Wednesday, December 16, 2015

In New York City for the holidays? Here are some exhibits to see!


At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, there is a textile exhibit, entitled "Fashion and Virtue: Textile Patterns and the Print Revolution, 1520-1620"  An extremely specific title, to be sure!  The Museum describes the exhibit:  
The practice of embroidery was seen as a virtuous endeavor, and textile pattern books, published with great frequency from the 1520s onward, were designed to inspire, instruct, and encourage "beautiful and virtuous women" in this esteemed practice. Straddling the disciplines of early printmaking, ornament design, and textile decoration, these works help shed light on the crucial period when the concept of fashion as a means of distinguishing individual identity became fixed in Western society.
As noted by a reader (see comments below), there is another exhibit at the MET to see, entitled  "Jacqueline de Ribes: The Art of Style", featuring this style icon whose originality and elegance established her as one of the most celebrated fashion personas of the 20th century. 
On view until January 10, this exhibit will excite the historians, artists and enthusiasts among you.  see this related article for more details. 

At the  Museum of the City of New York, you can see a grand exhibit that explores the history of this great city!




At Discovery Times Square, you can see the Star Wars Costume exhibit!
From the press release: 
Featuring 70 hand-crafted costumes from the first six blockbuster Star Wars films, this exhibition reveals the artists’ creative process—and uncovers the connection between character and costume. George Lucas imagined and created a fantastical world filled with dynamic characters who told the timeless story of the hero’s journey. The costumes shaped the identities of these now famous characters, from the menacing black mask of Darth Vader and the gilded suit of C-3PO, to the lavish royal gowns of Queen Amidala and a bikini worn by Princess Leia when enslaved by Jabba the Hutt. A special presentation for the showing at Discovery Times Square in New York will feature seven additional costumes from the highly anticipated film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. 




At the Cooper Hewitt Museum, The Making Design exhibit features objects


And seriously now, courtesy of the Cooper Hewitt, an online demonstration of a folding Miyake Dress!


Is there more to see?  Yes, plenty.  But if you need more, I suggest you move here, because even the most ambitious tourist/visitor will absolutely run of time!

Another victim of huge rent increases? Chic Fabrics is closing at the end of this month.

Things aren't looking good for Chic Fabric, but they are definitely still trying.  While this means steep discounts and sales for everyone inclined to shop there right now, it is another sad event for one of our beloved retailers.



A great stop for novelty and basic fabrics, an exploration of colors and prints, and a friendly helpful staff, this place will be missed.  There has been no progress on renegotiating the lease thus far, but as always, we are hopeful, as are they, that they will secure a new location.  As always, I will let you know when I have shareable news!

See previous posts on Chic Fabric here, here and here.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Online fabric shopping survey results - updated!

As the holiday season is now in full swing, I am reviewing the best ideas for fabric lovers and sewists I have stumbled upon in the garment district and beyond.  Since many of you are not local, I am sharing what is most helpful here, with updated information where appropriate.

Updated From 11/30/12:

Boy, did you guys ever participate in the Online fabric shopping survey!  Here is a summary of the results, for your reading pleasure... I have only mentioned the most common responses here, but have shared detailed information with the vendors who have specifically  expressed to me that they are very interested in maximizing customer satisfaction.

There were 88 participants in the survey today.

93% of you who took the survey actually shop online.

What are your favorite online fabric stores?

The first three vendors (below) were mentioned by the most, by far!  Among the others mentioned, those with brick and mortar locations in NYC are clickable to link to their websites below:


Mood (Mood has implemented third party shipping!  See details here)

A special mention goes out from one of the survey participants to Metro Textiles, who does not have a website, but will personally send swatches and handle requests by email with a high level of personal attention and customer service.

There were quite a few more mentioned who are scattered across the USA (and a few beyond our nation's borders, actually), which are VERY useful as study aids for the vendors with whom I have shared the survey results, but giving the full list here would be information overload. It has been shared with those vendors who want to research the detailed info.


What are your concerns about shopping online?

Color, quality, drape and texture.  It seems that product-related issues were significantly riskier bets for many of you than shipping concerns, which was the next in line.


Now, describe the store of your dreams!

