I'll start by saying that there are a TON of places you can go, and if you have a lot of time, just head to 42nd street and 7th Avenue and start exploring. There are dozens of little hole-in-the-wall places between 7th and 8th Avenues, from about 37th Street to 42nd Street. (Also check out the blog Shop the Garment District from our very own Lindsay T Sews.)
Note: each category is in order of my personal preference, taking into account lots of factors like convenience and selection.
B&J Fabrics, 525 7th Avenue at 38th Street, 2nd floor. This is my absolute favorite fabric stop. It's well-organized, well-lit, and filled with gorgeous fabrics. Come here for unusual finds, best-quality staples, and the biggest collection of Liberty cotton lawn in the city. If I'm looking for something specific, like lime-green wool doubleknit or raspberry Alencon lace, I come here since they really seem to have everything. If you're on a tight budget, this won't be the best shop for you. But if you want beautiful, high-quality fabrics that will make your knees go weak and you have some extra pennies to spend, don't miss B&J. Some of my favorite garments are made from their fabrics, like my emerald green circle skirt, my stripey dress, blue bow-tied blouse, and my Ceil Chapman sheath dress.
A.K. Fabrics, 257 West 39th Street near 8th Avenue. This is my bargain stop. This is a stuffed-to-the-gills little shop that's pretty representative of the Mom and Pop stores of the Garment District. I love their cotton prints, and they're all about $7 a yard or less. They have a ton of cotton solids, like piques and stretch sateens. Basic wools are very affordable. I bought fabric for my navy pique trench and Rooibos dress here.
Mood Fabrics, 225 West 37th Street, 3rd floor. No garment district guide is complete without a mention of Mood. They're huge, often crowded, and a bit overwhelming. I don't shop here as much as I used to, as I've come to prefer my other haunts. Their basic silks are mostly $14 a yard, so I'll come here for charmeuse and crepe. They have a big section of silk and cotton blend prints in the cotton department. Their lace selection doesn't get enough love. It's small, but filled with gems and reasonably priced. I also highly recommend their trim section, especially the laces. Another plus is that Mood is one-stop shopping, selling thread, zippers, and other notions. Another plus: they have a dog! I bought fabric for my red lace dress and Lemon Tree dress here, among many others.
Steinlauf and Stoller, 239 West 39th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues. This is THE place for notions. Muslin, interfacing, belting, hair canvas, the best horsehair braid, zippers, drafting supplies, bra cups, shoulder pads, you name it!
SIL Thread, 2757 West 38th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues. This place is a little frustrating as it's really hard to find someone to help you and only some of the prices are marked. Still, I come here for a few of my standard supplies, like huge sheets of dressmakers tracing paper, Mettler thread, and rolls of Hug Snug seam binding in every available color. I buy my favorite bra cups here, which are thin with none of that crazy push-up padding. They're in bins toward the back. SIL also carries every Clover product you could possibly want, like my beloved chalk pens and refills.
Daytona Trimming, 251 West 39th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues. This is your bargain stop for trims. Elastic, lace, ric rac, piping, etc. It's kind of dingy but you can't beat the prices. There are two really sweet (but rather dirty, it must be said) cats named Ric and Rac who will be your best friends if you give them some chin scratches. Their house-brand thread is really weird and low-quality, so be warned.
|The ric rac wall at Daytona Trimming|
Pacific Trimming, 281 West 38th Street near 7th Avenue. A step up from Daytona Trims, but I usually try to avoid this place since it always puts me in a bad mood. It's packed and hard to navigate. Still, for well-priced buttons, ribbon, Riri zippers, beads, and pre-packaged piping, this is a good place to know about.
M&J Trims, 1008 Avenue of the Americas (aka 6th Avenue) near 37th Street. Not exactly in the Garment District but still the city's trim mecca. This is my button place when I want something special (read: pricey). Also good for anything crystal or rhinestone and braid trim for Chanel-style jackets.
Well, I think that's it. I hope you find this helpful and that you'll come visit my city's wonderful garment district soon!