Monday, March 28, 2011

Not in the Garment District, But Great Place for Notions

My favorite place to shop for notions in NYC is Fashion Design Books on the FIT campus at 250 West 27th Street. It has a great selection, including muslin in different weights and carbon transfer paper in different colors, and the prices are student-affordable. You'll also find plenty of sewing, fashion, dressmaking and design books here too, though these tend to be textbook-pricey unless you can find a used edition. Combine a trip here with a stop at the FIT Museum, which currently has an exhibit on Vivienne Westwood, and stops at TrueMart Fabrics just down the street at Seventh and W. 25th and the City Quilter at 133 W. 25th. Call or visit their web sites for store hours as not all places mentioned here are open every day.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Found: Pretty Cotton Prints at Mood

Mood Fabrics in NYC has loads of cotton prints.

Cotton prints abound in NYC's Garment District, but trust me, some of the bolts are as old as the hills. (Paron's Annex, ya know I love ya, but how long are you going to keep those bolts of that Lilly Pulitzer knock-off print around?) So I'm always on the lookout for fresh prints when I start to plan my spring and summer sewing. Mood Fabrics on W. 37th Street is a good shopping option for fashionable cotton prints, which range around $10 to $14 a yard.

Hey readers, what stores in NYC's Garment District do you like for stylish cotton prints?

Many of the cottons at Mood have some lycra in them, for those of you who like a little stretch.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sample Sale in the Garment District

From Racked NY: "This Thursday and Friday, 3.1 Phillip Lim is hosting a rare public sample sale with all proceeds going to the American Red Cross to help the relief effort in Japan. The sale will run from 10am to 6pm both days at the Phillip Lim Showroom, 260 West 39th Street on the 17th floor. Expect to find women's clothing, men's clothing, accessories, shoes, and Kid by Phillip Lim, not to mention samples and production merchandise."

Normally I wouldn't post news of sample sales here, but since this is for a good cause I am making an exception. I hope to pop over there myself….

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Garment District Weenie Alert

One of the benefits of running this Garment District web site is getting to meet and know the store owners and managers. Shop here regularly here and you will find "pockets of small-town warmth in a large city that can leave you feeling anonymous" (Dominique Browning). But last week I met Mr. Garment District Weenie and I'm still steamed about my encounter.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

What to Watch: HBO's "Triangle: Remembering the Fire"

Clear your schedules: Tomorrow (3/21) HBO Documentary Films presents TRIANGLE: REMEMBERING THE FIRE exclusively on HBO at 9:00 p.m ET/8:00C. The premiere marks the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirt Waist Factory Fire that began the modern labor movement. I'm putting aside my usual evening sewing so I can give this documentary my full about you?

Friday, March 18, 2011

NBC New York Blogs About the Garment District

Dispatches from the Garment District is part of the Thread NY fashion blog by NBC New York. Once or twice a month they post an inside feature on the Garment District, like a mini interview with a Calvin Klein intern or a tour of Mood Fabrics. Check it out...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Bit O' Garment District History

Oy. St. Patrick's Day in NYC.

Want to know something I have in common—today in particular—with early 20th-century Manhattan ladies?  We both hate to be caught on the streets of midtown New York City at lunchtime. Today the sidewalks are packed with teenagers and young adults dressed in green, in town for the St. Patrick's Day parade and looking for action. It's a zoo, I tell ya. In 1911, Fifth Avenue sidewalks—and side streets—at noon would have been crowded with garment factory workers, all men, on their lunch breaks. 

In fact, the congestion was actually far worse 100 years ago than it even is today on St. Patrick's Day. I learned this last night at a very informative lecture I went to with Carolyn at the Museum of the City of New York. Andrew Dolkart, Director of the Historic Preservation Program at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, historian of the Garment District, spoke about how the crowds of garment workers at lunchtime kept the rich women away from the fancy department stores located on lower Fifth Avenue. You see, the garment factories were all originally located close to the Fifth Avenue department stores, making it easier to deliver clothing to the merchants. The department store owners, faced with losing wealthy patrons, banded with other power brokers of the time to convince the garment manufacturers to move their factories, which they actually willingly did.

And that's how the garment district ended up located where it is today. How's that for a bit of trivia?

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Here's hoping I make it home on the train without getting thrown up on by a drunken teenager.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Found: Coach Fabric at A.K. Fabrics

If you are a fan of all things Coach, check out this Coach canvas fabric I found today at A.K. Fabrics on W. 39th Street. Heavyweight, it would be perfect for a tote bag. I didn't ask the price, but I'm guessing it falls somewhere in the store's general $6-$12 a yard range.