Free or low cost swatches, reasonable shipping, great photography, Pantone colors, better fabric descriptions, suggested uses and weight information. Great customer service, clear return policy, ability to speak with a live person during business hours, a search feature on a user-friendly site.  You also want fair return policies when items are not as described/pictured.  Much more detail was offered, and was shared with the vendors who asked for it!

Thank you to all who participated.  The stores are listening!



Wednesday, December 9, 2015

About faux fur and real fur... I must have gone 10 places to find JUST the right thing...


As recently featured on the blog, I was making a jacket with  a solid dose of GLAMOUR, and I needed just the right trim.  I had already made a wrong purchase, and still needed something full,  warmer, and more lively.

I looked, and looked... Went upstairs, downstairs, and up and down the streets of the district, to find just the right faux fur trim for the jacket I was making.  I won't waste you time with needless information of the places that didn't have what I needed...


because I found the perfect thing upstairs at New York Elegant.


Yardage.  And I bought 1/2 yd. When it comes to faux fur there is so much to get right... The feel (or "teddybearishness", as I like to call it), the density, how securely the fibers stay in place, the pill, puff and shed factor, the smell (for me) the flexibility and weight of the backing... 

If you are looking for fur, (whether faux or real) here are some other good places to check:

Joyce Trimming (faux)
Lauren Trimming (faux)
Daytona Trimming (faux)
Leather, Suede, Skins (real)
M&J Trimming (faux and real)
Leather Impact (real)

Will you find amazing surprises in some other district stores?  Yes, you most certainly will.... but I could write a NOVEL on the subject.  Just try these first.  You'll be exhausted after that. 

Intimidated about sewing with faux fur?  Try the new DVD recently released by Kenneth King.  I was so bummed that I had to miss the recent launch event, but I'm sure it was fantastic!




Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The reveal (see previous post)

Not many words, really.  Just the photos.  I'm proud of it.  It isn't mine, and I nearly tear up at the thought of having to part with it.

As detailed in my previous post, the fabric was purchased at Rosen & Chadick (double faced wool), Metro Textiles (lining), fur (NY Elegant) and zipper (Botani).  I hand sculpted this jacket.  No pattern.

Many hours, lots of sweat, tears... a bit of blood, too. I took no shortcuts, and it was commissioned by a beloved friend/client, so I hope she loves it as much as I do!


My headless dress form wears a hood...
A magical, warm lining... this jacket is for cold Michigan winters!


To carry the weight of the hood on the shoulders while keeping the fur away from the neck, I created a "rolled stand" (my own term), and made the edges of the hood angle upwards (away from the collar), so it wouldn't be too confining.)


a bound pocket


Keep warm, everyone... and happy Thanksgiving!









Thursday, November 19, 2015

And then what happened? (Today in the district... and a project that grew from a dreamy Rosen & Chadick swatch...

Yes, we've had some silence for a bit.  I've been VERY BUSY.

I'm in a great mood right now.  A truly fantastic mood. After battling flu-like symptoms and fatigue for who knows how long now (I honestly lost track of how long I've been sick, just caught up in the daily scramble of life), but today (11/17 when I started writing this) I woke up feeling like a million bucks in every single way.


Thank God. And I mean that sincerely.

The day before yesterday, these things were said to me:


  • "Don't you dare apologize for your process.  You are amazing!" (said to me by someone who was watching me show a jacket that has taken a long time to finish to its intended wearer.) He made my day.

  • "I was calling to thank you for recommending me... I got the job!" (said to me by a former design studio coworker, whose work is UH-MAY-ZING)



  • "Remember, you gave me some advice a year ago?  I followed it!  Thank you!" (said to me by someone who confidently asked her employer for what she needed... and got it!)



  • "You should take some medicine... This will help your symptoms." (That one was said to me by my husband last night (11/16) before giving me a cup of Nyquil-type stuff that finally put a lid on this cold!)



So, here's an idea of some sewing-related things that have been going on...







Remember the "Waist Case", profiled here and pictured above? It is now, officially, the cool alternative to the fanny pack of the 80's for our family. It has become a daily necessity in my daughter's life, outperforming all purchased solutions, keeping her daily essentials accessible. So glad we devised this, and that it works.



Remember when I told you I fell in love with the double faced wool fabric (above, right)?  Well, it has since married some other things (like the wonderful, cozy fabric from Kashi at Metro Textiles on the left, above, that will become its lining), got some good, heavy, separating zippers cut to size at Botani... (It only costs $1 per zipper to have it cut, with stops perfectly reapplied while you wait, by the way.)





and got a great fake fur to frame the hood... 


