Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Shanghai Fabric Market Tour #2

How's your week going? I haven't been sewing much, just sightseeing when the weather is good and eating our way around the city! So while I'm touring around, you can have a squizz of another visit to the Renmin Lu's Haberdashery Market because the first time I visited, it was very overwhelming! I'm not the best at shopping for fabric or notions because of my opshopping days... when you scour over actually trying to find things to sew with... having so much on show like this makes me completely stunned about what to buy, what to make and how to actually choose stuff. Having a shopping list is definitely better at these markets, but you can still feel very overwhelmed... I  remember feeling very shy about asking for prices and saying what I wanted.

So this market is your one stop shop for embellishments, notions, elastics, ropes, buttons and all things about sewing but no fabric... there is some lace, sequined fabric, felt and some low quality knits... but have a look around... everything is negotiable and cheap... and definitely cheaper if you buy more.

But overall this visit was a little easier than my first trip, even though I had my two year old with me. As I knew where the markets were and knew roughly a bit more Chinese, especially to ask the price and to understand the price. That's handy!

I found the elastic I needed for the child’s smocking dress at 15 kwai for a large bobbin (what’s that called then?) so I got 2. One of my sewing school friends suggested just BUY things when you’re AT the market, because you’ll regret it later. That's one way to build my stash & supplies I guess, because it IS a big adventure getting across town (even more with a little one).

But let's keep sticky-beaking around... belt buckles, more zippers... and then tulle!

The market is all indoors, and the stalls are very small and you squeeze through tiny aisles to get around. After the elastic, we turned a few corners, and found the tulle that was ‘not in available in China’ according to a woman (at a costume shop) who sold me a lot of ribbons a few months back. At 6 kwai a metre, I bought yellow for a friend & blue for Felix… for tutus! Then I bought the wide elastic that was 2 kwai a metre, so got 10 metres just in case for future projects.

After that Felix was getting a little bit loud playing with the cardboard tubes/bolts (the shopkeepers were gushing over him and giving him lots to play with) and I bought 10 zippers at 1 kuai a zip (that’s about 20 cents Australian a zip) and went to leave but saw overlocker threads for 3 for 10 kuai and thought that was a deal as they were nicer quality than the plastic ones I bought the first time! I have no idea what plastic thread is for... any clues and do you want some?

We had a play in the park and went on to the Dongmen Lu Fabric Market, where most people get their clothes made. I had seen a cotton shop there last time, and went straight there, and spent most of my cashola. The cottons were 58 kwai a metre, and I tried hard to bargain and we settled for 50 kwai a metre if I bought 6 different ones… one of the gingham fabrics we negotiated 40 kuai as it was lesser quality. I am really trying to get better at knowing my fabrics, I guess I have to just buy and sew with them to get the feel. She said that an English woman remarked recently that she’d seen some in the UK for 15 pounds a metre, but you just can’t tell and I don’t want to be cagey all the time when shopping. You should bargain a bit, and I’m guessing $2 bucks off for a larger quantity is better than no discount.

So all this for around 1000 kwai, 200 Aud, 150 American, 100 pounds. At the time of shopping last month. SMILEY FACE.

The blue swallows turned quickly into a Sophia Dress, and I've sewn the tulle for tutus for the children and the gingham and glasses fabric for Felix. The black and white wallpaper fabric became my lovely Spring for Cotton 1970s dress.

So! There you go! I'm not sure if you've followed Jen at Cashmerette's tour of all the sewing stores in Japan (here's her Kyoto update), but after seeing all her photos, I'm just a little jealous of how clean and organised Japan can be... our markets in Shanghai are very dirty and chaotic and just old... of course, the whole experience is hilarious and I wouldn't swap it... but I actually can't wait to have a little spare cash to go to Japan again. I didn't really sew that much when I last visited, so I'll totally be using Jen's links!

Anyways, for now, the tour is over, and details below! Hope you have a lovely week!

Markets I visited, for you to show the taxi driver the street address in Chinese when you're next visiting Shanghai... (!) (please let me know when you're visiting)...

The Embellishment Market:

388 Renmin Lu,
near Sichuan Nan Lu

and the fabric was from Shi Liu Pu Cloth Market:

168 Dongmen Lu,
near Zhongshan Dong Er Lu


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