I am back in Paris, one of the places in the world I feel at home, and yes, this was once home when I was so poorly paid and blissfully happy. It is a dichotomy, to be sure, but I am well aware of how blessed I have been to be handed the opportunity of living in one of the most iconic cities in the world and the home of Haute Couture.
I have come to Paris in search of inspiration, half forgetting all the pretty people I know have left town, leaving it to the tourist to indulge in. Any Parisian with time, family, or friends with an extra couch will leave town for the rocky beaches of the south or the sandy shores of the old colonies. It is bliss to suck up the sun and enjoy the wide avenues despite the crowds, especially for us who live in the southern hemisphere and are running away from the cold, damp, poorly insulated houses.
A bit of Paris-
What can I say about Paris that you already know? Hardly anything, so I will concentrate on the view from my lens.
My favorite thing about Paris is the light at dusk when the sun bathes the city in this golden glow. It makes me feel that everything will work out best and that anything is possible. This glow charges me with hope… and makes me think that before the french give up, they rather clean the slate and start again. There is so much to learn from this attitude.
I love watching people at the park. So many people come with a modest basket; cloth napkins, cutlery, cheese, fruits, jam, bread, and wine all gather around in happy chatter. The old man in profound political conversation, the games of chess, the artists concentrated on a painting, the pretty girl in a bikini sucking up the sun, the lovers by the trees making out, the whole scene is an impressionist painting.
A walk along the Seinne early in the morning when hardly anyone is around.
I could drop a small fortune here in art shops, bookstores, and stationaries, but I am content with just looking around.
Notice, my dear readers, most of the things I love about Paris are free.
A bit Of Geography
Paris is divided into 20 areas called arrondissements, starting at the center in the shape of a spiral clockwise.
Left and Right Banks, the Seine flows westward, cutting the city in two. The top part of the city is associated with the right bank and the lower one with the left. The most significant attractions tourists want to see are located on the right bank.
A Bit of History
Here is a quick summary that I found detailing Paris’ long and exciting history. The great thing about Paris is that it has always been a unique city, from whatever time in the past all the way to the present.
A Bit Of Architecture And the Best Sights from my camera
Paris was once a dirty plague-ridden town to what is now one of the most visited places on the planet, with wide tree-lined boulevards and imposing stone facade buildings with double windows and zinc grey mansard roofs.
Louvre Museum and the Jardin de Tullerie.
The current reconstruction work at Notre Dame.
Fabric Hunting: Paris
There are two major areas where to shop for fabrics in Paris. Montmartre on the 18th and Le Sentier in the 2nd arrondisement.
Montmartre area is very well known to tourists since it is the home of the oldest fabric store in the city. It is the place to find inexpensive fabrics for costumes and fancy embellished tulles. T
here are many small stores around the foothill of Montmartre. Today I will only mention the best-known.
The beginnings of this shop are very similar to Bassetti Tessuti in Rome. A man comes to town with a cart of fabrics, building a reputation for good quality, well-priced materials. And when the opportunity knocks, in 1920, he rents a building and starts selling in one location.
This is a seven-floor french institution, and I am happy to see that despite the pandemic, the store is still in business and with paying customers inside.
The road level is where you will find all the bargains. Tulles for costumes, Ankara fabrics, and printed cotton are perfect for handbags and summer dresses.
I head to my favorite floor: the basement.
Here is the place for all the beautiful fabrics for couture gowns, and wedding dresses and a good selection of silks, cotton, leather, and laces.
I recommend buying the Guipure lace seen above, the felt wool which is perfect for hats and jackets at 60 euros for a piece of 3 meters 55″ broad, not bad at all, enough for a coat and beret for the winter. Silk chiffon for some very flowy dresses and blouses and, silk velour for a soft skin tight underlayer, wide-leg pants, and trimmings for underwear.
This haberdashery is an Alibaba cave for every crafter, ribbon, elastic, lace, braid, needles, thread, buttons, fasteners, scissors, and they have it.
Pay special attention to the buttons section; some are small art pieces. Here are some pictures to get a general idea, but you have a much more extensive selection on their online shop.
