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Friday, June 28, 2013

What's new in the Garment District?

Interested in improving your knowledge, but not necessarily getting a degree?

The non-credit courses at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) look fantastic for this summer, and in general, if you are planning future dates.  The credit courses are fantastic, too, but you don't need me to tell you that, I'll bet.

Completely affordable (depending on your outlook), great bang for your buck, and they look so fascinatingly interesting.  Unfortunately, these classes were not in my plan, and thus, don't fit into my schedule or budget at the moment, but someone needs to take them, tell me about them, and let me live the experience vicariously...

There's a July 24 information session at the school, if you want to learn more...

Please????


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Alert! Friday, July 12 - a different kind of tour...

*Sad to report, this tour has since been cancelled due to a very small number of signups, who have each received refunds or alternative tour dates, as explained in the notes below.

Very special itinerary...

Not a "speakeasy" like the ones I have led so far.  This one has two very specific parts, and a modified version of it will be offered this fall.


FIRST:

You follow me to go scouting for notions and tools.  This educational part of our journey will feature the most interesting and delightful notions and tools stores I know of, with explanations and demonstrations/examples from me and others more knowledgeable than me, for the things that can take both your sewing and efficiency to a higher level.


THEN:

A special fabric store in the district is stuffed to the gills with glorious fabric right now.  Silks, wools, linings, knits... I was just in there yesterday, and my hands were literally aching from the weight of the sack I brought home!

Well, no one likes to carry excess inventory.  In this hot summer weather, the owner of this great store is offering our group a special by-invitation-only shopping event. And the prices? Oh, the prices... (long silence - that's a good thing, BTW) Special discounts just for us.

*silent weeping*

If you wish, you can label and leave your bag(s) with the store owner, and pick it/them up later in the day.

Do we stop for lunch?  Absolutely! We'll do that at 1PM (included in your fee).

Then, I'll give you a list of other places to visit. And, if you have any energy left, you'll continue...  Otherwise, you'll probably just wanna go home and take a nap!

Wanna come?  Register below!

Or

For general fabric shopping... 


There will also be an October 4, 2013 Speakeasy! This one is for general fabric shopping, with the same timeframe as above, but fabric stores only.




Regarding cancellations:

 If you have paid and wish to cancel 7 days or more before date - 100% refund
 Fewer than 7 days - 50% refund
 If you don't come on the scheduled date or cancel within 24 hours or less - you will forfeit your refund, but can switch reservation to a future tour date.
 If I cancel a tour for reasons not related to weather, newsworthy acts of God or other emergencies, you are entitled to your choice of a full refund, or a future tour.


City Sewing - industrial machine rental... and more!

I'm not going to bury the lead of this story.  They repair machines.

They repair lots of kinds of machines.

Yes, they repair machines.

Parts, needles, tools, shears?  No problem.

Okay, on with the story.

"Let's say you are a designer getting ready for fashion week.  Everyone is frantically sewing.  A sewing person gets sick or can't come in.  what does that mean?  Someone else is gonna have to sit at that machine and get it done, even if that person is the designer him/herself."

I nodded.

"But... let's say a machine goes down.  The work comes to a screeching halt.  Doesn't matter who sits there.  During fashion week especially, we are all working 24 hour days.."

- Robin Rosado, Manager City Sewing Machine Corp.

If you've been in the garment district and strolled along 38th Street between 7th and 8th, you may have seen a "City Sewing" sign, pointing into what looks like an industrial loading space, full of machines.  You might have wondered about it, but likely never wandered in.

After some recent conversations with sewing professionals I know from my freelancing design and sewing life, we started to wonder about renting machines.  I mentioned that I once worked with a designer who rented the machines we were using, so I knew one could do it, but I really didn't know the logistics and cost. So... in question asking mode, I called City Sewing to ask about renting industrial machines.  I was greeted on the phone by the friendliest voice, who, after a brief discussion, enthusiastically invited me to come in and visit. And what makes him particularly wonderful, was that he was willing to patiently answer all of my questions, whether I intended to rent a machine or not.

So I went.  Turns out, what I had been wandering past, was just the service center.  The sales office is an organized, tidy, welcoming space just west of 8th Avenue.  Robin Rosado, the manager and certified repair technician, stopped frantically answering phones and emails to explain just how it all works.

For pictures of the showroom/meeting space, click here.

