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Philadelphia Shopping Guide for Sewers + Discounts

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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

Maxie’s Daughter
724 South 4th Street
http://www.ugcs.caltech.edu/~plavchan/maxiesdaughter/
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
http://www.jackbfabrics.com/index.html
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.

Fleishman Fabrics
749 South 4th Street
http://fleishmanfabrics.blogspot.com/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fleishman-Fabrics-Supplies-Where-creation-becomes-fashion/236262163097552
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. 

Jomar
2590 Grant Avenue
http://www.jomarstores.com/
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!

VINTAGE

Jinxed
611 South 4th Street
http://jinxedphiladelphia.com/
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
http://www.moonandarrow.com/
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
http://phillyaidsthrift.com/
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.

EAT

Famous 4th Street Delicatessen
700 South 4th Street
http://www.famous4thstreetdelicatessen.com/index_flash.html
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.

Ella
627 South 3rd Street
http://elaphilly.com/
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!

28 Comments

  1. Reply

    Cindy meredith

    I grew up in Philly and lived there for 40 before moving to Atlanta. I never knew of this treasure. We come home once or twice a year so I’ll have to check out Fabric Row. Thanks for the post.

  2. Reply

    Bella

    My husband is from Philly, and I always enjoy exploring Fabric Row when we visit. As a visitor it can be difficult to know which stores specialise in what, so your guide is super helpful! Might just take you up on the shopping buddy offer next time we are in town!

    • Reply

      maddie

      Please reach out next time you’re in town! I’d love to be your shopping buddy!

  3. Reply

    Janee Connor

    I had a chance to shop on Fabric Row last October, while in the historic district for the ASDP (Association of Sewing and Design Professionals) conference. It was great fun! I loved the stores (Fleishman’s is fabulous – and they also came to participate in our vendor marketplace, and I can see how they’d be a great resource for all sewists and design students. I bought just one piece of fabric, and I cannot remember what store it was in – it’s a gorgeous piece of rayon lace in a deep champagne color. The store was very crowded, had an alterations or custom shop in the back, and was full of glitzy fabrics on tables down the center, with pieces draped high on the walls in dress shapes. I only have a hand-written receipt on a general sales slip, but I wish I could remember the name of the place! Wish I lived closer so I could come back again –

  4. Reply

    ThePatternLine

    I’ve been away from Philadelphia for about 10 years now, so my information might be outdated, but Jomar on Whitaker Avenue used to have the best selection of discounted fabrics out of all Jomar locations, and a whole fabric dedicated room: wools, cottons, silks, upholstery and many synthetic blends. The prices are really low and they used to run 50% off sales often.

    And if you’re on fabric row, treat yourself to dinner at Dmitri’s on Catherine St after shopping: I still do trips from NYC just to eat there. Now you got me thinking I should plan a Philly weekend soon. Cheers!

    • Reply

      maddie

      I haven’t been to Jomar’s other location, but will check it out! Thanks for the additional restaurant recommendations. I love Dmitri’s! Another place with great scallops!

  5. Reply

    Kathy

    Great info, thanks Maddie..

  6. Reply

    Laura

    I haven’t been to Fabric Row yet, since moving here 8 months ago, but it’s definitely on my list. I have a big stash, and I’m trying to work my way through it at least a little bit before I go stock up again! This might be a little out of your area, but do you know if any of the stores sell leather?

    • Reply

      maddie

      Fleishman’s has a good assortment of leather and pretty big pieces too.

  7. Reply

    Kristi

    Great tips! I shop fabric row like it’s my own personal stash, but I’ve never gone into Jinxed (next time). I also like Jomar on Jackson St. in South Philly, and I’ve heard Gaffney on Germantown Ave. is a worthwhile visit. Oh, and Handcraft Workshop, also on Germantown Ave., have a nice little selection of modern cotton prints.

    I am still mourning the loss of the button wall at Pa. Fabric Outlet. Any suggestions for a local substitution?

    • Reply

      maddie

      The button wall? I’ve never heard of that?

      Are you local? I’ve never been to Gaffney, but would love to take a trip with you if you’re up for it!

  8. Reply

    Rochelle New

    Is Butcher Sew Shop in Philly? I don’t know if I’m remembering correctly… Anyway, my best friend is a quilter who just moved to Philly and she couldn’t find any quilt shops! I was trying to search online for her but couldn’t find much. Not a big quilt scene there I guess? I sent her a link to your post so she can check out the garment stuff too

    • Reply

      maddie

      Butchers Sew Shop is in Philly, but it’s not a fabric store. It teaches sewing, which is why I didn’t include it. I’d recommend Cloth and Bobbin or Steve’s Sewing Center to your friend. Both are great for quilters.

      • Reply

        Rochelle New

        Ohhhhh I see. Thanks for clearing that up for me. I’ll tell her. Thanks, Maddie 🙂

        • Reply

          maddie

          Hope you make a trip to visit your best friend one day here in Philly ; )

  9. Reply

    sallie

    It’s probably a good thing that I didn’t know how to sew yet when I lived in Philly for grad school! I would’ve been even more broke than I was! But it’s really lovely to know that there are so many good resources for sewers. I sure do miss that city!

    • Reply

      maddie

      I really hope that the next time you’re in the area, we can meet up! I’ll take you to all the shops!

  10. Reply

    Lola

    Fleischman’s was where Lauren and I lucked out on getting bra elastic for dirt cheap! Pacific Trimmings still couldnt beat their price. Wish I had more time to see the vintage spots but definitely for sure a trip is in order now that the weather is so nice

    • Reply

      maddie

      Next time we’ll make sure to have plenty of time to hit up all the shops.

  11. Reply

    Melissa

    Great roundup Maddie! I first learned about fabric row when I took a fashion design course at Moore during high school many years ago. At the time, I had never stepped into a store other than JoAnne’s, so it was quite a treat to know something like that existed. Those shops came in handy when prom time rolled around!

  12. Reply

    HoopesParkStudios

    Ohh philly. One of the few things I miss about it is Jomar and Fabric Row. Such wonderful gems. I have been slowly getting to know Richmond and discovering its fabric and sewing scene, but nothing holds a candle to the crazy explosion of fabric that is Jomar!

  13. Reply

    melanie

    I have to say that I’ve found some good cottons and silks at Fabrics on 4th. Mr James specializes in costumes for singers and such, so no surprise he’s got a lot of showy things too. I also like Baldwin’s. I’m a sucker for fine men’s shirting in kids clothes and my dresses. They have lovely wollens too.

    • Reply

      maddie

      Thanks for the additional recs!

  14. Reply

    Bernice

    Thank you. This is very helpful. I’ll take your list with me on my next Philly trip.

  15. Reply

    Sandra

    I first learned of Fabric Row when my daughter attended Drexel Univ and have visited as recent as last year. I love Jomar on Whitaker and always leave with some great finds.

  16. Reply

    Elise

    Just moved to the Philly area a year ago (Kennett Square) and I have yet to get to Fabric Row. One of my limo drivers told me that I had to make it down there when he heard I was a sewing enthusiast! I tried to get down their last year in October but unbeknown to me it was Yom Kippur weekend and most of the stores were closed :(. I am going to try and get down their in the next couple weeks.

  17. Reply

    Barbara

    Gaffneys – 5401 Germantown Ave – corner of Germantown and Coulter. parking is on the street – not hard to find a space – but bring quarters for parking. They often have a sale this time of year. Great prices – 2 floors of fabrics trims and notions.

  18. Reply

    Ngozi

    Does Jomars sell drapery fabric?

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