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In the heart of Berkeley's fabric artist country, seven specialty fabric shops.

In the heart of Berkeley's fabric artist country, seven specialty fabric shops

Labors of love are what the people behind Berkeley's specialty fabric stores have made of their work. A rich concentration of these shops occurs in stimulating proximity to the West's leading textile art schools, Pacific Basin and Fiberworks.

Each store has its own distinctive atmosphere and wares, reflecting the interests and expertise of its owners, and they're so near one another you can easily visit several within a few hours.

If you're not a yardage freak stocking up for your own projects, you might consider a gift certificate at one of these places for someone on your Christmas list who is.

At each store, you'll find friendly, knowledgeable people willing to share information on techniques and resources. At two, you can sign up for workshops (one-day or ongoing) in dressmaking, quilting techniques, and getting started using unfamiliar materials.

The merchandise offered is collectively diverse but of uniformly high quality; the proprietors have buying networks that assure high standards of production, even custom-ordering imported textiles from native craftspeople when necessary.

You'll find an abundance of 100-percent natural-fiber fabrics. Most places take pains to provide plenty of daylight--you won't have to lug bolts out to the street to check colors.

Parking can be difficult (near India Fabric Imports and Poppy, it's easier), but if you find a spot in north Berkeley, you can easily walk to several shops (see map, page 72). At the other end of town, in Elmwood, one parking meter will let you visit both Thimbleweed and Ethnic Arts.

Listed north to south, here are the seven, with notes on unusual or specialized supplies they carry. Some also sell by mail order. Telephone area codes are 415.

1. The Hand-Loomed Fabric Store, Vine and Walnut streets; 848-4500. The specialty here is Guatemalan fabrices: tightly woven, high quality, and in seldom-seen colors as well as familar combinations of stripes. There's also a good selection of textured-weave natural Indian cotton (extra-wide bolts); cutwork; Liberty cotton and challis; Harris tweed; Anatolian wool shawls; strong, colorfast all-cotton thread in many colors; and a wonderful assortment of leather, stone, shell, wood, ceramic, and pewter buttons. Hours are 10:30 to 5:30 Mondays through Saturdays.

2. Kasuri Dyeworks, 1959 Shattuck Avenue; 841-4509. Traditional Japanese fabrics, especially country and folk designs, are stocked here--also traditional Japanese crafts and art supplies. Yardage is mainly in 14-inch widths, the customary loom size, and includes indigo-dyed ikat (kasuri), paste-resist and stenciled cotton prints, woven stripes and subtle plaids. Salespeople can help you adapt the 14-inch width to Western styles.

Classes are given in response to demand, with regular offerings in silk flower making, paste resist, Japanese plaiting, and other techniques. Hours are 10:30 to 5:30 Mondays through Saturdays.

3. Thousand Cranes Futon Shop, 1803 Fourth Street; 849-0501. Here the focus is on Japanese bedding and Japanese and Guatemalan cotton fabrics--sold by the yard--or the store will make pillows, comforters, and futons. You'll also find Indonesian Dutch wax batik, Chinese indigo, stencil work, and antique Japanese textiles. Hours are 10 to 5:30 Mondays through Saturdays (to 7 Thursdays), 11 to 3 Sundays.

4. India Fabric Imports, 1776 University Avenue; 843-4542. An unusually rich assortment of different weights of silk (some printed, some bordered, some plain) for saris, from different parts of India, is what's special here. Silk is sold in 45-inch by 6-yard pieces. Make a sari (directions provided) or use the sumptuous fabrics for other purposes. Hours are 11 to 6 Tuesdays through Sundays.

5. Poppy Fabric, 2072 Addison Street; 841-2100. Provencal fabric by Oulivado in 52-inch widths and 30-inch squares for scarves--with border prints and coordinated cottons also available--are memorable here. There's an impressive selection of wools, silks, cottons, and linens; European cotton lace yardage and trims; decorator fabrics; flannels and children's prints; even silver-storgae cloth.

The shop will make up decorator items from its fabric. You can study wallpaper books with matching fabric, as well as buy lampshade frames and curtain hardware. Classes and workshops in dressmaking, quilting, and home decorating are held regularly. Hours are 10 to 5:30 Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays; 10 to 9:30 Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays; noon to 5 Sundays.

6. The Ethnic Arts Store, 2935 College Avenue; 549-3781. International folk textiles--African strip weavings with mudresist patterns, Peruvian alpaca grain bags, and indigo ikat shawls from Guatemala, for example--are the attraction. Use them for decorating, dressmaking, or wall art, or have the store make pillows. Hours are 10 to 5:30 Mondays through Saturdays, noon to 5:30 Sundays.

7. Thimbleweed, 2975 College Avenue; 845-5081. Notions are the notion in this tiny shop, which holds an amazing number of them, from rayon seam finishes (sold by the yard) to new and antique buttons, buckles, and clasps (all sold singly). You'll see many natural-fiber fabrics--also Folkwear and smocking patterns and kits for stuffed toys. You can even buy Western snap fasteners for your cowboy shirt. Hours are 10 to 5:30 Mondays through Saturdays.

Photo: What distinguishes one ikat (yarndyed) piece from another? Owner Koji Wada of Kasuri Dyeworks points out nuances, such as extra color in these blossoms

Photo: Plenty of natural light helps shoppers at Hand-Loomed Fabric Store in Walnut Square. At left, front wall slides aside as she checks colors of Guatemalan remnant; above, big rear window aids study of Indian cutwork, used mostly for curtains

Photo: Button mania takes over at Thimbleweed, where antique spool cabinet holds vast supply of buttons-by-the-one

Photo: Numbered stops show locations of seven Berkeley fabric stores. For directions to Thousand Cranes (3), call the shop
COPYRIGHT 1984 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Dec 1, 1984
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