I've been living in Washington, DC for the summer--away from most of my belongings, including my sewing machine. However, this has not stopped me from planning all of the things I would like to make when I return to my apartment in a few weeks. At the beginning of my summer, I spent a couple of weeks in Chicago, where I picked up some of my stash of fabrics from Africa and Asia. Mostly they are clothes I purchased or had made for me while traveling that don't quite fit into my American wardrobe. I still love the fabrics though, and I'm hopeful that I will be able to use them in a more Western fashion so that they can become a part of my everyday wear.
Indian cottons--most purchased at FabIndia in Chennai. I love block printed Indian fabrics. Perhaps I'll teach myself how to make something similar.
Pagne purchased in Cameroon, Africa. The top and bottom are Dutch Wax prints--considered to be the highest quality available in Cameroon. The one in the middle is a Kaba (a very very large dress) sent to me as a gift from one of my host mothers. I love the little embracing people. There are large medallions featuring some building in Cameroon.
D.C. is also an excellent place to search through estate sales. They are often listed on Craigslist or the Washington Post classifieds. It can be hit or miss, but sometimes they tell you that the homeowner was a seamstress and has fabrics for sale. I've been to about a dozen estate sales this summer. I picked up a couple of pieces of fabric, as well as some curtains, pillow cases, a bed skirt, and a bed spread that I hope to refashion.
My current favorite estate find were a pair of pale yellow/gold curtains that will give me 2-3 yards of fabric for under $2. It's clearly a very synthetic material, but I like the color and feel of the fabric.
I'm thinking of making a dress inspired by this Milly dress, seen at Nordstrom's for $355. I like the simple lines and the pairing of a velvety toned black fabric with the lighter, textured creamy fabric. Now I just need to find the perfect pattern!