Tuesday, September 30, 2014

All is quiet

Things are awfully quiet in the district right now. This post is encouragement to put your money where your heart is...

Other than M&J Trimming and Mood, when was the last time you had to actually STAND ON LINE in a garment store?

Really, think about it...

Things are pretty quiet in the district these days.  Sure, many design businesses get their goods over the phone, online, and by sending assistants, gophers and interns to swatch, so when you shop nowadays, you've got a pretty good amount of elbow room in many of the district's best places.  If you read this blog, you already know where to go to find wonderful things!

We need these stores to stay in business and thrive.  We need them to continue to have great things for us to buy!

A recent Speakeasy participant told me that she used to sew long ago, but her interest was recently rekindled when she discovered that the things she truly would like to buy are not available in stores.  Tired of settling, she realized she could make things!

How about you?  I'm in a very creative moment right now, working to make beautiful things with fabric I've had for some time.  Here are some ideas that sing to me:

Roman shades!

Recovering an old chair/sofa!

Making a new dress - kinda inspired by this!

Using patterns and colors that delight!

Showcasing features, colors and textures that excite me personally!

My machine is humming... more later!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The September 26 Speakeasy

I'll start with this:

I don't know if I can adequately convey the beauty of what we saw on Friday.  

I met our intimate group at our starting point on Friday morning, and immediately explained our Speakeasy shopping strategy.  Beautiful weather, our collective enthusiasm, and easy conversation created a solid, instant rapport. I shared some tips for navigating the district, negotiating with the salespeople, and the "speakeasy" elements of the stores we were to visit. Then I explained in detail, how I curated and organized the day's list of destinations.  Some "bonus" destinations were added on based on specific requests at the end of our day.  All in all, everyone had a ball... and I left the district tired and haunted by the fabrics I CANNOT bear not to purchase for myself.  Is this an illness?  Well, certainly not if I sew it all...  Okay, so I have to sew it all or check into a mental hospital.  So I'm whipping out the scissors and turning on the machine TONIGHT. 

Clearly, I will need to return to the district to buy some of the things that are haunting me next week.  Here is a small representation of the things that specifically called out to me:

Hello, Lover... The magical cotton weave above called my name, and reminds me of the artwork from the Ezra Jack Keats children's books, and it needs some of that blue leather to complement it...
That fabric makes me feel like this...

This one, I call a "drunken grid" - a cotton shirt weight fabric, begging me to take it home...

Silk - ya gotta feel it to believe it.

Outta this world wool.

More outta this world wool...

I think I've met this fabric before, and I'm still in love.

This says home dec in the most beautiful way...

You have to see this for yourself.

A digital print that is truly alive with color!

Two cottons at Rosen & Chadick, and one cotton print at Fabrics & Fabrics, and something that is just TO DIE FOR at NY Elegant I did not photograph (selfishly), because I want to get to them first!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Special Speakeasy request

Quick update! Survey results are in! I will report some of the information here, but the specific details will be shared with the participants. 

 Three of the participants provided email addresses which are not accepting mail. 

 If your email address includes the following combination of letters within your address, know that I cannot reach you directly: 


You may contact me directly to correct your email address, and I can include you in the more intimate discussion loop.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Today only - Start getting dressed!

Quick update:

There is a Fashion Expo today.  If you are seeking a new or better job in the industry, and you're in NYC right now, print out or upload your resume and go!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Thinking Spring... already?

Well, you can certainly fabric shop well in advance.  And if you plan to make things, you are actually planning your winter activities with Spring in mind!

So, click here to see what Spring will bring! And see the blog for expert analysis and artistic descriptions/explorations.

A darker combination of Glacier Gray, Aquamarine, and Scuba Blue were used in the waterfall dress I designed, before I knew this was "the thing".  Again, I find myself out of synch with the forecast, a few months too early!

My new inspiring colors are not part of the palette, though.  I'm feeling butter yellow (paler, yet sunnier than custard)...

 and electric blue (more intense than Scuba) these days!

