Friday, May 29, 2015

Springtime/summertime has come again... The weather won't decide... but that's okay.

And I am wildly inspired by this video fashion show. I love the simplicity and old-fashioned-ness of this collection, and just how sweet, classic, and timeless it is.

Having said that, though, it isn't the way I dress, but it exudes a peaceful beauty that I truly appreciate.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Teen's Perspective - I don't want holes in my jeans... And actually, now that I think about it...

"...I don't want jeans at all."

"What do you mean?  What would you wear instead? Don't you NEED jeans?" My 13 year old seemed nervous about this announcement.

"They're useful, sure... but they aren't making them for durability and/or function right now.  And what they are offering as fashionable, is too temporary, and stuff I don't like for myself.  Well, not today, anyway."

This photo was taken in a DRESSING ROOM of a store I was in recently.  These are NEW jeans. I feel old saying that, but man, I have jeans that look just like these from natural wear and tear...

"So, what would you wear instead?"

"Do you know what I mean when I say 'artificial obsolescence'?" I asked, as she climbed into bed for the night.

"I think so... Like when some business wants to convince you that something is outta style so you'll buy all new stuff?"

"Well, yes..." I replied.  "Here's why it's important to recognize that. Trends will continue to come and go. You don't have to pay attention to them at all. You can have your own sense of style, and never worry about whether or not it is IN STYLE or not.  It's YOUR style."

I'm decluttering my fashion ideas.

Much like Marie Kando's book, which is the current mega-popular choice for anyone trying to declutter with a system of rolling your clothes, making categories of tasks, and buying organizational systems and tools, when you could simply just decide to have less, but useful stuff. (Not that I'm any better at that than anyone else.) Personally, I think if you can clear the mess in your head, you can clear the mess in your home. As I sit here writing, the look of the area surrounding my creative work space completely contradicts what I am saying right now.  But, believe me, that won't continue to be the case...


Every time I look up at any type of advertising lately, someone is screaming about a sale. A sale is always trying to convince you of artificial scarcity. Time, money, products... Don't miss out!

Ads and magazines screaming about fashion trends? Artificial obsolescence. You're not cool enough!

My kid?  A real person. With a real life. Let's try to protect her from all that superficial stuff as much as we can.

"What do you wanna wear to your prom, Sweetie?"

Note: Why they have proms for 8th graders is just beyond me.

"Hmmph..." (shoulder shrug) "I dunno.  I don't really care." 

Guess what?  She doesn't.  End of conversation.

I'm currently in a highly creative mode, making things all the time.  I'll be showing them when they are both finished to my satisfaction and ready to be shown. Will I rush?  Nope.

So, coming soon, I will show you some of the things I've been working on, and what they required from the garment district or related services. This is gonna sound like a quirky, weird/boring list, but my daughter was in on all of them.  In ways you won't expect.  Stay tuned for...

Ball of yarn
Bamboo fabric
Stumpwork embroidery
Shisha mirrors

I'll show you pieces as they are ready to show themselves.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Ever think about how weird it is... ?

Up next... a story explaining this picture...

...that in our beloved NYC, we can explore so many fabric and notions stores, stacked to the rafters with creative tools, supplies, and services, simply extract our sliver of inspiration from that abundant mess of choices, and take it all to your home/studio to create something unique with your own hands? 

I fear that this is unsustainable.

Over the holiday weekend, at a family cookout, we were lamenting the loss of a big Barnes & Noble bookstore  in our area, when I stopped to ask, "Now wait, when is the last time any of you bought something there?"   We all want to browse endlessly, and despite all of the reading I do, I hardly EVER actually SHOP in a Barnes & Noble.  And, really, as much as I love books, if even I'm not a reliable customer for them... really, who is?

So, with that, I say... if we don't shop and create and do, why should we expect this overflowing abundance of fabric stores to remain? 

Here's what we can do:

Visit Save the Garment Center  and follow at LEAST one of the suggestions, many of which are practically free...

Make something, or teach a class of your own.  When someone asks you "What Do You Do?", tell them the important and creative stuff, and follow up with "Why Do You Ask?"  Then, make sure you watch this wonderfully inspiring talk and creative sermon of sorts, given by the great founder and leader of Creative Mornings. 

In fact, I have already posted about Creative Mornings in two past blog posts, which you may remember, if you have read them (links below).

Related posts:

How I won the lottery... and asked about buttonholes

A Welcome Bear Hug from Someone I've Never Met Before

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Planning your own garment district tour

*Reposted and updated*

Anyone can take you on a shopping trip.  Let's face it; a basic tour... "Here's a store! Let's go inside!" - That doesn't take much skill or knowledge.

Here's the thing.  Since I am in the district all the time, talking to store owners, looking at what's new, and discovering what's special, I curate a really useful selection of stores, respecting your time, their businesses, and recognizing their ability to cut special deals when appropriate. There are more stores than most people have time to explore, and while some of them are otherwise invisible, talk to enough people and you can find any of them... eventually. Below, I am offering a list of some stores for those of you who would prefer to organize your own explorations.  I made this list in 2012, and while much of it has changed, much of it hasn't...

