I’ve been asked a couple of times where I go to buy my sewing supplies such as fabric. Here’s a list of places I go for fabric, and some tips and tricks to be aware of to get the best prices (or not ripped off). If you have any tips, please let me know so that I can update the post!
Souk Al Mubarakiya
You should definitely check out is Souk Al Mubarakiya. The souk itself is actually quite huge. There are a number of market areas, such as the gold market, veggie/fruit market, fish market, and so forth… I’m not 100% sure if the fabric market area is part of the souk or not, as everything just sort of spreads out over a couple blocks. I think the real building might be called Al-Safat Complex…
Check out my map that highlights where I think the fabric stores are in general.
Here is another view of the area. I’ve highlighted some potential parking spots – sometimes they are full but there are heaps around.
We look for landmarks when trying to find the buildings; try to find McDonald’s and walk south past a mosque. The buildings you come across should hopefully be the fabric area.
Expect to spend a while there trying to figure out where everything is; the first time my husband and I went there we spent 7 hours being tourists looking at everything… The gold market was amazing, and there was so much to try…
Cheap vs Expensive Shops
Now this bit might be a bit hard to describe without someone personally visiting the area… Depending upon the buildings the shops inside will either be high-quality material (and thus more expensive), or cheaper quality. The fancy stores seem to start pricing at 3-5KD ($10-20) per meter of fabric! Projects can very quickly get fairly expensive, especially when you buy a couple of meters for each project…
Honestly the cheaper stores are quite fine and so far the only places I’ve shopped. Pricing starts around 1KD per meter of fabric (cheaper if you get stuff like polyester which I avoid). Quality wise, I’m happy so far. I have bought silk/cotton (unknown percentage blends) for around 2.5KD/m.
Buttons, ribbons, zippers, thread…? Outside the building you will come across many stores that sells the extra hardware type supplies.
Speaking English or Arabic?
I always go to the Souk Al Mubarakiya with my husband, who can speak arabic. Some people certainly spoke English there, even if it was rather broken. Since my husband primarily spoke to everyone, most people would ask to speak in Arabic only. I do suggest knowing basic phrases (like how much is this) and numbers.
Some Important Notes
You will be potentially walking in and out of two or three large buildings, and multiple stores. There isn’t easy to find vendors for water, so if its hot I do suggest a water bottle. I spend a couple of hours at the Souk each trip, and in the summer heat I find a water bottle a necessity.
Also, take tissues… The bathrooms in the building is absolutely disgusting! Water all over the floor, they stink, no toilet paper… If you get desperate enough to brave it, make sure you have the right supplies.
This is an important point; most stores don’t have KNet (or the use of cards). I’m also not sure where the closest ATM is, though a few banks are around the area… Take cash! Take more cash than you expect, because you will find something you will fall in love with! Every time I go I end up leaving with extra fabric that I have no project planned for, just because it was so pretty…
Another really good place that I have found for craft supplies is Barakat Showroom. It’s in Mabroor Complex, Hamed Al Mubarak St., Salmiya. They have everything from painting, to knitting, to beading and more…
They have a limited choice of material (still I suggest the Souk above), but what I love about Barakat is the higher quality thread and pins. I bought pearl headed pins from the souk and after my first project all the colour coating started peeling, and even the heads came off! The glass headed pins I bought from Barakat seems higher quality and slide through fabric like denim like a knife in butter. A good quality thread is also good for the life of your sewing machine…
I have noticed that Barakat doesn’t have much of a needle selection for sewing machines however. If you want anything other than universal size 9 to 14’s then you are generally out of luck.
Member’s Loyalty Card
For 1KD you can buy a member’s card to Barakat. Each time you buy any items have them swipe the card. Instead of gaining points, you get money added to the card; once you get enough you can put it towards purchases. I think it’s roughly 10% of whatever you spend gets added to the card, not bad really… If you think you are going to be shopping a bit there, then go for it… its only 1KD!
I pretty much know one word of Arabic. In all my time here, I just can’t pick it up… But that hasn’t been a problem for me at Barakat; everyone speaks English fairly well and can easily help you. And of course Arabic is a guarantee.
If you are in a bind and close to Avenues Mall, Ikea has some fabric. Whilst some designs will range between 2 and 3KD per meter, you can buy standard unbleached cotton muslin fabric for around 950 fils. I also saw a cotton blue and white gingham checkered fabric for 950 files.
Just note that they do sell by the bolt, which consists of 35 meters. However, none of the sales staff would consider giving discounts if I bought by the bolt. Please let us know if you can get discounts; we would love to know which staff member gives them so we can all get the discounts!
Faheel’s “500 Fil’s Shop”
Thanks to our wonderful reader Barbara for recommending this location for cheap material; nicknamed “500 fils shop”. It is in Mangaf Block 4 – again off street 100, behind Sultan Wholesale Center, but closer to Gulf Bank. It is in a complex with “Mahameed”. If you go to Mahameed, you will see the shop on the right hand side as you approach the stairs, you can’t miss it. As it turned out, most of the materials, if not all, seemed to be priced at 500fils.
So far I have sourced needles, presser feet and more online. I haven’t had much of a chance to explore outside of these options, finding most places through word of mouth.
Amazon seems like the best option; importing from overseas.
If you know any tips for sourcing supplies for crafts, please let us all know in the comments!