Thursday March 8, 2013 Seoul
After many attempts to find good fabric at reasonable prices in various countries, sometimes with pathetic results (like in Japan, where I traipsing all over Tokyo in search of the suggested store, Tokyo Hands, which turned out to be a giant Walmart with crappy fabric), I have finally found the Motherload of all fabric stores – just 50 kilometers out of Seoul.
If you Google “Quilting or patchwork in Seoul” you’ll get a blog named johnnieandangelablogspot.com. It’s the quilt cult again – quilters helping quilters.
The site gives directions to the Jije Station south east of the city and step by step instructions to the store. I took the subway, which entailed a two-hour trip and two transfers each way. The cost of my subway tickets both ways: under 10,000 won, which is under $10.00 US.
Here’s the Jije Station.
Yep, only rice fields and dirt roads out here.This is where the man passed me muttering something in a tone which was certainly not “Good afternoon.”
I followed the blog’s directions and photos in the walk from the station to the fabric warehouse store called Happy Quilts. This entailed a couple dirt roads past rice fields (yes, we are in the country), and crossing a bridge over a stream. But there it was among other warehouse looking buildings (and next to a barking dog who was thankfully chained): Happy Quilts.
Here’s the Happy Quilt warehouse – in the last photo here.
The store had a huge variety of fabrics – unfortunately not organized in “Japanese section” and “Australian section” etc. (When I asked if they had Japanese fabric the older man said no, even though they did have it.) Basically, no one in the shop spoke English, except they did understand the words “How much does this cost?” And that was the good news.
These fabrics were from top fabric designers, many from the US, but other countries too, and they only cost $1.20 US for a fat square and $4 US per yard! That’s about 1/3 the price of good quilt fabric in the US and 1/5 of what I paid in Australia (hmmm, did I mention Australian prices to John?).
There were even fabrics by Vera Bradley, which you can’t even buy in the US except for remnants on eBay, also $4 per yard. And I found some of the very same Australian Aborigine fabric that I bought in Sydney for $20 per yard – again $4 per yard. Much of the fabric was packaged in 2-yard precut pieces. In a little more than an hour, I purchased 23 yards of fabric plus a 12 piece fat square for $105.00 US.
Vera Bradley fabrics – $4 per yard.
Some cute little girl prints:
The whole stash addition:
On the way home in the crowded subway (which is above ground on the Jije Station segment of the trip), a nice gentleman sitting next to where I was standing offered to keep my bag of fabric at his feet for me – all in sign language. Then several stops later on the 50-minute ride, he saw me shifting my weight (while I’m holding the loop thing that hangs down) and he tapped me indicating that he would give me his seat. A stop later another seat opened up several seats away from me and he got to sit again – and he smiled in my direction. I got another smile from that man in the brown suit on my way out the door.
Then on the next segment of the subway ride, the scene repeated itself. This time a cute old lady tapped me while I stood, one hand in the loop, and I put my bag of fabric at her feet. When a seat opened, she tapped me and pointed to the opening. When another seat opened next to her she tapped me again and indicated I should move right next to her. All of this happened without a spoken word. This might sound kind of creepy but it wasn’t: as I was getting my jacket on getting ready to depart at the next exit, the lady noticed a piece of yarn on my sleeve and plucked it off. Again, as I departed from the subway car, I had a friend to smile at. This lady was still smiling at me after the subway doors closed.
I have found that traveling alone often brings out the best in other people. Maybe it’s that I often have that pathetic appearance of someone who’s clueless with a map in her hands, or that I’m a woman, and an older one at that (although I don’t see myself as older for some weird reason). Whatever the reason, I was pretty much the only nonAsian I saw all day, and the Korean people were nice to me.
Except for one guy. As I was passing a man on the dirt path returning to the Jije Station, he got just past me and said something in a tone that must have translated as something like “Those God damned foreigners!” But then I’ll never know.
We had another Korean barbecue tonight, this time with the whole Kohler Asia team. Just like in Japan, you take off your shoes and sit on the floor around a low table. The Korean BBQ entails charcoal grilling, with the server doing all the work of turning the meat and cutting it up in bite sized pieces. Sides are coleslaw (horseradish), salad, kimchi, garlic, and lettuce for wrapping the meat.
Notice we are sitting on the floor, Japanese style. John said, when people started popping up to make toasts, “Once I get up, we will have to leave. My legs aren’t going under this table again.”
Now we are off for Germany. How sad that our suitcase is now totally stuffed – no more fabric purchases. John noticed the weight difference when we packed.
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