Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wool Coating Deals in the Garment District

$9.99 a yard is quite the price for wool coatings. Chic Fabrics, 225 W. 39th Street.

What's the key to surviving another brutal winter? Outerwear that makes you look and feel good, not to mention keep you warm. Sewing your own coat or jacket is a lot easier than you'd think, especially if you choose a loosely-structured style without a lot of tailoring and fitting demands. And when you make your own coat, you can customize it to meet your personal warmth needs.

To the best of my knowledge, Chic Fabrics on W. 39th Street has the most attractive deals on wool coating, at $9.99 a yard. Not a huge selection and the coatings tend to be on the lightweight side, but that's a great price. Do inspect your yardage before it's cut, as I found water spots on my wool coating after I got home. (Fortunately I could cut around them.)

You can find more wool coatings on W. 39th Street at the stores west of Chic but on the same side of the street. The selection gets better but the prices do go up, starting around $18 a yard. Also, Mood Fabrics has a large selection of wool coatings at a range of price points, as do B&J, Paron's, NY Elegant and Rosen & Chadick.

Don't forget linings. For warmth, I like the flannel-backed satin linings at B&J, or the quilted satins and nylons at AK Fabrics. For a luxurious touch, add a fur collar from Mood or Prime Fabrics (W. 35th).

Happy sewing and happy holidays!

Ready-made fur collars at Mood Fabrics. Add one to that coat you're going to make.
Here's my coat in progress: Wool coating from Chic, fur from Prime, quilted lining from AK.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Gift Ideas From the Garment District

It's not too late to whip up a gift made with fabric from NYC's Garment District. Here are a few easy to sew ideas. Feel free to add your crafty gift ideas in the comments section.

 Just look at this display at Lord & Taylor and you know faux furs and faux fur collars are hot this holiday season. You can make one for a fraction of the retail price. Look for faux fur by the yard at Prime Fabrics on W. 35th, Mood on W. 37th and NY Elegant on W. 40th.

Your loved ones' fingers won't freeze as they text if you give them gloves that interact with touch screen devices. Sew your own tech gloves: Buy a pair of gloves that a sewing needle can penetrate, then stitch a little conductive padded area on the index finger and thumb pads. Reader QuiltB alerted me that you can buy "Conductive Sewing Thread" from Leader Thread Corp., 252 W. 37th (3rd Fl) for $9.95 a spool. (Tech Knit gloves available at Saks Fifth Avenue.)

 Now who wouldn't appreciate a vintage-style apron like this? Fancy fabrics abound in the Garment District. Try the shops on W. 39th St if you're looking for bargains. (Vogue vintage apron pattern.)

Know someone who's getting an iPad for Christmas or Hanukkah? Stitch them up an iPad sleeve like this one from Bertie's Closet. Try B&J Fabrics and Rosen & Chadick for interesting cotton prints.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sewing Holiday Gifts? Add One of These Labels

NYC blogger and Garment District shopper Beau Baby posted yesterday about these labels from Sublime Stitching. What a great way to roust an appropriate level of appreciation for our crafty efforts.

Coming soon on STGD: Holiday gift ideas to sew.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Reader Question Time: Where to Find Home Decor Fabric

Essex sofa from West Elm

Reader Candis asks: "Any upholstery shops in the Garment District?"

While NYC's Garment District is the mecca for fashion fabric, I wouldn't make any pilgrimages here solely to buy home decor fabric. That being said, there are a few places that do sell home dec fabrics for upholstery, window treatments and other home fashion applications. Mood Fabrics has an entire level and staff devoted to home decor fabrics, and you can find some gorgeous things here. Ebad Fabrics on Eighth Avenue has a small selection of home dec fabrics at bargain prices. And last week I discovered that Prime Fabrics on W. 35th is dedicating its upper level to selling home dec fabrics and trims. They are adding new inventory daily.

If you're open to considering fashion fabrics, then your options expand exponentially. Not so long ago I shared a cutting table at B&J Fabrics with two interior designers who were using a thick gray wool to cover some club chairs. M&J Trims has a very large selection of home decor trims and accoutrements. I'd check out the stores on W. 39th Street too, just because you never know what you'll find there.

Am I missing any other home decor sources in the Garment District? Let me know!

