by Diva Ann, GorgeousThings
I’m fortunate to live in the greater Boston area. Not only do we get lovely weather – well, it’s 45 degrees F, raining and windy out right now, but that doesn’t count – we are also within a few hours drive of the most fabulous fabric shopping east of Hong Kong. I’m speaking of the home of the Bronx bombers, the Donald, and biggest apple of them all, New York City. I try to get there roughly bi-monthly to do some serious stash augmentation.
Bordered by 7th and 8th Avenues, the stretch of blocks roughly between West 35th Street and West 40th Street hold a treasure trove of small, independently owned and independent minded stores that cater to the needs of the fashion industry. In this neighborhood, you can find everything from the plainest muslin to the most breathaking embroidered lace, handbag handles and hardware, tailoring supplies, a cornucopia of trims, buttons the like of which you never see in JoAnn or Hancocks, and every manner of sewing notion known to man. It’s enough to make a Diva swoon!
Over the next, oh, however long it takes to ferret out every shop, we’ll describe our favorites, highlighting those that cater to fine sewing of all types. Today, let me start with just a few of my favorites, and we’ll come back to this ripe patch of turf over, and over, and over as we progress. Before I go on, please understand that none of these reviews are solicited, and we’ll give our frank and balanced opinions. Any gushing will be purely deserved, So let’s go shopping!
Anyone who knows me, knows that Metro is probably my very favorite haunt in NYC. I call it “bolt diving at its best”. This place is tiny! At times you are literally sqeezing between bolts of fabric. But what a worthwhile squeeze it is! The owner, Kashi, has been a garmento for a long time. He knows everyone, and they all know him. He gets ends of rolls from designers all over, and some of the things he gets in stock are to die for. On my last trip there he had picked up hand embroidered and beaded lace, and was selling it for $30/yard. I’ve seen the same types of laces in Sposabella, G-Street and Britex selling for ten times his price. He also frequently gets beautiful rayon matte jersey, His price? $4-$6/yard. B&J Fabrics sells the same stuff for $16 per yard and higher.
There is a wide variety of wools, ranging from tropical weights to fabulous boucles to heavy coatings. You’ll also find a great variety of linens, cottons, stretch wovens and knits, all at unbeatable prices. And he gets great silks! When I was there last November, he had a phenomenal find: stretch silk douppioni. For something ridiculously inexpensive like $12 per yard! Thank the heavens it was in a terrible color for me. He also has extra wide silk organza, beautiful charmeuses and chiffons, crepes, and one of the best selections of silk gazars I’ve seen in one place. Metro is frequented by local designers and students from FIT and Parsons, as well as non-industry fabric fanatics. Kashi and Patrizio (I hope I spelled that right) are very helpful in matching fabrics together for a great look, and for finding great fabrics in the walls. The stock changes on a daily basis, so if you see something you like, buy it right away. It will most likely be gone the next time you’re there.
Rosen & Chadick
561 Seventh Avenue
Down the street and up a couple of blocks, on the corner of 7th Avenue and W. 40th, is another New York classic and favorite of mine, Rosen and Chadick. About a year ago they relocated from their longtime home on W. 40th. Now they occupy two airy floors of their new building. Look up toward Times Square when you are standing at the big button, and you’ll see their windows on the second and third floors. To get in, use the entrance on the W. 40th side of the building. Once you reach the second floor, you’ll find a great selection of designer fabrics, some at heavenly prices, others more down to earth. The store carries an amazing array of laces in all colors. I drooled over some purple ribbon-embroidered Alencon lace on the lower floor. Also on the lower floor, near the entrance, was a fantastic selection of silk/rayon brocades in rainbow hues and unusual weaves.
On the upper floor, you come face to face with a dizzying array of suitings in cotton, silk and wools. There were some Chanel tweeds in lovely pastels in one section, and stark Calvin Klein wools in another. Further back sits a great knit selection. When I was there, they had a bolt of 60 yards of black Jasco wool double knit. I had missed the brown double knit by 5 minutes: some designer (designers, hmmph!) had called and bought the entire stock. I only just managed to buy two yards of the black before he snatched the rest of it. Also on the upper floor is a beautiful selection of cotton shirtings, including Liberty and Sea Island cottons. Also, one whole corner wall is laden with velvets of all types – burnout, panne, you name it. And if you don’t see what you’re looking for on the floor, ask. They have a warehouse nearby that houses many more fabrics, and if they have it in stock there, they will willingly retrieve it for you.
The staff at Rosen & Chadick is very fun to work with. The owner, Davd Rosen, is friendly and knowledgeable, and can point out hidden gems in his expansive stock. His employees are similarly helpful. When I was there last I spent much of the time laughing and joking with them. The quality is consistently excellent, and you pay for it. But you get what you pay for,
I think the next virtual visit will stop at some of the better known landmarks in the Garment District. Or maybe some leather suppliers. Until then, happy sewing!