Handmade: Customers flock to new Haberman Fabrics shop

Jocelynn Brown
The Detroit News

Its new location may be smaller, but customers of Haberman Fabrics can still expect the same excellent service and quality merchandise they've grown accustomed to in years past. 

From left, Susan Seo, apparel manager, Natalie Trevaskis, store buyer, Patty Weir, store owner, Cindy Boese, class director, and Kay Soyka, apparel manager, at Haberman Fabrics in Clawson.

New owner, Patty Weir of Washington Township, who purchased the (now) 60-year-old business last year from previous owners Sam and Toby Haberman, moved the store from its recent location in downtown Royal Oak to 1060 W. 14 Mile in Clawson, just five months ago. 

Weir and her "passionate staff" of 13 women, all of whom were employed at the Royal Oak location, have worked hard to re-create "that old department store feel" that's always been synonymous with the name Haberman Fabrics.

Patty Weir, owner of Haberman Fabrics in Clawson.

And, although the square footage has been reduced considerably -- down from 18,000 to 7,000 square feet -- customers are greeted with the same fine fabrics and sewing notions, and with fewer "open walkways and empty spaces," which can make for an easier shopping experience.

Weir said, "We're an apparel fabric store. We've always specialized in our natural fibers, wool, silks, linens and cottons -- verses being a craft store. We specialize more in apparel and home decorating fabric. We still have our large button selection, and we're known for our service. We're all sewers and knowledgeable about fabric.

"We have the same customer base, and they seem very happy. We have the same services and fabric -- from our $4.98 a yard designer sample cuts to our special occasion and bridal laces."  

In addition to size, the only other noticeable difference is that sewing machines are no longer sold in the store. Weir said, "That was a separate store." 

Asked what she thinks of the new store, Detroiter Wilma Ballard, a customer for nearly 50 years, said, "I love it! I absolutely love it! I was so afraid we were losing it all together, so when Patty stepped up, I was thrilled. It's a smaller space, but it's personal and intimate, and they still have the great quality fabric and people you can talk with." 

Long-time customer Sandra Cardew of Royal Oak, who's shopped at every past location, added, "It's a little smaller, and they don't have quite the variety, but they keep getting new things in, and if you're on their mailing list, you get updates about new fabrics. Parking is good. They have a lot right next to the store."

Despite the smaller space, customers continue to come from near and far. "We actually have people come from Flint, Windsor, the eastside, the westside.  We are still very central to our customer base," said Weir. "One day, I had a Toledo, Brighton and Cleveland person in the store. We have a group of 15 women coming in October  from the American Sewing Guild chapter in Ohio. They'll drive 3 1/2 hours, have lunch, attend a demonstration and shop in the store." 

Weir thinks it's the "quick demos" for simple projects that bring "a lot of people" into the store. "We did the circle skirt, the maxi skirt, the four-season cape/wrap and infinity scarves -- items that are quick and satisfying, and that you can make for a quick gift idea." 

Other activities at the store include specific sewing classes -- Begin to Sew, the Kids Camp, and advanced sewing (coats, pants, veils, etc.).

For decorating inspiration, customers will find a "gallery" filled with many fabric samples to choose from. "We assist with their designs for window treatments, pillows, recovering sofas, draperies," said Weir. 

Upcoming activities include a two-day "Costumes & Cosplay" event, set for Sept. 13 and 15, that will feature award-winning costume designer/illustrator/author Kristie Good of Karmada Arts. 

Megan Marcoux, Haberman's communications manager, said, "Kristie will bring an array of her amazing costumes for a trunk show, meet and greet, and (do a) book signing. Following this event is a two-part seminar on Saturday, September 15. This will include sewing techniques for simple, yet impressive costumes for Halloween, comic conventions, renaissance festivals, theater, and more! Kristie will cover several sewing techniques that can even be used in everyday garment sewing."

Plans for more fun and creativity are in the making, as Weir is currently renovating the large space above the store, with hopes of renting it to "a creative business -- possibly a knit shop, quilt shop, alterations company, or all of the above."  She already has a catchy name in mind for the "whole building" -- "Fashion on Fourteen." She said, "It would just be a fun term to use!" 

Detroit News Columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, jbrown@detroitnews.com or facebook.com/DetroitNewsHandmade.

Contact Haberman Fabrics (1060 W. 14 Mile, Clawson) at (248) 541-0010 or habermanfabrics.com