A selection of shops in the Garment District NY

In this post I want to cover some of the fabric shops I visited whilst in the Garment District NY, the fabrics they stock and their ease of use as a store.

B&J Fabrics 525 Seventh Ave, 2nd floor

This was my favourite place in the whole of New York. It was beautifully laid out. Each fabric had a large piece of swatch available so you could really feel the fabric without fear of damaging the surface. It also allowed you to see the larger pattern and to test how it flowed when moved. On the header for each sample hanger was the fibre content and price, which made it really easy to record what was a ‘possible’ for the buying list. I took a photo of each of the fabrics I was interested in for my own reference.

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I bought the colourful scuba shown in the picture and it was expensive at $62.95/yard but I only bought ¾ yard making it more affordable for what has become a unique and versatile little skirt.

Some of the fabrics are not cheap here but the quality is clear. They had some amazing one-offs which were scarily expensive, so much so I didn’t take any photos, sorry! But here’s a link if you’re interested in fabric at $300/yard. The lurex ombre silk square in this link would have made the most exquisite evening dress, but not for me!

There were many other fabrics that were very attainable for a normal budget though so if you get the opportunity, do take the time to look at B&J Fabrics. You can order their fabrics from Britain as they have an active international delivery service, although I can’t vouch for it as I have not yet had need for further fabrics from them. They also have a very comfy couch to rest the limbs of any weary shopping partners.

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Hubby taking it easy as I peruse the fabrics at B&J Fabrics.

Be aware that B&J Fabrics is accessed via a lift as it is on the second floor. Below you’ll see a series of pics of the entrance showing the entrance across the street, the arch you go through to access the lifts, the lobby and then the door way to B&J Fbrics on the second floor

 

Spandex House 263W. 38th St

I have to say the name raised an eyebrow on my husband’s head, he was thinking I had taken him to a whole other kind of district! But after some reassurance he followed me inside.

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As you can see through the window the fabrics are nicely laid out, very ordered but the pricing isn’t always clear. I had to ask a number of times for prices of different pieces which was a little frustrating. Also you can get varying answers from different assistants! There was a whole array of prints and for some reason a huge number of them were food related.

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All the prints and dance fabrics are downstairs but there are a further two floors of plain stretch, jersey and neoprene fabrics upstairs. What really struck me was the wide variety of colours you can get here in Spandex House, and in other stores. Whereas we might get the choice of two or three colours here in Britain in the Garment District you could pretty much pick up any colour you wanted in any of the fabrics they stocked.

Spandex World 253W. 35th St

This Spandex shop is similar to Spandex House, it has a vast array of stretch fabrics with many dance and sequined pieces to keep even the most vociferous sparkle lover happy. Again it is well laid out but you will need to ask for prices. I purchased a number of different fabrics from here and they were very honest in showing me a fault in one of the fabrics I had selected and gave me extra length to make up for it.

Gate 232 Inc. 257W. 39th St

This was a real little treasure trove of a shop, there were many reduced items in this bargain basement. This wasn’t on my ‘to visit’ list but I’m very glad that I came across this one as it was having a clearance sale to beat all others.

There were a wide range of fabrics but you really only got to see what was at the front of the vertically stacked rolls as they were at least 7-8 rolls deep and very heavy. There was a ‘path’ through the maze of fabrics but the prices were well worth the pain of negotiating your way through. I picked up some wool/cashmere heavy knitted fabric for $8/yard, a sequin velvet for $10/yard, and the lightest silk for $15/yd.

The staff are brusque but very helpful, be prepared to do a deal, they seem to love the haggle

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In the next blog I will cover Mood Fabrics and some of the fabulous trimming shops I found.

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New to the Garment District, New York

Our trip to New York in December 2016 was my treat. Hubby has always gone away a lot on business trips and I have been left at home with the kids. I must say the kids are now much older and no longer in need of 24 hour care but when they were little this was definitely the case. It was pay-back time!

I won’t bore you with all the details of our trip but I thought you may be interested in our experience of the area in New York known as the Garment District. This is where many of the fabric shops are concentrated. I hope to make a few blog posts over the coming weeks to let you know what to look out for and helpful tips that may aid you if you ever go there. We visited only a few of the fabric and trimming shops but I think we got a good feel for the place and I hope these posts might inspire you to visit yourself one day.

Layout of New York

If you are new to the layout of New York (NY) it may be helpful to know that the roads are organised on a grid system. The Avenues run North-South and are numbered 1-11 starting at the East side to the West side. The streets run East-West and are numbered 1-218 starting in the South and reaching up to the North of Manhattan Island.

The Garment District (shown below inside the red box) is to be found between Avenues 6-9 and streets W34th and W42nd  (The W denotes the West side of the island or West of 5th Avenue as the streets reach all the way across the island.)

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You won’t only find fabric shops here though, there are also many design studios, manufacturing hubs and shops selling all manner of things, it really is an absolute dream of a place to visit if you are even slightly interested in sewing. I was completely blown away by the choice of fabric and trimmings but I will come onto that later.

