The NYC Garment District
by Paula Nadelstern

The NYC Garment District
by Paula Nadelstern


It's easy to develop a love/hate relationship with New York. (Take that sentence for example. New Yorkers are so self-centered, we refer to the geographical entity known as Manhattan as New York. We know New York is not only a big city that includes four more boroughs, it's a huge, beautiful and diverse state. But to get you thinking like a New Yorker, I'm going to adopt this reference system and not make any other excuses for it.) It's big, it's loud, it's not easy to do the stuff that's probably easy to do where you come from, like parking or getting to the post office. But you probably aren't thinking of coming to New York because you want to mail a letter or test your parking karma.

You might not have been planning to come to New York to fondle fabric either, but think again. New York is a genuine textile lover's shopping mecca. The following recommendations are just a tiny taste of the abundance and variety that overfills the neighborhood known as the Garment District. Instead of hunting for the materials you find in your local quilt shop, expect to bag uncommon species: bargains like mill-ends and cut-rate decorator fabrics, high end goods like silks and fine wools, non-traditional materials like vinyl and metallic, cottons from Indonesia and African. Not to mention shops brimming with embellishments, some arranged with a museum-like precision, others reminiscent of yard sale chaos.

The lists are divided into Fabric Shops, Ribbon Stores, Trimmings-Buttons-Beads-Notions, and a few Out-of-the-Garment-District suggestions. Don't be intimidated. Walk into these shops with attitude: THEY are lucky to have YOU shop in their store. But, if you don't want to look like a tourist, don't ask for or expect anyone to know what a Fat Quarter is and don't expect many shops to cut less than 1/2 yard lengths. At the end of this list, after the restaurant suggestions, there is a short version called The Three Hour Guide to the Garment District.

In compiling this list, I sought suggestions from fellow quilters wrapped up in the fabric of city life. Welcome to our New York.

The fabric shops in the garment district are mostly on 39th and 40th Streets, between 7th and 8th Avenues. Although they are open to the public, they cater to the apparel industry, meaning come with an open mind and don't expect many calicoes and traditional quilting fabrics. But don't be shy: ask for cottons. Depending on the season, you could get lucky. Generally, the hours are Monday to Friday 9-6 and Saturday 10-5 (or 4:30). Interestingly, Saturdays are not as busy as weekdays when wholesale customers in the trade make up most of the traffic. A few stores open and close an hour earlier, and some are closed on Saturdays because of religious observance.
525 Seventh Avenue,
between 37th and 38th Streets,
2nd floor
(212) 354-8150,
Open Monday to Saturday
After 45 years in a multi-level storefront on West 40th Street, B&J Fabrics was forced to move to make way for the new headquarters of The New York Times. Huge selection of expensive, gorgeous, luxury goods. I always start here and I've never regretted a purchase. The stuff I've bought here has become grist for inspiration, sparking new quilts and directions.
225 West 37th Floor,
3rd & 4th floors
(212) 730-5003,
Open Monday to Saturday
Large warehouse ambiance with knowledgeable staff. The stuff is pricey but for pricey stuff, the prices are good. Many designer end-cuts at great prices. I bought cloth here, shlepped it to Beijing and had a cashmere coat, cashmere pants and two pairs of linen pants made in a week. Come, use the bathrooms and act out your Project Runway fantasy. Consider printing out the lay-outs of each of the thre floors from their website. If you only have an hour and you want to see fabric, start here.
Paron West, Paron Annex
206 West 40th Street
(212) 768-3266,
Open Monday to Saturday
These two neighboring stores feature designer fabrics. One is full price, the other is half price, and both are definitely worth a visit. Their motto: Your Source for Better Discount Fabrics!

270 West 38th, 3rd floor
(212)944-9499 (fax)
Open Monday to Friday 9AM to 6PM

Formerly known as Lace Star, they now have an entire floor which has enabled them to expand their stock. “While we still have our lovely laces in many, many varieties and colors, we now also have a large selection of solid and printed silks (including charmeuse, gazar, satin, to name a few), cottons, linens, a selection of knits, a large amount of beautiful brocades and jacquards, and a very large selection of wools. We even have some leather, ultra suede, and vinyl as well.”

Sposabella Lace
252 West 40th Street
(212) 354-4729,
website under construction
Open Monday to Saturday
Manufacturers of specialty bridal headpieces and laces. According to Esther Z. (from Benartex), this shop is filled with yardage of gorgeous, beautiful lace. And when it comes to gorgeous, Esther is a maven.

NY Elegant Fabrics

222 West 40th Street

(212) 302-4984

An impressive range of beautiful fabrics: silks, woolens, cottons, designer fabrics, laces, imports. I like this venue.
Butterfly Fabrics
237 West 35th Street #241
(212) 719-9617,

Open Monday to Saturday
A full line of metallic silk organza and other wonderful stuff, including a fantastic line of dupioni silks, both 45" and 60" wide, at reasonable prices. (They will offer wholesale prices if you purchase twenty yards.) The proprietors own a factory in India that weaves a two color dupioni seen nowhere else.
Ayazmoon Fabrics
235 West 40th Street
(212) 869-3315,
Open seven days a week.
Big array of Chinese silk brocades and beautiful saris.
Spandex House, Inc.
263 West 38th Street
(212) 354-6711,

Open Monday to Saturday
Suggested by a friend who says it's one of her favorites, since it's such a unique type of store - everything stretches.
Fabric for Less
239 West 39th Street
(212) 391-7504
Open seven days a week
Best selection of decent fake fur - all the way in the back.
Beckenstein Fashion Fabrics
32 West 20th Street
(212) 366-5142
Open Monday to Saturday,
closed on Saturdays from
Memorial Day to Labor Day
Wool suiting, shirting, linens.

Leather Impact
256 West 38th Street
(212) 302-2332,

Open Monday to Friday

307 West 38th Street
New York, NY 10018
(212) 221-5324 (phone)
(212) 221-5325 (fax)
Call or Email for appointment Open 9:30-5:30

Everything you could need related to leather.



This is a new address for this upscale store. No minimum purchase required for stock in existence ( but no fat quarters!) Lots of bridal, theater and film type fabrics, some novelties, mainly solids and mainly from Italy

Ribbon Stores
Here's a list of the ribbon stores on 38th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues, and a few close by additions. (My friend, Robin, wants me to make sure you know that 6th Avenue is also called Avenue of the Americas.) Start at Lord & Taylors on 5th Avenue and walk west. (You might want to stop first at Lord & Taylors to use the facilities.)
28 West 38th Street
(212) 398-0236
Open Monday to Friday
A mess of a store; cheapest with huge selection.
M&J Trimmings
(Button store two doors down)
1008 6th Avenue
between 37th and 38th Streets
(212) 391-9072,
Open Monday to Saturday
This isn't a store, it's an event. The content is mind-boggling: ribbons and sequins and appliques, oh my! M&J Buttons is two stores away. Don't go midday when it's swarming with garmentos on their lunch breaks. If you only have an hourand you want to see embellishments, start here.

137 West 38th Street
Between Broadway and 7th Avenue
NY, NY 10018
(212) 869-8900




Just ribbons. Exquisite variety displayed in a museum-like ambiance. Very Expensive but definitely worth aspiring to. It's important to have a business card available to give to the salesperson. Here's their idiosyncratic procedure: don't handle anything yourself. After you've decided what you want, an assistant follows you around with a cart and cuts what you ask for.
M&S Schmalberg
242 West 36th Street 7th Floor
(212) 244 - 2090
Mon - Fri 9am - 4:30pm
These guys have the largest selection of silk fabric flowers, petals and leaves in the city. They do all manufacturing on premises and can even custom make something out of your fabric. Very friendly to work with.

The Bead District is around 6th Avenue from 36th St to 39th St.

B & Q Bridal Inc.
210 West 38th Street
(212) 398-0988

274 West 40th Street
(212) 869-2930
Open Monday to Saturday

Bridals, veils, lace, trimmings (like to-die-for beaded fringes), laces, appliques, gloves, sequins, costume jewelry, artificial flowers, appliques, and things you've never even dreamed of.
Daytona Braids & Trimming
251 West 39th Street
(212) 354-1713,

Open Monday to Saturday
Lots of buttons, trim, embroidery thread, and pillow inserts.
Toho Shoji
990 Avenue of the Americas,
between 36th and 37th Streets
(212) 868-7466,
Open Monday to Sunday
Good assortment of beads, ornaments, and related stuff.
York Novelty Imports Beads
10 West 37th Street
(212) 594-7040,
Open Monday to Friday
A spokesman for this mammoth retail store, in business at the same site for over sixty years, says they are the major New York importer of Czech beads. Good selection of small containers of seed beads.
Beads World
1384 Broadway
(212) 302-1199,

