Monday, April 25, 2011

My Garment District Guide

Here's a long overdue post! I often get e-mails asking what my favorite shops are for fabric, notions, and trims here in New York. Since I do the majority of my supply shopping in the Garment District, I've definitely developed my list of favorites.

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.)

I rarely have much time, as I'm often shopping on my lunch break. So these are my tried and true places, the ones I gravitate to over and over again. Be sure to call or check the websites for hours, since many of these places are only open weekdays during business hours. Also, many close for Jewish holidays.

Note: each category is in order of my personal preference, taking into account lots of factors like convenience and selection.

Fabric

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.


Paron's, 206 West 40th Street near 7th Avenue. This place is small and welcoming and the staff is very friendly. I tend to come here more to browse than look for something particular, and I've always found lovely stuff. The annex next door is all 50% off, and while it tends to be filled with polyester, you can often find stuff from the main room that's marked down. I love their collection of wools, and I bought the fabrics for my Lady Grey and red frock coat at Paron's. Also: they're open til 7:00 pm on weekdays!

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.


Notions

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.


Trims

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!

39 comments:

  1. You are SO lucky to live near so much variety! I have to travel 50 miles to the nearest JoAnn Fabrics, and they really don't carry the kinds of fabrics I like to work with: silks, linen, wool...

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  2. Thank you so much for this! I'm hoping that at some point in the nearish future to take a trip back to NYC and hit up the garment district. It just sounds too wonderful! :)

    ♥ Casey

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  3. Wow! I think I'd suffer from some sort of stimulus overload if I had something like this near me. I'm bad enough at JoAnn's, walking up and down all of the rows and trying to decide what I want.

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  4. Sometimes I think of moving away from NY and, believe it or not, one of the things that holds me back is the Garment District. There's really nothing like it.

    ~Sewjourner

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  5. Thank you for this, Gertie! I don't often get to "The City" (as the *rest* of we NYers refer to it), but the next time I do, I want to hit ALL these shops! I agree with Stephanie Lynn, though; I think I'd go into overload!

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  6. I'm going to be in NYC this weekend. I'm thinking I want yards and yards of white Cluny lace to recreate an Anthropologie Anna Sui skirt. What's the best shop for that stuff?

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  7. What a great list. I would feel like never coming home:) One of these days I make that journey. My only problem is that I get overwhelmed. I would have to have a list, and stick to it! Thanks

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  8. Thanks for the tips. I'm hoping to have a weekend getaway in NY once the baby is weaned and I can't wait to shop the garment district!

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  9. Thank you so much for this! I will bring this with me to NY the next time I am there!

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  10. For lace, don't forget Sposabella Lace and Lace Star.

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  11. Thank you so much for this list!!

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  12. Thanks for this post! I have never been to New York, but like many people, a trip there is on my bucket list. Not to see the sites though, like most people go there for, no, I want to go just for the purpose of fabric shopping!

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  13. A trip to NY is also on my bucket list... as these stores are now. Thank you for sharing!

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  14. great comments, especially on Pacific Trim. if i can add one thing, it would be: avoid pacific like the plague during lunchtime. EVERY employee in the shop will be huddling somewhere, eating chinese takeout, and it will be even harder than usual to get any service!

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  15. I'm about an hour from LA's garment district and I SO know what Sewjourner means! I want to move to northern CA, but, where will I get my fabric and trim??? The thought of shopping in Joannes makes me want to slit my wrists in a most dramatic fashion...

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  16. Those fabric stores are great, but very expensive. I'm always looking to maximize my dollars spending power so my tried and true fabric stores are chic fabrics and fabric garden on 39th street between 7th and 8th ave. The selection at either is really vast and the prices for higher end fabris like coat weight wool and linen is half that of mood or b&j.

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  17. Thanks, Gertie! This is going to be a huge help for me in May. I really appreciate it.

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  18. I think it's funny that you indicate M&J Buttons as being pricey. They've been my bargain place for so long. I guess it stems from my days as a sample knitter for a fancy schmancy UES yarn shop that sent all their customers to Tenderbutton. Now THOSE are pricey buttons but they are special, for sure.

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  19. Can the next post be about favorite bookshops? :)

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  20. Thanks for the Shop the Garment District plug, Gertie! I know, we are so lucky to be able to shop here. I doubt I would sew nearly as much as I do if I didn't have all these fabulous resources so close by.

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  21. Thanks for this, Gertie!
    We went to the garment district when we went to visit my husband's family and I didn't know where to start!

