I did manage to do a little bit of fabric shopping in Beijing. Not too much, since on a family vacation with four kids, that is not a high priority. One evening, however, dad took the little kids swimming and I bribed G1 to come to the market with me for a Chinese-style dress. We were staying close to the Silk Market, which is a popular shopping place for tourists. After doing a quick run around the lower floors, we headed up to the fabric area. The fabric is sold by tailors. You can pick out fabric and a pattern and have a dress or suit custom-made. I saw a woman picking up a jacket she had ordered and she said she had never had a garment fit her that well.
It is a lot more spacious than the fabric markets I have been to in Korea, but that is probably because the purpose is not primarily to sell fabric but to sell clothing. I did buy a couple of pieces, but I mainly just looked. All the prices are negotiated, and I really didn’t want to barter for a small piece of fabric. What I really wanted was to offer $5 for a bag of their scraps left over from making dresses, but even if I knew how to ask that in Chinese, I don’t know what they would have thought.
I’ve heard that there are better places in Beijing to shop for fabric, but since I only had an hour, I mixed it with other shopping. I’ve also heard that Seoul has better quality and lower prices, so I’m still hoping to go there.