Fabric Lover’s Tourist Trap

with 2 Comments

“You have two hours to explore the Old Town.  Find lunch, wander and meet back here.”

Not a bad thing to hear on a beautiful Spring day in any European city shopping district!

We happened to be in Bilbao, Spain.  The teenagers headed off unsupervised (most found KFC much to the horror of the foodies) and the chaperones headed for the street cafes.  I split off to wander absorbing the sights, sounds and energy away from other Americans.  Minutes into my meandering and window shopping, I was caught by the word “Tejidos” on the sign of one of the shops, Fabric!  My first glance in the shop confirmed I was not going to have time for lunch.

Bilbao Fabric Shop



Rafael Matias, Tejidos desde 1957, is probably the most visually stunning fabric shop I have ever been in.  The fabric formed rainbows of color.  Each section a different texture.



Bilbao Fabric




Shelves extended back along the walls from the narrow front of the store. There was every kind of fabric.  I found beautiful laces, fashion fabrics, quilting fabrics…  AND THEN I FOUND THE STAIRS!



 Bilbao Fabric Shop

Upstairs I found twice the space as the ground floor. I also found the dress wools and the bridal fabrics.


Bilbao Fabric Shop



With the Bridal whites in front of me, there was a gentle breeze and the soft sounds of the walking street below coming through an open balcony door. Heavenly!

My good fortune continued when the text came in “We’ve extended the deadline by 2 hours.”  I might be able to squeeze in some lunch.



Bilbao Fabric Shop


I must admit I felt the need to bring home some souvenirs. Here’s how it worked; Once ready you get a number from the dispenser on the ground floor.  As clerks became available they took the person with the next number.  From there, the clerk and customer would travel the store to each desired fabric. The clerk would pull the desired bolt and cut at the nearest cutting table.  Clerk, customer and cut treasure then moved to the next treasure, upstairs, around corners, in alcoves or wherever it might be.


How much came home?  A girl never tells.



2 Responses

  1. Leslie Williams
    | Reply

    Love your story. Loved Bilbao. How did I miss that shop? Also Love textile hunting while traveling. Anthology Fabrics does a fabulous trip of a lifetime for textile junkies to Bali – and you get to stamp and dye your own fabric at the factory they have. Jus sayin’

    • Mech
      | Reply

      That sounds wonderful! Life is Good!

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