Monday, May 20, 2013

Fabric Shopping (Divisoria tips part 1)

Around this time last year, I was savoring the perks of solo-shopping in Divisoria. I was torturing myself at the same time, too. Haha!

It all started with an indescribable color motif, which I originally wanted for our wedding entourage's gowns - TEAL / SEA GREEN / BLUEGREEN. The thought of searching that rare color myself was stimulating. And I ended up choosing Divisoria for the most common reason: that's the cheapest source of any fabric!

TIP #1: Canvass before doing the plunge. It's usually the job of the couturier to provide the fabric. If he/she can do that for a minimal price, go for that option to save yourself from hassles. In our case, the couturier's quote for "fabric+labor" is P500-P1000 MORE (per gown!), compared to "labor-only". That's a lot, since I know that one (long) gown will only consume 2.5-3 yards of fabric, and fabrics in Divisoria range only from P65-P100 per yard. And we needed a total of 14 gowns! Getting the labor-only option was obviously more practical!

Since it was my first solo-shopping in divi, I prepared this map, zoomed enough to show the landmarks that I know. For quick references, I drew the following: Red circles for Divisoria Mall and Binondo Church, blue line for the route of Divisoria-bound jeepneys (if you're coming from Taft), and green line for my walking route, passing through 2 famous streets - Ilaya and Tabora streets (the ultimate source of wedding stuff, seriously). Thanks to google and wikimapia, I was able to gather all these info! And yes this map helped A LOT. Click the map to enlarge!

TIP #2: Save this map in your head. Browsing through the hard-copy map while on the road will make you look a bit less street smart, and will therefore attract pick pockets and snatchers. haha!

I found the fabric stores along Ilaya Street. I hopped from one store another looking for the color that I wanted (and fabric type, Shantung -- as recommended by my couturier). Sadly, I didn't find it. But thanks to friendly vendors, they recommended alternatives, opening myself up to other motifs that are still "lou and leda". I ended up buying 3 different types of fabrics in a stall at the end of Ilaya Street: 2-tone blue-black satin (Php 75 per yard), 2-tone blue-green satin (Php 75 per yard) and gold shantung (Php 85 per yard). Of course gowns need linings, so I bought geena silk as well (Php 25 per yard). I took shots of the 2-tone fabrics I got:


Since that was far from the original plan of getting just a single color for all gowns, I had to recompute on-the-spot how many yards I'd be getting for each color. I decided too on-the-spot that blue goes to my maid-of-honor and flower girls, gold for the moms, and green for the rest. At the last minute, I also decided to get some bluish tulle fabric (at the neighboring stall) for the balloon skirt of the flower girls (at Php 25 per yard. WOW.) Whew, thank God I was prepared for that kind of impromptu decision making!

TIP #3: Finalize your gown designs prior to shopping. And be firm about it. This way, you have only a few formulas to deal with, in case you decide to use different fabrics at the last minute. As explained to me by my couturier, short dresses consume 2-2.5 yards of fabric, while long gowns consume 2.5-3. Add 0.5 to that, for girls with "extra weight". Since our entourage's gowns are all long and we have a variety of body shapes (from slim to voluptuous), I made a general rule that each adult gown will consume 3 yards.

I was feeling so damn proud ....until I realized that I wasn't prepared for one thing -- carrying all of them on my way back home by myself! Do the math: I allotted 3 yards for each gown - 2 moms, 4 flower girls, 8 maids/secondary sponsors. And for each gown, I also allotted 3 yards of geena cloth for the lining. And, for the flower girls, I got about 10 yards of tulle. YES, more than 90 yards of fabric!

TIP #4: Watch as they measure. Not that I'm saying that these fabric vendors are cheaters, but come on, you're buying in bulk, and you're spending 4 digits worth of fabric. It won't hurt to focus MORE (Divisoria or not!) just for your own peace of mind, right?

I won't forget the conversation I had with the vendor when we started talking about wedding entourage gowns:

Vendor: Are you the seamstress of these gowns?
Me: No, I am the BRIDE.
Vendor: WHAT!? Where is your fiance?? Why is he not helping you?
Me: Oh, I asked him NOT to help me, coz I really want to shop alone.
Vendor: You're really not with anyone to help you???
Me: Yes, I'm by myself :)
Vendor: wow...

I then lifted the 2 huge bags, weighing about 8-10 kilos each. I smiled, acting nonchalant, just to prove the vendor my point that it's okay for brides to shop alone. But OMG. Few meters away from the stall (where the vendor can no longer see me. HAHA!), I put the bags down, and told myself, "F*ck, yes, I should have asked Lou to go with me!" -- hahahaha! But I had no choice, From the end of Ilaya street, I painstakingly dragged myself down to that tiny blue circle on the map to finally ride a jeepney. That experience was really epic.

