Monday, October 28, 2019


It has been a while.  I don't want to let a million ten years of posts to go to waste, so I will be reposting and updating as time moves along!  I have finished my treatments, and am feeling better with the passing days, so I'll be back in the wing of being again, as I am doing a bit of creative sewing even today!

LOTS of fabric and notions stores are closing to have closed, so I will be updating my garment district maps to reflect those changes today.

As always, just when I think I have run out of things to say, more stuff comes to mind, and my stats tell me people want to read it, so ... 


I'm still here for you.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

On shoemaking

*Originally published 1/16/17

Well, here we are. I am OBSESSED, and frankly, it is just an endless, bottomless, chasm.  Having said that, I can't really form this particular dispatch into one neat, cohesive post, so, please, my fellow mad creatives... please appreciate this weird romp along with me.  Where the heck do I begin?

Well, I found a book at the library on shoemaking.  Let me not forget to say, for the record, that I asked the woman at the information desk in the creative/art section of the library if they had any books on shoemaking, and she literally ROLLED HER EYES, as if that would be a ridiculous pursuit for ANYONE to embark upon.  She referred me to a section, not a BOOK, and I was eventually able to find, after diligent internet searching (on my own!), a book that they needed to retrieve from their basement!

click photo for Amazon link

And I have now studied almost every single word of it. I would like to own it, but, as you can see, if you click on the above link, it has a ridiculously high price on Amazon.  Truth be told, I'd spend less by pretending to lose it, and pay the library for it... hmmm...  I won't do that, though.  It would be dishonest. Darn it.

So... my fascination begins at the point that I really love unique shoes, have very few pairs (by choice!), but there are a million ideas in my head, so I want to experiment and explore.  After about two months of research and supply sourcing, I must say that one can learn the technical challenges and common techniques, but the rest, much like clothing making, is unique, sculptural and magical.

What I love the most, is that while watching a professional make a shoe using factory equipment and tools, finding creative ways to construct something like a carpenter would, using your hands, and carefully planned pieces, calling on your local shoemaker to do the soling part for you (toxic glue fumes, professional equipment) if you want to do something truly special, you discover that you can indeed create something lovely and lasting for yourself!

This video would be wildly ambitious for anyone who has never tried to sew sneakers before, but it is a great education in what all of the shaping and sewing entails.

I like to assemble failing things, toss them all, and replace them all at one time.  More practical than crazy, I would argue.

And here's another thing.  If you're anything like me, you long for some favorite pair of shoes that you had long ago, or are no longer made.  You can't duplicate them exactly without the tools and materials, but you can absolutely use them as inspiration!

Now, explaining how to make a pair of shoes is as complicated as trying  to tell someone how to make a dress.  There are endless levels of quality, complications, etc.

So, let's say you just want to do the sculpting and artistic side of things... you can leave the soling up to your local knowledgeable cobbler or shoe repair person!  If you want to do the soling yourself, you can buy soling sheets and cut them (try Manhattan Wardrobe Supply or Amazon), and/or you can buy pre-made soles, ready to glue.  You can also buy insoles, rather than make your own.  There are many options for comfort. Explore the options online, and you will find some great supplies to help get you to a beautiful result.

I was happy to learn about a great shoe supply resource (in Brooklyn), named Brooklyn Shoe Supply, and will visit once I have completed my first pair/several pairs, so that I will be able to proceed with a bit more confidence.

As for the drooling/shoe eye candy aspect of things, I made a Pinterest Page with ideas and inspiration, and I have watched some wonderful You Tube videos for ideas and thoughts. 

Wrap shoe.  Food for thought:

About ballet shoes (not because I dance, but informs my shoe thinking):

The video below begins the process of making a very basic ballet flat, but if you read the book I mentioned at the beginning of this post, you'll see what advice is given there, and you can improve on/deviate from the suggested methods given here, if you like.  No matter what you choose, it seems some trial and error/discovery will be necessary to your development.

