Fabric Hunting: Paris – In Search Of Inspiration

fabric hunting paris

I am back in Paris, one of the places in the world I feel at home, and yes, this was once home when I was so poorly paid and blissfully happy. It is a dichotomy, to be sure, but I am well aware of how blessed I have been to be handed the opportunity of living in one of the most iconic cities in the world and the home of Haute Couture.

I have come to Paris in search of inspiration, half forgetting all the pretty people I know have left town, leaving it to the tourist to indulge in. Any Parisian with time, family, or friends with an extra couch will leave town for the rocky beaches of the south or the sandy shores of the old colonies. It is bliss to suck up the sun and enjoy the wide avenues despite the crowds, especially for us who live in the southern hemisphere and are running away from the cold, damp, poorly insulated houses.

A bit of Paris-

What can I say about Paris that you already know? Hardly anything, so I will concentrate on the view from my lens.

My favorite thing about Paris is the light at dusk when the sun bathes the city in this golden glow. It makes me feel that everything will work out best and that anything is possible. This glow charges me with hope… and makes me think that before the french give up, they rather clean the slate and start again. There is so much to learn from this attitude.

Fabric Hunting Paris
View from the Ile de Saint-Louis

I love watching people at the park. So many people come with a modest basket; cloth napkins, cutlery, cheese, fruits, jam, bread, and wine all gather around in happy chatter. The old man in profound political conversation, the games of chess, the artists concentrated on a painting, the pretty girl in a bikini sucking up the sun, the lovers by the trees making out, the whole scene is an impressionist painting.

A walk along the Seinne early in the morning when hardly anyone is around.

I could drop a small fortune here in art shops, bookstores, and stationaries, but I am content with just looking around.

Notice, my dear readers, most of the things I love about Paris are free.

A bit Of Geography

Paris is divided into 20 areas called arrondissements, starting at the center in the shape of a spiral clockwise.

Administrative Map Of Paris

Left and Right Banks, the Seine flows westward, cutting the city in two. The top part of the city is associated with the right bank and the lower one with the left. The most significant attractions tourists want to see are located on the right bank.

A Bit of History

Here is a quick summary that I found detailing Paris' long and exciting history. The great thing about Paris is that it has always been a unique city, from whatever time in the past all the way to the present.

A Bit Of Architecture And the Best Sights from my camera

Paris was once a dirty plague-ridden town to what is now one of the most visited places on the planet, with wide tree-lined boulevards and imposing stone facade buildings with double windows and zinc grey mansard roofs.

Boulevard Beaumarchais, in the 11 arrondissement

The scenery of Paris and the Seine River from the Eiffel Tower.

Louvre Museum and the Jardin de Tullerie.

The current reconstruction work at Notre Dame.

Le Champs-Élysées and the Arch de Trioumph

My lovely family…

Fabric Hunting: Paris

There are two major areas where to shop for fabrics in Paris. Montmartre on the 18th and Le Sentier in the 2nd arrondisement.

Montmartre

Montmartre area is very well known to tourists since it is the home of the oldest fabric store in the city. It is the place to find inexpensive fabrics for costumes and fancy embellished tulles. T

here are many small stores around the foothill of Montmartre. Today I will only mention the best-known.

Fabric Hunting Paris
Marche Saint-Pierre seen from La Reine Store.

The beginnings of this shop are very similar to Bassetti Tessuti in Rome. A man comes to town with a cart of fabrics, building a reputation for good quality, well-priced materials. And when the opportunity knocks, in 1920, he rents a building and starts selling in one location.

This is a seven-floor french institution, and I am happy to see that despite the pandemic, the store is still in business and with paying customers inside.

The road level is where you will find all the bargains. Tulles for costumes, Ankara fabrics, and printed cotton are perfect for handbags and summer dresses.

I head to my favorite floor: the basement.

fabric hunting Paris

Here is the place for all the beautiful fabrics for couture gowns, and wedding dresses and a good selection of silks, cotton, leather, and laces.

I recommend buying the Guipure lace seen above, the felt wool which is perfect for hats and jackets at 60 euros for a piece of 3 meters 55″ broad, not bad at all, enough for a coat and beret for the winter. Silk chiffon for some very flowy dresses and blouses and, silk velour for a soft skin tight underlayer, wide-leg pants, and trimmings for underwear.

This haberdashery is an Alibaba cave for every crafter, ribbon, elastic, lace, braid, needles, thread, buttons, fasteners, scissors, and they have it.

Pay special attention to the buttons section; some are small art pieces. Here are some pictures to get a general idea, but you have a much more extensive selection on their online shop.

I have been coming to Tissue Reine for a couple of decades. This is a typical fabric store in many cities, Liberty cotton, quilting fabrics, home deco, jeans, cotton, silks, laces, and sewing equipment, including patterns.

The bargains are outside on the sidewalk for you to browse freely. I recall the many hours I spent with my mother looking through the fabric rolls for costumes for a play.

Inside the store, everything is well organized, and the amount of natural light and lighting helps you choose a fabric in the color you are looking for. My favorite things to buy here are the cotton and cotton blends in natural fibers, cotton/rayon, cotton and silk, and cotton and linen.

I should mention the gorgeous silk chiffons in happy and tasteful prints would make an elegant blouse or a long summer dress an item that would last many years.

The main floor is where you find fashion fabrics.

The haberdashery on the second floor is where I can find the Swiss threads Mettler that works so well with the Bernina embroidery machines. All types of sewing notions are found here, and a pervasive pattern section.

This store surprised me; whenever I am in Paris, I try to find a new store to explore. TissuMarket did it for me, a small hole in the wall, but inside, the quality and beauty of the fabrics take you back. Justin, the man in charge, tells me this is just a small showroom, but if I wanted to see the whole store, go to the 2nd Arrondissement. So I will talk about it in the next section, but I will leave you with some pictures so you can find TissuMarket if you are around Montmartre.

Le Sentier

Le Sentier is a lesser-known area for tourists and one of my favorite parts of Paris. This is the fashion district of Paris, where students come to buy fabrics for school projects, up-and-coming designers have their showrooms, and wholesale materials and designs are sold. You can buy small amounts, but many stores have a minimum requirement. You need to ask before falling in love with any fabric.

Fabric Hunting Paris

This shop is a family business of 35 years and is very well known for carrying exquisite Silk, Lace, Wool, Cotton, Linen, and Viscose fabrics. It is a treasure trove of three floors, so take your time looking around; the materials you will find here will charge your creative juices. Pay special attention to the beaded lace here; they are second to none. I recommend this shop for evening gowns.

  • Studio Tiss'Art

5 Rue de Mulhouse, 75002 Paris, France

Fabric Hunting Paris

Don't let the size of this shop fool you; the silks you find here are reminiscent of the bright 70's vibe and Missoni. The quality of the material is superb, and the prices reflex that. My recommendation would be silk chiffon for Kaftans and wide dresses for cruising.

I mentioned TissuMarket briefly in the Montmartre section. Here in Le Sentier, there are two much bigger showrooms.

Fabric Hunting Paris is about finding the store to make the trip worthwhile. TissuMarket did it for me this time. I recommend this shop if you only have one day in Paris and need to buy beautiful material to take home and make anything.

You will find everything here, from Upholstery fabric to the most delicate silk muslin, leather, colorful faux furs, laces embroidered tulles, silks, cotton, jeans, velvet, and wool in many weights and types, chiffons, all types of printed, embroidered, and embossed, stamped, digitally printed, hand painted, block printed and if you like me do not have room in your suitcase can have it delivered to your home in 200 different countries plus delivery is free anywhere in France.

In addition, to purchase all kinds of fabrics, you can also pick up sewing notions and fittings for your projects.

Fabric Hunting in Paris is not easy for a foreigner because you have to learn to navigate the metro and the bus systems and walk many kilometers. The language is no longer an issue since Parisians are more willing to speak English. You will be surprised how many are trilingual.

If you are planning to come to Paris for fabrics, be prepared to have drawings with the fabric requirements you will need to avoid disappointment; check with your government and the store you are buying from concerning tax and delivery issues.

I will continue my journey to Singapore, where I will check the fabric spots that have survived the pandemic. I do hope I see old familiar faces. As for Paris, I will be back in a few months for a couple of weeks to take a course in Haute Couture embroidery at the prestigious Ecole Lesage. You can expect some interesting articles on that adventure in the near future.

Please leave your comments on what you thought below. Have you bought fabric in Paris before? If so, where? Have you made anything with it? Well, Until then, Happy sewing, and let's keep the world together one stitch at a time!


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anna
anna

there is a wonderfull shop selling tissus de haute couture rue jean de bologne in the 16th? The prices are quite high but the quality….a wonder

Celeste
Celeste

I just moved outside Paris. I have been dying to make the trip to the fabric stores. Especially now, I so desperately need information like this as I will be starting a sewing class soon. As a new transplant to France, I am very happy to have found a sewing class directed by a former house of Dior seamstress. Since I am so new to this city, I am in the search for information about places where I can go to buy everything I need to sew. I can not describe how happy I am that you posted this article in the newsletter. Now I got a guide on where to go on the 2nd arr.! It feels like the things are aligning for me in so many ways. Really this information is very much appreciated! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Celeste
Celeste
Reply to  Mayra Cecilia

Certainly,I will keep in touch. We could meet and possibly the instructor could meet us. Thread was my next question. In the US, Guttermann or Coats & Clark Dual Duty in Polyester are your best bets. Over here, I am not familiar with brands or the type of threads available for general sewing, so definitely your article will be of great help! I always look forward to read the newsletter every Sunday. It is part of my Sunday morning ritual along with my coffee!

