How unique fabric made for handbags can be found in the most surprising places!

Posted by Jordyn Forkell on

Here at Crystalyn Kae we outsource our fabrics in a variety of different ways. And, quite frankly ways you wouldn't even think of, or (expect)! So here is the FULL rundown you all should hear, especially with holidays creeping up, the time to know is NOW! 

Estate Sales: The nostalgic key to sourcing my best vintage fabric 

Estate sales are one of the best ways to find valuable, hidden gems that you never knew you needed until your eyes saw those treasures. For me, it is of course unique and different fabrics that I can create a new design/vision for. So, after having my business for 20 years now, I think I got the hang of where to find these one-of-a-kind fabrics. My key to finding the best vintage fabric is going to the back of the room, in the very bottom corner of the storage room or tucked away in the attic (or deepest corner of the storage room). Another awesome perk from checking out these estate sales is meeting new people, and developing those relationships! I was fortunate enough to meet fellow designer and vintage fabric fiends, who I now connect with regularly on my social media channels! If you want to know the inside scoop, here’s a link to a newsletter I subscribe to, that lists lots of Estate sales in your area.  And if you don’t have the time to shop estate sales, here’s the next best thing, shop circa fabrics Etsy shop.  Throwback to the Howard Blaire Estate Sale, which are shown in these next photos! (Wow, time really does fly by!!)

Fabscrap: The hub of recycled fabrics that are literally “One-of-a-kind”

You all knew it was coming, the most “magical” place on earth- Yup, FABSCRAP! The fabrics you find here are not vintage ones, they are actually test swatches of patterns a designer or fabric mill were testing out (they are smaller than a square foot, which makes them perfect for a valet pouch). Since they are so small, they also make for the perfect feature pocket of a Mini-Troubadour Tote (check out some of the latest Troubadours and you will see why I love these fabrics so much!). I love finding fabrics here because they're the only piece of fabric made, so it's a guarantee you will have a one-of-a-kind bag. 

Vintage Wholesalers - Authentic fabric to handcraft our vintage collection handbags 

Not going to lie, it is pretty difficult trying to pin vintage fabric dealers down, especially in where I am located, so once I find them or they reach out to me, it is always a great feeling. Fun fact, this is how my very first collection of bags was created, back in 2001: from a huge stash of vintage plaid pant legs (over 200 pairs!). I bought these from a vintage dealer in Seattle, who has a warehouse right above the Lusty Lady. (Some may know what I'm talking about where that is!) 

 

Antique Dealers- Building connections with these dealers is such a sentimental way to source fabrics. 

 If you have read my blog post about our newest vintage fabric collection that we released in our Mini-Troubadours back in May, then this may sound familiar to you. HEre’s a case in point that you should always connect and network with others when attending trade shows or antique shows.  I met @Johnbobcooljunk easily 10 years ago at the Portland Antiques show. I bought a cool sequin christmas tree and a 1960’s era Nordstrom mannequin (but i digress).  Fast forward to 2020 and they still remembered the girl that made bags from vintage fabric remnants.  They found a particular stash of vintage floral fabric they knew I would make magic with. You see those vintage florals  also in my new fall collection, which are those vintage velvet florals that we love. Fun fact, these were supposed to be sewn into couches until they landed in my hands, and now yours! 

Fabric Websites- The wide variety of fabric options are endless, crafting thoughtfully designed bags. 

 There are times I splurge a little extra on some neat finds from Mood Fabrics or Promenade Fabrics, who do have sustainable options! Often they offer overstock leftovers from previous designers who didnt add them into production. 

 

Thrifting- The thrill of sourcing textiles and leather this way makes finding those beautiful materials so rewarding. 

 Thrifting is always a great way for me to source my fabrics, as well as eBay, but these fabric vendors aren't too reliable or abundant. (But, I do love the challenge and thrill of hunting for these fabrics!) Also, be sure to check out my blog post that takes a trip down memory lane from my thrifting experiences in Seattle, you may want to see it for yourself! 

All of these places to sustainably source fabrics are truly special...

With this all said and done, like anything in life, the best things find you when you are not expecting or looking for it. Same thing applies to the fabrics I use. I let those fabrics dictate what it wants to be, and nearly 100% of the time I buy it when I see it. I wash the fabric, fold it up and put it in a home on my shelf for the time being, and then I bring it back out when it is ready to be handcrafted into something truly original and unlike any other handbag. 



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