Monday, November 15, 2010

Reader Tip: Getting Home All That Fabric You Just Bought

Planning a trip to NYC for a little Garment District shopping, but are worried about not having enough room in your suitcase for all the fabric and supplies you hope to buy? Though some stores will ship your purchases to your home (I know Metro Textiles does this), most of the time you're going to end up schlepping heavy bags around the city and hoping you can cram your goods into your already-stuffed suitcase. If this is you, read how my commenter Anonymous makes traveling home from the Garment District more manageable:

"When I make the trip to NYC, I take along a roll of package tape, a Sharpie, a ball of twine, scissors, and those wire and tube handles they sometimes give you at stores to hold the handles of your shopping bag together. I also try to put at least 2 Priority Mail boxes (flat) in my suitcase.

I shop during Day 1 and fill up my boxes at night at the hotel. I tape the boxes, address them, and tie them with twine so the handle holder can slip through. Voila—boxes with a handle for each hand. Sometimes I stack 2 boxes together and tie/use one handle. I can carry 4 large, filled boxes that way, no cab needed.

First stop on Day 2 is the post office on 38th St., midway down the block between 7th & 8th Avenues. I mail my boxes, letting the clerk snip the twine and give it back to me with the handles. I pick up more empty boxes, which I tie with the twine and pop a handle on. I shop awhile and then go back to the hotel for lunch and to ditch my empty boxes, which are ready to be filled that night (after more shopping).

I realize that the timing of a trip has to work out so that the P.O. is open when you need it, but this shopping/shipping home system WORKS! And you don't scare TSA agents at the airport when you try to go through security with metal sewing notions in your bags. I've been shopping/shipping like this for years, and I think it's the only way to fly when you're from out of town and you're on your own in the Garment District."


  1. Thanks for posting my tip! :) I added another tip/comment to the Nov. 14 post about carrying the bulky fused fabric. I didn't mention UPS, but there are three UPS stores in the Garment District area: (1)Just north of Penn Station, (2) At Broadway and W. 36th, and (3) At Broadway and W. 44th (inside lower level of Toys R Us). Penn Station area store has Saturday hours and the two on Broadway have Saturday and Sunday hours, per UPS's website.

    I also gave another tip about making the handles: You can use slit vinyl tubing or foam pipe insulation from the hardware store to cover the twine. Anything to make it easier on your hands when carrying loaded boxes!

    I usually add tracking to my P.O. boxes so I can alert my husband when to expect the doorbell to ring at home. If I'm in NYC for a week, my boxes will make it home before I do. Then it's like Christmas in my sewing room when I get back!

    I might add insurance if I've packed a box full of expensive stuff, but I've never had a box go astray. You can take a picture with your digital camera before you close & send the box, if you want to record the contents. Save your receipts separately. And speaking of paperwork, try to pick up a business card at each store & put it in the bag. When you get home, you'll want to know for sure where you got what, if the bag's not marked with the store's name.

    I number my filled boxes & write the number on the receipt at the post office, so I know which box has arrived & which hasn't. Helpful when you're dealing with multiple boxes that all look the same.

    Keep your hands free while shopping and your suitcase light -- ship stuff home! You might be able to travel with just a carry-on and avoid the checked bag hassle/fees. After 2 boxes, the postage cost does get higher than a checked bag fee. But not having to deal with extra luggage at the airport is worth it to me. And I like knowing that the boxes are safely waiting for me at home.

    Hope this helps! Have fun shopping, but leave some stuff for me!! :)

  2. I do know that Parons will ship also so you can shop like crazy there and not worry about carting home!

  3. Now that you mention it, I thought I saw a sign about shipping at the checkout counter at Paron...

    I love that store. Last time I got something from their Annex, I asked for 2.5 yards. I was still looking at fabric & wasn't paying attention while my order was being measured, but I thought it looked like a lot when it was folded & off the bolt. Got it home & found that they had given me everything left on the bolt, about 5 yards, but only charged me for the 2.5 yards I had requested. Thumbs up for them!!

  4. Lindsay and Anonymous thank you so much for the packing/shipping tips. I and two buddies are coming to visit from Australia and even though we are not heading to The Garment District this time, we are going to Portland and Seattle and plan to do a lot of shopping and this post has given me a lot of tips for our trip, so thank you very much.

  5. "I realize that the timing of a trip has to work out so that the P.O. is open when you need it ...."

    If you can make it there, the G.P.O. at 34th and 8th Avenue is open 24 hours, 365 days a year.

  6. The huge P.O. across from MSG/Penn Station? The USPS website says their hours are M-F 7am to 10pm, Sat 9am-9pm, and Sun 11am-7pm.

  7. I just looked it up and the change from 24 hr. service there happened May of 2009.

  8. Sorry about that. I had to rush to the GPO at midnight a couple of years ago and didn't realize the schedule had changed.

    Still pretty good hours, though.

    On the web, some sources had the old hours. Shoulda gone to the source.

  9. That's quite OK. I had to check on it myself. I thought I had heard about the change from someone who lived in NYC, but I filed it away in a dusty corner of my mind & didn't think about it again until now. So now I know for sure, too. Good thing we have a website like this to keep each other posted on the comings & goings in Midtown. :)

  10. Lots of stores will UPS it for you; just ask. I know that Mood will also ship for you. Any store that will let you mail order will also ship for you in person.
    Hey Lindsay, a good list to post is those stores who will post fabrics.

  11. Thanks for this posting. Planning a fabric trip to NYC soon. Will definitley make shipping part of the plan. Can you also recommend hotels in the garment district?

  12. Marriott's Residence Inn @ 1033 6th Ave. (bet. W. 38th & W. 39th) is fantastic. The rooms have fully-equipped kitchens if you like all the comforts of home. The hotel is across the street from M&J Trim, around the corner from Joyce Trim, and it's a quick walk westward across Broadway to the heart of the shopping at 7th Ave. & the mid-30's.

  13. Years ago a friend and I vacationed in DC and shopped 4 out of 5 days at G Street Fabrics. We bought so much that we took it all back to the store and they shipped it for us. Then last year on a 3-month trip through OK and TX, I took along pre-addressed labels and either the store shipped a box for me, or I stopped at the nearest p.o. Most of the time I kept a printer paper box in the back seat and just kept tossing stuff inside until it was full, and even used fabric to cushion a beautiful birdhouse. Once home, I had a wonderful time opening all those boxes, remembering the lovely folks I'd met along the way!


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