Who doesn’t love a good challenge? We all set out with great ambitions and big hearts but when it comes down to keeping up with the smallest challenges it’s a commitment. I’m going to be perfectly honest, I had one bleep in the year buying emergency Walmart fabric for a client but I’m not letting that define the other 364 days of success. Pick up, dust off and move on!

Here we go!

It all started during a Dayton Garment Designer group meet up. I asked the crew if anyone was going to the Joanns that was practically next door. My friend Pat said she was trying to do her part and stay out of the big box stores. It was at that moment I knew I wanted to be just like her when I grew up! To be someone that supports local and small, just like Tracy’s Sewing Studio. I did not realize what I was in for.

Kara (Left), Pat (Right)

Local Indie Fabric Shops

Our town, Dayton, Ohio is full of quilt shops, easy access + big success!

Little Shop of Stitches in Miamisburg, what better than cotton piece dresses. Jelly rolls, fat quarters, cottons and more.

Crafters Lodge, make it a date, El Toro is next door. The print was from CL and the black was a beautiful silk someone was throwing out.

Sew a Lot, Centerville pairs well with Bills Donuts next door. I made my friend a skirt for her birthday.

Bernina on Main Street a little store on North Main worth popping into sometime.

The Fabric Shack, Waynesville, Ohio

Another wonderful, wonderful fabric shop. They have three buildings of fabrics, home decor, quilters cottons, fleece, minky, wool and a few modern name brand knits. I made Jeffrey a huge blanket.

Sew to Speak Fabric and Yarn, Columbus and they have fashion fabric! We made quite a few treks to the north for supplies and fabrics. These are just a few things you may have not seen.


Vacations and trips soon became centered around indie fabric trips.

Crimson Tate Modern Quilter, Indianapolis, Indiana

Brooklyn General Store, Brooklyn, New York, I made a black cotton lawn dress. It’s so light and airy. Wore it to the Paris exhibit at the Cincinnati Museum of Art.

Coastal Stitches, Destin, Florida, I made my sisters each a dress.

Promenade Fabric, New Orleans, This place is heaven! World class fabrics and wonderful customer service. Modeling is Haley Tidwell.

Promenade Fabric

Online Shopping

I have always had a fear of buying fabric online. I did it a few times and got weird surprises that didn’t seem as advertised. It can be overwhelming.

Boho Fabrics, I got some yummy Ponte’ Knit, made a dress and gauchos.

Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics, I got laminated cotton to make my husband a Backyard Carrier. Pattern by Sallie Tomato

So Sew English Fabrics, I got a beautiful ombre sequins fabric. Modeling is Philomina Majesta Afua Darko.

I asked advice of friends in my Dayton Designers facebook group and added myself to all their recommended favorite fabric shop’s Facebook groups. Almost every indie shop has it’s own facebook group where customers can post what they made and shops can post what they are selling. This was a huge asset to know what’s on trend in the sewing world, meet new online friends and see what fabrics were best suited for what looks. Just a few I did not get to buy from but will were, Sly Fox Fabrics, Amelia Lane, Georgous Fabrics and Califabrics.

The Worst

The worst part of trying to keep it small business indie was that I had to order interfacing and swimwear lining online. I could not find these items locally or through independent online retailers. I ordered a bunch of the wrong things trying to sort it out in the beginning through Amazon. Whether these were small business shops or not was sometimes difficult to figure out. It was annoying to waste time and money and I missed the face to face interactions with real people.

Saturday, December, 28th my challenge was up. We took the trek to Joann and bought those more challenging fabrics and threads that are hard to find over the internet. The staff was exceptionally kind and cheerful helping me find everything I needed and someone even gave me a 50% coupon which saved me $25 on that impossible to find swimwear lining. The ebb and flow of capitalism, eh?

The Best

The best part about shopping indie is how mindful my projects are. I value them more. Almost all projects were planned in advance. I also used every piece of my fabric in stash. I helped friends clean out their stash and used their fabrics too. Also, I celebrated the end of the year by buying swimwear fabric from Boho Fabrics and some beautiful silks from Apple Annie Fabrics.

In writing this blog post I am reminded of how blessed I truly am to be able to shop at such fine places. I can’t describe to you in any other way how good it feels to be grown up.

In the future I will continue my mission of shopping small. This is very important to me. I’m sure I’ll go to a big box store for supplies out of necessity, it can’t be avoided currently. But that’s the only small part of this story now. It was hard to stay out of the big box stores. I knew it would be. Shopping local and small can be additional work, but I’m worth it and so are my customers and my new friends that run these businesses! I’m sticking to the path and I’m dedicated to the results!

I would like to thank all of my friends for the help during this year! I could not have done this all without you.

Thank you for reading,

Tracy McElfresh

Dream it! Sew it!


Tracy McElfresh
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