Open seven days a week
From the outside, this new store looks well lit and well stocked. Large selection of Swarovski crystal, lampworked Czech beads, semi-precious stones and seed beads.
Steinlauf & Stoller
239 West 39th Street
Toll Free: (877) 869-0321,
(212) 869-0321-2;
Open Monday to Friday, 8-5:30
Thread, zippers, tools, shoulder pads, etc. They will put on snap sets. I buy the featherweight fusible interfacing (CL-FW) that enables me to play nicely with silks at this notions distributor; $30.00 minimum for mail orders.
Panda Threads
247 West 38th Street
(212) 302-9434,
Open Monday to Saturday
Great prices on giant spools of name brand threads (like Guttermann), elastics, hangers. Plus, they make labels.
Great Buttons
241 West 40th Street
(212) 869-6811
Open Monday to Saturday
Top Tex
222 West 38th Street
(212) 221-6433,

Open: Monday to Saturday
Manufacturers and importers of home furnishings, accessories, trimmings, woolen and pashmina shawls
Eskay Novelty
34 West 38th Street, 3rd floor
(212) 391-4110,

Open Monday to Thursday,
half day on Friday
Imagine: this shop only sells feathers.
Stanley Pleating
242 West 36th Street
between 7th and 8th Avenues
(212) 868-2920
Open to the public:
Monday to Friday, 12-1:15, 4:30-5:30
Pleating, stitching, embroidery services

Out of the Garment District
The City Quilter
133 West 25th
between 6th and 7th Avenues
(212) 807-0390,

Not open on Monday.
This may be a small quilt store by American quiltdom standards, but its goods and services are equal to the best. The knowledgeable, kind staff will be happy to give local restaurant recommendations along with sage quilting advice.
Tinsel Trading
New location for Tinsel Trading: 
828 Lexington Avenue (63rd Street)
NYC 10065 212-730-1030
www.tinseltrading.comMonday to Friday 10-7 Sat/Sun 11-5
          A tiny boutique jewel box. Highly edited. More gifts.

34 West 46th street
New York, NY 10036
(212) 944-0909 (phone)
(212) 944-0644 (fax)

Metalliferous is a full-service, fully-stocked supplier of metal, tools, and supplies to jewelers, beaders, crafters, hobbyists, metal workers, sculptors, and everyone else interested in metalworking and jewelry. Kaleidoscope makers love this place.
Tender Buttons
143 East 62nd Street
(212) 758-7004
Open Monday to Saturday
The cream of the contemporary and antique button crop. Worthy of multiple ooh-and-aah moments.
Old Japan
382 Bleecker Street (@8th Ave)
(212) 633-0922
Open Tuesday to Sunday, 1:00-7:30PM
Lots of kimono, obi and Asian artifacts. Ask to see the fabric drawer with cut-up kimono fabric in silk, cotton and yukata. The friendly couple that owns the shop enjoys the company of quilters.
Long Island
Huntington Fabric Depot
1949 New York Avenue
(631) 424-7333
Mon-Sat, 10AM-7PM
Eleanor-from-Long-Island and her daughter-the-Salsa-dancer have  great things to say about this mecca: “Garment silks, like Dupioni ($12), silk lining fabric ($5--cheaper than the polyester at Joann’s.), lovely wools ($10), Ultrasuede ($10 to 12). Discounted patterns at 50% off, loads of stock notions, accessories, trims and buttons, not to mention a decorating fabric section, too.
P&S Fabrics
355 Broadway
(about four blocks below Canal)
(212) 226-1534.
Monday to Friday and Sundays.
Closed Saturday.
According to Shirley Levine, it's the best stocked notion center, with a great selection of brand name rayon threads (including Madeira) and stuff like rat tail and cording for piping, and it's one of the few spots in the city that carries clothing patterns (at 25% off).

According to Judy Speezak, this shop always has a good selection of genuine African cottons, cheaper than most anywhere else in the city. They also have an odd selection of quilting cottons, and she's recently seen woven patterned Chinese silks there, too.
Erica Wilson
717 Madison Avenue
(212) 832-7390
Open Monday to Saturday
Best place for hard-to-find pearl cotton
Bruce Frank
215 West 83rd Street
(212) 595-3746,

Open seven days a week

Beads Of Paradise
16 East 17th Street
(212) 620-0642
Mon-Sat 11:00-7:30
Sunday  12:00-6:30


Isn't it amazing about the siren song of beads? You donj't think you could possibly need one more thing and then you start shopping. Thisshop, a block off Union Square, is fabulous with exquisite beyond seed-bead-beads. There's everything related to beads, plus lacquerware and African, Asian and Indonesian artifacts with knowledgeable, helpful salespeople.