It took about 10 stores to find just the right fur, but I found this at NY Elegant

and it became... see next post...





Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What happened to Rosen and Chadick?


Look across the street.  Above the Wasabi restaurant.  The windows?  They look dark.  The familiar white lettering on the windows is gone. No shadows of bolts of fabric, no people bustling around inside... Isn't that where Rosen & Chadick was?  Oh no!!! Wait! Where have they gone?

Well, if you go over to the entrance (as I did) and ask, the doorman will hand you a card.


Whew...

Thank God.

Okay, I'm lying.  I knew they were moving, but was sworn to secrecy until the move was complete, because you know how complicated these deals can be.  

Anyway, today I visited the new Rosen & Chadick space.

They are busy unpacking and setting things up beautifully, organizing their merchandise neatly in this roomy, easily browsable environment.  This spot feels good, and it gives you a fresh perspective on familiar merchandise if you have been to their first and second store locations over the past 50 years or so. Do visit them in this new space, merely a stone's throw away from the old one.  They will be happy to greet you there! 

Big space - stretches out to the right and the left.


Fabrics are now organized by likely end use - makes browsing easier!

Stay tuned for a quick update to this post coming shortly! I'm gonna show you something made with their to-die-for fabric...



Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Why you should NOT be a dressmaker... EVER... (which circles back to... Why you should hire a dressmaker)

As I write this, my fingertips are sensitive and raw from hours of delicate and sculptural hand sewing.  I had to start my day with stretches to relieve my shoulders, arms and hips from the aches brought on by all of my sewing contortions. Following days of limited sleep and multiple projects, I met with a client yesterday morning for whom I recently completed a dress, and she squealed "I love it!" (Thank God, because all she would need to feel is that she hates it, for my entire mood to change for a WEEK...

It need s only a hem now (by hand... I'll show you why) and it will be DONE.  Whew.


Here's why the hem must be done by hand.  The machine just won't navigate it gracefully, and no opaque edging I've considered is graceful or weighty enough to make it "float" when she walks.


I had lunch with a close friend yesterday after finishing up with my client, and when I showed her the dress, she gasped.  That was the biggest compliment I could ever get, because she's seen me make all sorts of things for a few decades now, but the gasp she emitted was completely involuntary, then silence, and then her eyes widened, and she whispered, "You made that?"


The essence of the dress...

Mostly "sculpted" by hand more than sewn by machine.

So, yeah, that's right... I was gonna tell you why you should NOT be a dressmaker.  Okay... Here's why - 

No, wait...

Back when I was feeling witty, annoyed, and snarky maybe a week or two ago, I was distracted by this brilliant tidbit from one of my favorite creatives, Wim Wenders (feel free to expand this advice to include sewing professionals):



Here's the problem with the way I was feeling when I wrote the posts preceding this one.  I was so clear on why someone should avoid this profession at all costs, and now, in a period where I am having a great time and getting great results, I can't remember why I thought I could write some humorous take on why you should NEVER become a dressmaker.  So, in a nutshell, by all means, if you love it, do it.  And don't let anyone talk you out of it.  

Keep in mind, though, that business slowdowns, problems, missteps, and unpredictable income are impossible to avoid.  Still in?  Good. 


Carry on...


If you are a dressmaker, who wishes to advertise your business on the www.findadressmaker.com site, click here for specific information.

If you are considering dressmaking as a pursuit, and wish to learn more, click here to learn about a great organization.

If you are an established dressmaker, looking to increase your professional credentials, click here to learn more about certification.

If you are looking to commission a dressmaker for a project, click here for information.

Note, I do have professional affiliations with all of the above programs, so i am absolutely biased, and will state that proudly here.

Previous post on related topics in this category: Why you should create/design your own projects which all circles back to Why You Should Hire a Dressmaker

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Does low price = low quality?

At Metro Textiles with Kashi - I blurred the ID # because I might need to buy more!
If you've been to many stores in the garment district like I have, I'm sure you have noticed the wide variety of prices you can pay for fabrics and notions.  I have profiled so many stores on this site, ranging from the very low priced, to the high priced, and the difference(s) may not always be effectively conveyed here in the blog.

