If you sew or have an interest in fabrics, you probably want to visit the Fashion/Garment District in Manhattan while you’re in New York to see and maybe buy some great fabrics. If you live in a smaller city, you would definitely want to do this because the selection is incredible. I had already reviewed some fabric shops, but what I want to focus on here is notions and accessories for your sewing that you should also check out while in New York. This is the more interesting stuff to get, as far as I’m concerned, because you’re likely to be able to find more diversity from what you have access to in notions and accessories, comparied fabrics, in your area.
If you felt limited by fabric selection where you live, you probably feel worse about notions and accessories like buttons, trims, beads, patches and such beyond the generic full thread collection from Gutermann or Coates. After all, it takes some decent economies of scale to have a store focused on notions and accessories, especially a big store. General fabric stores carry some, but generally don’t seem to care much about notions and accessories.
The Fashion/Garment District, on the other hand, boasts quite a few awesome notions and accessories stores full of incredible selection! Better yet, a bunch of these stores are all within one block on West 38th Street between 7th and 8th Avenue. You can hop back and forth to check prices easily before committing, or deciding what to buy within your limited budget because I can almost guarantee you that you won’t have enough to buy everything you want.
Pending where you live and what prices for notions and accessories are like there, you may or may not find the prices in the Fashion/Garment District reasonable. I found them a bit higher than I was used to in Halifax, but as long as I felt like I got what I paid for, then I’m OK with it. Everything I bought I liked enough that I felt like I got a fair deal. That may seem obvious, but a lot of people buy stuff they want at prices they’re not happy with. That wasn’t the case with my disciplined spending.
Let me start by reviewing Daytona Trimming, at 251 39th Street between 7th and 8th Avenue. This is a store packed with buttons and trims, braids and such, almost to the point of disorganization. There are some beads, but I didn’t see as much compared to some other stores. Another negative thing I saw about it was the lack of visible prices on the buttons. Ultimately, price was going to factor in my final decision on which buttons to buy and/or how many. So if I lacked that information and had to ask the price for every potential choice I considered, of which a vendor had to open the box to look inside for the answer, I was going to be a nuisance and not likely buy a lot. I would have had to ask every time because the prices on a lot of the buttons were quite high for my tastes. By high, I mean from $3 a button and up! Some were quite exorbitant in price, too! Some may be worth it if you value them that much, but most seemed excessive for my tastes. Still, I found three buttons that were pretty something I might have designed for a certain dress shirt I’m making symbolizing my home nation of South Viet Nam. The button was yellow with three red stripes like the flag of the former South Viet Nam (see gallery below of some buttons I got). I didn’t think it was worth $2.95 a pop, but where was I going to find such a button at a much cheaper price? Well, I did see it again in Chinatown, at $2.60 each, but close to the same price. Still, the constant asking I would have had to do to really explore all my options limited me to asking about and buying very few buttons. But if you want that rare button, notion and accessories and are willing to pay for it, you just might find it here… as long as you don’t mind asking for prices a lot. (Yelp reviews)
You’d probably have a much better notions and accessories shopping experience on the west 38th block between 7th and 8th. There, Pacific Trimming at 218 W 38th offers all kinds of crazy beads, buttons, pins, braids, trims and such. Much of it is also well under $1 a button and equally reasonable prices for other items. They also had stuff like military stars with pins on the points so you can stick it through the fabric and fold it to hold it there, rather than sewing it down like a button on a shank. Then there was their huge zipper collection, including some very large and long zippers. Prices were well displayed and staff were helpful to help you find stuff. This is the store I would recommend most for notions and accessories, for sure, and the one to visit if you don’t have time to shop for variety and/or price comparison. (Yelp reviews)
Other stores on West 38th
The other stores on the W 38th block between 7th and 8th Avenues were good, too. Some were a little more tightly packed.
- B & Q (210 W 38), next door to Pacific, specialized in glitter accessories for burlesque outfits, for example, but had all kinds of buttons, beads, trimmings and such as well. Between Pacific and this store, if you’re short on time, you can get your fill and feel pretty satisfied with getting with most of what you might want to get. (Yelp reviews)
- 3G Trimmings (230 W 38) had lots of belt buckles, for example, that I didn’t see much of in the other stores on the block. They also had some really cool nail heads, though that’s more hardware and interior decorating rather than sewing related. However, I didn’t find their staff that helpful in an empty store when I was there. Everything was “about the same” in price, I was told, when they weren’t all that same. Not many listed prices, and staff didn’t want to open boxes to check. Maybe they sensed my hesitation, but it was in reaction to their lack of forthcoming help. (Yelp reviews)
- Hai’s Trim (238 W 38, Yelp reviews) and Panda International Trading (247 W 38, Yelp reviews), were among other notion and accessories stores still to check out on the block, if you had the time. You’ll at least be entertained by all the stuff out there you probably never knew existed!
Outside of these shops in the Garment District, I found P.S. Fabrics in Chinatown had an excellent buttons and trims selection as well. I will review them in another post and link to here once done, though. Jem Fabrics next door to P.S. Fabrics wasn’t bad, either, in case you’re in the area.