Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tips on shopping for fabric, yarn and embroidery notions in Paris

If you're thinking of having a bit of Parisian S.E.X (Stash Enhancement EXperience, what else), you might find the following interesting.
At least once every month for the the past 2-3 years, I have received emails from readers asking for pointers on fabric shopping in Paris. While I always appreciate (kind!) emails, I simply don't have the time to reply to everyone (heck, even keeping in regular touch with my friends has been a challenge these days). That is why I am finally compiling here the advice I usually give on an individual basis.  I've been meaning to write this post for over a year!

**If you feel like responding to this post, be it to add some information or ask for more, please do so in the comments sections of this specific post.  I have a very hard time keeping up with my non-professional email inbox at the moment, and you have a better chance of my noticing if you post directly here. Thank you so much! :)**

Please be aware that I moved away from Paris almost a year ago, although I doubt things have changed that much in this time span; and that I don't have a huge experience of "fancier" places (i.e. l'entrée des Fournisseurs, etc.). They're lovely and all, but simply not my cup of tea ;)

This post is split into:
  1. fabric; 
  2. fancy notions; 
  3. yarn and embroidery stuff.
The links I provide will lead you to the stores' websites - specifically, to the pages which give their locations and tips on which metro to take etc.. Hopefully none of these links will expire too soon: if you realize they do, please let me know in the comments section so I may update them.

~ Fabrics ~
Basically, think Montmartre. All the fabric shops worth visiting from my experience are nestled below the Montmartre hill, just under the Sacré-Coeur, so you can do some great sight-seeing while fabric shopping (always a plus if you're accompanied!). For those of you familiar with London, this is Paris's own Goldhawk Road. :)
(The only great fabric store that was outside this neighbourhood, Bouchara, closed in the summer of 2008, which made me quite sad, as it was my favourite fabric store;  to add insult to injury, it was replaced within a week by a H&M store. Yuck.)

On to more details about the fabric neighbourhood below the Sacré Coeur:
First, a caveat: most of these shops are closed on Mondays, so it's not the best day to plan a fabric shopping spree. I also don't recommend going there on Saturdays, as it can get very crowded, which will make for a frustrating experience (it can be hard to get to the fabrics, and even harder to get a clerk to cut it for you).
  • You'll find the most beautiful fabrics at Tissus Reine (3-5, Place St Pierre, 18th arrondissement; the website was revamped lately as they now have an online shop, which will give you a close idea of what to expect there). I almost always left from the shop empty-handed - most of the selection was way too expensive for my budget, though very inspiring. The bridal section is to die for, although you're only allowed to look from a distance and are closely monitored by a stern-faced lady if you dare to approach this area. Their embroidered / printed silks are also definitely worth just looking at! So are their half-size mannequins dressed by couture students. I know some are freaked out by these, but I love the creativity going on in their outfit.
    The feeling I got the last year I was in Paris is that Reine is getting better at offering a wider selection (i.e. widening out to more affordable fabrics), and you'll never be disappointed in the quality. This is where I got the lace for my black lace blouse, and for a great price at that (it was hidden away on a small table at the back of the store, just under the stairs - be sure to take a look at the fabric on this table), or the cotton knit for my aubergine dress, a dress that I still enjoy wearing tremendously because the fabric is so fluid and classy (and still feels and looks as new).
    For those of you familiar with the quality of our fabulous Ann's Gorgeous Fabrics, this is the kind of quality you can expect at Tissus Reine (I wouldn't be surprised if some of Ann's European suppliers were the same as theirs).
    Bottom line for Tissus Reine: This is a good place if you want to splurge in something special and if you're after irreproachable quality, and you may also get great deals if you look closely at sales tables. 
  • Across the street from Tissus Reine, the Marché Saint Pierre (AKA Tissus Dreyfus, 2 rue Charles Nodier) carries a wider choice and usually offers a cheaper selection (especially on their ground floor where you will find most bargains). The upper floors are very specialized in all kinds of fabric. You'll find everything and anything there, and the prices vary equally widely. There are some great bargains to get on the ground floor. A lot of my fabric has come from there.
  • I used to like the shop just opposite the Marché Saint-Pierre (next to Reine) which is called Les Coupons de Saint-Pierre (1 place St Pierre). They sell fabric remnants from Saint-Pierre (which you usually can't find there anymore), pre-cut in 3-metre increments for interesting prices (10 euro a 3-metre coupon if I remember correctly). They have some interesting knits, silks and cottons, but you do have to do a bit of digging (and the place can be quite messy). 
  • More generally, I'd suggest you simply stroll around the fabric neighbourhood - there is a fast turnaround, so you never know beforehand what you may find. Sometimes you'll find oodles of beauties, sometimes, nothing may strike your fancy. I haven't been there since June 2009, so I obviously have no idea what they have in stock at the moment. Most these offer home decor fabric (for drapes/curtains and upholstery), but there are a few gems hiding among these shops that offer apparel fabric, and pretty fabulous stuff at that.
  • Quilting shop: Inès (that I did visit as I used to live very near - but I was reminded of it by Catherine's and Barbara's comments). A rather large (by French standards anyway!) shop selling quilting fabrics and books, and lovely service. Their shop is in the 11th arrondissement, and they just moved into a larger shop on Rue St Ambroise, on the left just down from rue St Maur (Barbara's info). I remember that they have a lot of great books, including Japanese quilting books. They also have an online shop (with information on the Paris shop as well)

