My husband Eddie is a grad student, and a few times a year he attends various Alzheimer's and Dementia conferences. Sometimes, these conferences are in amazing places, and sometimes I get to travel with him. And at the beginning of this month, we went to Lisbon, Portugal!
Whenever we travel for one of Eddie's conferences, I end up with at least a day or two of exploring our destination on my own because the conference days last from around 8am-7pm. So, during these solo days, it has become my tradition to explore out all the fabric stores that I can find.
Before we travel, I usually try to do a little research, and find out if there are any must-see shops. I found a blog post from House of Pinheiro, and another by See it, Design it, Make it. I also reached out to Megahn of Halfmoon Atelier, who is currently planning a sewing retreat in Lisbon for this coming September. All of these sources gave me some good suggestions to start with. And of course Google Maps is always super useful as well!
This post is part two of the Lisbon fabric shops series. Part one highlights a few of my favorite stops in Lisbon in a little more detail. This second post is going to be a rundown of all the shops I found, their addresses, and a brief description, as well as some tips for traveling around the city. I am by no means an expert on any of this, but if you have any questions just put them in the comments below and I'll do my best!
Shops that I visited in Lisbon:
A few travel tips:
- The first 8 on the list above are all in what I would call the "downtown" area. Lots of shopping, a little touristy, but also a lot of old charm. The next group, 9-13 were in a different part of the city, right by the Cemetery of Pleasures (which I sadly did not get a chance to go in to!)
-Retrosaria means haberdashery. So, there are actually quite a few shops called retrosaria, and it's a great word to know when you are searching for these shops.
-If I were to do it again, I'd go to the shops that I know offer fabric first, and then end at the haberdasheries like Retrosaria Bijou. They offer so many trims and buttons, but if you don't know what fabric you trying to match, it doesn't do you much good!
-There are quite a few of these shops that have a lot of yarn as well as fabrics or sewing notions, especially the "Retrosarias". So this list is still a great jumping off point for all you knitters and crocheters out there.
-Google. Google Maps was amazing for looking up how to get places. Google maps can show you how to travel from point A to point B using public transportation, and will even tell you which bus to get on at which stop at what time. You can even download the whole lisbon area of the map so you don't have to use data or wifi to use it. Google translate is also a great app for traveling anywhere with a language barrier. To be honest, most people actually spoke English very well, but for the few who didn't, and for reading menus and signs, google translate was a must have!
-There are a lot of little haberdasheries that aren't actually on Google Maps. A lot of these shops are right by each other, sometimes even right in a line on the same street. So while Google Maps was a great starting point, you should be sure to keep your eyes peeled for more.
-If you are planning on using a card to pay at a store, make sure that you ask to make sure they accept it BEFORE you shop. This is from personal experience. I didn't have any trouble with the fabric shops, but I did run into issues at some of the places we stopped for food. There was an unfortunate incident with an ice cream cone.
-I used a Viva Vigem card to get around the city on the public transportation. You can buy a one at the metro stations (we got ours at the airport metro station), add money to it, and then keep adding more money if you need to with a feature called "zapping". You can add as little as 5 euros at a time. It was a great option! You can use it to ride trams, trolleys, buses, elevators, trains, and the metro, all at cheaper rates than if you ride without the card. Just remember that outside of a metro station, you can only add money onto it with cash, which we didn't actually carry around most of the time. So plan accordingly! Also, you can actually pay for bus rides in coins, but not with a credit card.
-Get local insight! I know that there are some companies, like The Loft, that offer guided tours of the haberdasheries around Lisbon. If the thought of venturing solo is intimidating, a group tour may a great option for you! Or even if you do plan on going out on your own, talking to some Lisbon locals may help you find even more amazing shops off the beaten path.
Some of the fun fabrics that I encountered:
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