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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?