Glad there's room in NYC's color palette for each person's own take!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

October 17 Speakeasy tour

*Reposting - reminder for all interested*

Another general shopping Speakeasy tour is scheduled for October 17, 2014.  This is by far, the time of year when most people are interested in doing a Speakeasy tour!  If asked, I/we will do custom tours before that date.

Itinerary below:

 A group reservation for lunch at 1PM will be made, and is optional for anyone who wishes to join (note the "with" or "without" lunch prices). If you decline lunch at this time, it is still your option to come along with us, but you will be responsible for your own lunch bill.

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.)



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 $80 per person with lunch (yes, there has been a slight price increase - lunch is a bit pricier that it was 2 years ago!), or $60 without lunch. If you use this trip to shop and participate in what NYC has to offer, you will save and learn at least as much as you are paying.  bring your patterns, ideas and plans along for advice and opinions!

Wanna come? Click here, send payment, and the details on meeting time/place will be provided.  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.


Fashion Institute of Technology Noncredit Certificates

What happens when you study color theory... I'm guessing...

As always, I got very excited when I saw the brochure for the FIT Fall 2014 Continuing and Professional Studies course offerings arrive this year.  A perpetual student, I love to explore the enormous fashion industry and all of its players, and I am just wowed by how the ever-changing nature of the business changes what courses are being offered.

I'm being careful not to bury the lead... you can take some of these classes online.  Yes, I said ONLINE! Follow this link to learn more. Not only that, but there's still time, since orientation hasn't even happened yet!

Wanna ago?

It's Monday, September 15 5:45 - 7PM
John E. Reeves Great Hall (on FIT's campus)

You will need to call to RSVP at 212-217-7715

Fall 2014 

Look into it!

Here are a few highlights below, after which, I will guide you to FIT's own social media sites for more info.

First of all, they are offering a Sustainability Certificate - 6 courses and FutureLab to complete. This is exciting. Read yesterday's post if this if you are interested in exploring this important issue.

Fashion Marketing: China - this workshop helps guide you through developing a marketing strategy for this often misunderstood market.

Color Specialist: Fashion and Home Products/ Image and Style
I am particularly intrigued by "How Color Gets to Market"

The Social Media, Software, E-Commerce and Mobile classes look wonderful.

There is so much more... I can't write it all here.  You'll have to explore for yourself.

Stay Connected to FIT by following them here:

Enterprise Center (Business focus)
Professional Studies

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Eco-friendly fabrics

The ecologically-minded folks among you will be "Happy" to read this article, highlighting the mission of the artist pictured below:

Recording Artist and Creative Director of Bionic Yarn Pharrell Williams greets Chief Marketing Officer, G-Star Thecla Schaeffer at the event to announce "RAW for the Oceans", a long-term collaboration between Bionic Yarn and G-Star turning ocean plastic into Denim, at American Museum of Natural History on February 8, 2014 in New York City.

Today's post is in response to a specific reader (and professional colleague's) question... 

 I've been meaning to ask you about eco-friendly fabrics since last year. I'm curious and concerned about the fashion industry's move towards sustainability. Our industry is the second largest polluter in the world according to research. Between textile waste, polluting natural resources and social abuse, the industry is making a huge impact. Have you heard discussions about sustainability in fashion? Also, what steps are industry leaders taking to improve the enormous waste associated with cheap fashion? I've vowed not to design another piece of clothing unless it is made from recycled fiber or textile. It is difficult to stay away from polyester since it's the cheapest thing on the market and abundant. However, it's made from plastic and highly toxic especially when place in dryers. Most people don't have a clue. My question to you is? Which fabric stores sell recycled textiles or work with factories recycling fibers to weave new textiles. I may not get into the business of custom making textiles but I want to support businesses who do. Is it possible to find a list of stores or distributors contributing to eco-fabric? I would love to have this knowledge or find research. There are a few professors at F.I.T teaching sustainability in fashion but it's a new concept. What are your thoughts? 

Thank you for asking about this, Stacia.  If you care about the environment and our collective future, you may care to know that there are some companies specifically focused on providing Eco-Freindly fabrics, and to my eyes, it doesn't look like the NYC Garment district is leading the charge.

