Thursday, October 24, 2013

All about Kashi... An update on Metro Textile

Metro Textile

265 W 37th St # 908

New York, NY 10018

(Standard business hours are Mon-Fri 9-6)


Well, we know what pictures are worth...

Fall is here in New York City.
This lovely sueded grey fabric, perfect for a dress, skirt, or pants, just called my name...

Metro was the source for this fabric before pleating (on top) and then...

Became this skirt!  If you've been following this blog, you remember.

A while back, I found  a deliciously brown charmeuse and lace combo...
And, using this photo as my inspiration...
I chose to pleat the charmeuse at International Pleating 
and create a blouse inspired by this dress! 
(I decided a blouse was better. I want to sit without crushing the pleats.) 
I really love different versions and color combos of camouflage, 
and this is one I particularly adore... it will be another fall/winter jacket.

And of course I love this... the softest, coziest stretch knit ever...

Hey, I liked the purple, too...  That became a shirt I love.

Here's what you need to know about Metro Textiles' proprietor, Kashi.

No longer a "secret" of the district, it seems, his curatorial eye is just wonderful, and he treats his customers like royalty.  Go in, tell him I sent you, and see what happens... seriously.

Here's the kicker. No one pays me to write these things, run this site, or promote their businesses.  I do it out of genuine love for the businesses and creative supplies the vendors offer, and then I talk about them here. 

I must tell you specifically, that Kashi, the person, is a special case.

Ask him "How are you?" and stay for the story.  He is a deeply caring and faithful man, who has a great, uniquely philosophical outlook on life.  There are plenty of places to go in the garment district, to pick up this or that, but he's got some seriously awesome choices stuffed into that little space, at outrageously great prices.  Visit this store, make your purchase, ask him what's great, what's new, what's special... and he will tell and show you.

To shop here, think garment sewing primarily.  While crafters and home dec enthusiasts will find things there, too, the garment sewing fabrics are far more plentiful.

When you decide to go in and see what he's all about (whether for the first time or as a visitor), do me a few favors please.  Swatching, and we know you mean well, is an incredible time waster.  Fabrics have no expiration date.  You love it, you buy it, that's it.  No need to think endlessly, swatch and sigh, wonder and consider.  Just take the plunge.  I've done that plenty of times. I haven't regretted it.  A good sized stash fuels my creativity. And frankly, a good sized stash is good for you.

It can be overwhelming to be in a small space with lots and lots of fabric, and you may need someone who helps you focus, relax, and isolate what you love.  The store is generally quiet, and Kashi will guide you to what you need/want.

So, here's the thing.  Go.  Don't call, don't call to swatch, don't ponder... just go.  He has got an enormously wide range of things to see.  And crazy affordably. Tell him I sent you. I just have a sliver (but considerably more than I've shown here) of what he's got, but I am truly a fan of that store, and after a visit, you will be, too!  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

East Coast Trimming

A store that is a bit off my usual beaten path, but became part of my excursion last week, as I was picking up something oh-so-exciting from the garment district!  
(more info on that journey to follow in near-future posts...)

The window is decorated for Halloween!

Why East Coast Trimming?  Halloween is coming.  That's one good reason. I wasn't sure why I stepped in when I went last Friday.  Somehow, that garment district fever just grabbed me. But now that a weekend has passed in-between, I can certainly tell you how it all tied together.

And then... on Saturday, I was walking along Columbus Avenue, just behind the Museum of Natural History, when I saw a quiet little street fair.  I stopped and looked at their offerings, just astounded by the quality of work presented there. The prices for most of the things I loved were higher than any amount I would casually carry (or even have at the moment... who am I kidding...?), but I did get business cards with thoughts of Christmas gifts in my head.

One such vendor was Michal Lando, who offers some of the most exquisite jewelry, that I wanted to jump up and down fanatically at the mere sight of it.  She was wearing her won work, and it really had a wonderful lightness to it. Works of art, really... inimitable, as her techniques, choices of colors and materials are where the magic really happens... but I recognized a mystery material that I frequently fondle in various garment district shops, but have no idea how to use. The pictures on her site are beautiful, but you need to see how these pieces come alive in person, to truly appreciate them.

She was my link to a clue...  Click on this link, and come back to me.  I'll wait...

"What do you call this stuff?" I asked her, touching the tubular necklaces. "It is a mesh, typically used by milliners, I think," she replied.

Ahhh... there it is! That tubular stuff I've seen in many notions stores, but most recently at East Coast Trimming, where I really liked the colors they had in stock. Keep in mind, that this stuff comes in different strengths, with different amounts of springy-ness, then can be stiffened with millinery sizing.  It is also dyeable.  So, what is this stuff called?

Found on

"Sinamay is a type of natural fibre that is made from a plant called musa textilis found in the Philippines. Sinamay is usually dyed and stiffened, and is mainly used for the production of hats, fascinators and other clothing accessories."

A YouTube search for sinamay will lead you to a plethora of tutorials on fascinators, hats, tutus, decorations, and holiday ornaments. As if our brains weren't full enough of ideas already, right?

So, let's say you do to East Coast Trimmings.  Maybe you aren't going there for sinamay.  But maybe you'll spot those great buckles and closures, those beautiful dyed ribbons handing in the back on the left side, some buttons, some feathers... just gasp and sigh, and dream...

Monday, October 21, 2013

A picture is worth...

6 rectangles (two sleeves, two neckline border pieces, a front panel, and solid black back panel). Two hours. Made and worn in one weekend. Went to a great lunch with some fabulous sewing goddesses on Saturday, and had a chance to wear my new friend...

Yes, my "London Eye" panel became a shirt.  If you've been following the blog for a while, you may remember how/when I found her. She absolutely looks better worn on a body than on the dress form, but you know how I hate to pose.  She needs a breeze, a context, an environment to show her true personality.  I am very happy with her. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Have I been busy? A quick update.

Oh, yes, you bet! Not all of it very interesting content for my readers, but mandatory, hard work that has been occupying many hours of my time.  Much of it has to do with wrapping up projects, clients, logistics, and home life as I begin a new professional venture, but I do want to share with you, and will gladly tell you about tomorrow's garment district adventure!  For those of you waiting for answers from me, I am working very diligently and with great focus to make sure everything gets all tied up efficiently as soon as is humanly possible!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Continuing my Norma Rae moment... Child Labor

After expressing my Norma Rae moments on the blog, meeting with people who come at the apparel industry from all different directions, further research shows me that our world's garment industry unfair labor tangle is all profoundly more complicated than I thought.

An example of an Indian girl at work

I was inspired to write this today after watching this moving speech by Amy Poehler. While not about child labor specifically, this simple speech is just so PROFOUNDLY true, that it calls us all to action.

Yes, we want garment workers to be paid a fair wage.  And the people who make the accessories, and transport the goods... but what about the people... the CHILDREN who help to pick the cotton and make the textiles?

Clothing should be WILDLY expensive, when you really think about how many hands it takes for something to reach your closet.  My brain is spinning.  Short of picking your own cotton, and creating a completely vertical manufacturing process of your own... which would take FOREVER, by the way... what can we do?  Really, what can we do?

Seriously, what can we do?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

NYC Fabric Store Review: Fabrics World USA

Originally posted 7/10/12 - Updated today

This post has been revised today (October 8, 2013), because the only experiences commenters have shared on this business so far have been negative ones.  True to my responsible blogging philosophy, I feel compelled to let you know what I hear about this store, too.  Please read viewer comments below this post, and caveat emptor, folks.

