Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Fabric Shopping in Bali: Sarongs from Istana Batik in Kuta, Bali

Rayon sarongs are very popular among the tourists in Bali and there are lots of reasons why. They are usually bright and colourful, cool and comfortable, great to wear around the pool or beach and can be dressed up for casual dinners, they are "holiday clothes", and they make great gifts. Some people also like to buy them to use for other sewing projects.

When I was last in Bali, 12 years ago, all of the sarongs were batik print, and some had tie dye. Batik is still the most popular but some modern designs are creeping in as well. I had been looking for a good place to buy sarongs, a dedicated seller not just from the markets. We passed this place one day in a taxi and I was thrilled that we made it back there on our second last day.

The address is No. 3AA, Jalan Patih Jelantik, Kuta, Bali. It is near a large and busy intersection, most taxi drivers would have no trouble finding it. It is in a row of shops that sell batik and tie dyed muslim clothing, in fact the shop has some out the front, but we didn't see any inside. I think you go to their shop next door for those.

When you go inside you will see huge piles of neatly stacked sarongs. The samples are hung from the roof and high around the walls. You just point to one and they will get it out of the stack for you.

We spent a lot of time here, and the staff were lovely. They even gift wrapped the ones we were giving away with a coconut sarong buckle for Rp2000 (AUD$1 = Rp10500). They offered to take us to the factory to see how they are made, but as we were going home we didn't have enough time. On my last trip I had the opportunity to see a craftsman working on a large batik piece and it was amazing.

There are two types of sarong: first class and second class. The print will be the same but the quality of the rayon was different. We actually couldn't tell them apart at first. The second class sarongs were Rp25,000, and the first class were Rp35,000 (so roughly $2.50 and $3.50). Some of these sarongs in the market were Rp70,000 to Rp100,000 and in the department stores for US$15 each!

If you were looking for some lovely rayon fabric to make into girls dresses or summer clothes, I would recommend coming to this shop. They have multiple of each print so you can buy 2 or 3 sarongs and know that when you cut them out and sew them together it will all look like the same dye lot. I am so looking forward to the warmer weather so I can try out a few of my new sarongs while sitting around the pool.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Fabric Shopping in Bali: Toko Madju batik patchwork fabric in Jalan Sulawesi

Driving around Denpasar I had seen some lovely fabric shops dotted here and there, but Jalan Sulwesi is a street dedicated to just fabric shops and well worth the trip. The street is lined with fabric shops like this:

If you are looking for formal or bridal fabric you will find it here, but as there are so many shops selling similar fabric it would be worth shopping around.

There are a few things you need to do to prepare yourself before you go to Sulawesi Street. These are things I had learned from other fabric shoppers, and from our experience.

Before you go:

  • Make sure you go to the toilet beforehand (although there is a Asian public toilet on Gold Street if you need it)
  • Make sure you are well and up for fabric shopping - it can be draining.
  • Make sure your family is well and up for your fabric shopping
  • Take water with you
  • Take snacks with you (although there are some traditional food carts around, but not many)
  • Take baby wipes and hand santiser (everything is dusty, batik fabric can be dirty)
  • Take a fan (there is no air conditioning anywhere - you can pick them up for about $1)
  • Take your camera
  • Be adventurous and always courteous

Every taxi driver knows where Jalan Sulawesi is. Straight away they will smile and say, "Oooh, you want some fabric?" They will usually drop you at the northern end of the street. This is the start of the fabric shops. If you look across the little river you will see the traditional markets. These are multi-storey markets with everything packed in very tight. It is like a rabbit warren inside, dark and very steamy, and it is where locals shop. On the ground floor there are fruit and vegetable sellers, butchers, and rice and cracker and dry goods sellers as well as kitchen ware. We loved walking through there and had fond memories of our last time in the traditional markets. If you want to buy any Balinese souvenirs and homewares there is an Art Market there that has really lovely things at fantastic prices. Be prepared that the traditional market will have a very distinct smell that Westerners may not like much. But remember, be adventurous and always be courteous.

