Folkwear Travels: Montreal

I spent 3 days last week in Montreal, Canada.  My husband and I wanted a little get-away while our kids were at camp, so I booked a couple cheap tickets to Montreal, where I'd heard fabric shopping was good, the city was beautiful, and it was a fun and easy international destination. Unfortunately, a few weeks after booking the tickets, I realized that I had my kids camp dates wrong and they were not in camp for the week we were going!!  Luckily my mother was happy to have the kids stay with her while we were gone!  Haha - disaster avoided, thanks, Mom!

We enjoyed the city thoroughly and I will just cover a few highlights below so that if you are visiting, you can take a few recommendations from here!

1.  Bicycling - Montreal is an easy city to bike. I thought the traffic was respectful and not heavy.  And, there were lots of bike trails, including one along the Lachine Canal and the St. Lawrence River where we never dealt with traffic and got to enjoy beautiful scenery the whole way.  We rented bikes from Ma Bicycletta and they were great, affordable, and easy to work with.

2.  Farmers Markets - We loved Marche Atwater, but also found a great one in the Little Italy district.  Beautiful vegetables, fruit, bread, cheeses (perfect for picnics), but also there were great hot food vendors.  We ate Vietnamese and Reunion Island cuisine at the market and it was delicious!  We wished to be able to get more meals from the markets but couldn't time it right, as they are mainly open for lunch service.

3. Food - We ate at lots of great restaurants in Montreal, from fancy French (L'Express) - to cheap and absolutely delicious Lebonese served on styrofoam plates (Bouston).  As I said before all the farmers market food looked (and tasted) amazing.  We also found a very tasty Portuguese chicken place (Campo) - the sandwich was incredible!  Alas, I was terrible about taking photos of our food - it was all beautiful and delicious!!

4.  Museums - We visited the McCord Musuem to see the native Canadian clothing and Balenciaga exhibits.  Wearing our Identities: the First Peoples Collection was stunning and powerful.  It is a permanent exhibit and is very much worth visiting.  The bead work, sewing, and meaning of the clothing was incredible.  Balenciaga: master of couture was also impressive, and I loved seeing the clothing.  The embroidery and design and detail was fun to see.  I even found a dress inspired by Balenciaga that looked very much like our Fifties Fit and Flare (which we will try to bring back, it seems very popular), see below.  I also visited the Montreal Museum of Fine Art which was HUGE and had many wonderful exhibits.  

Native dress with exquisite beading and leather work.

Here is the Baleciaga-inspired 1950s dress which reminded me of Folkwear's Fifties Fit and Flare Dress.

These were weaving treadles from Africa (collected by Picasso, I think) and were considered to be purely decorative.  

5.  Fabric - There are lots of great fabric stores in Montreal, and I certainly did not visit even most of them.  They are covered fairly comprehensively in this Seamwork guide, in Closet Case Patterns article, and Carolyn's (Sew-Eng) blog, so I am not trying to add anything to these amazing resources.  So, I am just going to list some of the places I visited and my impressions.

First, Tissus Marina (2515 St. Hubert) was a sweet, tiny store with a nice woman running it.  It seems she may be retiring in September and closing shop, so there are amazing deals there right now in fabrics!  Tissus Regent also had great prices on fabrics, nothing labeled, and reminded me of the Garment District in NYC where there are random small fabric shops and you never know what you might find.  UltraText (7186 St. Hubert) was full of interesting trims and notions.  My favorite place was Globe-Tex (9320 St. Laurent).  It was, by far, the largest store we went to.  I think they mainly do wholesale, but are happy to sell small quantities to anyone.  Employees were very nice and helpful, even doing a burn test for me on a bolt of fabric to help figure out fiber content!  I was a little worried about setting the whole place aflame, but they knew what they were doing!! I scored some great fabrics (some of which I may be sharing in a couple of kits) and had a great time!  As with most garment district shopping, I was able to bargain for some of my purchases and I always find that fun.  These places are not really on the tourists path, but are worth checking out!

A few trims at UltraTex!

At Globe-Tex

Our trip was lots of fun and we really enjoyed Montreal!  Please let us know if you have been to Montreal (or live there) and what your favorite things to do there are!