Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Fabric shopping in Wellington, New Zealand, from a non-local perspective

I have suspected for a considerable length of time, that there is some excellent fabric shopping in New Zealand. Waves of envy must waft over Mary Nanna whenever she skites mentions in an off hand manner that she picked up something gorgeous for about 50c a metre. (There may be a touch of exaggeration here for the sake of a good story)

Naturally, I was expecting big things of my very brief trip to Wellington with my husband last month, even though it is a long way from Auckland. Some Googling did not help me much - I came up with Fabrics Direct, and insider seamstress knowledge gave me the address of Global Fabrics - both in walking distance from the hotel in which we were staying. We had no difficulty finding either of these shops. I love Google Maps.

Visit A: Fabrics Direct
97 Ghuznee Street


A warehouse type fabric shop, at the time of my visit the fabric was about 90% home dec, with a wide price and quality range. Clothes making fabric included synthetic knits, synthetic wovens, woollen wovens.
There were some vaguely tempting thin viscose knits, but the temptation was not sufficient at the price, NZ$18 per metre, so I left empty handed.

Visit B. Global Fabrics.
15 Garrett St
I have visited the Sydney branch of this chain, The Fabric Store, and was equally delighted with the Wellington shop.
This is another warehouse type fabric shop, but full of delectable fabrics, for clothes, and some extras - trims and some leather. No bargains, other than the 80cm remnant of printed silk satin at $12, but I bought a lot of fabric here, because when it is gorgeous fabric, that I can't buy locally, I do not care if it is a bargain or not. In fact I bought so much fabric that the sales lady pressed a loyalty card on me, despite my protests that I was foreign, and unlikely to be loyal. It was one of those cards that is stamped each time you spend a certain amount of money, and once you fill up the card, you get $50 worth of fabric for "free". She stamped the card quite a few times. I will have to return.....
It did feel a bit like a bargain because although the prices seemed very similar to the prices in Australia (non remnants $NZ18-$28 per metre was my purchase range), the Australian dollar was feeling 1.3 x as robust as the New Zealand dollar that week, so everything was 24% off for me, with no shipping!
There was some beautiful silk here, but I have so much silk in my stash, that I do not seem to sew, that I was able to refrain (mostly) from buying more. Instead I bought merino knits and cotton wovens.
Here are the majority of the merino knits - green marle jersey, teal rib knit, thin rust rib knit and a terry backed with a jersey type knit in grey and green.

My husband, was with me, and much much to my surprise, picked out some fabrics for himself. He usually stands glumly at the entrance to the shop, frequently looking at his watch. (Much as I do in cycling shops)
I have shown you his black wool t shirt a couple of posts ago, and here is his pale blue rib knit version.
(Same 1976 Knit Wit Pattern, and an ordinary neck binding after the coverstitch failed x3 due to the thickness of the fabric arguing with the binding attachment)
He did not sew the tops (and declined a modelling opportunity), but I think fabric acquisition is the thin edge of a sewing hobby. He He.
Although we live in a fairly hot place, I use these wintery fabrics often due to camping, visits to southerly climes (Blue Mountains New South Wales this month Brrrrrr) and our perceived cold weather locally when the temperature drops below 20 degrees Celcius. Tonight it is 21 degrees, and my son is wearing polar fleece. Unfortunately he says merino is itchy.


My husband also picked out the shirting fabric at the bottom of this photo. I am not feeling sufficiently grateful for his accompaniment to make him the work shirt he fancies just yet. There is some seersucker, printed voile, pink jacquard, and sateen here, all in cotton.

I thought I had finished fabric shopping, but on our wanderings back through town, spotted some stands of fabric down an arcade.

Which led to Visit C

Arthur Toye,
Grand Arcade
Willis St, Wellington

This was a more usual fabric shop to me - patterns, notions, dressmaking fabrics. There were lots of synthetic knits, novelty type fabrics, but better than your average Spotlight/Lincraft. I bought a very nice cotton batik print, on sale at $12 NZ per metre. Most of the fabrics were much more costly than this.


In Arthur Toye, there was an advertisement for sewing classes, giving this webpage as a source for other sewing supplies in the Wellington Area. (I didn't visit any of the other fabric shops on the list)

I really enjoyed fabric shopping in Wellington, where the fabric shopping is far better than in my local region, but obviously need to go shopping with Mary Nanna for bargains. She has rashly invited me to do this if I ever go to Auckland. Be warned Mary Nanna - I will get there one day!


Summer Flies said...

I lived in Auckland for 12 months in 2003 and I picked up lots of fabric (some I still have). I went to Global fabric and another on in Newmarket (a north shore suburb - ritzy like Lane Cove in Sydney) on a holiday two years ago too... I came back with heaps but really cheap - beautiful stretch cotton sateen in any colour you wanted, some nice knits all for NZ$4 per metre.
There were heaps of fabric shops in that area and I miss it constantly.
I love fabric shopping in Auckland!

Mary Nanna said...

Fabric shopping in Auckland ROCKS. I am thrilled you will be over some time and will gladly take you to the outlets. Of course, I do have to add a proviso, that the outlets contain a mixture of trash to treasure at about a ration of 99:1 - but that one percent is bargain personified! For example, the last time I went to our local outlet a few days ago (I probably go about twice a week, cough cough) it had a couple of Global outcasts - and I bought some merino wool and parka nylon for a couple of dollars a metre. The best shopping though is when one of the big designers has an in house sale - like Karen Walker or Kate Sylvester - since they happen only once every couple of years it's unlikely we'll get a chance to go there but when they do happen opportunities abound!

a little sewing said...

Wow that was so much fun to read about your shopping adventures in Wellington! It looks like you got some nice little treasures, too.

Ann's Fashion Studio said...

You certainly found some gorgeous fabrics...I especially love the batik print.

Sharon said...

Great fabrics, and I understand what you mean by great dollar exchange and no shipping costs :)

Handmade said...

Yummy merino wools - I love looking of photos of people's fabric shopping adventures - speaking of which, I'm heading to Brisbane soon - and apart from Gardams, Sckaffs and Funky Fabrix - is there anything worthwhile in terms of good quality knits and ideally gym wear fabric that you can recommend? Thanks!

Lyndle said...

Glad you found Global Fabrics! Love the merinos you chose. I also go to Arthur Toyes a lot because its near my work - they have lots of good sales and the staff know their stuff.

Next time also check out Fabric Warehouse which is at the other end of town in an industrial type ara on Thorndon Quay, probably a bus ride from where you were staying (or get in touch and I'll take you there). It has a similar ambience to Global Fabrics but a wider range of fabric types and prices.
And - everybody - if you use remember to both add and check reviews for sewing stores locally, I always check before I go away but it's a bit light on southern hemisphere store reviews (you can search by city).
I always love the stuff you make!

Zoe said...

I live in Auckland and haven't heard of any of the places people are mentioning. Am I looking in the wrong places?