Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Unraveled... experience it vicariously here.


Go, if you can.  It is wonderfully done.

Museum at FIT
227 W 27th St, New York, NY 10001
Know the hours.  The exhibit is free.
On now until Nov 17, 2018




























Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Fabrics & Fabrics

Space. Size. Variety. COLOR!!!

If you are a real-life tactile shopper, this is a place for you.  If you love color, this is the place for you.  If you shop with friends, wanna make a bit of a ruckus, and wanna make it a shopping party, this is the place for you. Many price ranges.  Don't be afraid to ask, but don't challenge the answer, either!

Very helpful staff, great inspirational photos, showing how fabric was used by designers. Really creatively inspiring display and organization.

Prepare to be overwhelmed. Have time to spend. Buy it when you see it, because it will likely be gone when you come back. (Ask me how I know...)

Great for lace, standard and unusual formalwear fabrics, luxurious home dec, antique bridal trims, interesting novelty fabrics, silk prints, brocades, a boatload of wonderful coat and winterwear fabrics.













Fabrics & Fabrics
270 W 38th St 3rd fl
New York, NY 10018
M-F 9AM-6PM

Monday, June 11, 2018

Rosen and Chadick - Off the beaten path

THIS.


AND THIS.


What can I say that hasn't already been said about Rosen & Chadick? What I can say for certain, is that quality and beauty still rule here.  You've gotta know what you like, be willing to pay an appropriate amount for it, take your time, appreciate quality, and understand the PROFOUND difference between this store and many of the (remaining) others in the district. It is absolutely one of the best kept secrets in the district.  For good reason.

Once housed in a HUGE space on West 40th Street, they have since moved twice in recent years.  The business has changed.  The customer has changed. Their eye for gorgeous stuff has not.

My heart skips a beat when I look through their offerings.  The shirtings, the woolens (which work in all seasons, you know), the denims that least forever and wash like a dream, beautiful silks and specialty silks for ties... all sigh worthy.  Long enduring relationships with suppliers from around the world make their unusual inventory possible.

Big broadway musicals, movies, plays - the wardrobe and costume people come here. The people who want to make to make luxurious clothing for themselves, for clients, for museums, with archival reasons in mind.  They have been working with the best suppliers FOREVER.  When is "forever"? 1952.  Nowadays, that's forever...

It is quiet in this space, which is perfect for the peace-seeking creative.  Do they have EVERYTHING?  No.  But that is why they are perfect in their selection of what they do have.  There are no endless piles of ANYTHING in the store.  Just the diamonds.  

Go. You won't be sorry.

Rosen and Chadick
108 W 39th St #13
New York, NY 10018
M-F open 9-5:30 



Tuesday, June 5, 2018

More than just a button...


When Oscar De La Renta needed some custom buttons to match Meghan Markle's mom's dress for the wedding, who did they call?

When the Broadway hit "Hamilton" needed bold buttons for their costumes, who did they call?

When a designer needs a button MADE, by a person who knows how to execute their idea, who do they call?

...



...


Not your everyday button store.  There is a lot of knowledge in this shop - about button making, button history, garment district and industry information, AND NYC real estate knowledge.  Why?!!!?!!!?  Go there yourself, speak to the owner (who is usually about), and you'll learn why.  It will be one of the most interesting conversations you'll have all day.  Trust me.

That is all I can say.




Monday, June 4, 2018

So long, 40th Street...

This story can be told with a sad, wistful look at the past of a booming NY district, or it can be told with an optimistic look into the future.  In this post, I will take the optimistic view...


The last retail fabric store of 40th Street is moving

On a quick trip to the garment district on Saturday, I learned that the LAST retail fabric store on that street (between 7th and 8th Aves) is moving. Whoa.  Thrown by this news, I moaned about it being the end of an era... blah, blah, blah...

Yes.  I am talking about NY Elegant Fabrics.  That massive store on 40th Street with all of the delicious fabric eye candy in the windows.  Oh no!!!!