    ~ Fancy Notions ~
    • You will find several notions shops in the streets around le Marché Saint Pierre and Tissus Reine. The Mercerie Saint-Pierre (20 Rue Pierre Picard) has loads of stuff and is just behind Tissus Dreyfus (AKA Marché Saint-Pierre). Tissus Reine also sells notions on their first floor, including American patterns (at horrendous prices, but this is one of the rare places in Paris where you can browse through the Big 4's pattern catalogues), and a couple of pattern brands most of you may not be familiar with: Fregoli, Enfant Roi.
    • If you're looking for more "chic" and special notions, l'Entrée des Fournisseurs (8 rue des Francs Bourgeois in the 3rd arrondissement, not far from Bastille) is a good place for fancy buttons, ribbons, etc. They also offer patterns from the French company Citronille (I made one of their tunics several times, and have been lusting after one of their latest dresses lately - and just found a LNS that offered the line here in Montpellier!). They also carry a few bolts of Liberty fabric, but so does Reine, in larger quantities; in both cases the price is astronomical and  barring a visit to London, you'd probably be better off ordering directly from Shaukat fabrics.
    • I'm not sure whether addresses for very basic notions shops (merely offering plain zippers, sewing thread and the like) would be helpful here, as visitors from outside of Paris probably get all they need at home in this respect. If some of you are interested in a few addresses, just let me know in the comments.


    ~ Yarns and Embroidery threads/charts ~
    • For the knitters and crocheters among you, you won't want to miss Le Bon Marché: 24 rue de Sèvres, at the limit between the 6th and 7th arrondissements (warning: this page aggresses you with music. Sorry about that. Hate, hate webpages with music bawling in your face). They offer a very varied (and international) selection of yarn and books/booklets, often pricey especially if your home currency is not the euro or the pound, but there is a bit for each budget, I think (Phildar yarn is usually cheaper for instance); and hey, if you're in Paris, I bet you're ready to splurge a bit - I know I am when I'm buying Liberty in London!
      Come to think of it, Le Bon Marché is very much a department store in the spirit of the Liberty store - a higher end department store, with a nice section for crafts. Not something most of us would visit to do their grocery shopping, but something well worth visiting for a treat, or when visiting from abroad (or from outside of Paris).

      For this reason, Le Bon Marché is also a lovely place for embroiderers, as it offers a variety of stitching notions (threads, charms etc.) and French designs. This is a very inspiring place, if expensive and, well, posh.
    • La Droguerie (9 et 11 rue du Jour, in the 1st arrondissement). I often see it mentioned in French blogs, and it seems well worth visiting, although being a recent convert at crocheting I have never been there. Of course, I'm now putting it on top of my list of places to visit next time I go to Paris! I haven't visited the Paris shop, but have been to the Lille shop. I have mixed feelings about La Droguerie, which I mention towards the middle of this post. Some of their stuff is interesting, but overall, I feel their yarn is largely overrated and overpriced. I love some of their designs, especially for babies, but be sure to only buy one book from the age section you're interested in (babies/kids/adults), as there are A LOT of repeats from one book to the next. OTOH, they do have great fancy notions and jewellery material.
    • For knitters and stitchers alike: Le Comptoir in the 9th arrondissement (26 rue Cadet, not far from Les Galeries Lafayettes and Le Printemps). I visited this place when an American stitcher friend (BeckyBee :)) needed a specific French Chart, and they were the only place in France to stock it! They have a lovely selection of French (and American) stitching charts, as well as a nice stock of yarns. They have a blog where you can see most of their selection.
    • (Info provided by Lennu) "La Croix et La Manière is maybe worth mentioning also, beautiful different linen fabrics for stitching and cords and trims for example :) If you click on the door at their website, there are lots of photos from the shop."
    • (Also from Lennu) "Le Bonheur des Dames has two beautiful shops in Paris, at their site you can click "Nos boutiques" for adresses and then the link "cliquez pour l'album photo!" for photos of those shops."
    • (Also from Lennu) "Des Fils et une Aiguille also sells lots of stitching stuff, though I'm not sure if I've ever visited the shop, next time I will :)"

      That's all I can think of for now. If some of you dear readers have other places to recommend in Paris, by all means do so in the comments! I'm sure that will be highly appreciated.
        I plan to write a similar post on fabric and yarn shops in Montpellier, as  I've been getting familiar with them and the question has cropped up three times or more in comments / emails / on ravelry :)

        29 comments:

        nowaks nähkästchen said...