Prime Fabrics on W. 35th near Seventh Avenue now has home decor fabrics on its upper level.
More home decor fabrics at Prime.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Find of the Week: Waterproof Trench Coat Cotton, $5.99/yd

You'll never know what deals you'll find at this store at 257 W. 39th Street.  Ignore the tacky signs at the storefront

Now why didn't fabric store Gate 232 have this trench coat cotton before I paid over $20 a yard at B&J Fabrics for my raincoat fabric?! $5.99 a yard is an amazing price to pay for this quality cotton fabric. I am no expert in determining levels of waterproofness or water resistantness, but it passed the Google-aided tests I administered on a swatch yesterday. (But you know what, at only $5.99 a yard you can't really hate me too much if this fabric doesn't keep you dry enough to your personal satisfaction.) Comes in light khaki and navy, and has a very sturdy hand perfect for three-season rain wear. Look for it in the middle of the store on the right-hand side.

That's the khaki trench coat cotton in the center.

I dropped water on a swatch and it sat like this on top of the fabric for an entire afternoon, until I got tired of the experiment. I was also unable to breathe through the swatch, which is a sign it is waterproof on both sides. Again, don't take my word for it, though; perform your own tests before you buy.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Living Social Deal for Mood Fabrics Ends Today

Reader Arlette just alerted me to Living Social's coupon for Mood Fabrics: Pay $15 for $30 to spend on merchandise at Mood. Hurry, the offer ends today.

And don't forget to support the merchants of the Garment District on Small Business Saturday by shopping there on 11/26. Many stores are open on Saturdays and would welcome your patronage. Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Shop Small and Support the Garment District on 11/26

Forget Black Friday and think Small Business Saturday on November 26. Sponsored by American Express, the 2nd annual Small Business Saturday® is a day dedicated to supporting small businesses on one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year. There are enough stores open in NYC's Garment District to make shopping here on Small Business Saturday worthwhile to you and the small businesses located here. These are some of the merchants I know are open on Saturdays, in no particular order:
  • Prime Fabrics (W. 35th)
  • Mood Fabrics (W. 37th)
  • Most of the stores on W. 39th
  • NY Elegant Fabrics (W. 40th)
  • Paron Fabrics (W. 40th)
  • Rosen & Chadick Fabrics (W. 40th)
  • B&J Fabrics (W. 38th at Seventh)
  • Spandex House (W. 38th)
  • Pacific Trimming and the other trim stores on W. 38th
  • SIL Thread and Panda Zipper on W. 38th
  • Daytona Braids and Trims (W. 39th)
  • M&J Trims (Sixth Ave. at W. 38th)
Now seriously, wouldn't you rather spend a morning shopping in New York City's historic Garment District than at the mall? When you're done you can walk over to Bryant Park for some hot chocolate and a visit to the holiday shops of Bryant Park (more small businesses needing your support). Make your plans today!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Make Your Own Winter Coat This Season

Fur Collar Trench by Boy by Band of Outsiders. Trench style wool coat with removable fur collar and self tie belt. $2,240 at La Garconne.

A winter coat is one of the most satisfying and cost-effective things you can sew for yourself: You can build it exactly to your specifications, and not skimp on linings like even some of the better RTW companies do. And you can save lots of money when you make your own coat, because even on sale winter coats are still pricey.

This season I am really taken with the above Boy by Band of Outsiders winter coat and am hankering to make one like it. First, I can repurpose a fur collar from an old coat that's been languishing in my closet. Second, how great is it that it has a quilted lining. Our NYC winters have been cold lately and this winter I'll be prepared with a quilted lining.

Lucky for us wool coatings abound in the Garment District. Shop around, trying W. 39th Street first for bargains before heading to standbys like Mood, B&J's, Paron's, Rosen & Chadick, Elliott Berman Textiles, Lace Star and NY Elegant. You can find quilted lining fabric at Mood, B&J's, A.K. Fabrics and NY Elegant. Now get sewing and finish that coat before the first snowflake falls in the tri-state region. (Oops, too late.)

Quilted fabrics at NY Elegant...

...and at Mood Fabrics.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Make Your Own Sequin Dress for the Holidays

DKNY Sequin Dress, $345, Bloomingdales

Sequins, sequins, sequins! Holiday Fashion 2011 is one big sparkly mess. You, you smart little sewist you, can whip up your own little one-of-a-kind sequin number for far less than you'd pay in the better stores. Just head over to NYC's Garment District, specifically the north side of W. 39th Street. Most of the stores there have loads of sparkly sequin fabric priced between $10 and $30 a yard; feel free to negotiate your way to a lower price with the sales staff. The stores I'd start with are G&R, Gate 232 (this store keeps changing owners and names; just look for lots of tacky signs in the window and on the street), and Logo. And if you have any tips for sewing sequin fabric, please comment here. I may be sewing my first sequin dress and I could use some help!

