June 2, 2014

I have a bit of a love / hate relationship with the NYC garment district.  It was one of the things that I was most excited about when I moved here.  It’s amazing to have a whole area of a big city dedicated to fabric shopping.  I love that most of it is focused on apparel instead of fleece.  It’s just fun to walk in and out of the many stores, digging for treasures, and bartering a bit once you find it.  There are elastics, buttons, and silks that would be hard to find at any big name store.

But there are some drawbacks too.  It’s not an easy errand anymore.  We are talking a few hours at least once you factor in subway travel and the hunting necessary.  It also tends to be quite a bit more expensive, and no coupons (although I have found a groupon for Paron’s once).  It’s a bit quirky with sometimes rude salespeople, loads of ridiculously gaudy fabric, and the time I accidentally got locked in a store with my newborn for 1/2 hour while someone took a break – not even kidding.  And don’t even get me started on taking kids with me.  It’s a nightmare waiting to happen.  It just makes it super hard when all I want is a few buttons, or matching thread and I am looking at a 2 hour ordeal at the least.

All of that being said, I still love it here and frequent the NYC garment district way too often.  But I have found that I have inadvertantly created a little “go to” list of stores where I feel comfortable, and I know I can find what I am looking for.  Here it is:


Gray Lines Linen (260 W. 39th Street #4) – This store is full of all sorts of linen including tons of beautiful stripes.  And everything in the store seems to be under $10 a yard and very wide.  Seriously love this store.  It’s my current fav.
I bought this aztec linen there which I still need to make into something and the fabric for this jumpsuit.

Mood (225 W 37th St. 3rd Floor)- You can’t go wrong here.  Lot’s of choices and friendly staff.  Plus a really cute dog.  I think that Project Runway has made this store super approachable.  I even feel fine bringing my kids with me here on a weekday.
I’ve made a lot with their fabrics including this, this, and this.

Paron Fabrics (257 W 39th Street) – The first store that I ever shopped in thanks to Gingermakes.  They have the nicest people working for them and a really good mix of quality fabrics and a good clearance section.  They also often do groupons.
I used their fabric for this and this.

Chic Fabrics (225 W 39th Street #11)- This one is a bit more crazy with bolts of fabric piled high and small walkways to weave your way between them.  But they have great deals.  If you know your fabrics you can really find some great stuff here especially silks.
I bought fabric here to make this.


Vardhman Inc. (269 W. 39th Street) – This is a small family owned shop that I always check first when looking for notions.  One time I didn’t have cash for some buttons and they gave them to me for free.  Ever since then I have been loyal to them.  They are really affordable too.

Daytona Trimmings (251 W 39th Street) – They have just about everything where it comes to trimmings.  I find them a bit less expensive than Pacific and have really nice staff.  They also have a store cat that my kids like follow around.

Pacific Trimming (218 W 38th St.) – Certainly a bit more expensive that than some of the other notions stores, but they have some really great stuff.  I love going here for specific stand out items printed elastic or neon cording.  I love just looking.

SIL Thread (257 W 38th St. #1) – They have rows and rows of zippers in every color and I’ve gotten almost all of my patternmaking supplies there.

Recommended (these are ones that I have never actually been to, but keep hearing great things about)

B & J  – I can’t believe that I have never been here.  From what I hear they have tons of fabric and are extremely organized.  I think that they are on the more expensive end so I’ve just been waiting for the right project.

Metro Textiles (265 W 37th St. #908) – I havn’t been here either, but I know that a lot of my NYC sewing peeps go here a lot.  I hear that there are great deals to be found.  I will definitely pop in next time I am there.

Well there you have it.  Do any of you have “go to” stores in NYC?  Please let me know what I am missing.

Also, the winner of last weeks Fashionary Measuring Tape is Shelley Carr.  Congrats!