Sue A
Sue A

I was in Paris last summer and found Atelier Brunette, but it was closed for vacation. They have a wonderful website in English, plus some of the fabrics are sold on Etsy from a USA store.

Viv Christianson
Viv Christianson

Thank you for reminding me how beautiful Paris is. Among friends yesterday we were saying that big cities held little appeal now…. except for Paris London and New York which have a magic all their own. I remember well the excitement and wonder at the amazing fabrics in the big department stores in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) when I was a young teenager learning dressmaking with a retired French couturier. Your store pics brought that excitement back to mind. Now I’m retired I have little need for fancy garments but I recently came to live in France so maybe a fantasy trip to just one Paris fabric shops is not beyond hope. Thank you Mayra for your inspiring newsletter. I look forward to it every week. You are a ***** star person!!

Viv Christianson
Viv Christianson

Thank you for your message Mayra. A visit some time ago, we had sent my son off to Disney with the ‘girls’, and his partner (a textile artist) and I went to do her ‘must do’ list, which included visiting a Dutch lady’s shop of all naturally dyed garments. Then some refreshment was in order, but ‘A’ decided she was all ‘coffee’d out’ and needed a cup of tea. I wondered where we might find such a luxury in Paris but luckily in the next lane we found an unassuming cafe with a choice of 6 teas listed on the blackboard. I chose my favourite Earl Grey and our choices came in flattish Chinese metal teapots… and the tea was out of this world. Long story short the waiter sent us down this lane and that and we came upon the Dammam tea emporium. Never before or since have a seen such a choice of teas. We weren’t the only ones who had a great day. As I tucked my 7 year-old grand-daughter into bed that night she said, “Granny this was the best day of my whole life.” C’est grave dans mon coeur!

Margaret Thibideau
Margaret Thibideau

Thank you, Mayra! This gives me a reason to visit Paris next summer. I have wanted to go to Paris for years, but circumstances did not work out that I could go, especially given the pandemic. Now I know where to shop for fabrics and all of those sewing supplies which are not easily found in Canada. I love the beautiful photos and the very clear detail which you have shared with your readers.

Lin
Lin

Thank you for an amazing tour of Paris with beautiful photos. In 1965 I spent 9 months working various jobs in France but never actually enjoyed the beauty. Seeing Paris through your eyes gave me so much joy and makes me want to someday return as a visitor. Merci beaucoup, Mayra!!!

Marilyn
Marilyn

I am taking notes on the locations of the fabric stores. Such an interesting article and great information!

Cathy Bailey
Cathy Bailey

This article is wonderful, I love the pictures. I will be going to Paris in June of 2024 with my Granddaughter on a tour, our first trip. Hopefully I will be able to go to one or two of these shops. Is the fabric quite expensive compared to USA? Thank you now I know where I would like to go.

Peg
Peg

Once again you have taken me on a journey of our passion. Fabrrics and sewing. Thanks for the Sunday morning trip

Martha
Martha

Living vicariously through your posts brings me serinity.

shesewssometimes
shesewssometimes

Fabulous
article !

Mary
Mary

Simply love these stores, much of my wardrobe originates here. So blissful days. Don’t miss Gobelin Tapestry (42 Av. des Gobelins, 75013 Paris, France) for wonderful examples of thread art! And whilst you are in Paris at ecole Lesage, such magic, consider jumping on the Eurostar to visit the Victoria and Albert (London) which has a wonderful embroidery sample resource.

Sylvia
Sylvia
Reply to  Mary

The V & A is totally fabulous. Back in the 1970’s I was able to request from a curator to see the original of some V&A crewel embroidery from which they had licensed out the design! it was the white glove viewing and all that. If I must say so, my skill in crewel was almost as good as the original. Anyway, they are far more formal now than they were then. (Sigh)

Summerflies
Summerflies

What a lovely post. I have been to Paris many times but just in June did I fit in/find the fabric shops in Montmartre. Silly because they are right there so I guess my mind was not on fabric. I find the Metro sensible and easy to navigate and hope to go again next year. It can be very overwhelming and I was cognisant that I didn’t want to bore my friend silly, although she found some stuff she wanted and was graciously patient. I bought three cuts of fabric; a stretch cotton sateen, a plaid cotton and a lovely colourful knit. Now it’s summer I hope to use the plaid soon.

Martina
Martina

I remember being scolded for taking pictures in Tissue Reine (the costumed manikins were so cool), but General Diff is where I go every time I’m in Paris and I always find something beautiful.