We’ve been back from our Argentina trip for a while now, and now that the “holy crap I’m a world champion and world record holder!” glow has subsided a bit and I’ve had time to unpack all my goodies, I wanted to share with you the sewing-related finds from our time in Buenos Aires, Mar del Plata, and Iguazu Falls (all three of which I heartily recommend visiting – even if you don’t like tango! I really don’t care about tango, but the food and cocktails in Buenos Aires were out of this world!).
Fabric Shops in Buenos Aires
Handily, the fabric shops in Buenos Aires were concentrated in one small area near the centre, so it was really easy to just pop over and buy some fabric souvenirs, even if you just have an hour or two spare in your schedule (as often happens if you’re in a city for work or on a guided tour).
The shops were much smaller than those in NYC or Goldhawk Road, but they contained a surprisingly wide variety of fabrics, and prices were cheap (but not ridiculously so). It was a pretty laid back atmosphere – no pressure to buy, but employees were around if you wanted something cut.
I paid $260 pesos (about $25US or £18) total for the 3.5 metres of fabric I bought. Prices weren’t marked on any bolts that I saw, so I have no idea of the individual prices of my fabrics, and the fibres were only loosely labelled in sections – “algodón” (cotton), “seda” (silk), etc, so you’ve got to be good at identifying fabrics by feel!
My purchases – 1m each of the printed and grey lightweight jerseys for me, and 1.5m of the coral sweatshirting to sew a Kimono Sweat for my mom
Lengths are in metric measurements (“meters” or “medio”, for half), so just know your lower Spanish numbers or hold up fingers, and most shops have calculators at the tills to just show you the price in pesos if you’re not great with your higher numbers in Spanish. Like pretty much everywhere in Argentina, the fabric shops are cash only – it’s really rare to find anywhere that takes payment by card, though cash machines are fairly easy to find in major cities.
In Buenos Aires, the bulk of the fabric shops are located on Calle Lavalle, just off Avenue Pueyrredón (easy walking distance from Subte stations Plaza Miserere, Once, Pueyrredón B Line or Corrientes). There are also a handful of haberdashery stores mixed in, so you can buy threads and trims if you need to, too.
Big big thanks to Nicole, without whom I would have never found the above shops on my own!
Sewing Magazines in Argentina
Nearly every town has at least one newsstand, and bigger cities like Buenos Aires or Mar del Plata literally have them every few feet! Newsstands tend to open early in the morning, and shut sometime in the afternoon, so if you walk around in the evening, you may not even notice them, unless they’ve been turned into works of art like this one!
Besides stocking Patrones, the Spanish pattern magazine, (albeit 6 months late so that the Spanish spring issues correspond to a South American springtime), the majority of newsstands also stocked the Argentinian Look magazine, and a few had this Costura Practica “one metre of fabric” magazine, too (though I’m not sure if it’s a regular thing or a one-off). What I will say, though is that if you crochet, you will do extremely well in Argentina. Holy crap there were a ton of crochet magazines there – like 30-50 different titles vs a handful of knitting or sewing ones. We even saw a “crochet for dogs” magazine. Who knew Argentinians loved crochet so much?!
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be reviewing the individual issues I bought while I was in Argentina, but in general, we saw a lot of the latest two Look magazines (the one pictured, plus a “mother & baby” issue I couldn’t care less about), but it’s worth checking each newsstand you pass, as we were eventually able to find the odd older issue still hanging around, some even a few years old! It was really easy to buy issues off the newsagents, despite my limited Spanish. Be aware, however, that they don’t really let you thumb through the magazines before you buy, so you’ll have to commit to buying based on the cover alone. Magazines are pretty cheap, though – mine were all in the $35-50 peso range (that’s about $3-5US or £1.80-3.00), so you’re not losing much if you buy something only to find out it’s not to your liking.
But the main phrase here is “revistas de costura” – magazines of sewing. Or just ask for Look – that’s the same in any language!
The only small disappointment in our entire trip is that I really wanted to cross over to the Brazilian side of town when we were in Iguazu so I could buy some of the wonderful sewing magazines. I subscribe to Manequim already, but Moda Moldes and Molda y Cia are equally good! But on our last night in town, we arranged for a taxi to take us over the border, only to get a few blocks away and be stuck in traffic… because for some reason the border was closed and we’d be sat there for hours. So the taxi driver took us back to our hotel (no charge!) and I didn’t see a single Brazilian sewing magazine in Buenos Aires. Ah well – with the haul of Spanish-language magazines I did get, there’s not too many tears shed!