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  • Reply Suzanne June 2, 2014 at 1:41 PM

    I also have never been to B&J! We should go sometime. AND BRING ALL THE CHILDREN. I go to Metro pretty frequently and always find something. Most cottons/jerseys I look at are $5-6/yard, though I have splurged on silk there ($14/yard). He has nice selection of wool coating too. Don’t ever take a small child in Chic. He is crazy worried they will get buried under the bolts and is on you like a hawk.

    • Reply gingermakes June 2, 2014 at 3:08 PM

      B&J has a candy jar on the checkout counter, so you can get the kids all jacked up on Skittles and set them loose in the store!

    • Reply oona balloona June 2, 2014 at 6:14 PM

      hahaahaaaaaaaa YEAH! i do believe we snagged some of that kiddo candy…

      amazing list, and i am now salivating thinking about gray lines linen. never heard of it! NEW STORE MUST GO. and i love how you linked to projects you made from the stores. genius. i can copy?

  • Reply Jenny June 2, 2014 at 2:00 PM

    I am a total Metro Textiles convert! It’s small and somewhat crazily organized, but the fabric is unusual and beautiful, and Kashi often comes up with great recommendations

  • Reply Anna June 2, 2014 at 2:04 PM

    oh that’s such a great list! I hope to someday visit and get to shop there!

  • Reply Kathy from The Nerdy Seamstress June 2, 2014 at 2:36 PM

    This is a great list. I think fabric shopping in NYC is intimidating because I don’t know what stores to go to other than mood and paron, through ginger makes too, so thank you for the list. I dint know when I’ll be Back, but if I am I’m using this list. Shopping in LA garment district scares me too. Too many to choose from.

  • Reply anneke June 2, 2014 at 3:24 PM

    I loved going to the garment district during my trip to NYC… Mostly because there’s nothing like it anywhere near my home. The first store I went to happened to be B&J and I’d definitely recommend it, they have most of their fabric in samples on hangers so you can just walk around with the hangers and ask someone to cut the fabric for you. They had crazy expensive things but some of it was very affordable!

  • Reply lisa g. June 2, 2014 at 3:33 PM

    how timely! i get to make my first visit to the garment district in a few weeks and was looking for suggestions. i’ll remember your list!

  • Reply Carolyn (Diary of a Sewing Fanatic) June 2, 2014 at 3:52 PM

    Daytona and Pacific Trimmings are my trim stores! Always go there. Steinlauf and Stoeller is another must stop for notions – they are more expensive than SIL but they’ve been in the district forever and I’ve bought from them forever! I’m going to have to try Gray Lines Linen because I’ve primarily purchased linen from Ebads Fabrics on 8th Avenue and gotten very good prices there.

    However, for someone who has been shopping in the garment district since my early 20s stores like B&J, Rosen and Chadick and Parons are great now but I always remember what they use to be like when I go in them and feel sad.

  • Reply Amanda June 2, 2014 at 4:36 PM

    I agree! Love the Garment District, but I can be a bit intimidated. Honestly I feel like I just go to Mood most days, though I have gone to B&J for last-minute lining purchases since it’s close to the subway and I can get there on my lunch break. I like stores that are a bit more organized because I tend to have a specific idea in mind, but every once in awhile I branch out and try a smaller store (usually after recommendations from someone at a meet-up or through blog reading – for example, thanks for the linen store tip!).

    And YES about the candy jar at B&J. I had mentioned that in my last dress post, but took it out and now I’m not sure why. Perfect for the mommy/kid crowd! Oh, and the aisles there are pretty spacious as far as NYC goes so I imagine it should be stroller-friendly.

  • Reply Emily June 2, 2014 at 5:47 PM

    I have less experience with some of the trimming stores you mention, but I often go to M&J Trimming for buttons. They also have tons of specialty trims if you want to make a Chanel-style jacket. Pretty much any kind of trim you would ever want in the world. Tinsel Trading is fun and a bit more unique – they have beautiful millinery flowers and vintage trims you wouldn’t find elsewhere. It is a fun place to go for a special project (I bought some flowers for my wedding headpiece there). B&J is great. I think it’s like a more organized Mood–a little less overwhelming–which is my primary problem with shopping in the NYC garment district . . . FABRIC OVERLOAD. When I see too many bolts of fabric haphazardly stacked, I sometimes just freeze up unless I have something very specific in mind that I’m looking for.

