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Monday, April 16, 2012

Psssst.... (Just button it.)

Let me begin by saying that is is so exciting to see Meg start her new venture, and equally exciting for me to add a new layer to this already wonderfully conceived blog.  I am passionate about and fascinated by the garment industry, the actual work and art of creating things, and this wonderfully vast collection of businesses who help us all to make the things we have been dreaming of!

I am Mimi Jackson, a New York dressmaker, owner of www.findadressmaker.com, and have been absolutely obsessed with the NYC garment district since I was a child.  Many of the old stores are gone, but I have discovered so many new places in recent years, that I am truly excited to share.

For my first post, I will let you all in on a garment district secret I've recently discovered; knowing the right terminology is KEY in this city.  No one, and I mean NO ONE will take the time to explain things to you.  And that is one reason why this blog is so important.  When you ask the right questions, sometimes the answer comes back in a whisper, a wink, and a nudge.  No, I'm not kidding... After all of these years shopping here, I still don't know why.  The garment district is FULL of secrets, and those secrets can lead you on unexpected adventures.  To make my posts more search friendly, when I offer a secret, I will name the post "Psssst..." followed by the relevant topic in parentheses. Now you know.

Months ago, I was making a soft jacket for a fabulous client who fell in love with a beautiful, silvery silk velvet she had found.  The catch: she wanted covered buttons.  Now I don't know if you've ever covered your own buttons with one of those Dritz kits, but when your fabric is cooperative, you can achieve a very respectable result.  With some additional work, you can even make it kinda classy, but it never quite has the feel and quality of an industrial, factory-made covered button.

Below, is an example of covered button I made with a kit, that turned out well enough...



Front

Back

Well, that's fine, until you want to cover with a fabric that is thick or slippery, like velvet, which moves and contorts, distorting the flimsy metal button base, and making you cry, scream, and pull every hair from your head... one by one....

Knowing this, I ventured into the garment district, and asked my favorite businesses who could/would make covered buttons for me.  The first two had no idea.  The third, looked both ways, leaned in very close to me, and whispered an address.  Weirded out by this speak-easy vibe, I went directly to the address she gave me.  Factory-like atmosphere, squeaky, old elevator... got wrong directions from security, which gave me a long labyrinth-like wander through a series of small production shops, ending with a handwritten sign telling me the business had moved downstairs.  

When I arrived there, I knocked on the huge industrial door, uncertain if they were open to the public. No one heard me over the clang of machinery.  Slowly, I opened the door. Inside? Button-covering wonderland.  Industrial equipment, knowledgeable staff.  Note: To do this, you must have your fabric ready, and know what size button you need.  They will not let you waste their time.  AT ALL.  Have cash.  If you need lots of buttons (1000 or more, you can certainly place an order).  If you need only a few, again, HAVE CASH, and trust them to know what they are doing.  The results will be perfect.

See below:

Front

Back

So great!  Why the secrecy? If, after posting this, I disappear from the face of the earth, you can always show this blog post to the detectives...

Note: BT Button sis now closed. (4/18)

The address:

BT Buttons
327 West 36th Street (between 8th and 9th Avenues)
3rd Floor
NY, NY 10018

28 comments:

  1. What a great find! Thank you, Mimi!

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  2. This is sooooo funny because when I use to work for a button company, the place I took the buttons to be dyed was the same way. But I will remember this address for covering buttons and thanks for sharing!

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  3. Great idea...here in Chicagoland (I hope I can say this because I don't live near the Fabric District) we have Vogue Fabrics which will do button work for you...I think you can use your credit card though. Lack of cash is not a big ideal. But I whole heartedly agree. Professionals vs. Dritz button kits...the difference is huge.

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  4. Fabuloso! Thanks for picking up this blog - I can tell you will bring a new vibrancy! Of course, I live across the country, but I can dream!

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  5. Great info, Mimi!! Looking forward to many more wonderful blog posts.

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  6. Pssst...Mimi...do they do covered buckles and belts too?

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    Replies
    1. Toby - I don't think so, but I'm pretty sure Jonathan Emroidery (on 38th Street) does.

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  7. Wow! Great tip! So glad this blog will keep going!

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  8. What a great story and a terrific tip. Thanks for taking over this blog!

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  9. Great post...thanks!

