Material World: Paris Fabric Stores

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Material World: Paris Fabric Stores
Paris, home of haute couture, is also friendly toward those who can only manage what might be called basse couture—simple, easy sewing of the most basic kind, like making cushions, tablecloths, bags, or napkins. When the fabric is the star, you don’t need to be a fashion designer to make something unique. Place Saint-Pierre fabric district, Paris 18th And what a wealth of fabrics you can find in the Paris 18th! Head to Montmartre (Métro: Anvers) and walk uphill toward Sacré-Coeur and Place St-Pierre. You will find yourself in a paradise of fabrics—indeed, one fabric store is called Au Bonheur des Dames, the title of the Zola novel, which was translated into English as The Ladies’ Paradise. The first time we stumbled upon this corner of Paris, it was late afternoon in December and dusk had already fallen. The brightly lit streets with their riots of colored fabrics displayed on tables along the sidewalk looked like a Middle Eastern bazaar. We returned in springtime, and spent more time browsing in the dozens of fabric shops lining the streets. We found a sunny cotton with a pattern of eighteenth-century calligraphy for a tablecloth, and a little hooded terrycloth robe for our grandson at Tradition des Vosges, a shop that sells linens and towels. If you like Toile de Jouy, you will find dozens of versions to choose from in these streets, from heavy materials suitable for cushion covers, to delicate cottons the weight of a handkerchief. There are velvets, brocades, tapestries, embroidered silks and printed chintz. If you are a quilter and you want remnants, ask for “coupons.” A few shops in this area sell trimmings, notions and even feather boas for your next fancy dress party, but for more choice, widen your search. SOME PARIS 18TH FABRIC SHOPS: Au Bonheur des Dames 1-3, rue Livingstone Open Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm   Le Coupons de Saint Pierre 1, Place Saint Pierre Open Monday-Saturday 9:30am-7pm   Marché Saint-Pierre 2, rue Charles Nodier Open Monday-Friday 10am-6:30pm, Saturday 10am-6pm 5 floors of fabric for apparel & upholstery, decorator service available   Tissus-Moline 1, Place Saint-Pierre Open Monday-Saturday 9:45am-7pm   Tissus-Reine 3-5, Place Saint-Pierre Open Monday 2-6:30pm; Tuesday-Friday 9:30am-6:30pm; Saturday 9:45am-7pm   Tradition des Vosges 3, rue d’Orsel Open Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm   Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves, Paris 14th Flea markets such as the one at the Porte de Vanves are a good place to find lace trimmings or antique buttons, often sold on the original card. If you can sew on a button, you can take an ordinary cotton shirt and make it look distinctive with vintage accessories. Getting there: Métro: 13, Porte de Vanves Open Saturdays & Sundays: avenue Marc Sangnier open until 1pm; avenue Georges Lafenestre all day Mokuba, Paris 1st The place for ribbons is Mokuba,18 rue Montmartre, Paris 1st. This Japanese shop specializes in them. If you can imagine a type of ribbon made of any kind of fabric, up to and including fake fur, they will have it. Getting there: Métro: Les Halles Open Monday-Friday 9:30am-18:30pm La Droguerie, Paris 1st Just around the corner at 9 & 11, rue du Jour, is La Droguerie. Don’t be confused by the name. This is the place for knitting or crocheting fanatics. The colorful shop opposite St-Eustache also has a little outpost on the third floor of le Bon Marché and several outlets throughout France . Getting to this location: Métro: Les Halles Open Monday 2-6:45pm; Tuesday-Saturday 10:30am-6:45pm. August 2011: open only Tues-Sat (regular hours) Le Bon Marché, Paris 7th This should be your next stop. The sewing department, or “mercerie,”  on the third floor of the Bon Marché is all dark wood and soft lighting and has sewing boxes so exquisite that you will long for one even if you’ve never sewed a stitch in your life. Getting there: Métro: Sèvres-Babylone Open Monday-Wednesday & Saturday   10am-8pm; Thursday & Friday 10am-9pm Toiles du Soleil, Paris 7th While you are in the neighborhood, visit Toiles du Soleil at 101, rue du Bac. All the materials are made in St-Laurent de Cerdans, in the south of France, close to the Spanish border. The sturdy fabrics are used to make espadrilles, but also bags, towels, tablecloths and deck chairs. Getting there: Métro: Sèvres-Babylone Open Monday-Saturday, 10:30am-7pm L’Entrée des fournisseurs, Paris 3rd In the Marais, L’Entrée des fournisseurs at 8, rue des Francs-Bourgeois (go to the back of the courtyard) is another Aladdin’s cave of color and texture. I guarantee that you will suddenly develop an urgent need for tassels, one-of-a-kind buttons and frog fasteners. Getting there: Métro: St-Paul Open Monday 2-7pm; Tuesday-Saturday 10:30am-7pm. Closed August 22-29, 2011 Maupiou, Paris 8th Finally, if you really do know something about sewing or fashion and are not easily intimidated, you are ready for the hautest of the haute: Maupiou. This designers’ paradise at 2, rue de la Paix, just around the corner from the Place Vendôme, is a temple to exclusive and expensive materials for fashionistas. Dress like one when you go! Getting there: Métro: Opéra Open Monday-Saturday 10am-6:45pm Of course, if you bring home enough beautiful fabric, you may suffer from what the French call the “Diderot Effect.” The…

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  • Robin Fishman
    2015-09-29 15:28:10
    Robin Fishman
    Is there anyway to purchase swatches of lace samples. I have a beautiful silk wrap/scarf and would like to trim it in lace. Please advise.