Before I left home I created pictorial shopping list of pattern making supplies I wanted to bring home, including a grading ruler and a needle pointed tracing wheel.
Pictures speak a thousand words, especially when you speak only English and the person you are attempting to communicate with speaks only Cantonese. A very long time ago I lived for a while in Japan and my experience there taught me to just keep asking, and eventually you will find someone who knows where you need to go, or even better, is willing to lead you there. That matters in Japan, where house numbers are assigned to buildings in the order of construction (!)
After exiting Hong Kong’s wonderful underground train system, the MTR, at Sham Shui Po station, using exit A2, I found my way to Li Kung St. Walking from the station I first passed an area with jewellery findings (clasps, elastic, pliers etc), then bead shops (where you scoop out what you want and then pay by weight), then ribbon shops and finally the wholesale fabric shops. It was crafter heaven.
Along the way I showed shopkeepers my pictorial shopping list which got responses that ranged from, “No have,” to “Try there.” One shop keeper, who specialised in metallic sewing threads, and spoke excellent English told me to keep walking down Nam Cheong Street until I found the shop with sewing machines in the window.
I followed those excellent directions and found myself at the wonderful Tung Shing Sewing Machine Co Ltd who were happy to have my business and asked their best English speaker to help me communicate my order to the sales assistants. They would not allow me to take a photo inside the store so you’ll have to take my word for it that this place has everything a dressmaker or pattern designer might ever need.
I bought a tracing wheel, a retractable tape measure, some sewing machine needles and a Norray grading ruler. Grand total HKD 100. That’s the equivalent of AUD 12 or the price of a sandwich and a cup of coffee in inner Melbourne.
I considered getting a dressmaker’s mannequin but decided it would be too tricky to bring home. I do have their price list for mannequins so feel free to leave a comment if you would like me to scan it for you.
I could have gone directly to Norray to get the ruler as I had their address in my notebook but that would have required me to take the MTR to Admiralty station, cutting in to my total shopping time.
If you need dressmaking or pattern making supplies and you happen to be in Hong Kong I heartily recommend the Tung Shing Sewing Machine Co but suggest you work out ahead of time what you need. The merchandise is kept under glass or plastic and you need to point out what you want to the sales assistant, rather than gathering up your items as you might do in a conventional retail outlet.
It’s an adventure that rewards the effort.