Dear Diva Readers,
top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 60px; line-height: 50px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>While I’m “On the Road Again” this summer with various Antiques Diva Tours, I’ve asked a few friends and colleagues to write some guest posts. One of those posts is by the amazing Di Venter, the proprietress of Made By Di – she also happens to the designer of our sensational Antiques Diva® Tour bags given to VIP clients! So ta, ta, from me – and Guten Tag from Made By Di!
The Antiques Diva®
Meet Di Venter – the Gorgeous South African born, Berlin-Based Designer and Owner of “Made By Di”
Dear Diva Readers,
Everyone who crafts has one thing in common – we hoard craft gadgets and supplies! The supply I am most obsessed with hoarding, above all others, is definitely fabric. I am not sure if this love of fabric is due to my career or my upbringing – my Mum has always sewn for enjoyment and as a result, there were always beautiful fabrics dotted around our home growing up. As to career: In South Africa, I worked first in Interior Decorating, so always had remnant fabric pieces from various jobs, then I worked in Advertising & Marketing for an international fabric house and I always managed to get great fabrics through this. At that point, I was mainly designing & sewing handbags, so the gorgeous fabrics in sample size pieces were a good fit, as handbags do not require great volumes of fabric.
South Africa also has a solid reputation for producing great quality fabrics, and until the recent influx of cheap Chinese fabrics, we had many fabric mills operating and flourishing within our borders. Cost of living is considerably lower in Africa, so production wages are lower, leading to more reasonably priced goods. Combine that with a culture of handcraft and the result is that you can find a sewing supply store in almost every shopping center in South Africa.
When my hubby & I first spoke about our potential move to Berlin, the first thing that went through my head was the idea that Berlin, with it’s creative reputation would be a great place to source fabrics and other sewing supplies. Especially as many of the sewing supplies I regularly used were produced in Germany. I expected a sea of sewing supply stores! You can then understand my disappointment when we arrived, only to find that I had to hunt out sewing supply stores! And when I found them, the cost of supplies was staggering! For a single 35cm Prym zip I paid more than 5x what I was used to paying for a 35cm Prym zip in SA. The irony being that Prym is a German company! Fabrics that in South Africa are priced at 2€ a meter were priced at 10€ a meter here! Oh how my heart sank. That is, until a good friend – Chef in Berlin – introduced me to the Turkish Market on Maybachufer.
Chef in Berlin & The Antiques Diva®
You can buy pretty much anything here –lamb, flavoured mustards, breads, cheeses, olives, good Turkish delight, scarves, shirts, jackets, kids’ wear, fresh veggies, spices, nuts, fresh fish, and even shoes… ! My friend The Antiques Diva picked up these great sandals for her summer fun!
On top of all these other great purchases…. You can buy fabric at the Turkish Market in Berlin!!!
The price point starts at 1.50€ a meter, and while you do have to be aware of seconds and look for flaws, there is a lot of top quality fabric to be had. It has been my experience that vendors measure honestly, and are open to bargaining, especially on end of rolls.
I have found the same fabrics that can be found at the Turkish market in various stores around Berlin – the same quality as well – for more than double the prices. Low overheads, and I suspect bringing them in directly from other (EU?) countries, allows them to still make their margins at a much lower price to the shopper. The range is quite amazing as well. I have bought wools, cottons, lace, taffetas and silks.
As I make quite a few ‘children targeted’ items, one of my favorite vendors (where there is always a queue) sells a huge range of spotted fabrics, woven cotton checks, and various prints that are great for kids. His fabrics are generally good quality, 100% cotton, and the print is perfect. His prices are very good, and he is there every market day.
A tip: want to know if a fabric is cotton? Burn a little bit! If it makes ash, gives off little smoke and smells like burning paper, it is cotton. Here is another helpful guide.
photo credit Chef in Berlin
Another favorite of mine is the man who sells interfacing, wadding, ribbons, bias binding and lace (as well as many other things). I buy decent weight & quality wadding for quilts from him for 6€ a meter that can be bought in quilting shops for around 17€ per meter. Sadly, I only found his store AFTER I bought horse hair interfacing (used in handbag production) online from the UK. He sells it for less than 1/3 of what I had it shipped in for! I do have to confess that his range of crocheted lace, ribbons and such, makes my little heart sing!
Photo credit Chef in Berlin
A day trip to the market is well recommended whether to experience Berlin culture, a bite of ethnic food or to do like I do and stock up on craft and sewing supplies in Berlin!
The Turkish Market is open Tuesdays and Fridays from 10:30. Go just before closing time (18:30) and be assured of good bargains on fresh produce.
Made by Di