while the girls either danced or texted.
Louis had recommended this restaurant Baan Rai Yam Yen for dinner, so Mr Veera kindly drove us there in his tuk tuk (and returned later to drive us home). It served Northern Thai food with live acoustic accompaniment. The band and singer were very good – songs were either in Thai or in English. We heard quite a bit of John Denver and The Carpenters. The food was delicious. It’s always helpful having someone who can speak some Thai to assist with ordering too – thanks for that expertise as well as your fabric enabling expertise Gaye!
What an excellent day all around. I think we’ve relaxed right into the holiday spirit.