Let's say you are in New York City for a week. Or a day.  Or a few hours.  Or even a few minutes... You may read this blog, and get jazzed by the descriptions of a variety of stores, but which ones do you visit?  Well, that depends on what you want to make.  Are you easily overwhelmed by too many stores and choices?  Are you on a budget? What season is it?  Do you know what you need, or do you need input and encouragement?

You can always plan to come with me on a guided tour.  My September 28th tour is full, but there are still plenty of spaces open for the November 2 tour (this was a long time ago...).  If you like the fun and support of shopping in a group, with an organized plan, discounts, and lunch, come with me!  Even if a guided tour is not your cup of tea,  keep reading...

With full awareness that I have been walking the district for years, and have grown very comfortable with these stores, I know that it remains a mystery and a maze for many others, and non-professionals are often intimidated by the frantic, constant hustle-bustle of the area. For shopping on your own, this blog gives you plenty of reviews and ideas for places to go, so I'll organize some choices for you, to make planning a little easier.  Of course, there are many more, but this will get your feet wet.  Click through the links for all details on any of these stores.

For the designer/fashionista type:

New York Elegant Fabrics
Fabrics & Fabrics (new, expanded Lace Star)
Metro Textiles

For the crafter/accessory/home dec maker type:

New York Elegant (upstairs)
Leather Suede Skins
Leather Impact
Day to Day Fabrics
Pacific Trimming
Beads World

Printed cottons:

Material World (window - front of store - Alexander Henry prints)
Rosen and Chadick (window)
NY Elegant (center aisle)


Rosen and Chadick
New York Elegant

High quality, Classic fabrics:

Rosen & Chadick
Elliott Berman

For the Explorer/Adventurer/Bargain Hunter:

Metro Textiles
Its a Material World


Fabrics & Fabrics


Fabrics World
Spandex House
New York Elegant
Manhattan Wardrobe Supply
Dersh Feathers
M&J Trimming

Swim/Lingerie, Dance, Sport and Stretch:

Spandex House
Spandex World
Fabrics World

Notions and equipment:

Steinlauf & Stoller
SIL Thread
Manhattan Wardrobe Supply


Pacific Trimming
M&J Trimming
Tender Buttons (not in the garment district, but not to be missed!)


SIL Thread
Steinlauf & Stoller

Patterns and books:

Daytona (very small, very haphazard selection)
Fashion Design Bookstore
Butterick (order online)
Onion (order online)
McCalls (order online)
Vogue (order inline)
Simplicity (order online)
Burda (order online/buy publication)
Folkwear (order online)
Vintage and Old Patterns (order online)
Vintage Pattern Lending Library (order online)


Guide Fabrics


Getting snaps, studs, etc. applied
Getting buttons covered
Grommets applied
Scissors sharpened
Dressmakers and teachers

Whew!  I think I need a nap... and this represents juts a SLIVER of the district.  Seriously.  Come on a tour (click the link at the top of the page) if you wanna hang out with the big kids...

Friday, May 22, 2015

Moving target

“The best time to plant a tree (or make that shirt) was 20 years (or, in this case, 2 months) ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb

Luckily, fabric does not expire when kept under the right conditions.  

Sometimes I plan to get to something right away... And it takes weeks (months?) instead.  Here is one such example. 

The only piece of himself in the hoodie he will allow to be photographed...

I made my son a hoodie with the weird liquid fabric, described in this post.  My constantly-moving kid has two requests:

1 - Please don't share pictures of me online with your friends.

2- Can I wear this every day?

He will NOT take it off.

Monday, May 18, 2015

When art inspires...

Thinking of the body, and all of its curves and valleys, I was inspired by this work of art I saw this weekend at

I'm thinking of a swimsuit, and the possibility of placing a landscape across the chest.  Can you see it?

I can...

Friday, May 15, 2015

Pssst...! (For the designers and aspirers among you)

I get lots of inquiries from small designers. I'm telling you about this company, not because I know this person, but I do know the quality of his consulting work via happy clients of his, and that he does indeed give them wings. Visit his website to learn more.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Art & Design Graduating Student Exhibition

This Saturday, I took the Speakeasy group to FIT (for a different main purpose), and also saw this exhibit. I was particularly impressed by the quality of the work presented.  Very few actual garments were on featured, but excellent examples of fashion design, interior design, illustration, toy design, textile and jewelry design were beautifully displayed. A sliver of a sampling below:

This is fun...
Illustration projects were featured on T-shirts...

Example of student artwork - This T-shirt makes a statement!

Examples of some beautiful illustration work can be found on FIT's Facebook page, and more details can be found here.

I recommend checking it out.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

About the Spring Artisanal Speakeasy... where do I begin? (Part 1)

One of my favorite movies is "Phenomenon", which, on its face, seems like a lighthearted tale of an unusual encounter that happens to ordinary man in an ordinary town. But, hidden in this movie, are some really profound mini-stories that have made a deep impression on me, that I just can't shake.  Why do I even bring this up when describing the recent Speakeasy?