He has got a vast supply of fully up-to-date, well-maintained machines.  About 70 or so of them are currently on loan to various clients. Many of these clients are among the biggest names in the industry. He has complete knowledge of these machines, and how to fix them.  For example, you know how when you take your car to be inspected, they hook it up to a machine that diagnoses the problem?  That's what they do with the sewing machine.  Robin showed me how the computer gives him an incredibly detailed picture of the machine's health and indicates exactly where the problem is.

And it gets even better.  They are currently working on a new website that they plan to have up and running within the next few weeks, complete with demonstration videos. Robin's enthusiasm about his job is contagious.  He is a strong advocate of renting out the straight stitch workhorse machines, without all of the bells and whistles and complicated features. "You can sew leather on these.  You can use thick thread, thin thread, you won't need to keep changing needles - we've got all the supplies right here. Easy"

Not only can you rent machines, you can rent dress forms.  And by you, I mean YOU, ME, ANYONE.  About $200/month, generally speaking, which, for the right project(s) can make complete financial sense. It certainly makes sense for new designers and especially the well-established ones, who routinely rent 40-50 machines per company at various times during the course of a year.  Even with so many machines out on loan right now, he has plenty more.  This is particularly great for big interior design or fashion show jobs that need to be done on-site.  Makes the undoable... doable!

Licensed and insured, they pick up and deliver the equipment within the garment district. Any questions, you'll find them here:

City Sewing Machine Corp.
300 West 38th Street
NY, NY 10018

212-268-0408 or 0409


Monday, June 24, 2013

Wear New York

This morning, I saw a NY1 news piece on Wear New York, an event designed to promote and celebrate New York designers. In a very strange coincidence, one of the leaders of this movement/event is an Olympic Gold Medalist in fencing, and early on in my custom clothing professional life, one of my big custom design projects was making custom fencing jackets for some very serious fencers...

Second little piece of info, many years ago, I worked for a company who had Only Hearts as a client.  Small world, eh?

So, for those of us who are local, we are being asked to Tweet, Facebook, Instagram, and generally share information about this event.  If you have a workroom, a showroom, a fabulous ensemble made in New York, share it on social media, and help this movement get some traction!



Saturday, June 22, 2013

Yesterday's themed Speakeasy tour - "The Hard Stuff"

Yesterday I led the first "themed" Speakeasy tour that wasn't solely dedicated to simply shopping, but education as well.  I had such a blast, and such a great, small group, that I really think I will want to plan more themed tours. The small group size really gave us lots of time to interact and feed off of each other's energy.

It also gave me ability to show some stores and explain "This is why you should go" to the group, what makes certain products superior, which stores allow price negotiation, and which don't, and other things everyone needs  to know!  We talked about the right threads, supplies, adhesives, closures, publications, great classes, and where to get and take them.  Participants took notes and gathered business cards, and got inspired!

I'm also pretty sure I caught a glimpse of another past Speakeasy participant as we walked along 39th Street! The street was too fast, busy and loud to stop, and I couldn't recall her name fast enough to say anything... if you're reading this now... did you see me?

The only downside...

I am really itching to RUN back and buy some of the absolutely fabulous things I saw!

If any of my participants are reading this now, talk me down from that incredible cream-colored lacy lace I drooled over in the upstairs, buzz-me-in place...?

The store owner told me to look up the gown made from this same leather in black, and I did... Wowza!  My dreams of it for me are completely different, but this is definitely a showstopper!



As a side note, I am also truly thankful that I had someone to split that huge corned beef on rye sandwich with at lunch! We had a great lunch, too, folks.

So: I need your opinions on future Speakeasy themes?  Please voice your opinion on these ideas in the comments section... pretty please?

  • Costumer, re-enactor, vintage, artist speakeasy
  • Delicate and dainty - lace, lingerie, soft dresses, nighties speakeasy
  • Bridal - all things concerning brides and bridesmaids (suitable for non-sewers, too)
  • Just coats
  • Kid stuff
What ideas would you love to explore on a themed speakeasy?

The next general shopping Speakeasy tour is scheduled for October 4, 2013.  If asked, I/we will do custom tours before that date.

Itinerary below: 


10AM - 1PM - 

Shopping (Will include several very special fabric and trimming stores with a wide variety of offerings suitable for many different purposes/types of garments.)

1PM-2PM

Lunch (included in your fee)

2PM - until end of business day

Armed with your "Secret Map" and your own interest in or desire to visit the many other stores you see or have learned about, you may visit more garment district stores if you wish, and give unique codes (that you'll get from me) to vendors who will give special assistance/discounts.

