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Fancy Tiger Crafts: Patterns & More
Fancy Tiger Crafts: Patterns & More
We're continuing our look at some of the people who make sewing their business. Today we're talking with the folks at Fancy Tiger Crafts, a Denver fabric and yarn shop known for their quilt and garment patterns.
Making the world a better place—it’s a tall order for a shop, but one that Fancy Tiger Crafts co-owners Jaime Jennings and Amber Platzer Corcoran strive to accomplish. Their emphasis on natural fibers, recycled packaging, and being a great place for employees to work goes hand-in-hand with welcoming lovers of textiles to meet up, learn, and create.
Jaime opened Fancy Tiger Crafts in 2006 as a general craft supply store. At the time she was into knitting, embroidery, and spinning. She stocked fabric but it wasn't a focus. "I could hem my pants but never took home ec or made anything significant," she says. But a few months after opening Fancy Tiger she started sewing and hasn't stopped since.
Amber grew up with a garment-sewing mom and grandmother, and with her mom’s help she even made her own prom dress. While her focus was largely on photography and art, soon after joining forces with Amber at Fancy Tiger in 2008, she began sewing garments and quilts. “Even though we were new at it, we had instructors who were teaching quilting and garment sewing in the shop, so we were learning from them, too.”
From the beginning, the pair strove to create a spot where all members of the crafting community felt stimulated and welcome. Their shop, located in the South Broadway neighborhood in Denver, offers weekly craft nights and twice monthly “Mandmade” nights, as well as classes ranging from quilting and garment making to knitting, needle felting, embroidery, and macramé. They especially strive to welcome their less-experienced clientele. “The fact that we came into the business not knowing much about sewing or quilting has actually been helpful because we’re compassionate towards new learners,” says Jaime. Both women love to attend the craft nights themselves, as a way to get back in touch with customers and away from the computer screen. “Most of my friends I’ve made through craft night,” says Jamie.
Another skill that’s evolved over time is pattern design. Amber started by drafting a shirt for herself and wearing it to the shop. So many customers asked her about it that she worked with a Fancy Tiger Crafts instructor to grade the pattern into sizes so she could teach it as a class. There was so much interest—this was the popular Sailor Top, later renamed the Cordyline—that she and Jaime decided to produce a pattern (they're wearing the Brome dress and top above). “I didn’t have training, but learned as I went,” says Amber, who eventually learned to grade sizes from a textbook.
Her graphic design background contributes to her vision when designing quilt patterns, including Four Winds and Double Star. “We love making quilts because they can be both really beautiful and functional,” says Amber.
Paying attention to customers’ needs and interests is important to Jaime and Amber, as is making sure Fancy Tiger Crafts is a good place for their employees to work. Later this year they will begin shifting the business to a worker-owned co-operative. They’ve also participated with Certifiably Green Denver, which examined all environmental aspects of their business including energy use and waste assessment. “We think deeply about the impact we’re making and do our best to minimize negative impact and maximize the positive things we can do,” says Jaime.