Sewing Tips

Fabric Shopping in Rome

Last week my husband and I took our daughter to Rome for her last Spring Break before graduation from design school. Italy has special memories for Peter and me, because coincidentally both of our dads held 4-year ex-patriot stints there during our childhoods. My dad worked for a shipping company in Genoa, Peter’s dad worked for an electronics firm in Varese. But Audrey had never been to Italy, so thanks to the frequent flyer miles that Peter accumulates travelling for his job, we were able to swing this trip. Here we are on the Spanish Steps:

We spent the week eating pizza-by-the-slice and daily gelato, and walking it off with intense sightseeing (I highly recommend guided tours if you want to avoid endless lines at the Vatican, Colosseum, etc). Very little time for shopping! But I did sneak in 2 shops that I highly recommend if you are lucky to be in Rome and have a budget for some splurges. Both are in the Campo De Fiori neighborhood, near the ancient ruins at Largo di Torre Argentina, and just blocks from each other.

First off is a hole-in-the-wall shop called Fatucci Tessuti :

It is located at #63 Via dei Falegnami:

Seriously you could walk right by it:

The gentleman who owns the shop is notoriously camera-shy but I was able to snap one photo through the front door while he was helping clients. He stocks an edited selection of lovely cottons, wools, and silks. Prices start at 10 Euro/meter (about $12/yard) which is quite a bargain for this quality:

If I wasn’t on a self-imposed goal of only sewing my current stash this year, I would have purchased some yardage here for “selfish sews”. The quality of everything is impeccable, far finer than anything you can buy in the U.S. at chain fabric stores. This is dressmaker fabric, not “home-sewing” fabric. The fabrics you see at JoAnn stores or Hobby Lobby are made especially for the home market, designed to fit into a mass-market price-point. Here is an explanation of the difference 

The other shop is a fabric mega-store, the famous Fratelli Bassetti Tessuti:

This is a place you could spend hours and get dizzy over the selection. It is located at #73 on the Corso V. Emanuele :

You can’t miss this shop because they have big gorgeous window displays:

Go through the doors to the left of the windows, go up one flight of stairs, and enter fabric wonderland: over 200,000 (literally) bolts of fabric stacked from the floor up to the ceiling:

You’ll find a room devoted to cotton shirtings, one for fine woolen suitings. and multiple rooms for fashion fabrics of all kinds:

Knits, wovens, silks, leathers, fancies …. you could have an anxiety attack just being surrounded by this much choice. This is like Mood Fabrics on steroids.

It’s the sort of place the Italian woman visits together with her dressmaker, to plan out wardrobe additions for the coming season. If you need inspiration there are tear-sheets of the latest Milan shows on display:

Quality and selection here does not come at bargain prices….I saw tags upwards of 100 Euro/meter in the evening-wear and bridal sections:

If you have the budget, and no qualms about cutting into the finest fabrics in the world, this is the place to shop! If you are simply on a sightseeing tour of Rome, well then this is still the place to be…drooling over fabric counts as sight-seeing, right?

Happy sewing!


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