The cost of this guided, efficient tour is $75 per person. If you use this trip to shop and participate in what NYC has to offer, you will save at least as much as you are paying, and probably far more.


Wanna come? Click below the date you wish to attend, send payment, and the details on meeting time/place will be provided.

From outta town? If you need hotel and/or travel help, I will advise some of the BEST NYC secrets I know! Also, you can click on hotels above (this page - to your right) for the most standard and convenient choices. Payment is only accepted via PayPal (you do not need a Paypal account), credit or debit card. No cash, personal checks, or additional payments will be accepted on the day of the tour. The trip will involve a good amount of walking, so come prepared, and healthy.


Wanna come on October 4?  Reserve your spot below!


Thursday, June 20, 2013

The danger of solitary work...

Over the past few weeks, I have had the immense pleasure of hands-on learning while working in an established CFDA designer's studio and small manufacturing space, where some really beautiful gowns are handmade by some wonderfully skilled hands.  There is such an incredible value in watching someone more experienced show you how to do things "the elegant/efficient/more beautiful way" or just plain "better" than you do.

The biggest learning curve for me have been the tools available to anyone who knows how to use them, mostly sold in the garment district, but until now, a mystery to me.  Machine feet I've never seen before, why the workroom always looks like a tornado hit it, why we're using spiral steel bones we cut to size ourselves and tip, why the type of pins you use goes far beyond just being a matter of preference, how really using the numbers and letters the way they are meant to be used on the sample paper make your work easier, why I just can't live without a cutter's must, and so much more...

Effective pattern layouts and the work people do to save inches of fabric are like rocket science to me. And a great cutter moves with the grace, speed and agility of a ballet dancer.  Seriously.  I got to watch one work last week, and was truly impressed. This post on the Fashion Incubator blog gave me a much more real sense of how complicated the markers can get, and why all of this matters.  While it's enough to give you a headache, you really can't ignore it, and learning about these big picture challenges help me to navigate my small ones. This is too much information to learn on the fly. For the small businesses among you, you can always consult a company like www.createamarkernyc.com to help you along.

Wow, there is so much I don't know.

Somehow, I'm energized by it, though.

Having worked alone for so long, I can see now that the doors have been opened to me to learn big things from people with far more expertise and experience than my own, and for that, I will be forever grateful. As a result, new opportunities and collaborations are coming my way, and I am excited to seize them.

It is through these valuable experiences, that I am discovering ways to really improve my skills.  When you work alone, you (and your clients) are your only critics. Right or wrong, happy or sad, it is always great to get a more experienced opinion.  Scary? Yes. A waste of time? No.

Well... Provided you keep plugging away and improving, it isn't.

It is truly eye-opening to find out what you don't know! And that is happening every day, lately.

So, what am I loving right now?  So many things! I'll show and tell a bit in related posts.  I've just been super busy these past weeks, and I'm blogging a bit less as a result. Tonight, I've got tomorrow's Speakeasy Tour to rest up for.  It's gonna be a fun one!


Friday, June 14, 2013

Upcoming Speakeasy tours





For any established, aspiring, and small designers among you, the opportunities to learn and greet today are virtually endless.  For the curious creatives among you, passionately sewing things for yourselves, your families, and your clients/friends, there are secret doors to be opened, and this ever-changing wonderland of fabrics, notions, and supplies awaits you.  For anyone at any level of sewing and design, come along on a "Speakeasy" tour, shopping, brainstorming, and hanging out with people who share your passion!


Itinerary below: 


10AM - 2PM - 

Shopping (Will include several very special fabric and trimming stores with a wide variety of offerings suitable for many different purposes/types of garments.)

2PM-3PM

Lunch (included in your fee)

3PM - until end of business day

Armed with your "Secret Map" and your own interest in or desire to visit the many other stores you see or have learned about, you may visit more garment district stores if you wish, and give unique codes (that you'll get from me) to vendors who will give special assistance/discounts.

The cost of this guided, efficient tour is $75 per person. If you use this trip to shop and participate in what NYC has to offer, you will save at least as much as you are paying, and probably far more.



Wanna come? Click below the date you wish to attend, send payment, and the details on meeting time/place will be provided.

