Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Garment District Services: Quick Fusing Inc. (Updated)

Address: 260 W. 36th Street (close to 8th Avenue), NYC New York (take the stairs down one flight; it's the gray unmarked door on the first lower level)

Update: It is not the main entrance to the building, it is just to the right of the professional entrance with the elevator. 

Yes, it looks scary.  So what?

Get over yourself (said with a NY accent), and head down the stairs.

Phone: 212-967-0311
Hours: Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Web site:
Best for: Saving you from spending hours with your iron by doing the fusing for you

 Go down the decaying staircase and past the creepy mannequin (update: artificial plants) to get to Quick Fusing in New York City.

There is a place in the Garment District where you can get your fabrics fused with interfacing for just a few dollars a yard. It's called Quick Fusing, and if you can ignore the less-than-attractive surroundings you'll easily become a regular here. Additional note: The place is indeed an absolute mess, but it's clear that they are working hard!

Update: I've talked to Elly, a wonderfully happy, no-nonsense business person who will show you exactly what they can do!

Owners Igor and Elly will ask you if you're a student: Say yes, though you don't have to be a student, Elly assures me. Make sure they can tell which side of your fabric is the right side and supply them with interfacing. They have interfacing on hand if you come without (it will add to the cost though). Typically your fabric will be ready for pick-up the next day. I had four yards of jacquard fused last week for $10 (I gave them interfacing). 

Note: This post was written in 2010.

Update: The minimum charge is now $25.  So, yes, you will pay $25 to have three yards of fabric fused, but you might be able to have twice as much fused at that price, depending on the fabric type.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Do you love leather?

A reader has expressed a desire to participate in a leather-focused Speakeasy this April. This post is to assess the level of interest.

Are you are a leather, suede and skin enthusiast (whether faux or real), and anxious to learn how to work with these goods?

If the tour were to address the tools, techniques, resources and vendors for the beginner to advanced sewer, would you come?

Open for comments...

Update: I have heard from those interested, and will pursue options with them, specifically.  

Update (2/25/15): There will be a small leather-focused tour in mid-March.  Contact me directly if interested.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

What do you need? A Nonagenarian's Perspective (referencing Patti Labelle's "Egg Sandwich" story)


You wanna eat a slice of humble pie? Just ask a nonagenarian (a person aged 90+ years) what they need.

Last week, I attended the birthday party of a 98 year old neighbor I have known all of my life. Always impeccably dressed, he arrived at the party clad in a neat jacket, crisp shirt, and perfect gentlemanly hat (removed to don this wonderful birthday hat)!

For years, we have talked about what he needs when it comes to clothing.  He is quite particular about what he wears.  The answer usually ends up as some version of "nothing really".  His best clothes are beautifully maintained, old, classic items of excellent quality. 

"I want a big t-shirt with a belt.  White.  Yes, open front with a belt, so I can wear it like a robe. Easy to wash.  To care for.  I've tried a million different things.  That's all I want."

I've never made it for him, despite the fact that I can do exactly that. Easily. Nothing fancy.  If I buy two enormous white t-shirts, I've got enough fabric to do it.  What could be easier?  I've always looked for the complicated route, the "designer's" version... "Well, you must mean..." I always interjected.

No, I know exactly what he means.  Why don't I just do EXACTLY that?

At the party, a group of neighbors and I sat and talked about all sorts of things. Another nonagenarian told the story of the boxed lunch he ate while sitting with his feet dangling in the water at the March on Washington in DC long ago.  We heard about the temperature of the water and weather that day, what it felt like to shake hands with Dr. Martin Luther King, A. Phillip Randolph, and other leaders, how close he was to those men... pointing at the kitchen sink, "I was about as far from them as you are from that sink."  We heard about the old remedies and preventions for cold and flu from their childhoods nearly a century ago (and I'm certain they are really the perfect remedies).  He also told the story of his close relative, 115 years old when my neighbor himself was a child. He had been a slave, and measured distances in "days' march".  The birthday boy told stories of growing up in the West Indies, and how elderly people treated incontinence by simply drinking vinegar.

We ended the night with a beautiful comment from the birthday boy (inspired by the Charlie Hebdo situation)...

If there's one thing I know, from all my years of life so far, it is that peace and love are the same thing.  
One CANNOT exist without the other.
So we enjoyed one another's company, laughed, talked and ate heartily, and had lots of helpings of cake and ice cream, then laughed some more, and saw the birthday boy safely to his home across the street...

This is a story that ran the risk of becoming much like Patti Labelle's Egg Sandwich story, but this one has a happy ending.  That white robe? I can do it today.  I am finishing this post and going to the store for the t-shirts, so I can just make it today.  No frills.

Things like don't just hear/wear/use them, you feel them, and you experience them.  It is worth every ounce of effort I can expend.


After making the robe, I received a beautiful thank you note, with his  own original artwork, and a beautiful poem he wrote:

Original artwork from my 98 year old friend!

I took pictures of the robe, but it really looks like a T-shirt robe... so simple that it doesn't mean a thing to anyone but the recipient, who INSISTS it should be "mass produced", no matter how many times I explain that this a unique piece, made just for him!
Wanna read some more?

Maybe you like stories with a bit of history tossed in?
Maybe you wanna know what a different age demographic has to say?
Maybe you wanna hear another story told from the heart?

"99 Problems But a ___ ain't one" - On filling in the blanks -- A Teen's Perspective

Updated post

*Note: If you don't know, those are the lyrics of a famous Jay-Z song...

My son is a Jay-Z fanatic.  And well, frankly, I can't blame him.  His lyrical abilities are absolutely Shakespearian. I wish there were someone better with clean lyrics.  In my experience so far, there isn't. I really hate all the "bleeping".  It feels like a verbal assault on me AND my kids.  We know what you're bleeping.  Seriously, what's the point?

My daughter's sketch of my son

I'm not so sure that it isn't even a greater horror to hear my "wittle" 13 year-old girl sing ALL the words to Maroon 5's song, "Animals".


I know artists love to say they don't write these songs for kids, but the songs are out there.  In the world.  And our kids are out there.  In the world.  The radio plays on the school bus, from cars driving down the streets, on the radio.  And not just once.  Over and over and over...

"Even when they bleep the words out," I said to her, "it's no mystery what they're saying.  There have to be more subjects to cover than all of this profanity and sexual stuff."

Yes, my inner "old fogey" is coming out.  I was a Prince fan at 13 - and, yeah, that's probably worse...

"But I don't think that's an example of a good song," she said.
"I agree," I said, relieved.
"No, I mean the actual QUALITY of the song."
"I agree," I sighed, even more relieved...

"It's kinda like those reading comprehension tests where they ask you to fill in the blanks.  Why would they think we don't know what words they're replacing?"

Time: About 9PM, January 13, 2015

See the idea behind "Teen Perspective" posts here.

See most recent "Teen Perspective" post here.

By the way, her favorite songs are also some of mine (examples here, here, and everything Pink could ever sing...), so I like her choices of downloads, to which we are (happily) privy!

The night began with a brainstorming session on the teen's IPod Touch "WaistCase" (her term).

"Let's call it a belt/bag hybrid" she said.

"The belt should still be a belt, even if I'm not carrying the bag.  But I should be able to wear it like a purse, too, since I'm not always wearing something that uses a belt."

Hmmmm...  An online search yielded nothing similar to what we were thinking.  Also, we decided it shouldn't be so limiting in its use and/or how it is worn.

"It should have a MetroCard pocket", I said.  (My fellow NYC peeps understand that.)

*Side note: Everything I make for myself has a MetroCard pocket.

Solid, dark color (like black).  No bright colors or designs needed or wanted.

Sideways orientation to easily access volume control.  Space for earbud cord to pass through.

Should close with a zipper.

Needs to be durable, with gentle padding. So it's a plan...

What supplies did we use?

I retired an old pair of black jeans that were falling apart for the fabric.  "Aged denim seems right." she said. 

Left-over bonded leather, purchased at Fashion Design Books (for a different project), makes a great protective layer, and gives the case more of a firm body. 

Bonded leather between the layers adds cushioning, to protect the device from getting knocked around...
We just eyeballed the measurements after tracing the ipod on the fabric and allow some wiggle room.
Not much thought/precision was needed.  Belt loops on back, reclaimed jeans pocket on front.

All done! We already have a black strap with clips attached, which can turn this into an across-the-chest pouch, too.

