Monday, January 23, 2012

Shopping Online for Fabric at Garment District Stores

B&J Fabrics' new online store says Navajo prints are hot.

It will probably take forever, but one by one the stores of the Garment District are catching up with the rest of the world by adding online shops. B&J Fabrics recently beefed up its online shopping site about a month ago, and while you can tell that tweaking still needs to be done (there's no way to judge the size of a print motif or the drape of a fabric, for example), I think they're clearly heading in the right direction. The fabrics B&J has on its online site are a decent representation of what's available in the store. What's really attractive about shopping online at B&J is the "free ground shipping on all domestic orders, and $50 Priority FedEx shipping on all international orders." Nice!

Other NYC Garment District fabric stores with online retail sites include Mood Fabrics, Elliott Berman Textiles and Paron Fabrics (Manhattan Fabrics online). I wish NY Elegant and Rosen & Chadick would join the others and venture online too.

My online fabric buying experience is very limited, because why shop online when I can walk a block and buy fabric in real life, right? But do tell me about your online fabric shopping. Have you ever bought fabric from a Garment District store's online site? How would you rate the experience?


  1. I've bought from Manhattan fabrics after having shopped by phone with Paron for years. The website is ok, the photos are not great and they charge a lot of money to send samples. Really, $20 for samples? That's a lot if you only want one or two. They don't have a what's new section and the fabrics don't seem to change that much.
    Mood is another one I've bought from. They have the worst website I've experienced. It's irritating and the photos are bad with no indication of print size. They have several pages of denim with little indication as to how each one differs from the next. Customer service is nasty and unresponsive.
    I've bought more from Elliot Berman in person than I have online. I don't like the fabric choices of their online site and While they take a lot of photos, they aren't great. Better than they used to be, but not great. YOu also have to buy by the full yard, not something I like to do especially on an expensive fabric.
    B & J has some gorgeous fabrics online, but I've only bought from samples I've asked for of fabrics that weren't online. The samples are free, they come very quickly, of course I do live on LI. There is no indication of color on most of the photos and we all know how unreliable color online can be. Sometimes it's not even possible to guess.
    Their customer service is wonderful and helpful.
    But, frankly, none of these stores has the quality website that Emmaonesock has.

    Mood recently sent a questionnaire out about the website. Maybe it will improve. The other thing about the website I should mention is that it regularly freezes and I have to force close it to get off.

    1. $20 for swatches? Or when you say "samples" do you mean a bigger piece? That is a lot.

      Mood isn't that friendly even on the ground. They act as if they're doing you a favor to direct you to fabric or to allow you to pay for it.

      Emmaonesock fairly recently started an RSS feed. I've never ordered from the site, but one problem is that I used to forget to look.

      New York Sewer

    2. Nancy, I wonder how recently you shopped at Mood on-line because I've noticed their website has improved quite a bit since they first launched it (quicker loading time, no longer crashing on me, quicker to sort thru, etc). Not perfect, but much better.

      I actually had a very good experience with I normally shop in person, but wanted a color match on some crepe back satin, georgette and organza for a special occasion dress. I ordered swatches, then ordered my fabric, then realized I didn't order enough so ordered more, and because I was sewing on a deadline and worried about shipping time, I was in touch with customer service by phone as they processed my order. They were great about getting my order out when they said they would so I didn't have to pay extra for shipping (ie: gave me good advice, were courteous and lived up to their word.) So, I really have zero complaints.

  2. That's odd. I'm sure it was NY Elrgant fabrics that I bought some silk jersey from online in the fall of 2010. Did they try online shopping and stop again?

  3. I shop online at Spandex House, Spandex World and Stretch house at least 3-4 times a month. I live near Philly so the shipping is quick and cheap. All 3 stores have excellent web sites and top notch customer service. They will send free swatches and even match fabrics for you. If you are looking for something particular and you can't find it on line you can call and they will check their in store inventory. Other Garment district stores that I LOVE to shop on line from are M&J trim and Shine trim, they both have great web sites.

  4. The only garment district store that I've purchased from online is Elliot Berman and I loved my choices when I received them. But I do agree with Nancy that the photos could be better and larger. However, I'm like you about garment district stores, why order online when I can just take the train down and pick something up.

  5. Reverse experience: I bought some Liberty of London fabric from because they had an introductory offer. I'd seen the print at B and J. It was about $9 a yard cheaper at

    It arrived with some kind of tape stuck to it and there was something else that was odd; I don't recall what it was. Fortunately, they did take care of it immediately.

    Although the prices have since gone up, is still cheaper than B and J. The selection is still fairly small. Maybe Liberty isn't as much in demand as they anticipated it would be.