Plan your visit

I had spent time looking at the list of stores on the Garment District website and had drawn up a list of the shops I wanted to visit. I didn’t find the site the easiest to use to start with but over the course of a few visits I worked out that if you followed the Places Directory link and typed in ‘fabric’ it gives you the option of selecting fabric or fabric retail. If you click on the latter it shows you just those stores that allow retail purchases, you don’t want to be hunting places that only sell wholesale. This choice also makes the selection much more manageable at 23 stores.

From there I honed my list to just those stores that had the sort of fabric that I wanted, I knew I was really focusing on printed Lycra (or spandex), and scuba fabrics. I then created an Excel spreadsheet showing the name of the store, the address, the type of fabric, opening times (weekend opening can be a bit patchy and some places close for the Jewish festivals) and any special notes such as minimum lengths cut etc.

Plan your requirements

I drew up a short list of lengths of fabrics I would need to make the wardrobe basics; skirt, trousers, blouse/shirt, dress etc. I have a few patterns that I know very well and always love for ‘quick make’. I recorded these on my list and made mental adjustments when there but it was so handy to have the list to refer to in the stores. I had also made a metric/imperial conversion which was invaluable as all fabric is cut in yards in the US.

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Don’t be shy

It is easy as a newbie to the Garment District to feel quite intimidated not only by the streets and high buildings but also the vast array of choice within each shop. Don’t allow this to stop you enjoying the experience though. If you are investing time and money in travelling to NY you clearly know something of fabric and sewing, look upon this as an opportunity to learn more.

I found all the assistants I came across to be helpful and very willing to answer any queries I had. I found them to be very similar to the assistants in Britain’s fabric and haberdashery shops that being if you are prepared to ask and really listen to the answers they are happy to give their time.

Haggle!

In some of the stores it was possible to haggle to get a good price, I found this particularly in the shops where they were having a clearance. They want to get this stock out of the door and are prepared to listen to reasonable offers.  Be bold, be brave and just ask! You don’t get if you don’t ask.

Next week I will tell a little about each of the stores that we visited and the fabrics I purchased.

Haberdashery Dreams

Oh my word. Hubby and I took a much needed break this weekend and visited Ramsgate, on the Kent coast. After a particularly fine evening meal of sushi we were wondering around the streets and found The Haberdashery Shop. ‘Oh dear’ was all hubby had to say!

On further inspection we found that The Haberdashery Shop in Cleaver Lane, Ramsgate was the clearance store for the new Haberdashery and Fabric Shop which is located a stones throw away in Kings Street.

So early on Saturday morning (having had my first full English breakfast in a very long time, yum) we set off to explore The Haberdashery Shop in Cleaver Lane and what a find. It has petersham, stay tape, coloured elastics, ribbons, buttons and so much more at such ridiculously cheap prices it seems silly to leave them behind. You have to buy the whole roll, reel or pot in most cases as they are trying to clear three floors of warehouse merchandise but I was more than happy to oblige. So much so that I went back to the shop three times in one day, yes three times and my husband has not let me forget it since. He keeps looking at me in a, ‘you can’t help yourself, can you?’ kind of way and saying ‘three times, THREE times in one day’. I’m hoping he’ll recover soon!

I bought quite a few cones of thread in black and blue, the mainstays of overlocking. Also a wonderful variety of thick green threads for my embroidery activities. I picked up a selection of buttons and ribbons. I bought a few rolls of petersham for staying waistbands and giving shape, and a massive roll of elastic; not sure exactly what I’m going to do with that just yet but I have a few ideas for drawn-in tops.  Finally, some cuffing fabric and a couple of zips caught my eye. And this was all just from the clearance place. Have a look below at the final haul!

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The clearance shop is in Cleaver Lane and is only open Fridays and Saturdays between 9am and 4pm, take plenty of cash with you as they don’t have card facilities any longer. In a way that’s good as it means you shouldn’t get too carried away…who am I kidding?

The main shop (see the picture at the header of this post) is in King Street which is a very short distance from the clearance shop. In here you will find the most amazing wall of buttons, who knew the world needed so many? It’s a wonderful display and all colour blocked to help you choose the right one for your projects. There are lots of novelty buttons at the rear of the shop, too. So if you’re looking to make something for someone small or just to embellish this is the place to go.

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Upstairs they have a wonderful selection of fabrics at excellent prices. I believe they take on fabrics from places that are closing down which means they have a wide variety and are happy to pass on the savings to the customer. The assistants are lovely, really helpful and very friendly you can see this is the norm when you look at the reviews of the shop on their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/thehaberdasheryshopramsgate/?fref=ts

If you happen to be in the area of Ramsgate and have some time I strongly recommend a visit to these wonderful shops. Do check on the opening times before your visit (the main store isn’t open on Mondays and the clearance shop is only open on Fridays and Saturdays)  and make sure you take that cash, I’m sure you will find something to take your fancy .

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