If you get a chance to go to Japan definitely check out Nippori Textile & Fabric District. Here is some advice from my trips over the past couple of years.
The types of fabrics you’ll find here will depend on the time of year you travel to Japan. Going in summer allows you to find the most gorgeous dress fabrics and you can get some bargain buys less than 500 yen / meter ($6 AUS). The colder months will allow you to find lots of knits and jacket/suit types of material. The only problem with buying this material is that it’s quite thick, so you have to allow for extra baggage space or even organise to get it posted back. No matter what time of the year, there will always be incredible kids themed material, quilt material and Japanese fabrics.
How to ask for fabric in Japanese
1 meter please – ichi me-r taru onegaishimasu
2 meter please – ni me-r taru onegaishimasu
3 meter please – san me-r taru onegaishimasu
1- 10 (ichi, ni, san, yon, go, roku, nana, hachi, kyuu, gyu)
Meter – me-r taru
Please – onegashimasu
Thank you – Domo or domo arigato
No thank you – daijobu (this one comes in handy!)
Fabric Tomato has a couple of stores along this street, one of which has about 6-7 levels high so you’ll be sure to find a number of goodies here! However, there are a number of remnants, patterns, lace, Japanese kimono type stores along the way.