Standing on the traditional market side and looking back to my patient family.

 And looking right down the street...

And left...

OK, back to the fabric. If you are after patchwork fabric, you will find it in one of the first shops. It is Toko Madjo, shop number 19, Jalan Sulawesi, Denpasar.

This is what it looks like from the street, not much but there are lovely things inside. As soon I we entered a man came up to me and talked about jelly rolls and fat quarters and I knew I was in the right place! At the very front are the rayon batiks, but the rest of the shop is 100% cotton.

They only had jelly rolls in three colour ways, but I loved them. The peach coloured one actually has a rainbow of muted colours in it and was exactly what I was looking for. There were 40 strips in each roll, two strips of each colour. I bought three peach rolls for me! Plus, extras for gifts. The fat quarter packs have 18 fat quarters in them. There were a number of different colour ways and our eldest spent an hour sorting and resorting them so they looked nice. I bought a lot of these because there was a lot of variety and they were too gorgeous to leave there!! Now, I can't remember exactly but the prices were something like $12 for the jelly rolls and $15 for the fat quarters. I really went a bit nuts with the fabric shopping here.

They also had a few handmade things like these sweet zippered pouches with Suffolk Puffs sewn all over them...

And these stuffed animals.

There was a small waiting area for the patient family.

And all around the walls in the front half of the shop were racks with lovely lengths of batik hanging in colour families.


I asked the girls to stand in front of their favourite colours.

And they had some very plain marble wash type of fabric to match with the traditional batik.

In the centre of the room are piles of printed lengths of batik. These are various lengths, depending on what the maker was working on at the time. All of this hand dyed fabric, and the ones on the bolts, is only $2.50 per metre!!! It is ludicrously cheap, but absolutely lovely. I could have bought it all. I ended up just getting 6m of a teal batik that I would use for the back of the batik quilt I was planning. The majority of my purchases were pre-cut because I really wanted the variety. As you can see, there were a lot of local men in this shop and they were after certain fabrics. I am not sure why. I was the only woman there for a while until two other Australian patchworkers walked in.

Lovely patient hubby showing how I actually did spend every rupiah he had.

In the back half of the shop you will find fabric on bolts like we get here.

And at the table you could see where someone had been working on more fat quarter packs.

This shop is simply amazing for patchworkers. I highly, highly, highly recommend visiting this shop. It was one of the highlights of my trip and I will be enjoying using the fabric, and the finished quilts, for years to come. In my next post I'll show you a fantastic place for sarongs.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Fabric shopping in Bali: Alta Moda in Kuta

In June 2014 we had the opportunity to go to Bali. This was the girls first trip overseas so it was very exciting for them. It had been such a long time since I had been overseas so I was very excited, too. My passport was so far passed expiry that I had to apply for a whole new one. In fact, when I showed the girls my passport they were fascinated by the stamps from different countries, but then they said, "Who is that in the photo?" Yep. That would be me. Last century. Before I had children. When I used to be able to travel the world. Thanks, girls.

Anyway, we had the time of our lives in Bali. Three beautiful weeks in the hot humid weather. We totally relaxed. No one got sick. Our youngest did remarkably well with her egg allergy, which is the main reason why we haven't travelled overseas with the girls before. It was such a great success and the girls have now gotten the international travelling bug.

I was particularly keen on this trip to buy some batik fabric for a particular quilt I had in mind, so before I went I was madly researching fabric shops in Bali. We have some Balinese friends who were able to help give me some guidance. You will find fabric in Bali unlike anything you have seen before. The colours are amazing! And the weaves and feel and shine are incredible. It just makes you want to sew formal wear!!

In the next few posts I will be sharing with you my experience of fabric shopping in Bali. First stop was Alta Moda in Kuta. I had read some other blog posts about this shop and I was keen to see it with my own eyes just for the luxuriousness of it. It turns out it wasn't that far from our hotel in Legian, which is a dangerous thing. Let me just say I could walk there easily, however I had significant trouble walking back with kilos and kilos of fabric. Here are the details:

Alta Moda Bali
Jl. Patih Jelantik
Istana Kuta Galeria
Blok Entrance I No. 03 - 06
Kuta 8036, Bali
Phone: (62) 0361-769200 / 203
E-mail: AMBALI@alta-moda.com

I do need to say that this is not a cheap fabric shop. You will not find bargains here, however for me, I found what I was looking for and for less than what I could get it for here in Australia. There are no fabric shops near me so I always take that into consideration. If I am after a particular fabric it could be a 30 min to 1 hour drive away, and I may not find the right one. I was after lycra for swimwear and physie leotards and I got what I wanted at this shop. Alta Moda is one of the most expensive fabric shops in Bali, but it is really worth visiting for the experience.

Alta Moda was under some construction when I was there, which will be finished now. They were adding another level to the top. They had already converted their underground car parking to more shop space for fabric, but as you will see, there is so much stock that another floor is definitely needed. There are a lot of staff on each floor and they will walk with you wherever you go. This is the Asian way of shopping. We are not used to it, and many Australians feel like they are been watched or not trusted, but that is just a part of the service here. You have to accept it gracefully.

This is what it looks like from the outside. There is a tailor here, too, and I believe if you are getting some tailoring done the fabrics are cheaper, but we weren't using that service. There was also a curtain maker here.

The first thing you notice when you walk in is the air conditioning!!! It is wonderfully cool in here, and then you notice the quality of the shop fittings: gold chandeliers, high ceilings, the scroll work on every shelf, the staff, etc.

This is from the elevator at the back of the first floor, looking towards the front door.

As soon as you walk in, an attendant will join you. They will stay with you the whole time and take you from floor to floor. I was lucky enough to have the owner as my attendant. He had worked in Haymarket in Sydney for many years.

On the ground floor there are a lot of traditional Balinese fabrics. There were quite a few local women purchasing fabric for new traditional dress. We were visiting Bali during Galungan and Kuningan.

There were also traditional batik fabrics, but not the kind I was after for a quilt I had in mind.

The lycra was on the ground floor to the left as you walk in. You can take the stair to the other levels (with bolts of fabric lining the stair) or the golden elevator. This the view from the elevator door. Every floor looks like this. Fabric everywhere, as far as you can see.

I think this is the top floor. So many fabrics I am confused now. There was one floor for bridal and formal fabrics with the most divine laces, satins, brocades, etc.

Notice the chandelier. There is a lot of seating around if you would prefer to be seated and the staff will bring fabric to you.

This was the entrance to the car park level. Now it is a window with a display mannequin.

And there is a stepped ramp that used to be the driveway access to the underground car park. Who needs car parking when you can have more fabric???

 And this is the bottom of the driveway section, where you would be starting to look for a car space.

And the next few are the car park.

There were lots of modern dressmaking fabrics available.

My family dropped me there and went to a walk to find some cold drinks and snacks. They knew I would be a while. But when they came back they were pretty amazed at it all, especially the golden elevator.

And here we are in the mens department. I have never in my life seen so many shirting or suit fabrics. This was the first floor up from the ground floor and you could look over the rail down to the lobby. This is just one section.

Notice the detail in the architraves?

This is the girls favourite floor, formal fabrics of course.

Yes, there were mirrored walls and flat screen TVs and lounges everywhere.

This detailing was everywhere. I love the enclosed lighting.

It certainly was an experience. I really enjoyed shopping here just for the total bombardment of colours and textures. I haven't used any of the lycra yet, but I am going to have a go at sewing swimwear this summer so stayed tuned.

In my next post I will tell you about the fabric shops in Denpasar in Jalan Sulawesi. Much cheaper fabric, but you have to be prepared before you go.

Thanks for stopping by!