THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

August 16, 2010

Paris by Design

Filed under: couture sewing,Draping,Georgene,Industry,Notions,Tools — georgene @ 6:48 pm

Patternmakers’ Supply House

No reason to keep it a secret. There is a specialists’ mercerie or notions store in the Sentier garment district in Paris.

Yes, in France there is a separate place to shop for needles, thread, buttons, zippers, and other trims, as well as needlepoint canvas, embroidery threads, etc. Often there are other things like yarn and knitting supplies, or stockings and hatpins there too. NO fabric, that is to be found in another, separate boutique.

Of course, just like independent fabric stores in the USA, these shops are on the endangered species list.

But I digress. I was staying near the Sentier last month, so it wasn’t far to go to find a specific color of thread I needed for an emergency button repair. I must have walked by the mercerie around the corner from the Rue Montorgueil a dozen times before stepping in to see what I could find.

Since I was there, I decided to buy a half a pound of my favorite Bohin Couturex straight pins, and to ask plaintively if they carried DMC Lacet Super-fin, otherwise known as bolduc band from my days in haute couture school in Paris. This is the flat, narrow cotton shoelace-weave tape used to mark the dressform. DMC stopped making it some time ago, and it has gotten scarce as hens’ teeth. The Chinese owners at this mercerie were stumped, they had no idea what I was talking about.

Another patron in the shop came to my rescue, and suggested 2 other merceries deeper in the garment district, saying that I would surely find my bolduc band there.

Bohin Couturex pins are my favorite for draping, as they are  long and fine, in hardened steel.

Bohin also packages my favorite Millener’s (Modiste) # 9 needles, long and fine for hand sewing muslins and other fine handwork.

That I how I found myself on the Rue Reaumur in front of the Papeterie du Textile, with the small hole in the wall notions shop next door exactly as described. Well, they were doing a land-office business! No danger of this place closing anytime soon. I found what I was looking for, and a few other things jumped in my bag as well: a new tracing wheel with different teeth from the 2 others I have, as well as a mechanical pencil for tailor’s chalk.

Tracing wheels top to bottom: new,  Dritz,  pinpoint

Draping at YSL with bolduc band: from Yves St. Laurent by David Teboul

The fellow at the cash register told me that they order their bolduc band special from a manufacturer down south, since it is no longer made commercially.

My informant also told me about Hamon, a draper-patternmaker’s specialist mercerie on the Rue de Clery. I made a foray up the hill of the Rue des Petits Carreaux past Rue Reaumur, to check it out. Located in an older building on a street of old buildings, the giant scissors above the front door told me I was at the right place. It was indeed a modeliste’s paradise, with scissors, paper, dressforms, irons, muslin, pins, bolduc, and books to teach all about draping and patternmaking (mostly in French, but some with English translation). Fortunately there is a website, so you may be able to acquire items difficult to find in your area.


54, rue de Cléry
75 086 Paris cedex 02, France

Fil 2000

62 rue de Réaumur, 75002 Paris

métro Sentier sortie rue de Petits Carreaux.

Papeterie du Textile

61 Rue Réaumur, 75002 Paris


  1. Wow, Georgene, I hope to get to Paris one day and, when that happens, will use this info. Thanks for sharing! I have also heard that you can get safety pins in Paris that do not have the little “spiral” end. A German sewist I know prefers that style for silk fabrics.

    Comment by Shams — August 16, 2010 @ 7:56 pm

  2. Merci! More places to explore when I visit Paris the next time.

    BTW, regarding Sham’s quest for safety pins without the spiral end, they’re called “coilless safety pins” and they’re available in the US. I think I’ve seen them in the quilting section or check out your local yarn store as they’re often used for stitch markers.

    Comment by Lori — August 16, 2010 @ 8:10 pm

  3. Fabulous information, thank you!!! I hope to get back to Paris next year and if so, I’ll definitely shop at those stores!

    Comment by Gorgeous Things — August 16, 2010 @ 8:33 pm

  4. This is fabulous! You have just saved me what would probably amount to hours asking people who don’t really know, or searching online in my broken french before I find what I want. I’m moving to Paris next month and despite numerous trips there before, I’ve never been to this street. Can’t wait to explore!! Thank you!

    Comment by anna — August 17, 2010 @ 2:09 am

  5. Thanks Georgene for sharing the Paris “mercerie” stores, I have bookmarked them on my Paris list.
    I also have bought Bohin needles on my previous France trips.

