Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Engaged? Shopping for Bridal Fabrics and Trims in the Garment District

Vogue Pattern 1163

Judging by the number of emails I've received lately asking where to shop for bridal fabrics, the holidays still remain a prime time for couples to get engaged. My standard answer to this question is Mood, B&J, Lace Star and Sposabella, plus M&J Trimming's bridal department, but I have to confess I haven't actively looked for or thought about bridal fabrics and trims in a long time. So readers, help me out here: Have you shopped for bridal fabrics or trims in NYC recently? If so, where do you recommend brides-to-be head first? If you have any photos of your bridal gown or bridesmaids gowns that were made from fabric purchased in the Garment District, email them to me and I may post them here. Thanks!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sale at Elliott Berman Textiles Ends 12/31

It's Sunday night as I write this post and the snow is still coming down in the New York area. Fingers crossed it stops soon so the sidewalks can be cleared and I can make my way to Elliott Berman Textiles' holiday sale. They'll take 15% off purchases in-store and on their website between now and Dec.31. I'm looking for boucles, wool doubleknits, cotton failles.... And don't forget Paron's will take 20% off in-store purchases between now and January 15 if you mention Shop the Garment District. It's the perfect time to build your stash for 2011 sewing!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sewing Celebrity Kenneth King: where he shops in the Garment District

The fabulous Kenneth King is in the house! Here he pairs a leopard-skin jacket he made with jeans and a Kenzo scarf.

If you sew your own clothes then Kenneth King is no stranger to you. Couturier, author, Threads contributor, FIT professor, sewing class teacher, and hip hop music video extra (he played a pimp), Kenneth is a wealth of information on many topics, some of which even pertain to sewing. I chatted with him recently about my favorite topic, shopping in NYC's Garment District, and was surprised to learn he favors the small stores on W.39th Street over the more well-known stores with the pricey fabrics. A proponent of supporting local independent stores no matter where you live, Kenneth bemoans the contraction of the Garment District as production continues to move overseas. Ack, don't we all.

STGD: What are your favorite fabric stores in the Garment District?
KK: I do most of my shopping on W.39th Street. I start at Chic Fabrics, then Fabrics For Less, followed by Weaver's, and then G&R which is really good for leather. Chic Fabrics has the best prices on silk organza in town, and I just saw some beautiful wools there for $10 to $12 a yard. Fabrics For Less has a really nice wool doublecloth that is only $12. A client who was shopping with me thought that price for doublecloth had to be a mistake. [editor's note: I saw that doublecloth myself and it is gorgeous—heather gray on one side and red on the other, very soft to the touch] Fabrics For Less also has really good linen for $6 a yard. Weaver's is great for silks and getting silks dyed to match.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Tis the Season for Bargains on Fabric

The department stores may be packed with holiday shoppers but it's quiet in New York City's Garment District. Seems acquiring fabric is the last thing on folks' minds right now. However, it's a great time to score some deals on fabric because the stores still want to make money. Earlier this week I walked away with nearly two yards of designer metallic brocade from a mid-level fabric store for only $6.50! Tell the store owners or staff what you're willing to spend and take it from there. Let me know what you buy, ok?

A Word on Anonymous Comments

Just to let you know, it is my policy not to publish disparaging remarks that are left anonymously or by using someone else's Blogger profile. Please feel free to express your dissatisfaction with any of the stores or services mentioned in Shop the Garment District, but own up to your remarks. Thank you.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Find of the Week: Cashmere Knits for Holiday Gifts

Magaschoni cashmere infinity scarf, $210, Bloomingdale's. You could make one of these scarves in cashmere for a fraction of that price.

Once again, anything in cashmere is hot for the holidays. Why not make cashmere infinity scarves for your friends and relatives? Mood Fabrics in NYC's Garment District has tissue-weight cashmere knit for $60 a yard, 64 inches wide. You could get two scarves out of that. Or, you could make a double-sided scarf, like this Burberry scarf at Bloomingdale's: One side is cashmere, the other is wool you have (maybe) in your stash.

