Being someone who is interested in sewing, you probably have googled ‘sewing classes in Singapore’, ‘sewing for beginners’, ‘sewing machine for beginners’, but have you tried ‘Sewing history’?

The history of sewing started out of obvious necessity, with people sewing fur and skin clothing using bone, antler or ivory needles and “thread” made of various animal body parts including sinew, catgut, and veins. We promise it’s not always so gory but here’s a quick read to introduce you to the fascinating history of sewing that started since the Stone Age!


Stone Age
Sewing has an ancient history and was first used to stitch together animal hides and parts for clothing and shelter. People used what they had access to – think animal hides, plants and leaves to sew what they needed.


Middle Age
Fast forward to the middle ages, sewing for the most part was a woman’s occupation. Women sewed to extend the longevity of clothing, which was an expensive investment for most people. Clothings were mended, turned inside out, reassembled. When they can no longer be mended, they were taken apart and the reusable cloth were made into new items of clothing or quilts. Which is what we would now call “Re-use & Recycle”.


Industrial Revolution

History of sewing in Singapore -2

The sewing machine was patented in this era, and women continued to lead this industry. However, you will often find them in textile sweatshops as poorly paid seamstress, sewing ready-made clothes for the middle classes with sewing machine. They worked 14-hour days and could not even earn a living wage.

This was happening close to home, right in Singapore. Garment factories were plentiful in Singapore, with our grandmothers and/or mothers working in such factories. As time passed and economic development shifted, manufacturing shifted overseas and textile factories were closed. Many of Singapore’s seamstress started sewing from home, with bigger companies or individuals collecting garments straight from their homes. It was a form of income support but it did not pay a lot.


Now in the 21st century
What about now? In the 21st century where you and I are at? Where affordable fast fashion is ample and easily found. Do you think the sewing trend is dying, or reviving?

We saw the reviving trend of sewing. Sewing machines started to look more trendy, encased with plastic exteriors to make it lightweight and portable, which is great for our own smaller space-restricting homes. Four years in the making at Fashion Makerspace and we continued to see new and old friends who joined our classes and projects. Rather than being a trade for survival, sewing is now a fun, fulfilling hobby and skill that you choose to learn and hone.



Many of you have joined because sewing to you is exciting or therapeutic; you love the satisfaction of being able to create something personal for yourself or a loved one. Some of you sparked interest after seeing tutorials on YouTube or finished products from people you knew- thinking, “Wow I can learn to do this too!” Some saw the wide and growing selection of fabrics in stores like Spotlight, or came across the coveted fabric brand called Liberty. Many joined to be part of the sewing community we have here in Fashion Makerspace, where you get to meet like-minded people, express your creativity and dedicate time for yourself to do something you love.

Once, home sewing was perceived to be so archaic, time consuming and fraught with economic distinctions: the poor sewed, the rich bought. Now, it’s where we meet and grow as a community, with easy access to technology and fabrics that we need.

If you’re looking for a community of sewing lovers to join in Singapore, somewhere that allows close learning, direct feedback from friendly instructors, and the ability to customise and create your own designs. Come say hi at Fashion Makerspace and join a class that’s suited for your level – Beginner, intermediate, and advanced.


What do you think? Is the sewing trend dying or reviving? Let us know in the comments!


Textile Centre

200 Jalan Sultan, Singapore 199018 (Lavender MRT is the nearest)

Textile Centre used to bustle with the clamour of ladies, serving an industry that has since diminished to a handful, but relatively large haberdashery and fabric stores mainly on the ground floor. A shade less popular than its former glory days, we still enjoy going there to get good bargains for sewing accessories and notions. They open at 9am in the morning but expect them to be promptly closed by 6pm.

These are our favourites:

Sing Mui Heng #01-27

For quilters, crafters, and sewers alike, they house all your sewing needs. These are a few of the items we often buy in higher quantities cos they will pack a good deal for you- buttons, pins, tailor roller-powder markers, thread cones, snips, zippers, interfacing, elastic, bar-hook closures and even measuring tapes. They even offer wholesale prices if you buy more (just ask them about the minimum quantity). It could be as little as a dozen, or as many as 144 pcs (1 gross) to hit the next discount tier.

