About me

My photo
I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


Follow by Email

Follow me on Instagram


Sunday, March 10, 2013

My guide to the garment district

My blogging has been about as slow as my sewing lately. A crazy work schedule, a bit of a flu, and the usual stuff.

However in case anyone has a trip to the garment district planned here is my person itinerary:

I have organized this so you work your way across by street so there is no turning back. I have also included a lunch place more or less in the middle.

Things you need to know about shopping in the garment district:

1. This is a place for special not bargains. If you want bargains go to NorthWest Fabrics on Berry Street in Winnipeg which is sort of out of the way for this itinerary.

2. The many ground floor stores tend not to be the good ones, for fabric that is. A lot of show fabrics and sequins but not garment fabrics unless you work in Vegas.

3. In many cases you have to go up a few floors in an elevator of what looks like an office building to find the fabric store, which may be crammed full of bolts.

4. The staff in these places work. This is not Joann's or Fabricville where you browse and then take your fabric over to be cut. These folks work it - think personal shopper. When you go in they ask what you are interested in and they start pulling bolts and making suggestions. They find things for you and tell you honestly if it suits you. This is very helpful because there is so much and it can be overwhelming - the expectation is that the sales staff shop with you.

OK here is where I would go and why:

1. Elliott Berman -  225 West 35th, 7th floor. Start here because they are the best. You don't want to blow your budget and then go to Elliot Berman. The fabric is leading edge and unique - new fabric just released from the European mills for the season for example. A little pricey but totally worth it. I got an incredible knit and a rayon challis for $15 and $20 a yard each which was not outrageous since they are beyond cool. (Fabric pictures will be posted when I have more time.) Service is superb.

2. Botani: Buttons and fashion hardware. 263 West 36th. Just go there. I can't describe it. A whole room full of purse making accessories and 40 million buttons. High end but special. They covered my buckles and will dye buttons to match with a few days notice.

3. Mood - 225 West 37th. Third floor. You have to go to Mood too. It is the Garment District's department store. Three floors of everything and wonderful hardworking staff. A full range of fabrics so if you can't find it anywhere else Mood will have it. I got some cottons for summer, silk jersey, ponte and a beautiful coating I am afraid to cut into here.

4. SIL Thread - 257 West 38th Street level. YKK zippers, threads and notions in such quantity that it makes your head spin. Every, every colour. Many of the zippers are 36" as the standard and they cut and finish to size for you while you wait.

5. Pacific Trimming: 220 West 38th Street level. You name it they got it. Buttons, trims and all points in between. I actually prefer them to the more expensive if better known M&J Trim on Sixth.

6. Paron's Fabrics: 257 West 39th.  Street level.  Great quality of conventional fabrics - wool suitings and boucles for example. I picked up a great Linton tweed here for a Channel jacket. Good value for the quality. 

7. Chic Fabrics: 225 West 39th Street level. Really the best prices in the district, particularly for dress cottons and silk - not as fashion forward but solid quality. I got two dress cotton prints here.


I would go to Ben's Kosher Deli 209 West 38th. It is big there so there is lots of room for all your bags of fabric and the food is nourishing. I like the Matzo Ball chicken soup and a tea when I need to regroup.


Carole Mellin said...

Thanks, Barbara! I'm going in a couple of weeks and I always forget Elliott Berman...

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

Now that is a perfect garment district trip except you left out Spandex House. You can not come to NYC and not visit the place where every knit of all types is housed. And Ben's is the PERFECT place for lunch especially since it harks back to what the garment district use to be!

annie said...

Thanks for this, Barbara. I will be there later next week. My Christmas present!

Kathie said...

Barbara! My friends and I get to the garment district from near Albany, NY a few times a year and every single time we have lunch at Ben's! I've never seen it recommended on sewing pages before. We go to Spandex World where we get our Ponte solids, rayon knits and slinky.... Based on Carolyn's comment I see that I will have to look more closely at Spandex House next trip.

As always, I get a big grin whenever I see a new post from you. Thanks for all the info and pleasure you bring to this house!

Barbara said...

Carolyn you are absolutely right. Spandex House should be added to the list for sure. And yes at Ben's you still get glimpses of what the neighbourhood used to be like. That's one reason I like it, glad you agree.

Anonymous said...

Barbara, your posts on NYC are moving my trip to that city up to the top of my bucket list. Thank you.


Pattyskypants said...

Thanks for the memories!

Mainelydad said...

This is a great list. I'm also a big fan of Pacific Trim. I love the woman who works in the button section of the store. If you have a fabric swatch she'll pull an assortment of buttons that will go with it. Otherwise you'd be there all afternoon looking. I would also recommend Hai's Trimming 242 W 38th. Fabulous embellishments by the bin-full.

sewingkm said...

Great list, Barbara! I'll be there early May for my very first trip to the garment district so I've made notes from your blog as well as others.

Karen in Houston

Cleverclogs said...

I loved Mood, Chic and Ben's Deli. Loved the Chelsea Flea market even more. I'm sorry now that I only poked my nose into Elliot Berman- it was first thing in the morning, and fabric was being moved in. Ah well, maybe air fares to from Aust to NY will come down some time...

velosewer said...

Yay. A list of fabric stores to visit this year. Thanks Barbara, Caroline and Mainleydad.
I'm excited.

Anonymous said...

I was fabric shopping in NY last month, and this time it seemed my loyalty was switching from B&J to Moods...I was somewhat on a budget so decided to give Moods a try before I spent all my hard earned cash in B&J ( also aided by the fact that no-one in B&J seemed to be interested in helping me ). Lovely Todd in Moods went out of his way to help mee choose a yummy alpaca coating, and i got some great MJ lightweight denim for less than 10 dollars. Although they do get busy in there , so it helps to go at opening time when the staff is not too hassled. I would also recommend Fabrics&fabrics, formerly Lace Star. Amazing selection of lace, but also silks, boucles and brocades. And the staff is nice .

Andrea said...

Thank you for this, Barbara! I will be in NYC/NJ in April for a meeting, and have only Saturday morning to shop. It helps to have a hit list. I will have to skip the trim and button stores, and stick to fabric. Any idea how early the fabric stores open on Saturdays?
Haven't had a really good bowl of matzo ball soup since I was in school - a long time ago. So looking forward to that, and a good deli will keep my husband happy.

Barbara said...

Andrea many, many of the stores in the garment district are closed Saturdays, Mood is open but you will have to check them all. Good luck.

Andrea said...

Thanks for letting me know, Barbara. I have a feeling that once I hit Mood, I may not have much time left for other stores.