Fabric Store Review – JoAnns in Draper, Utah

Before you turn up your nose at this store, check out my finds: a chocolate brown wool crepe on the closeout table for $7/yd. I bought all 4+ yards of it for a pants suit. A fuchsia/plum silk shantung as an underlining for a fuchsia/plus tweed jacket. Silk is perfect for lining fabric. With my JoAnns app coupon on my iPhone, the effective price was $10/yd.  A linen printed with butterflies for a summer shirt.

Admittedly, I don’t find these bargains often, but I’m thrilled when I do. I’m a regular at JoAnns for notions: zippers, thread, interfacings, pins, buttons, and all the trimmings. It only takes a couple minutes to cruise the markdown table for a “find.”.

And, the sales clerks often will give me a cardboard roll on which to roll and store my silks. Don’t store them folded. It encourages the fabric to split and the threads to separate.

Quality: 3 stars. They carry lots of polyesters, fleece, and quilting cottons, so you won’t often find high-quality fabrics. But they do carry them.

Service: 2 star. Don’t count on getting sewing advice here. The sales clerks know how to measure yardage and stock shelves. If there’ a long line at the cutting table, get your ticket and number before you head for the fabrics. You’ll save time standing in line.

Online: They have an online store, but I’ve never used it.

Price: Low prices. Great coupons. Their pattern sales are a bargain.


Fabric Store Review – Allyn’s in Denver

embroidered silks at Allyn's IMG_0762Here is where I found the lace and pale blue fabric roses for my wedding hat and dress in 1972. Lots has changed in this shop – lots has remained the same. It’s still 5 blocks from my old house just north of Cherry Creek on 6th avenue. The once tiny shop has taken over the adjoining dry cleaner space and it’s now bulging with amazing laces, silks, beaded fabrics, feathered fabrics, cashmeres, trims, trims and yes, more trims. They have an entire room devoted to white and cream imported lace for wedding apparel.

I found thick and wide dark red/maroon lace to trim a Chanel-type jacket, dark purple stretch lace for a slinky T-shirt, embroidered sheer purple silk for an overskirt or light blouse to wear with a camisole. The selection and eye-candy appeal is worth a trip to Denver. Being there is like being at a fine fabric archive or museum. Only, the good news is that you can purchase what’s on display.

Quality: 6 stars. Nothing here is junky or looks cheap.

Service: 5 stars. The service folks sew, know their fabric, and seem proud to work here.

Online: Rumors are they will eventually sell online.

Price: Not as high as it could be. The older stock doesn’t seem to have been marked up, so you can find deals here. They have tons of inventory.



Fabric Store Review – Mood Fabrics – New York City

At first my eyes and brain couldn’t accommodate the vast selection of – well, of everything. Seemingly thousands of rolls of silk were piled 5 and 10 deep on tables and racks. They held prints, polka dots, chiffons, charmeuse, shantungs, crepe de chine. For blouse and shirts, I purchased a coral crepe de chine scattered with small white dots, an apple green silk poplin with black polka dots and a wide solid-green border which could be great for collar and cuffs, and a crepe de chine splattered with bright pastels.

Among the vast choices for men’s tweeds Pat found the perfect one for a sport coat ($20.00/yd.) I’ll sew, he’ll wear. Mood had an OK selection of buttons – we found leather ones for the coat.

I found a fuchsia/plum novelty Chanel-type tweed for a jacket which I’m sewing in Advanced Sewing at SLCC – Salt Lake Community College in the next couple weeks. I’ll probably bond the skittish loosely woven fabric to a very thin knit interfacing and then use a silk shantung interlining, especially if I want to do bound button holes. It was $50.00/yard – pricey, but a one-of-a-kind.

Quality: 5-star. Everything was eye-candy to a person who loves fabric. I didn’t see any “dud” fabrics.

Service: 4-star. I felt a bit rushed, but I WAS in New York City. Joe, my sales person was highly knowledgeable and energetic. He knew how to figure yardage, which is a blessing for me when shopping out of town.

Online: available, but I haven’t used it.

Price: Some fabrics are low – Pat’s tweed, some are high like my fuchsia/plum tweed.