    Comment by Els — August 17, 2010 @ 6:28 am

  6. Thank you for sharing this information. I will definitely visit these stores later when I visit Paris in November.

    Comment by Rosie — August 17, 2010 @ 8:24 am

  7. FABULOUS, thank you!! We’re driving back down in December so I can’t wait to explore these places!

    Comment by melissa — August 17, 2010 @ 9:16 am

  8. I am taking my very first trip to Paris in October. I was so excited when I saw your post pop up in my Google Reader this morning! 🙂 How very exciting. I will have to add these to my itinerary! I had made a list of fabric shops but I hadn’t even thought of notions 😉 What a delight!!! I hope you had a wonderful trip.

    Comment by Gail — August 17, 2010 @ 10:00 am

  9. Wow, very nice. thank you!

    Comment by i200908 — August 23, 2010 @ 9:17 pm

  10. Thanks for the great information about Paris.

    I recently bought the chalk set you bought and I love it! It solved my chalking issues and my students find it easy to use.

    Linda T

    Comment by vernonfashionstudio — August 24, 2010 @ 6:20 pm

  11. This is the flat, narrow cotton shoelace-weave tape used to mark the dressform.

    Comment by türkh yazılım teknolojileri — August 25, 2010 @ 9:04 am

  12. Thanks for the info. I’ve bought the chalk at Sil Thread in NYC on 38th Street and at Fashion Design Books on 27th Street. It was $12 to $15.

    Comment by Guterwomann — August 30, 2010 @ 3:07 pm

  13. I just opened one of those quickly fading independent fabric boutiques, and plan to be around for many years to come! You are right though, it is very hard to find these unique and quality tailoring implements. Thank you so much for the legwork! Thank you for sharing!

    Comment by Sewandsews — August 31, 2010 @ 3:44 pm

  14. Oh my, what a wonderful read. Kept me smiling and I could imagine the boutiques and all the little goodies about. Please post more…

    You had popped over on my blog artCme and left a comment about my little black dress, you know, I have to admit, I never thought about lightening the picture, a tip well worth remembering. I have a question if you don’t mind, the dress has what I am guessing is gussets under each sleeve. I don’t know if this is the pattern or something she did on her own, she had told me that before she sent it out she had made adjustments to the sleeves. I want to ask her about this before I send the dress back, but would like to know when she answers me if it is going to be something plausible or not.

    Thanks for stopping by…

    Comment by Cindy Sue — August 31, 2010 @ 8:39 pm

    • Cindy Sue I can not find your blog again it seems it is closed.

      Comment by Els — September 23, 2010 @ 6:07 pm

  15. Thanks for the informations. I’m living near to Paris but I didn’t know the Hamon shop!

    Comment by lasandrou — October 26, 2010 @ 1:38 am

  16. Thank you so much for sharing this! I am planning to return to Europe some time soon and am very interested in any sewing resources!

    Comment by Marine — November 20, 2010 @ 7:13 pm

  17. Very educational post, all the reason more to go to Paris. But its sad to know that such stores are going into extinction. Those resources are very hard to come by these days and it would be a waste if they really disappeared. cheers and nice post once again

    Comment by woven labels — November 22, 2010 @ 10:46 pm

  18. In the UK these places are called Haberdashery shops and do still exist though they only have home sewer notions rather than the exotic haute couture things found in Paris. They are often found on markets or as within a department store like John Lewis’s.

    Comment by RuthieK — November 27, 2010 @ 11:18 pm

  19. This post brings back memories. Fil 2000 was my favorite place to shop when I lived in Paris. Fortunately, my sister lives there still so I can get the stuff I can’t find here in the US.

    Comment by Pauline — December 1, 2010 @ 12:27 am

  20. I visited Paris as a teenager and thought it was a wonderful city. Your photos and description are lovely! I really enjoyed this post.

    Comment by farragio — December 3, 2010 @ 1:59 pm

  21. This is a very lovely post. I want to go to these stores if I ever go to Paris. I imagine these stores as a sewing heaven!!! I really liked your pictures also ♥

    Comment by Imagine Soul — December 11, 2010 @ 1:35 am

  22. Hello Els!
    I will travel to Paris in July 2011 and this information will be very useful to me! Many thanks!
    Have a happy Christmas and a 2011 full of accomplishments and salute!

    Comment by christianportfolio — December 18, 2010 @ 6:12 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: