Sewing contractors & fabric resources in California

While doing some research regarding sweatshops, I came upon more listing services for sewing contractors on the web. The first is the Garment Contractor’s Association (of southern California, not that location matters as much these days). Select “production referrals” to search their database. Speaking of California, here is a link to an FAQ for that state’s required process of manufacturing licensure. Due to workplace problems, registration and an exam is required to start an enterprise in CA. On a related note, anyone hiring independent contractors should read this. Lastly, you can search the database to see if a contractor’s registration has been denied, revoked or suspended (for California only) here.

Another site I found was Textile and Apparel Traders although judging from the forum, it doesn’t seem this site as seen a lot of activity lately. However there is an extensive resources section that is totally free. For example, they have over 4,000 different contractors listed to say nothing of a comprehensive fabric and inputs directory, also free of charge. Registration is required but in my opinion, that’s a small price to pay. I haven’t gotten any spam from there.

The last resource I found in my California foray was a link to TALA, The Textile Association of Los Angeles. TALA is a trade organization comprised entirely of fabric salesmen. Dallas has a fabric sales rep organization too although I can’t get a fix on them (The Dallas Textile Club). I’m sure NY has one too but nobody tells me anything. Nobody from NY will talk to me (and I’d take it personally but it’s my understanding that NY doesn’t talk to anybody outside of NY either- why are people in our business so weird?). If you don’t know this already, buying a listing of a group’s members regardless of where you live is a most excellent idea. These guides are usually better than those guides you can buy from those for-profit directory publishers although the latter does work for their money too. My member’s directory from Dallas 1995 is still a great resource that I use. Anyway, TALA also hosts fabric shows, their fall show is scheduled for October 17th-19th and features over 350 vendors. This will be held at the CaliforniaMart in LA. Membership directories cost $100.00 (print, CD rom or web access). If you live in LA or want to order by mail, the address is 110 East Ninth Street #A703, Los Angeles California, CA 90079. The phone number is 213.627.6173.

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  1. Katherine says:

    Another good site for those of us in Northern California is the site for San Francisco Fashion Industries at Sometimes the website is a little tricky to get onto (I usually Google sffi and then click on the link), but is well worth it. Here you can order their member directory ($18 incl. shipping), which not only lists members, but has some interesting articles on start-ups, choosing fabric, hiring sales reps, etc. There is also good advice about obtaining the CA Garment license, and membership includes help with the license application.

  2. SBorja says:

    Hi Kathleen,

    I will be attending TALA’s fabric show this month, my first fabric trade show. After reading the postings regarding small fabric minimums, I was curious to know if vendors at this show will entertain a small-time designer like me? Also, I’ve read that it’s unprofessional to ask about their minimum quantities. Yet, I don’t want to fall in love with a fabric (and create my design samples) only to find out later that their fabric miminums for production runs won’t meet my budget. How should I approach the vendors at the trade show?

  3. Cinnamon says:

    Kathleen, if you haven’t done it already, I would love to read your answer to SBorja’s question above. I’m attending the AIBI show in a few weeks, my first such trade show I’ll be attending (I buy wholesale but through a local warehouse where the selection is smaller). And 15-25 yard bolts are about all I need right now so I’m hoping to find out how to request minimum order info.

  4. MW says:

    Hey Cinnamon,

    I wrote a post after I attended the LA Textile show in October, and in it I had some strategies for finding companies with lower minimums. It’s somewhere in the archives, but if you’re looking for minimums of 15-20 yards, you want to look at companies that stock fabrics or jobbers.

  5. mari says:

    I am interested in buying a pattern making software program for my daughter. She is interested in designing and sewing on a small scale. She would like to start a small/home business.
    I’ve seen a lot of software on the web, but I am not familiar with any of them. I would like to buy one that is user friendly and one that can be used to created usuable patters of any size.
    Is there anyone that can help me?
    Thank you in advance!

  6. Mariya R. says:

    Hi Kathleen, I need your HELP.
    I’m new to LA, just moved from NYC. I’m a staying at home Mom with 3 kids and work from home:I design beautiful skirts and dresses for little girls.
    I’m looking for a sewing company or a private person who can make small quantities of skirts and dresses for me,basically recreating my samples in 10/20 pieces of each design. Please help me with basic ideas where to look for these sewing factories or people who know how to sew, who is interested to take some orders from me and work from their home.How do I find them? I checked out Fashion district in LA, Taylor shops, Internet, Newspaper ads,Art & Craft shops,but no luck. Please help! Thank you, Mariya

  7. Dene says:

    I have basically the same question as Mari. Also for Los Angeles, does anyone know of any small orders sewing production places? Or what are they called, how do I find out about their methods of operation, etc. Dene

  8. Lou says:

    Kathleen here, amending this comment. This comment is an example of astroturfing. See my comment below for the full story on “Lou’s” comment. I’ve decided to leave it rather than deleting it because it illustrates the character of the party involved.

