Santiago all sewn up

Tragically I failed to furnish you with an installment of Fashion Barometer Friday last week, but I was using my time wisely. I had to make a flying trip to Santiago to, among other things, get a piece of paper stamped by five different government offices (this is why most people stay happily in their countries of origin, I imagine, and why immigrants all over the world deserve our compassion).

Zip shop, Rosas

While I was there I took some photos to document my hard-won knowledge of the sewing shops of the city to provide you with a Sewing Tour of Santiago, as I have been meaning to for some time. I hope this will assist any dressmaker expats who make Santiago their home, be that ever so small a number.

Santiago’s most famous fabric district is Independencia, where on Avenida Independencia and surrounding streets you can find a ton of fabric shops worth looking in. I didn’t take any photos of this area for this post because I rarely shopped there. The shops on Independencia mainly cater for women’s fashion fabrics and don’t have much in the way of natural fibres, which is my preferred medium. I sweat a lot.

Rosas sewing machine shops, Santiago

Let us begin at the beginning. Rosas with Bandera is where you can buy your sewing machine, and have it fixed once bought.

Casa Suez, Rosas

Rosas is also the best place for all notions, sewing magazines, and jewellery making accoutrements, if that is your desire. Above, Casa Suez, is my favourite notion shop. They have the widest variety of threads and much of my other sewing shop knowledge came from them.

Just a block east you will find the Galerias Las Flores and Las Rosas, which are home to random craft shops which hold random craft lessons, and a whole lot of buttons. This is where you can buy pattern paper and lingerie notions.

Back down Banderas, also where all of Santiago’s best and cheapest second hand clothes shops are, there are a fair few places that sell fabric by the kilo. I found some lovely stuff in the Telas x Kilos shop above, so don’t be put off by the piles and piles of fabric.

Casa Olivari

Found on Catedral 1115 with Banderas, Casa Olivari is the best of the best. Lots of lovely cottons, fine shirt fabrics, and wool. Unfortunately it was shut while I was there, so you’ll have to make do with this dull photo.

Comercial Leo

Comercial Leo at 1132 Rosas is the fabric shop I patronised during my batik phase. They have a wide range of undyed cotton and canvas, as well as quite a good collection of notions. And they’re really lovely people.

Speaking of batik, there is a mall up in Vitacura called Pueblo del Ingles which is home to Santiago’s only batik shop The Batik & Silk Co, and quite a few art supply, knitting, and tapestry shops too. It’s crafty. It’s a pain in the arse to get to, but it, like me, you have an overwhelming urge to batik, then it’s there.

Most the shops mentioned here are only open during the week and till around 2pm on a Saturday, hence the photos of shuttered shops. This will be a familiar moan to anyone who lives in Latin America, but really I do think it’s nice that people get some time off, even if it stops me buying a reel of thread at inappropriate hours!

Knitting shops

For the knitters among you, there are wool shops around 21 Mayo and Diagonal Cervantes. Also, a nice fountain and loads of fortune tellers and prostitutes.

Cordoneria Alemana

There are a fair few other notion shops scattered around. Cordoneria Alemana is at Merced 788, and there are some in galerias around Tobablaba metro, as well as one in the Tobablaba metro underpass.

Moldes Patrones

The only pattern shop I ever found in Santiago was Moldes Patrones, which has two shops and a website.

I think I must stop here, as this post is very special interest. It took me more than two years to find all this out, and I am sure I don’t know it all. If there’s anyone who wants to know more then do leave a comment. One of the hardest things about being an expat in a new country is having to learn everything from the beginning again, and having all this knowledge to waste – much like all the quotes from 90s films that will take up space in my brain forever.

Leave a comment


  1. My mother, a big sewer, was most impressed with how each shop has one item in which it specializes. It’s so different from the US system of consolidated big shops with everything from bobbins to buttons to batikery. What I like is how the people at each shop can often direct you to the right place for your needs. Like this same database you’re talking about is reproduced in dozens of hundreds of heads, each one slightly different.

    • It’s weird for me that the same types of shops are all located on one street in Santiago, though I hear that’s a thing in the states, too. It makes a crazy kind of sense I suppose!

  2. caballosalvaje

     /  February 17, 2012

    Such wealth of knowledge! Will print this out and use it to plan my next fabric-shopping excursion. Thank you!!

  3. Kate Hancock

     /  November 25, 2012

    Hi there

    I have just stumbled across your blog and am wondering if you can please provide me with some fabric advice. I am currently travelling through Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and Brazil and I am on the hunt for good quality bridal lace. I can purchase it in Melbourne but thought it may be available in South America and be a fraction of the price. Your thoughts would be most appreciated.

    Hope this finds you smiley

    Best wishes


    • Hi Kate! In answer to your question, Argentina and Chile import most fancy fabrics (such as lace and silk) from Europe, while Peru and Bolivia are wonderful sources for wools and cottons. I’m afraid you’ll find bridal lace here is imported from France and even more expensive than it is in Europe! Off the top of my head, I can recommend Tessuti for really beautiful high quality fabrics in Australia (as I’m sure you already know!)
      Good luck with your hunt and congratulations if the lace is for your wedding!

  4. Kate Hancock

     /  November 26, 2012

    Hi Abi

    Thank you for your prompt reply! Yes, my partner and I recently got engaged in Paris so I’m now searching for the perfect French lace! I am currently in touch with D’Italia in Melbourne and I’ll check out Tessuti too.

    I hope this finds you well.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 271 other followers

%d bloggers like this: