Back in November, I went on a very impromptu week long trip to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. One of my favourite travel locations as I’ve been there many times, know my way around, love the food, have friends who live there and the shopping is great. As much as I normally like to meticulously plan my trips, once I reached my hotel in KL, I threw that plan out the window and just did whatever I wanted to do to make myself happy instead of worrying about taking photos and video for blogs and/or reels. What would make me happy whilst in KL? Raiding the fabric district of KL and going absolutely bonkers with my fabric purchases. Travelling and shopping for fabric may seem a little daunting especially if you have limited time and haven’t been to that city before so I wanted to share where I recommend buying fabric and everything you need to know about the area.
Getting to The Textile District
The Textile District can be reached by taking the Monorail/MRT to Chow Kit and is the best way to get to the area besides taxi or Grab. The MRT is air-conned inside, cheap, fast and frequent. I normally stay in Bukit Bintang so Chow Kit is only three stops away and then a short walk down the street. It takes about 15 minutes to get there including the MRT and walk and the Textile District is South of Chow Kit.
The Textile District is back to back multi story stores selling fabrics of all kinds. Some stores specifically carry only certain textiles such as silks, lace or embroidered tulles/wedding fabrics. Many stores will also sell fabrics specifically designed for Indian Sarees and traditional Indian, Muslim, Arabic and Malay clothing. It will take you more than a day to get through even a fraction of the stores and you will never be able to see everything so if you plan on getting as much time out of this district, choose certain stores, get there early and bring a large back pack or a friend to help you carry everything.
It’s worth noting that when you enter many of these fabric stores, you will find that one of the store employees will follow you around. Do not be alarmed, they are not chasing you out it is simply their job to help you carry all your fabric, cut whatever you want right where you stand (it’s very rare to find a cutting table in a store, instead employees just carry a ruler and scissors and cut as soon as you tell them how much you want). Your store helper is generally really friendly, enthusiastic and will happily show you anything you point to as well as suggest designs for you. Once they learn what styles, fabrics and patterns you prefer, they are a wealth of knowledge. At first I found the experience a little odd as I like to take my time browsing but once I started asking to see their cottons or for something specific, it was great to be lead to the section I wanted straight away. Remember when I said some of these stores are multi stories high? Some of them are over 11 floors high and having someone familiar with the store saves you time so be kind, polite and patient with your helper.
Right on the main textile district street is Nagoya Fabrics, a multi story packed to the rafters fabric store with the friendliest staff you’ll ever find. Despite not sewing with slippery fabrics such as silks or chiffon, Nagoya has an amazing selection of cotton fabrics, especially those with a floral design. I was spoilt for choice when it came to deciding what fabric to get and most of the cotton I purchased for $3 or less (AUD) per meter including border print and batik style cotton. The staff in this store were so kind, non pushy and enthusiastic about all kinds of sewing. They asked about what I liked to sew and whilst showing them photos on my phone, they all came over to kindly enthuse about my sewing and praise it which made me get all shy and blush profusely.
On my next trip to KL, I will certainly be getting more floral cottons because I really had to limit myself due to luggage weight limits.
Nagoya Fabrics do have an online store which you can check out here.
Hold onto your hats because this is a big one! Officially the largest textile retailer in Malaysia, this store is a whopping 11 stories high (possibly more) and is filled with thousands of fabric styles, colours, prints, materials and trims. Whilst in KL, I spent half a day in this store and only stopped because I was getting really tired and slightly overwhelmed (not to mention I was just about to reach my budget limit). Jakel Mall is one of my favourite places, especially the cotton section as there is so much to choose from and I’m sure any sewing enthusiast will find something they like. I’ve shopped at Jakel many times and am always impressed by their selection, pricing and service.
You may be wondering what kind of price range a place like this may have and there is honestly something for every budget. You can get fine quality silk for only a few dollars or up to a thousand dollars (AUD) a meter. I bought loads of cotton for between $3 and $5 (AUD) a meter and some cotton silk blends for ($6 AUD). If you plan on sewing on a budget, you can definitely find some great budget friendly materials here and I think the most I paid per meter was $9 (AUD) for some stunning embroidered lace fabric. It’s worth noting that Jakel Mall partner and collaborate with high end designer brands so you can purchase officially licensed fabric from Gucci, Chanel, Prada, Balenciaga etc.
Jakel Mall asks that you kindly don’t take photos or video inside the mall but I did snap a photo of the outside. They do have an online store but it’s only a fraction of what they offer in stores.
I thought I’d add this store to the list as although they mainly sell ready made modest clothing, they had a smaller but beautiful collection of fabrics. Most of the fabric came decorated with crystal embellishments and already cut into 4 meter pieces which for me is great because that’s my go-to length if I don’t have a specific project in mind. This is a great store if you like border prints or the same design in multiple colour ways.
I found the staff did struggle with English but pointing to a design and holding up 4 fingers and saying “4 meters please” was enough for them to understand. They were still kind, patient and happy to help so I have no issues coming back for more fabric later. The prices for the fabrics was good and very reasonable for the area. I find with the sheer amount of fabric stores in the area, prices are really cheap all around so they don’t have to compete with each other.
