Wednesday, 18 March 2015

I Support Local: An Interview with Frangipani Fabrics

An Interview with Frangipani Fabrics
From the first time I walked into Frangipani Fabrics I knew I'd found a store I would love. I don't know if it's the fresh, modern environment, the friendly staff, or the great range of fabric and patterns, but I would always make a real effort to visit whenever I was in Tasmania.  Now that I live here, the only thing stopping me from setting up a permanent drooling space in the corner is the fact that I don't always have a car...and do always have a toddler.
Over the past few months Briony has been a fantastic source of information and assistance with a few business initiatives I have bubbling away in my mind. I knew, before I even started advertising I Support Local, that I absolutely had to corner her for an interview. Lucky for me, she was just as eager as I was. Here I give you the lovely Briony of...

Frangipani Fabrics
Image Property of Frangipani Fabrics
Who are you?
Manager of modern Hobart sewing nook Frangipani Fabrics (together with mum Ann, and dedicated staff members, Cath, Gabbie and Jess).  I grew up in Darwin, but escaped the cyclones and cane toads to move to Tassie about 10 years ago (does that mean I’m Tasmanian now?) 

Cath, Jodie Carleton, Briony and Ann
Cath, Jodie Carleton, Briony and Ann: Image Property of Frangipani Fabrics
Growing up with a mum and grandmother who spent every spare minute trawling fabric shops, or chained to the sewing machine– it was inevitable - I was lost to the crafty cause pretty early on.  I absolutely love pattern, colour and design and am happiest when creating.  My trusty Huskie has permanently taken over the dining room table (what, you mean it has another purpose?), and I try to sew for at least 30 minutes a night, after putting the kids to bed.  Even if means just sewing an eye onto a doll - I know I'll get there in the day.
I truly believe in the meditative and restorative powers of doing creative things (I’ve seen it in action many times!) and know that small, independent craft shops like ours have a special place in people’s lives. 
I hope that we're making the world just a little bit happier, friendlier and more colourful by running Frangipani Fabrics.  

May Blossom Showcase
May Blossom Showcase: Image Property of Frangipani Fabrics
What are your products/services? Do you have something you specialise in?

At Frangipani Fabrics our first love is modern fabrics and quilts.  We’re so excited to be part of the modern quilting movement that is going global at the moment & try to fill the shop with modern fabrics (including Cotton and Steel, Tula Pink, Carolyn Freidlander and Cloud 9)  and patterns (Elizabeth Hartmann, Jess Frost, Jaybird Quilts, Jelliquilts and Carolyn Freidlander).  We are proud founding members of the Tassie Modern Quilt Guild.  This guild has only been operating for a few months and has quickly become the second largest Modern Quilt Guild in Australia.  Our members are currently working on our first raffle quilt (Carolyn Friedlander’s Aerial in vibrant solids) and our challenge for the Island Quilts exhibition at the Launceston Craft and Quilt Fair, which has the theme “Prism”. 

Cotton and Steel
Cotton and Steel: Image Property of Frangipani Fabrics
We have just released our class list for the first half of this year and have packed it with fresh, modern classes including Elizabeth Hartmann’s wonderful Aviatrix Medallion and the quirky Hazel the Hedgehog; and a block of the month based on the book Vintage Quilt Revival.  We ran this block of the month class last year and it was amazing to see students who had only sewn one quilt before tackle advanced foundation, improv and partial pieceing.  I think they were pretty proud of themselves!  We’re so lucky to have some great teachers including blogger and modern quilt maker Jess Frost (  Her use of colour and design is amazing and she is also a dab hand at quilt maths.
Cath, Jess and I also run friendly drop in sewing classes on Wednesdays and Thursdays and Night Owl sewing on Monday nights.  These classes are fantastic because students can come and sew anything (from a felt fox, to a frock) and we’re there to support them.  No question is too silly (“which way up does my bobbin go?”, “what happens when I press this button?”).  We’re experts at unjamming machines. 
Other treasures at Frangipani Fabrics  include a rainbow of wool felt, cotton dress fabric patterns for little and big people (most in downloadable PDF format including Sis Boom, Amy Butler and Make it Perfect – if you don’t know how to use PDF patterns – we can help), softie patterns (including Ric Rac, May Blossom, Two Brown Birds and Melly and Me).  We also have a good range of general habby (including lovely, old fashioned things like bodkins and mushroom darners), batting and threads. 

