Shopping for Fabric & Yarn in Amsterdam

Unlike on Prince Edward Island (my latest vacation locale), there are a good number of fabric shops in Amsterdam, along with a good number of blog posts on fabric shops in Amsterdam. The one I used was the Seamwork Guide to Amsterdam, but of course this is my own take on it.

Ever since I’ve started travelling without my family and their itineraries, I’ve started to make my trips revolve around fabric and yarn shops. I always feel slightly guilty that I didn’t go to more museums instead, but at the end of the day fabric shops are how I see new places and what they have to offer. In Amsterdam, just walking to the fabric shops I got to see so much of the city.

Anyways, on this trip I really spent most of my time in fabric and yarn shops, and I have no regrets. Here’s where I went and what I thought:

The first place we visited was the very well-known yarn shop, Stephen & Penelope, made famous by owner and knitwear designer/celebrity, Stephen West. I went in knowing that their yarns are pricey (around 30 euro a skein on average), but I couldn’t go to Amsterdam and not check it out. Many of the yarns there were imports that I can get in various Canadian yarn shops, and I didn’t feel the need to pay in Euros + 21% VAT for something I could get at home. The only yarn I was tempted by was Stephen & Penelope’s in-house yarn brand which was just recently released, and pretty well priced at 20 euro a skein – but I didn’t have any projects in mind for it, so I passed it by.

Right next door is A. Boeken, a small but impressive fabric shop. I went there twice, since the notions section was so impressive that I needed one trip for fabric and another trip for trims and buttons. It was pretty busy and hard to look around with a lot of focus, so I only got two fabrics there. I didn’t find anything there that was really extraordinary, but their prices are reasonable and they have every trim and button you can imagine. I bought loads of trims as well as some metal eyelets for some sneakers I plan to make (I had SneakerKit ship me another kit while I was there). They seemed a bit understaffed and it was a bit hard to find someone to cut yardage for me but I otherwise found the staff nice and helpful.

Right down the nearest side street to A. Boeken is Tinctoria. I didn’t plan on buying anything there but I did a lot of natural dyeing in school and had to check it out. The fabrics there were beautiful, but quite expensive (I can imagine the work that went into them, so they were priced fairly, just out of my price range). The owner had a huge basket filled with off-cuts and pieces with mistakes on them, and she said I could dig through the basket and she would price the pieces by weight. I found some beautiful velvet scraps, but then realized I had enough scraps at home and didn’t need to buy more.

Across the little canal bridge from A. Boeken, Stephen & Penelope, and Tinctoria, is Capsicum Naturstoffen –  I went in because A) it was raining, and B) I felt like I needed to visit all the fabric stores in the city. I wasn’t really expecting to find the most exciting fabric I would find on my trip. The store itself is lovely – beautiful textile homewares (pillows, tableclothes, etc) and scarfs, as well as some garments. The fabric they have is folded up, rather than on bolds, and just kinda looks like giant pillows on a shelf. The woman working there was incredibly helpful and explained the pricing and manufacturing processes of the fabrics. I chose a beautiful double ikat cotton with colourful squares on a cream background and I love it so much. It was pricey (and on the lower end of the range in the store – the hand-woven jacquard silks were 110 euro a metre), but it was a really lovely “treat” to bring back from my visit to Amsterdam.

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One morning we hopped over to De Steekwhich was close to our Air BnB in the Jordaan neighbourhood. I hadn’t seen De Steek on any blogs or guides, but it was on the list of stockists for Papercut Patterns, and I was in search of a Meridian Dress pattern in print (spoiler – De Steek doesn’t actually carry Papercut Patterns). De Steek is focused on sustainability, and a lot of their fabrics are deadstock or ecologically made. I bought some nice cotton seersucker and a neat “eyelet” knit. They also carry lovely lingerie and legging kits, as well as Merchant and Mills and Named patterns. They have a sewing studio so if you need to get your sewing fix on while abroad, that’s the place to go.

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We spent a morning checking out Albert Cuypstraat market, an outdoor market which I think is open 7 days a week. I didn’t take any photos because I was kind of overwhelmed by how much stuff was there. The market has food and weird off-brand socks and stuff, but they also have fabric booths that sit outside actual fabric stores. There are quite a few along Albert Cuypstraat, but the ones I went to were Kniphal and N&N Stoffen. I really liked Kniphal (they have amazing upholstery fabric if you’re looking for any) and they had lovely garment fabrics, but none that I especially wanted. I couldn’t quite tell how they were organized but it was fun to just browse around. N&N Stoffen had a lot of knits and baby fabrics (like double gauze with little whales on them and whatnot) and no fabric that really interested me, but I did like their selection of books and magazines. I ended up going home with a La Maison Victor book of dresses (called Jurken 2) as it had loads of dress patterns I think I’d like to use.

Another amazing shop I visited was actually in The Hague (or Den Haag as the Dutch call it), called Cross and Woods. I went there with my friend Priscilla who I met through Fibreshare, and it reminded me a lot of The Workroom and EweKnit here in Toronto (especially since EweKnit is also a sewing/knitting shop). A lot of their fabrics were Merchant and Mills, Nani Iro, and Liberty, all of which I can get at EweKnit, so I didn’t do any fabric shopping there. They had gorgeous yarns that I couldn’t get at home, and I had a lovely time picking out some skeins with the help of the very kind store owners.

And that’s it! Please comment if you think I missed any shops worth a visit. If you haven’t been to Amsterdam, I hope this helps in planning your textile-y trip!

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