        I just had S.E.X in Paris last weekend... *g*

        Le Comptoir is a place I didn't know, so I'll put that on my list for the next time. (On the other side... since I my LYS in Cologne is so great I stopped buying yarn in Paris)

        And I see you've never been to De Gilles... (close to Voltaire), that's where I usually find fabric the others don't have. But the price point is... not cheap.

        I never managed to make one entry about shopping in Paris in my blog, but I'm writing about my shopping experiences more or less regularily and who is interested can read that here: http://nowak.blog.hobbyschneiderin.net/category/shopping/
        (If you don't want me to link, please remove the post! I don't want to take any readers away from here!)
        It's about all my shopping, so not restricted to Paris, but many of the shops I mentionned there are in Paris, so scrolling down and clicking on "older entries" is worth a try for those who are interested.

        (And did I say? It's nice to read you again.)

        Isabelle said...

        Thank you so much for all this, Nowak, and for your link! Very appreciated and I'm sure it'll be useful to others :)

        I went to De Gilles once (found it totally randomly), and you are right - it would be worth mentioning here. Pricey and oh so messy, but it did seem there was some pretty interesting stuff in there. Thanks for reminding me!

        Merci encore !

        Akatombo said...

        Love the part about the stern faced lady. It's just as if I was there again. I just hope she doesn't read your blog...

        It was very nice to post that. Thank you, I learned things.

        Jennifer said...

        I hope some day to come to Paris. Now I have a wealth of information on my favorite shopping topics! Thank you so much for sharing all of this!
        I hope your situation with work improves and you are able to do more of your 'recreational" things again soon.

        Lori said...

        I buy "travel fabric" instead of other souvenirs and much of it has come from the shops in Montmartre.

        Word of caution - don't try to take pictures in Tissus Reine, even if it's a photo of you to prove you were there. The stern faced lady will scowl and waggle her finger at you.

        Anonymous said...

        bon carnet d'adresses!

        mais t'es pas un peu loin actuellement?

        biiizzz


        Doris

        Anonymous said...

        Like you, I was very sad to see Bouchara go -- and its replacement is truly an insult! My current favorite fabric place is Modes & Travaux:

        http://www.boutiquemodesettravaux.com/catalog/index.php

        Great remnants of high quality fabrics and good prices, especially in the little room in the back and most especially during les soldes.

        Karen in Paris

        Natasha said...

        Thank you so much for this post - so detailed and so useful to the tourist. Some fabric from Paris would be such a treat! I have sent you an email privately as well. Natasha

        Lennu said...

        Hi Isabelle and thanks for the post, I think it will be very useful for many! Montmartre is such a fabric heaven :)

        La Croix et La Manière (http://www.lacroixetlamaniere.com/) is maybe worth mentioning also, beautiful different linen fabrics for stitching and cords and trims for example :) If you click on the door at their website, there are lots of photos from the shop.

        Le Bonheur des Dames (http://www.bonheurdesdames.com) has two beautiful shops in Paris, at their site you can click "Nos boutiques" for adresses and then the link "cliquez pour l'album photo!" for photos of those shops.

        Des Fils et une Aiguille (http://www.desfilsetuneaiguille.com) also sells lots of stitching stuff, though I'm not sure if I've ever visited the shop, next time I will :)

        It's great to read your posts. Everything you've sewn and crocheted lately is so beautiful!

        Maricou said...

        Merci Isabelle,
        Je dois me rendre à Paris en mai cela confirme mon carnet d'adresses mais c'est toujours bon d'avoir confirmation

        Lindsay T said...

        Thanks for taking the time to write this. One of these days I'll be back in Paris!

        The Slapdash Sewist said...

        I managed to snap a photo in Reine without getting caught, which was quite a coup!

        You are making me wish I was back in Paris...

        Gorgeous Things said...

        I haven't been to Paris in 14 years. I'm overdue! When I get back, I'll definitely use your recommendations!