So, what's the difference?  There are many.

Location, location, location. Well, real estate is a big one.  If a vendor has a great space in a great spot for foot traffic, they have to pay significantly more in rent (unless, by some miracle, they made a great deal on a very long lease long ago), and maintain a great environment for shopping.  It is a bonus if they also offer a great quality, well curated selection of fabrics, in an easily navigable store.  See NY Elegant as an example.

Unusual location.  Maybe you have to jump in an elevator, climb a staircase, or visit streets outside of the district to find them, but it is worth every step... See Manhattan Wardrobe Supply , Leather, Suede, Skins, and Fabrics & Fabrics as examples.

Relationships is another big one.  Businesses that have been around for a long time, and have great relationships with vendors get great fabric who have a great understanding of quality.  They may be able to offer great quality at a better price than you would otherwise pay, but that quality if invisible to you if you don't have your own fabric education.  See B&J and Rosen & Chadick as examples.

Knowledge/education. If you want something that washes/launders well, recovers beautifully, doesn't fade, and lasts a long time, there are some great vendors who can show you which fabrics they know to perform well.  You won't know this until you try it yourself. I like to cut two squares of the washable fabrics I buy and send one though the wash with my regular laundry in the same color family.  I then compare the size and look of the two squares to determine how I will care for the fabric after using it.  This is especially important when combining different fabrics in one garment/project. See Rosen & Chadick and Sposabella as examples.

Exclusivity.  When a fabric store offers exclusive fabrics other vendors can't obtain, you will pay what the store needs to charge in order to continue doing business.  That's just an economic fact. See Elliot Berman and Mendel Goldberg and as examples.

Specialty goods.  Some fabric vendors offer a narrower range of fabric types, but they REALLY know what they know.  See Graylines Linen, Spandex House, Mokuba, Buttonology and C&J (and so many more!) as examples.

"Closeouts" or just the last of it...  Some fabric vendors are buying "what's left" from their suppliers, probably at a wonderful price, which they then pass on to you. But if you want to reorder some of the same fabric in the future, you may find yourself unable to do so.  If that is the case, buy more than you need, and cut (if you can't get to sewing yet) before it's too late to get more, if needed.  If you wait too long... well, that's the price you pay! See Metro Textiles and Paron Fabrics as examples.

Fantastic Quality.  Some stores just have better fabric than you can otherwise find.  See Mendel Goldberg and Elliott Berman as examples.

Questionable quality.  Some fabric vendors simply sell poor quality goods.  This is very easy to learn the hard way.  I simply don't feature those vendors on this site, but I make a point of not insulting anyone here, either.  Keep in mind that some vendors offerings don't really speak to me, so I don't feature some whose offerings I personally don't understand/appreciate, but really, it may or may not not be a quality issue.

So, how do you know what a fabric store is all about?  Ask them!  Most will be happy to tell you what kind of business they are running.  

And, a warning... this being New York City... some will more than happy to tell you where you can go with your *bleepin'* questions....

Need a map to help you navigate the district?  You can buy one, here.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

A Lou Lou Haiku...

A Garment district haiku for you:

The awning may seem
To say Lou Lou is no more
But 'tis only next door!



Maybe you'll like this one better?

Lou Lou Button Store
Only the address remains
Wait, the door has changed!


I stepped in, timidly asking "Is this Lou Lou?" And yes, it is.  No sign above the door yet. After a flood and collapsed ceiling forced them to move out of the store next door, the store has been neatly moved into the adjoining well lit, cozy space, happily accepting customers.  The awning?  "I think it is is old construction.  We can't take it down."  a voice said.

I looked around at the beautiful buttons displayed throughout the store. The wife of the owner quietly welcomed me, happy to show me some of her husband's best work.  After lots of "shop talk" and discussion about what makes a button shop like theirs possible in the garment district (for 20 years now), she gently added, "We custom make buttons here.  That's the difference. We sell to Broadway shows and Opera Houses and designers, and people who want something unique and individual."

Note: In the time I spent there, another person entered, asking... "Wait, is this Lou Lou?  Oh, thank God!  I thought you were gone!"

The most recent post written about Lou Lou was posted in 2008 by Meg, the former owner of this blog.


