Amy Royer in Yellow Bird Fabrics. Photo: Katie Panzer
If you sew, you know the drill: You get an idea for a new project, pick out a pattern, and finally scour the fabric store for the perfect fabric. At the final step, your passion inevitably sours. If you wanted to make your flirty new tanktop out of fleece with a Coca-Cola polar bear motif, the nearest JoAnn Fabrics would be happy to help. While you’re at it, you might as well pick up some Kermit the Frog cotton to make that cute high-waisted skirt you’ve been dreaming of. Fabulous.
Thank God there’s a wonderful local alternative. When I walked in to the newly opened Yellow Bird Fabrics at 2828 East 3300 South (previously Fashion Affair), I nearly cried. There was not a polar fleece or cat motif to be found. When I heard new owner Amy Royer tell another customer, “All cottons and linens are in that room, and my silks are all in here,” I rejoiced. Silks, did you say? And not a mention of polyester?
Royer was never trying to be a hero. As a seamstress and Salt Lake resident, she just wanted a place to buy quality fabric. Luckily for us, Royer’s definition of “quality” ranges from her cute, casual cottons to handmade laces and decadent silks.
This isn’t your grandmother’s silk, either. The young, fashion-savvy Royer has an eye for color and proudly displays rolls of silk with punchy, fun designs. She has already run out of her personal favorite—a Vera Wang silk with an adorable pattern of (what else?) yellow birds. She mentions that she can order any of her solid color silks in over 150 colors.
Royer was a salesperson at Fashion Affair when owner Margit Hansen decided to close her doors and retire. “Throughout the retirement sale, I was thinking, ‘This is so dumb that I’m not opening this store,’” Royer says. At the last minute, she stepped in. And now? “Holy shit! I have my own store…this is so weird!” Royer humbly denies that she’s a brave person for opening Yellow Bird Fabrics. Instead, Royer praises Hansen and Fashion Affair veteran Leena Mitchell for their hard work over the years and their recent support of Yellow Bird Fabrics. Despite taking over Fashion Affair’s resources, Yellow Bird Fabrics is obviously infused with Royer’s own style and personality.
The store itself is humble (only two small rooms) but cozy and welcoming. The cheery yellow walls and colorful bolts of fabric will leave you feeling more inspired than when you arrived.
Since Yellow Bird Fabrics opened in early May, Royer says she has noticed a younger crowd enjoying the store. Royer brings a fresh face and a hip, inviting space to a sewing community that has deep roots in Utah. She is inspired by the larger sewing community and by the diversity of her customers. She says, “It’s really cool to see how all these different women from so many different backgrounds come together, but we have so much in common still.”
Whether you’ve been dying for a fuchsia silk out of which to fashion a quirky wedding gown or trying to re-create some of this season’s vintage-inspired looks without supporting corporate interests, look no further. Yellow Bird Fabrics may be small, but the possibilities for inspiration are limitless.