Djema Imports
70 West 125th Street
(212) 289-3842,

Open seven days a week
Specializes in African fabrics: mudcloths, korhogo, and African cotton prints.

Lunch Advice from Friends Who Work in the Area
Joyce (a quilter/lawyer):
"On nice days, people can have more money to spend on fabric by picking up the scrumptious curried chicken or spicy chick peas and vegetables (both over rice) at the Healthy Halal food cart at the corner of 43rd Street and 6th Avenue and take it to eat in Bryant Park."

Teresa (a patternmaker/art quilter):
Ginger’s (Szechuan & Chinese Classic)
512 Seventh Avenue between 37th & 38th
(212) 768-3100

Order online:

Pret A Manger
Any one of this franchises’ locations is reliable.

Victoria Findlay Wolfe (quiltmaker/owner Bumble Beans Inc;

“Casa Nonna, Market Cafe, and Il Punto are the better places in the hood. The others are the ones that are a step tier down from the first three mentioned, but are still better than most of the pop up food places in the garment district. “

Casa Nonna
310 W 38th St, New York, NY
(212) 736-3000

Market Cafe
496 9th Ave # 1, New York, NY
(212) 967-3892

IL PUNTO Ristorante
507 9th Avenue
New York, NY 10018
(212) 244-3058

231 West 40th Street, New York, NY
(212) 354-2195

352 W 39th St
New York, NY 10018
(212) 643-2000

HK Hell's Kitchen
523 9th Ave, New York
(800) 781-0466


Dean & Deluca Inc
620 8th Avenue, New York, NY
(212) 221-0308

Schnipper's Quality Kitchen
620 8th Avenue, New York, NY
(212) 921-2400 ‎

1451 Broadway
New York, NY 10036-7311
(212) 997-6801

Kait (Dimitrios Design Archive)
If you're in the mood for pizza, Kait recommend Lazzara's Pizza
221 West 38th St (btw 7th & 8th Ave)

"If it's warm and sunny out, I'll pick up a chopped salad from Just Salad and then find a seat outside in Herald Square Park (on Broadway in front of Macy's). This option is great for people watching!!"



Consider the following itinerary a sampler of garment district attractions that can be collapsed into three hours (if you stay focused and on task and wear either roller-skates or rubber soled shoes). If you need sustenance, try Ben’s, a NY kosher type deli at 209 W 38th Street, corner of 7th Avenue, (212) 398-2367. Many thanks to Shirley Levine for her clever help compiling this list.


Wander through 3 shops on 40th St between 7th & 8th Ave

213 Metro West 40th Street
(212) 354-8225

Really reasonable prices for trimmings land accessories like rhinestones, sequins, bandings, handbag handles, beads

222 West 40th Street
(212) 302-4984

An impressive range of beautiful fabrics: silks, woolens, cottons, designer fabrics, laces, imports

206 West 40th Street
(212) 768-3266

A NYC legend; you’ll either luck into the buy of your life or wander through wondering what the hype is all about. All fabric is 50% off in the Annex.


4. B&J Fabrics
525 Seventh Ave, 2nd floor (38th & 39th)
(212) 354-8150

Beautifully organized, high end, expensive. Check it out for scientific purposes.

225 West 37th
3rd floor
(212) 730-5003

This must-see store is one of the recurring characters on the iconic reality TV show, PROJECT RUNWAY. Jam packed with designer and home dec fabrics, it might behoove you to print out the layout of the three floors from the website. Also, it has restrooms.


Wander between four stores on 38th Street.

257 West 38th Street
(212) 997-8949

A great range of colored thread

256 West 38th Street
(212) 302-2332

Smells great!

224 West 38th
(212) 704-0111

Peek inside: feathers, feather trim, Swarovski stone, flowers, buckles

218 West 38th Street
(212) 279-9310

Inexpensive button source plus much more


10. TOHO SHOJI (New York)
990 Sixth Avenue
Between 37th and 38th
(212) 391-6200

Findings, beads, chains, cool stuff you didn’t even know you were looking for

11. M&J Trimming
1008 Sixth Avenue between 37th and 38th St
(212) 391-6200

Although it might seem redundant after the other trimming stores, a visit to the garment district wouldn’t be complete without trekking a few blocks east to M+J Trimming. You might want to stop for a caffeine break on your way over; you’ll need renewed stamina to stand and gawk. M&J is a bit pricier .The view is fabulous bordering on overwhelming. If you’re into embellishment and you’ve only got an hour, you might want to spend it here.



Compiled by Paula Nadelstern, June 2004.

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