Fabric Store Review – Tissu in Salt Lake City

Teresa, the owner has a knack for selecting fabrics. Her shop has fabulous prints and textures in natural fibers – silks, wools, linens, rayon and a couple polys. The mouthwatering choices are rare for this high-desert near high-mountain town. Teresa eschews the ordinary for the beautiful. I know you’ll find a wonderful fabric that’s worth your sewing time. Teresa knows how to sew and how to figure yardage. She carries wonderful buttons and couture notions, such as hair canvas and shoulder pads that aren’t made with poly foam.

I’ve purchased an unusual coat-weight multi-colored raw silk tweed for a Chanel-type jacket, turquoise coin-size polka dots on a cream background in linen and silk for capris, a fine silk with swirling pastel colors for a summer dressy dress, and a Chanel-type blue/pink/red tweed for a super warm jacket. Plus a thick dark red wool melton for a winter coat.

Quality of fabric: 4 stars.  Some of the fabrics are 5 star, but many are a bit lower quality.

Service: 5 Star. Teresa has a great eye and can offer suggestions for fitting issues, fabric coordination, and button selection.

Online store: not available. Visit in person.

Price: Not rock bottom prices, but fair and lower than the same fabric would be elsewhere.

Special features: The bridal and evening-wear selection is fabulous. Teresa loves lace and beading so visit if you need a really special dress.


Fabric Store Reviews – Britex in San Francisco

Imagine 4 floors of luscious fabrics right off Union Square between Geary and Maiden Lane in San Francisco. It’s been my favorite store since the 1970′s. The first floor holds internationally-sourced silks and woolens. The ceiling is so high and the stacks of wool are so tall, that the sales personnel climb library-style rolling ladders to reach them. The second floor is cottons and linens and casual fabrics, the third offers an extraordinary selection of buttons and notions, the fourth is totally remnants.

Quality of fabrics: 5 stars. Their selection is high-end, unique and deep. Beware the remnant floor – the prices are lower, but many of the pieces are flawed or soiled, but not all.

Service. 5 stars. Superb. They’ll ship my purchases to my home and the fabric arrivse about the same time I return. The sales staff knows how to sew and how to figure yardage. If you need to match a color or coordinate a fabric, they’ll be happy to send you swatches.

Online store: I haven’t used this as I prefer to talk with a salesperson directly and have them send swatches. The online selection is paltry compared to what’s in the store.

Price: Since you’ll be buying silks, woolens, and linens, expect to pay for quality.

This store is a must-visit. I am totally thrilled every time I walk in the door. In the 70′s, I’d travel to Britex once a year and buy enough fabric to last until my next visit.


Buying Fabric for Sewing

Chanel-type tweed, green and black dot silk poplin, multi-colored silk crepe, coral dotted silk crepe from Mood Fabrics, NYC

Chanel-type tweed, green and black dot silk poplin, multi-colored silk crepe, coral dotted silk crepe from Mood Fabrics, NYC

Choosing fabric is not so easy. It’s challenging. It’s fun. And it can be exasperating if a fabric store offers so-so, ho-hum, or tedious fabrics.

For me, a fabulous fabric needs to speak to my soul and my creativity. It needs to be a full-body pleaser.

Whether it’s a silk crepe-backed satin, a heavy wool, or a crisp cotton poplin, it needs to give me a pleasing sensuous experience. I need to like how it looks, how it drapes, how it feels, how it smells. Serviceable fabrics that act inelegant aren’t for me. Not any longer. Yes, I may need to hand wash my favorite fabrics, iron them, or send them to the dry cleaner but it’s worth it because of the creativity that great fabrics evoke from my inner being. It’s as if the fabric whispers longingly to my hungry creative self. And when I hear the siren call, out comes my credit card, and I become the owner of a couple to several yards of silk, wool, cotton, or linen.

Being the owner gives me responsibilities. Gives me work assignments. The fabric makes demands. It wants to be sewn. It wants to become a work of beauty, a work of art. It wants to be worn and shown off. It wants to be admired.

I take this responsibility seriously. I dream about how to style and design the perfect garment for the fabric. A dress? Perhaps for an upcoming event or evening out. A blouse or shirt? I wear them often. Pants, slacks? Loose or tight? A skirt? Maybe. A jacket? Oh, I love jackets, and coats, too. Should it have a pointed collar, long sleeves, cuffs or not? Will the fabric be best for winter chills or sultry summer days? Is it a 3-season fabric?

