Do you love my completely random fabric shopping guides? New York, London, Tel Aviv and now Ecuador. I was honestly half-joking about being able to fabric shop on my recent trip: I know the country is renowned for textiles and yarns, but I wasn’t expecting modern fabric shops. And definitely not a five-minute stroll from my Quito hotel! I think I’m developing fabric-whispering powers, which is excellent news.
First shopping stop was in Quito’s old town, just south of Plaza San Francisco where my hotel was. I spied at least 8-10 fabric and notion stores in the couple of blocks flanked by Venezuela and Bolivar streets. I tried to drag my tour guide into them but he wasn’t having any of it, so luckily I managed to navigate myself back there later in the day.
Some have higher-end suiting and cashmeres (which are reasonably priced here due to the native alpaca). Some, interestingly, combine a RTW clothing section with fabrics and yarns which I haven’t seen before.
The stock and prices of most shops are similar, and quite low – $4-8 a metre for most fabrics (the dollar here is the same as $USD so that’s £2.50-4.50). There seemed to be an especially great range of two things I struggle to find at home: interesting cross-woven solids and delicious dress-weight prints.
Just look at them all! Heart-eye-emoji overboard. Luckily my very poor Spanish at least amounted to ‘how much is this’ and ‘two metres please’ so I was able to make some purchases.
I’m really pleased with what I brought home:
– two chiffon prints that are dead ringers for the gorgeous fabrics I’ve been drooling over at Anna Ka Bazaar. It’s so hard to find these kinds of subtle graphic prints, and the same shop had a crapload more lovely ones. I was very restrained, especially at only $4.50/m.
– a wine-coloured floral gauzy knit that I bought specifically to recreate a favourite RTW tee (the one I’m wearing here). I’ve made this already!
– two lovely solids for more trousers: a poly crepe with lighter strands woven in so it looks like denim – I’m picturing slouchy boyfriend jean type things; and some grey/brown stretchy denim for another pair of jeans. Both around $8/m.
My second fabric shop stop was the market in the town of Otavalo, about 50 miles north of Quito where we stopped on my last full day. The market was huuuge: it sprawled over 5 or 6 square blocks, centred around a packed plaza.
Amongst the spices, fruit and veg, tourist tat and wood and leather goods are tons of Andean textile stalls…
… piles of beautiful brightly-coloured alpaca yarn…
…and these plain fabrics edged with pretty border embroidery, which the indigenous women use as a wrap skirt. There were also a couple of fabric stores which spilled their remnant pieces onto the street to rummage through.
From Otavalo I bought:
– a piece of border-embroidered cotton: this was a bit steep at $11 (haggled down from 15) but it feels like a very nice quality heavy cotton twill, so I think it’ll make a great pair of shorts.
– a remnant piece of gauzy printed cotton for $1. This has blocks of lots of patterns giving a quilting-type effect, so I might make a no-effort bed quilt from it.
– two woven Andean blankets/throws, $12 for both. I’d really like some shorts or a skirt from one of these but they’re a little thick and narrow – perhaps combined with another fabric.
– a woven trimming/ribbon: the indigenous women use these to wrap around their hair. I saw the ladies making these in the market with tiny looms, so it’s nice to know it’s a genuine handcraft. It may become an edging for a top.
I also had to buy this bag to bring all my loot home!
If you’re interested in the non-fabric shop parts of Quito too by the way, you can have a read on my other blog.