Friday, December 3, 2010

NYC Fabric Store Review: Spandex House

Address: 263 W. 38th Street, New York, NYC
Phone: 212-354-6711
Hours: Monday - Friday 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Store web site: Spandex House (Call for swatches to be sent in the mail)
Best for: Spandex, well duh. But also really nice lycra prints and soft cotton-lycra solid knits

If sewing activewear or swimwear is your thing, or you make costumes for ballet and dance, you need to visit Spandex House in NYC's Garment District. This store is the epicenter of all things spandex and lycra. The prices are reasonable, the bolts are wide (usually about 72 inches), and the sales staff is attentive.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Find of the Week: Warm Coat Linings at B&J Fabrics

B&J Fabrics has Sunback lining for coats and jackets in loads of colors, even some prints, like this paisley above.

A relative of mine just bought a really cute duffle coat at J. Crew Factory, but after wearing it this weekend she realized it wasn't going to provide her much warmth. So I told her I'd replace it with a heavier lining fabric, known as Sunback or Kasha lining. It's satiny on one side and like a soft flannel on the other. Really boosts the warmth factor without adding bulk.

I called the fabric stores in the Garment District I thought might carry Sunback lining: Mood, Rosen & Chadick, NY Elegant and B&J. Mood only has it in hunter green ($12/yd), Rosen & Chadick carries only a couple of colors and charges $20/yard, and NY Elegant has several colors at $12.99/yard.

But B&J has oodles of colors, even a print or two, at $10.95 a yard! That's lower than the online prices I've found for Sunback lining. I never thought B&J would be the winner in this category, but there I go again, underestimating this store. I bought two yards of Sunback lining in a paisley print (photo above). Call them at 212-354-8150 and ask for swatches, or visit their web site: B&J Fabrics. Tell them Shop the Garment District sent you!

Note: I swear I saw Paulina Porizkova buying fabric in B&J when I was there. Had to be her.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Poll: What's Your Favorite Garment District Fabric Store?

Hey readers, I'm curious to know which Garment District fabric stores you consider your favorites. Since I shop on my lunch hour I tend to be partial to the ones closest to my office: Mood Fabrics and Elliott Berman Textiles, which both have wide selections. Take the poll below and let us know your top picks for Garment Center fabric stores.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Things to Do in the Area: Holiday Shopping and Ice Skating at Bryant Park

 The ice skating rink at Bryant Park is NYC's only free admission ice skating rink.

If you're in the Garment District area between now and the end of December, take a walk over to Bryant Park at 40th and Sixth Avenue. The holiday shops are open, and browsing the unique items in this festive setting is a welcome break from pawing through bolts of fabric. I was there last week and bought a funky Japanese calendar for my daughter in college and two black-and-white photos of Yankee Stadium for my 15-year-old son. Plus I had a major celebrity sighting.

Monday, November 22, 2010

NYC Notions Store Review: SIL Thread

Note: See the related post on Responsible Blogging, which refers to posts like this one...

Address: 257 West 38th Street, New York, NYC
Phone: 212-997-8949
Hours: Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 6 p.m., Sat 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Online site: n/a
Best for: YKK zippers and other dressmaking supplies in a store where you're basically on your own

I have ambivalent feelings about shopping at SIL Thread in the Garment District. On the one hand, when I need notions and dressmaking supplies and I'm already in the Garment District, it's my go-to store when I don't have time to shop around. But "service with a smile" and "it's all about the customer" don't seem to be important management mantras here. Questions are answered with a yes or a no and nothing more; don't even think of asking a "which is better to use, this or that?" kind of question unless you like getting blank stares.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Garment District News Watch: Wall Street Journal Article

Bryan Derballa for The Wall Street Journal

"Garment District Frays" is the headline of a Wall Street Journal article published today:
"Not far from Times Square in Manhattan, reams of fabric and rows of buttons still line the corridors of West 38th and 39th streets in the Garment District.The area, once full of the city's top fashion houses and garmentos who sewed buttons and stitched patterns for the city's retail shops, has been shrinking for decades."
I wish I could say it's an optimistic piece and that zoning issues are being actively resolved to the benefit of garment district businesses. Read the entire article by Shelly Banjo here. You might want to stop postponing that future shopping trip to NYC's Garment District….