From outta town? If you need hotel and/or travel help, I will advise some of the BEST NYC secrets I know! Also, you can click on hotels above (this page - to your right) for the most standard and convenient choices. Payment is only accepted via PayPal (you do not need a Paypal account), credit or debit card. No cash, personal checks, or additional payments will be accepted on the day of the tour. The trip will involve a good amount of walking, so come prepared, and healthy. These are the dates for all remaining Garment District Speakeasy Tours:



The first themed Speakeasy tour - this one, on Friday, June 21, will be the last one before the fall.  As of today, it will be a small group, but it will still be awesome!

 This one will not focus on everyday apparel, but will give you information and resources for doing "the hard stuff". Leather, suede, closures, embellishments, and home dec stuff, where more guidance may be needed to get the job done. This tour has a more educational purpose, and will include resources for supplies, appropriate tools, and general information on how to work with them.

 Note: You can sew leather with your home machine.

 The Hard Stuff 
(Leather, suede, corsetry, closures, handbag and accessory supplies, home dec)

10AM - 1PM Shopping
(Will include several very special stores with a wide variety of offerings suitable for many different purposes/types of garments, but focusing specifically on stores who offer the tougher stuff to work with - leather, suede, home dec fabrics, etc.)

 1PM-2PM Lunch (included in your fee)

 2PM - until end of business day Armed with your "Secret Map" and your own interest in or desire to visit the many other stores you see or have learned about, you may visit more garment district stores if you wish, and give unique codes (that you'll get from me) to vendors who will give special assistance/discounts.


The cost of this guided, efficient tour is $90 per person (yes, a bit more, because of the extras this trip includes). If you use this trip to shop, learn, avoid wasted purchases/effort, and participate in what the NYC Garment District has to offer, you will save at least as much as you are paying, and potentially far more. Wanna come? Click below, send payment, and the details on meeting time/place will be provided. 


Friday, June 21, 2013 "Hard Stuff" Speakeasy Tour

Regarding cancellations:
 If you have paid and wish to cancel 7 days or more before date - 100% refund
 Fewer than 7 days - 50% refund
 If you don't come on the scheduled date or cancel within 24 hours or less - you will forfeit your refund, but can switch reservation to a future tour date.
 If I cancel a tour for reasons not related to weather, newsworthy acts of God or other emergencies, you are entitled to your choice of a full refund, or a future tour.


OR


There will also be an October 4, 2013 Speakeasy! This one is for general fabric shopping, with the same schedule as above.





 Come along on a tour! We have lots of fun!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Where are the jobs?


A better question... Where is the work?  It is everywhere.  And there is lots of it to be done.

Recent weeks have connected me with some truly talented people in the district, and given me opportunities to learn about what they do and why they do it.  It has been a fascinating education.  People spend so much time lamenting the demise of the garment district, its real estate woes, and the economy. While all of these are valid concerns, there are some really beautiful businesses employing workers whose heads are down, immersed in serious work, earning pay, fully engaged in the art of making things, or the business of doing so.

Truth: Some of us just love to make things, somehow being professionally involved with companies who make things, or have something to do with the fashion industry here in New York. Learn the names of the jobs you want to do.  Production assistant?  Design Assistant?  Patternmaking?  Know what the job you seek is called.

I read a book long ago, since destroyed after one of our NY hurricanes or something - I forget which recent disaster created the random basement flood... entitled, Zen and the Art of Making a Living.  A beautifully peaceful book about life and all of the challenges and joys associated with making a living, it really speaks to the working creatives among us.





I also read a book entitled The Business Side of Creativity, where, even though the book isn't about the garment industry, much of the information applies, and one particular sentence impacted me profoundly (paraphrased),

"Remember, while you are looking for opportunities, opportunities are looking for you."


  • Think about freelancing


Lots of businesses need the help, but cannot find the talent. Sometimes they aren't full businesses, but large, intense projects, where freelance help is needed.  Find out about unions for costume designers and productions, so that you know when the question, "Is this a Union set?" applies.  There are lots of reasons why that is important - I could write a blog-novel on that stuff alone...  Where do you find internship opportunities?  If you're not in school, leave the house and ask.  Find the places you want to work, learn about them, go in, and start conversations.  And no, the conversation is not, "Are you hiring interns for this summer?  No?  Okay..."  It is asking about what they do, how they do it, whether they can always find enough help, if they need help, need an intern, need YOU?



