Are you planning a trip to India? If you’re into all things sewing it’s an amazing place to visit. It’s worth a holiday for the fabrics and trimmings alone! In this post I will be talking all about my adventures in Delhi where I went fabric shopping with the lovely Kangan Arora last year. (If you missed my post about fabric shopping in Mumbai you can find it here.)
Where to go
Fabric shopping in Delhi was definitely easier than Mumbai. There are lots of air conditioned shops for a start – a huge help for someone like me who wilts if it gets over 25 degrees! I went to Nehru Place in New Delhi, which is a collection of shops around a small square. It doesn’t have as a great an atmosphere as Mangaldas Market in Mumbai but it was much easier and would be a better place to go if you are nervous about heading to somewhere more local.
(Recognise this fabric? It’s on our online shop here!)
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by staff in these shops. Once you start looking they will then bring out lots more options and try to get you to buy more. If you’re not used to this style of shopping it can be daunting, but you can still take your time and look at your own pace. My favourite was HP Singh, which is the fanciest shop in the square. The staff were also less intimidating here. Expect to pay more in these shops than you would in a market, even though they will still be relatively cheap (between £2-5 p/m).
For ribbons and trimmings you must go to Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi. It’s a huge market full of the smallest streets I have ever been down and is completely crazy. There are mopeds, carts and animals coming in and out constantly. Be careful as they won’t stop! However despite the noise, dust and lack of air conditioning, it really is fascinating; an Aladdin’s cave for all things that sparkle. When Kangan and I were there it took us a while to find. But we found if we went to the area and asked one of the locals they were able to help.
The shops in Chandni Chowk themselves are tiny and are really only big enough for one person at a time. They often have more stock in the little attics above though, so it’s always worth asking for more colours or another variation.
One thing to be careful of when buying ribbons is that they can be quite dirty and dusty if they’re kept at the front of the shop. Being on such a busy street, this makes sense! But sometimes is it just the outside of the roll and the underneath is fine, so do check.
You can definitely haggle in Chandni Chowk so it’s always worth checking out the competition and seeing where you can get the best price. Don’t forget to take along your calculator!
When to go
Delhi gets very hot so it’s best to go between November and February if you’re a heat-phobe like me.
I would recommend heading to Chandni Chowk in the morning (the shops start to open at around 10am). Be prepared to be absolutely exhausted afterwards! We got the train there and walked a little way but on the way back we jumped in an auto rickshaw for a quick getaway. All those trimmings really take it out of you!
Where to stay
We stayed in a small guesthouse on the outskirts of Delhi, and for this trip we had a driver which was really useful. Kangan knows the city very well so it wasn’t a worry for me, but if I were to go back on my own I would probably stay in a more touristy area like Karol Bagh or Connaught Place.
After a busy day fabric shopping I love going out in the evening, so it’s always good to stay somewhere where you can easily and safely go for a meal and a wander. This applies to lots of places but as a woman I would always advise going out with someone else at night as it can be dangerous.
Are you planning a fabric shopping trip to India? I always love hearing about people’s Indian adventures and finds so please do share in the comments below.
A big thank you to the amazing Kangan Arora for the photography.