Will the garment have buttons, trims, pockets? Fabrics take their accouterments seriously. The wrong ones will ruin their beauty. My fabrics prefer a “je ne sais quoi” kind of appeal. They want to appear beguiling and effortless.

Each fabric store has a vibe. I like the scattered junky ones in which I can find amazing buys and natural fibers that may have been forgotten or passed over for years. The prim styores that are too orderly scare me away. I know they keep elaborate inventory controls so they turn their stock frequently; from experience I know that the buyer buys only what will sell best and fastest, most likely ignoring the gorgeous fabrics that whisper to the heart and soul of the artist sewer.

Out-of-town fabric stores demand exploration. I visit the best as I travel, usually taking a morning off from sightseeing to tour the fabrics. In my next posts, I’ll tell you about fabric shops in New York City, Dallas, Chicago, San Francisco, Denver, Bursa (in Turkey), and my home town of Salt Lake City.

Face Fashion

Eminence organicsWhat’s your face wearing these days? We know to avoid packaged facial care and cosmetics that contain “mystery” ingredients, just as we do with foods. Mystery ingredients have unfamiliar and unpronounceable names, or are preservatives, parabens, food coloring, PEG’s, petrochemicals, and other ingredients that don’t promote healthy radiant skin, but instead have harmful characteristics. If you want to check out a favorite product or ingredient, go to Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and access their amazing databases: http://safecosmetics.org/section.php?id=33 and http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ .

Here’s what I’m loving right now: Eminence Organics, especially Stone Crop Cleanser and Hydrating Mist, and Bright Skin Licorice Root Booster Serum. The cleanser is mild and effective, which I use with my Clarisonic – a must-have and so worth the price. I also love the Coconut Cleanser for removing makeup. The eye-makeup remover is organic, safe and soothing. A bit pricy, but worth it. www.eminenceorganics.com

(A side note about pricing. I used to buy Erno Laszlo and Crème de la Mer, so everything on this list is way inexpensive. The money I save lets me purchase more silk and woolen fabric, and lets us travel abroad more often.)

I discovered Super Salve on 2nd Mesa on the Hopi Reservation in Arizona. Great for rashes, sunburn, and more. The company also offers Power Repair Vitamin C Solution for collagen repair and brightening. Both at www.supersalve.com and the price is low, the value is high. I’m looking forward to trying their Power Repair Lighten and Brighten when I reorder.

In Sedona, Arizona, I found Body Bliss Desert Dew Facial Serotherapy – a pure face oil that positively glows your skin up a couple notches. I hate lotions – they don’t even appear to be pure and they contain alcohol. This oil works so well, that I tossed all lotions. It’s not greasy, either. Order at 1-800-909-3629 or www.bodybliss.com. They also offer Mountain Arnica body Body Bliss and bronzer concentrateand massage oil in Turquoise Sage. I love this scent. (I also make my own face oil with jojoba oil and essential oils of sea buckthorne berry, lavender, clary sage, and sandalwood.) For makeup, I add a couple drops of Dr. Hauschka Translucent Bronze Concentrate to the face oil if I want a bit of coverage for evenings.

Both of these companies were born in the desert. The products are fabulous for sun damage, dark spots, dry, and combination skin.

My go-to “butter” is pure organic shea butter. It’s very thick, and needs to be warmed in your hands before applying to your face and hands or other body parts before bed. It’s widely available online and inexpensive. www.amazon.com

For a petroleum jelly without the petroleum, try Live Clean Non-Petroleum Jelly made with castor oil and beeswax. Use to promote growth of eyelashes and eyebrows. It’s the castor oil that stimulates growth. Use for babies, grandchildren and your husband, too.