G&R Fabrics

G&R Fabrics

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

West 34th Street is My New Favorite Shopping Hub

Uniqlo opens on W. 34th Street this Friday. Yay! (photo from Uniqlo)

Ok, so you already know this part of New York City is the best place in the world to shop for fabrics, notions and trims. But did you know the perimeter of the Garment District also features some of the best clothes shopping around? West 34th Street is the destination if you're looking up-to-the-minute fashions at wallet-friendly prices. Cool Japanese retailer Uniqlo opens this Friday at 31 W. 34th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, and I'll be picking up some of their fantastic cashmere sweaters. If you're looking for chic but affordable clothes that look great on women of all ages, try Mango, Zara, H&M and Macy's Impulse (second floor). And a DSW shoe store is currently under construction at Seventh and 34th. Be still my heart.

My itinerary for a great day of shopping: Spend the morning buying fabric and trim in the Garment District. Break for lunch; indulge yourself in some macarons or mini cupcakes. Devote the afternoon to shopping on W. 34th Street, buying stylish pieces to go with the clothes you're planning to sew.

For the very latest news on sales, trends and great deals in the 200+ stores in the 34th Street District, check out the fun and clever blog Fashion Herald.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

7th Annual Fashion District Arts Festival: October 13-15

And you thought the Garment District was just about fabric and fashion!

"The Fashion Center Business Improvement District will host its 7th annual Fashion District Arts Festival, a district-wide celebration of the artists, crafters, galleries, and theatres that contribute to the creative energy that fuels America’s fashion capital. Don’t miss local open artist studios, concerts, gallery receptions, and performances. All events are open to the public, almost all are free." Click here for a complete program guide.

I hope to catch a live performance or two on my lunch hour. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Your Target Store May Be Out of Missoni But You Can Find It Here

Missoni wool/mohair knits at Elliott Berman Textiles, 225 W. 35th Street, NYC

Don't fret that you missed out on the Missoni merch at Target, because you can make your own Missoni garments! Hurry over to Elliott Berman Textiles NOW while they still have Missoni fabric in stock and tell 'em Shop the Garment District sent you. Better yet, call first to check availability (212-764-0180). Just don't wait because this stuff is yummy and is going almost as fast as Missoni did at Target. I grabbed two yards to sew up a cardigan for moi, moi, moi.

Even if Missoni is not your thing, do head over to EBT because they have so many new fabrics in from Europe: beautiful brocades, jacquards, wools, silks, knits from the finest fabric houses. The only downside is that they have so much fabric in-house I am afraid Mathew and Eugenia may get trapped in a fabric avalanche. Let's all encourage them to look for more space, shall we?

This Missoni knit comes in several different colorways and is so soft.

This Missoni fabric is a little heavier and would make a great sweater-coat or jacket.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Nanette Lepore's Hidden Gems in the Garment District

Nanette Lepore
Check out designer and ardent Garment District supporter Nanette Lepore's new Tumblr blog, where she shares glimpses of her work and personal life, plus her takes on "hidden gems in the Garment Center."

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Homegrown in the Garment District: My Leather Tote

I normally keep my personal sewing adventures off this site, because it's really about the stores and the services here in the Garment District, but I couldn't resist sharing my first attempt at sewing a leather tote. Introducing my "NYC Garment District Magazine Tote." It's soft, pliable, and just the right size for carrying home all the international fashion magazines I pick up at Around the World Magazines on W. 37th Street. I deliberately kept it very simple so I could throw it in my office file drawer without it clinking and clanging from a lot of hardware.

This bag was completely homegrown here in the Garment District. The black lambskin and British tan leather trim came from Leather, Suede, Skins on W. 35th. The paisley silk lining is Milly and came from Elliott Berman Textiles on W. 35th. This was so much fun to make I think I see more leather totes in my future….

Interested in breaking into the handbag business? Check out Handbag Designer 101, founded by local success story Emily Blumenthal.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Follow STGD on Facebook and Twitter

Happy Friday! Just a quick note to suggest you follow STGD on Facebook and Twitter if you aren't already. Sometimes I have little bits of info to impart that aren't worthy of an entire post here, but are perfect for a quick communication via Facebook and Twitter. For example, did you know that…
  • Leather, Suede, Skins on W. 35th will cut leather or suede fringe to your specifications, and affordably so?
  • according to this week's cover profile in New York magazine, It Girl (and Williamsburg resident) Zooey Deschanel likes to sew her own clothes? Wonder where she shops for fabric….
Scroll down on the right column for Facebook and Twitter info. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Hop a Designer Bike to Support Emerging Fashion Talent

Betsey Johnson and the bike she designed for Tour de Fashion
Ooh, I love this idea! If only it would stop raining here in NYC…

"During New York City’s Fashion Week 2011, one of the hottest designer accessories won’t be a handbag or stiletto. Instead, fashionistas will have the opportunity to borrow one of the 30 bicycles designed by fashion royalty including Diane von Furstenberg, Isaac Mizrahi, Betsey Johnson, Prabal Gurung, Elie Tahari and others. Tour de Fashion was created by the Fashion Center Business Improvement District (BID) in an effort to highlight New York City’s legendary Fashion District as the birthplace and epicenter of American fashion."…Tour de Fashion’s bicycles will be auctioned at the end of the event to benefit the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Fashion Incubator." —from the Tour de Fashion website

Some of the bikes will be available to borrow right here in the Garment District area at Broadway and 40th Street; complete details are available at Tour de Fashion. Maybe I can get my hands on this Lela Rose bicycle:

A Lela Rose bike, complete with rear doggie basket

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Found: Big Selection of Wool Knits at Mood

An entire aisle is devoted to wool knits at Mood.
Mood Fabrics in the Garment District has really increased the amount of knits it now sells in the NYC store. Previously I went on and on about all the cotton jersey knits there; now I'm enthralled with all the wool knits available. Mood has carried wool knits as long as I've been shopping there (religiously for the last three years), but their inventory has really increased lately. There's doubleknits, jerseys of all weights and colors, sweater knits, cashmere, and silk blends. If you're thinking about making a cardigan or wrap for fall, pay a visit to the top floor of Mood while the pickings are so fabulous. Tell 'em Shop the Garment District sent you!

Wool sweater knits in stripes and interesting weaves...

Wool doubleknits in fashion's hottest colors...

Missoni? So new these bolts haven't even been tagged yet.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Botani Expands, Adds Leather Department

Botani Trimmings is wooing the handbag design market with a sophisticated new leather department.

[Apologies for going so long between posts. I've been on vacation in the antithesis of New York City—rural northern Maine.]

Botani Trimmings, known for its luxury trims and buttons, has expanded and added an extensive leather department to woo the handbag design market. The Garment District store is now an entire block wide, with entrances on W. 36th and W. 37th Streets. According to Botani's website, handbag sample making and production are available without minimums.

This new leather department is an attractive addition to the Garment District. If you're thinking about handbag design or sewing with leather, I'd add Botani to your list of must-visit suppliers.

Speaking of leather, I've been thinking about sewing with leather this fall and so am trying to make it around to the places that sell leather in the Garment District. I've been to Leather, Suede & Skins on W. 35th and to Mood's small leather nook, and I plan to visit Leather Impact on W. 38th soon. A complete write-up to follow here.

Readers, have you ever sewn leather before? Any tips you'd care to share here?

You can get leather overload at Botani—there's so much to see.
Reptile looks are hot for fall.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Watching Project Runway with Mood Fabric's Sauma Family

Robert Stolarik for The New York Times

The New York Times recently ran an online feature about the Sauma family, owners of Mood Fabrics in New York's Garment District. Read the entire article here.

"What began as a family store has become an empire with a wholesale division, a home décor wing and a Web site started last year to supply internationally. The expansion is partly helped by the show, which does not pay to film in the store in exchange for mentioning Mood on air. (Yes, designers do pay for the goods they carry out.)" —The New York Times

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Visit Regal Originals for Pleating, Shirring and Other Fancy Finishes

A sample board at Regal showing the many different kinds of finishing they do.

Did you know that there is a Garment District company called Regal Originals, 247 W. 37th Street, that does all sorts of cool things, like pleating, shirring, smocking, appliqué and more? I recently was treated to a tour of this unionized factory by Rodger Cohen, whose father-in-law, Holocaust survivor Jack Krinick, opened Regal in the Garment District in 1950. Today Rodger and his daughter Dalia run Regal, along with 15 to 30 employees, depending on time of year and demand.

Readers, can I tell you how incredibly cool it is to see finishing touches like pleating and shirring being applied to actual garments from the likes of Theory, Nanette Lepore, Milly, Betsy Johnson and Oscar de la Renta? Speaking of Oscar, Rodger and Dalia let me peek at a de la Renta navy silk gown Regal trimmed with rows of pleated ruffles; can't wait to see which celebrity wears this beauty on the red carpet.

My tour was so interesting, but here's the most exciting fact I learned: Regular home sewists like you and me can hire Regal to do pleating and other specialty stitching for us. They charge approximately $50 per sample (or garment in home sewists' case), and they will walk you through the process, teaching you how to prep your garment, what kind of pleating will work for your garment, and more. Rodger made me feel confident his staff would hold my hand through it all and wouldn't treat me like the babe-in-the-woods I am when it comes to sophisticated garment finishing.

