4.3 how can I find unusual sewing supplies?

From: Trystan L. Bass
Wait for sales. Go to *every* fabric store in your area and GET ON THEIR MAILING LIST. Really, this is the number one way to get fancy fabric less expensively. You'll get flyers in the mail notifying you of sales early, sometimes you'll even get coupons for fabric (I got a load of purple crushed *cut* velvet for $4/yd. 'cause of a Hancock's coupon a few months ago), and some stores even have special 'early bird' or 'preferred customer' sales.

Another way to get less expensive fabric, esp. velvet, is to learn to piece together flat folds. These are the already-cut lengths of fabric, usually 1-4 yards per piece, that are often crammed together in a messy pile on a table (both Hancock's & Jo-Anne's do this a lot). The flat folds are almost always less expensive than the uncut yardage, and they go on sale more often. You may need 6 yards of fabric for a dress, so you hunt thru that pile o' flat folds for, say, a 2-yard piece and a 4-yard piece. These two pieces will prob. cost less than having one 6-yard piece cut off the bolt. You'll have to lay out your pattern more carefully, and you might end up with a seam somewhere new ('cause you might have to sew two pieces together to make a piece long enough for the pattern). But you'll have saved a lot o' cash. Just make sure to place those new seams in inconspicuous places ;-)

Lastly, look for garment district fabric stores. San Francisco, LA, and NY all have garment districts that sell fancy fabrics at lower prices. You'll have to do some research to find the places, but the results can really be worth it. Garment district stores usually have a wider range of fabric styles, designs, & colors than any home-sewing fabric store will. I make an annual pilgrimage to SF's garment district, and I've had great successes at Discount Fabrics Warehouse and the Gunne Sax Outlet (my best find: dozens of large purple velvet buttons at 4 for a dollar; they looked divine on a formal 18th c. coat I made for my sweetie!).

I've made three all-velvet renfaire court gowns and countless coats/dusters and dresses in velvet, and I've never paid more than $10 a yard. But I do *a lot* of piecing fabric together, and I *always always always* wait for sales. Takes me longer to put a project together, but I just don't have the bucks to buy full price.

AlterYears (formerly Raiments)
8960 E. Huntington Dr.
San Gabriel, CA 91775, US
Phone: (626) 614-9400
Fax: (626) 4614-9499
Catalog: $6.00 4th class US, $10.00 Priority Mail US, $9.00 US to Canada/Mexico (air), $10.00 US to Europe (surface), $17.00 US to Europe, $10.75 US to Australia/Asia/Africa (surface), or $21.00 US to Australia/Asia/Africa (airmail)
Over 1,000 historical patterns for Medieval through 1950s clothing, plus ethnic, belly dancing, and riding clothes. Also carries Elizabethan corsets, corset-making kits and supplies, hoop skirts, panniers, bustles, fancy clasps, and over 600 costume reference books. Does mail-order, and also has a retail store at this address and holds costuming classes there.

Trystan comments: This is my absolute fave. pattern catalog! If you want to sew historical clothing (especially Victorian), you *need* this catalog. I order from AlterYears a couple times a year and have good service. Occasionally, a pattern will go out of stock due to the manufacturer, but AlterYears will let you know.

Sarai comments: From my own experience, I would recommend them. I've only bought things from their actual store, but I've been happy with what they sell. Anyone who lives in the area and has an interest in sewing/costuming should check it out, too. It's a teeny store, but has all kinds of hard-to-find sewing products. Even the ever-elusive black hook and eye tape! Not to mention all the lovely patterns and corset supplies, etc. *swoon*

Jackie Manni comments: Wow. What a piece of eye candy! They sell corset patterns and kits (from Past Patterns, as well as their own AlterYears Kits, which are cheaper and include fabric). *Glove* patterns. Stripey thigh-his (including burgundy and black!!) with garters. So, so much! I can't even mention the wealth that this catalogue contains!!!!

Amazon Dry Goods
411 Brady Street
Davenport, IA 52801-1518 US
Phone: (800) 798-7979
Fax: (319) 322-4003
General catalog $3
Reproduction 19th century merchandise, including corsets, corset-making kits and supplies, hoop skirts, hats, fans, gloves, spats, canes, parasols, sewing accessories, historical research books, and some readymade Victorian reproduction clothing.

