The Mill Fab Store

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Photo-Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

If you Google the Mill Fab Fabric stores you won’t find anything. Anyone that is looking for Fabricland in the old Kanata mini mall near KFC won’t find that either.

I was 5 years old when my grandmother handed me a scrap of fabric and told me to create something. It probably never occurred to her that a creative 5-year-old and a sharp sewing needle could be a volatile combination.

Sewing is one of those skills that connects me to the past; every time I pick up a needle and thread, I think about my Grandmother and what she taught me.  For years I used to sew and it took me forever to finish projects and I struggle mightily with weighing perfectionism with actually having something finished. Like, “will this shoddy zipper bother me more than NEVER FINISHING ANYTHING EVER?” So sewing  was banished from my life years ago when I stopped designing clothes for my store in Ottawa and closed it.

When I protest and tell people how much I hated it when I did commission work for friends, and how much time it took for how little money I made, they tell me I should “just make something small” because they know a guy who knows a guy who does that for a living.

Yeah, and I’m sure they make less than I do for WAY more than 40 hours of work.

I sort of hate sewing because it’s too expensive and I’m horrible at spatial thinking, so it requires way more mental energy than any other hobby. Also, fabric is expensive! People who don’t sew think you save money by sewing, but it’s almost always more expensive as off-the-rack. I used to sell vintage dress patterns because the news ones are so expensive.  But then again, so are some of the old ones. Check this out!

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Just added this tidbit fro Dianne Saunders President IODE CP : Henry (Hank) Collie was the owner of the Mill Fab Stores. Hank’s father William Collie Senior was the owner of the Collie Woollen Mill in Appleton.
The first Mill Fab was located in Ottawa at Cityview Plaza on Merivale Rd and later stores were in Lynwood Village Bell’s Corners (owned that building), Walkley Rd Ottawa, Vanier/MacArthur Rd, Carleton Place and Smith Fall’s and he owned a warehouse in CP on the Corner of the Townline and Dufferin Street.

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Hi Linda:

 My sister-in-law Nancy Collie of Carleton Place forwarded your piece on Millfab to me on Facebook last year. Our Carleton Place store was always the best store we had on a per-square-foot basis. Unfortunately, the business closed in 1981 due in large part to the new demographic — the working woman who didn’t have the time nor inclination to sew.
My Dad’s family were in the textile business; coming to Appleton in 1937. My mother’s side of the family was the Bennett clan. Her father Harry and his brother Austin (Aunnie) ran Bennett’s Butcher Shop for years. My late wife and I bought Harry and Annie’s house on Flora Street in 1976 and stayed there 12 years.
Bruce Collie
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Your Carleton Place Blast from the Past Bill White--This pic taken around the middle 70 Arena Upper Hall
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About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

6 responses »

  1. I still feel guilty that i never learned how to sew. My Grandma Blackburn was a beautiful seamstress.She made matching “mother and daughter” dresses for my Mom and me,my wedding dress and my daughters christening gown.She always had something “on the go” and we visited every fabric store in the valley regularly just”to take a look”. I always felt that I let her down by not having the talent or patience to be create something from fabric. Mill Fab was definitely one of our stops and who can forget the wonder fabric “crimplene”sp? I swear that stuff will be found in landfills years from now because I don’t think it will ever disintegrate.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post.My Dad and I ran Millfab from 1972-1981. Dad started this business in 1963 at a time when sewing was in vogue and school curriculums included sewing as a Home Ec. course

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey, Karen, I think I still have a piece of red crimpolene that I bought way back when & never made into, I do not know what. Never took sewing, but ideas were always buzzing in my head

    Liked by 1 person

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