But wait... not CLOSING... MOVING. New location to be announced very soon!

We can't deny that this is a sad moment for this iconic block in the district.  This street once featured such district heavyweights as Rosen and Chadick, Lace Star (which is now Fabrics & Fabrics), and Sposabella... sigh....

But where are they now?  

Oh wait... They have all MOVED!

And life has gone on.  And it will continue to.  We've gotta be grownups about this. What is important, is that we know where to find theses stores now.  Then, GO to those places, SHOP, and SUPPORT these businesses to help them continue well into the future.

Deal?

And, by the way, here's a link I must share.  It helped me to see that this is nothing new... it is just a continuation of a long, inevitable change of the industry and the businesses the district can support in a brick and mortar environment.  We can still shop online when possible and appropriate, and explore new locations, even mounting elevators when necessary!




Thursday, May 24, 2018

The next Speakeasy?

Next one:







September 21, 2018

This garment district fabric and notions shopping tour will lead you to places you'll love, likely have not heard of, and didn't know existed. 10AM - 3PM with lunch! 


Regarding cancellations:

 If you have paid and wish to cancel 7 days or more before tour date - 100% refund
 If you don't come on the scheduled date or cancel within 24 hours or less - you will forfeit your refund, but can switch reservation to a future tour date.

 If I cancel a tour for any reasons not related to newsworthy acts of God or other unforeseen major emergencies, you are entitled to your choice of a full refund, or a future tour.



Note: you do not need to have a Paypal account to pay using Paypal. This tour is $90. Wanna come?  Click below.






Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Peaceful warrior jacket

You know how I always say fabric has no expiration date?  Well, thanks, to Kashi in particular .... and here's proof... FIVE YEARS LATER.  The beige for the jacket lining was some leftover from lining my cradle bag, years ago.  My zipper was purchased in a Botani zipper craze (resulting the jacket I posted about some time ago, if you follow that link)...  And that pink fabric - I know it was a remnant once, which tends to be a rare choice for me.... but from where???? I remember it rolled, and such a gentle shade, with a warm fuzzy glow about it... 

So... I just made a jacket for myself that is MEANT to be strewn about.  It requires no particular care,  and looks fine rumpled and simply thrown on. Comfortable as any jacket could be, it has five main features:
  • A back slit
  • An "absent" collar
  • A flat bow
  • a collapsible/removable hood
  • Elbow crescent sleeve dart







May it stay with me forever. Or... just long enough for me to tire of it.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination

Went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art today, curious to see the "Heavenly Bodies" exhibit.





I went in, arms crossed, ready to hate what I thought would be the museum equivalent of "clickbait" for the masses... and I thought I proved myself right, when I saw a dangling display of Gaultier and Versace clad forms in the Byzantine and Medieval halls of my teenage wanderings... (I take this stuff seriously, for sure)... but as you go deeper, it gets deeper. And better. And more meaningful. And you have to read, not just look, to get it.

The exhibit is not all in one place - it is in THREE.  The first is on the ground floor of the museum, near the entrance, the second is in the costume institute downstairs, and the third....?  Well it is in the CLOISTERS... meaning you have to LEAVE THE MUSEUM and go uptown to another arm of the Met to see the last of it.  It can be done, but it is a commitment I really wasn't prepared to do, timewise... so part three, which I hear is the best part, will have to wait for another day this week. Annoyed by this, and preserving my folded arms position, I entered the first section.





Seriously?

I mean... seriously?

Can't really see these up close and personal.  Versace, Gaultier.... are we doing this?

But wait... go a bit deeper, read a bit of the text, and it starts to make you think a bit... feel a bit... understand a bit better.  This exhibit needs to be seen, experienced, and read to make the impact it was carefully curated to make.  And I appreciate it.