TC- Sing Mui Heng2

Sing Mui Heng

How Yu Pte Ltd #01-11

If you love jazzing up your outfit with unique buttons, this is the place to scout for them! They have a very huge selection that fills the whole store! It is a great bonus that the store owners are welcoming and friendly (we have had our fair share of non-existent customer service) and they do sell other notions like zippers too!

TC- How Yu

How Yu

Sin Hin Chuan Kee #01-08

Nestled at the back of the building, this is a place where you can very much rely on getting your hard-to-match coloured zippers, diamond appliques, bridal/ evening wear decorative accessories and lace. Little is to be said about the service, however at their main outlet, just a short 5 minute walk away, you can expect an even wider selection!

Sin Hin Chuan Kee 796/ 798 North Bridge Road

Supplying to fashion schools in Singapore, they carry a wide variety of tailor tools, scissors and fancy notions. Loads of materials for costumes including fancy lace, ribbons and shiny notions. However the best part is you can print your own brand labels there! (Lovingly referred to as the YKK shop – you can see the block letters outside the shop from along the road)

Arab 18

Sin Heng Chuan Kee

From Textile Center, continue on your sourcing journey by heading in the South-West direction, cutting past Malay Heritage Center & Sultan Mosque, or just walk along Victoria Street, and you will reach your next fabric enclave!


(Bugis MRT is the nearest & bring an umbrella with you)

Arab 4

Arab Street

This place is chock full of luxurious fabrics like Prada Lace, 3D Lace, Silk Satin, and also Dupioni Silk. Interspersed by Persian carpet stalls, buyers should take their time to scout for their desired lace as you can expect to spend anywhere between $25/yard to $250/yard. Ultimately if you’re buying fabric like that, price may become secondary to appearance, as the selections are fairly huge, don’t rush into it if you don’t need to! You can bargain too!

The laces are often between 40”- 50” in width. Some have symmetrical, two-way designs, however we noticed that many of them differ from one edge to the other, therefore, do take note when you are laying your patterns and also make sure you have enough to join them on the sides. Do calculate your yardages carefully before buying, especially since each yard isn’t cheap. Also you have the stretch and non-stretch versions, so make sure you buy the correct one for your usage. The best thing about laces is you can trim them according to the parts you need to use without worrying about them fraying!

In general, the more appliqués or embellishment on the lace, the more costly they are- with the exception of some cotton laces which some of them term as “Prada Lace”. Shops generally open at 9am and close by about 7pm, some are not open on Sundays too, so try to stick to Saturdays if you can. 

Arab 17


Let’s start from the luxurious to the more commonplace fabrics, and then to accessories:

Warna Fabrics #108

Fabrics in the area are often laid out on the mannequins to mimic the effect of the Baju Kurung. A bright underlay with a contrasting outer lace fabric is the norm of this display method to bring out the multitude of possibilities that lie with each fabric. Colorful vibrant displays of laces line the shop.

Arab 5

Warna Fabrics

Dira Fabrics #77

Where each lace is down to each individual’s taste, the friendly owners will lay the lace out so you can see the layers in detail on the tables. Make sure you do that beforehand as it may be hard to look at the lace from a roll of see-through laces.

Aziza Silk House #79

Where some specialize in laces, they specialize in a variety of good shiny, quality printed and solid silks. Just take note that silks do need to be lightly handwashed and not thrown into the washing machine!

Arab 14

Aziza Silk House

Royal Fabrics #94

With 2 stores along the street, Royal Fabrics do house a great selection of luxurious fabrics, and even have an overspill of them on the 2nd floor. In fact many of the shops have a second floor selection. For bridal or eveningwear, you will find an exquisite selection just waiting for you to pick them up.

Suria Fabrics #85

This store has a nice selection of laces as we loved some of their displays! The bright dual-layer contrasts and the multi-colored selections do let you see that these fabrics can look very modern too!