First of all, I want to emphasize that I truly believe that durability is the absolutely best way to make responsible use of the fabrics we purchase.  Make something that will last until you have either worn it to pieces, hand it down, pass it on to friends or family, or donate it to a thrift shop.  That is the best we can ask for, no matter what a garment is made of.

Aside from that, I have noticed bamboo Fabrics at NY Elegant, which are delightfully soft and wonderful to touch.

I also visited a few eco-friendly fabric suppliers at last year's DG Expo.  The businesses are not local, but they do sell in smaller quantities, so you would be able  to obtain and sample their offerings that way.

KenDor Textiles is a Canadian company, offering a variety of Eco-friendly fabrics, including:

Organic Cotton
Recycled Polyester (Repreve*)

Zen Tex is a company with a New York Garment District Showroom, selling wholesale (1 roll minimums) to the trade. Among their offerings are:

  • Broadcloths
  • Voiles/Lawns
  • Yarn Dyes
  • Oxfords
  • Gauze/Double Cloths
  • Twills/Herringbones
  • Canvas
  • Dobbies
Other items include:
  • Recycled Polyester
  • Hemp
  • Linen
  • Lyocell/Tencel® (from wood pulp cellulose)

Indigo Handloom, spotted at this year's DG Expo, offers some heart-stoppingly beautiful eco friendly products.  The company's own mission statement is below:

Indigo Handloom has thousands of unique handwoven fabrics in its collection. We work with several different areas in South Asia and work in all natural fibers including all varieties of silk, cotton, wool and linen. Our fabrics require no energy to be made - besides the energy and expertise of our master weavers. By choosing handloom fabrics over machine-milled fabric, reduces the carbon footprint of your products as well as employs nine times as many people.

What this shows, in my opinion, is that responsible manufacturing and sustainability are not fads, but the way things are moving. For that, I am glad.

I have spoken at length on this subject in a recent post, detailing a local event on "The Future of Fashion", and challenging people to thing differently about how/what we wear/use/create/consume.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Special Speakeasy requests

Every now and then, I am contacted by individuals who would like to attend a speakeasy tour where they can see some skilled craftspeople at work. Generally speaking, while there have been a few themed Speakeasies, mainly, they have been educational fabric and notion shopping excursions so far.  This one would take you deeper...

Some garment district connections I have gained over time will allow me the opportunity to show you some amazing work being performed on garments, as well as special treatments and manipulations of fabrics and other materials to make exciting textures and shapes happen.  These explorations could truly knock your socks off, and really need to be seen in person to be appreciated.

But this can't happen without your help.

I am establishing a committee of interested folks to design one uniquely conceived garment district excursion for our group.  If you would like to participate in the planning of this special event, you will be asked to complete a questionnaire (below), so we may discuss further. 

As always, if you are interested in fabric and notions shopping, click here for general Speakeasy Tour information.  Otherwise, please complete the questionnaire below to consider a truly unique garment district experience.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.
M & J Trimming Fall Clearance is here! 50% Off Select Styles of Ribbons Trims Buttons and more! Valid 9/2/14-12/21/14. Shop now!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Can we tawwwwwk???

I love comedy.  I love humor.  That is why I have watched countless episodes of "Fashion Police" over the years.  Latest internet reports tell us that Joan Rivers' condition is improving remains in a medically induced coma, has passed away, and I sincerely wish her and her family a peaceful recovery conclusion, however this turns out.

"Fashion Police", if you've never seen it, is a show where a fashion-critiquing panel sits and reviews the clothing of celebrities as they watch their red carpet arrivals at events.  It is often mean, sometimes hilarious, and sometimes genuinely educational, since some of the guest panelists often have actual technical, artistic or historical wisdom to share.

What disturbs me about it, is that it feeds into exactly what is so very wrong with our celebrity obsessed culture at the moment.  We beat them up, criticize and insult them relentlessly, and praise them arbitrarily for making choices that agree with what some fashion royalty has deemed appropriate or current. How can you feel flattered when you know what has just been said about the person next to or behind you on that very same carpet?

