Wednesday, April 16, 2008

NYC Fabric Store Review: Mood Fabrics

Address: 225 W. 37th St., 3rd floor (about the middle of the block; no sign outside what looks like an office building, go into the lobby and ride the ancient elevator [with an elevator operator] to the 3rd floor), New York, NYC
Phone: 212-730-5003
Hours: Monday - Friday 9 am -7 pm, Saturday 10 am - 4 pm
Online store: Mood Fabrics
Best for: Mood is the sewist's equivalent of a favorite department store that always has everything you need

Here are the three things I love most about Mood Fabrics:
  1. If you have a very specific fabric or look in mind, Mood will have it. With three floors of fabric, Mood has just about everything. The main reason to come here.
  2. It's fun to eavesdrop on FIT and Parsons students and young designers-in-training as they ponder their fabric choices. And this is the store Project Runway sends its designer contestants to: You could be fondling the same silk that Christian Siriano touched!
  3. Mood has restrooms. Usually by the time I get to Mood, after a morning or afternoon of shopping in the Garment Distict, finding a restroom is priority number one. (Mood's restrooms are located on its main level, toward the back of the store by the velvets.)
I love everything I buy at Mood because it is usually exactly what I wanted: the right color, the right texture, the right fabric content. Normally when I shop for fabric with a pattern in mind, I am always compromising because I can't find specifically what I envisioned. At Mood you can actually create the garment that's in your head because they have such a wide selection of quality fabrics.

Italian sweater knits at Mood.

Speaking of quality fabrics, this is the place to go if you're looking for designer stuff. Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein and many more designers are represented here. The main floor (3rd floor) with the designer bolts seems to attract the most shoppers but I love the less-crowded fourth floor with its tweeds and bouclés. If you're looking to make that Chanel-style jacket you've always wanted, Mood's your store. The last time I looked they had several bolts of Chanel bouclés. (Note: Mood also carries home decor fabrics on its lowest level.)

This is just a small portion of the many bolts of bouclés and tweeds you'll find. Yummy!

(Here's a tip to make shopping at Mood a little less overwhelming: Print out one of their store floor plans and take it with you. Mood's signage is excellent but this will help you strategize a plan of attack.)

Service at Mood can range from cheerful and helpful to "I'm too cool to make eye contact with you." Fortunately my experience has largely been the former. My daughter needed some fabric swatches for her FIT class, so I told a Mood employee what the specific assignment was and asked for help. She grabbed her scissors and swatched her way through the store for me. Another time I visited the store wearing the bouclé jacket I made and the man who cut the fabric for me recognized me and made a big fuss over my jacket. The last time I was there the woman who was cutting some white piqué for me and she noticed a smudge on it—which I could tell would wash right out—but insisted on giving me 10 percent off. But it goes without saying though that the less crowded the store is, the better customer service you'll receive.

Mood's signage makes finding the type of fabric you're looking for much easier—important because there is so much to see here.

The hub on the main floor. 

5/26/10: Mood is now selling Vogue Patterns! 15% off the retail price.

6/20/09: Mood has expanded its trim department. An employee told me trims were selling well at the store so they moved them into the nook where leather used to be and relocated leather downstairs to the home dec department. I think their button and trim prices are good, often better than Pacific.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

NYC Trim Store Review: Daytona Braids & Trimmings

Address: 251 W. 39th Street (near Eighth Ave.), New York, NYC
Phone: 212-354-1713
Hours: Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.; Saturday 9:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Online store: Daytona Trimming
Best for: Eclectic trim selection, very reasonably priced

If you're shopping at Daytona Braids & Trimmings and happen to notice some movement in the air conditioning pipes overhead, do not panic and immediately recall the news footage you saw of rats overtaking a Manhattan fast food joint. It's only Ric, the friendly orange tabby cat who lives there and keeps watch over the store. Or it could be his brother Rac, who's equally affectionate. Ric and Rac are two good reasons to shop at this trimming mainstay in the garment district, but the hundreds of yards of braid and trim at reasonable prices are why you'll want to come back to Daytona again and again.

Ric the cat (above) patrols Daytona, stopping to allow customers to pet and ooh and ah over him. Gotta love a store with not one but two cats.

I first came here looking for a suitable drawstring for my anorak and found an entire wall of cords in all widths, colors and textures. Looking for ric-rac or braids? There's an unbelievable selection, again in every size and color. I was wowed by all the different kinds of elastic trims they have; this is the definitely the place to go to buy finishing touches for your knits and lingerie. And Daytona also has a worthy array of fancy trims, laces and ribbons—I picked up some Anthropologie/Free People-style trims for my daughter to decorate her Gap tank tops, plus some gold trim for a navy-and-white dress I plan on making.

You'll find a decent selection of out-of-print McCall's patterns, buttons, zippers and other fasteners at Daytona; plus notions, including hard-to-find Klassé sewing machine needles. Upstairs there's 15 to 20 different brands of yarn along with embroidery and needlework thread (and accompanying notions, like knitting needles).

The service at Daytona is pleasant and eager to serve. A young staffer followed me around with a basket and a pair of scissors as I pointed out trims and cords for her to cut. The store is small but well-stocked. I could have easily spent an hour here just taking it all in and cataloging it in my head for future reference. For price and selection, I consider Daytona Braids & Trimmings a must-visit store in the garment district.

Out-of-print McCall's patterns (a quick look led me to believe it was mostly early 90s patterns) in a bin in front of spools of ric-rac.

A wall of ribbons and trims at Daytona.

I couldn't get over how many varieties of elastic Daytona stocks. I think I spent 20 minutes alone just considering the different types of foldover elastic.

In case you're interested, there's plenty of yarn and needlework supplies upstairs at Daytona.