Thursday, July 28, 2016


Sometimes the garment district gets eerily quiet.  The oppressive heat, and what seems to be everyone's focus on other things besides creative stuff, makes it seem ominously quiet.

But that's all in my (our) head(s), I've realized.

Shopping/searching in the district recently, I overheard this, from a store owner... "There are two kinds of shoppers in the district right now: those without money, and those with money, who choose not to spend it. Which are you?"

The short answer?  Both, right now.

So, we stop to appreciate where we are in the cycle right now. Low energy, non-committal, heat-exhausted New Yorkers (and beyond) with a love of creating that will reset as soon as we're ready.

In the meantime, my daughter has given me a creative challenge with one word creative cues to follow.  I have been posting them on my personal Facebook page daily, and am trying to use a bit of quiet time each day to do them, without sacrificing my other daily tasks. It is good mental exercise, and fun to shift into a more creative thought process when a topic doesn't inspire/apply to you.

-At least one work of art a day
-Post everything even if you hate it
-15 days
-30 works/projects/drawings
-Do it in order

1. Contrast
2. Music/instruments
3. A couple
4. Fanciness
5. Something from camp
6. Hair
7. An evil monster
8. Fancy drink
9. Something outside
10. Banner
11. Plant/tree person
12. Fabric/drapery
13. One of those draw the squad memes
14. A drawing without using pencil or erasable material
15. An animal
16. Fashion
17. A portrait
18. A tv show from when you were younger
19. Yourself
20. Food
21. Something on fire
22. Someone in five different cartoon styles
23. Fanart
24. A strong emotion
25. A person with glasses
26. Rain
27. Big sweaters
28. A person with a pet snake
29. Redraw something from the past
30. A black and white drawing on black paper

Some examples of my interpretations here:

#3 - a couple

#1 - contrast - my practice entrelac knitting

#4 - Fanciness - ombre home manicure - not good lighting

So, basically, relax folks, no matter where you are geographically, have a cup of whatever soothes you, and we'll talk again very soon.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

For newbies - tales from a garment district "Buttinski"... (and a "Hug" of a Speakeasy)


"Pixelated" is what I'll call it.  This fabric called to me, and told me that it has to become something.  You can't appreciate it up close.  You have to see it from a distance. A large expanse of it. Yes, it must become something.
Sometimes a fabric leaps into your arms, like this one did into mine.  Found at NY Elegant Fabrics... One of so many lovely stores in the district...

Now what?  What will I do with it? I've got a million ideas...

BUT, if I were new to or unfamiliar with the sewing world and New York City Garment District, where would I look?

I ask this question because I am constantly overhearing overwhelmed beginners and uninitiated sewing enthusiasts in fabric and notions stores, asking questions about trying to find the items they need for their projects (patterns, home sewing machines, interfacing, zippers, etc.), and frankly, now,  I often interrupt unhelpful interactions with store staffers to answer those questions myself.

Understandably, the fabric stores often don't readily refer customers to one another, and barring the big names, many of them don't direct people to the notions stores they need, either.  There is an unspoken no-handholding policy in the district.  New York is a busy place, time's awastin', and frankly, to quote a famous internet personality, "Ain't nobody got time fuh'dat!"

Let's say you want a velvet board, hand sewing needles, large carbon paper, pattern making paper, a stretchable zipper, tailoring weight interfacing, pocketing, ribbing for edges and cuffs, leather flowers, great scissors, lace trims for lingerie... do you know where to go? How would you find out?

How can you get what you need if no one helps you?

Okay, I get it... independent creatives, artists, and home sewers generally don't bring in enough cash on their own to keep these industry focused stores in business, but certainly, a regular stream of customers is highly valued by any business, and you can play a role in keeping these businesses alive!

So, let's pretend we are on a fabric shopping trip together.  Where will we go?

Do you have a pattern/instructions, something to rub-off/duplicate, a self-drafted design, or just an idea?

A pattern? Well, you likely bought it online, from 


And, then you may have read the reviews and tips on Pattern Review, whose membership is now nearly half a million strong, by the way!


