I didn’t expect Philadelphia to have a garment district when I moved almost 5 years ago, and was pleasantly surprised when I found out about Fabric Row. Located on 4th street between South Street and Catherine Street, it was a thriving, busy street during the early 20th century where vendors and merchants bought the best fabrics. Even though it’s not what it used to be and it’s no where near the size of NYC’s Garment District, but there are good quality stores that are second, third, and fourth generation family businesses. So, I rounded up my favorites! This guide covers mostly Fabric Row as there is not much elsewhere. I also included places to grab lunch, dinner, coffee or a treat along the way!
FABRICs + NOTIONS
724 South 4th Street
A family run business, Maxie’s Daughter used to be located in Philly’s Italian Market and was originally named Max Wilk Fabrics. Now run by Eric Trobman and his family, it was his grandfather, Max who immigrated from Russia and started the shop by renting a pushcart and folding scrap fabric neatly to get people to buy. When Wilk passed away in the early 1990s, his daughter, Beverly Trobman, took over. Three years later, she relocated to Fabric Row and renamed the store. The store is in the same location, which you can’t miss because of the giant mural on the side of the building.
The right half of the store is dedicated to upholstery and drapery fabrics while the left side is dedicated to fashion fabric. Be prepared to hear family-style bickering between the staff. They are family after all! “Irving, can you help this young lady?”, “Irving, will you put this back?”, “Irving…. Irving… Irving…” It will only take a couple minutes to realize that one, Irving does a lot around, and two, the women clearly wear the pants in the relationship.
The aisles are a tight squeeze, but you can bargain to get a fair price. Their selection is broad – silk, wool, cotton, spandex – but not very deep. They have the basics in every category.
Jack B Fabrics
748 South 4th Street
Another family-run operation, Jack B has been open for more than 35 years. Three generations later, they carry home décor and fashion fabric. Their home décor selection is larger than their fashion fabric selection, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something for garment sewers. For brides, there are lots of laces, and for lingerie makers, there are a host spandex, power net, and jersey. I bought the matte jersey for my thongs here. I have found that their prices are slightly higher than other stores on the street, but not enough to keep me from buying. They are also one of the few stores on Fabric Row that has an online shop and they are definitely the cleanest/most organized.
749 South 4th Street
Fleishman’s is by far my favorite store on Fabric Row. If they don’t have it, they will get it for you. When I was sourcing supplies for my bra workshop, I called Trish to see if she had underwires. At the time, she didn’t, but was willing to get them for me. While they have a good selection of fabric and trimming – I bought the lace for my Malborough and the lining for Portia Blue here – their widest selection is sewing supplies. Interfacing, glue, zippers, elastic, hooks and eyes, seam rippers and more. Drexel University and Philadelphia University are two local colleges that have great fashion programs and most students come here for their supplies. This is also my go to for power net. Also, it is also open on Sunday.
Mention Madalynne and receive 10% off
Fabrics on Fourth
801 South 4th Street
At the end of Fabric Row, Fabrics on Fourth has a cool, retro vibe. I don’t shop here often because it’s mostly costume fabrics with bright colors, sequins and rhinestones. If that is the type of garments you sew, I highly recommend checking it out. It is also open on Sunday.
2590 Grant Avenue
Jomar is not located on Fabric Row, but it is the cheapest place to buy fabric in the city. It’s open until 9:00 PM Monday through Saturday and until 6:00 PM on Sunday. It’s also not located in the best neighborhood, so I don’t suggest going at night. This is not your average fabric store. A mix between a flea market and a warehouse, it sells discounted clothing, appliances, home goods on the first floor (think Marshalls or Ross) and fabric on the second floor. There is always a lot of fabric, but I never know what kind of selection they’re going to have. Sometimes I leave with nothing and sometimes I leave with 20+ yards. They have unique fabrics – I bought the fabric for Indigo Miller and my Japanese dress here. They sell trimming and few supplies, but no thread. If you’re a newbie sewer and don’t want to spend a lot of money or you want to make a project on the cheap, go to Jomar!
611 South 4th Street
Excuse me, but I’m going to be slightly vulgar while I tell you my first experience at Jinxed. I was with a girl friend when I spotted a vintage suitcase on the floor. When I opened it to inspect the condition, I quickly realized it wasn’t a suitcase, but a vibrator! I guess women back in the day would open, sit on it and… you know.
Jinxed has five locations throughout the city, one of them being on Fabric Row. A trifecta of incredible prices, unique furniture and home goods, and the coolest staff, Jinxed is where I purchased most of my items for Madalynne Studios. Their brick and mortar shops have a large stock, but check out their instagram to get first dibs on new items @jinxedstore. Whether you’re in their store or on IG, don’t wait to buy. It will be gone by the time you come back. They don’t haggle with prices because they don’t need to. This is the most affordable place in town. They don’t offer shipping, so if you’re from out of town, only purchase items that you can bring back with you.
Moon + Arrow
754 South 4th Street
Moon + Arrow is a hidden gem. In addition to carrying vintage items, they also sell handmade products from local artists. You can find almost everything here, for almost every occasion and for almost every family member – jewelry, clothing, lotions, bags and wallets, candles, prints, books, cards, tinctures and more bits and bobs. The merchandising is incredible and the vibe is earthy, a little hippie and relaxed. Chelsea, the owner, is sweet and adorable and not pushy.
Philly Aids Thrift
710 South 5th Street
One street over from Fabric Row, Philly Aids Thrift sells everything and anything used. I come here mostly to buy used jeans, but always spend at least an hour browsing the shop. There is an entire room of clothing for $1 and free condoms in the back. The décor is also hilarious.
Famous 4th Street Delicatessen
700 South 4th Street
Delicatassen is a Jewish deli/restaurant. They serve breakfast, matzo ball soup, pastrami, corned beef and hot dogs. It’s a little expensive, but the portions are HUGE, so it’s worth it. The décor is like a museum – the walls are line with vintage photography. This is a better lunch spot than dinner. On the way out, grab one of their giant cookies or pastry for the road. Fun fact – the movies Philadelphia and In Her Shoes were filmed here!
Red Hook Coffee & Tea
765 South 4th Street
While shopping, stop in Red Hook Coffee & Tea to refuel. It’s a local café where residents around the neighborhood come on a Saturday with their dog(s) to hang out. If you go, try the Thai Peanut Latte. Also, if you are not into Jewish deli type food, this place has great sandwiches, melts, wraps and eggs. They’re also vegan friendly.
627 South 3rd Street
After a day’s worth of shopping, go here for dinner. It’s American cuisine with a creative twist. If you’re with a group, try to 4, 5 or 6 course tasting, and if not, the diver scallop noodles are amazing. The ambiance is industrial and intimate. I’ve also heard that their cocktails are very good.
Have you ever been to Fabric Row? What were your favorite places?
Last thing – if you’re headed to Philadelphia, email me! I’m always up for a shopping trip. Even if you live in the area and want a shopping buddy, I’ll go with you!