Sew Delicious

A Great Notion

It may bill itself as a “neighborhood fabric boutique,” but Bolt is more than just a material source

By Jill Spitznass May 19, 2009 Published in the December 2007 issue of Portland Monthly

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IT MAY BILL ITSELF as a “neighborhood fabric boutique,” but Bolt is more than just a material source for Portland’s legions of crafty DIY-ers. The Alberta Street store also unspools the inspiration for the projects themselves: That Liberty of London floral lawn positively demands to be transformed into a fitted blouse, while those colorful stacks of “fat quarters” call out to become a child’s cozy quilt.

Owner Gina Cadenasso found her own inspiration for opening the two-year-old Bolt when she was selling handcrafted duvet covers at Saturday Market. “So many people asked me where I got my fabrics,” says the Oakland, Calif., native and former social worker. “There was clearly a need for a place that offered goods for a variety of projects.”

Warmly lit by gleaming brass fixtures, the walls of the small space are encircled with myriad bolts of fabric, exclamation points of color and texture that surround a tidy assortment of ribbons, buttons and how-to books. The final effect is one Cadenasso says her customers appreciate. “They like that we’ve done the editing for them,” she says. “They don’t have to roam around a ‘big box’ store, trying to find what they need.”

Looking to sharpen a skill? The in-house classes are a hit at Bolt, where customers jockey for position in such skill-specific tutorials as the “Zipper Clinic” and the very popular (and charmingly dubbed) “Cute Skirts” class. “Portlanders are very good at supporting the little guy,” says Cadenasso, who admits to having very few actual guy customers. Perhaps a “Handsome Pants” class is in order.

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