Mom's Stuff, Super Salve, Power C, Live CleanMom’s Stuff is made in Utah by Lee Udall Bennion, an acclaimed artist. She gathers pinion pine pitch and mixes it with natural oils, neem, tea tree, and rosemary oils and concocts a salve that is on a par with Super Salve, but different. I love them both. At http://momsstuffsalve.com/wordpress/

A surprise natural hair product is pure Argan oil from a tree nut that grows in Morocco. What’s marketed as Moroccan Hair Oil is full of “mystery” ingredients and perfumes – read the label. Pure Argan oil is inexpensive – especially if you compare it to conditioners and styling products. I spread a 4-5 drops on my palms and swipe through my hair. It holds the style and conditions my hair – reduces frizz and doesn’t make it oily. I can’t use the scented gels and pastes, but the Argan oil is great. Lots of choices at www.amazon.com

As to makeup, I still wear YSL lipstick (expensive, but fabulous non-shy colors), and since my allergy LDA treatments, can once again easily tolerate mascara and eyeshadow. Since I only wear eye makeup when we go out in the evenings, I figure it’s OK. A person just NEEDS some glamour at night. I figure if I wear healthy products on my face day and night, a bit of glamour a couple evenings a week won’t be so harmful.

Please let me know about your pure and organic solutions to skin care. I’m always trying the next and best. Stay warm, Lucy



I love my school

For those of you who subscribe to my newsletter: You may be reading this newsletter anticipating health and wellness hints. I don’t have any but this: Do what you love. Then you’ll figure out how to be healthy enough and fit enough to gain immense pleasure from it. Whether it’s playing ball with your children or grandchildren or traveling the world or gardening. 

green witch 2This is my last newsletter to you in this format. As the Internet world is changing, so are my ways of communicating with you. I’ll keep up my blog at lucybeale.com. I’ll post new entries on Facebook. You can “friend” me as Lucy Beale Partridge on Facebook or follow my blog.

I’ll be writing about fine sewing and fabrics, and will post some of my Fashion Illustrations. Here’s how I arrived at this place: Nine months have flown by. I didn’t write… anything except a couple class assignments. In March 2013 I decided to go back to school in Fashion Design, my first love since I was 15 – in the mean time I had fun and rewarding careers as a chemist, an IBM computer salesperson, a stay-at-home mom, public speaker, and author of 10 or so books on weight loss, health, and wellness.   

Salt Lake Community College – SLCC – has a great deal for seniors. Costs $10.00 per semester. Studying alongside design students and learning about Pattern Drafting, Fashion Illustration, and Textiles is so cool. I love sewing. And am now creating a new wardrobe of clothes that fit (long enough sleeves and pant legs) in colors and fabrics I love. Think silks, wools, cottons, and linen.

My biggest fear about going back to school was dealing with my allergies – perfumes, old musty buildings, many foods, makeup, air pollution and virtually anything else you can think of. After plenty of research I found an allergy doc in Utah who uses LDA – Low Dose Allergy treatments. The essence of the treatment is just a couple pokes every 6 weeks and after a year or so one’s allergies are gone. The harder essence is giving up all foods that feed allergies. My lifelong friends are gone – candy, cake, sweetened chocolate, fresh fruit, bread, wheat, dairy, cheese. (Fruit cooked with a whole grain is fine.) Dr. Remington assures me that I will be able to eat these in a couple more months. 

I haven’t baked my all-time famous brownies in 9 months. I’ve asked our Holiday party guests to bring Christmas cookies to share. I’ll provide chocolate mousse, which I think I can avoid eating. But if I made baked goods, I’d HAVE to eat them and would probably tank my allergy regimen.

The results are outstanding: my central nervous system no longer goes on alert with exposure to public buildings, perfume, eye makeup (yeah-mascara revisited). School is now a total body, mind, and spirit pleaser. So is the symphony, museums, theaters and other events I used to avoid. Oh, and yeah, my muscles and joints are happy, too.

A real Pilates studio opened down the street and I’m back to twice-weekly group classes on the Reformer. As opposed to un-real Pilates mat classes which are disguised callisthenic ballistic gung-ho classes.

Tonight we go to opening night of the Festival of Trees and I am so excited to be able to be there and feel comfortable and not be yearning to leave the moment we walk in. I’ll be allergy-free. What a miracle.

Miracles are what I wish for you this season. That your wishes come true and that you have fabulous health and love throughout the New Year.

Blessings, Lucy


The BIG Questions


Onions by Lucy Beale

Onions by Lucy Beale

I spend lots of time around food. Heck, we all do. Even if you think you don’t, you do. I know you eat. Otherwise you simply couldn’t be reading this. You would be in a different astral dimension, one in which you may not need to eat, but also wouldn’t have a body.