  • Reply Charlotte Wensley June 2, 2014 at 6:34 PM

    This is such a great post and as a relative newbie to NYC and the Garment District really helpful. One other place I was recommended is New Tork Elegant Fabrics on W40th. I’ve only been once but the selection was great.

  • Reply seamrippedblog June 2, 2014 at 8:24 PM

    Oh, you’re making me homesick.

    You absolutely, without a doubt must go to every store on your to-do list. B&J is my secret favorite, because I love being left alone to wander the aisles. (A lot of people complain about their customer service, but I just think of it as long-awaited peace!)

    I’ll echo Carolyn and Emily, and recommend Steinlauf and M&J. I love them both desperately.

    I know it must be hard to go exploring with the kids in tow, but I try my best to pop into a new random shop, every time I’m in the area. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at places like A&K Fabrics, on 39th. (And, frankly, unpleasantly surprised at some other places, but c’est la vie.)

  • Reply Clio June 2, 2014 at 9:20 PM

    You mentioned many of my favorites. A few others… A&K for good quality basics like denim. If you want silk go to Fabrics & Fabrics for a mind blowing array plus other fancies like galloon lace – the store is large and well organized with a broad range of fabric. Elliot Berman has beautiful designer fabrics. I’ve recently gotten hooked on Botani Buttons, particularly for their custom length Lampo zippers. They’re an expensive habit, but I think they are the best zippers on the planet.

  • Reply Kate June 2, 2014 at 10:11 PM

    I was in NY a couple of weeks ago and went to lots of shops, Metro Textiles was great, as was Mood and B&J. H&M fabrics had lots of great wool down the back, I had limited time, but wish I could have hunted around there more.

  • Reply Erin June 2, 2014 at 10:35 PM

    Ooooo! Thanks for all the tips! I’m going out to NYC in September and I can’t wait to see all the amazing fabric there!

  • Reply Bella June 3, 2014 at 1:24 AM

    Wow thanks for this! On visits to NYC I’ve been to Mood and B&J and that’s it. Must try your suggestions next time.

  • Reply Lena Merrin June 3, 2014 at 4:36 AM

    I laughed out laoud when I read that Paciffic Trimming was expensive :)) I recently ordered some stuff from there, had it delivered to Australia and still saved a mint compared to local prices! Oh you are lucky, lucky, spoiled people! 🙂

  • Reply Gail June 3, 2014 at 6:31 AM

    What a great resource. I’ll bookmark for my next trip to NY. I wasn’t sewing on my last visit in 2007.

  • Reply aspen @ little green orchids June 3, 2014 at 5:50 PM

    I got a couple of things at Paron today thanks to your recommendation! I’d never been in there before, great shop!

  • Reply Towanda June 3, 2014 at 9:32 PM

    I was there last Saturday. I had time to visit Ebad, Metro and Chic. I did make it to Pacific trimming. I hope to be able to return in the fall to pick up fabric for fall/winter sewing. The funny thing is that I was ordering fabric from FM on the way because of their Saturday sale.

  • Reply brenda-jane June 5, 2014 at 5:09 AM

    oh I’m saving this list for when I get there one day! I’m from Perth, Australia, so it’s not exactly a weekend jaunt!

  • Reply Chantal July 21, 2019 at 11:22 AM

    I’ll be in New York next week, and I just realized that from my hotel, it’s a 5 minutes walk to the garment district! … but I won’t have much time for shopping there, only about an hour! I’m mostly looking to buy knit fabrics for tops, and also for active wear, where would I find the biggest selection?

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