FABSCRAP: Philly’s Textile Recycling Center

First came Slow Fashion, a global movement championing concern for the environment over cheap, disposable goods made by underpaid foreign workers. But how can we counter the constantly rising tide of textiles from American manufacturers of clothing, drapes, upholstery, and bedding?  The answer is FABSCRAP, a textile recycling center located at the Bok Building, 1901 S 9th St.

Originally launched in 2016 in Brooklyn to meet New York City’s commercial textile recycling needs, FABSCRAP, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit, is celebrating its one-year anniversary at its Philly warehouse this November. 

“The concept was started by FABSCAP founder and CEO, Jessica Schreiber, who was working in New York City’s Municipal Waste Department and noticing that manufacturers wanted to recycle their textile waste,” said Haven DeAngelis, Philly Reuse Coordinator. Materials that traditionally would have gone to the landfill are now being properly recycled and made available for reuse.


The variety of fabrics available for sale at FABSCRAP is as diverse as the textiles used by the local brands that recycle. “In NYC, we have 700 brand partners. Here in Philadelphia, we have 27, including Urban Outfitters, QVC, J. Jill, and sustainable local brand Lobo Mau whose design studio is also at the Bok building. 60% is reusable and available for sale in our mini storefront and online. The other 40% is recycled into commercial insulation and carpet padding.” This means you will find a huge assortment of prints and solids, knits, corduroy, mesh, and just about every weight of fabric from tulle to leather. You can make an appointment to come to the warehouse to shop for scraps. Larger pieces are sold online. Smaller ScrapPacks for crafting, quilts, and doll clothes are also available. 

Reams of fabric at the FABSCRAP warehouse

Don’t see what you want online? Virtual shopping via Zoom is available in thirty-minute time slots for $75 minimum orders. Shopping appointments at the FABSCRAP Warehouse are one-hour time slots with a limit of one person per appointment. If you would like to shop with a partner, you will both need to register in advance.

“The service fee covers operational costs and allows us to give away fabric to students, artists, local designers, and crafters for reuse,” said DeAngelis who has her own side business, Stitch and Destroy, which upcycles used textiles into eco-friendly punk rock-inspired clothing.

The impact of FABSCRAP

Volunteer at FABSCRAP

“We offer volunteer sorting sessions and have a good group of repeat volunteers, including school groups and corporations,” said DeAngelis. “This month, Philly FABSCAP celebrates its one-year anniversary with a special volunteer sorting session that will include drinks, giveaways, and a party atmosphere.”

A graphic showing FABSCRAP’s process

Each session is three hours long with morning and afternoon sessions. They include an intro to FABSCRAP, how to sort fabric scraps, how to separate unusable scraps, and the process of removing staples or cardboard from swatches. After the session, you are welcome to 5 pounds of free fabric, plus a 30% volunteer discount on any additional material.

Attend a Workshop

Once a month, FabScrap Philly invites a creative professional to skill share with the community, offering both digital and in-person workshops. Past events include: Mend Your Knits, Intro to Patternmaking, and Mixed Media Embroidery. A donation of $10 is suggested to view recent demos on video. Have a craft skill to share? Fill out their online form to apply.

“I love working here and educating others about why we need to recycle clothing and textiles,” said DeAngelis. “Our goal is to provide these saved-from-landfill materials at an accessible and affordable rate to our community of makers.” 

Solo Real Estate congratulates FABSCRAP Philly on its one-year anniversary and welcomes their efforts to help our City achieve its sustainability goals.

5 Philly Architectural Details Hiding in Plain Sight

If you are a history and architecture enthusiast like us, you’re likely constantly looking up (or down) to spot hidden details from Philly’s past in its buildings and alleys. Here are 5 details you will find throughout Philly that are hiding in plain sight. 

1. Ghost Signs

No, ghost signs do not point the way toward haunted houses. They are faded advertisements or business logos that can be found all over the City, often painted on highly visible brick walls. Most are relics of the 20th century, such as the Camac Market sign at 1216 Spruce, now the home of Mercato, a BYOB restaurant. 

T.J. Cobourn, Grocer and Camac Food Market Ghost Signs- Images: Ghost Sign Project
T.J. Cobourn, Grocer and Camac Food Market Ghost Signs- Images: Ghost Sign Project and Philadelphia Department of Records.

Patrick Grossi, advocacy director for the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, said that ghost signs are, “physical and tangible windows into the past” and they give “the building some context and color.” 

Hidden City Project Director Pete Woodall has been photographing ghost signs for years, and he’s turned 28 of his favorite ones into a poster available for sale. 

If you would like to get some aerobic exercise, take a ghost sign running tour with City Running Tours which follows a 5-mile loop passing 30 ghost signs in Old City, Northern Liberties, Callowhill, Center City, and Society Hill.   

2. Blue Street Signs

A close-up image of a blue street sign on Locust Street in Philadelphia

Small metal blue street signs with white letters on the sides of buildings are one of the remains of Philadelphia’s evolving street signage since the Colonial days. You will find them in the older parts of the City, including Waverly St. and 16th, Pine and Ninth St., and  N. 10th & Lemon St. They are part of the evolution of our City’s efforts to keep people from getting lost.

The first street name signs were carved into the masonry of buildings at intersections. Later, wooden boards with street names were affixed to buildings. In the early 20th century, they were also on lamp posts or carved into curb stones. It wasn’t until 1970 that the City adopted a green sign affixed to street light poles.  

3. Fire Marks

Between the second and third stories of houses in Society Hill, you’ll often see a plaque or badge, made of lead or iron, sometimes mounted on wood. These are fire marks that indicate that the house was insured for fire and which company insured it dating back to 1752 when Benjamin Franklin founded The Philadelphia Contributionship, the longest-tenured insurance company in the country. In 1755, The Contributionship’s directors required that all policyholders attach fire marks to their properties. 

This United Firemen’s Insurance Company plaque is an example of a fire mark on a home’s exterior.

Early fire marks were colorfully painted and contained the owner’s policy number. In addition to identifying the property for the insurance company, they may have also served to discourage arson, and possibly encourage other policyholders to pitch in and help fight the fire if they saw a burning building.  Philadelphia Fireman’s Hall Museum, 147 N. 2nd St., has one of the largest collections of fire marks.

4. Hitching Posts

Think of hitching posts as parking spaces for horses. In 1900, there were over 50,000 horses and mules stabled in the City. If deliverymen with horse-drawn wagons and coachmen taking the elite to the opera wanted their mode of transport to be where they left them, hitching posts were a necessity.

Close-up of horse-hitching post. Image: GoNomad
Close-up of horse-hitching post. Image: GoNomad

A charming example of black metal hitching posts can be found on the 1800 block of Carlton Street in the Art Museum area, as well as throughout the Colonial-era sections of the City. There are also several replicas installed on the 2000 block of Chancellor Street in Rittenhouse, right in front of the Solo office!

5. Cobblestones & Belgian Blocks

Philly’s earliest streets, such as Elfreth’s Alley, were lined with cobblestone which was pulled from river beds and had rounded soft edges. Then came Belgian blocks which were quarried and have more of a rectangular shape.

Belgian blocks. Image: Terren Landscapes
Belgian blocks. Image: Terren Landscapes

Both are tough to traverse on high heels, but add charm to our most admired streets like the 200 block of Delancey, the 200 block of Quince, and the 8400 block of Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill. 

Philly alley. Image: Cory J Popp, Solo Real Estate

Fall is the perfect time to take advantage of the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia’s free self-guided tours including Old City, Rittenhouse, and Chestnut Hill. The air is crisp, the leaves are starting to fall – get out there and explore!