TIP #5: Ask someone to accompany you. Unless you really want to give your muscles some sudden strenuous workout! Haha! As for bridezillas out there who still prefer to shop alone for the freedom in unli walking and canvassing (like me!), bring your fiances and ask them to hangout somewhere they won't get bored. Like the chinese restos in Ongpin - I should have asked Lou to wait for me there. hahaha!

But when I look at the pictures of the moms and entourage:

...I look back with no regret at all. Aaaah, the fruits of my muscle pains. hahaha!

Okay I admit - My ego still hurts a bit whenever I  remember the big shift from "teal" to "blue and green" (probably) due to my lack of EQ to search the corners of Divisoria. But I just laugh each time, realizing how a simple fabric shift can change a wedding in fun drastic ways - We eventually built the idea that our motif is "atenista blue and lasalista green", we had an atenista-lasalista themed engagement photoshoot, and we overhauled our website's motif. It even got to a point when several guests (seriously) asked if they should wear either green or blue depending on which university they're rooting for. Oh my. hahaha!

TIP #6: Buy some excess. Because you'll never know if you need more later on (ex. additional flower girl, miscalculated measurements, sewing defects, etc). And I'm pretty sure you don't want to go back to Divisoria just to buy a few yards of fabric ...Nor to go back there only to find out that the fabric you're looking for is already out of stock!

The most fun part - we were able to do lots of DIY filipiniana items in colors blue and green - two most common colors you'll see in Tabora street! (that one is another divi-experience, which I'll be sharing as part 2 of this post!).


P.S. I know this kind of post is probably too outdated (since this fabric shopping happened a year ago), but I still think this is worth sharing, simply coz Divisoria is one of the few places Manila that will never be obsolete, especially for fabric shoppers! :)

Oh, and lastly....

TIP #7: Reward yourself. It's been a long and tiring shopping afternoon (mine took about 4 hours including travel time!), so grab another Divisoria goody that is not wedding-related. Celebrate the solo-shopping survival, and the moolah you saved! I got a purple and white board shorts for only P100, and a brown tank top for P75. yay!!!

6/19/2013 EDIT: THIS POST HAS BEEN GETTING A HIGH NUMBER OF HITS DAILY due to the search string "Where to buy cheap fabric in Divisoria", or the like. I apologize for not remembering the name of the shop where I got my fabric. But anyway... for sure it was almost at the end of Ilaya Street, right side if you're facing Recto Avenue (it's not a single shop, TABI-TABI sila!!!). Hope that helps!!! 

6/29/2013 EDIT: 2nd part of my post is already posted HERE. :)


  1. haha!wow!now that you've written an entire blogpost about this, i realized how your trip to divi was really tiring and stressful that day haha! but you are right, when we saw your entire entourage, it was all worth it. lalo silang gumanda sa suot nila. Naman! :)

    i went to Divi last mother's day. I never went there alone too but I think I'll manage survive going to divi mall, 168 and china town mall alone haha!

    1. uy tara! di pako nakabalik sa divi since my last wedding-stuff-shopping! been telling myself that i must go back for my OWN shopping! pag ppunta ka sabihan mo ako a! divi shoooopping!!! ;)

  2. Replies
    1. yes, that's the most important. hahaha!

  3. Just to warn brides-to-be who are planning to buy at Divisoria, do whatever you can to avoid the stall Cherrick inside the Bridal gowns section of Tutuban Mall. It's located on the entrance, so just avoid it when you can.
    The owner's deceptive scheme is that she will wholeheartedly accept your designs with your downpayment and tell you that her tailors can do your designs for you. On the day of your fitting day (about two weeks delayed than what you first scheduled), you'll be surprised that she didn't follow the design you gave. And when you ask for alteration, she will give many excuses not to accept any alteration on the designs. She has prepared all the answers for any comment that you'll give, even though she clearly didn't follow what you discussed before. You'll receive rude answers when you give your comments, and so you get your gown with minimal alterations (limited only on the size).

  4. Hi! May I ask if san ka ngpatahi na labor only? saka range? :) thanks

    1. Hi SheRants! yes nagpatahi ako na labor only, i got a couturier recommended by my friend. 2 yrs ago, his rate was 1500 per simple gown. For the beaded gowns of moms, P2500-3000 :)

  5. Hi! Just want to ask if there's a Muslin Cloth or what we called " KATSA" na binibenta po dun? Hope for your response! God bless :)