Ever since being dragged into Job Warehouse on Bourke Street in the late seventies I’ve had a thing for fabric merchants. It would be hot pre-Christmas Melbourne and perhaps we would be meeting Dad at Pellegrini’s for a granita and Mum would always find some excuse for a quick look at the rolls of dusty fabric next door. Job Warehouse has been closing down for more than 20 years and last time I checked it was still there, a treasure trove of old bolts of fabric, cottons and silks, shelf upon shelf of colors and textures. In Italian fabric is tessuto or stoffa, like the stuff of an older more refined English when it was used to describe dress fabrics, upholstery material and the like. Things being made of a good stuff. Now the word stuff has such a cheap, throw away quality to it. Linguistics aside I still love a good poke around in a fabric shop and with a vintage model Necchi ready for a good project any excuse will do for a trip to Longo & Figli and the other shops around Torre Argentina. The dress fabrics department of the Longo & Figli emporium can be found in a beautiful corner store on the edge of Piazza dell’Enciclopedia Italiana and Via delle Bottege Oscure. Delve into the first large doorway on the right of the piazza and you will find the standard fabric department with cottons, linen, cords, denim and more, as well as the quite lovely upholstery department where you can find incredible linen, furnishing materials and canvas in every hue.
a quick translation guide to shopping for fabric and haberdashery:
Merceria – small haberdashery store selling cotton, basic fabrics, bindings and buttons (as well as undies and socks)
Sbiechino – bias binding! I always forget the name for this the moment I walk into the store
Mussola – Muslin or cheesecloth, as in very light open weave cotton suitable for draining stocks and bouquet garnis
Calicot – calico, Lino – linen, Seta – silk, Feltro – felt
shopping for fabric and upholstery around the centre of Rome
Francesco Longo & Figli, Piazza dell’Enciclopopedia Italiana,50, www.longotessuti.com
Merceria – End of Piazza dell’Enclipopedia Italiana.
Other stores around Largo Torre Argentina – Bassetti, Azienda Tessile Romana
Te La Cri, Piazza Farnese, 99/100, (foto left) wonderful upholstery and home furnishing fabrics, great canvas for the boat or deck chair (more likely the latter).