New York Fabric Shopping, Part II

Click to enlarge all photos

Not all the great fabrics of New York are to be found in the garment district. There are some fantastic stores selling textiles all over the city. I was interested in checking out three in particular.

First was Mendel Goldberg.  This small store on the edge of Chinatown specializes in imported wool and silk, and has the most beautiful selection of tweed and bouclé imaginable.   The place reminded me of the old Waechter’s Silk Shop that was located in downtown Asheville until the late 1970s.   It’s a narrow little space, and both walls are lined with the bolts and rolls of fabrics.   It’s the type of place that you rarely see any more.

On the left side of the store are the bolts of wool, which was on my shopping list.  I want to make a jacket, but I did not want the added problem of having to match a stripe or pattern.  I wanted dark blue.  I no sooner specified what I was after before the shopkeepers were pulling the bolts that matched my description.  It was hard, but I was able to settle on a stunning black and blue wool.

Then it was to the wall of silk to choose a lining.  Again, the lazy cutter that I am did not want a pattern that would have to be matched.  I found a dark blue with a light blue and white flower that had the added attraction of a woven-in dot pattern.

I hope you all like my choices:

Totally different but just as wonderful, I was delighted to visit the Marimekko flagship store.  Vintage clothing lovers might know Marimekko as an iconic 1960s brand.  Marimekko was founded in Finland in 1951, originally as a fabric design business.  Soon they began making clothing from their brightly colored fabrics.   The brand was carried in the US by Design Research and was perfectly in step with the Op Art influence that was showing up in fashion in the mid 1960s.

Their fabrics and many of the articles they make from them are still manufactured in Finland.

Marimekko occasionally does collaborations with other brands, like these Converse sneakers.

A cheerier store would be hard to imagine.  But I do have one that is in the running.

Les Toiles du Soleil features canvas fabrics and things made from them, imported from France.  It’s like a little touch of France set down in Chelsea.

The fabrics are woven in the Catalan region of southern France on antique looms.

The totes, small bags, and hats are actually made in the store.  There is an on site seamstress who works in the rear of the store.

Real espadrilles, made in France.

28 Comments

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28 responses to “New York Fabric Shopping, Part II

  1. oooh! I’m so glad you got to go to these places Lizzie, as you’re the one who told me about Les Toiles du Soleil, and I loved visiting there for the cheery stripes and colors. I was actually a bit overwhelmed with the selection, so much so that I didn’t buy anything! Glad to see my fave pattern at Marimekko (the stripes) – I love their boatneck tops. Ah, now you’re making me want to visit NYC again!

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  2. Ah! Vicarious thrill! I think your jacket and its lining look gorgeous, and just to be there when the proprietor knowledgeably picked what you might be interested in…that sounds like heaven.

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  3. All of the three shops are very interesting in different ways…. I fear I’d get lost in them if i stepped in…. i’m a fabric and yarn addict!
    Nice choice of fabrics for your soon-to-be jacket 🙂

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    • There are treasures all over the city. I don’t knit, but was enticed by a yarn store , Purl Soho. They also had a lovely selection of cotton fabrics, including Liberty.

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      • Yes, I read a lot about them. They seem to have a very beautiful range, thought it’s not exactly affordable 😉
        luckily, i have enough stock for probably the rest of my life!
        Thanks for sharing your experiences and information, it is all very interesting.

        PS a close relative of mine has a small lab/factory cutting and sewing clothing for renowned brands, so many times I got to see things first hand, and as a teen I even got to do some little work there. Ever since, I’m in love with all things fabric (and now yarn)

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  4. Susan

    I LOVE your jacket fabric!!! Thank you for introducing me to these beautiful stores! I’ve always loved Marimekko, but have never been to NYC, so I travelled vicariously through you!!! Can’t wait to see your jacket when it’s done.

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    • Susan, I hope you are patient, as the jacket is going to take a while. I’ve ordered Claire Shaeffer’s new book, Couture Sewing: The Couture Cardigan Jacket, Sewing secrets from a Chanel Collector. So reading first, sewing later.

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  5. I love your boucle–and will be waiting for the jacket!

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  6. Wow! And wonderful choices too!

    I’m absolutely drooling if I wasn’t already! I just had a rather terrible experience at the fabric store, being unable to find what I wanted. Now I just want to be whisked away to New York!

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    • Janey, I understand about not being able to find what you need. I’m lucky that Asheville has two fantastic locally owned fabric stores, plus two of the big chains. Even so, I often have to go to Mary Jo’s in Gastonia (2 hour drive) to get some things.

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  7. What fun to read this post! Your boucle and silk for your jacket are gorgeous – wonderful choices. I’ve always loved Marimekko prints (in some ways reminiscent of some of the Moygashel linen designs from the late ’60s and early ’70s) and I MUST get to that store! You’ve given me a good prompt!

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  8. Liz…it has been 59 years since I’ve been to the Big Apple….I know you are familiar with our Mary Jo’s in Gastonia, N.C.,
    how does Mary Jo’s compare with those New York fabric shops??? Just curious…or is there NO comparison. So nice that you share your trip…those of us stuck at home really appreciate your sharing.

    Will you be going to Hillsville over Labor Day? You know it always rains.

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    • Marge, for the first time in 10 years I’ll not be going to Hillsville. It is just too exhausting. It would really help if they would divide the markets into themes: old stuff, crafts, guns, tube socks… For every good vintage booths there are 3 or 4 sorry ones. And to be honest, all the people toting their firearms is just creepy.

      (To those who do not know, Hillsville is a gun show/flea market, that takes over the town of Hillsville, VA every Labor Day weekend. It is, to put it mildly, a madhouse.)

      Mary Jo’s is most like Mood, but Mood is mainly garment fabrics with a little section of home decorating fabrics. There are no quilting cottons like at Mary Jo’s.

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  9. Great fabric choices!

    Waechter’s was still to be found on Charlotte Street until a few years ago, and now is just off Sweeten Creek, up at the Biltmore Village end right after the chichi stores run out and the industrial area rather suddenly takes over. Do you just mean that it used to be more awesome, in the ’70s, than it is now? It’s definitely not crowded with fabrics, but they do have some very nice, if slightly overpriced, stuff.

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    • It was an old school fabric store with the bolts stacked along the walls and a big measuring table in the middle. Wall Street had been completely revamped since then, but at that time all the stores were long and skinny. I bought both my first Pendleton and my first Liberty fabrics there. I remember very distinctly paying $12 a yard for Tana lawn, a big extravagance for me.

      I still love Waechters, though it is still an extravagance!

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      • If you ever get to San Francisco, Britex is my favorite fabric-store extravagance. I haven’t been there in over ten years, but they had several floors of increasingly amazing fabrics (ribbons on top!), all piled up high on the sides, and they didn’t bother wasting space on cutting tables in the middle – that was full of merely four-foot-high fabric shelves, and they just threw your bolt open right on top of those fabrics, waved a yardstick around above it, and made you a generous cut. Of course, there were a few tables, for the over-$100-a-yard beaded lace fabric for example, but for most things they didn’t bother.

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  10. The Marimekko store makes my heart sing! Your blue wool fabric choice is absolutely gorgeous. It would make a beautiful skirt.

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  11. Marimekko! That is a favorite shop to visit. If you ever come to Oregon, we hope you’ll visit our Woolen Mill Store.

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  12. Marimekko! Oh, I’m jealous!

    All the stores look fun and dangerous to the wallet. I really like the fabrics you bought for your jacket! Can’t wait to see it!

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  13. Pingback: Currently Reading and Viewing: The Couture Cardigan Jacket by Claire Shaeffer | The Vintage Traveler

  14. Pingback: Currently Reading: Sleeping With the Enemy, Coco Chanel’s Secret War | The Vintage Traveler

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