Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fabric stores in New York City

Since writing this post, I have taken charge of the Shop the Garment District blog, where you will find a much more in-depth exploration of what the garment district has to offer!

Note, everything below was written in November 2011 - so some have changed/moved since...

So... since I've been to a frighteningly large number of them now, and I can see that this is the topic that lands most of you here, I'm gonna give you a true garmento-style guided tour of the garment district, so you know what to do and where to go when looking for fabrics, creative ideas, and so many tidbits of info you'll never be able to find elsewhere. Here goes... and this is gonna be good... Promise.

A place to start:

For the completely uninitiated, purse-clutching tourist who is scared of her/his own shadow, the garment district is a wild, hustly-bustly, noisy place. Not only that, storefront leasing prices have SKYROCKETED in recent years, leaving some of the quaint sewing shops that have been priced out of their spots, to be replaced with peep show booths and sex shops. Ignore them, and whistle some tunes from "My Fair Lady" as you walk by, if that makes you feel better.  All of these stores are all within walking distance from one another.

First stop for the newbie, and anyone else:

Paron Fabrics (moving in March 2012 - see comments below)
206 West 40th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues)
The closest subway stop is the 42nd Street/Times Square station
Note: This store has since moved.

Very reasonable prices, and very descriptive labels on the bolts, describing the fabric, it's purpose (sometimes), and which designer used it. Sometimes the prices are downright fabulous! Here's the trick, though... There isn't very much of many of the fabrics. This place is selling the designers' "leftovers", so you can't think about stuff and come back later. If you do that, chances are, it will be gone. You can't go to this store with a list, unless you are looking for the most common of common goods. Another benefit is that the colors and fabrications available are usually very much on trend. Also, the lighting in this store is problematic, making it hard to get an accurate read on colors. I must say that the fabric is very well organized, and be sure to check the discount room to your left, halfway through the store. If you get a swatch of a fabric you're considering, you can take it outside in daylight to check it. Staff can be a bit surly, but they mean well.

For the more confident fabric shopper:

Rosen and Chadick
561 7th Ave (corner of 40th Street)
NY, NY 10018

Peacefully nestled on the 2nd floor of an office building, Rosen and Chadick is my favorite fabric store. Family owned and operated for what seems like my lifetime now - and probably, actually has been - this is a store where you are greeted like a friend, the employees are treated well, the staff is knowledgeable, and you'll find fabrics you won't find in other stores. They really go out of their way to curate a beautiful assortment of fabrics, and natural fibers abound. Their shirtings are wonderful, and their wools and cashmeres are absolutely TO DIE... Look to your right, behind the wall near the register. Check out the fabrics that hang there. I mean, seriously, have you ever...? I know! They also sell silk tulle, cotton lace, washed linen, necktie fabrics, very classy printed cottons, silk velvets, and I could just go on and on... They also have lovely ruffled organza strips attached to netting, sold by the yard! What a great way to make those puffy, lightweight skirts for gowns that have become so popular! And they have the best quality denims you are likely to find in the area.  Just don't expect them to have too much time for you... they do have a constant flow of industry types to serve as well.

For the fancy lace seeker:

Sposabella Lace
252 W 40th Street  
New York, NY 10018

If you are doing bride, pageant, formal, or really fancy, embellished, formal menswear, this is the place for you.  Don't expect to collect swatches here, and go in ready to discuss what you are looking for; there isn't much looking around happening in this space. They do have beautiful things you won't find elsewhere. And, if nothing else, look in their windows at the entrance of the store.  They are the masters of creatively wrapping beautiful lace on dressforms in ways that will positively melt you.

For the creative fabricaholic:

NY Elegant
222 West 40th Street
New York, NY 10018

Why should you go? Actually, you'd need a good reason not to go.  And I can't think of any. Take a deep breath before entering.  In this store, you will find a wonderland of fabric.  A wide variety of price points and quality levels can be found here, but there is so much that will excite you.  This place has got it all.  The best of their selection are the stretch jerseys, the bamboo fabrics, their wide assortment of silks, the upstairs coating and home furnishing fabrics, their novelty denims, canvas and twills... and the fabulous specialty fabrics at the front of the store will excite your imagination. Expect to spend some real quality time in here. (pssst... they also have Missoni knits... ooooh...)

For the fashionista:

225 West 37th Street 
New York, NY 10018

When you get there, you'll think, "Am I in the right place?"  The elevator procedure can feel a bit like the entry to a prohibition SpeakEasy, but I assure you, you're in the right place.  You'll be asked to check your bag.  Be prepared.  You probably watch Project Runway, and are excited to come to this famous store.  I get that. You may trip over a film crew or two as you search (often in vain) for whatever you came there for, or a person to help you find it.  Not a place to go if pressed for time. For me, on one particular day, a somewhat frustrating experience, for not-so-interesting fabric, at higher-than-expected prices, but definitely worth it, if that's what you wanna see...
Note: I've been back since, and your experience kinda does depend on you "Mood"! Ha! I stick to my point about not going if pressed for time and stressed out. Those two don't go together well anywhere, but definitely not here, where you might occasionally be asked to wait while they are filming.

