This post is for Lisa. Happy Birthday!
I am frugal, poor, and not that great of a sewist, so I don’t want to spend tons of cash on fabric. But I love fabric. Sometimes I splurge, mostly I just shop sales or go to discount retailers. Here’s a list of where I go to buy fabric in the Boston area. In no particular order…
Where: In the Twin City Plaza shopping complex in Somerville.
How to get there: Take the 69 bus from Harvard or Lechemere, get off around 6th Street and walk back toward Gore Street. You’ll see the Shaw’s and the skating ring. Sewfisticated is in that plaza. Alternatively, you could walk from Lechmere, bike, or drive. Lots of free parking in the shopping center lot.
What they sell: Most of the cottons here are $2.99 a yard. Some of it is low quality, some of it is surprisingly awesome. You won’t find any Alexander Henry, but you can find cute prints. I am particularly enamored of their African prints. Upholstery fabric ranges from $3.99-9.99 a yard and is pretty nice and modern. They have a bunch of great lace/trim for $0.19-$1.99/yard. Nicer fabrics (shirred things, bridal fabrics, Chinese brocades) are in stock in abundance and range from about $3.99-$9.99/yard for the most part. Don’t buy patterns here. The selection is limited and they’re expensive.
Sewfisticated has a website with occasional coupons and updates. They also have stores in Framingham and Dorchester…the Framingham store sounds pretty awesome. Full rolls of organza and satin for $1/yard?!?
If you are at Sewfisticated, you might as well go to…
(2) Sew Low
Where: East Cambridge, on Cambridge Street
How to get there: Bike, walk from Lechmere, take the 69 bus from Harvard or Lechmere, or drive. Drivers can park at meters on Cambridge St, in permit parking on the surrounding neighborhood streets (free Sundays), or you can walk from Sewfisticated.
What they sell: 10 year old remnants ($2.99/yard), lots of great affordable wool ($3.99 and up), jersey, Obama & Celtics fleece, patterns from 1985 (only $0.50!), drapery trim, furry pink pebble upholstery fabric (must see to believe), a handful of notions, and random shiny fabric that looks fun. This is not the place to get patterns or quilting cottons. As Mrs. Sabbe has shown us, have patience and you will find something interesting and nice.
This store is insane and you feel like you are going to fall through the floor at points. It is sort of overwhelming, but worth a visit for your amusement. If you need something funky or are making an Ice Capades costume or a muppet, definitely go to Sew Low. Also go there for invisible or industrial zippers, elastic, and massive amounts of interfacing.
Hilariously, there’s a review on Yelp about how Sew Low could kick Sewfisticated’s butt in a fight. Not true. In my head, the fight is some sort of ninja fight and I’m pretty sure Sew Low wouldn’t even be able to find its weapons and would trip over its own feet whereas Sewfisticated would be all organized ala Batman.
(3) Fabric Corner
Where: Fabric Corner is across from the Arlington Public Library in Arlington Center.
How to get there: Bike, bus, or drive. Parking on Mass Ave and in the library lot is free. I usually go in the evenings and never have trouble finding parking.
What they sell: Mostly quilting cottons and modern upholstery fabric; I haven’t seen any crazy laces or anything shiny there. They carry a lot of designer fabrics (Amy Butler, Alexander Henry, Echino) and I sort of want to buy everything in the store. Fabrics here are ~$9-11/yard, but they often have great sales (20-50% off). Not the place to go for patterns, but they do have quite a few notions (boning, thread, ribbon), and sewing accessories.
Check their website for sale info and coupons (always 10% off full priced items w/ coupon). Stephanie wrote about them here and you can check out their Yelp review too. The people here are very nice and will give you empty bolts so you can keep your stash organized.
Where: Chinatown/Downtown Crossing
How to get there: Take the subway. Green, silver, red, orange…you won’t have to walk far.
What they sell: Lots of apparel fabrics. Silks, wools, some fancy looking things. Older patterns for $1. Great notions. I haven’t been here in a while because they aren’t open at night and I am rarely downtown, but a friend of mine got some great brocade for a party dress here recently. I’m not a big fan of their cotton fabrics. Prices are reasonable and the quality is good. People say positive things on Yelp.