[Update: Cidell of Miss Celie's Pants just bought the last of this Coach fabric. Ya gotta act fast, people!]

There are also several attractive cotton prints here, though far too many have a Hawaiian or beach theme for my tastes. I did like this print, though:

And A.K. is by far the best option in town for denim of all weights and colors. Have you shopped here yet?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"The Fabric of the Garment District"

Wednesday, March 16, 6:30 p.m.
Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Ave, at 103rd St. 

"The Fabric of the Garment District"
The history of New York’s garment industry is as much a history of the built environment as it is a history of labor, regulation, and fashion. From the piecework of Lower East Side tenements to early purpose-built lofts such as the Asch Building, home of the Triangle Waist Company, to the first garment district on the streets flanking Broadway, north and south of 23rd street, and finally to the Seventh Avenue garment district that New Yorkers know today, the garment industry has produced and been a product of its unique and changing built environment.

Spectacular events like the Triangle factory fire played an important role in this industrial geography.  How did this and other factors lead to the creation of the Garment District?  Why were garment lofts built where they were? How did this affect workers, manufacturers, and consumers?  What is the legacy of the garment district today?

Andrew Dolkart, Director of the Historic Preservation Program at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, historian of the Garment District, discusses the changing history and geography of the garment industry 100 years after the tragic Triangle factory fire.

Co-sponsored by the Municipal Art Society of New York.

Reservations required: 917-492-3395 or
$6 Museum members; $8 seniors and students; $12 non-members;
$6 each when you mention "Shop the Garment District"

Monday, March 14, 2011

Groupon for Mood Fabrics

Many thanks to readers Clio and Isabel for calling to my attention the Groupon deal for Mood Fabrics (in-store only). Click here for all the details; it expires 3/18/11.

My sister swears by Groupon, but I have yet to use it. What about you, readers? Have you Grouponed yet?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Spring and Summer Bargain Fabric Roundup

Cut Fabrics on W. 38th Street, where I found a white terry that's perfect.

I've been trolling the Garment District these past two weeks, just to see what's out there for spring and summer fabrics at bargain prices. Here's what has caught my eye:

Chic Fabrics:  Check out their silk prints, cotton jerseys, cotton prints, border prints

H&M Fabrics: Decent selection of cotton prints, including some heavier weight cotton suitable for coats and jackets

Fabrics for Less: Found hot pink terry cloth there for $5/yd, but after three washings it was still bleeding like crazy and felt rough to the touch.

Spandex House: Seersucker lycra that looks just like cotton woven seersucker, plus denim knit

Cut Fabrics (across from Spandex House): White lasered terry cloth knit, perfect for beach coverups and just what I was looking for! Very soft and lightweight. $8/yd.

Paron's Annex: Many lightweight blends in the $4/yd barrel suitable for summer projects. I bought five yards of a viscose blend that I plan on making a long circle skirt out of.

NY Elegant Fabrics: They do have madras here [NY Sewer] but it's pricey ($25/yd, if memory serves). Good selection of cotton prints in spring and summer colors, but no bargains here.

Gray Line Linen: Best source of linen in all colors and weights, excellent prices for the quality.

What have you seen out there that you'd like fellow fabric shoppers to know about? Please share here.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

NY Elegant Fabrics

Note: This store has changed, improved, and been explored much more thoroughly since this post was written, and a deeper explorations have yielded so much more information about their offerings.  More updated reviews have come since, but I leave this post here, since Meg's post is equally valid - just a different perspective!

Meg's review from 2011 is below:

NY Elegant Fabrics is another Garment District store I wish I could wholeheartedly recommend when people ask me about must-visit stores in the area. If my recommendations were based solely on the friendliness of the proprietors, then I'd say yeah, definitely go here because I really like Charles Yoo.

But honestly, readers, I don't enjoy shopping at NY Elegant the way I do at some stores in the Garment District. The layout is confusing. The lighting is poor. The bolts are stacked too high and it's difficult to pull a bolt out on your own unless you're really strong. And—this is the kicker—the prices seem higher than elsewhere in the area. Significantly higher. I rarely buy anything here other than linings.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Hunting for Spring Fabrics

I'd love to find a heavyweight cotton print like the one this Milly coat is made of. (Available at Nordstrom and Bergdorf Goodman)

I am on the lookout for spring fabrics. Specifically, I'm searching for spectacular cotton prints, lightweight denim, linen and linen-blend prints, and white terrycloth to make a beach coverup. (I don't recall ever seeing terrycloth in the Garment District—do you?)

I'll probably be trolling W. 39th soon, looking for bargains. Long skirts are in again—yay!—but they require a lot more fabric (and more money). Let me know if there are any fabrics you'd like me to look for while I'm out and about….