Friends, meet MPB reader, Minnesotan Ann V. Ann is in New York for a few days on business (top secret) and asked if I would take her to a few fabric stores in the Garment District during her one morning off yesterday. Never one to resist the opportunity to be treated like a celebrity (well, a celebrity tour guide), I said yes.
Ann suggested we start early and, still wiping the grit out of the corners of my eyes, I showed up at 9:30 am -- luckily I'm a morning person. Ann insisted I photograph her outside the All-Male Adult Peep Show; I don't think they have those in Minneapolis. Oh, btw, Ann has a blog which she hasn't updated in nearly a year. Get with the program, Ann!
Ann made her cool stretch knit top AND her fabulous capri jeans, so right away I realized this was no fly-by-night seamstress. Over the next four hours, we hit eight fabric and notions stores and Ann bought something in every single one (well, seven of the eight, but I bought fabric in the eighth). Ann is what I call a decisive shopper. I even pointed this out to her and she agreed that this is precisely what she is.
Here's where we went yesterday, in case you want to recreate our itinerary.
1) Spandex House (263 West 38th St.). Readers, I never shop in Spandex House myself but I will admit it is a fantastic fabric store. When most people think of Spandex they think of gymnastics uniforms and figure skating outfits but Spandex House carries everything -- stretch lace, stretch sequins, stretch fur (!), stretch denim and so much more. Lighting is intense so adjust makeup accordingly.
I'm not at liberty to share what Ann purchased, but let's just say she won't have to buy yoga pants for the next few decades. Ka-ching!
2) Sil Thread (257 West 38th St.)
I love Sil Thread, especially since they started putting price tags on the merchandise. There's not a lot of service here but they have an amazing assortment of notions. They specialize in thread, in hundreds of shades.
Their zipper selection is also quite deep, and 8" metal YKK zipper are only $1.15 apiece. Ann scooped up quite a few. I bought a seam ripper.
3) AK Fabrics (257 West 39th St.)
There's something comfortingly old-fashioned about AK Fabrics, and frankly, I worry about them. They offer actual service and have a very well-organized selection of fabrics. I especially like their soft cotton flannels, which are hard to find these days. Ann picked up some beautiful black cotton velveteen.
4) It's a Material World (257 West 39th St. -- yes, the same address as AK Fabrics)
The former H&M, It's a Material World is the fabric dive I visited weekly during my early days of sewing, when their cotton was all $2/yd. Those days are over, but they still have an enormous selection of fabric, spotty service, and clouds of incense that will knock you over. Breaking news! Remember Nahir, across the street, the best or worst fabric store ever, depending on whether you were served by the moody owner? Well, it burnt down! And the moody owner can now be found at It's a Material World -- he even waited on us! Ann bought this fabulous knit and I can't wait to see what she makes with it.
PS - You can still purchase this Ascher rose print polished cotton -- two years later!
5) Paron's (257 West 39th St. -- I know, same address)
Paron's is famous and rightfully so. Gorgeous selection, not overwhelming in size like Mood, excellent service, many discounts. Ann bought this beautiful stretch denim -- one of her shopping goals yesterday -- and some stretch cotton shirting. Think Pink!
6) Steinlauf & Stoller (239 West 39th St.)
This is my favorite notions store, very old-school. They have everything you need to make tailored jackets and pants (among other things). Ann bought shoulder pads.
7) Fabrics for Less (239 West 39th St.)
These days, I love Fabrics for Less. It's where I bought my toile de Jouy (still in stock) and I love their selection of wide-bolt linens. I bought this fabric to make Michael a shirt. He wants pants so that's what he'll get. More about that tomorrow.
8) Chic Fabrics (225 West 39th St.)
Are you exhausted yet? Chic is another fun store with good prices and they have a beautiful selection of silks. Look at this silk-satin-on-chiffon fabric Ann bought. (The photo doesn't really do it justice: the flowers have the shine of charmeuse, but the blue background is sheer. Don't ask me how they make this.)
Readers, at this point, I was tired and hungry and dragging Ann's 20-lb Spandex House bag behind me. I needed to rest my weary pins so we grabbed a light lunch at Pret a Manger where, I've found, you can refill your small coffee at the self-serve dispenser till you've drunk as much as a large -- or two.
|Lunching with Ann's many bags.|
After lunch, Ann's bags and I found her a cab, and off she went, back to her hotel.
Readers, I hope you've enjoyed coming along with Ann and me on our fabric shopping excursion. I am so glad I still have the stamina for these four-hour jaunts -- how many more decades can I continue on like this?
In closing, do you consider yourself a decisive shopper? I thought I was until I met Ann. There's something very inspiring about making up one's mind quickly -- and intimidating too -- am I right?
Have a great day, everybody!