You can buy most things on our website and we are now offering FREE POSTAGE in Tassie on everything, all the time!
Do you have a personal favourite in the products you sell?
The trio of folk style wool felt Festive Birds that Cath and I designed last Christmas are my absolute favourites.  Although there is lots of detailed embroidery and appliqué in them, you work with big pieces of felt so they’re surprisingly easy to sew.  We’ve even bought them a special gold tree in which to perch.
Festive birds
Festive Birds: Image Property of Frangipani Fabrics
I’m completely in love with the Cotton and Steel fabric (I don’t know what we have been doing without this design team for so long), as are our customers.  Sometimes there is even enough fabric left over for non-staff members!
I’m also a big fan of our Aussie soft toy designers Ric Rac (Jodie Carleton), Two Brown Birds (Fiona Tully) and May Blossom (Simone Gooding).  We’ve been working closely with these designers and it’s like Christmas when one of their soft toys comes to visit in the mail.  Jodie came to teach her Ginger and Blue foxes for us last year and she is completely mad in a good way!   
Ric Rac Workshop
Ric Rac Workshop: Image Property of Frangipani Fabrics
 What do you love about being an Australian business?
It can actually be quite hard to be an Australian business, competing with unbeatable US fabric prices and a global market place.  The only way we can thrive is through good customer service, creativity, marketing (including social media), and offering something a little bit different by sourcing great products.  I love supporting small, niche Australian designers like modern cross stitcher Crafty Like a Fox, and fabulous, courageous screenprinters Cat and Vee. 
Oh, and did I mention that we offer free postage in Tassie?
Crafty Like a Fox
Crafty Like a Fox: Image Property of Frangipani Fabrics
Why do you think supporting local business is important?
Wow, where do I start? It’s great that you’re getting people thinking about how they spend their craft dollar.
Apart from the obvious answer that you’re benefiting the local economy and making your community stronger and more interesting, supporting your local fabric shop leads to so many good things.  There is the wonderful experience of being able to lose yourself amongst all those bolts of fabrics and rifle through remnants and fat quarters, plus your local, independent craft shop also offers expert, in-person help (we’ve always got time for you and we’ll never let you down when you visit with that oh so urgent quilt project that has gone horribly wrong.)
Though you can create a sense of community online and through blogging, it can’t really replace the physical reality of a fabric shop. Online communities can sometimes feel a bit intangible, whereas we offer a concrete space that won’t disappear depending on your wifi connection! Over the years, we’ve met so many wonderful people, whether they’ve come in for a browse or for a class, and they in turn have met other likeminded people through the shop. This has created a fantastic sense of community, and the shop itself acts like a home base.
We can also introduce you to ideas, products, techniques, and projects that you may not have discovered otherwise – and if you run into any problems attempting these, you can come straight to us!
By supporting us you’re also supporting the Australian craft industry whether it’s designers, or fabric suppliers.  It makes sense to think about it this way – if you buy more locally, your local shops will be able to offer more choice, and suppliers and designers will start to support your community. 
Do you have any suggestions on how we can support local business more?
Most of us are on a limited budget, but it’s really important to shop locally consciously to keep our craft industry alive and buzzing - to maintain choice, expertise and diversity. 
Simple things such as liking them Facebook, subscribing to their newsletter, recommending them to your friends, trying one of their classes, and just buying something small, like a fat quarter every time you visit – every single purchase is important in keeping us in business and making a difference to the vibrancy of your local craft scene. 
Where can we find you?

Shop Location: 78 Queen St, Sandy Bay, Hobart
Paper Pieced Umbrella
Image Property of Frangipani Fabrics
Thanks so much, Briony, for a great look at Frangipani Fabrics and some fresh thinking into why we should all support more local businesses. I feel I should be closing with some deep, profound statement...but instead I'm stuck on the free postage in Tasmania...


  1. Frangipani is definitely on a winner with free postage in Tassie. One of my favourite stores. Ruth

    1. Isn't it fantastic? I'm just waiting until payday and then I'll be taking full advantage of free postage hahaha

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