And then, as if the exhibit were to clear its throat, you see the REAL STUFF.  The wildly ornate, beautifully, obsessively and carefully created works of wonder that are liturgical garments, worship tools, and accessories.  For the Vatican, for church leaders... and you can see the connection.  Better yet, you can feel it.  And no, it isn't trivial or "clickbait".  It was entirely worth 
doing.

Beautiful embroidery

Oh, no pictures?  I'm sorry!  Really!

As for part III, at the Cloisters, I will visit that part, too, but I have to schedule that trek for a different day.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

CONFLICTED

I have LOTS to say, but Blogger isn't really where I'm being heard these days. There are some stories I would like to tell in a longer format, for sure, but it is tough to promote what I feel is the "NEW" garment district, without scaring some people away.

Basically, it is not really easily shoppable by the tourist or casual shopper anymore.  Now, you pretty much need an action plan, and a real understanding of what materials and tools you can work with. The offerings use more industry lingo than ever before, so now you'll need a lexicon or a patient ear to guide you through. Stores are moving on, moving up, moving out, inventory is changing... but their social media presence is BOOMING!  Why?  Instagram, Facebook, and websites can be a great and relatively low cost way to show people what you've got... that is, if they're listening/looking.

What does this change for me?  Well, my map offerings remain, with updates on new locations and changes... but I think I have to create map "paths" for creatives to follow, to achieve the best outcomes. Buying fabric online is an entirely new challenge, which, when successful, if wonderful!  But when it isn't...  Well, you know.

Recent feedback from people who have long followed my blog tell me that they are looking for more of the district news, events, New York tidbits and enthusiasm I consistently shared on this blog over the years.

I can do that. But here's the deal:

If you enjoy the blog, let me know by sending me an email or commenting on the post, so I have inspiration to keep going.  Interact, please. Deal? 

Look for new map offerings shortly! By 4/30/18, for sure.

Smooches!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Apprenticeships, mentors... what a delight to see opportunities for young people to explore the backstage crafts industry!

Just a quick note to say...

There is a program, run by the Roundabout Theater Company, that invites high school seniors to study, FOR FREE, while being paid a STIPEND, the crafts of the backstage artists.

Link here

Oh, yeah... and when the kids are done with the program, they help them get JOBS!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The perpetual shirt - rest in peace, Jerry Lewis

(8/21/17) RIP Jerry Lewis


*Updated 3/8/15*
and again... 6/3/16... and still wearin' the shirt 1/31/18

Note: *On the evening of May 20 of this year (2016), I laid out my perpetual shirt to wear on May 21st.  On May 21st, I got up, got dressed, and forgot to put it on... Now, it is labelled JUL 01 16, and I had to give it an alarm on my calendar, so I will remember this time! Ha!

A exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum in New York takes this idea in a completely different, more conceptual, fascinating direction.

Originally posted 4/1/13

You may already know that I love humor in my clothing. 

One particular piece I just made was inspired by Jerry Lewis.  He was rumored to have never worn a pair of socks more than once, and I was struck by the sheer impracticality and wastefulness of that choice.  Unless, of course, he had a sock endorsement deal, and a free lifetime supply of new socks, which could then be laundered and donated to charity monthly.  Then, that kinda cleans it up. Right?

Every now and then I get truly obsessed with a clothing-related idea, and, when that happens, I feel the need to talk it out. With anyone who will listen. So, I told some friends I was designing a "perpetual" shirt.  Every time I explained it, it generated at least 10 follow-up questions, most of them starting with "But... how would you..." or "Why would anyone ever..." No one really understood why this idea was important or funny to me.

But guess what...

When you make your own stuff, the only person who needs to like it or understand it is you.

So there.

I've learned by watching cartoons, that when people or animated characters get an idea, they often experience that moment beneath a single, illuminated light bulb. Well, not in this case.

My idea hit me like this...


This image in my head helped me sort out a way to make this work.  Look at my other blog for sewing info, if you care.

Okay, so yes, I know what today's date is, and no, this isn't an "April Fool" idea.  Really now, why would you even say that to me?