Friday, October 16, 2015

Off the Beaten Path... Mendel Goldberg


If you want to make a Chanel-inspired jacket, this is the place!
A New Yorker all my life, I had never actually ventured all the way down to Hester Street to see Mendel Goldberg Fabrics for myself. 

That is, until yesterday...  

Yes, I've heard it is a great place, highly praised by such quality sewing professionals as Susan Khalje and Claire Shaeffer, but, until now, I simply hadn't explored why.

While inside this delightful, quiet store, I had a wonderful conversation with Alice, the host, great-granddaughter of Mendel Goldberg, and personality of the shop, who greeted me warmly and explained what sets her family business apart from the garment district fabric stores.  

Now, I understand.

In business since 1890, this small boutique fabric shop is a carefully and beautifully curated collection of exquisite fabrics hand selected by Alice (Goldberg) from the finest mills in Europe.  A New York Times article written about the store gives a beautiful impression of its history.  I saw wool guipure, brocades to die for, and colors and prints that are absolutely swoon-worthy. No kidding.


Pictures of the fabrics don't do them justice.  Visit, see, and touch to learn for yourself!
They do not sell notions or trims of any kind, so plan accordingly, as you will only be shopping for your "star of the show" fabric here, and will need to purchase your other supplies elsewhere.

I was fortunate enough to accidentally eavesdrop on an appointment with a shopper (yes, they do allow appointments) during my visit, and was truly impressed by the level of customer service the client received. Advice like, "I would not suggest that fabric for you.", and "You'll need more yardage to create that." was offered with a firm and patient tone, and she even went the extra mile to give more suggestions, which included products inspired by the client's requests during the appointment, which were then happily retrieved from the downstairs inventory.

Where they win: Quality, Curation of goods, Shipping options and Customer Service.  If you are the right type of client for this shop, this is a unique and fabulous resource.  I must have touched just about everything they have to offer during my visit, and was truly thrilled with the experience.

This is a place to go for fabric to create special-occasion wear or high-end pieces. Before visiting, be sure to note the prices of the fabrics on the website, because that is the ballpark range you should be expecting to see when shopping there.


Mendel Goldberg Fabrics
72 Hester Street
New York, NY 
Tel 212-925-9110


Worth noting - this business has been in the same location since 1890.  That means, in addition to all of the changes our city has faced since then, it has survived BOTH 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy.  Now, that's resilience!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Why you should be a dressmaker... or at least, make/change some stuff... (To be followed by Why you should NOT be a dressmaker)

Previous (related) post: Why you should NOT create/design your own projects

Yes, you should be a dressmaker/custom sewing professional.  Or maybe not. Seriously. Are you considering it?

Here are some things I've made and redesigned over the years...




A grand entrance

The skirt zips off for the reception dance!

A mother's wedding gown combined with a Sri Lankan sari to make an American/Sri Lankan love story.

Bought at auction, 1890's dress made fun for the bride!

A winter reception dress for a classy bride

Tidy work pants for a minus-size client.

A Valentine's day duvet and pillow set...


Well, for one thing... there is a frightening shortage of creativity and fun in the affordable ready-to-wear and other markets, and far less variety when it comes to costumes, home dec, outerwear, and party-wear.

So why should you do this kind of work?

"You'll be able to earn money."



I may be lying a bit here.  You probably won't earn much, and your income will be BOTH unreliable and unpredictable (fun!), but you can create lots of great things for people who need/want them, and you can be paid for doing it.  How will they find you?  You can list yourself on a site like mine, or on a free site, like Mood, or post ads in your local area for your target market.
"You'll be able to stretch creatively."

You can expand beyond the ready-to-wear items offered in stores, within the limits of your skill level. Bias, cross, or straight grain?  Your choice.  Your design! Your colors! Any size! Will you fail?  Will things go wrong?  Yes!  (Unfortunately.)  But things will also go beautifully at other times.  If it doesn't, you'll know when to stop, for sure.
"You'll have complete control."
Ha!  No you won't.  The client tells you what she/he likes.  But you can get as creative as the client will allow, and it is a fabulous feeling to truly please someone with something fantastic!  It is always at least a bit of a gamble, but if you can keep an eye on quality, technique and execution, you really stand a chance of doing some great work.

"You can think outside of the box."

This is the greatest part of all.  Some of the most fun I've had has been doing things like making convertible wedding dresses (zipping off lower tiers of a skirt for dancing, combining cultures), making clothing suitable for physical challenges and disabilities, answering all kinds of unusual requests - it really can be a joyful experience, should you choose to give it a whirl!

