Posted in sewing

Local Manufacturing

I’ve had an interesting couple of weeks. I’ve been trying to find local clothing manufacturer with the hope of finding someone who will make the occasional buttonholes on my clothes. One manufacturer I found in south Baltimore is Fashions Unlimited. There, I was able to score 16 inch invisible zippers for a quarter each. I stocked up in China, but bought some for friends who don’t have as much access (Pardon the cell phone photos. I wasn’t expecting all this!)

They also have wide and narrow stretch lace for one dollar a yard in several colors. Picot trim for 50 cents a yard. They have hundreds of underwires for a quarter. The fabric available was more scraps than anything. They do have machines for sale, but they aren’t wired for home use :-(.

They do some production on site but seem to do a lot of sample making also. I found them through a Craigslist posting. It was an amazing reminder that we actually still *make* things in this country. I have a couple more places to check out over the next few weeks.

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32 thoughts on “Local Manufacturing

  1. wow, great find! Thanks for posting this. Were you able to walk in and buy what you wanted? That is amazing. I look forward to more posts on this subject!

    1. They kind of tell you what’s for sale. But, when I asked about the underwires (which they hadn’t mentioned) she told me they were for sale also. So, I think it depends on what they are working on. The thread wasn’t for sale. But, they had zippers that I would use for athletic coats and jackets too. One of the patternmakers told me to check regularly. You never know what they’ll have. There were some other manufacturers in the building that I didn’t know about. I’m planning on going back over and just knocking on some doors 🙂

      Dubois — which I mentioned over the weekend — was a find for home dec fabric. The other places I have on my list are sportswear, ties and military clothing.

  2. I used to manage production for a local garment company, and our factories look much the same! It’s great to have somewhere like that to do heavy-duty keyhole buttonholes, and if you talk to them they may be able to give you names of other manufacturers with different machinery or specialties. Very resourceful of you!

    1. I had a pang of jealousy talking to thier newly graduated patternmaker. I wish I had found them before I made the 10 million buttonholes for my winter coat. They also had a massive embroidery machine set-up, but I figured I would ask about that later 🙂 I plan to visit regularly! I honestly had no clue that clothing manufacturing was still done in Baltimore!

  3. I’ve lived here most of my life and I’ve never heard of them! I foresee a road trip. Thanks!!

  4. What a neat find! You’re fortunate to have a local manufacturer you can go to. My ASG chapter has a relationship with a local company that’s gone to home dec from clothing over the years. But they still have lots of notions, buttons, etc. and are willing to open up the warehouse from time to time.

    We also used to go to El Paso and Juarez to buy from jobbers but it’s not feasible given the current situation. Maybe again, someday. One can hope.

  5. The more we all find these folks and talk and write about them, the more business they will get. It is my understanding from reading out there that one of the problems is that people who are in the business or who want to start businesses have no idea who is doing what in the United States anymore. A lot of people assume they have to go to China because they think nothing is being done state-side any longer. NOT TRUE.

  6. U.S. is still no. 1 in manufacturing in the world — it’s just we don’t make clothes anymore, most of it’s done overseas where it’s cheaper. Anyhow, re local manufacturing…Vogue Fabrics in my part of the world has a rich remnant section in part due to local designers who sell end of the bolts. But there seems to be stuff from New York too because I’ve bought a scrap of Baby Phat stretch fabric.

  7. me again…stretch lace, wide and/or narrow, is an incredible bargain at $1 a yard. Snap up for tops, underwear, etc.!

  8. I love finding unexpected things like a clothing manufacturer! I think the last one in Scranton closed about 10 or 12 years ago…sad. The lace plant closed a couple of years before that.

  9. I found them on Craigslist also and sent email inquiring about the machines for sale. I never heard back, so I’m glad to know that I needn’t pursue that.

  10. You are so lucky to have access to great sewing places. I hate the buttonholes that my D1 makes so much that on really good things I use snaps behind the buttons. I found an old kenmore vintage (i guess) buttonhole maker with plastic cams from a local antique store for $5.00. I haven’t had the courage to try it yet….its on my to do list. My mother had a Domestic brand sewing machine (I don’t think they are made anymore). It was dark brown a white round knob on top and had metal cams. It made absolutely beautiful buttonholes of various types. Don’t know what became of it. Whenever I travel, I always try to find fabric stores. Mostly I order online now. If you’re ever in New Orleans there is a lovely upscale fabric store on St. Charles Street called the Promenade. Its about a an hour and a half drive for me and I go over a couple of times a year.

  11. Wow, I too thought the manufacturers had all left Baltimore so this is exciting news. It would be great to find a local source for keyhole buttonholes:-)

  12. Wow, that sounds exciting, an adventure just around the corner. Hope you make more discoveries and share them too. Its great to learn about the real production houses.

  13. So interesting. Great find! A friend has a studio within a small San Francisco factory, and it’s always a treat to visit to see what’s new. Can’t wait to see what you make with the lace!

  14. I saw the craigslist ad too. I’ve been trying to make it out there but they close too early for me. Thanks for the feedback. I thought it was a one time sale, I guess I can wait until my next day off during the week.

  15. So cool to see factories that are left in America. When I got into the industry in the early ’90s it was my job to manage the domestic manufacturing. We had factories that worked with us in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, California, New Jersey and Massachusetts. As well we had mills in the south that we bought yarn from and I got to learn first hand about blending yarns from bails off wool and cotton and spinning of every kind with out leaving the country. It was incredible. And now it’s all but gone. I was just speaking with a co worker today about her old job with Jantzen managing the blazer sewing line! Amazing experience. I loved hearing about it. Here is a great documentary that HBO did that outlines the migration of the US Apparel industry abroad. It’s so interesting and I lived it (at the end but still).

    http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/schmatta-rags-to-riches-to-rags/synopsis.html

  16. There are definitely some hidden gems in South Baltimore. For some reason it seems so remote!
    You can get your scissors and pinking shears sharpened professionally at the grinding company http://www.grindingco.com/home.html next time you are in South Baltimore. The staff were super nice and sharpened my shears on the spot for very cheap.

    1. Gosh! Thank you. I’ve been trying to find someone local to sharpen my scissors. I just keep buying new ones because I can’t bear the thought of being without them!

  17. Stretch lace is dyeable if it is made of nylon. RIT works well for that. I think Kool-Aid does too, but can’t recall for sure. If it is polyester stretch lace, you’d need to find the specialty dye for polys. Summerset could probably advise you best on this matter.

    If you have Ginghers, you can send them in to the company and for $7.50 (which includes your return shipping) they will make them as good as new (or as close as they can bring them to that state). I love my Ginghers, but someone at work threw away the sheath, so they’re out of alignment and I want to send them in for repair, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. I love them because they are weighted and balanced, like a good knife.

    Jill

  18. Hi! Fashions Unlimited is having another factory sale. I remember telling you that I would
    let you know when we were having another sale! It will be August 12- 16th from 8am- 2:30 PM. Fabric, Lace, Zippers, Elastic, Samples, etc. Nylon/Lycras, Polartec Fleeces,etc. $0.25 Zippers, $1 Fabrics, All very discounted. Please come back if you are interested- We’d love to have people from the surrounding areas.

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