(*clearing throat) Moving on...

So, since they say a picture is worth a thousand words, here it is.

The "perpetual shirt". It only looks impractical... 


Cotton stretch fabric from NY Elegant. Why that store?  Because I am only making this shirt once, I want it to last a long time, and their quality and variety when it comes to fashion stretch fabrics is stellar.

Velcro by the yard from Daytona Trimming. Why that store?  Because I know they sell it by the yard, the prices are wonderfully reasonable, I find the store very easy to navigate, and getting quick, courteous assistance is easy there.

Silver fusible letters from Jonathan Embroidery.  Why that store?  I happened to notice just the letters I wanted when I wandered in for another reason recently.  Easy, and they had what I needed. For something as simple as letters, I'm well aware that there are other great choices in the district too, though.

Background fabric for letters from an unused fancy black table linen given to me by my son's occupational therapist some years ago, because she "knew I sewed, and could use anything"... how random is that? And, how true is that??? Ha!

And, hey, if that isn't true about Jerry Lewis, don't tell me.  It's far more fun to believe it.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

3-D printed shoes? Can it be done? - A teen's perspective

 Of course it can!  But while 3-D printed shoes sound like a great, new ages thing, we can't forget that SHOES are still SHOES, not merely foot coverings.

Directly from my daughter, I received this fun video, full of promise for a distinctly original shoe-like product.  What I really have a problem with... and watch the video before you draw your own conclusion... is that shoes are PERFORMANCE items.  You have to traverse weather, terrain, movement, surfaces... they should all be considered, and any shoes that cannot withstand the challenge of a few days' wear ARE NOT SHOES.  They are well on their way to being shoes, though.  I think the needed consultant is the person who can actually make shoes by hand.  A cobbler knows what to consider, and what can't be ignored.

What does my daughter (16) think?  She LOVES the idea, and is fascinated. She loves the artistic possibilities, which I also appreciate, but cannot see as anything but a final touch to an otherwise sturdy product.

My most recent trip to the garment district

Look around.  

If you've been in the district lately, no doubt you will have noticed it too... Things are changing rapidly.  Every time I go to the district now, another business has vanished or changed considerably.  In business, i understand that profitability is always a consideration, landlords aren't charities, and that people who sew for small businesses, themselves, or artistic reasons aren't a reliable source of income for these heavily invested district businesses. Because of that, we may not always be warmly greeted or serviced in many of the district businesses, which have, frankly, bigger fish to fry.

Having said that, though, there are still fantastic places to shop, if you know where to find them.

I have refocused and revised my map offerings to cater to the questions I've been receiving lately, and what I think you readers are looking for.  I am also going to repost (redate) some of the winning businesses, so you will know to visit them as you start to THINK SPRING!

New maps:

Bargain hunting in the district?  Here are the places that will be kind to your wallet:

Bargain hunters' map ($12)





Oh, and..... drumroll please...


May 11, 2018 Speakeasy tour ($75)


This garment district fabric and notions shopping tour will lead you to places you'll love, likely have not heard of, and didn't know existed. 10AM - 3PM with lunch! 


Regarding cancellations:

 If you have paid and wish to cancel 7 days or more before tour date - 100% refund
 If you don't come on the scheduled date or cancel within 24 hours or less - you will forfeit your refund, but can switch reservation to a future tour date.

 If I cancel a tour for any reasons not related to newsworthy acts of God or other newsworthy unforeseen major local or wider range emergencies, you are entitled to your choice of a full refund, or a future tour.



Note: you do not need to have a Paypal account to pay using Paypal. This tour is $75. Wanna come?  Click below. No payments will be accepted on tour date. Are there cheaper ways to do it?  Of course!  Better?  I don't think so...