But let's not forget that this is comedy.  That's what it was all about.  There is no need to take all of this so seriously.  I have no ill feelings toward Gwyneth Paltrow whatsoever, and despite the fact that I don't get what it was that rubbed her the wrong way, Joan's comments about her were always fall-down funny!

One of the truest statements ever was uttered by my son, about age 5 or so at the time.  We were at a hospital, in the waiting room, where my mother was going to have surgery.  To my horror, my son began digging between the cushions of the waiting room sofa, and I quickly reprimanded him.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you!" I snapped.

Politely, he stopped, looked at me, and said, "Mom, if you were me, you'd like what I like, and you'd do what I do."

So true, my boy.  So true.

This Sunday, I watched a segment on CBS Sunday Morning, in which the brilliant Tavi Gevinson was interviewed.  What I love most here, is that she embraces what makes her unique, and follows the beat of her own drummer, and appreciates what is not "trending" for the masses, but touches her as an individual.

"Fashion" only works if a measurable group of people agree and spend money on it.  I, like Tavi, often exempt myself from that pursuit.  

Dismayed to find that shades of orange are on the upcoming horizon for fashion, I thought, "So what? I can create my own stuff!" 

The garment district fabric and supply stores support us all fully in this.  You can explore the garment district and find a rich palette including every color you can imagine, and you need not concern yourself with fashion AT ALL if  you don't want to.

Best stores for the anti-trenders (because of the breadth and variety of their offerings):

Butterfly Fabrics
Fabrics & Fabrics
Rosen & Chadick
Metro Textiles
B&J Fabrics
Chic fabrics

Oh, and there are so many more, it is just exhausting. Personally, I find it very hard to do more than 6 or 7 max stores in a single day, but the district is just throbbing with possibilities!  Enjoy what you make!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

This just melts me... (Brangelina)

Looks like they got hitched!

I know I'm not alone on this one, but I get all teary-eyed when I hear how the Jolie-Pitt kids participated in the design of the bride's ensemble. I love this crafty, heartfelt idea of a (still high-end designer) wedding ensemble, and I love them both dearly for doing something so personal so publicly.

Okay, forgetting all we know about their past romances and all the other tabloid noise, the beauty of having their children's drawings adorn her veil is just too much for my emotional creative side to take...

Over the years, I've been asked to make wedding dresses for mature brides, women with children, second (or later) marriages, and I can see from my custom sewing life that an overwhelming number of people are redefining and personalizing their experiences in beautiful ways.

Embroidery and printing are wonderful ways to add truly personal, custom touches to a gown. Do you have to know how?  Nope.  There are businesses in the garment district that will help you do it yourself. And you don't even need to be wealthy to do it.

Some ideas for you:

To create wonderfully personalized things, you can have flowers and buttonnieres made by Schmalberg, the train of a bridal gown printed by First2Print, custom embroidery and/or beading by New York Embroidery Studio.

I once sewed for a bride who adorned the back of her dress with a grandmother's antique button collection, and we added beautiful starched hand-crocheted flowers to dot the landscape of her airy gauze gown.

Fabric from Rosen & Chadick, beads and flower-making supplies from Daytona Trimming. 

The bride was married outdoors, in a beautifully green field...

The airy softness of this gown fit this bride's style and personality

I have also updated, repaired, refit, and redesigned old gowns from a bride's mother, a grandmother, or simply another era.  This always has a deep personal meaning for the bride, and evokes a sentimental feeling as she celebrates her marriage.

This bride bought a late 1800's dress at auction, and we updated it to fit her aesthetic.

I combined a Sri Lankan sari with the bride's  mother's 1960's gown for an American fairytale wedding. 
Petticoat (beneath skirt) from RK Bridal.

This next one is  a poor quality picture with a bigger story, which you can see here (on my old blog).
Lace from a mother's gown, applied to waist of new gown.

I truly enjoy it when brides walk down the aisle, bringing their hearts with them in their clothing.  It is my favorite way to participate in a bride's special day!