Although not a fabric store specifically, this is still an absolute gold mine for sewing enthusiasts. Two floors of sewing tools, sewing machine parts, treads, buttons, trims, lace and much much more. The prices here are absolutely unbelievable and you can really save so much money, at least compared to Australian prices back home. This is the store you come to to buy new fabric scissors, rotary cutters, all sorts of sewing machine parts and to browse an entire wall of threads for sewing machines, overlockers and embroidery. There’s a great range of buttons and I certainly will recommend the fancy lace trim section. You have my permission to go nuts here. I will note that this store has no elevator inside so you will have to go up stairs to reach the second floor so please keep that in mind if you have mobility issues.
The textile district is massive and there are certainly stores I found on a previous trip that I couldn’t find on this one. There are small cafe’s and Seven Eleven’s along the street incase you need to stop for a snack and a drink and most stores will have a chair you can rest on as you shop. It’s certainly worth noting that not all stores are fully air conditioned, and some have only stairs to get up to other levels. However, it’s a certified gold mine that feels like it goes on forever.
Brickfield/ Little India District
Also known as ‘Little India’, this area also has a wide range of textile and fabric stores for you to browse through. The Brickfield area can be a little touristy so prices are slightly higher but in comparison to Aussie prices back home, still cheap. Many textile stores here will have heaps of silk and saree fabric but you will still find plenty of cotton and other such fabrics.
Getting to Brickfield is easy on the MRT and stopping at the KL Sentral stop. It’s only a short walk to Brickfield from there and you’ll know it when you see the colourful archways (there’s also great Indian snacks and restaurants in the area for lunch and a quick break).
Also found in the Chow Kit area, Gulatis is an amazing fabric and textile store with a massive range of fabrics. Many of their prints come in a range of fabrics and some can also be found with crystal embellishments. Gulatis’ has many floors all with different fabrics in them and a wide range of mens/tailoring fabrics which I wasn’t able to fully explore because I was at my breaking point for tiredness.
The store assistant I had in my store was very enthusiastic and would unravel anything I looked at. He was very patient as I went through each section and was happy to show me more. Gulatis’ also has a contract to sell Euro Moda which is a huge Italian fabric distributor and company so it’s a great place to find Italian silk and cotton silk blends; I have sewn with their fabrics on projects such as this one and this one. The store also has officially licensed prints from Balenciaga, Prada and other designer stores. The prices at Gulatis is slightly higher than other stores you can find on average, but the quality speaks for itself and after sewing with their fabrics before, I was happy to pay a little more knowing how great the outcome can be.
You can find Gulatis online here.
Although I only had limited time to explore Chinatown on this trip, I know that the area does have some pretty great fabric and textile stores. Getting to Chinatown is easy as you can take the MRT to Pasar Seni or the train to KLCC Central and walk into China town. The main drag of China Town is the famous Petaling Street which is signed with a massive Chinese gate on both ends, this is where you buy all your fake designer and cheap clothes. Petaling Street is full of small stalls along the middle but against the sides are normal stores all offering a wide range of cheap good, some of which offer fabric.
Syarikat People Textile
Another store with a fantastic selection of cottons in a variety of patterns and prints. By the time I reached Syarikat, my luggage was already at the weight limit so I forced myself to only look around and trust me it was painful to not buy all the pretty fabrics. The staff were very sweet and the prices were fantastic. In particular I loved all their Japanese cottons and Japanese printed fabrics.
Dexon Button Shop
Probably the cutest button shop you will see for a while and a great place to stock up for all your button needing project. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many buttons in one place and the staff were super sweet and happy to help. Even if you don’t need buttons, they offer zip repair and scissor sharpening services (I wish I brought my scissors from home).
Kuala Lumpur is a fabric shoppers dream and one of my favourite places to visit. I have always felt safe whilst shopping for fabric, all the stores are generally really clean with friendly staff, great prices and many are really happy to help you out. All the stores I went into were happy to help me find matching lining fabrics, make sure I have all the trims I want. All the stores took card payments so you don’t have to worry about carrying around lots of ringgit.
Throughout KL, you will find fabric and textile stores all over the place and there’s no way you could visit every single one. EVen in the above lists, theres so many stores that I never got to explore and I’m sure that as I travel more, these lists will grow more and more. The more you walk around, the more you will find. It’s worth stating that not all fabric and textile stores are listed on Google or Google maps so if you find a cluster of stores, there will always be more stores as you go. Keep notes as you shop incase you want to return to a store. Whilst shopping, talk to the locals and shop owners/employees as they are generally more than happy to direct you to more shops. As you go forth on your epic fabric shopping adventure, I wish you all a wonderful time, many savings and hope your creative juices are itching to get home and start sewing. I will be posting my recent KL fabric shopping haul soon so stay tuned for that.
Note: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions and thoughts expressed are solely my own and not influenced in any way. There are no affiliate links and I do not benefit from any link clicks or purchases made.
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