Quality

**Repost**

"The things we make have one supreme quality; they live longer than us. We perish, they survive. We have one life, they have many lives. And in each life, they can mean different things; which means that while we all have one biography, they have many."
-Niel MacGregor, Director of the British Museum

*For the complete talk, visit the TED website, where he presents a fascinating talk on one particular 2600 year old piece of art.

I invite you to chime in to tell me if I'm alone on this one, but I love to visit fashion and clothing exhibits here in New York City, and have spent many hours over the years, gazing at the lovely, carefully crafted creations of many designers and needle-smiths. One thing I have often wondered, especially when looking at something old and beautifully simple, is "How did the creator of this piece trust his/her own talent enough to know that they needed to work with such high quality materials?" I have often found myself paralyzed with fear before cutting into my never-find-anything-like-this-again fabrics, worrying that one wrong move can send hundreds of dollars worth of fabric to the back of my closet, or bottom of my trash can. How do you know it is worth the effort?

As I wander through exhibits, more often than not, the materials lists on the description placards include words like "silk tulle", or "silk velvet", fabrics with real staying power, and the ability to hold beautifully vibrant colors for years beyond the lifespan of the person for whom they were made. These fabrics are pricier than the rest.

Are they worth it? Well, they sure can be. Who cares? You do... and although I can't promise anyone else will value it as much, a lesser fabric will certainly shorten its lifespan.

Recent experiences with clients are telling me that there is a sincere appreciation for quality. In my dressmaking life, I am seeing more and more brides who want to redesign their own mothers' or grandmothers' gowns, based on the quality, age, and tactile experience of the fabric. Often sewn by hands you have neither met not heard of, these garments resonate, and they still hold a magic that reaches into the future.

So, I say all of this to say, there is enormous value in shopping at the stores where the staff is knowledgeable about the quality, origin and description of the goods they have to offer.

When the occasion is very special, and the budget permits, consider the following stores for wonderful quality...

B&J Fabrics (chiffons, silks, and so much more)



(a fabulous whisper-light metallic sequined fabric from B&J)


(and the top that fabric eventually became)

Rosen & Chadick (also, check out their 126" wide silk tulle! and many other wonderful specialty fabrics)


(a wonderful silk from Rosen and Chadick)


(silk organza from Rosen and Chadick - raw edges)

NY Elegant (silks)


(above fabric - lovely 4 ply silk from NY Elegant)

Lace Star (laces and more - see previous post)


Solstiss (French laces - by appointment only - only for the VERY serious...)

Now, I don't expect my pieces to end up in museums anywhere... but a girl can dream, can't she?

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Body: Fashion and Physique (FIT exhibit)




The Museum at FIT
Seventh Avenue at 27th Street (corner)
Closed Sunday, Monday and legal holidays
otherwise, 10AM-8PM (5PM on Saturday)


This exhibit was absolute MAGIC, assuming you have the time and patience to really think it through.  Brilliantly curated by Emma McClendon, this exhibit is about so much more than clothing.  My words won't drive the points home nearly as well as a visit to the exhibit will.


If you can get here while the exhibit is still open (which is quite a while), don't miss it.  It is free, quiet, near some great fabric and notions shopping, and delicious restaurants.  You NEED to see it, but particularly for its academic and social messages and impact, more than it's visual one.

Seriously, can we talk about corsets and 18" waists? This false information has been repeated and repeated... while only simple measurements of old corsets will tell you the truth.  why do we subscribe to notions of how we should be shaped, or what we should like, based on what the clothing available to us looks like?

I was really amazed by the custom dress made for the comedienne Leslie Jones.  The beauty of it was just breath-taking.  Why did it take Christian Siriano to make the "brave" step of offering to make her a gown?

The industry has opened up to a growing cross section of people, and certain designers have embraced a diverse view...

-from the exhibition pamphlet


Just go see it.   Feel free to ask questions, to yourself, to each other... but open up, and think about what should be, and what CAN be.  Get inspired!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

New posts on the way soon...

Been very busy and very involved in many things - and you will get a full blast of it in the coming days...