NYC Fabric District
Home Up Recipes NYC Fabric District

The official name of the district is the New York City Garment District.  I call the subset dedicated to fabric, trim, ribbons, buttons, etc the New York City Fabric District.

Location Map of the NYC Garment District:

bulletFabric, Trims, etc: West 36th through West 40th, between 7th and 8th avenue
bulletBeads, Buttons, Trims, etc: West 36th through West 39th, around 6th avenue
bulletRibbons, Trims, etc: West 38th, between 5th and 6th avenue

I start at West 40th and 6th Avenue (south west corner of Bryant Park) walking west along the north side of West 40th until I reach 8th Avenue where I cross West 40th, doubling back east via the south side of West 40th until I reach 6th Avenue, walk south on 6th Avenue until I reach the north side of West 39th and follow the same routine until I end up on the south side of West 36th where it intersects 6th Avenue. 

If I stop in every store along the way, I can easily spend the entire day which includes a much needed sit down break for lunch.  If I have any extra time, I head back to West 38th and go on both north and south sides of West 38th between 6th avenue and 5th avenue.

Hours vary by store but most are open:

bulletMonday - Friday 9am-6:30pm
bulletSaturday 10am-5:30pm
bulletsome are open Sunday 10am-5:30pm.

A subset of the stores, which I confirmed exist as of April 2008:

A&M Fabric 214D West 39th Street
A.K. Fabrics 257 West 39th Street
Ayazmoon Fabrics 214B West 39th Street
B&J Fabrics 525 Seventh Avenue (between 37th & 38th St, 2nd floor)
B4U Fabrics 228 West 39th Street
Beckenstein Fashion Fabrics 257 West 39th Street
Chic Fabric 225 West 39th Street
Day to Day Textile 214 West 39th Street
Daytona Braids & Trimmings 251 West 39th Street
Diana Fabrics 269 West 39th Street
Fabric for Less 239 West 39th Street
Fabric House, Inc 214A West 39th Street
G&R Fabric, Inc 239 West 39th Street
Hamed Fabrics Inc. 251 West 39th Street
Lace Star 215 West 40th Street
Leather Impact 256 West 38th Street
M&J Trimming 1008 Sixth Avenue (between 37th & 38th St)
Mood 225 West 37th Street (3rd & 4th floors)
Neon Fabrics, Inc 239 West 39th Street
Paron West, Paron Annex 206 West 40th Street
Prestige Textile, Inc 258 West 39th Street
Shaikh Fabric 580 8th Avenue
Spandex House 263 West 38th Street
So-Good 28 West 28th Street
Stretch-It, Inc. 263 West 38th Street
Tinsel Trading 47 West 38th Street
Toho Shoji Inc 990 Sixth Avenue (between 36th & 37th St)
USA Fabric Inc 247 West 38th Street
Weavers Fabrics Inc 257 B West 39th Street

If you only have a couple of hours to spare, then focus on the six stores I have highlighted, where I have repeatedly made purchases over the years and/or customer service is exceptional.

Don't let the names mislead you, I found the satin lining for this cloak at Spandex House and Lace Star carries non lace upholstery weight fabrics on their second floor.

Other links I recommend:

The NYC Garment District
 

Tips for comfort:

bulletWear comfortable, cushioned shoes for walking around all day as there is rarely a place to sit in the fabric stores.
bulletIf the weather warrants a jacket then wear one that quickly opens and closes as you will be walking in and out of stores non stop.
bulletPut your personal belongings in a 'fanny sack' centered at the front so that you can keep both hands free to pull fabric out as it is often stacked deep with only narrow paths through the stacks.  This picture from the Sewing Divas is a great example of what your typical fabric store looks like.
bulletIf you are visiting the city, park nearby or lodge nearby so you can drop off your bags of fabric periodically.

Tips for budgets:

bullet

You can often haggle the price down if you're buying 5 or more yards.  I usually offer a price that is 20% less unless it's already heavily discounted.  You have more leverage the larger the quantity you are purchasing and if you can keep a poker face about how you really feel about the fabric.  Always be courteous and if haggling is getting you nowhere, move on.

bulletRequest a swatch if and only if you are really considering buying it and write down the haggled price on the back of their business card which you should ask them to staple the swatch to.  The business card usually has the name of the person you haggled with.  I've only had one store deny me a swatch, yet I have had another store hand me scissors to cut my own, so swatch polices will vary.
bulletI prefer to haggle and swatch on the first day and purchase the next day, if I am staying in the city.  That allows me the night in between to lay out all my swatches to make my final decisions.  Store owners will remember you the next day and see you are serious about coming back to purchase, which may open up new options as they offer to pull out similar stock that is not on display to their regular customers.
bulletMultiple stores sometimes offer the exact same fabric at very different prices, find the lowest or show them your swatch with the written lowest price so far to allow them to match it or beat it.
bulletPay cash when possible, some stores will not add the taxes or will round down to the nearest dollar if you are dealing in cash.

Tips for costumers:

bulletReversible upholsteries offer two design options or the ability to combine both for a perfect match.  A friend of mine makes beautifully coordinated renaissance outfits when sewing a bodice for herself using one side of the fabric and a doublet for her husband using the other side. 
bulletLook for upholstery and brocade sections, often labeled with large signs.  Sometimes they are only upstairs or downstairs, with the main floor focused on fashion fabrics.
bulletCarry around average yardage info for patterns you frequently sew in sizes you frequently sew, for example:

full blouse (woman)

2.5 yds

full long skirt

6 yds

bodice

1 yd

full long gown

7 yds

long overdress

4.75 yds

full shirt (man)

4.25 yds

doublet

4.25 yds

knickers

2.5 yds

full pants

3 yds