The Button Emporium
914 S.W. 11th Ave.
Portland, OR 97205, US
(503) 228-6372
Artistic buttons in sterling silver, pewter, porcelain, and other materials, plus ribbons, trims, patterns, embroidery threads, etc.

Lorie comments: I like The Button Emporium... not exactly "gothic", but they have good selection of different stuff and they do have Halloween buttons which aren't too cutesy.

Calontir Trim
c/o Steve Boyd
P.O. Box 10-5745
Jefferson City, MO 65110, US
Wide variety of trimmings.

Display & Costume
PO. Box 75209
Seattle, WA 98125, US
Phone: (888) 562-4810
Fax: (206) 368-6870
Costume supplies (makeup, wigs, hats, feathers, trims, accessories), ready-made costumes, tiaras, gloves, unusual fabrics, artificial flowers, ribbon, party supplies, seasonal decorating items, plus a huge year-round Christmas section.

Ice Princess comments: Really good resource for costumey, decorating, and bridal stuff. Prices aren't great (especially on party supplies), but aren't horrible either. The Christmas Warehouse has *tons* of light strings, in many interesting colors and configurations. The staff is helpful, generally friendly, and usually fun.

309 Lorne Avenue East
RR #3, Stratford, Ontario
Canada N5A 6S4
Phone: (519) 275-2374
Fax: (888) 508-7337
Wide selection of corset fabrics and hardware, plus other costume-making supplies.

Trystan comments: I've ordered a variety of corset-making hardware from Farthingales and had great customer service, swift shipping, and quality items. Great for US buyers 'cause of the exchange rate!

MacCulloch & Wallis Limited
25 - 26 Dering Street
London, W1R 0BH, UK
Phone: 0171 629 0311
Fax: 0171 491 2481
macculloch@psilink.co.uk Fabrics, millinery supplies, corset boning, etc.

Mendels/Far Out Fabrics
1556 Haight St.
San Francisco, CA 94117, US
Phone: (415) 621-1287
Fax: (415) 621-6587
Unusual fabric, button, and art-supply store.

Trystan comments: They have some unusual buttons, not explicitly goth, but a number of unusual pewter and cloth designs. You might also call them, 'cause I know I've seen great stuff in their store that isn't online.

Pillaged Village
274 Cora Drive
Carlisle, OH 45005-3223, US
(877) 793-1066 or (937) 855-4555
Sewing patterns, trims, buttons, clasps, books, etc., for historical recreationists.

Ronda comments: My vote for favorite trim company is Pillaged Village. Great folks and the trim is wonderful!

Richard the Thread
8320 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90069, US
(323) 852-4997
Corset hardware, theatrical supplies, and historical costume patterns.

Yosa comments: I placed my first order from them, and had my nice long 16" busks in a weeks time, and for less than I have been able to find them elsewhere. I did not get a catalog, which they offered, but for the good service, I will forgive them. Here is the rundown of the prices for busks -- 12" busk for $12.95, 16" busk for $13.95. This compared to Greenburg and Hammer, who has 12" busks for about $16, and no 16" busks at all. I am a happy costumer now, and they have black grommets by the gross for $8 (the good kind that have two halves and need a grommet setter). Now, I do not know if they were nice because I placed a big order, or because I was ordering for a business, but regardless, I am very pleased with the service and the prices.

ratty comments: i've made many a corset and www.richardthethread.com has the cheapest busks -- about $4! amazon drygoods are 3 times that! they also have decent priced steel boning and grommets -- plus fun additions like lil marabou trims and things! wheee!

Vogue Fabrics
(847) 864-9600
Fabric store.

Lady Bathory comments: Vogue fabrics has a complimentary swatch service by mail. You can talk to a customer service rep, explain your project and the kind of fabric you're looking for (i.e., "I'm looking for colors of heavyweight cotton velvet suitable for a frock coat" or "I'd like samples of black brocades and jacquards in natural fibers like linen and rayon") and they will send you swatches of what they have available. You can then mail-order from the swatchcard and your order will go out usually on the day you call it in.

Don't ask for an assload all at once, tho'; they have several thousand pieces in stock or formal/designer fabrics alone. If you call and ask for swatches of "all your black silks," the salesperson will laugh at you. Be as specific as possible ("blouse-weight black silks w/a novelty weave," "all brocades w/a metal-fiber element," or "shades of burgundy in dupioni, noile, and silk suiting") for best results.

BTW, Vogue stocks PVC in black, white, red, silver, gold, and occasionally pearlescent white at $12.99/yd.

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