Ruminating

FABRIC SHOPPING IN MONTREAL

I realized yesterday that I really take fabric shopping in Montreal for granted. We are New York’s grubby, bilingual, lazy little sister and it’s easy to be over-awed by the fabric district in NY and forget all about the amazing resources we have right here. Montreal is Canada’s fashion centre; up until fairly recently, we were a key player in the rag trade, but as manufacturing has moved overseas, many small businesses that cater to the fashion industry are closing up shop. There are still a lot of big and small fashion houses doing business here, and I am so grateful to have a combination of wholesale and mom and pop places to support.

I’ve had a lot of emails this summer asking for fabric shopping advice for people visiting my beautiful, grubby, lazy city, so I thought I’d break down my favourite spots (although if you’re coming for a visit or you already live here, PLEASE check out Carolyn’s exhaustively detailed breakdown of fabric stores at Sew-Eng. It’s spectacularly organized). Most of them are unassuming holes in the wall which is why I snapped some iphone pics today when I was on my bike. Almost everyone speaks French and English, so tourists have nothing to be wary about.

The main shopping district for fabric is along St. Hubert, just north of Jean Talon. Go to the market for lunch and then spend an afternoon weaving in and out of the few dozen or so shops that extend to Villeray. Typical Montreal shadiness; bring cash since most places won’t charge you tax if you don’t need a receipt.

NOTIONS

Fabric shopping in Montreal Ultratext

Ultratext (7186 St. Hubert)

I adore this place. A little dingy and haphazard, but they have spools upon spools of elastic, trim, stretch elastic and ribbon, not to mention every length and colour of zipper and various doodads like foam bra cups and decorative appliques. They also have off-brand needles and thread. Cash only, and reaaally cheap.

Trim Cite (7381 St. Hubert)

This is a much more polished place to shop for ribbons and trims. Everything is displayed really beautifully and they have a huge selection of applique and buttons.

Fabric shopping in Montreal

Accessoires de Couture (7454 St. Hubert)

This store is a gem. An elderly Middle Eastern man runs it and I don’t think he’s ordered new stock in 20 years. Which is music to my ears, because it’s my go to place for cool metal zippers and vintage seam tape and buttons. Time warp notions!

Kava (7609 St. Hubert)

Kava has a decent selection of notions, but it’s really the HQ of local patternmakers and tailors. This is the place to go for tailoring supplies, gravity feed irons, oak tag, pattern paper, sewing machine feet and sewing tools. They have 36″ x 24″ cutting mats for $35 which is an absolute STEAL, and they sell huge spools of serger thread for $2 each.

Beads Planete Inc (7348 St. Hubert)

Super mega bead and jewelry making emporium, but they also stock an impressive array of rivets and studs.

FABRIC

Most of the fabric stores on St. Hubert are quite small and you can easily spend hours wandering in and out of them. Here are my three favourites.

Tissus Marina (7515 St. Hubert)

The owner of this store is a complete sweetheart and she gets a lot of changing stock; I always find something interesting here. Inexpensive linen and knits.

Fabric shopping in Montreal Tissus St. Hubert

Tissus St. Hubert (7399 St. Hubert)

This is one of the only places in the neighborhood to stock high end fabric. They have a good selection of silks and designer prints, but it’s not cheap. At least not compared to Mood, sigh.

Goodman-Carlyle (7282 St. Hubert)

This store is quite large with a wide variety of fabric, and it’s my favourite place to go for wool coating. They have a whole room of it for reasonable prices.

KNITTING & QUILTING

Effiloche (6260 St. Hubert)

I really love the neighborhood feel of this shop. Great service and beautiful quilting fabrics, they also have a small but well curated selection of knitting supplies. A good emergency source for quality thread and needles.

CHABANAL DISTRICT

The St. Hubert corridor is not the only place to buy fabric. Just a little further north on St. Laurent around Chabanal is the rag-trade heart and soul. This is the spiritual centre for Montreal’s manufacturers, graders, pattern makers and wholesalers, and it’s an area that’s often overlooked since it’s off the beaten path, but it is definitely worth a trip if you have the time. I haven’t even begun to explore all the places tucked away here. Check out Carolyn’s map since most of them are hidden away in big industrial buildings.

