In my experience, Switzerland is not the easiest place to find beautiful fabrics and sewing supplies. To make matters worse, order more than 50CHF of goods from abroad and you are liable to be hit with a substantial tax. With all this in mind, whilst I was living in Switzerland, I was on a fairly constant lookout for shops in the Geneva area and Swiss suppliers who sell online.
- Manor / Rue Cornavin 6, 1201 / Mon-Sat – Yep, Manor sells fabric in the basement. There’s not much choice and the prices are pretty steep, but hey, it is convenient like no other and maybe they’ve got exactly what you need. Personally, what I find really useful is their haberdashery selection. If I need buttons or a zip to finish a project, and I don’t want to wait, I usually come here. There is also a fair selection of cotton thread, wool and embroidery floss.
- Textiles Acacias / Route des Acacias 45b / Mon-Sat – This place is quite hard to find. It’s after Media Markt but before the big junction with Route des Jeunes, you have to wiggle down a little side street. BUT perseverance is rewarded, because once you get in there it is actually pretty decent. Last time I was there they were stocking Liberty lawn!! And the haberdashery selection is impressive. Prices aren’t cheap, but they did have a few bargain bins dotted around with ends of rolls etc.
- Alja / Rue de la Terrassière 26, 1207 /Mon-Fri – Like Textiles Acacias, this is another ugly duckling. It’s hidden on the first floor above a discount electronics shop, down the less-popular end of what starts as Rue de la Confederation (why that road changes name every two blocks I have no idea). Again though, the fabric selection is not bad. Last time I was there, they were doing a particularly good line in cute cotton prints.
- A gras / Rue de Coutance 5, 1201 / Mon-Sat – Opposite Manor, I have to admit I have only been in here once: I marched myself firmly past the gorgeous Orla Keily towels, through to their fabric section at the back, casually glanced at a pricetag or two, and then backed the heck up. They specialise in upholstery fabric, so if you’ve got a vintage chaise longue you’ve been meaning to re-cover, and a spare 500chf burning a hole in your pocket, dive in.
- Cotton Shop / Rue du Cendrier 19, 1201 / Mon-Sat – Embroidery comes in many forms. If you are a fan of the uber-traditional, scottiedog on a cushion variety, you are in luck! This place is chock full of chinzy patterns and all the supplies to make them.
- Histoire Des Perles / Rue du Mole 12-14, 1201 / Mon-Sat – Not strictly sewing supplies, but I have to give this magic little place a shoutout. Catering for all your bead-related needs, L’Histoire des Perles is well-stocked and well-organised. Rows of tiny boxes showcase beads of all shapes and sizes, whilst the walls are adorned with inspiring creations (most of which are also for sale). The place run by friendly and enthusiastic people who are never too busy to share skills and advice, and will often offer you a tiny cup of herbal tea whilst you browse. They also run jewellery-making classes.
- Mondial Tissus / 16 Rue Montréal, 74100 Ville la Grand, France / Mon-Sat: This place is basically what made sewing in Switzerland a viable option for me (and is also the reason I didn’t go back to many of the Geneva places listed above). The nearest branch is located just over the border on the Annemasse side, on an unappealing industrial estate and is essentially a warehouse full of affordable fabrics. It is a bit of a jumble and the quality is definitely variable, so leave yourself plenty of time to browse. Assistants roam the space with a metre stick and scissors to cut your fabric for you and fill out a little receipt you take to the desk at the end. I would highly recommend getting the (free) storecard – you earn points, they notify you of sales (which are always worth going for) and you even get a special discount on your birthday. The haberdashery selection is excellent (looking for 505 basting spray? It’s here) and they also sell things like foam, quilt batting and extrawide oilcloth by the metre. If you are newly moved to Geneva and a sewist, please just go here, you won’t regret it I promise.
Swiss Online Resources:
- Busy Needle Quilt Shop – thread, batting (including 100% cotton) and tools for quilting
- Pom-pon – Zurich-based shop/site selling fabric & indie patterns (Deer & Doe, Merchant & Mills etc)
- Stoff und Kram – Lovely high quality fabrics (Birch, Lotta Jansdotter etc)
- Grunemeter – Again, high quality fabrics, including a good selection of knits
- Buttinette – coming highly recommended (thanks Adwoa!), they have a good selection of fabrics at reasonable prices, and there are occasional deals in their “Restposten” section
- Tissu & Co – a fab new addition to the Swiss online scene, Tissu & Co carries a gorgeous selection of fabrics and notions (hello neon piping!) and a growing range of indie patterns – By Hand London, Tilly and the Buttons, Colette etc. The store is in French and English.
- Je suis à croquer – another newcomer, stocking an intereesting range of fabrics including some Japanese ones such as Nani Iro