There is one important scene in the movie that beautifully conveys the power of community and collaboration.  In the scene, one of the characters is frustrated by the presence of rabbits in his garden, and needs his fence fixed.  The innovative solution he proposes, is that three different people with unique expertise to one another in different areas, offer their services to each other, helping each other in a triangular way, thus each person's practical challenge is fixed.  This kind of thinking knocks down the obstacles, and opens things up in a new way.

When it comes to creative pursuits, the value of this kind of thinking increases exponentially.  Our intimate group was inspired and excited by the experience of this two-day creative journey, and I am certain that we were ALL (myself included) profoundly enriched by it.

Did we learn?  Yes, we did.  The generosity of the garment district professionals who educated our group was just fantastic. I am actually struggling to convey in words how educational and enriching our private meetings were, but I will try.

Now, there are things I can tell you about this trip, and things I can't.  The ones I can't, were specifically because they were dependent upon relationships I have with specific people, and opportunities for a private audience I was able to negotiate on our behalf, but are not generally available to the wider public.

On Friday we got an early start, visiting an old, established business in a spruced-up, new location.  From there, we went to a private appointment with a wonderful, old, garment industry business, who showed us examples of beautiful, highly mathematic, intricate work.  Then, our genius of a host for that business revealed some wildly creative and beautiful applications of that work that would make anyone swoon. We fell in love with machinery, garments we saw being designed, some completed garments and accessories, and we gained a deep appreciation for the work and engineering involved, and then we learned how to use the services of this business in our own creative pursuits.

Then we visited another great, established/historic garment district business, where we saw the process of fabric manipulation, equipment and the fine, dextrous handling that goes into creating the amazing things that company produces.  And the conversation grew much bigger than that, too.  Industry challenges and changes, meeting consumer demand and new ways of using their products, changes in the district itself, real estate, fabrics and experiments - so much fun, and so much food for thought!

Then we had an appointment with another company who does beautiful work in a very specific and sophisticated way, placing a person with a vision in a position, where even a one-off can be created with professional quality you wouldn't have known was possible!

Based on the group's specific interests, we visited that fabric stores that served what we had seen, what I already knew about our group, the other places we visited, the educational value of the stores and their unique offerings, historical significance, and things group members wanted to explore specifically.

Which stores?  B&J, Elliott Berman, Pacific Trimming, NY Elegant, Rosen & Chadick, C&J, Manhattan Wardrobe Supply, and Sposabella Lace were our spots for what we sought.

On Saturday (yesterday), we went to the Art and Design Exhibition at FIT (separate post on the exhibit to follow), coupled with a special FIT library visit, that went slightly wrong at first, but was beautifully rescued by fabulous friend and touring parter, Cindy Chock! We were eventually able to see some pretty breathtaking stuff!

The big takeaway: There is always SO much more to learn. And, what a thrill to get a glimpse of just how vast the creative horizon is.

What would I do differently next time? First off, I think I would schedule in a coffee break or two. We simply committed to exploring 'til failure, so we had two long, full days. Wow, were we tired! (I'm just recovering right now! - 10AM Sunday) But, in the best way.

Happily, there remains significantly more to show/more people to talk to than what we saw, so I see that I can do several equally valuable versions of this tour, if demand will meet it!

Taking the temperature of the group based on what we'd seen and talked about, significantly increases the value of the shopping portion of the trip. Knowing what the group will appreciate, and taking them to the places that will serve them well (in the right order to serve their creative appetites), really proved to be a great way to shop. 

And... we ate SO well!  We had great meals, and we NEEDED them, after so much walking!

Will there be another artisanal speakeasy?  Yes, there will be.  Planning begins now. I will keep them intimate, as that seems ideal, and what the market will bear, too, apparently.

*This is the first of a few posts inspired by this tour.

A 3-D printer.  An example of innovative uses of technology in the world of design.  Seen at the FIT exhibit (downstairs)

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Stay tuned...

I will be blogging about the Artisanal Speakeasy shortly after I complete and recover from today's events! Yesterday was a blast, educational, creatively inspiring, and exhausting!

Monday, May 4, 2015

At what cost?

Maybe it's because I'm getting older.  Maybe it's because I live in New York City.  But, as I walk through our many shopping districts, I am just BOMBARDED by products. Clothes, bags, shoes - in a seemingly endless supply. Sure, there are things that are cute, classic, artsy, interesting... but the sheer quantity of stuff sometimes just makes me feel overwhelmed.

Despite this constant barrage of stuff, when I design, make and wear an item, I am usually asked, "Where did you get that?" by strangers and friends alike.  And because I enjoy it, it really doesn't cost me any more than the supplies and time I've happily chosen to dedicate. I am now more sure than ever that I don't need ANOTHER piece of store bought clothing at this time in my life.  My closets are full, and my stash is ample. 

Even picking something up because it's "cheap" has a cost. And, depending on the item, that cost could be more than monetary.