  • Think about internships

Ahhh, internships. You have to evaluate internship opportunities with a careful eye.  An internship is meant to serve an educational benefit for the intern, and a work benefit for the company.  When the two don't meet, you can end up with a situation like the one detailed in this article , detailing an internship gone wrong.

Once you've done your homework, try these resources.

Consider an interview to be a MUTUAL exchange of wants and needs, so they can see the real you, the value you bring, and the opportunity you seek.

Then, visit your school's internship placement office/site/bulletin board (if you're a student), and/or visit these sites:

www.internsushi.com
www.linkedin.com
www.internQueen.com


  • Think about what you can do for yourself


Since 1996, I have owned and managed a website listing self-employed dressmakers and sewing professional across the United States and abroad.  If you want to list yourself on my Find a Dressmaker site, list yourself by following this link.  Note: Listings are paid, not free, and for a specified length of time.


  • More resources:


WeConnectFashion is a site with plenty of links for job seekers and fashion professionals alike.  A wealth of information available to you there.

NYC Fashion Info The name says it all, right?  Visit the page to learn more.

Above all, think positively, keep dreaming, and know that no matter what, people will continue to get dressed every single day.


Friday, June 7, 2013

Pinterest, photographs, movies, fabric tours... dreams

Looking for inspiration?

Do you use Pinterest?

It can be a great tool for organizing your inspiration, and your "for later" projects.  I find it an amazing help in my creative process. When it comes to garment district businesses, the Pinterest page of Fabrics and Fabrics will inspire you...

If you visited the link I just gave you, I'm absolutely amazed you came back!  Pinterest can keep my eyes busy for RIDICULOUS amounts of time.

Okay, moving on... Another bit of food for thought and inspiration, featuring a professional friend of mine, Professor Linda P.


The irony of what I've got on right now as I write this just makes me giggle.

If you haven't already, click the video to view...

So, if your life were a movie, and you were dressing your character, what would you be wearing? Can you imagine it?  If you're already wearing it, and that's typical, I'm not talking to you.  Seriously.  But... If you're not...

Now it's time to decide come along on a NYC Garment District Speakeasy tour (the next big one will be October 4, or you can choose whatever alternative tour fits your needs and budget after viewing the other options).

Let's start making things, and using our imagination...

The right cut



I hand-draped and hand-sewed this dress for a client,  partially due to cutting fears!

I have long had a fear of large expanses of bias chiffon.  Generally, hearing the words, "...three layers of chiffon skirts" on a gown, would give me the chills. The cutting and stabilizing were nightmare processes I just didn't want to deal with.


I designed and made this organza bolero for a client a few years ago, and cut spiral bias pieces to make this happen. But again, my cutting fears made me cut this in a far less efficient, and trepidatious way...


My current freelance gig in a couture designer's workshop has taught me volumes about dealing with chiffon in particular, and I think this post will help those of you with slippery fabrics fears to conquer the beast!

What will affect your success:


The right cutting surface


Ergonomics is the study of people and their work. It combines engineering, physiology, and psychology to prevent injuries and make work more efficient. Ergonomics focuses on adapting the work, the tools, and the work station to fit the worker instead of requiring that the worker accommodate himself or herself to the equipment. This can take the form of adjusting work heights, modifying hand tools, adding material handling equipment, or a variety of other solutions.

-Sheree Gibson, Ergonomist and Engineer (research for the Wolff company, specifically)

Ideally, a surface that is flat, sturdy, about 6 to 8 feet long, and at least 58" wide would accommodate most garment projects.  The ideal height of the table depends on your height. Try making that happen in an NYC apartment... good luck! We're just talking about getting the ideal situation here. The designer has big industrial tables. In my own space, I use a banquet table from Staples.  Works just fine for me. You may be able to adjust the height of an existing table with bed risers from a home goods store, or you may choose to ignore me entirely, if space, budget or lifestyle don't permit.


Stabilizing your fabric for cutting success

No amount of skill will make up for not preparing to cut your fabric correctly.  Read this post from the Sewing Divas for tips on how to cut fabrics that won't hold still.

All I have to add to the procedure given at the link given above, is that the designer I'm currently working with uses a layer of brown paper to stabilize beneath the fabric, then fabric on top of that paper, carefully lined up against the edge, and then, a layer of sample paper on top (makes it easier to position pieces on correct grain, and you can kinda see through it), on top of which which the pattern would be placed, traced (if appropriate), pinned though all three layers at the edges only, and then cut.  Yes, cut... through chiffon and layers of paper. Using the good shears.



