NYC Fabric shopping spree!

My birthday is this week, so we did something I’ve been wanting to do for a while: raid the fabric shops of Manhattan’s Garment District!

Like many cities, NYC has a lot of neighborhoods with distinct specialties.  A little bit south of Times Square is the Garment District, where most of the fashion industry is located.  Not ALL of it, but quite a lot so the stores in the area cater to it.  TONS of massive fabric bazaar type stores where you basically have a room filled with rolls of fabric, like so:

Another place

I’ve been really hankering for some interesting fabrics.  Interesting textures, colors, etc.  Most of the ones I have I’ve already used, and while I like the “Cosplay by Yaya” fabrics that have been showing up at Joannes, I’ve noticed that they are replacing some of the weirder selections that I used to find.  I like weird sh*t. I find it inspiring. 

Also, I’ve been searching every damn fabric store across three states as well as the internet to get my hands on some brown vinyl/pleather.  You’d think that would be easy to find, with all the steampunk fashion out there, but nope!  All the brown stuff is fake suede, or weathered leather.  I want nice, supple, brown calfskin type fake leather.  I figured if there was ONE place I’d find it, it would be NYC.  And I did, but only after like, the 8th store. 

The other awesome thing to be easily found in the garment district and not so much anywhere else, is TRIM!

Whole stores dedicated to trim

so much trim

Ok, sure, you can actually find tons of trim in any fabric store.  But how much of that trim is doll-scale friendly?  Not so much! WHOLE STORES with nothing but spools of trim.  Ribbon, lace, cord.  OMG.  I came out of this store with a very small bag, but it was a very small bag full of yard and yards and yards of tiny goodness!

The drawback is that most of the fabrics in these stores, while great for runway haute couture and wedding gowns…not so great for casuals, or doll clothes.  But that’s OK, I still found a few gems, and I look forward to using them in upcoming designs.   And if I need more… I can always go back 😉

If you want to see more fabric store pics, I uploaded a whole bunch into a Flickr Album

4 thoughts on “NYC Fabric shopping spree!

  1. So how much groveling and begging would it take to get the contact info for the stores that offer doll-sized trim for those of us out on the far coast (Pacific NW in my case) and can’t get over to NYC? I’m sure they’d like the extra business, and you might be able to wrangle a discount from them for the referrals! ^_^

    • Hm… I’m trying to figure out how to explain this. Shopping in parts of Manhattan is a very pre-digital experience. Certain types of stores are one-offs and not looking to be on the internet, or even have official inventories. There were no price tags in any of the stores, if you want to know a price, you ask an employee (who is often the owner or a family member of the owner). Order slips were written out on paper, and only the number parts so that they could put it into a calculator and figure out what to charge you–the trim place? Every time I had some trim cut, the employee would write the yardage and price of each item with a magic marker on the outside of the shopping bag. An actual *calculator*. I didn’t see a single computer or register anywhere, just little card readers for credit cards. If you want to shop there but can’t go, you’d most likely need to get a local proxy who will take pictures and get prices for you, like if you were trying to shop in Japan or somewhere else.

      • Wow, Old-school shopping? O.O I had no idea that such stores still existed in megacities like NY or LA! I thought they only existed in sleepy little small towns off the beaten path…

        When you mentioned “calculators”, I had to fight the urge to ask if you meant those little electronic hand-held devices us “old-timers” used before smartphones were invented, or an actual person using a ledger book, an inkwell, and a quill pen doing calculations by hand (oh, sorry, is my Steampunk showing? -_^), considering how you described those shops.

        {sigh} Looks like it’s back to Amazon and ebay for me… As if I needed another excuse to move to a real city like Seattle or Vancouver, BC…

        • Haha, no quills, and definitely no ledger books. Either the type of big-buttoned calculator you get in a dollar store or the kind that has a tiny printer built into one end so you can make sure you didn’t have a typo in your calculations–the kind the “old timers” used pre computers or even pre Texas Instruments fancy calculators 😉

          Big cities have big stores, but the big stores you find are usually chains. In a place like NYC you find a lot of stores that couldn’t exist anywhere else except the internet, the kind of places that are so super-niche-y that they only deal in like, Atari video games. And a lot of black market or grey market stores. For the Fashion district, I looked up where all the stores were on Google maps and then went to those streets. About 2/3 of the stores weren’t even listed on Google maps, and 1/4 of the stores had ‘store closing’ signs on them. But that’s also pretty normal for NYC, it’s like restaurants: most go out of business within two years, almost all within 5 years. You can go back to the same neighborhood once a year and every time you go 1/3 of the stores have changed out.

Comments are closed.