Having more ambition than good sense, I recently decided to make a summer dress. I'm no seamstress – beyond taking things up or in, replacing a button or re-hemming a pair of shorts I didn't learn much from my years of mandatory sewing lessons at school. But I do own a sewing machine, and on a recent rainy day I dug it out of the cupboard and decided to put it to good use. The only problem was I needed some supplies.
Sydney Road is a haven for the bargain-hunter, with two-dollar stores and vintage clothing shops lining its long central district. Fortunately for me, it's also home to a few genuinely well-priced fabric stores that can fulfil the dreams of every seamstress, from the amateur to the expert.
Three of the best are conveniently clustered together around the corner of Albert Street and Sydney Road (where the ANZ and Commonwealth banks are) – Brunswick Fabric, Unique Fabrics, and Anne's Discount Fabrics. Between them, these three longstanding shops offer fabric beginning at $2.99 per metre, and lining in a range of colours from just one dollar per metre. There is not a wide selection of prints, but basic cotton and poly blends are available in a range of colours, and you can find dance and special occasion fabrics at a tenth of the price of large retail stores. While you may have to go elsewhere for buttons, bobbins and other sewing paraphernalia, there are plenty of discount stores around that will usually stock the basics.
Next time you're hit with a fit of seamstress inspiration – perhaps you'd like to make something for the upcoming Christmas season? – don't go to the bigger stores until you've discovered the budget-friendly gems that are just around the corner.