Monday, November 22, 2010

NYC Notions Store Review: SIL Thread

Note: See the related post on Responsible Blogging, which refers to posts like this one...

Address: 257 West 38th Street, New York, NYC
Phone: 212-997-8949
Hours: Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 6 p.m., Sat 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Online site: n/a
Best for: YKK zippers and other dressmaking supplies in a store where you're basically on your own

I have ambivalent feelings about shopping at SIL Thread in the Garment District. On the one hand, when I need notions and dressmaking supplies and I'm already in the Garment District, it's my go-to store when I don't have time to shop around. But "service with a smile" and "it's all about the customer" don't seem to be important management mantras here. Questions are answered with a yes or a no and nothing more; don't even think of asking a "which is better to use, this or that?" kind of question unless you like getting blank stares.

That being said, supplies I have bought here include:
  • YKK metal separating zippers, cut to size
  • prepackaged muslin
  • carbon transfer paper
  • various Clover sewing notions
  • skeins of black and white waxed thread
  • spiral steel boning in various lengths
  • shoulder pads and sleeve heads
  • small French curve rulers
With the demise of Greenberg & Hammer, I think SIL Thread is the largest notions and dressmaking supply store in the Garment Center, at least in terms of retail square feet. You can probably find lower prices online or elsewhere in the area, but SIL Thread gains points for its one-stop convenience.

SIL Thread is a YKK Zipper distributor, and you'll find all kinds of zippers here in every color. They'll cut them to exact size for no extra charge.

Excellent selection of shoulder pads, and thread, of course.

SIL Thread probably has the widest selection of prepackaged notions in the Garment District.

Lots of things for the trade, like dress forms, clothing labels and hangers.


  1. I also have ambivalent feelings about SIL. It's a great resource, but I've noticed that many things aren't priced and the only way to find out what something costs is to wait on (a potentially long) line. Still, for thread, they're great!

  2. Great post! I do like that they carry Mettler thread and Clover items. Oh! and Jacquard textile paint. I do, however, really dislike the vibe in there. I don't understand why there are always so many guys hanging out at the desk in front of the stock of zippers in the back. Are they all there to cut a zipper to length if you need it? Not that they'd ever ask if you need help . . . :)

  3. I keep hearing about them but have never been. Are they better than Steinlauf and Stoller? That's where I usually go for zippers, hangers, and shoulder pads and they are very helpful there.

  4. Sil is like Steinlauf and Stoller, I can't live without it, so I have to suck it up. It's a notions wonderland, but nothing is priced and the staff is generally unfriendly and unhelpful. (Sometimes the guys at the zipper desk towards the back are a little nicer.)

    It's also open (or used to be) on Saturday, which is unusual for the Garment District.

    Although not nearly as big as Sil, Panda International Trading down the street is another place to stop for notions and paper. It's also open on Saturday.

  5. I have to agree with you Meg. I like the zipper prices but the service leaves a good deal to be desired. Steinloff and Stoller isn't much better in the help department either. S and S does have things that SIL doesn't but you'd better know what you want because a good deal of what they carry isn't displayed.

  6. Judging from the display as you go in, Sil has numerous weights of muslin, not just the light- and medium-weight stuff.

    I've bought:


    cheap pocketing


    smocking pattern transfer

    embroidery hoop (but it wasn't clear that I
    needed a special hook for that model)

    a tape that permits you to measure yourself

    a huge wrist pincushion (after impaling myself with the cheap version)

    numerous marking tools

    numerous needles

  7. Is there any store in the Garment District that sells patterns? (just curious)

    1. Very few. Lots of stealing of patterns,and people who want to take them out of the envelopes to see the pieces....and then not buy, make patterns a complete pain in the ass for the owners.

  8. Hey Elaray,

    See the link "FAQs" at the top of the site. Long story short, not really.

  9. Can you clear up some confusion? There's an SIL Thread Inc. website (, with a 1234 Broadway address under "Contact Us." Is that the same co. as the store on W. 38th St.?

    In any case, last time I was at the store on W. 38th, I couldn't find anything on my notions list. When I asked someone behind the counter whether they had this or that, I got a string of curt no's. Not an "I'll check" or "I'll ask," just flat out NO.

    I think I ended up with a pair of snips (no price, had to ask) and some garment bags. They did have decent, inexpensive garment bags in boxes near the front door -- not the plastic ones that smell forever, but the ones that feel like reusable grocery bags.

    I went out SIL's door & walked a short hop to Panda (same street, same side, #247) and got the other stuff I needed.

  10. QuiltB, I don't know about the two addresses and if they're the same company. Would an "um, maybe" do?

  11. I called the 38th St. store this morning and checked. It's a little puzzling...

    I was told that yes, that is the store's website. Under Contact Us, the given address is "wrong" (said the woman clerk). The phone number is also "wrong," but I noticed that it's the number for toll-free directory assistance. So no mention of the 38th St. address and an incorrect phone number on the website = Huh??

    I was also told that "the prices on the website haven't been updated." I didn't ask the clerk to elaborate. Msg rec'd.

    That's the site I had used to make my notions list before I went to the store. And they didn't have what was on my list. What I saw in the store was what I got.

  12. One good thing about SIL is that they are carrying the large dressmaker's carbon paper right now. That can be tough to find. Not sure if they stock it all the time, though.

  13. Once I was at SIL and asked for a specific notion (I can't remember what it was). They told me no, but then I found it on my own on my way out the door. So don't ask them, just keep looking. They probably have it. They just don't know or care.

  14. Great selection but they are very rude. I was there at 5:50 and they refused to let me in even though their hours are posted until 6 and there were other people in the store shopping. The owner told me to go to another store. Ok I guess they don't want business.

    1. Well, yeah... But they are a great resource for many things... Whattya gonna do...?

  15. I love SIL Thread. They seem to the the only store left in the garment district that sell professional sewing supplies. And you don't have to by in large quantity. They also sell them by the piece. As for the notions they sell fro the home sewers I find that they carry almost the entire line of Clover notions. They and usually cheaper than what I can get a JoAnns or Hobby Lobby. I don't live in Manhattan and I have to make a special trip to get things. But then again what I'm looking for are usually in bulk and they have what I need. Where else can you find a 100 yd real of webbing for 28.00. At the fabric store it's 1.99 a yard. The last time I was there I picked up a catalog and it had everything they carry in there.
    The workers there aren't too helpful because they mainly sell to the sewing houses in the garment district. If you are a professional sewer and you don't want to wait for an order they are great.

    1. Very valid points, to be sure. Make sure you read my next few posts in coming days, that will shed more light and give a fresh perspective on this very store and subject. Also, be sure to read my recent post "Responsible blogging" which addresses a bit of the evolution this blog is currently undergoing. Lots to say!

  16. I visited Sil Thread today for the first time, asked for help and recieved it!!! I actually walked out of Panda because the sales lady was to good to help me select items from my supply list. I had a huge bag, wet umbrella and just wanted to make sure I was purchasing the correct items.

  17. I dunno, I think they're just fine. Good prices, nice clean store with items well displayed, they seem nice enough when I ask for things...maybe I shop differently?

  18. Really Get over yourself

  19. Really get over yourself, they are indifferent. Good store nonetheless.

    1. Are you asking the commenter, store, or author to get over her/him self?


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