For your tools and supplies:

Steinlauf & Stoller
239 West 39th St. 
New York, N.Y 10018

Everything you are looking for, when it comes to supplies.  Interfacings, pattern paper, grommet presses, scissors (sharpening, too!), rulers, threads, chalk, special pencils, pins, boning, hooks, bra cups, shoulder pads, labels... lotsa stuff. A whole range of interfacing types and purposes.  They will shorten zippers to size, explain boning types, all kinds of things.  Whether you get a smile or not depends on the day.  They've been in business since the 40's, and that's obvious. (I mean that in a good way)

Manhattan Wardrobe Supply
245 W 29th St # 800  
New York, NY 10001

A bit off the beaten path, but don't let it fool ya.  Best to schedule this with a trip to a nearby  diner and/or a visit to the FIT Museum, which is always fabulous. This store has all the stuff you didn't know you needed.  I defy you to go in and not come out with at least $50 of stuff, just because! Check their website if you don't believe me.

For leather, suede skins, and related trims:

Leather, Suede, Skins
261 West 35th Street, 11th Floor
New York, NY 10001

Yup, you have to take an elevator.  Yup, you have to be buzzed in.  Yup, floor to ceiling... nothing but leathers, suedes, ostrich, alligator, etc. Wild colors... creative paradise.  Cool trims. Don't know how to work with leather?  Don't expect them to explain it to you.  Get this book, buy the right supplies, and go from there.

Leather Impact
256 West 38th Street  
New York, NY 10018

You want leather?  They got it.  Nowhere near as interesting as Leather, Suede, Skins, but the location is ideal, if you're already in the area, and aren't trying to get too creative.  Lower prices than Leather , Suede, Skins if you aren't too picky.

To get your buttonholes done for you:

Jonathan Embroidery
256 West 38th Street  
New York, NY 10018

This place is like magic.  They'll make precise, perfect, factory buttonholes for you.  Keyhole or regular. Cheap. Fast.  I've heard a rumor that they will also fuse expanses of fabric for you (great if you are making a coat, for example), but I haven't experienced that personally.  The garment center is full of secrets... By the way, I think that rumor is false.

To get your grommets done:

Steinlauf and Stoller

The woman perched on a little seat right up front in that store?  That's what she's doing.  Putting grommets in things for people.  Custom curtains, bags and garments... she'll also replace or move a jeans button.  Cheap. Fast.

For dance, swim and other stretch:

NY Theatrical Supply/ Spandex House
263 West 38th Street  
New York, NY 10018

My ONLY source for performance stretch fabrics.  If you will dance, run, swim, or otherwise require some help from the fabric to move and breathe, you can find it here. They have powernets you can use for linings that will give you the body f a rock star!  I've used their fabrics for swimwear clients, and tell you, they have the best stuff ever!

For your embellishment/notions/trim needs:

M&J Trimming
1008 6th Avenue  
New York, NY 10018

Floor to ceiling buttons, trims, toggles, sequins, feathers, fur hooks, etc.  Be careful of the prices, though.  Some things are unreasonably high priced compared to stores just a few blocks away. Can't understand why.  Look at other stores first, and only buy what's really special here.

Pacific Trimming
218 West 38th Street 
New York, NY 10018

Be patient.  get comfortable with looking around without asking for help.  I find that you can ask for something, be told they don't have it, and then find it on your own a few minutes later.  They don't seem to be comfortable saying, "There's too much stuff in here!  I don't know!"  Anything from elastic trims to buttons and buckles and flowers and snaps... it's all here.  Great prices.  You'll end up buying things just for the heck of it.

Daytona Trimming
251 West 39th Street 
New York, NY 10018

Lotsa trims, lotsa buttons.  Lettering, pilow forms, novelty zippers.  I've been going to this store forever.  Love them.

109 West 38th Street  
New York, NY 10018

Why you should go:
Plenty of trims, best for the person who loves fanciness and things that sparkle!

247 West 38th Street  
New York, NY 10018

Trimmings and notions. Thread, elastic, etc.  Just go.  And be sure to stop practically next door at...

257 W 38th St # 1  
New York, NY 10018

Get your zippers here.  Don't expect much in the way of customer service, but they do have the greatest zippers I've ever encountered.  Get cushioned elastic (ideal for bra straps) here. Great bra supplies.

