Inspirations from SE Asia (Part 3 – Singapore)

Anne's Garden

Anne’s Garden

The winner of Anne’s Garden (Grand Give Away 2016) will be announced next week. This is a reproduction quilt made in honour of my mom, who inspired me in so many things, including quilting. All subscribers as of Sunday, June 5th will be eligible to win.  It is a celebration of my 1st anniversary on this blog, and a thanks to you for reading my posts.

Usually I update the miles for the One Million Mile Quilted Postcard Challenge on the first Wednesday of each month but miles are still coming in for May, so I have decided to delay the tally. I will give you the numbers and locations in my post next week. At the end of April we had 325,600 miles. Will we hit 400,000 in May? The theme for June is “Hit the road, Jack”. June is a time when many people start their summer vacations. Maybe its a destination, maybe its a landmark, maybe its landscape, maybe its a memory. The cards I make will once again be mailed from a mystery location so let me know if you want one. And of course, I would love to receive one from you.

Now, for the final installment of “Inspirations from SE Asia”. The month of April found us in Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore. Three countries. Three very different cultures. Of course it was only natural to look for anything related to fabric, quilting or art. And they didn’t disappoint. Today’s post is on Singapore.

A shopper’s paradise. Singapore has that reputation. But did that also apply to quilting? I had my doubts. My trip ‘prep’ included a search for possible quilting stores to visit. The list was short. (Go ahead and google it) Mentally I was prepared to let quilting go for the time we were there, with the exception of a trip to Arab St.

IMG_1525Day 1 found us fighting jet lag by wondering around 8 floors of Plaza Singapora – a mall that was a block from our hotel. We came across a Spotlight store, and this display in the store window. We had to go in. It looked small, but once inside it went on and on. Spotlight is the Australian version of JoAnns. Now that was handy to have only a block away! When I needed to replace the scissors that were confiscated… when I needed more thread… or needles… or just inspiration, it was a short walk away. Spotlight became my back up plan. If I didn’t find anything else for the rest of the trip, if I still had room in my suitcase by the end, I could always go back to Spotlight. I even received a Spotlight customer discount card. Unfortunately, they do not ship to international destinations.

So, now I had Spotlight and Arab Street as potential. Arab St. is advertised as a street of textile boutiques selling any kind of fabric you could desire. It is in the Malay village area so this would include batiks. I had high hopes but we were advised to go to Arab St with a Chinese friend. Apparently prices fluctuate significantly and of course, Caucasian tourists would be paying the highest ones. But all our Chinese friends were working so I developed a simple strategy for Arab St. We would go check it out, with enough time left in our vacation to go back later. That would give me time to think about purchases. It also would give me another point of comparison per chance we found other fabric stores.

The time finally came to check Arab St. out. I was excited to go. I wasn’t sure it was a good idea to bring dear hubby along or not, but he did. Our first mistake was to get there too early. That wasn’t unusual. We have a tendency to do that. But this was 10:30 am. Maybe 10% of the shops were open. By 11:00 maybe 30%. We were the only customers.

It didn’t take long to go through the shops along both sides of the street. Dear hubby stood by the door, providing me with a sense of security. We were told that shop owners could by pushy. Overall, they were ok, but I was still glad to have dear hubby standing guard. I would ask about cottons, and was often shown a small selection. Most often they were precut in 2 or 3 yards pieces. Funny thing was, by the end I didn’t have to ask about cottons anymore. They automatically directed me to them. There seemed to be some form of communication between the shop owners.

gradientsOur next outing was to Chinatown. My expectations were low this time. More textile boutiques. Most had a mixture of fabrics, very little of cotton quilting quality. Nothing really struck my fancy until we found Malin Textiles, a small textile stall that specializes in Japanese quilting cottons. Here we hit the jackpot! The prints caught my attention first but once inside I focused on the gradients. They were also precut but the pieces were smaller than at other places; I took one of almost every colour. Can’t you just see a watercolour quilt, or landscape art made from these?

Friends took us to Little India on a Sunday evening. Apparently this was the time to shop! After negotiating a path through hundreds of people on the street and going around the block several times in search of a parking spot, we found the 24 hour Mustafa Center, with a gigantic fabric section on the lower floor. It was almost overwhelming. Where to even start? Again, much of the fabric was precut and packaged into 2-3 yard pieces. Great for making Indian Saris; not so great for patchwork quilting. Also, since it was packaged it was difficult to feel the quality of the fabric or to see the whole pattern with repeats. There certainly was potential for some great finds, and could be worth a trip back – another time.

AustralianOur final day in Singapore was spent visiting 2 quilt stores. Yes, real quilt stores! The first was a quaint little quilt store in The Adelphi with a nice selection of Native Australian fabrics. The second was another quilt store back in China town (People’s Park). If you are in Singapore, make sure to check these places out.IMG_2749

In the end my strategy went out the window. We never went back to Arab Street or Spotlight, but those were not the only options. As a quilter, Singapore did indeed provide a rich shopping experience. And thanks to friends Alice, Isabella, Cornelius, Lye Seng and Koon Goek, our suitcases were were full of fabric coming back to Canada. “Shiok!”* Extremely Awesome!

*Shiok (pronounced Shee-oke) is Singlish for Extremely Awesome. Singlish is a local mixture English, Malay and Chinese.


About Judy's Quilting Studio

Creator of all things quilted; minimalist in everything except fabric!
This entry was posted in 2016, travels, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Inspirations from SE Asia (Part 3 – Singapore)

  1. Elise says:

    Great post! I will check those fabric stores out next time when I’m in Singapore 🙂

  2. Marnie Houston says:

    Thank you for the every interesting article it was Shiok! Learned a lot of new things today incl. the fabrics available in Singapore. You will have to bring your fabrics one of these days to show the quilt group, unless you already implemented them to your stash.

  3. Jeany Chan says:

    As always, enjoyed reading your blog. Also, so proud of you that you picked up the local lingo!You are now a bonafide honorary SE Asian!! 🙂

  4. Laurel says:

    A wonderful trip! Thanks for sharing, Judy. I hope your excursion provides you with lots of inspiration for many more projects!

  5. Koongoek says:

    I enjoy reading your blog. You open a new world to me- quilting. 🙂

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