Once upon a time, when I was a college freshman who sewed alot of her own, quirky clothes, I earned the nickname "Stripes" among a group of people who later became friends ( a clique, really) because they didn't know my name. Then it became a joke, and it kinda stuck. In that very geometric, Bennetton, assymmetric bobbed-haircut era, I made lots of striped skirts, pants, and deliberately cock-eyed Issey Miyake inspired stuff, that I would still wear (although a bit differently) today.

And this is why I am reviewing a store into which I randomly wandered on a day when I was actually headed elsewhere.

This store has an uninspiring, but fairly organized layout, and a distant, distracted staff, but that's no biggie... In fairness, it was a brutally hot day, and brutally hot inside the store as well. I just wandered in to take a peek at the piles of fabric inside. Now that I think about it, what drew me in were the colors.

You may wonder why I am featuring such a store here, but, frankly, their complete, deliberate disregard for current trends was refreshing. If you were blindfolded and led into this store, and asked what year we were in when the blindfold was removed, you actually wouldn't know. No color stories or fabric types seem to dominate in this store. That's actually kinda cool, don't you think? Allowed me to hit the "creative reset button", so to speak.

Now, this is not an insult to the proprietors of this store, but if you like a bit of humor/personality in your clothing, or if you make costumes, this is really the place for you! Completely reasonable prices, and lots of things that S-T-R-E-T-C-H.

And then, I noticed the stretchy, t-shirtlike knits toward the back, and had my own personal 80's moment. Lots of stripes, in color combos that sang to me in a sort of Depeche Mode, Simple Minds, Breakfast-clubbian medley. Deliberate, bold stripes of color reminiscent of Molly Ringwald, John Cryer and Anthony Micheal Hall.

80's teenagers among you... can you feel it? And, remember the wardrobe of Mrs. Roper from "Three's Company"? She's been my muse a few times in the recent past. Seriously.

And then, against my will, I started to hum... and dream... "Don't you... forget about me..." I was in love. You can bet I'll snag a few things there. Don't worry; I'll update the look. Cue the music. (... "the look of love... that's the look... that's the look... the look of lo-uh-uh-ove... LOOK OF LOVE!")

Fabrics World USA
252 West 38th Street

Saturday, October 5, 2013

What happens on a Speakeasy...

Stays on a Speakeasy...

It happened yesterday. The came, they shopped, they saw, they enjoyed.  I would LOVE to see pictures of what will get made using the lovely things I saw them buy!

A stream of consciousness summary of the day would sound something like this...

Busy city, frantic meet-up! Flustered, a few minutes late... Nervous energy!

Enthusiastic welcome, deep breaths and lively stroll.  Looks like an office building... what floor do I push?  Elevator ding... to the left? Deep gasp... what? It keeps going? Printed silks, what is pique? Oooh - Make a bag from this? Bias chiffon flounces, washed silk, knits and novelties and wools, oh my!  

What's next? 

Another stroll - oh... we're still in the lobby?  Maybe I should push the button, huh? Too busy talkin'! Turn right - past that little table?  Oh, this sure is a Speakeasy, huh? Where do I begin?  Explain the layout. Wow - spread that fabric out, and it tells a story! Oooh - this print!  How should I use this one?  What do you think?  Oh, the polka dot splashes!  Note: I wanted them myself, but knew she'd REALLY love it. Okay, fine... It will go home with her. Not me. Oooh! This double-faced wool would be just right for that pattern you brought along.  Just love it.  

Where to next? 

Another quick stroll... Elevator up - boy, when you said "small"... you really weren't kidding! But oooh... what's that?  The price is WHAT (in a good way)? And that matelasse... and that sorta artistic grid pattern...Oh yeah... 

But where can I find my notions?  Oh, let's go! This place is cool... What is this?  And that?  How do I use?  Are these feathers?  Yeah, I can see it in orange for me!  

I'm tired.  Let's eat. I have to go.  The rest of you, enjoy.  Wish I could have stayed to spend more time with you! Subways were STILL a delayed mess. But we all had fun!