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hotels in the Garment District Area: Any Recommendations?

If you aren't a local like me, what hotels do you stay in when you come to NYC? Readers have asked that I include hotel recommendations here. I know that's a pretty broad question, as New York has a gazillion hotels large and small, so I'd like to focus on hotels in the Garment District general vicinity first, followed by recommended hotels in the Midtown West area. Let me know! And I'm still seeking restaurant recommendations too...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Reader Tip: Getting Home All That Fabric You Just Bought

Planning a trip to NYC for a little Garment District shopping, but are worried about not having enough room in your suitcase for all the fabric and supplies you hope to buy? Though some stores will ship your purchases to your home (I know Metro Textiles does this), most of the time you're going to end up schlepping heavy bags around the city and hoping you can cram your goods into your already-stuffed suitcase. If this is you, read how my commenter Anonymous makes traveling home from the Garment District more manageable:

"When I make the trip to NYC, I take along a roll of package tape, a Sharpie, a ball of twine, scissors, and those wire and tube handles they sometimes give you at stores to hold the handles of your shopping bag together. I also try to put at least 2 Priority Mail boxes (flat) in my suitcase.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Getting Your Fabric Fused Is Easy, Getting It Home Is Another Story

My good friend Cidell of the sewing blog Miss Celie's Pants was in town this past week for a little Garment District shopping, and she stopped in at Quick Fuse & Cut on W. 36th Street to get several yards of fabric fused with interfacing. Read her adventures in fusing here, and if you aren't familiar with her blog do check it out. Cidell has one of the freshest, most original voices in sewing blogdom; I keep telling her I wish I was a literary agent and knew how to package her to land her a book deal. I'll do my best to post a review here of Quick Fuse & Cut soon.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Where Do You Grab a Bite in the Garment District?

Honestly, I am the last person to ask for Garment Center area restaurant recommendations. Most days I eat yogurt at my desk so I can save money to buy more fabric. But readers have asked that I compile a list of decent restaurants in the Garment District and vicinity, and I think that's a good idea.

Today I met three sewing friends for lunch at a new vegetarian fast-food place, Loving Hut, at Seventh and 30th, and we all licked our plates. What about you, STGD readers? Where do you like to eat lunch in this general area? Meet for dinner or cocktails? Leave me a comment here or email me, and I'll put together a list to post on this site. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NYC Trim Store Review: Botani

Address: 263 W. 36th Street, NYC
Phone: 212-244-3222
Hours: Monday - Friday, 9 am to 6 pm. Closed weekends.
Online store: Botani Trim
Best for: Handbag hardware, and buttons, and for anyone who appreciates a well-edited and well-lighted trim store

Trims and fashion hardware are obviously selling well in the Garment District. Mood Fabrics expanded its trim department about a year ago and now Botani, long known for its buttons, has leased the retail space next door and added a new fashion hardware section. Plus they've turned some office space in the back of the store over to Lampo zippers and trims.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sale at Lace Star: 25%/40% Off Everything

Head over the Lace Star pronto (215 W. 40th St., NYC) if you want to catch the final days of their 25%/40-off sale. I popped in at lunch today and it was only because I exercised great restraint that I didn't walk out with anything. Brocades, laces, trims and anything with beading are 25% off; the rest of the store is 40% off. This means you can get silk charmeuse for around $10.80/yd and 4-ply silk around $23/yd. I don't think you can do better than that in the Garment District right now, so grab your shopping bag and get over there fast.

Readers Questions: Where to find linen and silk lycra

Believe it or not, there's a lot I don't know about the Garment District. Rather than take a guess and pass on misinformation that will live forever, I'd prefer to open up reader questions to STGD readers. So please, if you know the answer to questions posed on this site, raise your hand and leave a comment!

