Tips for shopping on Philly’s Fabric Row:
1. Bring Cash. Many stores have a $20 minimum to use a credit card. (Also, helps you stay within your budget!)
2. Be Firm. If you’re not from Philly you may be taken aback by the sale’s people. They are pushy. They think they know what you want better than you do. Don’t be rude but don’t let them bully you either. When my husband and I lived in Philly several years ago I had to put on a “Philly attitude” just to survive. My sweet Southern disposition? I put it in my pocket while in the city.
3. Be prepared to dig. There will be lots of fabrics piled on top of one another. Think of it as a treasure hunt! If you’re looking for something specific ask a sale’s clerk because you may never find it on your own.
4. Don’t overlook button bins. There are several stores that have giant bins full of buttons, and I so wish I had dug through them and bought some. They’re so cheap! I was just too overwhelmed to realize what I was missing out on. Shoulda woulda coulda.
5. Don’t leave your cut fabrics on the cutting table!!! Well-meaning sales people may offer to let you leave your fabric on the cutting table while you shop. Don’t do it! There are lots of adorable 20-year-old fashion design students from Philadelphia University that will not think twice about swiping it.
6. Haggle. Most of the shops I went into had no price tags on anything. I realized that when they give you a price for the fabric it’s really just a jumping-off point. For example: I was able to buy 4 yards of a gorgeous matte jersey for $20. Matte jersey prints in my local store are $15-20 a YARD!
Fleishman Fabrics– This store is actually on 5th street, but worth the block walk. Fabrics are piled floor to ceiling. Something that struck me was the amount of men’s suiting fabrics they have. Did you know that Philly is a hub for men’s fashion design?? Neither did I! So if all you’ve ever known is the tiny suiting fabrics rack in Joanns, it may be worth the trip just to see and touch and experience all of the WALLS of amazing men’s suiting fabrics.
Baldwin Fabric and Leather– This place is really cool! I have never seen so much leather in my life! If you have a specific leather in mind, they probably have it. I bought a square foot of caramel colored lamb skin for $8, and promptly used it to make patches on the elbows of a cardigan.
B. Wilk– If you’re looking for Home Decor fabric, this is your place. I was not, so I just poked my head in to see what it was like. All I can say is: decorator heaven.
Jack B. Jack B. has lots of Home Decor fabrics, but there are also a lot of fun sequined, sparkly, girly, costume-y fabrics. Oh and the dupioni silks…mmmmmm. Lovely.
honestly, I can’t remember which store this photo was taken in, but it’s a good representation of what you’ll see in the more organized stores. The aisles are REALLY close together. I had to take my purse off my shoulder to get through. These shops are on prime property so they literally stuff every corner with merchandise. Every nook and cranny is full.
Jim’s Steaks 400 South Street
Make sure you save some cash for a cheese steak! You can’t leave Philly without having a cheese steak. If you’ve never ordered a cheese steak, here is a helpful guide, because much like the soup nazi they will kick you out of line if you take too long to order.
Thanks for having me Andrea! Come visit me at Alida Makes to see what I did with all the yummy fabrics I bought!