    There is a great company on Orange County, Choices Apparel, Inc., that specializes in start up and small apparel firms. Try them out, and they are legal in all ways. When I went there, they showed me their manufacturers lisc., and they are vertical company that even does embroidery and die cutting. Great company, give them a shot. They are in Huntington Beach…I was refered to them by TALA.

  9. Carol says:

    Please watch out for Choices Apparel in Huntington Beach. I am not sure what you heard, but the word is that they aren’t very ethical regarding a few different practices. Do your homework – check TALA personally, BBB, check references and see what kind of judgements they have against them. Ask for references from repeat customers. Apparently, the slick sales people claim to work with new people but not too many repeat customers (big red flag for me). I was thinking of using them until I heard too many negative things. Since then – I’ve heard even more, thank goodness I went with my gut.
    Carol in Colorado

  10. Kathleen says:

    “Lou’s” comment looks to be a clear case of astro-turfing. Astroturfing is when someone masquerades as one without a vested interest who posts in support of a business, product or position. In other words, “Lou” is actually Michael, the owner of Choices Apparel. In his comment, he pretends to be a satisfied customer when in actuality, he owns the company. There’s nothing wrong with promoting one’s business (by leaving a link) via answering a question or being helpful on the blog. The issue is, he pretended to have no association with the business he was endorsing -when he owns it.

    From the back end, I can see where/how comments come in, from whence they originate. Here’s “Lou’s” comment. For comparison, here is an email that Michael sent me a few months back. It has been redacted to protect my client.

    There are at least three reviews on this contractor in the forum here, here and here.

    I personally can’t say anything about this contractor never having used them but I have a client who did. Unfortunately, being bound to confidentiality, I can’t disclose the nature of her experience with Choices Apparel. In the event you don’t have access to the forum, I strenously urge you to perform due diligence in checking with the Better Business Bureau and get references from repeat customers.

  11. Steve says:

    I have to say, in doing business with any company/contractor, INTEGRITY is one of the most important things I look for. It clearly looks like the owner of Choices Apparrel, Inc. lacks the #1 principle in conducting long term business.

    To masquerade as a “third party” in trying to promote one’s company just goes to show everyone what kind of business Choices Apparel, Inc. is.

  12. Helga says:

    I’m from Los Angeles and I have been looking for someone to make Keyhole buttonholes for me, with no luck. Do you know of any service that can do that.
    Thank you.

  13. Isabella says:

    Seeking help with recommendations on large manufacturer in area that works with low min. and young designers. Thank you.

  14. Isabella, your question was answered in the comment directly above Helga’s. I’ll repeat it for you:

    We only provide direct sourcing information in the member’s forum. Private but you can qualify to join. Also, if you use a CA contractor or you live there, you’ll need a garment license. If you don’t have one, this entry will be helpful. At its close are the other entries in the series.

    In addition, this and this will be very educational in explaining why it is so hard to get anyone to help you.

    Note: no offense but I will be deleting any further comments that illustrate the person commenting has not read these entries.

  15. Jon says:

    what’s wrong with promoting your own company with a different screen name? 99% of business owners do this every day on the internet. the other 1% are not the business owners themselves, but employees of that company. Nothing wrong with that at all.

  16. Kathleen says:

    Jon: Just because people do it every day doesn’t mean it’s ethical. And it’s not so much that he used a different screen name, it’s that he deliberately concealed his identity, pretending to be his own satisfied customer. Rather, one can only surmise he was interested in mitigating the multitude of complaints against his business. There would have been no problem if he’d been honest about who he was and that he wanted new customers. There’s a better way to do this.

    This is a free country. Every blog owner has the right to manage their blog the way they see fit. It is their “living room” and they have the right to set the standards of behavior and decorum that are acceptable to them. I cannot tell anyone else how they should permit guests to behave in their homes, I only know this is something I don’t permit in mine. Similarly, you’re free to limit your visits to sites that are more acceptable to you.

  17. Di says:

    I completely agree with you Kathleen . . . I think it is very healthy to hear what people are saying about your company, That way you can change the negative and do a corrective action. Be a better business person. Thank you for the information.

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