A peek inside Dressew

Uh oh… just what I needed! I wandered into Dressew in downtown Vancouver (which is already full of excellent cheap deals) to find they have a half price sale. I’d been dressing people up all morning (volunteering for Dress for Success, which is worthy of its own post someday too) so I had clothes and sewing on the brain. (When don’t I have sewing on the brain?)

Anyways.. I’ve been meaning to write about Dressew for a while now. I’ve been there three times since I started volunteering downtown and I have a few sneaky-pics to share. They’re big on rules there – no food or drink, full metres only – so I was being as secret as possible taking photos.

If you live in the Vancouver area and sew (or knit, or craft, or like a good deal) you’ve probably already been to, or at least heard about Dressew.

It’s right in downtown Vancouver, in the not-so-nice area of town. For the longest time, it was cash-only, I have memories of running up 3-4 blocks to the nearest (also not-so-nice) ATM to grab cash for my goodies. Finally, they accept debit cards! Still no credit cards but that’s probably a good thing…

Just LOOK at all the zippers! They’re sorted by length and colour in 1″ increments, and this aisle runs the length of the store. If you’re looking for a hard-to-find zipper, this is your place. Separating, closed-end, invisible, whatever floats your boat – it’s probably here.

There’s a surprisingly large selection of sequin appliques, too.

I bought these ones – won’t they be cute on a silk dress or blouse? Maybe on something strappy, I’ll attach the little bows where the straps join the bodice? (I realize they look huge in this photo but they’re only about 3″ across.)

Buckles, etc:

A rainbow selection of serger threads – no excuse for using white or black on everything! (I’ve added grey, taupe and red to my serger thread pool but I’m nowhere near this well-stocked! One day…)

Ric-rack for days:

Drapery-type cording:

A whole aisle of laces and ribbons:

More glitter and sparkle! I imagine this is used for figure skating costumes, ballroom dance costumes – something special? That’s a lot of shine for everyday wear…

The majority of the top floor is fashion fabric and quilting fabric, with a few tiaras, feather boas and wigs mixed in. The basement’s mostly notions, PLUS the literal bargain-basement fabric section. It’s exactly what you think a bargain basement should be!

A room about three times the size of most apartments, STUFFED with fabric. Like so, above. If you can’t read the price tags, most of them say $3 or $4 per metre. What a deal! Especially at half price…

Now there’s a lot of less-than-pretty fabrics, and most of them are 100% unknown, but if you have patience and a good eye there’s some treasures to be found. I’m almost embarrassed to admit how much I bought, but think of the savings!

On to the good stuff – look what I bought! I went home with a cool 34 metres (!) of fabric for under $70. Doesn’t look like that much from the picture does it?

Oh man. Totally cut off from buying fabric forever. Or at least until I make a dent in my stash. If only there were more hours in the day, so I could spend them all sewing!

Anyways, if you’re in the Vancouver area (visiting or local) and love to sew, definitely check out Dressew. You can find just about anything you can think of for sewing, crafting, or dressing up for Halloween.

I didn’t take pictures of half the stuff downstairs, or anything upstairs – too many staff. Whenever I’m downtown, I can’t help but stop by. It’s only a block away from where I volunteer, and around the corner from Button Button. Too much fun to pass up!

Sale’s on until June 26th, head on down if you’re in the Vancouver area and need to build up your stash of fabric, zippers or sequin appliques…

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43 Responses to A peek inside Dressew

  1. TMachan June 18, 2010 at 7:19 am #

    I love this post! I mean I enjoy all your posts, but my heart skipped a beat when I saw all those pictures. I’m so envious. All the selection, all the choices, all the opportunity, it’s so magical. I’m from Manitoba, and while we have a small – and I mean small selection of materials at our local co-op – the nearest place worth hitting is a four hour drive away, and even then the materials are not inexpensive, and they certainly don’t have a selection of zippers like that. And I love that coral pink pick of yours, I could just imagine it as a perfectly flattering boat-neck sleaveless sheath dress with summery white wedge sandals.

  2. The Cupcake Goddess June 18, 2010 at 7:37 am #

    Oh man, I’m so jealous! I love bargain basement finds and shops! They are most definitely the best! Love, love, love what you found.