Next post on related topics:  Why you should NOT be a dressmaker (will be posted in the near future)



Saturday, October 10, 2015

Map


The Wood-Tobé Coburn School

While heading east on 40th Street yesterday, taking a walking route from the east side (something I rarely do, but I was early for an appointment), I ambled past a glass-windowed, busy room full of fashion students working at industrial machines.  This has become a rare sight in the district now, since so few schools are actually teaching the real hands-on design work.  "What is this?" I thought.  Turns out, I've seen the name on the building before, but never gave it much of a thought, since I really only consider the industry powerhouses (FIT and Parsons) whose names are widely recognized in New York City and beyond.  The Wood-Tobé Coburn School.

I walked around to the main entrance to take a look at their brochure. A polite person at the main desk handed me a mailing card that one can mail to them to "ask for more information".

"We also have a website." She smiled, indicating the end of the conversation, and I made my exit.  Okay, so marketing is not their strong suit.  Maybe I'm just old-fashioned?

I took a look at the catalog offered on the site, as well as the tuition and job placement information.  It seems that this school is more of a trade school, cutting straight to an accelerated program with the goal of landing a job.  While I don't have enough information to actually ENDORSE the school, one might wonder why I am even mentioning it here... I noticed that the students I saw in my brief look through the window looked quite young, professional, and serious.

This private, for-profit school seems to straddle a few different industries, fashion being among them, and, judging from the information I read on the internet, the reviews are mixed.  Largely career-focused, the school seems to be aimed at students who are seeking a foothold on a professional path, rather than an exploration of a specific discipline.

Do any of you readers have experience with this school?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Why you should NOT create and/or design your own projects (To be followed by Why you SHOULD be a dressmaker)

Previous (related) post: Why you should create/design your own projects


Below is a post from my old blog, written in July 2011.


Trial by Fire (and Error)

Sometimes, despite your best intentions, things can go horribly wrong. Failed relationships, disappointments... make you wanna "make lemonade". That lemonade isn't always as sweet as you'd hoped.

On that particularly dismal trip to Hot-As-Heck, NC in the summer when I was 16, my mom distracted "my grandmother" (my own awkward name for her, since it never rolled off my tongue to call her "Grandma", or anything like that.) outside for a bit, my Dad pushed aside a large dresser to reveal a door in the front room that lead deeper into the house. Behind the dresser, in neatly appointed rooms covered by a thick layer of dust, lay the year 1965 or so. Furniture in conversational positions, and a lovely baby grand piano, showing signs that a real life had been lived here. Organized and bright, these lonely rooms had been untouched for at least a decade, I suspected. And the "kid's" rooms (my Dad and his brother) were just as they left them even longer ago. At times, my grandmother talked about her "kids" as if they were still boys, and her husband (my grandfather) who had died before I was born, as if he were still alive. My Dad showed me the rooms, whispering quietly, unemotionally, and factually about what each room represented for him. We tiptoed out, put the dresser back as it was, and pretended to be sitting quietly when she came back in.

Back to the present:

Wiped out after a dressmaking project that went wrong, I decided to work out my dissapointment with a personal project. Because I had used an expensive fabric from my personal stash (a luscious, black double silk organdy) as a lining to help "save" a dress that ultimately didn't work for a client, I decided to reclaim some of that fabric for a new dress, which I would name "Things we lost in the fire". My obsession with flame motifs led me to buy a lovely cotton emblazoned with a firey mix of reds and oranges, and apply it to a summer dress. Set against a smooth, jet-black cotton, I sketched and imagined until a creative frenzy sent me to the dress form to messily drape the design.



These approximate shapes gave me rough templates for cutting my pattern pieces...




I adjusted the pattern to my shape, cut the dress pieces, assembled the dress, and was pleased.



That is, until I put it on. Somehow, I had created what looked like a grandma's nightgown with flames. Hot flashes? Ode to menopause? Not what I was going for. Knowing I would never wear it, I resolved to find the version of this idea that I would/could wear. Okay, the silk organdy has no place on this dress, either. I wanted to place it as a bottom border, sorta giving the illusion that the fabric had been singed as the flames traveled up the dress. Okay, so I could see it in my head... but on the body? Just Terrible.