Hope that gives you a taste of the garment district.  I could recommend just as many more, but really, who has that kinda time?


  1. Anonymous3:46 PM

    Mendel Goldberg on the lower east side is magnificent.

  2. Anonymous3:52 PM

    Thank you so much for putting all this information out. Now I know where I need to be and this will leave me more time to window shop on the way. It's all good. Thanks, the Canadian.

  3. I have a bit of a bias against Goldberg. A client came to me with a fabric bought there, which she was told was silk. A burn test revealed that it was not. It is likely that she or the sales rep was mistaken, but, since I'll never know for sure, I dunno. I have shopped there in the past.

  4. Anonymous11:53 AM

    Any ideas where I can get printed chiffon?
    Looking at making a jacket for my daughters wedding

    1. Rosen & Chadick has some lovely printed silks - I would consider printed organza, if you are making a jacket - stiffer and stronger. Chiffon would make a very soft, or flowy scarf-like/cape garment, but wouldn't hold any particular shape.

  5. VickiMeri8:30 AM

    Thank you so much for this list! I'm planning a trip to NY next week and didn't have a clue. Mood was on my list but now I think I'll skip it and go straight to Paron. Thanks again!

  6. I am going to NY in a couple of weeks on a girl trip. Sad thing is that I am the only one that is interested in fabric. I may slip away and go by myself. I hate to get that close to all that fabric and not do some shopping!! Thanks for all the great info.


  7. Yay Mimi:)) you've saved my day! I'll be in NYC tomorrow. And thought I would try to find a few fabrics that I can't seem to find anywhere in NJ. (yup, i'm a bit picky). Might you have any tips on sewing machines? I don't exactly know how to sew on a machine. But have been sewing by hand (simple stuff) for years. I'm thinking I may need a heavy duty machine as I would like to ocassionally sew leather. Do you think that would cut it? ;)) Thank you for all the great info.!!!

    1. There are so many places to get machines, so many deals... so many ripoffs... An industrial machine can be great - in my opinion, Juki makes the best ones. But you can also sew on leather with a quality home machine and a leather needle. (Unless you mean heavy duty stuff, like bags and belts and things.) There is also a wonderful book on hand sewing leather by Al Stohlman - it can be done!

  8. Anonymous2:28 AM

    Can I purchase patterns at Rosen and Chadick?

    1. No, they don't sell patterns, but Paron (above) does.

  9. Thanks for all the great info - very, very helpful. Do you have any tips on finding great upholstery fabric, or do the above recommendations hold true for that too?

    1. Beckenstein Fabrics on 20th Street is THE place to go for upholstery fabric. They also have a website!

  10. thanks so much for this list! I went to three fabric stores in NYC while there on Saturday. FYI, Paron Fabrics is changing locations THIS WEEK. New address is: 257 West 39th Street. Website is

    1. Yes, I do know they are moving, and they are having such a huge and fabulous sale that I selfishly wondered if I should keep it to myself until I was certain I was done shopping! (Bad Mimi!)

  11. Planning a trip the end of September and am looking for double-knit fabric, pin-striped, like baseball jerseys are made from. Any idea where I might best find something like that? Having a doosie of a time finding any in my home town, and need it for a wedding. Thank you!

    1. Also, visit my other blog for my secret NYC Garment District outing, September 28.

  12. Hmmm... that's a tough one. I'll bet someone has it, but I really don't know who would. Fairly specific request. This is one of those "go to the bigger stores and ask" type of requests, because it is something someone who makes costumes or upholstery would be more likely to use, don't cha think?

  13. Anonymous9:58 AM

    Rosen and Chadick really is a great store. I walked in and perused a while, then brought a few things to the cutting table. David Chadick (both he and his partner are on site and they are the ones you deal with!) looked at what I chose and led me to several fabrics that I absolutely loved and wouldn't have found on my own. He was generous with his cuts and gave me some great prices on gorgeous designer fabrics. I live in the boonies, so he intuited that I was looking for a store I could trust should I call and ask for something to be shipped, and that is exactly what I'll be doing. These are pricey but extraordinarily gorgeous materials sold in a calm, organized and service-oriented store. They are quality people. I'm happy I found them. Thanks, Mimi!

  14. Anonymous1:22 PM

    Where could I find a good 100% cotton interlock?

    1. Mood or NY Elegant would be definite places to look.

  15. Anonymous6:57 AM

    Any ideas where to buy Neoprene fabric and elastic Velcro? Going to NYC this July 2013.

    Thanks for all that you do! Patrick... =)

    1. For neoprene, try B&J fabrics - see the link here...

      Make sure you visit my other blog,, too!

      I'll see who has elastic velcro...

  16. Anonymous9:04 AM

    This is a topic which is near to my heart...
    Take care! Where are your contact details though?