The right shears

If you sew, you probably have  a dedicated pair of shears you use for fabric. Shears (vs. scissors) have a larger handle on one side to accommodate a couple of fingers, so that you may place your thumb on top and several  fingers in the bottom.  The handles are often attached with an adjustable screw for precise cutting.

Many of us who sew in our own homes or small studios cringe at the thought of our precious fabric shears ever being used to cut anything but fabric.  "They'll be ruined!" A bit of a sewing myth, this is both kinda, sorta true, and uhhhh... not really true.  Cutting paper with your fabric shears will not ruin them; it will make you need sharpening sooner.  You'd like to keep your shears specific for their designated task, which is to cut fabric. I know many sewers don't get their shears sharpened often, if at all, really.  The choice to do so is based on the quality of your shears, how much you care, the types of fabric you cut, and the amount of cutting you do.  If yours need sharpening, it is entirely affordable.  Drop them off at Steinlauf and Stoller (that's where I go) or Wesphfal (who offer sharpening services for a variety of industries), and pick them up when they're ready (depends on workload at the shop - could be hours, next day, or could be a few days), and it will only cost you a few bucks, which is totally worth it.  Sometimes shears need more than just sharpening.  Cleaning and re-edging are services provided by some manufacturers, and rust or a loose screw could also be problems you need to solve. It is good to know what the problem is before deciding on what service(s) you will require.

I know some of you likely never or very rarely sharpen your shears.  In that case, for you... "Stay away from paper!".

There are plenty of nice dressmaking shears, and there are lots of great industrial shears.  You need the right tools for the task and for the environment in which you will use them.  They can be quite pricey, compared to the least expensive brands, but they also make great gifts.  ( Tip: Start hinting now for your next gift receiving occassion...) If you care enough, they are truly worth the investment.  Feel free to ignore me if you're laying out your fabric on your bed or carpeted floor, though.  See what I'm saying? The quality of the cutting is entirely dependent upon the hands operating them and the environment in which they are being used. A great deal of study has gone into the ergonomics of cutting tools. One of the biggest reasons for this, has been the rapid increase in repetitive stress injuries to workers, caused by the repetition of a motion or exertion over time. As an occasional or part-time sewing professional, artist, or hobbyist, you may not need/want to put excessive thought into your tools, but if you have seen the walls of Wolff, Kai, Wiss, Gingher and other branded industrial shears in some of the garment center stores and wonder what all the fuss is about, here's your answer:

Better tools give you better results when cutting.  The bent-handled shears allow you to cut more precisely and get the proper angle against the table, the longer blades require fewer repetitive movements, the thin, sharp tips allow you to get into tight corners and angles, and the ergonomically designed handles allow you to grip the scissors in the most ideal position for doing so.  There are also left-handed scissors for the southpaws among us.  Better quality shears have sharper blades, generally made of high grade stainless steel, and are specifically designed to stay sharper longer.

After you've bought them, you've also gotta pay attention to where and how you keep your shears.  Mine are suspended on pegs above my work table, but I do love a good holster attached to a wall or table somewhere, too. Something sorta cowgirl about it, I suppose? Above all, don't drop them, and don't let your kids or well-intentioned others use them.  For that matter, don't let evil-intentioned people use them either. Yes, I know you love them (the kids and others, not the shears), but really, some things are just off-limits.

Where can you buy great shears?  ArcherPacific Trimming, Steinlauf & Stoller, Panda, or online... I'm sure there are more places.


By the Way...

When you're done cutting, you're not done.  If you've cut bias pieces, baste them as they are meant to be assembled, and let them hang overnight.  You'll have to be the judge of what is appropriate for the garment you're making, but just "sewing it up" without doing this is likely to be a very bad idea.

M&J Trimming - A fresh look, and... a fresh perspective

I don't just wander into this store when out running errands.

Frankly, it is off my regularly beaten path, and I typically go to M&J Trimming when I have exhausted other options, because , in the past, I have generally found them to be the priciest of the options.  Sometimes arbitrarily so. I'm going to stop saying that now.



Address: 1008 Sixth Avenue (near W. 38th)
Phone: 1-800-9-MJTRIM
Store hours: Monday - Friday, 9:00 am - 7:00 pm; Saturday, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm; Sunday 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Online store: M&J Trimming


Since then (kinda two days ago, actually), either I have grown up, or they have.  Not sure which, but when you need what they've got at M&J, go to M&J.

