I am so glad so many people have found and love this post! If, after reading this post, you crave more recent info, stop over at my current blog, www.shopthegarmentdistrict.com!
NOTE: YOu will NEED more current info than this! This post is more than three years old!
I am updating this post, because my stats tell me this is the most popular entry on my blog these days, and much of the info is outdated. As of 11/19/11, see the most recent update to this post here.
This post was originally inspired by Cindy, of Wall Street by Day... who wondered whether it was worth venturing out of Manhattan to go to some of the fabric stores in Queens.
Update: Now that info is seriously outdated. I would no longer recommend going to Queens to fabric shop (EVER), but I would recommend a trip to Westbury, Long Island for home decorating fabrics. The Joann Fabric store there has a really stellar selection. I can only assume the reason is the beautiful homes nearby.
Okay, on the subject of New York City fabic stores, I can tell you that I am an absolute connoisseur. Depends on what you are looking for, but New York City is positively bursting with fabric stores. I have been fabric shopping in this city since my obsession began, when I was 12 years old (no kidding). That makes 24 (now 28) years experience. I can tell you that there are just too many stores to count... Due to the changing real estate market in the garment district (sky-high rents leading to lease terminations), some of my very favorite stores have long since disappeared, and have been replaced by porn shops, food chain restaurants, and electronics businesses. But many gems remain...
First off, I assume everyone knows about Mood and B&J Fabrics, because of all the publicity they get on the popular sewing/design shows, right? Okay, done with that.
None of these reviews have been solicited. It is simply my true opinion. These stores are mostly within walking distance of one another. For the best experience, go on a weekday, not a Saturday, and know that in the garment district, when buying yardage, prices are almost always negotiable.
My all-time favorite has long been Rosen and Chadick on (40th Street and 7th Ave). They have moved from their old location, but the new location has a very bright and efficient layout. They sell better fabric, so it isn't cheap. This isn't a store you go to with a "list" of things to find. Just let it unfold. The staff is amazing. When you go, tell them "Mimi" told you about the store. I've spent so much time in that store, they know my kids, too! When you exit the elevator on the 2nd floor, they have a beautiful selection of printed cottons resting neatly in the front windows. They really know how to choose the exciting prints. They also have a great selection of suitings, woolens, silks, linens and shirtings. Just a great assortment of stuff.
The most amazing recent find I've seen there, is a gorgeous ruffled organza fabric. Imagine a wide ruffled trim, applied in parallel strips to a fine netting. White AND Black. The time that can save when making a big, ruffled ball skirt... man! Truly hard to find. Run your hands over some cashmere while you're in there, too, and you won't be able to sleep until you buy some. Some really inspiring and amazing fabrics reside there.
Paron on West 40th between 7th and 8th always has some yummy fabrics, and the designer names they are associated with. Only thing, go with money to spend, because when it's gone, it's gone! You're not gonna find it there again later. For that reason, they aren't really keen on swatching. It is a waste of their time, so just buy it if you like it. Otherwise, just admire!
Another favorite is New York Elegant Fabrics (no website - 222 W 40th St
between 7th and 8th Aves). They have EVERYTHING. I'm not kidding. Do not skip the second floor, which has some really to-die-for unusual stuff for home dec and coats. Again, not inexpensive, but just a great experience. Walk in - go to the middle of the store, look to your left... then to your right. Catch your breath. Lean against the bolts if you need to. Fabric heaven. You can tell Tony that Mimi sent you.
For leathers and suedes, you MUST go to Leather, Suede, Skins on 35th Street (11th Floor). Again, not inexpensive, but they have the greatest, to-die-for pieces, as well as trims and bindings you won't find anywhere else.
I made this baguette using fabric I found there.
I cant say enough about Manhattan Wardrobe Supply (245 W. 29th Street between 7th & 8th Avenue). They have all the solutions for your bustline, every kind of elastic or thread you could ever want, and lots of other useful stuff. Great website, too!
Update: Pretty sure this next store is gone now...
Written in Dec '07:
Assuming it's still there (I haven't been in about 2 years), It's a Material World on 39th Street between 7th and 8th, has a HUUUUGE selection, and very low prices. The atmosphere is more like a fabric jungle than a store, both upstairs and downstairs. If you've ever seen "Goodfellas", you may rememeber the scene when DeNiro points out the location for Lorraine Bracco to go get the clothes from some "connection" in a dark alleyway? Well, the interior of this store feels like that!
Something has happened to my beloved Daytona Braids and Trims (251 West 39th Street). While still a great store, they have reduced their inventory significantly, and the shopping atmosphere doesn't feel as fun. But they are stil a great resource for trims and notions. I'm currently the Mayor on Foursquare, but that can be easily snatched away...
You can't miss M&J, for every button, zipper and trim you can imagine, but then, who doesn't know about that one?
SIL has the best zippers. EVER. I wish I had known about them sooner. Coulda saved me a lot of heartache. The zippers are expensive, but you can find ANY zipper in almost ANY color you'd need in there. The invisible zippers are amazingly strong, and great quality.
Jonathan Embroidery will do your buttonholes or many other services for you. They have the world's worst website, but don't let that dissuade you.
Steinlauf and Stoler is for the serious sewer. When you need serious equipment, many choices for interfacings, closures, bra cups, swim cups, shoulder pads, dress forms, hams, clappers, labels, muslins in a variety of weights, get your scissors sharpened, buy patternmaking paper... a million things. Go there.
The bookstore at Fashion Institute of Technology for every quality sewing publication you could possibly need, every tool you could want, and a great art supply selection. No, you don't need to be a student to shop there.
Kashi (at Metro Textiles 265 West 37th Street Suite 908), goes without saying, right? Inexpensive and fun!
Greenberg & Hammer is another favorite for notions, tools and supplies.
Pacific Trimming on 38th Street btwn 7th and 8th has a WORLD of trims, notions and fun stuff. Things you never thought of. It will blow your mind. Not to mention they were playing Prince music (loudly) on my last visit there. What could beat that?
Spandex House is no joke. If you are making a swimsuit, or need any kind of stretch fabric for ANY purpose, they are likely to have it! They have some great prints!
I made this swimsuit cover-up with fabric I found there... among a million other swimsuits, stretch pieces and beach cover-ups!
And... if you're hungry while shopping... I can absolutely tell you where to eat and rest your tootsies!
Ben's Deli, Simply Pasta, Lazzara's Pizza (great pizza, has a really strong "garmento" vibe), Veronica's (now gone- 2011), or the quiet Andrew's Coffee Shop (now gone - 2011).
This post is incomplete, but I'm outta words!