Despite Paris being SO CLOSE to us (the Eurostar from London takes just a couple of hours), the last time I visited was six years ago. Six years! It’s the perfect stop for a weekend away, to blow away the cobwebs and get a change of scenery. Oh, and er… *cough* go fabric shopping obvs ?? I’d forgotten how beautiful the Parisian architecture was, and found myself constantly gazing upwards. I love those fancy little balconies!
We went for a long weekend – three full days – and I set aside a good chunk of a day purely to go fabric shopping. This sounds like a long time (or maybe not?!) but there were MANY shops that I passed and didn’t go in, so you could easily spend a full day (or even more) if you wanted to be reallllly thorough.
The first thing that became clear to me about fabric shopping in Paris, is that a lot of places sell fabric ‘coupons’ – which sort of means remnants, but more like fixed length cut pieces (rather than end of roll randomness). It does not, *I repeat does not* have anything to do with money off vouchers, like we thought ????
So here’s the lowdown on where I visited and what I bought… you’re going to need supplies for this one so go put the kettle on now and get yourself comfy. *WARNING* PICTURE HEAVY POST!! I did debate on whether to collage up the pictures so that they were smaller, but then thought that you’d all like to see the fabric in as much detail as possible so I used the big photos ??
19 Avenue Daumesnil, 75012 Paris
I’d heard a lot about this shop before I went, including that they sold a lot of pink and patterned fabric – so obvs it was top of my list! It’s a big name in the world of French tweed fabrics, and they even weave fabrics exclusively for Chanel (remnants of which are NOT sold in the shop, I feel I should point out…) and they also serve a whole host of other luxury fashion houses. Although I’m not really in to the Chanel fabrics, I felt that I couldn’t pass up the chance to visit a shop with such a reputation.
Mahlia Kent is set away from the main fabric district of Montmartre, in a different part of the city (near to Bastille station). They sell lots of woven cloth suitable for jackets and skirts, which they also use for their own clothing line (some of which is sold in the shop). They also had loads of cones of wool, which I assume were for sale, and what they use to make the fabrics. The composition of the fabrics were not identified on tags of any sort, so you’re left guessing. Remnants/cut pieces are sold at a fabulous €10 per metre and fabric from the rolls at a slightly-more-ouchies €30 per metre. The remnants were one offs – I only saw one of each design of fabric, so if you want it you have to claim it quickly before someone else does. There were lots of small scraps also for sale at a couple of Euros each – great for pockets, fronts of small bags or even dolls clothes.
Sadly you weren’t allowed to take photos inside, so all I have are photos of the outside through the window 🙁
This shop has pretty weird opening hours, so if you’re only visiting Paris for a couple of days, you might be limited to which day you can go:
We arrived late Friday, and left early Tuesday, so that meant I’d have to go Saturday or I’d miss my chance.
It was here that I made my first purchase of the day – I bought a 1.6m remnant of a beautiful multi-coloured coating (fibres as yet unknown, I *may* do a burn test, but I’m not sure I’m really that bothered) for EUR 16, and the husbeast bought a totally impractical gold sparkly long-pile remnant which was kind of L shaped, and they measured the shorter bit and charged just €6. I have no idea what he’s gonna use it for though…
My fabric is a lot more practical – it will become a jacket of some sort, perhaps another Republique Du Chiffon Gerard coat. The front is a lovely mix of pinks and purples, and reverse side is more orange-y – it’s nice, but I’m not sure if it has a bit too much of a native-american-poncho theme going on for me to use that side…
If I’m honest, I thought I would come away with more, but nothing else in the store really spoke to me.
The rest of the fabric shops I visited are all in the Montmartre area of city, to the North by Sacre Coeur. We walked there from Gare Du Nord, purely because I couldn’t be bothered to change metro lines, but it’s a really nice walk along the city streets.
1 Rue de Clignancourt, 75018 Paris
Paris Tissus was the second store I went in, and one that I stumbled across by accident whilst walking to the Montmartre shopping area. It’s on the main road, halfway between the Anvers and Barbes-Rochechouart metro stations. The entire shop was filled with pre-cut pieces (‘coupons’), there were no rolls. They had pretty much every fabric going – cottons, jerseys, denims and coatings.