    From my web wandering, the best (most comprehensive) online suppliers of Liberty in America are B and J and Purl Soho. Some day I'll figure out whether it's worth trying to order from Liberty of London itself or from some stockists in London and Belgium.

    I knew that many people have no alternative, but I vastly prefer buying fabric in person.

    New York Sewer

  6. I've shopped online from Spandex World and Mood. Both are easy for me to search through.
    Spandex World was quick and easy from ordering to delivery. Mood wasn't as quick and easy, but I've been satisfied with my purchase.
    I'd rather shop locally but my nearest non-JA fabric store is a good 45 minutes away.

  7. While I prefer to buy in person, lately I tend to get all of my favorite fabrics from online because that is where they are available.

    As for the NY Garment District websites, I have used Spandex World and Mood. Love Spandex World - their swatch service is great, though I don't always get everything I requested (I think sometimes they sell out before the swatches come) and their customer service was very helpful when I had to wait for backordered fabrics. I have been very pleased with the quality of everything I have ordered their, and the website is very easy to navigate.

    As for Mood, the website is a bit infuriating as it takes forever and a day to load, although I do appreciate how they have categorized the fabrics. The fabrics I did order from them were great quality though, so no complaints there.

    In both cases I was able to order very specific fabrics that I wanted, but could not find locally. I live pretty much on the opposite side of the country, but usually I got my fabric within two weeks of purchase (depending on weather, holidays, waiting for out of stock fabrics, etc.), and I would order from both of these websites again in the future.

  8. Shopping in the GD is always an experience for the senses. I can't get that same thrill online (no horns honking, no bags of trash in the summer heat, no a/c's dripping from on high, no food cart smells, LOL!), so I usually save my list for the trips I make in person. Even while in NYC, I've gone to the stores & then checked the website (while still in town), and the selection can't compare. So NYC trips are for the things I want to "fondle" or "ogle" first, or for the surprises I can stumble across.

    Purl & City Quilter have great sites, and I can easily order cottons online by maker & design name (without swatches). I've gotten notions & trims from them, too.

    M&J's site is nice, but it always helps me to see the trim or buttons in person -- plus I think they have more than they show online. Same with Tinsel Trading -- so much more in store than online.

    I don't think I'd buy from Mood online unless I knew exactly what I wanted, weight & all. I do like visiting their store, though, and have had nothing but stellar service there. In fact, the owner himself rang up my last purchase & gave me a whopping quantity discount that I wasn't expecting & didn't ask for! (We had just spent some time at the table inside the door, talking about merchandise quality & work ethics -- with Swatch's help, of course.)

    Paron -- I like their store & their staff but I wouldn't buy online, not since I got wool with moth holes! I hold everything up to the light there now.

    I know Gray Line Linen hasn't won congeniality prizes here, but their website is fairly good & they do give weights & swatches. In person, they've been very nice to me & extremely generous with their cuts.

    All the GD stores with Stretch or Spandex in their names -- I swatched them all last trip for a designer friend, and all were helpful. I don't remember who my friend ended up ordering from, though.

    Botani has a new, larger website, but they need to add images of each product! I've been waiting for their site to improve for years.

    Joyce Trim has built up a pretty nice site, and their store staff has been friendly & helpful, too. I like that store.

    SIL Thread's website is a joke. Try to make a list of things you need from the site & then go to the store to get them. You'll be lucky if you can find one thing that's actually in stock. That store irritates me on several levels...

    Manhattan Wardrobe Supply has a nice site, but I've never ordered from them. They are on this year's Go To list of stores, though.

    I don't remember NY Elegant ever having anything but that black-background website. I've tried to tell friends how huge that store is, but have had no way to show them online.

    Lace Star is another store I wish had a better website!

  9. It depends on the store. B&J, I far prefer in person; however, I find it infinitely easier to find things online with Mood, and just wait for a 20% off sale before pulling the trigger. Paron's and Elliott Berman I always do in person. Though, online shopping does not replace in-person, but rather acts as a complement. I don't think any Garment District shop has a website that is comprehensive enough to replace the in-store experience.

  10. I have ordered online from Spandex House. The service was great and I was very pleased with the ITY knit assortment bundle I ordered on a whim

  11. I've ordered from a number of times and all of my experiences have been great. I really like their large selection of designer fabrics and upon ordering a $35/yard Marc Jacobs design, they went ahead and gave me the rest of the bolt which was probably 2 extra yards. All of their yards are generous which is a nice treat, especially when the fabric is on the more expensive side. I like how when we order swatches that the shipping is free if we order under $10 worth of swatches. I also like how we can search pretty easily for what we want, but I do wish we could search for fabrics from specific countries. That would be the icing on the cake!


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