Globe-Tex (9320 St. Laurent, 4th floor)

I love love love love love this place. REALLY big with tons of stock, it’s my favourite place to go for knits, although they also carry a range of wovens. They always have really interesting stuff and a friendly salesman ready to pull bolts out for you. This week I scored a bunch of textured and embossed knits. They do mostly wholesale but anyone can come in and buy by the yard, which is incredibly inexpensive. Expect to pay between $3 and $7 for cotton spandex and ponte.

Stretch Text (9320 St. Laurent, 3rd floor)

The go-to place for swimsuit fabric and lingerie knits. Super sweetheart sales guys and they have a few bins where you can buy by the pound.

Tonitex (9630 St. Laurent)

This is a new discovery – another wholesaler who sells to the public. They had some beautiful batiks and tons of quilting cotton, and I scored 3 pounds of grey felted wool for $10 in their “by the pound” bins.

There are many places scattered around town. If you’re in Westmount, be sure to stop by Mink’s Haute Couture. Their selection is mindblowingly beautiful AND expensive, but the closest most of us will probably come to genuine Chanel boucle and Versace silk. I also have a major soft spot for J&L Coupons and Trimmings at 4275 St. Laurent. A family owned business on a gentrifying street; they need our support! There is also a tailoring store just down the street from J&L that has really odd business hours – I’d love to hear from anyone who has gone in there.

If you need your sewing machine repaired, go straight to Pentar at 6534 St. Laurent. They have the best prices in town and are owned by the loveliest couple ever. A tuneup will run you $45.

Hopefully this will be of some help if you want to buy fabric in my beloved town. Any Montrealers have favourites I’ve missed?

  • I really been wanting to start making my own clothes and this post caught my eye. Lovely shops 🙂

    http://www.wednesday19th.blogspot.com

  • Katie

    Thanks so much for posting this! I’m from Toronto and although we do have a pretty decent selection of fabric, when I was in New York this Spring, I was blown away!

    I’m planning on going to Montreal for the first time next Spring and I’m definitely pinning this list for that trip.

    • Do it! I actually love Queen West for fabric. I was really surprised by the variety. I’m actually wearing pants I made with some bamboo spandex I bought the last time I was in town!

    • Hey Katie, you should join our Toronto Sewcialist group on Facebook! We usually manage to have meetups a couple times a year, with swaps, shopping, etc… I’m in Guelph, but I do get lured in to “the city” for fabric! https://www.facebook.com/groups/194887417342225/

  • You lucky dog for having so many good resources in your area. Philly used to be a manufacturing city, but not so much anymore, and thus, the fabric stores are limited. Hope to make it to Montreal one day.

    • BUT, you live a short train ride away from the best fabric stores in the US, so you’re not too bad off.

  • Kohlrabi

    Woah, that sounds awesome!! Makes me want to travel to Montreal someday even more! Enjoy your gorgeous textured knits!!

    • Thanks babe! Montreal is totally worth a trip.

  • Sounds like I have a new place I need to visit! I’m sold! I don’t think I fully appreciated what I had in Sydney until I moved away. I really miss being able to visit amazing fabric shops in person.

  • Yep, what Debbie said. If you’re trying to temp us to come to Montreal it’s working! Only prob is I’m sure once I get an in person glimpse of your sewing studio you’ll have a hard time getting rid of me.

  • This is fantastic. (And Ultratext is the best name ever.) I understand much of the rag trade moved to Montreal when Toronto garment workers unionized in the 1920s.. Would love to check out some of these places. Do you think you might be organizing another meetup soonish?

    • Carolyn at Sew Eng is much better at organizing meet-ups, but I’ll keep you if anything comes up!

  • OK, it’s official. I really need to make it to Montreal next summer! (The only time I’ve ever tried to go we a) got in a little car accident in Ottawa, and b)turned around and went to a friends cottage instead, where I c)broke my leg in 6 places. Shoulda gone to Montreal!)

