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WhizBang Fabrics

Fabrics to Make Your Creations Explode With Color and Design

Over the past year you may have noticed a few new shops have popped up in the ActivSpace building on the corner of 18th and Treat Streets in the Mission. One of these stores is WhizBang Fabrics, where you can find new designer fabrics as well as some vintage ones, accessories, clothing patterns and Cookie and the Dude products.

You may already be familiar with the popular Cookie and the Dude headbands, wallets and sashes made with vintage and reproduction fabrics that are sold in boutiques throughout the city. The designer behind the company, Helen Fawcett, is also the owner of WhizBang Fabrics.

WhizBang fabrics grew out of Helen’s love of sewing. She picked this hobby up from her mother who used to sew her clothes, Halloween costumes and doll clothes. While in college, Helen studied both art and psychology, with an intention to pursue art therapy. As time went on, though, Helen knew that she wanted to do something that was more tactile.

Helen’s sewing creations started with the vintage fabric she collected. She gave the pieces a fresh face by creating handbags with old material. She also utilized all the little scraps to make small pieces like eye pillows and sachets. On her first sale at a friend’s house, everything sold out. Then five years ago, Helen started Cookie and the Dude. They first sold headbands, bags and other accessories at trunk shows, home shows and craft fairs. Now you can find them in stores across the United States.

In the past few years, Helen found herself running over to the East Bay or down to Santa Cruz to buy some of the special fabrics she favors. Luckily for you, you can now find those one of a kind and vintage fabrics at her store.

WhizBang Fabrics carries fabrics from companies such as Amy Butler, Robert Kaufman, Alexander Henry, Echino, and Michael Miller. You can find reproduction, retro, novelty, quilting, upholstery and Japanese import fabrics.

If you’re curious about the whimsical name, “WhizBang” is an homage to Helen’s great grandfather, Wilford Hamilton "Captain Billy" Fawcett. For those of you not familiar with the name or never picked up a Woman’s Day or a Captain Marvel, Wilford Fawcett is the man that started Fawcett Publications in1919. His interest in publishing was sparked by the printing of his first bawdy cartoon and joke magazine, Captain Billy's Whiz Bang.

People come into WhizBang Fabrics not only looking for fabric for clothing, but also accessories, home projects and art projects. Most fabrics run under $10 a yard, including the Alexander Henry Koto Ancient City Pink and the Vintage Storybook IV Collection based on designs from the 1930s. Other fabrics include the Valori Wells Solé Home Décor ($17), Bantu Organic Blue from Amy Butler ($25), and the Joel Dewberry Ginseng Collection in rust with off-white wildflowers ($17).

If you’re looking for something really different, there are a few buckets full of one-of-a-kind vintage fabrics like a print with red hens and flowers in corduroy ($14), a 50s era scene of a fox hunt ($12), and a heavy-weight cotton print with blue and red flowers ($17).

They also stock new and vintage patterns. You can find a few patterns like the French bag from Amy Butler ($13), a cook’s cover-up called Indigo Junction from Kathy Fernholz ($12), or the Riviera Kiss Me Coat from ($21).

Though it’s obvious that WhizBang Fabrics doesn’t have the quantity of stock of stores like Fabric Outlet in the Mission or Fabrix in the Inner Richmond, they make up for it in quality of stock.

Currently the store also offers a few items on consignment from local designers, like handmade Italian leather cuffs by designer Kristin MacMahon ($35). Look for the store to shift from just fabrics to more of a fabric boutique in October 2008. WhizBang will be selling pieces made from fabric purchased in the store. All artists will be local with their own lines.