Laura asks:

"Do you know of any good shops for linen shopping? I am most interested right now in looking at some stretch linen (sort of an oxymoron) to see how it handles and drapes. I remember seeing a "linen-only" shop on 36th or 37th a couple of years ago. Any insight?"

Hey Laura, I know B&J Fabrics has a decent linen section because I just looked at it last week. What about you, readers? Any recommendations for linen sources?

Snow asks:

"Help! I'm trying to find silk lycra printed fabric. I purchased a DVF blouse and to my horror it had a metal zipper in the back that wasn't flattering and incredibly cold. I had to return it but then I decided I'd make my own blouse, but I'm having a really hard time finding silk lycra in prints. Any suggestions?"

Snow, Mood Fabrics has a ton of silk lycra prints. This would be my starting point. You could also check Elliott Berman Textiles. Chime in, readers, if you've seen silk lycra prints elsewhere in the Garment District.
Wondering where to find something? Send me an email at lindsaytdesigns [at] gmail dot com. If I don't know the answer I'll post your question here on STGD.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Got Any Questions for Kenneth King?

The always fabulous Kenneth King has agreed to do an interview for Shop the Garment District. You're probably already familiar with Kenneth, creator of "one-of-a-kind, made to measure pieces for women and men, as well as limited edition pieces for boutiques," frequent Threads contributor, FIT professor, and sewing instructor extraordinaire. If you have any questions for him that pertain to shopping or finding things in New York's Garment District, please leave me a comment here and I'll ask him. Thanks!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Reader Tip: Best Place for Silk Organza

from Emory via email: 

"I just wanted to suggest adding maybe one comment/fact to your review on Chic Fabrics. They are probably the best source for silk organza in the garment district—$7/yard, always. I'm sure other places occasionally have sales or whatever and you might be able to find silk organza for less, but Chic Fabrics has a good color selection and a consistent low price. Kenneth King recommended that I get my silk organza there when I took an online class with him - that's how I found it!"

If you have tips about shopping in the garment district that you'd like to share here, send me an email at lindsaytdesigns [at] gmail dot com.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Hey, Lindsay T Sews readers, I'm so glad you're here! "Shop the Garment District" is where you'll now find all my Garment District reviews, news and tips. (I'll keep blabbing away about the clothes I make and the other things in my life at Lindsay T Sews.)

"Shop the Garment District" is brand-new and evolving—I'm not even sure I know what I want it to be—but I'd love your input on what I can do to make this site a return destination for those of us who love the stores and services of NYC's Garment District. In fact, I'm looking for contributors, so if you're a Garment District regular (or even semi-regular) and would like to share news and tips or write posts, do let me know. I want this site to have more takes on things than just mine.

I'd love it if you help me spread the word about "Shop the Garment District"; feel free to copy and paste the STGD button on Lindsay T Sews. And check back soon or add this to your RSS feed, as I plan on having a giveaway soon of a not-readily-available dressmaking notion or two. Stay tuned!

Breaking News: Six Steps to Save the Garment District

Mayor Bloomberg announced yesterday six initiatives to help bolster New York City's threatened Garment District. Strategies include Project Pop-Up, an annual competition to promote new and innovative retail concepts, and Fashion Campus NYC, which will provide up-and-coming fashion and retail management professionals with additional opportunities in the industry through business seminars led by industry executives, networking opportunities, and an online resource with information on living and working in New York City.