    • Hahahah please come and we can haaaannnngggg.

  • Mainelydad

    Ooh. This would be a great “field trip”, and a good excuse to use my passport before it expires.

    • Yes! I think you’d find some fine wools at Goodman and shirtings galore up and down St. Hubert.

  • Thank you so much for this! I’m in Montreal for school but I have yet to go fabric shopping… partly because I have no sewing machine here! I’m really starting to miss it, so I’m thinking that I should start looking for one. In any case, I’m definitely checking out some of these stores before heading home!

    • Effiloché used to have machines available at their studio, not sure if they still do it, but it is worth a call 😀

  • Tracy

    This is so incredibly thorough! You are so sweet to take the time to write this up.
    (I have been looking for a list just like this for San Diego; I’ll be visiting in a month (eek!) and have wondered if there are any great fabric stores. Know any bloggers in San Diego?)

  • Super useful reviews, I am glad my Montreal’s Store Directory was helpful even to a connaisseur like you 😀 xx

    • Your directory is a magical, magical thing my dear. So many places on Chabanal to discover!

  • Thanks for this! I went fabric shopping in Montreal not that long ago and ended up going into Tissus St. Hubert first. Needless to say I spent my entire budget (and more) and had to close my eyes as we drove away as to not be tempted to go into any other stores. I am heading back in November so hopefully I’ll get a chance to check out some of the other places you’ve mentioned. You are so lucky to have so many great shops nearby – out here in Calgary there are only quilting stores and Fabricland (the sister store of Fabricville – and Fabricville is nicer!).

    • Heather, you MUST make a trip to Chabanal! Check out Carolyn’s list – I suspect you’ll find some goodies for better prices than at Tissus St. Hubert.

      So sorry for the lack of good supplies. Have you heard that Carolyn at Sewaholic has opened an online store? I’m sure the shipping is reasonable since she’s in BC.

      • Yup! I was so pumped that ordered right away! So awesome to have a fellow Canadian to support!
        I will be sure to check out Chabanal – thanks for the advice!

  • thank you!!! i’m gong home to montreal over christmas vacation and this list will be super handy! i used to make jewelry when i lived in montreal so i know beads planet quite well, but i din’t sew back then, and all the fabric stores seemed to me like som mystical places…

  • Hélène

    Wow! I realize how little I know about our sewing resources in Montreal. Many thanks for this rich post. While perusing some of the comments here, I had an idea for you and/or Caroline Côté (your Montreal store directory is amazing, Caroline!), you could launch a sewing-guided tour company here in Montreal, designing customized itinerary or leading thematic guided tours. I’d be the first to join one of your guided visits!

  • Thank you so much Heather for this review and for the link to your friend’s website. I didn’t think we had so many fabric shop in MTL, I always go to the same one and I haven’t found any good knit yet for a good price for example. I knew a few of them tho (Ultratext or Tissus St Hubert) but I will defo go have a look at stretch text and Globe text for example! Thanks again!

  • This just makes me want to visit more! At last count, my fabric stash just hit 80, so it’s probably a terrible idea to come to Montreal. I have no room for anymore fabric, really. But cheap cutting mats… that is seriously appealing. And justifiable. Except I’m totally going to buy a fancy Pfaff this week (they have 3 month financing with no interest the place I’m looking, whee!) so that probably takes out any extra fabric / notions / anything shopping moneyz for a whiiiile. Maybe December though? A little christmas shopping for the self? Will you be around???

  • Mon

    Hi dear,
    I’ve also been exploring! 🙂
    I just discovered Globetex last weekend and was very impressed with their selection. Surely one of my new favourites! 😉 Chabanel overall is a jewel! Have you been to Chabanel 99 in the 4th floor?

    I’ve been to the little tailoring store with strange hours!!
    It’s Ms Fisher’s! She is a lovely, lovely lady in her 80s. Family owned business. She’s got most tailoring notions but all in boxes. You only go there if you know what you want. She’s got it all! 😉 I live really close by, let me know if you want to drop by one day. I’d love to come with you!