  3. Trudy Callan June 18, 2010 at 8:05 am #



  4. auzzi June 18, 2010 at 8:07 am #

    When you say half off, does that mean off EVERYTHING? I’ve been thinking of getting a dressform but half off these seems too good to be true. Dressew is a dangerous place for me to be when there’s not a sale on– it’s so easy to get carried away! Another place I’ve heard about is Fashion Fabrics… have you ever been there?

  5. Molly June 18, 2010 at 8:58 am #

    Wow, so jealous. What a great store!

  6. Tasia June 18, 2010 at 9:05 am #

    I know eh? Isn’t it fantastic! It’s a smorgasbord of good stuff. @auzzi: No, not everything’s on sale sadly! Just the fabric in the basement. Lots to choose from but unfortunately, not the dress forms! (Wouldn’t that be amazing.)@TMachan: Oh man, I’d be lost if my nearest fabric shop was 4 hours away! Dressew’s about 45 minutes away, and Fabricana’s about 30 minutes away. So I’ve got lots of excellent resources within an hour of my house or work, I’m super lucky! Helps fuel the addiction you know :)

    • Snowflake June 12, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

      It is a great store! I got to go there with my textiles class on a school fieldtrip, and it is just great! I’ve been meaning to head back down there, because I’m looking for small details and appliques for my grad dress, and now that I know there is a sale, I can’t wait to head back!!

  7. Tasia June 18, 2010 at 9:37 am #

    @auzzi: Forgot to say, I’ve never heard of Fashion Fabrics. Where is it?

  8. Brooke June 18, 2010 at 10:09 am #

    Oooh, fantastic! Thanks!

  9. CGCouture June 18, 2010 at 10:36 am #

    So jealous.

  10. Selfish Seamstress June 18, 2010 at 10:45 am #


  11. Petite Josette June 18, 2010 at 11:18 am #

    I have actually plans to go there tomorrow with a friend ! Do you know about Designer Fabric Liquidators ? it’s pretty much across the street from Dressew, half a block east. It’s way smaller (quite small actually) and I have only been there once but I sense it might be the kind of place where you can find little gems sometimes. It’s probably worth a trip next time you’re DT East Side…

    There’s also another shop on Granville St and 16th called Gala Fabric, They have better quality fabric than Dressew I think and prices are still affordable. About a month back they were having sales with fabric at $2 a meter !

  12. Erica June 18, 2010 at 12:46 pm #

    oh wow! I wanna go!

  13. auzzi June 18, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

    oops– sorry… the store I meant to refer to is Designer Fabrics, which Petite Josette has alluded to in her comment. I’ve never been myself, but I hear they have really good prices.

  14. Tasia June 18, 2010 at 1:41 pm #

    Oooh thanks @Petite Josette: ! I’ve driven by so many times but never stopped in. I remember going to Gala Fabric when I was in school but in my mind, I remember it being good quality but expensive. Maybe they’ve changed things up? I’ll have to check it out (and report back, of course!)
    @auzzi: If you go, let me know what it’s like, price and selection-wise!
    I get a lot of questions on where to buy fabric in the Lower Mainland/Vancouver area, so stay tuned for more reports like this…

  15. Debi June 18, 2010 at 2:52 pm #

    Wow! What a place! Wish I had something like that near me!

  16. Alice June 18, 2010 at 7:12 pm #

    wow – I am so impressed with your dressew digging abilities! i have to say, i’m not a needle in the haystack type, which only leaves more for you! i’ve noticed some nice bamboo in the knits upstairs, though!

    dressew notions are unbelievable. and i was over the moon when i got a zipper foot there recently (i’m a new sewer) for a quarter!

  17. SA June 18, 2010 at 7:26 pm #

    I will be visiting vancouver next month.Thanks for letting me know I will definitely be there although I am not sure how much would be for baggage back to the US

  18. LisaB June 18, 2010 at 11:04 pm #

    seriously, Dressew has a sale on? That is dangerous news indeed. Do.not.need.more.fabric….. unless it’s a major bargin. no, wait, that’s not right.

