Monday, April 25, 2016

The April 22 Speakeasy! What fun!

First off:

I tried to plan our excursion to avoid the problem I thought the #Hamiltome book signing crowd might cause on 40th street (evidence of the excitement if you click below)

Although the signing didn't begin until 1, there was a reasonable crowd of enthusiastic people who had been waiting since dawn (and some who had camped overnight) lining the street.  

Line extended right in front of NY ELEGANT FABRICS.... Hey, could you guys move over?  Yes, that was one of our stops, and a beautiful fabric I pointed out, and had purchased yardage of years ago also drew the attention of one of the tour participants, who will turn it into something beautiful, I'm sure!

So, where did we go?  Well, I had  a delightful group of artistic women from the west coast to lead, so we went to the places that would light their creative appetites with high quality goods, and great shopping environments.

We spent leisurely quality time in a few different stores - all of them brought us happiness, but... the highlight of the day?

Leather, Suede, Skins! - they never fail to amaze me with the beautiful quality skins they offer.  A dreamy teal, a strong peach, a mottled pumpkin, a dusty rose with a bold sueded purple wrong side... all of it sigh-worthy.

While they do have a website, (link above) you really have to go in person to experience the magic of this store. I particular enjoy being lovingly scolded while shopping there, with a healthy push from the owners to buy, to experiment, to dream... Their stuff isn't cheap.  Not in quality or price, but it is well worth the experience!

As for the other stores?  They have each been featured on the site before, and they were as wonderful as ever. 

The fun of a Speakeasy is the "speakeasy-ness" of it, so that's all I'll say.  Pictures were taken, but won't be shared here. And yes, we had a great lunch.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Party like it's 1949... (give or take)

Hello all, I'm back after a bit of messiness in my life, and crawling out from under slowly, but steadily.  To those near and dear to me who have gotten a bit caught up in the swirl (or still are), I thank you for standing by me, dealing with delays in communication, etc. I love you all more than you know.
Example of a strongly opinionated dress (circa 1949) - image source cited above
One of the most glorious things about the garment district, is that it fully supports your choice to use any old-fashioned technique you desire to get the look you're going for.  No one needs to like it but you, and no one needs to worry about how long it takes, but you.

You can find all the tools and supplies you need, and whip it right up!

Unless, of course... you just CAN'T make your fingers "whip it up".

The hem of a similar style dress, painstakingly hand-sewn in place.

Maybe you need to hem a circle skirt (above), and get just the right feel, weight, and bounce for that edge.  

Really, how long does it take to make a garment by hand?  No one can answer that question for you.  You will make dozens, or maybe hundreds of decisions.  You will fret and cut and stitch and unstitch, fit, decide and undecide... and, unless a creative frenzy overtakes you and you immerse yourself in nothing but the making of the garment, forgoing sleep and nourishment until it's done, it can take what feels like an eternity.  But, yes, it is a daunting process.

Let's say you want to make something using less-than-modern techniques.  Often done this way to create a better quality, artisanal look, you will probably use your hands and brain more, and your machine(s) and instructions less. There are a million ways to improve your process, and here are some of them, highlighted with links to posts about each:

Pressing tools (Manhattan Wardrobe Supply)
Horsehair trim/braid (Steinlauf & Stoler)
Hand sewing thread and hem tape (SIL Thread)
Seam tape and bias binding (Daytona Trimming)
Beautiful buttons and closures (Botani and Buttonology)
Beads (Toho Shoji)
Feathers (Dersh Feather)
Boning (Steinlauf & Stoler)
Ribbons (Shindo or Mokuba)
Fabrics of peerless quality (B&J or Rosen & Chadick)


So, in my recent whirlwind of life activity, some professional and personal blessings have rained down on me like you truly wouldn't believe.  While I'm not trying to be cryptic, a detailed explanation wouldn't be quite so fascinating to the vast majority of you, I think. Just know I'm still here, you'll see more posts from me, and I'm happily looking forward to this Friday's Speakeasy!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

On Swatching - Hint: you're doing it wrong.

Where have I been?  A bit caught up with life messiness and other stuff, but trying to crawl out, slowly but surely. Many changes in my life and business that I may will chronicle shortly, but I hope you are all well, happy, and excited for a weather change, wherever you are! (Unless you're in a place where your weather doesn't change... )

Inspired by a conversation with a sewing friend about swatching, I thought this information would be of benefit to the many who aren't already thinking this way. 

Example. NY Elegant Fabrics.  Still in my wallet... MONTHS(?) later.

Let's say you've gone to a fabric store and fallen in love with a certain fabric.   The way it feels, stretches,  and its color are just magical to you! Whether unable, unwilling, or uncommitted to buying yardage right away, you might have chosen to take a swatch.  You've stroked it lovingly in your pocket for a few days/weeks/months, and now you feel you MUST go and retrieve it. 

What store was that again?  Now, where was that fabric?  You tentatively stretch out your hand to reveal a mangled swatch to store staff, who shrug and show you something "close" (softly mumbling their annoyance to themselves).  And now, even you're not sure if they've found the right one or not.  

Then again, frankly, if even YOU can't remember it well enough, what difference does it make?

Well, it matters if you need MORE of something, or if you need to match something.  So then, what do you do?

Okay... Unless it is wildly unusual...

Take the selvedge edge! This is not always an option when the swatches are pre-cut, but when you can ask or be more specific, get the selvedge.  It will help identify the fabric in a way that makes it more specific and unique to the store staff when you try to find it again.

And... really, don't be a swatch-hog!  It truly is just a lovely courtesy these stores are willing to extend to help you make your purchasing decisions.  Take swatches of only the things you are realistically considering. We'll all be better off, okay?