    Best!

  • Tammy JZ

    Hi Heather! Just found your blog, which baffles me since I’m sure I’ve Googled ‘Montreal’, ‘fabric’, ‘blog’ and every variation thereof since I moved here three years ago! 🙂 I tend to use mainly quilting cotton, so when I found Tonitex it was like Mecca! You just cannot beat $6 a meter, anywhere. My mother even came to visit recently from CA recently and she was shocked at how good their selection and prices are.
    And yes, you’re thinking of H. Fisher et Fils on St. Laurent. She closes at 2 pm every day, so you gotta get there early! Traditionally they specialized in tailoring and men’s clothing, but she has quite a lot of goodies in there. She’s super sweet too! I tried to buy tailor’s chalk and she just gave it to me. After Emmaline and Annabelle closed before I could even get over there, I’m always hesitant about stores that I fall in love with. But Ms. Fisher said that she owns the building so she’s not going anywhere!
    If you ever plan a meetup or fabric shopping get together, I’d love to come! I’m in the Plateau.

    • I post about meet-ups so if you follow the blog you can see when the next one is! And now you’re making me want to play hooky at work and go meet Ms. Fisher!

      • Tammy JZ

        I’m definitely following the blog now! And I think she opens at 7 if that helps? 🙂

        • I just found last thursday a Quilting store, right in the building next to Tonitex, I will add it to my Fabric Stores Directory this week…Meanwhile it is **Tissus Alisha** at 9600 St-Laurent, suite 305. It is HUGE and filled with quilting cotton, backing in gigantic sizes, needle punch, fleece, canvas, stretch terry cloth, etc…

  • Robin Latour

    Hi Heather,
    So i know you have made the Anna dress (and that’s not meant to be stalker-ish). I want to make mine out of silk, a silky crepe or possibly charmeuse if i don’t chicken out.
    Can you suggest a good store for silk in Montreal? I come home to visit all the time and can get to St. H pretty easily. I am trying to avoid Mood because i need to touch the fabric to know i like it.
    I’ve never sewn with silk and I’m bloody terrified.
    Thank you 🙂

    • No prob! There are two places on St. Hubert with a lot of silk. Tissue St. Hubert is one of them, and on the same block just a few stores south there is another designer fabric place. Fair warning: I don;t think you can find crepe for less than $25/30 a yard. Some are as much as $40 or $50 depending on weight. Mood is MUCH cheaper but then you have to deal with shipping (which is high) and customs. My guy at Globetex has some silks, not a lot, but his prices are much better.

      I would stick with crepe for your first time. It’s much easier to work with than charmeuse.

      Hope that helps!

  • Mimi Stockland

    One of my favorite shops closed some time ago – I miss Dressmakers!

  • Melissa L

    Any idea where I could get an industrial sewing machine at a great price??

    • Hi Melissa! I think around Chabanel. There is a great Juki dealer on St. Laurent just north of Chabanal!

      • Melissa L

        Thanks!

  • natalie

    anywhere i can find a mannequin for less than 100$???

  • THANK YOU for this! I’m late to the party for this list – I hope some of these places are still open. I live in the Townships and finding fabric is a REAL challenge!

  • Charlotte Frève-Boucher

    Thank you so much for your guide ! I went fabric shopping in Montreal yesterday and this article was my bible. So perfect and so true :’) The sellers were lovely and I especially loved “Accessoires de couture”, omg all those vintage buttons.
    Anyway, thanks again !!

    • So happy it was helpful Charlotte! Hope you scored lots of great stuff 😉

  • marcia

    Great post! Where do you recommend getting cheap sewing patterns in Montreal? On St-Hubert preferably. http://www.marciabcreative.blogspot.com

  • Thanks for putting together this guide! I will be referring to this for my upcoming visit to Montreal! 🙂

  • Paulette Thibault

    Hi there, Do you know where I can find a Grey Stripe 4 way stretch spandex fabric? It’s for making a gangster suit for a figure skating solo. Thanks so much!