  19. Tasia June 18, 2010 at 11:41 pm #

    Dangerous news, for sure, @LisaB: That’s what I’m here for… I can’t buy it all myself, so I’m sharing the fabric love :) With sales like $1 and $2 per metre, it’s so hard to resist temptation…
    @Alice: I like a challenge, I don’t mind a little digging if I can get a deal! The notions selection is awesome for sure.
    @Debi: Well, if you’re ever in the area..at least you know where to go :)

  20. Renay June 20, 2010 at 3:05 am #

    ohhhh if only I wasnt on the other side of the world! gahh. lucky ducks you are :-D. Great post too!

  21. Monet June 22, 2010 at 7:08 am #

    Wow, I am jealous of you…that place looks amazing, except for the sequined trim. Although I guess that has its uses as well :)

  22. Tasia June 22, 2010 at 10:18 pm #

    @Monet: You bet, and the funny thing is, the sequined trim isn’t the weirdest thing in the store!

  23. Jamie August 25, 2010 at 1:33 pm #

    Great post! I absolutely adore going to both Dressew and Button Button.

  24. Anon September 9, 2010 at 12:44 am #

    Hey, just a heads up… I work at Dressew, and you can take all the pictures that your little heart desires. Happy sewing!

  25. Tasia September 9, 2010 at 10:24 am #

    Oh how funny! Thanks, Dressew Staff Member! I didn’t want to get thrown out before I was done shopping, that was my biggest concern – that I’d miss out on all the fun things in my shopping basket and be asked to leave :)

  26. PatchworkPottery September 22, 2010 at 12:30 pm #

    OH! My favourite sewing supply store! I love Dressew and no matter how much I go, I am always in awe at the trims and buttons aisles! I’m surprised that they still don’t have a website. Fantastic post!!! Hugs, Laurraine

  27. rebecca September 22, 2010 at 9:16 pm #

    wonderful! do you ladies happen to know if dressew carries crinoline/tulle? i’m looking to find birdcage veil netting also… any idea if i might find it there?


  28. Tasia September 22, 2010 at 10:22 pm #

    I know, Laurraine, the selection is fantastic! Am also surprised they don’t have a website, but then again, everyone seems to know about it! (At least they take debit cards now instead of just cash only..)
    @rebecca: I am sure they do – they have everything! The notions selection is huge, there’s just about anything you can imagine there. If you’re not sure whether the trip is worth it, give them a call first? Whenever I’ve been there and asked if they carried “x” – they always knew where it was and the answer was always yes..

  29. Ashlee October 1, 2010 at 7:42 am #

    If only Winnipeg had something REMOTELY this fantastic… still drooling!!

  30. carrol ross November 5, 2010 at 1:00 pm #

    looking to find needlepoint patterns and thread does dressew sell needlepoint?

  31. Carol November 9, 2010 at 11:22 am #

    Thanks for the virtual foray into Dressew. I was just thinking of going downtown and was wondering what the yarn situation was there, when I ran across your post. What fun! For the lady that was enquring about needlepoint, they have some kits, but not a constant selection. Their inventory includes mfgr’s ends,warehouse clearances, and bankruptcy stuff, so you have to go there to see what they’ve got.

  32. Felicity May 9, 2012 at 8:46 pm #

    I found this great blog post when googling Dressew – THANK YOU for the great photos. If you’ve never been there it’s hard to describe and your photos are perfect.

    I used to work 4 blocks from Dressew – dangerous indeed but I wouldn’t buy zippers or ricrac anywhere else!

  33. jolene August 5, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

    just wondered if you know if Dressew has organic fabrics, im looking for organic cotton.. thanks if you let me know…

  34. Jools September 24, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

    I know this is an old post, but I can tell you that the large selection of sequins and fantastic prices make Dressew very, very popular in the local burlesque community…

  35. Barbara October 8, 2014 at 8:08 pm #

    Do you have plasric canvas doll house dishes patterns?

  36. Fiona April 11, 2015 at 10:33 pm #

    Great description of Dressew :) I live in Nanaimo and try to get over there every couple months. I’ve never been able to spend more than $35 in there. First time I was sweating cuz I thought for sure if was going to be $200-300… total was $32!!!
    Agreed, if you’re into sewing, this place is a must visit. Be prepared to spend at least 1-2 hrs your first time


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