I have been coming to Tissue Reine for a couple of decades. This is a typical fabric store in many cities, Liberty cotton, quilting fabrics, home deco, jeans, cotton, silks, laces, and sewing equipment, including patterns.
The bargains are outside on the sidewalk for you to browse freely. I recall the many hours I spent with my mother looking through the fabric rolls for costumes for a play.
Inside the store, everything is well organized, and the amount of natural light and lighting helps you choose a fabric in the color you are looking for. My favorite things to buy here are the cotton and cotton blends in natural fibers, cotton/rayon, cotton and silk, and cotton and linen.
I should mention the gorgeous silk chiffons in happy and tasteful prints would make an elegant blouse or a long summer dress an item that would last many years.
The main floor is where you find fashion fabrics.
The haberdashery on the second floor is where I can find the Swiss threads Mettler that works so well with the Bernina embroidery machines. All types of sewing notions are found here, and a pervasive pattern section.
This store surprised me; whenever I am in Paris, I try to find a new store to explore. TissuMarket did it for me, a small hole in the wall, but inside, the quality and beauty of the fabrics take you back. Justin, the man in charge, tells me this is just a small showroom, but if I wanted to see the whole store, go to the 2nd Arrondissement. So I will talk about it in the next section, but I will leave you with some pictures so you can find TissuMarket if you are around Montmartre.
Le Sentier is a lesser-known area for tourists and one of my favorite parts of Paris. This is the fashion district of Paris, where students come to buy fabrics for school projects, up-and-coming designers have their showrooms, and wholesale materials and designs are sold. You can buy small amounts, but many stores have a minimum requirement. You need to ask before falling in love with any fabric.
This shop is a family business of 35 years and is very well known for carrying exquisite Silk, Lace, Wool, Cotton, Linen, and Viscose fabrics. It is a treasure trove of three floors, so take your time looking around; the materials you will find here will charge your creative juices. Pay special attention to the beaded lace here; they are second to none. I recommend this shop for evening gowns.
5 Rue de Mulhouse, 75002 Paris, France
Don’t let the size of this shop fool you; the silks you find here are reminiscent of the bright 70’s vibe and Missoni. The quality of the material is superb, and the prices reflex that. My recommendation would be silk chiffon for Kaftans and wide dresses for cruising.
I mentioned TissuMarket briefly in the Montmartre section. Here in Le Sentier, there are two much bigger showrooms.
Fabric Hunting Paris is about finding the store to make the trip worthwhile. TissuMarket did it for me this time. I recommend this shop if you only have one day in Paris and need to buy beautiful material to take home and make anything.
You will find everything here, from Upholstery fabric to the most delicate silk muslin, leather, colorful faux furs, laces embroidered tulles, silks, cotton, jeans, velvet, and wool in many weights and types, chiffons, all types of printed, embroidered, and embossed, stamped, digitally printed, hand painted, block printed and if you like me do not have room in your suitcase can have it delivered to your home in 200 different countries plus delivery is free anywhere in France.
In addition, to purchase all kinds of fabrics, you can also pick up sewing notions and fittings for your projects.
Fabric Hunting in Paris is not easy for a foreigner because you have to learn to navigate the metro and the bus systems and walk many kilometers. The language is no longer an issue since Parisians are more willing to speak English. You will be surprised how many are trilingual.
If you are planning to come to Paris for fabrics, be prepared to have drawings with the fabric requirements you will need to avoid disappointment; check with your government and the store you are buying from concerning tax and delivery issues.
I will continue my journey to Singapore, where I will check the fabric spots that have survived the pandemic. I do hope I see old familiar faces. As for Paris, I will be back in a few months for a couple of weeks to take a course in Haute Couture embroidery at the prestigious Ecole Lesage. You can expect some interesting articles on that adventure in the near future.
Please leave your comments on what you thought below. Have you bought fabric in Paris before? If so, where? Have you made anything with it? Well, Until then, Happy sewing, and let’s keep the world together one stitch at a time!
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