Happy kid.  After school, she put her IPod in the pouch and started her own personal dance party immediately. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Vanity sizing... why?

So, this past weekend, I stopped into the J Crew store at Columbus Circle in Manhattan. Lured in by the garments on display, and their "artisanal" look, I picked out a few pieces to try on, although I wan't really shopping.

Well, you should really see it online, first. Hanging grosgrain ribbon detail... Hmmm...

$128 - Really?

Interesting, sorta "homemade" look... Hmmmm...

Distressed jeans - fit perfectly, and felt like my own, naturally distressed jeans. Hmm...

It says it's "my size", but it definitely felt too big...

So I tried these things on, and found a few problems.   First off, the thread loops on ALL of the shirts were too small and delicate for the buttons (as in, LITERALLY can't get dressed by myself), and the sizes for the pants, although given by waist measurements, were clearly vanity-sized, as I had three inches of room to spare at the waist, on natural-waist-level pants marked for MY waist measurement.

When asked how things were going by the dressing room attendant, I told her these things, and she did let me know that these were very common issues,  so it certainly isn't news to them...

What these things did give me, though, were ideas for things I can certainly make for myself.  Between Mokuba, Daytona, and B&J, there's a lot I can do!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Buying Ribbons in the Garment District: Mokuba on W. 38th

Address: 137 W. 38th Street, New York, NYC (between Broadway and Seventh)
Phone: 212-869-8900
Hours: Mon-Fri: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.; closed weekends
Online store: n/a
Best for: Luxury silk ribbons, cords and fine embellishment

Mokuba brings a bit of Japanese retail serenity to the Garment District.

This post was written in June 2011, but has since been heavily edited by me (Mimi), after talking to the staff in depth and developing an understanding of their products.

Offering a nearly endless supply of silk ribbons from Japan, Mokuba on W. 38th in New York City is your kind of place. The silk ribbons here are just stunning. The staff is excellent at pointing out Mokuba's similar options in more affordable prices, and there is a lot to see beyond the silk offerings. You'll find grosgrain, petersham, cording, twills, leather, velvets, and more here.

Bottom line: Worth checking out just to expand your knowledge of what high-end Japanese ribbons look like, and the staff is respectful, patient, and friendly. If you're looking for inexpensive ribbons on a budget, stick with So-Good Ribbons, Pacific Trimmings and Daytona Braids and Trims. (Note added by Mimi): You should also be aware you are comparing apples to oranges when it comes to buying inexpensive polyester ribbons elsewhere, and going for the high-end products this store offers.  Visit the store to learn more.

Just a small portion of all the stretch ribbon offerings you'll see here.

Beautiful pleated silk ribbons. You can feel the quality in these.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


I belong to a new movement.  Will you join me?  In a moment where we are so concerned about which things are "trending", I'm quickly bored by anything that can be easily Googled or Twittered, generating a mountain of image and text results, and so, I must rebel.

I want to start some anti-trends.  Some for me only trends.  The kinds of things I make which are clearly conversation starters.

Appropriate reactions: "I like that!"  or "Wow, do I hate that!" or  "Did you make that?" and even, "What the he** is that?" all qualify as suitable reactions.

My favorite one lately is when someone stands in front of me, trying to figure  out how I made it, or why I made it... like the perpetual shirt idea, which intrigued someone so much that she actually became my client! Join in. If you're quiet enough, you can hear that slightly off-beat rhythm in your head, can't you?

Guess what?

That's your own drummer!

See the burgeoning anti-trend movement in action by clicking this link...

Not quantity. QUALITY

While there are lots of bargains and good deals to be found in the fabric and notions stores, not everyone is looking to haggle, dig through disorganized piles of goods, or question fiber content.  

If quality and effective time management is your goal, there is a new map I've made especially for you.  While three of the eighteen stores listed on the map are located outside of the district's borders, all are still within a painless Manhattan cab ride.

I have named it the "Best of the Best", and it lists the best stores and resources for quality-oriented shoppers, with descriptions of the strengths of each entry.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

When Fashion Bloggers go to Cambodia... "Who" are you wearing?

Send three Norwegian fashion bloggers to work in a Cambodian sweatshop, and this is what you get:


Now, the question is... what can we do?  Or what can we NOT do?

"Who" are you wearing right now?