    I did splurge on some very pretty ribbon from Hyman Hendler, though!
    http://www.hymanhendler.com/

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  22. I'm DYING for Liberty cottons this year - yes - dying. Only a fellow seamstress would understand this. Going to BandJ's web site is (I am sure) is absolutely not the same as selecting my yardage in person.

    Some lottery winners spend their winnings on fast cars and tacky mansions. I would indulge my fabric desires....sigh.

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  23. Wow, so many choices. Now I almost wish I lived in a larger city; not counting three or four shops that sell nothing but quilting supplies, I can either go to our one big chain fabric store (near my house but not good for anything but cotton blends and very basic notions), or the sweet but overpriced family run shop with terrible hours that is completely out of my way. Oh, or the cash only notions store that is only open three days a week from noon till 4, or something ridiculous like that. Also, my sewing machine shop also sells trampolines, wtf?. Thank gods for the Internet!

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  24. I so wanna go to NYC now. Hopefully next year. I will keep this in my bookmarks. Thanks for sharing.

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  25. Thank you so much for sharing your fav's - you're so lucky having all these great shops within your easy reach *sighs with jealousy*.

    If I ever fly across the Atlantic I shall have to visit some of those stores for sure :) !

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  26. Gertie,
    I hate to say it, but you missed the best part about Steinlauf and Stoller: the cutest(read: "freaking-hot-possibly-straight") boy I've ever seen working in a Garment District store. Seriously. I walked in there my first time, saw him and knew I'd be back (then I looked around the store a little and KNEW I'd be back).

    Thanks so much for this guide. I'm always looking for places to buy fabric and notions here in the city.

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  27. I too love the garment district! On my first trip to NYC, I spent the better part of 5 days, all day visiting- combing the little shops.
    I had never seen anything like it! So much choice, so many options- it was wild! I got to chat with several NY sewers, ladies who were shopping for fabrics to make wedding gown, mothers gown, christening gown- so much fun.
    Love Mood, B&J esp. Your trimming choices would be mine too- You are really lucky!!
    LIke Paula, we have nice fabric shops, but no silk, no nice woolens and definately no beaded lace!
    Esp. love the statue of the man at the sewing machine and the giant needle/thread.

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  28. Here in Seoul (Korea manufactures a LOT of fabric these days!) we have an insane fabric market called Dongdaemun that is filled with tiny booths crammed with fabrics and notions, beads and findings. I will be so sad to move away from it....going to have to stock up.

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  29. This post is just plain mean! I live in Australia where there is possibly 3 decent stores in the whole country. (And I live in a different state so have to take a punt and either online or mail order from them.) Sure there are the odd very small independant stores and 2 chains stores, but to actually feel a fabric I need to travel about 45km! (To the dreaded Spotlight.) I'm soooo envious.

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  30. MnNYC: I know exactly who you're talking about. And yes. Yes indeed.

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  31. Thank you so much for the list. Although, I have no idea when I would be able to go to NYC, it's always good to have somebody recommending the stores, rather than just go and hope for the best. Thanks again, Gertie!

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  32. Love love your blog! I also shop for fabric and notions on my lunch break and I feel like we will run into each other at some point since we shop at the same places. You will know me by my "OH MY GOD IT's GERTIE!!" scream.

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  33. OH How I loved NY...a country girl from an Arkansas farm was so at peace during my short visit. I have a picture of the same one you have and the singers machines in the window..Love your site....

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  34. Wow! Bookmarked! One day I will make a trip out there....Vancouver is okay but it can be hard to find affordable fabric in the types I want. At least there's Dressew!

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  35. MnNYC: i always try to get his attention rather than the older gentleman, to get me some 70/9 needles or something.

    gertie: the only place i feel youre missing from this list is elegant. i sometimes lump elegant together with paron in my mind, but i actually prefer it for some reason. ive found some really amazing gems there, and it doesnt hurt when i get my 10% FIT student discount!

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  36. along with others I am so jealous! We have a "chain craft store", one decent fabric store, and one dimly lit warehouse store. I mail order a lot, and cross my fingers it will be right(They have liberal returns, at least!) mr husband wants to visit NYC this year, and after this post I am totally on board, as long as we hit the garment district first - sight seeing can wait!

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  37. Love your site and I'm from NYC as well. Starting my own business and will be making a field trip of the fabric stores you have suggested. Will be back here often as I LOVE vintage clothing as well. Keep up the good work!

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Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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