Arab 15

Suria Fabrics

Gim Joo Textile Company #90

Many fashion students and designers often patronize this store as they house a very big variety of commonly used fabrics and regularly stock new fabrics too. From digitally printed fabrics, to neoprene, lycra jerseys, cottons, many varieties of satins and lightweight prints, this store is worth a visit everytime you go to Arab St. Prices are known to be really reasonable too!

Arab 8

Gim Joo Textile Co.

Aik Bee Textile Company #69

This store has been around for many years, hence the decor remains as is. Quality is something you can get here as it houses a steady stock of shirting fabrics and prints. The rest is up to your creative imagination!

Arab 11

Aik Bee Textile Co.

Teng Joo #102

One of the very few fabric stores that don’t actually specialize in luxurious fabrics. They retail a diverse range of fabrics including netting, cotton, and other more inexpensive fabrics. A combination of fancy and plain fabrics, you will find more fabrics used in everydaywear inside the shop.


C. Rashiwala Bros. #100

To complement your beautiful fabrics, you can adorn them with beautiful trims too! Here at Rashiwala Bros, you will see panels of precious beads, sequins and laces, and what we love about this shop is that they are very organized. You will find a few sections that display the embellishments in glass panes (refer to middle bottom of the photo) so you can easily flip through and browse a myriad of them at one go.

Arab 7

C. Rashiwala Bros.

Digvijay Sequins #89

Need chains for your Chanel jacket? Or diamond appliques for your evening gown? This store has a wide array of beading, pearls, and colourful laces to beautify your garment and ‘up’ it’s aesthetic value.

Arab 16

Digvijay Sequins

Ahhh… and end your sourcing trip with a nice teh-ping (iced milk tea) at the nearest food stall you see!

Making A Marimekko Cheongsam

The classic cheongsam (qi-pao) not only has its Oriental roots, but is an understated staple in many wardrobes for functions, events and most importantly, adds much elegance and accentuates one’s femininity, especially if it’s well made. It also is a test of one’s fashion engineering to create the most customized fit. It would portray the difference between slimming vs bulging; embracing ones curves vs highlighting extra volume; comfort vs suffocation (yes we have been there too, when you can barely sit down).

CS- print 1

CS- print 3Marimekko- Unikko (poppy)

We wanted to do something slightly different from the traditional. Coming from Singapore, a melting pot of cultures, it was only natural for us to see how we could modernize and update this look. Lo and behold, Marimekko’s launch at Capitol Piazza became extremely timely.
This textile and lifestyle giant, famous for its bold prints and psychedelic colours, found its place right in the center of the city.

The extremely popular Unikko (poppy print), designed by Maija in 1964, would be unabashedly the most recognizable and the most suitable textile choice as the Western equivalent to the Oriental florals. The high-quality silkscreened fabric was also a breeze to handle and was sturdy.

CS- 4 umbrella

And here a custom design & fit cheongsam was born. It took about 2-3 fittings to get everything right but we were so glad to put our skills to work and make a customer happy just in time for the Lunar New Year!

CS- 5 fulldressCS- 6 backviewAnother bespoke adventure- till next time.

How to Sew Baby Booties

In our very first video tutorial, we like to give you a tutorial of how to sew our favourite cute booties!


For yours truly, it’s oh so worth it!



Ever wondered where and if there are fabric and haberdashery shops in Singapore? The answer is YES! They are at Chinatown, Arab street, Textile Centre, Joo Chiat Complex and Spotlight (for those with deeper pockets).

There are several locations we’ve been going to and we’ll love to share a few of our favourite spots right in the heart of Chinatown! And no, we absolutely don’t get paid for recommending them but we frequent them very often. The shops do close as early as 6pm Mon-Sun and usually start opening at about 11am. Most shops will sell by yard or metre. (metre is longer by 8.5cm) and there about 3 sizes of fabric width – 36”(91.5cm), 45”(114.5cm) or 60”(1.5m)


People’s Park Complex 2nd level (between OG and people’s park complex facing NEL Chinatown Station Exit C) 32 New Market Road, Singapore 050032.