If we were talking face to face, I would have confidently said that with a neck swirl, an eye roll, a snap, and the word "Girl" drawled theatrically at the end.  (Those of you who know me, know I don't ever talk that way, and are probably getting a good giggle out of the idea of it right now.)

So, here's how to use M&J.

  • Don't go there for anything ordinary.  Get your thread, hooks and eyes, non-interesting zippers and standard supplies elsewhere, in a no-frills trim store.
  • If you like iron-on monograms, look at theirs.  They are awfully cool.
  • Look at the lace trims, the buttons, the zippers, and all things in the Swarovski family.
  • Look at the belt buckles.
  • More fashion and couture friendly than "craftsy" or "artsy". They clearly follow and respond to trends in fashion, and stock quality goods.

M&J Trimmings is a store that is bustling with creative energy, brightly lit, well-stocked, with lots of staffers to help you find what you need.  It is particularly well curated and visually appealing, with lots of fuel for creativity spread across the walls and in display cases.  No haggling, and they have a quality website, so you can shop online, too!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Fabric of my dreams

At the request of an enthusiastic and kind reader, I've added this... (below)

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Now, on to the post...

Let's face it.

There are fabrics... and there are fabrics.

Let's look deeper into our pockets for a bit, shall we?

I recently had the pleasure of caressing some beautiful fabric in a the workroom of a couturier for whom I've been freelancing.  I appreciated its beauty, from a Swiss fabric maker I had never heard of... Jakob Schlaepfer... at a whopping couple hundred dollars a yard.

But if you could have seen it, you'd understand.  I don't see an example, or even a fair comparison on the web to lead you to, so you'll just have to imagine...

A yummy metallic silk ombre, with flecks of gold, pineapple, persimmon, with flecks of silvery green and soft rasberry splashes... Hypnotic in its beauty.  Heaven to touch.

Similar to the mood of the fabric the designer used, but different.

Another fabric by the same fabulous company


Then...

it invaded my dreams.  For once, I saw a complete garment made of fabrics that exist mostly in my own head at the moment... but my heart feels they exist.  Definitely for the holiday season. And the thought motivated me to get some of my own projects moving, right away, clearing space in my life for my next set of dreams.

One of the things I have not often discussed on this blog, is the high-end fabric market.  However, these are truly the most elusive goods in the district, and may require an appointment to view.  Not for browsers, but for the serious potential clients, here are some fabulous sources:


Jakob Schlaepfer New York (Sales office)


307 West 38th Street, Suite 1103
New York, NY 10018
Telefon +1 (212) 221-23 23
Telefax +1 (212) 221-32 12



Lace from SOLSTISS


SOLSTISS USA

561 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10018
Phone: (212) 7 19 - 9194


At C&J Textiles (below), you will find outstanding exclusive designer fabrics on cards near the left wall of the store when entering.  Beautiful, special fabrics, with appropriate pricing for such unusual finds.


230 W. 38th st.
7th Floor
New York, NY 10018



At Fabrics & Fabrics (below), go left of the register to the room full of lace.  See? I told you so...

Fabrics & Fabrics
270 West 38th Street, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10018
TEL: (212) 391-7777
EMAIL: info@fabrics-fabrics.com


At B&J Fabrics (below), look all around you.  At this place, the bargains are a tougher find than the luxury goods, but both beautifully coexist in this place.  As an aside... looks like they have the fabric of my dreams, mentioned earlier in this post...


A wild sequin maze on metallic netting from B&J I used to make a very basic, but elegant top (below).



B&J Fabrics


525 7th Avenue - 2nd Floor
(corner of 38th street)
New York, NY, 10018
Email: bandjfabrics@gmail.com
Phone: 212-354-8150



Above all, keep dreaming!


Monday, June 3, 2013

Garment/Fashion District Walking Tours




There are lots of walking tours popping up in the fashion district, and I often hear from many of you who may not be part of the die-hard sewing community, but have enough of an interest to take a self-led, historic, or less intense, free, shorter, or smaller tour.

They all help the Garment District (ahem... Fashion Center?) community, so I want to point to some other options for those of you who are interested.

 While I do not have enough information to personally endorse these tours, I can at least give you some information for further research on your own!

 If you would like to come along on one of my Shop the Garment District Speakeasy tours, itineraries and descriptions can be found here. Happy shopping!