Thursday, September 17, 2009

Italy trip - part 3 - sewing stuff

Of course I couldn't visit Italy without checking out at least one fabric store. A Google search led me to a NY Times article on Bassetti Tessuti, said to be Rome's largest fabric store. So that was my pick.

 
Conveniently the store was located just a couple of blocks from the flat we rented.  I saw it within my first hour of being in the city :)  I waited a couple of days to actually go in though.  They are doing some remodeling on the exterior, as you can see.  The main entrance was closed, but there was a boy hanging out whose job it apparently was to guide us to the side entrance.
 
Exterior window

Inside, the store is huge.  I think there are 7 different rooms, divided mostly by weave or fiber type.  Oh, the bolts and bolts stacked up to the ceiling of fine Italian shirtings and suitings would make any seamstress swoon!  It would be the perfect store to shop at when you have something specific in mind, they seem to have everything.  I didn't take any photographs inside because there were about 3 salesmen in each room, more sales staff than customers, and I didn't feel comfortable asking...

I spent close to 30 minutes looking through the various rooms to try to pin down what I wanted.  Frankly, the prices were higher than I expected.  Most of what I saw and liked, nice cotton shirtings, for example, were 20-30 euros per yard.  That translates to ~ US $28-42/yard.  This probably helped prevent me from going crazy buying up everything.  Also, it makes me realize that the Italian fabrics that are being offered at my local fabric shop or our favorite online retailers like Gorgeous Fabrics or Emma One Sock are priced very reasonably!

 
Ultimately I ended up choosing this animal print rayon jersey, it was 13 euros/yard (US $18/yard).  This is the teal colorway, and they also had purple.  Am I imagining things, or did EOS have this for sale recently?

Let me tell you about the sales process, because it was different than anything I've encountered before.  First you select your fabric, and one of the salesmen in that room will cut it for you on a counter in that room.  And when I say salesmen, yes, they are all men, I didn't see any women cutting fabric.  Then, he writes up a sales slip with your name, and escorts you down to the cashier area.  There are a few women sitting at a counter and they are separated from you by a glass partition (dangerous job?) and he gives the sales slip to one of the women and puts your fabric on a counter behind you.  She types the info in to a computer and then another woman calls your name and you pay her.  Then you get your receipt, and you take it to the counter where your fabric is, and another gentleman cross references your receipt with the fabric and bags it up for you.  Phew!

  
 I picked up the September issue of La Mia Boutique; like Burda and Patrones, it has a fashion-magazine type of layout with pattern sheets included to trace.

 
You can buy La Mia Boutique at any ordinary news kiosk like this one.  Can you imagine if it were that easy for us to find sewing magazines in the US?! 
Some pictures of the garments...

  
  
  
  
  
  
 

  
Maternity

 
Plus size

21 comments:

Nancy (nanflan) said...

The checkout process sounds a lot like what happens at fabric stores in Mexico. What a fun experience!

ambika said...

What an interesting check out process. & that pic of the kiosk reminded me of Prague. I wish we had news agents like these!

CarlaF-in Atlanta said...

I could kick myself. I was in Rome two years ago and didn't even THINK to look for a fabric store. Grrr. I did buy an Italian version of Burda but I didn't know about La Mia Boutique. Your post gives me another reason to plan a trip to Italy.


I'm glad you had a great vacation.

CarlaF-in Atlanta

Leslie said...

wow I would have been totally intimidated in that store! You picked an amazing fabric though, I don't recognize it as EOS. I am drooling over what I can see of the La Mia's! I think we need to start an interlibrary loan. LOL

Rose said...

What an exciting shopping experience! I love the fabric you did purchase. I don't remember it from EOS and I don't think I would have missed it with the teal color.

Lee Ann said...

I LOVE your blog, have been reading it for ages now! Thanks for posting about Roman fabric shopping! I will be there in October, and can't WAIT to check it out.

A good friend of mine is from there, and promised she would tell me where to find all the discounted designer stuff...If I find it, I will pass it on!

Looking forward to seeing what you make with the jersey!

Lee Ann

Cindy May said...

reading your blog at the airport! i'm going to be busy tracing this weekend for sure!!

Vicki said...

With those prices no wonder they need the security! Nice piece you chose.

Jacqui said...

At those prices, no wonder the high security check out!
Wish we could buy LMB at any newstand. I'm loving the dresses in your issue!

Johanna said...

I was waiting for the fabric entry in your vacation timeline- thanks for the fix! Doubt I'll get to Italy any time soon but it's fun to read about others' adventures...

Jenny said...

That's really pretty fabric. I agree the prices are much higher in Europe (I live in Germany). It's cheaper for me to buy stuff online in the US and pay shipping. Of course, sometimes I break down and buy overprices stuff here for the sake of convenience. That buying experience is unreal, though! I've never seen anything like that. :-) Must get to Rome again!

Little Hunting Creek said...

I am SO going the that fabric store next time we are in Rome! It looks like a wonderful anthropological experience! I have a secret weapon - my daughter is fluent in Italian and has an Italian fiance.

Nancy K said...

She may well have it not that one, similar certainly. The Euro really puts a crimp on buying in Europe these days. Lovely fabric, and I am partial to animal prints myself.

Deepika said...

The teal rayon jersey is so pretty! Actually in India too most sales people are men even in fabric stores. Most tailors are also men... And the checkout process you describe reminds me of India too. But only in big stores where you have tons of departments and stuff from all different departments gets sent to packing department and you pay in one place and pick up your order in the other. The cashiers are behind glass windows :).

Hana said...

Ambika said "that pic of the kiosk reminded me of Prague" - and me, being Czech, actually wondered over your post, how on earth do you get your sewing magazines when not on newsstands? Phew, so many things we take for granted in our lives! And I even don't really buy sewing magazines, almost never, I still haven't sewed up much from what I already own, but the thought that anytime I wanted, I could buy one...

Colette said...

It's so true that quite often you find only men selling in fabric stores throughout Italy. As smart as they look, I find it a little intimidating. It's an old tradition they hold on to!

I must remember to check out Bassetti Tessuti if ever I'm in Rome again as well as getting to Positano...I've never been.

Loved all 3 posts on Italy. Glad to hear you had a great vacation.

j.kaori said...

Sounds like a great vacation --- thank you for sharing your photos! I love visiting Italy --- would love to go again!

Maggie said...

What a fun experience. It seems that fashion sewing in Europe is quite popular. And the level of skill must be too. Thsnks for sharing with us.

Nonflammable said...

And now you know why the fabric is more expensive. Look how many people were involved with the process.

The buying experience is even more interesting when you buy..... Italian shoes.

Christinopia said...

Yes, here in Italy fabrics are really expensive. I usually buy cotton online form USA, it costs me much less (including shipping and custom fess) rather than in the shops in my city... And not so many people are involved in the selling process here, I mean fabrics are expensive also where a single person sells them to you!

I'm glad you enjoyed your Italian experience ;-)

Lieve said...

Hi! I noticed you bought La Mia Boutique, issue September 2009. My friend has the issue but unfortunately, she does not have the patterns to trace :-( I set my mind on Abito 1(dress 1). Would you, by any chance, want to lend me this issue? Ofcourse I would send it right back to you! Or would you want to draw me te pattern in size 42 on pattern paper and send it to me? I would really, really appreciate this gesture! I chose this dress to make for my sister's wedding in May 2010. And you know how it is when you set your mind on one particular dress...I have to add though that I live in Ostend, Belgium in Europe... Thank you in advance for any answer! Bye, Lieve