If you bought your pattern in the garment district, you may have grabbed one from Daytona Trimming or Paron Fabrics. (There aren't many places in the district who offer a real range of patterns anymore.)


Maybe you have been inspired by a book or video series, like Vionnet, or the insanely popular Japanese Fashion Design books like Shingo Sato, or exhibits at the 

or any other special exhibits in near and/or far away locations...

Independent research has led me to believe that the independent creative and sewing market is a wildly strong hidden business opportunity so many retailers could easily tap into into, and benefit from, if courted appropriately, but I have yet to see many garment district fabric stores fully embrace this market.

Whether you want to get your feet wet or deep dive, I suggest you explore the district and its corners and crevices as any creative explorer would, and you'll be amazed at what you will find.  My contribution? 

I will lead a special September Speakeasy that caters to the planning steps of creating the pieces what you've imagined.  Let's look at where to find inspiration, where to find fabrics, and where to find supplies that will help you put it all together.  I'll help, consult, and cheer you on while you shop, but I will also show you where else and how to get what you need, before releasing you to shop on your own. This Speakeasy will assume you are not an expert, would appreciate a bit of guidance and possibly hand-holding, and will introduce you to professional people who will treat you with respect and patience.  Featured on this tour will be only stores with whom I have a long and loving history, guiding you through a calm and fun trip through my beloved garment district.  

Wanna come?  

Look here for more information:

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The district in pictures... More to tell... coming up in the next few posts!

The district is full of wonderful creative inspiration right now...

NY Elegant - pretty cotton laces

NY Elegant - last piece - on the special fabrics rack near the counter

Old inventory from Chic Fabrics

Old inventory from Chic Fabrics

Fabrics for Less

Fabrics Garden

Fabrics Garden

Day to Day Fabrics

Leather Impact- hand painted leather - ENORMOUS in size 


B&J - actually, the only thing I was looking for...

B&J - Absolute beauty - velvet

B&J Fabrics - color to die for!

B&J - beautiful color combo 

Fabrics Garden

Fabrics Garden

Spandex House - Bet that leotard cost a pretty penny!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Playing hurt - sewing therapy... fabrics

Magic fabric

Wiggles are from Fabrics garden, solid is from Metro Textiles

My husband fondled this fabric, laying on my sewing area, and whispered with wonder, "Wow, what is that?"

"Fabric." I answered

"I get that (giggle), but like what..." He trailed off, kinda amazed by the soft, comforting feel of it.  I love the power of something beautiful, and this will certainly be killer.  I do have a 20th wedding anniversary coming up.

I've been wanting to say this for a while, and write a great, optimistic post about creativity, sewing, and the fun stores these fabrics come from... but now I offer this as an escape from the madness.

Here's the deal.  I've always known I would make a poor athlete, because if I sprained/broke/hurt something, the requirement to play through it would be unbearable.  And here we are.  But this time, it's emotional.

When I think back to big events, I can actually remember what I was sewing at the time, using sewing and creativity as therapy, decorating life with the beauty I craved when things felt turbulent.  The emotional equivalent of "playing hurt", I have found it hard to get back in the game, write, and inspire.  I've had a very busy schedule lately, and while that has been a good thing, it has left me very tired and quiet on the sewing/design front.

The media has just been a run of bad news lately, and I can't seem to write all of the light, happy stuff I'd like to write, because I just can't ignore the noise.

We're talking about cops, violence, innocent people, violent and angry people, noisy people, tired people...

Is started writing this post, and needed to stop, because...

We added France (the public event turned deadly in Nice) to that. 

And now let's add... and then let's add...

I think I've lost count.

As I write this, we are about an hour into a relentless circle of helicopters over the house.  I haven't even bothered to check the local news to find out why.  I am so... DONE.

So here is someone who says it better than I can... (my son's favorite You Tuber.)

Where am I?

Busy like you wouldn't believe, and kinda under the weather at the moment.  You'll be updated later today!