It’s hard to imagine there would be fabric shops on top of all the hustle and bustle of food stalls at ground level. I recently brought a friend along to pick fabric for tote bags that he ordered and his first remark upon arriving was, “How did you teleport us to the 80s?” There are a ton of shops here! I always end up spending way too much time or too much money. There’s a POSB atm at the entrance to the market too. It is a good idea to always bargain if you are buying more than a yard/metre and scour the sale-bales that are displayed outside the stalls. Dress lightly as this place gets warm!!!

Thye Guan Textiles #02-1006 (next to Swanston) — Thinking of making a Chanel jacket? A fine selection of designer tweed, linen, chiffon, lace and other gorgeously luxurious fabrics like embroidered plaid, wool blends. You will spot a few model outfit pictures that give an indication of what the fabric would look like if sewn into a garment. Prices are fairly reasonable for the quality provided!

Fabricity #02-1098 — (Picture as shown above) Yes, there’s air-con in a store here! A newly opened fabric store that has a great handpicked selection of linens, denims, corduroys and many other quality fabrics. Just ask the friendly young store owner if you’re looking for anything specfic.

Yong Zhi Trading #02-1084 — This shop houses a great deal of printed jerseys, chiffon, georgettes, satin and even lycra. They provide a very good offering for those who need more than the usual cotton range.

Fabric- 1 jerseyYong Zhi Trading

Chan Cheong Textiles #02-1080 — This shop almost always has great fabrics in the sale-bales outside going for as cheap as $3/yd. they also stock lots of quirky prints for kids (owls, paisley-motifs, strawberries..etc. I pick up my cotton black twill from this shop at $4/m (45”width)

Lee Ann Textiles #02-1110 — This is run by a lovely senior couple that are always friendly and has possibly one of the best prices on the floor. They display fabrics up on the wall and don’t kick up a fuss about taking bales out from the stack to show. Do ask them for their $5/m rack- there are often beautiful Japanese cotton prints that make it in there!

Malin Textile #02-1134 — If you are into quilting or looking for high quality Japanese cotton, this is the shop for you! The lady running the stall is cheery and will give excellent suggestions for what you need. She is the only shop here that stocks genuine Sanrio HELLO KITTY prints! There are also lots of fat quarters & bale-ends stacked up on one side- perfect for small projects!

“M” Maggie Textile #02-1076/78 & #02-1124 Family-owned and managed, Maggie Textiles has a few stalls spread out over this floor. They each carry different types of fabric #02-1076/78 – a lot of chiffon, georgette and jacquard & #02-1124- men’s shirting and suiting.

Fabric- 7 maggieMaggie Textile

Teoh Huat Textiles #02-1144 — Want to make a nice suit for yourself? Expect lots of executive fabrics for suits, shirts and even an organic cotton/ modal jersey section to surprise you! Prices are attractive and expect even nice quality shirting at $12/yard. And yes, they sell quite a good variety of Denim fabrics right outside their store too!

Fabric- 3 suitingTeoh Huat Textiles


Brighton #02-1168 — Welcome to the world of habershery and fabric choices to suit your project needs. Featuring a colourful fabric stash at $6/yard, to a range of drafting rulers, buttons, ribbons, lace trims and all your sewing tools and footers, this shop is indeed a pocket-friendly version of Spotlight.

Fabric- 2 colorBrighton

Lye Nai Shiong #02-1018A/B — A good offering of trims, like elastic, bias tape, cording tape, zippers, etc and anything you may need to help you sew, including the cheapest price for calico in this building. You will definitely find something you need, however sometimes you may need to increase your patience level as this shop does get pretty busy.

Fabric- 5 leatherLye Nai Shiong

Mui Huay #03-1142 — Do not miss this shop if you’re looking for buttons! The elderly owners here have collected a ton of buttons and even frog buttons and you won’t be disappointed! Should you have a very specific size or color of button that you are looking for, just ask them and they will pull out even more buttons hiding behind the shelves of buttons for your selection!

Fabric- 4 trimsMui Huay

Let’s support local.