(5) Grey’s Fabric & Notions
Where: In the South End on Harrison St, near SoWa, Gaslight, and all of those artist’s galleries
How to get there: Take the Silver Line, bike, or drive. Parking is free in the lot behind the shop.
What they sell: Beautiful designer apparel and home decor fabric ($5-15/yard, Moda, Alexander Henry, Kaffe Fassett), great patterns, fun sewing books, and a few notions. You won’t find any Simplicity patterns here, but you will find patterns by more indie companies like Colette, Sew Liberated, and Amy Butler. This is not a discount fabric store, but they do have good quality items including some cotton lawns that are cheaper than Liberty and just as nice!
I wrote a review of the shop when it opened here. You can see pictures here and here. Occasionally they have sales, which you can find on their website or facebook page. If you’re at SoWa, you should definitely stop by.
(6) Gather Here
Where: In Mid-Cambridge near Central Square, on the corner of Lee and Broadway.
How to get there: Red line to Central Square, or any buses. There is metered parking on Broadway and in Central and Inman. More details on their site.
What they sell: Fabric and yarn. Gather Here just opened in February and I’ve only explored a little, but I know they offer classes and have a wide selection of designer fabrics. They have Liberty prints, Jay McCarroll, Echino, Anna Maria Horner, Alexander Henry and more! Really, really attractive stuff. Liberty is obviously a bit pricier than the rest, but most things I spied were in the $9.50-10.50 a yard range. They also have indie patterns (Colette, Oliver + S, etc.), invisible zippers, and other notions. Oh– and baked goods!
More info at their site.
(7) Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores
Where: There’s one in West Roxbury, but if you have time, go to the nicer one in Burlington.
How to get there: You need to drive here, but you can make an afternoon of it. Go shopping at the mall, fortify yourself with Chick-fil-A, go to Jo-Ann’s, do your grocery shopping at the new Market Basket, and head home.
What they sell: Dude, it’s Jo-Ann’s. They sell everything. Quilting cottons, apparel fabrics, upholstery fabrics, a strangely huge volume of snuggie fabric, shiny things, and all the notions and sewing accessories you could ever want.
The key to shopping at Jo-Ann’s is to have a good coupon strategy. They occasionally have coupons out in store, but never on a Saturday. Sign up for their mailing list and they will mail you coupons once or twice a month. Coupons are usually only for use on non-sale items, so don’t go when Keepsake Calicos are 30% off (as they often are) because you can’t use coupons on most of the cotton fabric. Take advantage of end-of-bolt discounts and other sales. Only buy patterns during $0.99 or $1.99 sales. Notions are usually B1G1 on holidays.
(8) Freddy Farkels
Where: Watertown, sort of off Memorial Drive
How to get there: In a car or on a bike.
What they sell: Upholstery fabric galore! They sell some really nice designer fabrics at relatively low prices ($10-$30/yard), but there is also a massive clearance section ($2-$7/yard). Read Apartment Therapy’s review here. See my pictures here.
(9) Lorraine Fabrics
Where: Rhode Island, a little north of Providence
How to get there: Drive. This place is sort of far away, so I don’t really go unless I am in RI anyway.
What they sell: Everything! They have tons of upholstery fabric for around $3.99/yard and up, some bridal fabrics, and crazy fabric you would use for a costume. There is an entire floor where everything is $2/yard. Remnants on that floor are decent quality and the cottons on that floor are low quality, but good for muslining. Lots of notions, no patterns. I wrote a more comprehensive review last year.
How to get there: Drive.
What they sell: Mostly 59″ wide home decor and upholstery-weight fabric, but people have been known to use their fabrics for apparel as well. It really bothers me that I can never figure out when Ikea is having a sale on fabric. Sometimes you go and randomly something cute is 99 cents. On the other hand, it’s nice that you can check out their inventory online. I’ve gotten some stuff there for $0.99/yard, but mostly prices range from $3.99-$8.99/yard. Get a cinnamon roll while you are there.