Our Editors' Favorite Places to Buy Quality Fabric
Oftentimes, our editors at Martha Stewart Living are busy at the sewing machine—whether we are stitching together stockings for Christmas or patriotic pennants for the Fourth of July; not to mention, any number of upholstery projects during any time of the year. You, our readers, inquire about these sources often, asking who produced the beautiful fabric you eyed in a decorating story or where we bought the velvet upholstery called for in a project. Here, we assemble six of the suppliers we've shopped and learned from, time and again.
In-store, the shopping experience is the same: Choose your fabric, which typically comes on a roll and is purchased by the yard. (You can also request a fabric swatch if you're creating an inspiration board.) While this guide may read as a tour of New York City, where our editors work, all of these suppliers offer their services online.
There are several ways to source fabric, but we highly suggest that you start here.
B&J Fabrics is located on Seventh Avenue, also known as Fashion Avenue, in the Garment District of New York City. What started in 1940 as a military apparel store has since become a mainstay for designers, costume-makers, and novice sewers. Peruse the aisles—in person or via a virtual tour of the store—for fabrics organized by type, then print theme, and, lastly, color. They boast quality cotton, lace, silk, and suede, plus sustainable fabrics (organic, eco-friendly, and recycled), faux furs and faux leather—not to mention, the largest selection of Liberty fabrics in the country. Unlike other shops, B&J maintains an orderly feel by restricting students (from FIT and Pratt, for instance) who want samples to morning "swatching hours."
Walk into Purl Soho and you'll see a flurry of activity: staffers cutting yards of fabric, customers armed with skeins of yarn, novices learning how to crochet. As a style editor of Living, founder Joelle Hoverson had fallen in love with knitting after reading a story on knitting in the magazine. She took the article home and promptly taught herself. Today, she's joined by her sister Jen Hoverson Jahnke and former Living colleague Page Marchese Norman, and she has turned what began as a yarn store into a crafters' mecca. "One of our main goals is to find beautiful, natural materials in vivid colors," she says. In addition to yarns, the shop sells fabric (including a rainbow spectrum of fat quarter bundles) and needlepoint and embroidery supplies. They also make DIY kits—think bunny finger puppets and striped baby blankets—for clients "who aren't right at our fingertips."
Head uptown and you can experience New York's ultimate fabric mecca: Mood Fabrics. It's not just a favorite of our editors—prior to its prominence on Project Runway, it was once a secret for up-and-coming designers of the fashion industry. Most of the fabrics carried in-store are designer closeout fabrics—think Roberto Cavalli herringbone wool or Oscar de la Renta floral silk organza—but they offer different types of fibers, prints, and patterns as well as ribbon, cords, buttons, appliqués, and one-of-a-kind threads. Mood occupies three floors of the Bricken Arcade building: on the second—you'll find home décor fabrics, trims and notions, leather and fur; on the third—silk, lace, brocade, velvet, cotton, jersey, trims, buttons, and notions; on the fourth—wool, tweed, bouclé, heavier knits, and outerwear fabric. They carry Vogue patterns if you need a new idea. If you're lucky, you might catch appearance of Swatch, the Boston terrier who is the store live-in mascot.
Gray Lines Linen
Nearby, Gray Lines Linen has the perfect offerings for any home décor project. They specialize in designer linen and draperies with a focus on European and high-end natural fibers—ideal for reupholstering couches and chairs, and sewing bedspreads, slipcovers, or window treatments. For interior designers, the nuanced color choices allow you to match a couch to a detail in a painting, or a chair to an ornament on a lamp. They have all kinds of woven linen, but we're partial to their striped variety.
"Made in Sweden" has always been a highly regarded nod to craftsmanship—and that's most certainly true of Svenskt Tenn. It was founded by art teacher Estrid Ericson, who later recruited renowned designer Josef Frank to the company. In 1924, they opened its doors on Smålandsgatan in Stockholm. And together, they defined their interior design style by combining textiles and furnishings that speak to Viennese elegance and Swedish functionalism. Most of these textiles are best suited for curtains, pillows, and other home projects. They can also be used as upholstery fabric on furniture. What makes this brand so unique is that 80 percent of their product line is original, including the now-iconic "Hawai" textile inspired by Frank's visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York during the 1940s.
Scalamandré is one of the world's most prestigious fabric houses. This heritage brand was founded by Franco Scalamandré, an immigrant who came to America from Naples, Italy. Today, they offer some of the finest traditional textiles, decorative trims, wall coverings, and carpeting—and in unique prints. As a testament to their craftsmanship, just browse some of them: The Anissa Print in "Lakeside" (which takes inspiration from archive documents dating between the 17th and early 19th centuries) or Satomi Hand Block Print in "Lavender and Citron" (for which 31 carved blocks are printed by hand to create the fine linework and shading of this chinoiserie scene).