Shopping for Fabric in Panama

I was really surprised to see how much less the fabric costs here! Today we visited a couple fabric shops so I took a few photos. I wasn’t supposed to be taking photos inside but I did sneak a couple, and the rest are from outside.

The first place we stopped was Elena’s, and it’s probably the biggest of the stores in downtown David. They have everything – thread, ribbons, trims, buttons, anything you can think of along with their large selection of fabric. The only thing they don’t have are patterns. They don’t seem to be sold anywhere around here. There must be a lot of sewing going on judging by the amount of fabric for sale, so I figure people here must be quite talented and able to make things without patterns.

Next we stopped by Los Tejidos, which is located on the south side of Cervantes Park opposite the big church. You’ll find it by all the rolls of fabric out on the sidewalk.

The first time I visited David I stopped in to look around in Los Tejidos. As soon as you enter this (and most stores) an employee will greet you and ask you what you need. This seemed so strange and intrusive to me back then, since I was used to the US stores where you have to hunt for an employee if you need something. Here though, I have found the staff to be very helpful. If, for example, I want to make a shirt they will take me directly to the softest and prettiest fabrics that are good for a woman’s shirt or blouse. Once I wanted material for pants with a bit of stretch. One store didn’t have it but the employee told me where to find it in another store. Curtains, pillows, clothes, whatever your project they will try to find something that will work for you.

If any of you have dreams of coming to Panama and enjoying some sewing, you are going to have a very good time here!

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About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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24 Responses to Shopping for Fabric in Panama

  1. oldsalt1942 says:

    There’s always a big Gringo complaint about poor customer service here in Panama. I’ve actually only had a couple of times when the service pissed me off. Like you, I’ve had clerks in one store direct me to another where I could buy something I was looking for. Doesn’t happen in the States often. When my t.v. died I went to Cable Onda and told the service rep I wanted to cancel the t.v. and just keep the internet. He told me that would cost me MORE than if I got the package that had the cheapest cable service plus internet. It actually saves me about $25/month. Imagine someone in the States doing that for you?

    My ex wife was a wonderful seamstress. She made almost all of her own clothes, and rarely used patterns. She had the ability to see a picture in a magazine and sit down and make it for herself. Amazing! She wasn’t a reader, though. In the seven years we were married she read ONE BOOK! The Valley of the Dolls. Yuck. On the other hand, she had a closet full of clothes that would have cost thousands if she’d gone out and bought them.

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  2. Larry K Brown says:

    I’m looking for Amarilis de Arco lkb

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  3. Laureen says:

    I’m delighted to read about fabric in Panama. We plan on moving up the hill from David, and I’m a quilter, so now I know I will be able to get my fabric fix!

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  4. Hi Kris,
    A very good detailed report!
    This brought back a fond memory. My first job as a kid back in Connecticut was for a fabric store that had been in business for almost 100 years. Part of my summer job was to move bolts of fabric from the attic or basement to the showroom floor for customers to look at. It was very interesting. I wish I could remember the fabric that I pulled down from the attic as the owners would say, careful with that, it’s expensive!
    So I have a great appreciation for anyone that can sew! That’s a talent far better then movie stars or sports figures in my book!
    Cheers,
    John

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    • I enjoy sewing, and having two girls gave me a chance to make all the cute little dresses and outfits for them. I need to make more time for it now!
      Glad I could bring up some good memories for you 🙂

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  5. Thanks Kris! As a seamstress it’s nice to see the wide variety of fabric for sale. I still don’t know about bringing belongings like sewing machines and everything else that can’t fit in a couple of suitcases, but it would make life more convenient being able to sew my own things.

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    • You can buy sewing machines here, though there isn’t a huge selection. If you have a machine that you love it might be worth bringing it. There have been many discussions on line about bringing stuff. Some bring containers, others bring only a suitcase and everything in between. It’s hard to know what you will actually need until you have been here for a little while.
      But yes, there is no shortage of fabric here! 🙂

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  6. rosy says:

    Ok locca yo mose quiem me abls aqui

    Enviado desde mi smartphone Samsung Galaxy.

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  7. Now, you’ve inspired me to get my sewing machine out and sew again. I’ve never seen any patterns in Nicaragua. Are there any patterns in Panama? I can’t believe how expensive the patterns have gotten in the states! I’m going to try to make a pair of wrap pants, if I can figure out how to wrap them. lol

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  8. Charlie says:

    Thank you for writing an amazing post! We are moving to Boquete in a little bit less than a month. It is a relief to know there are fabric stores in David! Do you happen to know where the fabric was made in? I heard that some cottons are imported from Colombia but I was wondering if you had any ideas. Thanks!

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    • How exciting! The rains have returned and things are green again, so it should be gorgeous when you arrive.
      I’m sorry though, I never thought to ask where the fabric comes from. If I’m downtown again I’ll see what I can find out.

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  9. Sunni Morris says:

    Well I would go nuts in a place like that. It reminds me of the garment district in LA with streets of fabric out on the sidewalk. It was fabulous and cheap too at the time. I haven’t been there in a few years though so I imagine it’s gone up like everything.

    Sunni
    http://sunni-survivinglife.blogspot.com/

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