Their biggest selection was probably coat weight fabrics in 3m pieces – €25 for a nice purple which sadly was a low % wool blend:
€75 for a 3m piece of pure wool (Kermit-green coat, anyone?):
Woven cloths €100 for 3m, so more expensive than the Mahlia Kent remnants at €10 per metre, but a lot more choice.
Wax cottons at €7 per metre, they had a small section of 1m cuts and the rest were standard 3m.
There were lots of piles in the shop, but it was much less chaotic than some of the others I went in later on. They also stocked lots of slightly thicker cottons – more like poplin than lawn – and I saw the same designs in many of the shops later on (for the same prices).
Sacres Coupons – Au Gentleman des Cuirs
4bis Rue d’Orsel, 75018 Paris
If you’re unfamiliar with the French word ‘cuir’ (leather), you’ll be able to smell that it’s a leather shop the second you step in the door. It’s perfect for those of you that love to make bags or use leather accents in your clothes. They had a whole table of larger hides in every colour imaginable! Smallish hides were about €30.
I was particularly interested in the construction of a large piece of rabbit hide that was for sale. I was recently given a huge bag of real fur scraps – yes yes yes I know, real fur and all that, believe me when I say I NEVER thought I’d ever even THINK about sewing with real fur (and sorting through the bag made me really sad) but I *promise* there were good intentions from the girl who gave it to me involving waste and sustainability, which I will share with you when the time comes – and wanted to see how they had joined the pieces together to make the large piece.
I was curious as to the construction method, and inspected the seams to see how they have joined the pieces together so that I could copy their technique.
Sacres Coupons – Au Gentleman des Tissus
(’tissus’ = fabric/cloth)
This one, unsurprising as they have the same name and look exactly the same, is next door to the leather shop. Quite chaotic, but a lot of selection and reasonable prices. The pre-cut pieces were of a decent size, mostly 2-3 metres, and this store also had rolls. The fabric was arranged by type (polyester, cotton etc) and also use (coat fabrics, jeans etc), which made browsing just that little bit easier.
I looked at (but in the end walked away from) a funky black and pinky-red mohair/wool blend coating at €63 for three metres, but didn’t love it enough to buy it. I’m glad I kept searching because I then saw the exact fabric I’d had on my mind for a while.
My winter coat is now in its fourth year, and is showing wear to the lining (and by ‘wear to the lining’, I mean an actual hole), cuffs and edges. I picked it up in New York in 2013, and still love it as much as the day I bought it – but it’s seen better days. I ‘d been loosely thinking for a while that I’d like to make a replacement, but had never found the same fabric – it’s a smooth, thick, almost felt-like material, 90% wool / 10% cashmere and is the most beautiful rusty autumn colour. It buttons right up to the top with a collar (essential for British winters) and has this really cool hidden button placket which I’ve got no chance in hell of replicating.
Delving through the pile of coat fabrics next to the till, I found it. The perfect fabric. It was lovely and thick, felt like heaven and was a very similar colour to my coat. Then I saw the tag – 100% cashmere. And then the price. €205. My heart sank – so that’s why it feels so nice! I put it back, crying on the inside. They also had the same fabric but in black – a 3m piece at €90, reduced from €237. It had a sale tag on it (‘soldes’). Hang on a minute, I thought, this whole table is further reduced… so I grabbed the beautiful rusty cashmere again and investigated it further. Sure enough, I found a sale tag – it was marked down to €117.50 from €205 for the 2.6 metre piece. Not quite reduced as much as the black piece – still ouch, but much less ouch. I deliberated for a while, and in the end I just went for it because I knew I’d regret it if I left it behind. It was mine.
The husband bought the black piece for himself, so of course that’s now two winter coats added to the sewing list. And I need to find the *perfect* patterns before I even consider chopping in to these – I want this to be like the most amazeballs pro-level coat I will ever make.
We then headed towards Tissus Reine, walking along Rue D’Orsel where there’s a large concentration of fabric and haberdashery shops – we didn’t go in any as the shops looked quite small and I now had this massive bag of cashmere to carry (and the bank account had just taken a humongous hit), but we could have easily spent another hour along here!
Coupons Saint Pierre
1 Place Saint-Pierre, 75018 Paris
This one is next door to Reine, and was a bit of a disappointment. As the name suggest, coupon/cut pieces only – no rolls. Quite basic fabrics, cottons, wool blends etc. The composition of the fabric was identified on the tag, which was a bonus. It was absolute chaos in there though – worse than Oxford Street when the January sales are on – and this put me off really looking through what they had in any detail.
3-5 Place Saint-Pierre, 75018 Paris
Closed on Sunday, and only open half a day on Monday
This was the store I had biggest hopes for – it’s a massive, multi-floor complex. The first thing I noticed when I walked in the door was how mentally hot it was in there, their heating bill must be insane!
They have four floors, the bottom floor is apparel fabrics, the second floor is haberdashery/patterns and top two floors for home furnishing fabrics.
Reine had a good selection of Liberty (in fact the only Liberty that I saw) at a surprisingly reasonable price in EUR compared to the GBP equivalent at the Liberty store in London (which is £22.50 per metre)
Reine also had the highest prices of all the stores I went in – if you’re looking for bargains, this isn’t the place. They had some lovely silk at an eye-watering €50 eur per metre – some Liberty, some not.
This is however definitely the place to go for sewing patterns, they had hundreds! There was a whole section where you could browse through all the catalogs, something I’ve not come across in London. Properly dangerous for the sewing queue!
There were also lots of buttons.
And lots of zips…
And lots of weird mini mannequins wearing outfits made from the fabrics for sale ??
I saw the most *amazing* faux-fur backed planet-print jersey, but at €19 EUR per metre I had to pass it up. It would have made a super snuggly hoodie though!
Reine had an excellent haberdashery section, I think they pretty much carried everything you could possibly want!
No remnants/cut pieces – all the fabrics were cut from the roll, including what looked like a roll of towelling that you could use to make bath towels with…
Queues for the tills were massive (and didn’t appear to be moving, at least not at any acceptable rate of speed), and despite the massive selection in this store I came out empty-handed. This was definitely the most upmarket of all the stores I went in.
Marche Saint Pierre
2 Rue Charles Nodier, 75018 Paris
Despite the name saying ‘coupons’ on the outside signs, I couldn’t see any remnants when I went in – it was all rolls. I wasn’t impressed with anything on the ground floor so didn’t bother going up, although there were several floors. On the ground floor there seemed to be a lot of low quality synthetic fabric, which wasn’t encouraging, and by this time I’d been shopping for a while and carrying heavy bags so decided that I wouldn’t trudge all the way up the stairs. I don’t feel like I missed out on anything by not exploring this place.
Ameublement Place Saint Pierre
10 Rue Livingstone, 75018 Paris
Although this place did have some fabrics that could be used for clothing, it was mostly aimed at home furnishings (hence the name of the shop: ‘ameublement’ = furnishing).
They had a mixture of rolls and cut pieces, nothing new by that time – mostly the same sort of stuff I’d seen in other shops. This one was laid out nicely though, and was definitely one of the least chaotic stores I went in!
Overall, I had a really good trip – I definitely bought quality over quantity. Even with the rubbish pound to Euro conversion rate (currently about £1/€1.3) I thought the fabric prices were quite reasonable. I did loosely go with the intention of buying some sewing thread and notions as well, as I needed some and didn’t have time to go to the shop before we went – but the prices were considerably higher than in the UK. For example, the standard price for 100m of Gutermann Sew-All here in London is £1.85, in Reine it was 3 EUR/£2.30, which is quite a difference to the GBP amount if you’re buying a few spools.
The buttons in Reine were also very expensive – well, the one I liked was anyway. I think the most I’ve paid for buttons is around £2 per button, but this was for metal blazer buttons for the husbeast’s coat. But these were extremely good quality buttons. I saw some nice pink-purple buttons in Reine (ha! no surprise on the colour there) that were €5,25 per button ? and they were plastic!! I thought that was waaaaay to high a price to pay for plastic buttons, even if they were pretty.
(It’s the top button in the pic that I had my eye on ?)
I’m really enjoyed our little break, and managed to get lots of finished items photographed for the blog in front of some chic Parisian backdrops! I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for the Eurostar sales to see if I can nab some cheap tickets to head back there at some point, in the meantime I’m counting down the months until my trip to NYC later on in the year… GARMENT DISTRICT HERE I COME ??????
Do you shop for fabric when you travel? What’s been your best find and where?
Coming up next week on the Wanderstitch blog… my Deer and Doe Belladonne shirt which I’ve *finally* made! Plus some pictures of the Louvre courtyard in the snow ? Subscribe below to make sure you don’t miss out!