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!


  1. I am thrilled to find your blog! I have an online shop and have been wanting to make a trip to the Garment District (I live in NY). I have two questions if I might - (1) Are the prices any better in the Garment District or is it really a matter of volume and availability. (2) What is the best way to locate a specific designer's fabric? Thank you in advance for your help!

    1. The prices for quality are better in the NY garment district (although this likely applies to other fabric districts in big, metropolitan areas around the world. because home sewing fabric stores located elsewhere rarely have the best quality or variety of goods. Some stores tell you what designers used specific fabrics. Elliott Berman and Paron will tell you which designers used the fabric they carry.

  2. Mimi, I have been watching your blog for a while now a finally worked up the courage to ask lots of questions!!
    I and maybe some friends would like to take advantage of your knowledge of the garment district and do some touring as well as a 'little' buying there. Our problem is we are newbys to the area and have no idea where to stay when we get there.
    Should we drive (from Ohio) or fly in? What is the best way to use your talents to our best advantage?

    1. No courage needed! I don't bite - ha! Driving in from Ohio is a HUGE commitment. I wouldn't recommend it because parking is so expensive in Manhattan. New York is full of places to stay, and there is something for every budget, so that question is about impossible to answer without some indication of what you want to spend. I can certainly provide you with maps to guide you throughout the district, or a tour, if you feel that would serve you better. All of these are hard questions to answer without some details! You can email me directly with more specifics, if you like.


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