Once upon a time, one of my husbands, Bob, decided that he was going to learn how to transcend his need to have a body by giving up the need to eat. I thought this was really a dumb idea, and ultimately convinced him that this wouldn’t give good example to our baby son. After a week or so of my total adamant disapproval of his plan, he changed his thinking and instead decided to give up the need to sleep. I am absolutely not kidding. He found a couple other guys who also wanted to transcend the need to sleep (no kidding here, either) and they starting holding some kind of business meetings in our home at 2 am while the baby and I were sleeping. The guys were generous enough not to “OHM” so loudly that they disturbed our well-earned slumber.  

This “spiritual” endeavor went on for about 2 weeks. He looked like a zombie, he talked like a zombie. By the way, just so you can picture this event in your mind, he was a businessman and as was the fashion in those days, he wore a 3-piece suit every day to the office. (suit coat and pants with vest, white shirt, and tie) Now you get the full zombie picture.

Then, one evening he came home from work looking like a zombie with spots on his shirt and tie and said that perhaps I’d been right all along. Giving up sleep hadn’t exactly worked out as he planned. That day at lunch with a client at a nice restaurant, he nodded off and did a face plant directly into his plate of food. Notice it was food on his face that finally woke him up enough to face an important fact of life. In our incarnate phase of reality, people have bodies. One responsibility we humans all have is to take care of our bodies which includes eating. It can be harmful, let alone stupid to think and act otherwise.

Since you have a body, you need to eat. But eating brings with it some BIG problems. If you eat mindlessly, soon your waistband will be screaming at you to set it free. Or it may look better by being draped rather than dressed. You might want to go on a diet, which never works well for long. So I’ve been thinking of pithy questions with which to accost myself when a feeding opportunity beacons.

Lately I’ve been asking as I gaze into the pantry, “Am I hungry or am I bored?” Duh, obviously I’m bored or I’d be doing something more compelling that gazing into the pantry.

At meals when I want to eat more food but have already satisfied my appetite I ask, “Do I want to eat this because Patrick is still eating, or does my body require more food?” Again the answer is obvious. I’m eating because Pat is eating. He’ll claim he only eats desserts because I do. How easy it is to not be mindful, and instead bury our personal body truth in someone else’s behavior.

I didn’t try to give up sleep along with Bob. If you are ever tempted to give up sleeping, ask yourself this pithy question, “Do I really want to transcend my body, or would I rather eat sitting in nice restaurants and avoid face plants?” Duh! 

P.S. I asked Bob to review this before I  posted. He thought it was fine and enjoyed reliving the moments.

My Beloved Back Roller

Back Roller

I love ingenious wellness devices that perform amazing feats. Such as this back roller. My videographer (in 1997) clued me into this amazing device as we were in the throes of tedious editing. His back would get weary while filming with the camera on his shoulder and from lugging around all his equipment. He used the back roller to un-kink and soothe his spine and give his back muscles the opportunity to realign.

When we took a break, I got down on the floor and rolled on this wavy-styled rolling pin, starting just below my neck. I did this slowly, scooting down inch by inch, taking a couple deep breaths for every inch the roller traveled. Some spots were a bit tender, so I took a couple more deep breaths at those places and tried to relax into the spots. Within 15 minutes, I stood up feeling taller and quite relaxed. At that moment I realized that I needed to buy one. If you click on the picture of the roller, you can buy one, too. (about $20.00) I’m glad I did. It lasts forever – I’ve had mine 16 years. It’s inexpensive. It offers hours and hours of spinal alignment sessions, yet it only takes 10 – 15 minutes per session. What’s not to like?

I use it often, daily when I remember. I take it with me when I travel. It remedies the effects of cramped airplane seats and heavy luggage. After some research, here’s what I found it does for the body:

Moves lymph fluid to help detox the body

Stimulates acupuncture points for all internal organs and glands

Helps back alignment

Soothes and enhances the central nervous system – which gives that Ahhh! effect

I’ll be adding additonal clever wellness devices for you. Soon I want to buy the iPhone app and headset that assist a person with meditating. It sounds like another ingenious wellness device. I’ll let you know.