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where to buy fabric in newyork

materialgirl | Posted in General Discussion on

I have heard so much about the “garment district” in NY and I want to make a trip there this summer to purchase velvet fabric (which I hand emboss), and I also want to look for fringe beading.  Has anyone shopped in this area and where are the best places to go? It all seems so overwhelming to me! I usually purchase Fiedlio Velvet from Joann fabrics to make hand-embossed my scarves which I sell, but it is so expensive. Does anyone here visit that are who can give me some direction?thank you


  1. sarahkayla | | #1

    dear material girl -

    If you look in the archives you will see several postings and virtual walking tours of the fabric district.. ut the district is just south of times square essentially between 7th and 8th avenues. you should also go through the NYC guide put together by the staff of threads.. it was accurate at the time of publication - but the district continues to shrink due to the rising real estate values - you should d a google search for B+J fabrics because they are not to be missed and have also moved - they are now on the second floor of a fancy building on 7th avenue...they also ,unfortunately no longer carry remnants to my regret.

    LP thur on 23rd street is a wonderful destination - and it is closing it's doors this summer (in about 6 weeks)

    You will find fabric in the district that you could not have even imagined..last winter i bought an astounding fabric made of hand spun yarn fused to a synthetic backing - i know it sounds kind of like old laundry but it was one of the most beautiful remnants I have ever bought.

    the trimming district is adjacent to the fabric districs,, although there are some trimming stores sprinkled into fabric land, notable daytona on 39th street and ginsco--I think on 37th - trimming lives mostly just east on 6th avenue between 38th and 36th with trimming stores along 38th towards 5th avenue.

    while you are wandering the district you may get flyers for sample sales.. yes you should check them out. my fave is SSS sample sale that is currently on 36th between 7th and 8th on the north side of the street and on the second floor ( you will see a sign on the street telling you the location)sometimes it is just clothes,,,and sometmes it is just a whole nother level of garment at super cheap prices. some stoes in the districs say wholesale only - if you have a business card you can often go in - but don't expect to buy just a yard of fabric - that's the place to purchase by the 10 yard at minimum.. many stores will ship hime for you via UPS if you ask politely.  many stores wil be willing to establish a phone sale relationship with you in the future .. I have found that a bit of pleasantlness will take you far... people want business.

    In some of the smaller stores ...they are not always quite honest in the yardage.. be watchful and charming  - some places may add up your order to their favor.l again - charm allows everyone to get what they need in a happy way

    remeber ...this is an industrial district...don't expect the sanitized shopping experience you get in a mall - the looks tends to be gritty...but totally glorious.. you may want to take breaks to eat.. there is a terrific felafel ?schwarma place on the corner of 36th and 8th. for a fancier meal try bens't on 36th for a sit down jewish ( and kosher) deli meal - there is also a hole in the wall schwarma place on either 38th or 37th that you enter ythrough a loading dock - the food is great .

    let me know what you go see.

    sarah in nyc

    1. stitchmd | | #2

      Sarah how are things on the lower east side now, are there still good deals to be had there ?

      1. sarahkayla | | #3

        actually i don't shop there a whole lot.. so I'm not such a good reporter on that front - but in general - rents are going up and fabric stores are closing - the lower east side has become a trendy trendy place...which means that stores on the margins have a harder time holding on...

        sarah in nyc

  2. Imzadi | | #4

    Most of the stuff & stores in "The GArment District" aren't "home sewer/quilter" friendly unless you are making clothes. Forget fat quarters! A yard is their minimum or it isn't worth their time to cut. There are no sale remnant tables. Granted the prices on some stuff is really cheap, but when you don't want a yard, you don't want to buy a yard!

    I found a new-to-me store the other day. It's called P & S Fabrics at 355 Broadway, about four blocks below Canal St. Take the R train to Canal and head south. (There are a few other fabric stores on the way, but I didn't get a chance to look since I was supposed to be browsing for yarns. LOL. This store had been recommended on a yarn forum.)

    What she hadn't memtioned was that there are fabrics in the back and downstairs. There is a whole wall of notions and cabinets of sewing patterns.

    As soon as I saw that wall of notions upon notions, I fell in love! Upon entering the store there was a table of remnant trims & ribbons which I had been wishing for my crazy quilts & to embellish my free motion scarves. Of course I bought a pile.

    There were TWO floors of fabrics. One could get lost in there easily. And they had some pretty fabric patterns for fabric bowls.

    The customer service was sooo helpful. Even the security guard at the door tried to get me a good deal on the remnant ribbons in a bucket by the door. :) When I asked the guy at the register if they had one of those squeezy cutting nippers (like tweezers) used as a seam ripper (mentioned in another thread here) he even knew what I was talking about! You wouldn't get that up in the garment district, only blank stares that mean, "Maam, we sell FABRICS."

    They stock Maderia & Guttermann threads as well as Coats, & have zippers, lots of buttons & trims. The prices were definitely reasonable, like your average JoAnn's. It is definitely a dangerous store! :D

    1. sarahkayla | | #5

      You are right - there isn't much in terms of quilting fabric in the fabric district. there is a whole lot of garment making fabric.. Much of it is stuff that you just can't find in most of the country. the stores are not full service sewing supply stores - they sell fabric - and just that, no patterns, no notions, no trim - just fabric. the notions stores are also in the neighborhood ( (steinlauf and stoller on 39th is my fave) the trim stores are not fabric stores...

      being annoyed that the the fabric stores don't carry notions is like being angry that a home depot does not carry groceries. the stores that carry fabric will in general not carry nippers.. the sewing machine repair stores will though..

      My sense from this list and from creative machine is that fabric stores that carry garment making fabrics are in very short supply around the country. what is readily available around the country is quilting cottons.. you can find some in the fabric districs.. but not vey much - if you do want quilting cottons...gop to city quilter in chelsea or to the quilting stores in brooklyn. if you want wool, linen, velvets, silks.. rayons.. shop in the fabric district - you will find tons of fabrics that were woven for the RTW industry.. if you need tons of specialty knits.. go to spandex house or to lycra house..

      as for pricing.. it depends.. some places are pricey..others are not.. some of the stores are staffed by unpleasant people - most are not.. i stay away from the less than pleasant and have deleoped lovely relationships with many of the shopkeepers.. I have found that for the most part shopkeepers have been very gracious to me.. even when i was a rank beginner who was purchasing teeny amounts of fabric.. several of the stores have bolt ends that are marked down.. fewer of the stores offer remnants...but most of them will mark things down.

      sarah in nyc

      1. SewNancy | | #6

        I only sew garments, so  the garment district is where I go.  I got my start with the original sewing district guide many years ago in Threads.   Even the newer one is not accurate any more.  Mood is one I like and they moved to better spot, google them for location.  They will send samples but not very reliably.  A better one for mailling samples is Paron fabrics but they are more limited but very nice.  Try not to shop at places like Mood on a Saturday as they are very busy and as nothing is marked for price you have to ask for every price!   The fabrics are still fabulous, but I used to find many more designer ends when more designers manufactured in the city. 

        It is fun and can be overwhelming, so I find that I do better if I have definite garments in mind and patterns.  I also try very hard to buy things that will go together to make an 'outfit' or I end up with lots of great fabrics that  sit in my closet.  I also find that my eyes are bigger than my ability to sew them into clothes!  


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