Monday, February 28, 2011

"American Experience: Triangle Fire"

PBS is broadcasting "Triangle Fire," about the deadliest workplace accident ever in the United States. It occurred 100 years ago on March 25th, 1911, and claimed the lives of more than 100 garment workers at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory here in NYC, many of them teenage girls. Check your local listings for viewing times in your area.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Learn From My Stupidity

Warning: Do not shop at Mood Fabrics while operating heavy machinery. That is, don't let yourself get distracted.

I was there yesterday on my lunch hour and the place was packed for a Tuesday. Lots of Upper East Side moms and daughters shopping and monopolizing the staff, and the lines for the cutting tables were long. I knew I wanted navy silk charmeuse for a jacket lining, and the charmeuse I always buy there is around $12 a yard. So I grabbed a bolt without pulling out the tag wedged deep inside it and had three yards cut. Went to the cash register and chatted with owner Eric Sauma about how busy the store was. Signed the receipt without looking at it (I know, I know) and got the heck out of there.

When I unpacked my bag last night I finally looked at the receipt: $75 for the charmeuse!! It was $25 a yard, not $12. Seems I grabbed the slightly heavier weight of charmeuse. Seventy-five bucks for the lining in a coat-jacket where the fashion fabric only cost me $15. Ouch. Don't be like me, readers. Check the damn label or ask what the price is before it's cut. Humor me and tell me you've done similarly stupid things like this.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Calvin Klein 2010 and 2011 Runway Fabrics at Elliott Berman Textiles

A label from a Calvin Klein fabric bolt at Elliott Berman Textiles on W.35th

If you've always wanted to sew with the fabrics just off the runways, Elliott Berman Textiles is offering you your big chance. Mathew and Eugenia just got a big shipment of Calvin Klein fabrics--wools, silks, viscose, blends, etc.--all from the designer's recent runway collections, as the label above attests. Prices are around the $30 to $35 a yard area, and the fabrics I saw would definitely work year-round. Stop by their office to see these fabrics for yourself, or call Eugenia at 212-764-0180 for more information.

Just a few of the bolts of new Calvin Klein fabric at Elliott Berman Textiles.

I don't remember if this was Calvin or not, but I wanted to show it to you because you don't often see pleated fabric like this available for sale.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Did the First Lady Do the Garment District a Disservice?

Nanette Lepore and Michelle Obama.
Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images, Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Ardent Garment District supporter and designer Nanette Lepore has taken Michelle Obama to task for the Alexander McQueen dress she wore to the state dinner in honor of China a few weeks ago. Read the latest New York Magazine article on this here. What do you think, readers? Is it the First Lady's duty to stick to American designers only?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

"Clothes made in NYC: Fashion made in New York City gets the cache it deserves"

From a 2/5/11 article by Patrick Huguenin for New York Daily News:

"In New York City, a dense few blocks in the West 30s are the fashion industry's busiest hive.

Here, in the Garment District, embroiderers set up shop next to button sellers and leather workers. Designers can pick up a zipper, a dress sample and a replacement stiletto heel in a five-minute walk.

But it's an area that faces hazards. It has seen businesses die off as designers outsource production overseas. As with any other New York City block, it has come under the eye of eager developers and faces complex questions of rezoning. The district's survival depends on public support, dedicated designers and a new breed of shopper: the fashion locavore."  Read the rest of the article here.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Fresh Look: Rosen & Chadick Fabrics

Rosen & Chadick Fabrics
Address: 561 Seventh Avenue (west side of 7th, enter on 40th), 2nd floor and 3rd floor, New York, NYC
Phone: 212-869-0142
Hours: Monday - Friday 8:30 am - 5:45 pm; Saturday 9:00 am - 4:30 pm
Online store: n/a
Best for: the personalized service

I'll be honest with you, Rosen & Chadick frustrates me. On the one hand, the owners are pleasant and helpful and the fabrics are top quality, so I sincerely hope this store continues to survive and thrive in NYC's Garment District. On the other hand, it never makes my list of must-visit stores when I'm asked for recommendations. So I went to Rosen & Chadick last week—in between snow storms—to give this store a fresh look. Here are my 2011 impressions:
  • It looks the same as it did on my last visit in 2009; still lots of beautiful fabrics
  • Ellen Rosen and David Chadick are still two of the nicest and most helpful people in the Garment District
  • Rosen & Chadick does not feel like a retail fabric store and is therefore a little  unapproachable? off-putting? for the average home sewist shopping in the Garment District
What I mean by that last remark is that the store feels like there should be a sign on the front door: To the trade only. Missing are the usual retail indications, like signage or visible price tags. There is another floor filled with the most beautiful wools, but you'd completely miss it unless Ellen or David told you it was there.

Ellen explained to me that much of Rosen & Chadick's business comes from the entertainment industry—costuming for theater, film and TV. For example, the cast of the upcoming Broadway show "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," starring Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame, will be wearing costumes made from Rosen & Chadick fabrics. "We stock a lot of basic fabrics, the majority of which are reorderable," said Ellen. While there I saw scrumptious wool tweeds and bouclés, hard-to-find 54"-wide custom silks, silk twills for ties and handbag linings, fine laces, and better quilting cottons. Prices are similar to B&J Fabrics, though Ellen admitted they are accommodating when it comes to pricing.

Bottom line for 2011: Despite my reservations about it feeling like a to-the-trade-only store, I like this store a lot, I really do. If you aren't pressed for time, or are on a very specific fabric hunt, patronize Rosen & Chadick Fabrics. Comment here or email me and let me know your thoughts on Rosen & Chadick.

My review of Rosen & Chadick from 2008. 

Ellen Rosen, one of the friendly and helpful owners of Rosen & Chadick

Cotton prints along the store windows

Silk twills for ties and fancy handbag linings.

Beautiful tweeds.