Fabric Hunting Singapore… In Search Of Inspiration

Singapore…the lion of Asia and the country where I have lived most of my life, and I still call home.

Fabric Hunting Singapore

The first time I arrived in Singapore, I was a newlywed. My husband and I ended up living one year at the Hyatt in Orchard Road; his company employer paid for the hotel, which was less expensive than renting an apartment. I was working remotely (as we say now), sending designs and patterns to my boss in Australia via Federal Express. I did not do much design but went to the stores and drew the pieces on the shops on Orchard Road windows. This is what was asked of me; I added or took away some details, made the technical drawing, and made a medium-sized pattern. Do not judge. This is really how a commercial house works and how and why you go to a fashion show.

The second time we ended in Singapore, we were three then, and our son was just ten months old and already walking; we lived in a beautiful three-story Balinese-style bungalow, and I had practically taken the second floor for my clothing design at the time, was very small 21 pieces all sewn by me sold to the woman I met through playgroups and music lessons for my son.

We are four for the third time in Singapore, and the children were in school, so I had more time for myself. Since I had chosen to update my skills while pregnant in jewelry design, I had taken silversmith, beading and wire wrapping, and silver clay techniques for jewelry design. I started a small jewelry line and a 12-piece clothing line. I called it “Hanging Lola” by Ventus Studios. More on that in another post.

A Bit of Singapore From My Experience

There is so much I am grateful for in Singapore; from the first time I arrived in this small country, I felt at home; the clean, safe, developed country opens your arms in a warm, welcoming hug. Bus, taxis, and metro (MRT) crisscross the island. There is no need to drive; walking as a female, even at 3 AM, is safe. This is where you can be in business in 30 minutes if you are a permanent resident. There is so much financial and educational support for entrepreneurs, and salaries are high for professionals. Education levels and medicine are one of the highest in the world. Crime, corruption, and taxes are low. There are four official languages English, Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil; three main religions and three ethnic groups. How do they do it?

All the freedom, cleanliness, safety, high level of education, medicine, technology, and development comes at the cost of stringent laws and rules. Is the price too high? Well, it all depends on your intentions; breaking the law can get very expensive to live here, or worse, it can get you jail time and deportation for foreigners. There is a reason why before you land, there is a gentle reminder that drugs carry the death penalty.

But Singapore is much more than that; it is clean and safe. Did I mention that before?

My favorite time is after 6 PM when the sun goes down, and the gentle briss comes through the trees and hits my face; I know it is time to relax and enjoy the early evening. Hopefully, by then, I will be at the botanical gardens on a walk surrounded by flowers and birds, sipping a prosecco by the river, or playing a game of tennis with a bunch of friends.

A Bit Of Geography

Singapore sits at the end of the Malayan peninsula in the Straight times. It is an Island state with a surface of 710 square kilometers (210 square miles).

Fabric Hunting Singapore

A Bit Of History

The Portuguese arrived in Singapore and established a regional trading port. The island was under Dutch and British control. Singapore became a crown colony in 1867 and experienced rapid economic growth in the 20th century. It was occupied by the Japanese during World War II and was eventually granted self-governance in 1959. Singapore became a republic declaring independence from the United Kindom in 1965.

In the late 20th century, Singapore experienced rapid economic growth fueled by industrialization and investment in education and infrastructure. And has become one of Southeast Asia's most prosperous and developed countries. Singapore continues to be a key trading post in Southeast Asia at the same time; it has become one major tourist destination, attracting millions of visitors annually.

A Bit Of Architecture And Best Sites

The architecture of Singapore is very eclectic, from traditional shophouses, temples, and black and white houses from another era,

to state-of-the-art award-winning designs incorporating nature and new materials to balance comfort, futuristic design, and the environment.

Botanical Garden

Gardens By The Bay

This garden is the home of 1.5 million plants.

TreeTop Walk

The Esplanade and Theater On The Bay

Fantastic architecture and the best shows in town; even if you do not go inside, the walk along the esplanade is great for people-watching.

Kampong Glam

Around the corner from Arab Street, you can find some of the oldest shopping streets in Singapore; new and upcoming designers have stores here. Music, art, and graffiti on the walls give the area a youthful ambiance in a traditional shophouse.

Jurong Park

One of the lesser-known parks to tourists, this gem is located on the island's west side, perfect for rollerblading and bike riding.

The Jewel at Changui Airport

Fabric Hunting Singapore

There are three significant areas for fabric shopping in Singapore: China Town, Kampong Glam, and Spotlight.

Arabe Street

Fabric Hunting Singapore

Arab Street is the place to buy Haute Couture fabrics, silks, Japanese cotton, and beautiful Batiks, both Indonesian and Malay. If you do not know what authentic batik looks like, check this article, which details these unique printing processes. It is also the best place to buy glass beads, sequins for embroidery, stumpwork, and gold work patches.

I suggest coming around 10 AM when the stores first open or at 4 PM, closing time is 6- 6:30 PM; the heat in between the times can get so unbearable that it is impossible to take the time to bargain.


This is my favorite shop on Arabe Street, Silks printed or plain, beaded Haute Couture fabrics, bridal, linen, and lace fabric. The selection is simply exquisite.

  • Gim Joo Textiles Company

You can find satins, sequenced fabrics, mesh, tulle, and printed fabrics perfect for costumes.

  • Digvijay Sequins

The name explains what this little Alibaba cave offers. Sequins, Glass beads, luxurious trimmings. Retail and wholesale prices.

China Town

I have been coming to China Town since 1995. This area of Singapore is exciting to explore; you will find food courts, market stalls, and vegetable stands from a bygone era. I buy Liberty cotton here, same as if I was shopping in London, Malaysian batik, cotton for quilts, calico, silks, and very inexpensive fabric for costumes for plays.

This is my favorite shop in Singapore. You can find a lovely selection of Liberty Fabrics, linens, and fantastic printed cotton, wool, linen, and silks perfect for suits and summer dresses.

This is a place worth spending a considerable amount of time in. I like to purchase muslin, calico, interfacings, and waterproof fabrics by the roll for handbags and raincoats—one of the few places in Singapore where you can find mannequins for fabric draping.

Although it is listed as a clothing store where you can have things made to measure, you can buy pieces of Malaysian batik in 5 meters lengths. This type of batik makes lovely blouses, sundresses, scarves, placemats, hair ties, and luxurious linings for handbags.

Other places worth visiting:

Textile Centre

Since 1970, it has been a place to buy fabric and sewing supplies at wholesale prices. I buy rulers, sewing gadgets, machines used and new, lace, buttons, zippers, bag-making supplies, embroidery supplies, Swarovski crystals, threads, and an outstanding array of cotton for quilting.

This is my go-to store for sewing supplies located at the ground level of the Textile Center, crafts, and haberdashery, my one-stop place. Online shopping with delivery is available. I can say that over the years, I bought 70% of my sewing supplies here.

  • Ho Yu

This store is also at the ground level of the Textile Center building. It is best for buttons, elastics, bra-making supplies, stretchable lace, and interfacings.

  • Sungai Industrial

The best prices for trimmings, webbing, and tools for bagmaking. I bought all my bagmaking tools here, including grommets and grommet tools.

Fabric Hunting Singapore

Other Places Worth Visiting

I forgot to take a picture of the front of the store. Still, it is located on level 5 and covers various crafts—sewing, fabric painting, jewelry and bookmaking, washi tape, fabric weaving, and dyeing.

I like a Spotlight for European needles and threads, embroidery and knit yarns, jacquard knits, linens, theme fabrics (Halloween and Christmas), and Korean, Japanese, and European fabrics. I usually find great cotton with 5% elastane, perfect for summer dresses and pants.

  • Mustafa Center

Mustafa Center is an institution in Singapore; people come from as far as India and Sri Lanka to do their shopping here.

The textile section is located on the bottom floor, and here you can buy beautiful packs of silks or 5 meters. Indian women use them to make kaftan pantsuits and Kurtis. I have to admit I haven't been inside in five years.

Singapore has been, for me, my home away from home. I have lived in Singapore longer than in my own country Panama. I can go anywhere, at any time, and never be afraid of getting robbed or hurt. People are intelligent, polite, and free to pursue economic or artistic endeavors. I owe much of the safety and happiness in my family to this beautiful country, and I hope I can continue to call it my home.

If you decide to come and see it for yourselves, wear loose cotton and linen outfits and comfortable yet attractive shoes. Follow the laws, respect the culture, and you will have a wonderful time.

Do let me know in the comments section if you have been in Singapore, did you buy any fabric and what are your preferred tourist attractions. Until Next time, let keep the world together one stitch at a time.

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Jane H
Jane H

Fascinating country and consider it a privilege to be here for a short time. Soooo many choices and pictures cannot do justice to this country. Shopping galore with humidity to match. Lol! The Marina Bay area is great place to work from. The Super Trees at night have been my favorite place so far, both from the Skywalk and of course at ground level with music. Thank you for sharing these fabric shops. I’ve hit most of them, each a treat.


Great post, for those of us that are not as fortunate to live in paradise, do any of these stores sell on-line? Your descriptions have me salivating over the fabrics and laces.


What a lovely post! I grew up in Singapore and have been sewing since I was 9. Back in the day, I used to shop in all those places with my mother, aunt scan grandma (except for Spotlight, which came on the scene much later), and others which have since disappeared in the wake of redevelopment. One of my favorite haunts were the old shop houses along North Bridge Road which were the retail shop fronts for commercial bulk order of materials like nylon and polyester packcloth, zippers and hardware for bagmaking. These stores have since been relocated to warehouse districts in Eunos, I believe. Old neighborhood malls like Katong Shopping Centre was also a popular place to buy and haggle for fabric (more apparel quality than bagmaking). I loved seeing your photos of the new stores in Chinatown! Many years ago these were simply holes in the wall in the many storeys above the hawker centre, no lit neon shop signs at all. Little India is fantastic for fabric as well. Mustafa Centre is lovely (and manic) but there are also the individual stores along the main streets which are abundant with saree silks and trims. I visit Singapore every year to see family and always try to stop at Textile Centre to stock up on notions and other supplies. So good. And finally the army supply stores in Beach Road Centre. All the fun hardware! Thank you again for this visual treat and reminder of home. I love in the US now and love the very different, almost sanitized version of fabric shopping (online! Etsy! JoAnn.com!) where it is wonderful to be able to get almost everything at a single destination but I miss Singapore. The batiks! The bulk prices! The notions and trims! The charm of taking a bus to buy a roll (bolt, in the US) of some obscure material! Can’t be beat. Thank you! Thank you!


Thanks Maya for a great article, what a wonderful place to visit, and still enjoy fabric shopping!


Love Singapore, it’s people and everything else and it’s only eight hours away for me. You ‘northerners’ do not know what you are missing out on. This wonderful country and all that fabric is the worlds best kept secret. It is the dress circle of Asia and my favourite stopover en route to Britain and a great weekend retreat for us here in Australia.

Paulette J
Paulette J

Oh, my goodness sakes alive. The overabundance of choices is overwhelming. What a blast! I have never been to Asia or Australia or that part of the world, but it is definitely fascinating. You have given me a marvelous guided tour & I thank you. I have been involved with the fiber arts since the age of 4 in 1954 and continue to add to my knowledge base as often as possible. You never know where a bit of new knowledge will be gleaned from something that you read, no matter how much or how long you have been involved in any specific needleart or handwork. I define a “good day” as one in which I put needle(s) to fiber in some way; I make sure that I only have good days. I have been known as “pj stitches” for many years because it is who I am (pj) and what I do (stitches). Again, I thank you for sharing your wonderful photo tour! pj stitches!


What an interesting life you have! I’ll probably never get to visit Singapore in person, but it sounds like a wonderful place.

Linda L.
Linda L.

Oh what I wouldn’t give to have access to that kind of fabric choice where I live!! This is amazing – I’ve heard of people going to Singapore to shop for their sewing but now I see why! And I know this is just a sample of what’s available.
How do the costs compare to North American prices, both for the sewing materials but also for the cost of living generally?


Thank you for opening my eyes to Singapore!
I unfortunately have not had the opportunity to visit the country and most likely won’t be able to in this lifetime.
I am living vicariously thru your blog and truly appreciate your descriptive visuals of the country and the fabric shops are amazing!
I could be lost for months wandering through these shops! I’m overwhelmed by the beautiful fabrics and notions!
I have yet to encounter a fabric store in Alberta, Canada (I have lived here all my life) or in any of my travels throughout the USA, that come anywhere near the selection that you have access to!
Thank you as well for your advice and patterns on the blog!
I enjoy reading everything you post here!
Much love and appreciation!


Thank you for your wonderful description of Singapore. I fulfilled a life long dream to visit Singapore and did so in 2015. Your article took me back to all the beautiful places we visited and the FOOD as well as all the fabric shops for me and the Tech stores for my grandson ; You have just given a wonderful half Hour. Apart from all the beautiful gardens and building s and train/tube system my abiding memory was standing on the 5th floor of a shopping mall and looking down and the boats on the indoor lake.


This article was wonderful. It made me envision all the wonderful sites, shops, tourist areas, and beautiful parks. How magical to live in a place like this with all it’s wonder and beauty. Thank you so much for sharing. You are Blessed.

Mari Price
Mari Price

Thank you So Much for this interesting article about Singapore and the beautiful textiles! I had no idea that Singapore is such a superior place for textiles! By golly, I Have to visit there for fabric and etc. shopping! Thank You, Mayra!!!

Viv Christianson
Viv Christianson

What an uplifting and interesting article. I wouldn’t know what to buy!


This was an enjoyable and educational trip to Singapore, thank you!


I absolutely loved this article – it was like taking an exotic vacation while sitting at home in front of my computer! Singapore sounds wonderful for so many reasons. I live in the metropolitan area of a large USA city where there has been a never ending increase in homelessness and crime (along with the lack of leadership it takes to solve the issues). Singapore is definitely a stelar example to the rest of the world and I know the citizens are willing to live by certain restrictions in exchange for safety and quality of life. The fabric stores look spectacular and making a fabric choice would definitely be a challenge. Thanks so much for your website and terrific articles.


Thank you for such an interesting and informative article. I intend to visit Singapore, I was last there 59 years ago as a baby.

Wendy Giusti
Wendy Giusti

I went to Singapore many years ago before I was an avid quilter but I LOVED the night zoo, the beautiful gardens, the modern art museum and of course, the food!


Lovely article. I enjoyed learning a little about this beautiful country and looking at the pictures. Very interested in visiting after reading your inspiring article.


Enjoyed your commentary on beautiful Singapore. We have visited via cruise ship several times. It is truly a jewel, clean, organized, safe and so, so pretty. Next time I will find one of the shops you mentioned and buy a few meters to take home. Thanks for all your hard work.

Jane McLellan

I visited Singapore in 2010. I bought two lengths of silk fabric, only one of which I’ve sewn. I need a special occasion!


Great article!

Reply to  Summerflies

I’m sitting at home surrounded by winter snow. What a lovely escape. Now I want to visit.