After reconnecting with a better version of myself (see my feedback on the Body Coach 90 days plan) – it was time to stop procrastinating on some past beloved hobbies of mine, that I really wanted to start again: Sewing. And with it came the need to hunt for sewing supplies in Kuala Lumpur.
I had brought back, 2 years ago, my 10+ years old sewing machine and some of my decades old sewing supplies from France. It has been sitting in my spare room collecting dust.
Time to get a good inventory of what was left and the state of all of these. There was some old Burda magazines, a fair number of bits and pieces. Super old threads (that I would now use only for hand basting). When I first learned how to sew, I was 16/17 years old and I had no clue. I was armed with books from the public library. But now on YouTube there are so many tutorials! I was so excited to start over!
I thought it best to consider myself as a total newbie again – and my stuff were just too old, and with lack of proper sewing education, well I didn’t even know the tools I was missing on! These weeks of starting over got me into a frenzy of small tool purchase as I discovered their existence while watching online content. I must have done sewing from middle age before. Now I can go so much faster and have much more professional results.
Finding maintenance and repair services for your sewing machine
An 18 years old lady. A great Christmas gift it was, it does the 8 most important stitches but as I was a teenager on my last use (did you ever read any manual at that age ?) … Well let’s say that storage and total lack of maintenance had done its toll.
Since it’s not a well-known brand (like Brother or Bernina ), forget about finding after-sales services in Malaysia for it. So, after looking online for a while, I found a guy doing just what I needed!
I brought my machine to Aidil and 10 days later got it back cleaned, oiled and running as smoothly as its first days! Visit his webpage for his contact if you need service or maintenance.
When you go there, the google map is accurate, his shop is on the first floor above the laundromat. He is not always there, so coordinate on whats app beforehand to ensure he knows you are coming.
Where to buy Fabric & Haberdashery supplies
There are 3 main locations where you can find fabric and supplies in Kuala Lumpur:
Spotlight shops (there are two), Masjid India district and Chinatown district.
Purchasing a Serger or Overlocker
Soon enough, as practice makes perfect. I ventured into more complex fabric and projects and decided to invest into my own serger. In Malaysia however, the choices were quite limited. In specialty shops most would have only one for sales – the Brother 2104D
And online on Shopee, you would find the same choice and the Singer 14HD854 or very expensive professional models. A little bit overkill for my own use.
I ended up snagging a Singer 14HD854 with a Chinese New Year promotion on Shopee for fair price. It’s not been letting me down ever since. The only catch (which I realized later) is that for this machine you can’t use just any needles. (like the brother) but bespoke Singer branded for serger special ones. I managed to buy some online from other countries to get a small stock of different sizes easily enough from Shopee.
Purchasing fabric and haberdashery
There are two of them, one in Mytown and one in IPC Mall. They have an extremely wide range of DIY hobbies supplies. Not only for sewing, but also glitters, glues, feathers and a lot of other bits & pieces. A whole section is dedicated to household items as well.
This is probably one of the only place where you can find commercial patterns of the big companies ( Simplicity, Vogue, Butterick etc… )
Their haberdashery section is decent but can be a little limited to really mainstream colors both for ribbons, zippers or bias tape. However, they have the best quality. They would have almost all you need in small bulk packets or by meter.
They have 2 sections, one for upholstery fabric and one for Quilting and Clothing fabric. Overall, well organized by types of fabric too and pricing is a little on the higher side (it’s in a mall after all). Quality wise I would rank it as medium to high. They have mostly modern patterns.
They have a website where you can buy online patterns. I actually prefer to browse on the big 4 pattern companies’ websites, and once I noted down a pattern number that I like, order it online instead of trekking to the shop.
There is a free VIP membership program and during promotion periods (especially on patterns) it’s really, really worth it. (buy 1 get 1 or even cheaper !)
It’s a good one stop shop for all your needs.
This sector is right behind Chow Kit. It’s a collection of 2 streets with lots of Indian saree shops but also fabric shops. The most famous one being Kamdar – but I have been told that good fabric are also available in Musan House.
I have been to a few but I must say that Kamdar is by far the widest selection on fabric. They have 2 floors dedicated only to clothing fabric and 2 floors for upholstery fabric. They do not sell any haberdashery or lining of any kind.
If you like hunting for a bargain and a unique design, that’s where you will be happy. It’s a mess – but they do have a lot of choices and quality wise, I would call it medium to low.
It’s a bit annoying when the sales guys follow you around and I didn’t find them really helpful when I had questions. Many labels don’t really state what material the fabric is, so you’ll still need them to help you at some point.
The only place for haberdashery in this area is called Reben (ribbons in Bahasa) and is on the ground floor of Plaza City one.
If you are hunting for local design patterns, batik, cheap cottons and nice flowers or laces – I believe Kamdar is worth a look. Then head towards Reben for the rest of your needs.
Beware that all below places close early during the day at about 5pm and are not opened on Sundays.
Not just a tourist place, and right on that famous pedestrian Jalan Petaling Street there is a great window shop haberdashery called Dexon buttons. It’s a floor to ceiling choices of any kind of buttons your heart desires. The supplies are probably cheapest and quite similar to what you would find in Spotlight or Reben for local brands. The ladies there are really helpful (and you need their help to find something in there). You can buy everything by the unit which is great. I highly recommend.
Except for ribbons. Their ribbons and cords are of really low quality. For bias tape, they only have the single fold of the brand called Dolphin.
Fabric wise, there are two shops that are fantastic. They are one in front of each other on Jalan Petaling but it’s on the section across the road from the pedestrian road.
One is called Syarikat People Textile and the other one Fah Num .
Syarikat People Textile: good quality fabric and a large selection of designs. But what I like here is the service. The ladies handling the shop can really advise you types of fabric if you show them your project and your pattern. They can bring a few rolls out for you to compare and decide. They recommend the best for you, not just the most expensive.
Fah Num has, in my opinion, as wide a choice of fabric as Kamdar, and they are much better displayed. They also have very high-quality ones for doing shirts, costumes or more advances projects with silks or very fine fabric. They have a wide array of designs for every single types of fabric. The staff can provide some sort of advice (not as good as People’s lovely ladies) and the shop is clean, air con and well lit. It’s has the wider range of pricing – from Japanese coton (RM20/meter) to fancy European silks (RM 250+ / meter) .
And finally, online: Shopee
When you are looking for the bits and pieces that are a little more specifics, such as: machine foot (overcast foot, invisible zipper foot etc… ) or even your tracing papers, scissors and other supplies. It’s the cheapest place to look and the choice is wide.
I did most of this kind of shopping online myself. Everything was delivered withing 2 to 3 days.
Do search in English but also in Bahasa to get the most results on Shopee.
Overall, I believe that the best mix of quality / choice / service / pricing is in Chinatown. Plus with the LRT and MRT Pasar Seni station it’s easy access with public transport and on foot. I am not fond of overwhelming choices and spending hours agonizing over two different designs, like in Kamdar. And since I am still new, I do like the guidance in choosing the right fabric for my projects. Kuala Lumpur seems to have a larger quilting community. Many sections in Spotlight or even specialty shops for Quilting are available, such as Cottage patch in Ampang. Sewing garments is not a very popular hobby and the places recommended above (especially in Chinatown) looks like they would also cater to professional tailors. I myself, am trying to not visit these places too often: it’s just too difficult to NOT buy more fabric!
Wishing you some enjoyable sewing projects! I would be happy to connect with more seamstresses in KL, hit me up on FB or via email 😊
Update May 2022:
Yee button in PJ has been reported as a great place for high quality haberdashery too by some seamstress friends– I have never been there myself – but here you go:
169 jln SS2/24, 47300 Petaling Jaya
Tel: 0378770072 / 03 7865 8078
firstname.lastname@example.org / www.yeebutton.com.my