Over the past few weeks, I have explored and learned a lot about fabric choices, leathers, dyes, closures, leather stackable heels, looked at shoes in museum exhibits...  I have DEVOURED every bit of information I have found inspiring, and cannot wait to use my hands to sculpt some shoes.  I will share results when appropriate!

Note: Now there is a shoemaking map on my maps page, if you'd like to know where to go!

Saturday, October 26, 2019

I see London, I see France...

* Originally published 8/3/13

The London Eye

Sometimes the garment district can feel like an amusement park, and the stores within it, a carnival ride. A dizzying assortment of fabrics and notions, offered at a wild range of prices, and often of unknown origin, it is such a win when you find that magical spot, where the collection is carefully and artistically curated, AND you are greeted like an old friend.

If you're like me (and I think many of you are), you crave beauty and an outlet for your own creative expression, appreciating the quality of the luxury brands and the materials they use, but, even if you love exactly what they offer, you may not choose to spend or have the kind of cash those items require of you. 

I was leading a private tour in in mid-July when we walked into Elliott Berman Textiles to explore their selection of fabrics.  My heart nearly stopped when Eugenia pulled out a selection of headers (sales showroom cards for display and ordering information), featuring the beautiful digital prints that were due to arrive a month later. The above panel  (London Eye ferris wheel... and YES, that is FABRIC pictured above) stole the show for me!  This is a wonderfully soft poly print, with the image of perfect dimensions for the front of some fabulous silky T or blouse I have yet to make. The shipment was due to arrive the the end of August.  I couldn't comment publicly here on the blog, for fear that it would just be gone in an instant.  And now... yes, it is gone.  When designers saw this one at the DG Expo, they FLIPPED OUT, and bought ALL of it! And Elliott Berman doesn't plan to have more.

Pictured above, is the panel the store saved just for me.  Sorry, folks... Sometimes, I just have to keep some secrets to myself.  Sorry you missed it? 

But, here's the good news...  There are other AMAZING digital prints they have to offer.  And, no lie... they are just as amazing.  The London Eye just happened to be very ME. Had you been there yesterday afternoon, like I was, well... I can barely put it into words.

Some of the fabrics are so beautiful, that just a very simple sewing project can take a basic garment into the wearable art category, simply because the fabric makes such a powerful statement of its own. 


A wall has come down.  On purpose. Yes, in the store. As a result,  a new room of new goods is being filled.  NOW. Yesterday, I watched that room starting to come together, at first, about 1/3 full of new fabrics from France, and then a TRUCK arrived, UNLOADING brand new goods from Italy.  Yes, I was there to see them!  A true first look.  Think brocades, high-end swimwear fabrics, Chanel, Etro, Clavin Klein...

 Go there in person.  The magic cannot be effectively conveyed in a blog post.  I will tease you with some photos, but you will have to take the next step.

Digital printed velvet, as used in Etro's collection.  Feels like magic.  Winter 2013/2014 collection.  

Oh, and ask to look at the cool Calvin Klein sorta burlappy coating/handbag/tough stuff that Calvin Klein has used as well.

Believe me when I tell you this.  Go now.  I am not lying when I tell you that some fabrics are actually HIDDEN in the store because they are so wildly popular. Yes, really.

A lovely Chanel high end swimsuit fabric in bright white... for the bravest among you!

Stretch high end swimsuit, snug dress or legging, perhaps?

Stretch high end swimwear fabric.

Another fantastic print.

Need I comment on how pretty and crisp the colors are?

Sparkly, random silver polka dots on a white cotton background.  Check out the textured cottons, too!

Stretchy, fuzzy, and beautiful.  Must be experienced in person!

What I cannot capture, is the fabulous digital prints (like my London Eye), because my photos are terrible, compared to the quality of the photography on the fabric.  You'd have to see it in person to believe them.If you're not local, visit their website here to see what they have to offer! Oh, and by the way, what I am showing you here represents only the very tiniest tip of the iceberg of fabrics they have to show.  The digital prints are just unbelievable when seen in person.

And, it doesn't end here.  To make things, you need notions, linings, complementary fabrics.  You will need to visit  more stores to do your best work.

For more opportunities like this, come along on a Speakeasy tour!