Friday, 2 September 2016

Fabric shopping in South-East Asia: Yogyakarta, Singapore & Hong Kong


In July and August, I spent 3 1/2 weeks in Asia on a research trip, holiday, and visiting family and friends. You all know that textiles make the best souvenirs, and so I was keen to spend some of my "holiday money" on fabric to take home.

Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Whilst holidaying in Yogyakarta, Java, my grandmother and I stumbled on an absolutely brilliant fabric shop stocking all manner of batik-style prints and stunning laces (above). After wandering around the massive shop for 20 minutes or so I felt completely overwhelmed and unable to choose a single cloth to bring back. I always aim to buy fabric with a project in mind, but at the huge array of pattern and colour, every single thought left my head!





There was quite a lot of batik available in Yogyakarta; but I saved my batik purchases for Ubud in Bali, where we bargained hard at Ubud market for a few sarongs.



Hong Kong
Naturally I later regretted not buying anything. My next stop was Hong Kong, where I'd read a lot about the fabric district Sham Shui Po. I'd experienced this market second-hand when I worked for a lingerie company one undergraduate summer. My (thankless!) task was to unpack the designer's suitcase absolutely filled with sample cards after trips to HK and China, and file them by type. So I was aware of what wonders might lie within the shops.




I had no desire to go through the process of ordering from a wholesaler and then collecting the next day. I did manage to buy 4 yards of gorgeous stretch lace from one of the trimmings shops; and purchased some more stretch fabrics for lingerie making from the nearby remnants market for $35/yard.






Singapore
In Singapore I asked my relative who is a retired tailor where to shop for fabric. She recommended People's Park, by Chinatown MRT station. Entering the complex was slightly confusing but we managed to find the fabric shops pretty quickly. They had a really lovely selection, and many shops also offer dressmaking services, which is fun. My favourite shop was Maggie's Textiles.






Maggie has a really considered taste, and carefully selects fabric for her shop. At this time it was absolutely filled with Japanese fabrics, mostly cotton prints but in the corner was a small selection of indigo resist-dyed linen. at $24/m it wasn't cheap, but I reckon still less than it costs in the UK. After a lot of deliberation I bought this classic star print indigo linen to make a shift dress; and this faux-indigo cotton print by Cotton + Steel for $10/m for a shirt dress. (The "unbranded" Japanese cotton prints were $6/m). The Cotton + Steel print is rather darling: kitten faces and full moons.




Textile souvenirs
The conclusion is that buying fabric in Asia is a fun experience that I highly recommend - but go with projects in mind or it will certainly be overwhelming!


Now all I need is loads of time off to sew...

-Anushka

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