    Are we talking a few dollars a button, roughly?

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    Replies
    1. Not even, in my case. Just ask, and get an answer. Extremely affordable. They don't seem to be the "price list" type.

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  10. Thanks for the info, Mimi.

    New York Sewer

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  11. The thought of using a kit to cover buttons with velvet makes me cry a little bit. It's just not happening.

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  12. This is amazing insider info. I've found the garment district to be the most clandestine part of the city. Really looking forward to reading more of your posts!

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  13. Good evening, Mimi,
    Thanks for the great info. I just visited the Garment
    District two weeks ago, and only had time for a few
    shops; LOVED every minute of looking and buying a few
    pieces of beautiful silks from both Rosen and Chadick
    and Mood. Would love to get to some of the small shops
    and more Pssst places you mention! Will definitely go
    back once a year! (from Florida)

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  14. Great post. Can't wait to need some covered buttons. I have used Steinloff and Stoller but even theirs weren't all perfect. Great to have an alternative. Do they make other styles?
    So glad you are continuing this blog.

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    Replies
    1. I don't actually know what their range of button types is... Probably would need to be considering ordering in bulk to get a catalogue. As a walk-in, don't expect to have anything explained, unless you can make it worth their while. They will not make time for chit-chat. Guaranteed.

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  15. Mimi:

    Suggestions for future posts --

    Do you have any suggestions for suppliers of linen, madras, underlining (what kind for linen and madras), muslin?

    Thanks.

    New York Sewer

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  16. STGD has always been one of my favorite blogs. Meg did a great job, and know you will too. So happy for her to have a new so-much-fun-sounding job, and so happy you've taken over the blog. I get to shop there several times a year and will look forward to continuing to get such valuable "insider" information. Thank you SO MUCH for being here for us.

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  17. Wow, I skip school for a few weeks, then come back to find we have a new teacher! :) Welcome aboard STGD, Mimi! (Meg - good luck with your new venture, too!)

    I share your love of the area. Grandma worked there for 40 years. I grew up going to the GD (in the days of rolling racks of clothes everywhere), and opening boxes of "leftover" fabrics & notions that Grandma would send from the different companies where she worked.

    Now I STGD from the perspective of a quilter, a home dec maker, and a crafter, not just a garment maker. So as you STGD for this blog, please keep your eyes open for interesting things & good deals that can be used for those sewing purposes, too.

    Lately I've been wondering who, if anyone, sells remnants or scraps. And I'm curious to know if anyone sells "grab bag" buttons other than Botani. What about grab bags of trims? Who has the best zipper prices (Mood?)? What's happening at Paron, now that they've moved? I also need to update my list of all the bead stores in or near the GD. Two more opened last summer that I know of, but have any closed?

    While you're on the subject of Psssst & "hidden" places, I'd love to have a comprehensive list of what wonderful stores are lurking above street level in the GD. I always think I'm missing half the shopping if a store doesn't have a window or front door at eye level! Mood is 3 stories up....but who else??

    Just "a few" ideas for future posts! ;)

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  18. Good Morning, Mimi!
    Welcome, and thank you for picking up this blog. Kudos and congrats to Meg on her new endeavor!
    Just a note, for those in NYC or planning a fabric shopping trip. Living Social currently has a deal for Paron fabrics - $20 for $40 of fabric. I believe there are 5 days left to check it out. Don't forget to read the fine print.
    Looking forward to more great STGD posts!
    Thanks again Mimi,
    Arlette

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  19. Welcome Mimi! I'm so glad this blog will continue. I've never tried covering buttons but it sounds like a recipe for disaster...

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  20. Hi Mimi! I'm so glad to have you picking up the reins :) I'm really looking forward to the invaluable insights you can share from your experience!

    And thanks Arlette for the scoop about that deal, I love shopping at Paron's!

    -Irene

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  21. Oh how fun to have you keeping this blog alive and well! I have become a frequent visitor to the garment district and I owe it all to Meg for starting this blog.

    Thanks for the great tip!

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  22. If you are interested in either the cover buttons by hand or by machine we have them.

    We are the manufacturer of the Maxant Miracle Cover Buttons, made in the USA.

    Give us a call at 770-460-2227.

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  23. Note: BT Buttons has since closed.

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