All of that to get to this. Black skirt, to be worn with a black tank and my favorite red wedge sandals. 




Now, if only I had a tattoo...


I still wear that skirt happily, four years later, on the HOTTEST days of the summer. 

Let the above be a lesson to ya, and if that's not deterrent enough,  here's why you SHOULD NEVER create or design your own projects:

You hate originality.  You are not a fan of looking any different, more creative, more fitted, or polished than anyone else.  You just want to blend in, and you want the same for your accessories and home decor items.

You have NO spare time at all.  Hey, know that 20 minutes you spent staring into space/glazing over/Facebook posting/contemplating the laundry?  Don't use that. That time doesn't count. There have been novelists who have written important work in their "spare" time, or by using stream of consciousness techniques, but seriously, they must have been superheroes, since we all know that isn't even possible. Right?

You can't find any stores that sell fabric you like or can afford in the garment district.  There are so many stores, and darn it, you've explored them all, which took WEEKS, actually.  All for naught, because... You loved NOTHING.

You have no new ideas, no old ideas, and NOTHING inspires you.

You feel NO satisfaction when you make something yourself.

You'd rather long for things you can't have.  Maybe you could make them... but who feels like trying?

Really don't...  Have I convinced you?

*This post was written with love (and intended humor!)

Next post on related topics: Why you should be a dressmaker (will be posted in the near future)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Tales from last week's Speakeasies...

On three separate days last week, I took Speakeasy participants to many different locations, for many different reasons.  Our stops included about 25 different locations in all, for more reasons than I can explain in just one blog post (it would be HOURS of reading), and believe me, the district still has many treasures to offer beyond those specific trips, and additional surprises to inspire any of you as well.

So, here are some tidbits...




Who's got a great Ponte knit? Try B&J Fabrics...

Who's got a great ponte knits in great colors?  Try B&J Fabrics

Double georgette in great colors?  Botani.  Yes, really!

Silk in great (unexpected) colors?  Botani!

And what was learned?  How to mark your buttonholes for Jonathan Embroidery, how to get custom fabric flowers made, how to cut your fabric correctly for pleating, how to access FIT's amazing resources, how to fabric shop effectively, where to find the most stellar array of boucles, how not to get taken advantage of by fabric vendors, how to get snaps, buttons, grommets installed, where to get the best muslin and fusibles, where to find large rolls of carbon paper, where to find the best assortment of elastic for various uses, where to find some great (and economical!) silk solids, great notions suppliers, and lots of eye candy.

Yes, it was work, but as always, it was also fun!


Monday, October 5, 2015

FIT Exhibit... The Fashion Underground: Susanne Bartsch

As part of one of this week's Speakeasy excursions, we saw this lovely exhibit in the Special Collections Gallery at the FIT museum.  If you read the description below, it is truly all you need to know to appreciate these wild pieces.  My own pictures are below the description (photography is allowed).

Born in Switzerland, Susanne Bartsch moved to London as a teenager, living there for a decade. “We called her the Swiss Miss,” say old friends from London, where Bartsch was a key figure among the New Romantics. Arriving in New York on Valentine’s Day 1981, Bartsch opened a boutique in Soho while still on a tourist visa. An enthusiastic proponent of 1980s English fashion, she was one of the first New York retailers to import Vivienne Westwood. She also organized fashion shows, such as New London in New York and London Goes to Tokyo, that showcased designers Leigh Bowery, Body Map, and Stephen Jones. But life in 1980s New York was not just a party; AIDS was devastating the community. As her friends began dying, Bartsch notes that she “survived this period by becoming a fundraiser.” In 1989, she organized the Love Ball, one of the first and most important AIDS benefits. Over the next few years, she raised a total of $2.5 million for AIDS research and advocacy.

-FIT museum's description of this exhibit, currently in the special exhibitions gallery.










Related: There will be a FREE two-day symposium on October 22-23, examining the links between Susanne Bartsch's 30 year exploration of sartorial self-expression and its influence on the global fashion scene.

The exhibit will remain in place until December 5, 2015.  It is really quite a creative exploration for people who appreciate theatricality in fashion.  If this appeals to you, be sure to check it out!

Meanwhile, there's an exhibit upstairs in the museum as well.  See the Global Fashion exhibit while you're there!