        I wonder if the shop I loved when I was there last is still around? I don't remember the name, but it was located on a street off Rue Faubourg St. Honore. I was walking past Christian Lacroix and spotted the sign that said "Tissus" so I dragged my husband in. It was heaven!

        Helena West said...

        Tips are very helpful for me, since I crafting very much. Thanks for sharing.

        Tany said...

        What a helpful article! I wish to return to Paris one day; I had a great time buying fabric the day we met! It was a wonderful vacation and Paris is now one of my favorite cities in the world!
        (((HUGS)))

        mavalca said...

        Pour les parisiennes qui tricotent, il y a aussi des "tricothés"; j'aime beaucoup ce blog, avec plein de tutos en vidéo: http://www.knitspirit.net/
        Toutes les infos sur les tricothés sont dessus!
        Bisous ma belle!

        Catherine said...

        Merci Isabelle pour toutes ces bonnes adresses à Paris. Il faudra que je fasse une virée shopping à Montmartre la prochaine fois que j'aurai l'occasion d'aller à Paris. Je rajouterais à ta liste (même s'il s'agit essentiellement de tissu patchwork) la boutique INES
        9, rue du Général Guilhem
        75011 Paris
        01 43 38 54 86
        du mardi au samedi de 10h30 à 18h30

        Métro : St Maur ou St Ambroise

        J'y ai reçu un accueil vraiment très chaleureux (avec même un petit cadeau) lors de ma visite récente. Ils ont aussi un site web.

        Ally said...

        For embroiderers, Des Fils et Une Aiguille in rue Chabanais is my preferred LNS. I also haunt Le Bon Marche and Modes et Travaux, for both knitting and embroidery.

        Anonymous said...

        Thank you all, using all your suggestions, I with my husband following, we have visited most of the areas and shops. We spent yesterday ducking between fabric shops in Montmartre. We leave for home tomorrow with no only photos and memories, but full bags. Once again thank you. AussieAnne

        Barbara said...

        The Boutique Ines mentioned above has moved around the corner into bigger premises on Rue St Ambroise, on the left just down from rue St Maur.
        There are lots more fabrics , it's worth a visit.

        LittleGracie said...

        where are those little shop addresses that carry all notions?

        Isabelle said...

        @ LittleGracie: first of all, hello! (A hello and/or please would have been nice, ya know...)

        I'm not sure I understand what you mean. If you mean haberdashery, you'll find lots of them in the neighbourhood of the Marché Saint Pierre, including la mercerie Saint-Pierre, which I mention in the article. There is also a wonderful one, rue Oberkampf. It is kept by a friendly Chinese man and the zippers are dirt cheap.

        ELLIE. said...

        this is brilliant, i am heading off to paris tomorrow for the week, and i am a textiles student so i've been dying to look up some good fabric shops, these all look great, thank you for sharing!

        JasmineFM said...

        Hi Isabelle,

        Thank you so much for this! I am going to Toulouse and Carcassone next week and was wondering if you knew where I could go and buy some of those stunning embroidery kits you only seem to find in France? (I am based in London) Also, as you are a native, what would you recommend an embroiderer/crochetter/lace lover try and stock up on while in France? Any particular brand of kits or patterns only available there?

        I understand you might not know the answers to all these questions, but thanks again and look forward to reading through the rest of your blog!!!

        Jasmine

        frk.bustad said...

        Hi! I found your post when I was looking for fabric shops in Montpellier - did you ever write a post on that? If not, do you have any tips? Please write me at frk[.]bustad[a]gmail[.]com

        LaceyFairchild said...

        Hi and thanks for your blog, it is fantastic. I am looking for the kind of embroidery ribbons / jacquard ribbons Claire Pettibone uses in her work. I was wondering if you knew where I might find them in Paris. Thank you!

        Evie Jones said...

        Thank for this...I'm bookmarking it for future reference. I'm planning Parisian S.E.X. next year. The Husband has said he wants to stay in Montmartre. Let's not tell him that it's fabric heaven. It can be our secret.

        Odeliska said...

        Hi ladies, I'm going in July '14 and was hoping to stock up on some interesting bridal fabrics for my made-to-measure clients. Can any one suggest to me where I might find some? I also wish to find vintage beaded and sequinned laces and motifs.
        Thanks for tips!

        Isabelle said...

        Hi Odaliska, the store You're after for bridal fabrics is Tissus Reine, definitely. They also have beautiful lace.
        You will also find lace and trims in the shops scattered all around the Place St Pierre, where Tissus Reine is. Some rather big like the Mercerie Saint-Pierre, others tiny, nestled in the streets around. Have fun and bon voyage! :)