The program is expected to roll out next year. I'm encouraged, people! Read more about Mayor Bloomberg's announcement here.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Fresh Take: B&J Fabrics

Tons of waterproof fabric options at B&J Fabrics
I don't know exactly why B&J Fabrics hasn't been on my list of fabric stores I immediately think of when I need more fabric. Maybe it's my perception that they don't carry anything that costs less than $50 a yard. Maybe it's the way the you browse for fabric by looking at "headers" hanging on a rack, rather than by pulling out bolts of fabric from shelves. I always feel a little self-conscious when I'm at B&J, like maybe I need to be carrying a more expensive-looking handbag or wear pricey and uncomfortable shoes.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rally to Save the Garment Center: "Let's Not Lose This Area"

More than 300 people* gathered at the button on Seventh Avenue today to show their support for keeping jobs and businesses in the Garment District. The rally was organized by Save the Garment Center, an organization dedicated to saving NYC's fashion center. Robert Savage, president of Nanette Lepore, moderated the event. "Let's not lose this area," he pleaded, before turning the podium over to speakers that included Ariana Huffington and designers Nanette Lepore, Yeohlee Teng and Malia Mills. Read more about the event here and here. The following are some sound bites I caught. (I love it when are events are scheduled so I can attend them on my lunch hour; I would have hated missing this today.) 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Garment District Dressmaking Supply Store Closes Doors

This is the kind of thing I absolutely hate writing about: another Garment District establishment files for bankruptcy. Greenberg & Hammer, the 91-year-old dress-supply company on Eighth Avenue and West 37th Street, closed its doors late last month. Signs the store was faltering were there when I visited it for the last time in the summer: supplies were low and no one was available to help me. Read more about G&H's bankruptcy here. If you're looking for dressmaking supplies there's still Steinlauf & Stoller (W. 39th) and SIL Thread (W. 38th).

Friday, June 4, 2010

NYC Fabric Store Review: Elliott Berman Textiles

Address: 225 W. 35th Street, 7th floor, New York, NYC (Go left when you get off the elevator; the showroom is opposite Nanette Lepore's retail administration office)
Phone: 212-764-0180 • 800-609-6072
Hours: Monday - Friday, 9 am - 5 pm
Online store: Elliott Berman Textiles
Best for: Designer fabrics from Europe at lower-than-you'd-expect prices

You know how when you take a friend for the first time to a store or place you love, and you're always a bit nervous that they might think it's awful and you're off your rocker? That's how it was when I brought AllisonC, Elizabeth and Carolyn to Elliott Berman Textiles today. I visited this fabric showroom in the garment district about two weeks ago, on the recommendation from Cathy whom I met at PR Weekend in May. Well, I loved it. What's not to love?: designer fabrics at better-than-retail prices. But what would my three friends—who all have excellent taste when it comes to fabric—think about it?

Dear readers, I am pleased to report they are as thrilled with Elliott Berman Textiles as I am. They all bought some fabulous pieces which I know they're dying to share with you on their respective blogs (give Allison some time to return to Hong Kong though).

Here's what you need to know about Elliott Berman Textiles: First of all, they are primarily a fabric wholesaler, supplying fabrics to many of the finer fabric stores in the garment district and elsewhere. They also have an online business, and their sales and promotions are very popular among sewists in-the-know. And they'll sell to walk-in customers like you and me—the four of us thought their retail prices were very agreeable. Not to boast, but we know our fabric prices so we can tell when we're getting a good deal. Join their website mailing list and Eugenia says they'll honor any online promotions when you visit the showroom.

And the customer service is exceptional! Matthew, Eugenia and Harvey are friendly and helpful but not smothering. They clearly love what they do.

Did I mention the designer names? Elliott Berman Textiles features Yves Saint-Laurent, Chloe, Gianfranco Ferre, Gucci, Prada, Versace, Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, Roberto Cavalli, Missoni, Fendi, Laura Biagiotti, Loro Piana, Escada, Chanel, Calvin Klein and too many others to list here. Eugenia was more than happy to let me fondle a Chanel matelassé she saw me drooling over. I love to pet designer fabrics.

Here's Eugenia with a DKNY lightweight brocade that we all agreed would make a stunning trench coat.

These are some of the gernerously-sized swatches Elliott Berman Textiles has on hand to send to its customers. Eugenia says they are more than happy to send swatches to customers who call and describe what they're looking for.

A Marc Jacobs silk charmeuse.

I can't remember which designer this was from; I just know I loved it.