Dopers who sew - Where are the good fabric stores nowadays?

I used to shop at Jo-Ann if I needed fabric (probably because the name was easy for me to remember), but my impression, corroborated by sewing people I’ve talked to, is that it’s no longer so good regarding selection and prices. People don’t sew as much these days, and I’m told many fabric stores have closed up shop. Of the ones that are left, what would you recommend?

Wish I knew. I used to work for JoAnn’s, and always found fabric I couldn’t wait to own. Now I have problems finding anything that resembles fabrics available in ready-to-wear. Minnesota Fabrics (part of Hancock’s) closed around here, and the selection at WalMart is laughable. Aside from quilt fabrics, which are just fine, and plentiful between JoAns and the four quilting stores nearby, I am having the same trouble. Mail order just doesn’t cut it…I need to feel and fondle fabric, and I need better prices.

What are you looking for? Dress fabric? Wools? High-quality cottons?

The chains are not going to be the ones carrying anything all that great. Jo-Ann’s is at best medium-quality stuff. If you’re looking for high-quality cottons, go to your local quilt shop–some will even have fine lawns and such. If you live in a big city, you ought to be able to find good dressmaking fabrics at a large independent store (such as Britex in San Francisco or Stonemountain and Daughter in Berkeley). If you live in a smaller city, you’ll have to go to the big city.

Dressmaking fabrics have gotten worse and worse. It is extremely difficult for me to find anything I want to turn into clothing at Jo-Ann’s or Hancock’s, though I have had good luck with corduroys lately. But rayons and linens, etc–forget it. They’re mostly very ugly. You can try looking through a special-order catalog at the chains. But they mostly seem to carry lots of fleece and bridal/special occasion fabrics, rather than anything you could wear daily.

BTW, while it’s quite true that people don’t sew as much now, the trend is starting to reverse; I do know a lot of teenagers that sew clothes and are interested in sewing, and the big firms are starting up some sort of ad campaign to encourage that and make sewing fun and hip. It’ll be interesting to see whether sewing becomes a big hobby like knitting did for a while.

I go to a neighborhood indie store that’s been there for freakin’ ever. (Well, 30 years to my personal knowlege…).

Philadelphia has a whole cluster of stores in an area called “Fabric Row” on 4th Street near South. – I wouldn’t be suprised if other older cities had similar enclaves.

Most of the indie shops around here have closed up. If I was looking for really quality fabric, I would go to Britex in San Francisco.

In the DC metro area, there is G Street Fabrics , which is known for its huge selection and really good quality. They have a whole section of coture fabrics, bridal and eveningwear fabrics, and just tons of regular fabrics (gorgeous linens, wools, and dress fabrics) and of course a huge quilting section.

Thank you so much! Here in the DC area, I felt intuitively drawn to G Street, and that was going to be my first attempt. (Note to self: trust intuition more.) I’m looking mostly for rayon to make dresses.

Yes, yes! G Street is fantastic. Also, google “[community] fabric” for local stores with interesting selections (e.g., “Hawaii fabric”). Communities with quilting reputations have better fabric selections–along Rte 1A in Southern Maine there were a number of fabric and quilt places last time I went through; Sisters, Oregon has a nice shop; the CA Bay Area has a reasonable number of Asian import places with fabric.

There are also some fun online stores, but use a fast connceting since there are lots of photos.

My wife sews and she likes to buy her materials from an Indian fabric store in Takoma Park. India Sari Palace 1337 University Blvd E, Takoma Park, MD 20912 (301) 434-1350

She said that she prefers to buy her fabrics at the ethnic stores either Indian or at some of the Vietnamese stores around Eden Center because the fabric is less expensive and of a higher quality than at stores like G Street. She does go to G Street fabrics when she wants to buy patterns or she is looking for a specific fabric that the other stores don’t carry.

I don’t have much luck with fabric stores–I go to school close to Madison, Milwaukee and Chicago, but it’s a production getting to any of those cities, and I usually end up disappointed. Joann’s is good for quiliting cottons and muslin, but I usually end up ordering online if I’m looking for silks or woolens. My biggest obstacle is finding 100% natural fabrics that don’t have Spandex or Lycra in them. What’s the point of tossing 3% Lycra into everything? Not everyone wants the fabric to stretch and cling. Blech. </rant off>

I love Fashion Fabrics Club, which offers desiger fabrics at steep discounts–anywhere between 50-75% off retail prices. They have some really funky silk chiffon and challis prints. Denver Fabrics is good for linen and usually have pretty good discounts otherwise. Silk Connection is good for undyed silks at very reasonable prices. Their lightweight silk taffeta makes wonderful lining material.

My favorite fabric store in all the universe is in Brattleboro, VT. www.delectablemountain.com Delectable Mountain has mostly silks - dupionis, taffetas, velvets, prints, jacquards, brocades, sheers - all marvelous delicious silk in extraordinary colors and incredibly decent prices. But I use it for dollmaking so I can get away with 1/4 or 1/2 yard to play with, spend $50 when they’re running their 20% off sale and end up with quite a bit of good stuff. They’ve got some cottons and linens as well but they’re mostly all about silk. A bit of their stuff is online but sadly most of the stuff so much needs to be appreciated in person.

Most places have “the GOOD fabric store” - it’s just a matter of finding it. Ask people locally. “The good fabric store”, in my experience, tends to be in a great big old brick former mill sort of building with creaky floors and endless rows of bolts. It’s never a chain store, the aisles are too narrow but that’s ok, and you ALWAYS spend too much money there.

Our local “good fabric store” is on the second floor of an old building. The sign outside uses a font the rest of the world hasn’t seen since 1958, the door to the shop appears to have been scavanged from an abandoned air-raid shelter, and bolts are piled on the same sort of tables they use at your local flea market. But by the gods do they have nice stuff.

I spend as much time as I can afford in Designer Fabric Outlet- http://www.designerfabrics.ca/shop/scripts/default.asp . They’re wonderful. Three-quarters of the things I make are made with their fabric. I’m lucky to live in a good fabric store intensive city.

Hmm. Delectablemountain looks interesting.

I know that place, I’ve been there. Great idea!

You know, this really should have been called The Sewing Thread.