Personally, I think $50 is an extremely reasonable price to pay to have a garment professionally pleated, when I think of all the time a home sewer would have to put into her garment to get results that come even close to professional-looking. If I was making a special occasion dress that needed pleating or shirring or some finishing, I'd definitely hire Regal to do it for me.

There is an excellent PDF document called "The List" on Regal's web site that does a much better job of explaining who the company is and what they do. Definitely take a look at it (you'll find it on the lower left of the web site).

Thanks, Rodger, for a great tour, and I hope this sends some Shop the Garment District readers your way soon.

Part of the pleating process; this skirt will get "baked" in an oven later to set the pleats. (I think this particular skirt is for Theory.)
Josephine has been with Regal for over fifty years and has been cross-trained on all the company's finishing techniques.

The number of workers at Regal expands and contracts depending on the volume of work at any given time.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Have You Taken a Sewing Class in NYC?

A reader emailed me today, asking where he could take a tailoring class in NYC. I advised him to check out FIT and Parsons, as these two educational institutions always seem to have the most advanced sewing and patternmaking classes around. Beginners and advanced beginners looking for classes in the NYC area might want to check out Sew Fast Sew Easy and The Sewing Studio. But aside from a "sit 'n sew" taught by Susan Khalje and Kenneth King here in the Garment District, I personally haven't had the opportunity yet to take a sewing class in NYC. What about you, readers? Have you taken a sewing class in New York City? What did you think about it? Please share here.

Coming next week: A glimpse behind the scenes at Garment District trimming factory Regal Originals….

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Get Your International Fashion Magazines Here

Around the World fashion magazine store has a second location in the heart of the Garment District.

Not quite sure when this store opened, but there's now a second outpost of Around the World, the best place in the city to buy fashion magazines from, well, around the world. Located in the heart of the Garment District at 148 W. 37th Street, just off Seventh Ave., home sewists can pick up single issues of BurdaStyle at this location for $9.50 an issue. The amount of fashion and trend magazines available here is staggering.

But did I walk away with In Trend Dresses or Vogue Collection Paris or Textile Report? Heck no. I had to pick up the latest issue of People, so I could read the cover story on kidnapping victim Jaycee Dugard. Beach reading!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

"Designers Who Keep It Local"

Thread NY, the fashion blog of NBC 4 here in NYC, has a slideshow on 11 designers who "keep it local" and use the resources of the Garment District whenever possible. Click here to see the sideshow, and happy Fourth of July everyone! Keep it local!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Another Nifty Trim Store: Shindo on W. 36th

Address: 162 W. 36th Street, New York, NYC (between Broadway and Seventh)
Phone: 212-868-9311
Hours: Mon-Fri: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.; closed weekends
Online store: n/a
Best for: All sorts of trims for sportswear

If you sew a lot of sportswear you should definitely schedule a trip to Shindo on W. 36th Street in the Garment District. They have the best selection of sportswear applications—braids, piping, tape, cord, etc.—that I've seen in NYC. I was also fascinated by their foldover wool braid in a rainbow of colors and super soft; this could add such a sharp finish to fall jackets, sweaters and outerwear. Shindo carries ribbons and lace and other trims as well, but unless you're looking for a specific color you can find these items at lower prices elsewhere in the Garment District. I found the staff to be pleasant and helpful (which is important because no price or content information is displayed), and I always appreciate a well-lit store in this area. Worth checking out.

Soft foldover wool braid in loads of colors.

Extra points for the cool window display! (Mannequins wrapped in ribbon.)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Follow the Garment Girls Around the Garment District This Summer

The Fashion Center BID (Business Improvement District) has three summer interns and they are on a collective mission to learn everything there is to know about New York's Garment District. They call themselves the "Garment Girls" and together they write a blog called "An Intern's Guide to the Garment District," in which they share highlights of the places they explore. So far they've been to Nanette Lepore's design studio, a sample sale on W. 36th, some jewelry and trim places, and Macaron Café. When you need a Garment District fix, visit their blog. (Sadly, I haven't been shopping here much lately, as I am on a mission to sew down my existing stash. But once I start sewing for fall I'll be back again with a vengeance.)

If you aren't familiar with the Fashion Center and its online database of all the businesses located in the Garment District, you should check it out. Looking for wholesale information? This site should be your starting point. People email me every week asking wholesale-related questions and I keep sending them to the Fashion Center. And do follow the Fashion Center on Facebook, because whomever posts for their fan page is funny and excels at writing clever updates. Have a great weekend!