Thursday, November 21, 2013

No comment...

Update: This blog is on hiatus for the holiday season.  The new job (see below) and family obligations have made it very hard to keep up, and I intend to make sure this blog is a quality one, with well-researched posts.  I must say... I don't want to jinx it, but I am really enjoying the new job, and the beauty of having coworkers again. While I get used to my new schedule, it is too ambitious for me to try to keep up with this blog, the kids, and life all at once... so the blog is taking a little rest.  I will pop in again at the end of January or so, to give a fresh perspective.

Today, November 4, 2013 (when I first started this post), I am beginning a new job.  Many things have changed for me this month.  All of them good, as far as the big picture is concerned, but I am now moving into a new season in my career, in motherhood/familyhood, and in my life.  

So I got a bit quiet for a moment, (now it is November 17th as I write this) as I always try to remember that while the blogosphere often feels like mass friendship, is actually a bullhorn of sorts.

Here's the thing: 

I got a new job without looking for one.  I saw one job that interested me, put in one resume (written for that job only), interviewed at a few levels a few times, and I got it.  I felt it was a sign from the universe, so I took it!  To do this, I had to undo some agreements I had already made, not take on new projects, cancel some pretty expensive obligations, and make some people wait longer than they wanted to for me to honor some promises I had already made, and made some people angry, all because I couldn't spill the beans on a job I couldn't be sure would turn out as I expected.  So, yes, it was a bit messy, but had to be done. (Note: I did negotiate in the time for the Speakeasies I had already scheduled, although tomorrow's speakeasy is now cancelled, due to very light interest.) If you are waiting for any answers from me, and haven't heard anything by late this evening, just reach out to me, and I will respond.

So, now, here we are... and things are just lovely.  This is not a fashion job, but it makes use of skills I have acquired over my career thus far, and gives me a much more predictable schedule.

So, what about the Speakeasies?  They will continue to be carefully scheduled, whether led by me, or by a beloved sewing colleague, and as valuable and focused as ever.  Due to limited interest in the Spring Speakeasies, I have removed them from the blog until people start asking about them again. 

By the way, thanks to the garment district, I also have a killer work wardrobe (and more supplies to expand it) now, too!  We are business-casual, which is just perfect.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Holiday gifts for the sewing enthusiast!


Much like last year's post (2012), similarly titled, "Holiday gifts for the sewing enthusiast..." Yeah, okay, the only real difference is the ellipsis and some updated information...

Let's say you know and/or love someone who loves to sew or craft.  There are some gifts guaranteed not to disappoint.  Time is short, life is busy.

Maybe you want to gift yourself with something sewing-related.   Maybe you want to gift yourself, and then hand the bill to someone else (ahem...) for reimbursement for your Christmas gift... Offensive? Maybe.  Efficient?  Definitely.  (You'll thank me later for that idea...)

Did you know there are some fabric stores, sewing studios, and websites who offer gift certificates and other gift possibilities?

Well, here are some ideas for you.

Gift Certificates:

Elliott Berman Textiles 
(online)
Mood Fabrics (online or in-store)
Emma One Sock (online only, for online use)
Gorgeous Things (online only, for online use)

Classes (in person):
Knitting Classes at School Products Yarn

Books and Subscriptions:


If you know of any other NYC garment-related stores  offering gift certificates, don't hesitate to chime in!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Shopping in the Garment District on a Saturday...

Not sure why I haven't noticed, but the garment district is no longer the ghost town it once was on Saturdays.  For those of you who aren't available to shop during the week, there are still plenty of stores to choose from.  And the hours aren't even significantly reduced, like they once were!  Many are open between 10 and 5 with some variations on both opening and closing times, and a much less hustley-bustley experience, to boot!

We have the insanely predatory landlord situation to "thank" for this. As rents have increased, many of the shops now know that (to quote one of the fabric store owners) "If you're not open on Saturday, you are guaranteed not to do any business, no matter how little." As the stores are now far more retail friendly than they once were, we can also "thank" the ever-decreasing customer base. These stores are happy to have all the business they can handle!

Who is the Saturday shopper?  Anyone who doesn't have time on weekdays, anyone who prefers relative quiet, anyone who is happier to "discover" what she/he needs than to be on a very specific search, since looking for something very specific may be tougher on a Saturday, and, lastly, not an intense bargain hunter, since the least expensive stores tend to be closed on the weekend, too.

So, I went to the district this Saturday (yesterday), on what was mostly a quick research run, to find the right complement to a garment I need to finish for a client.  

By the way, this is my photo of what the weather looked/felt like in Central Park yesterday...

Could this just take your breath away, or what?

I went to Rosen & Chadick.  They open at 11AM on Saturdays now, by the way - a bit later than some of the others.

Here's what I found:


This is a wool you've gotta see/feel to believe. Visit it. Buy it. Love it.
A mind-blowing  Loro Piana perfectly white (rare) cashmere to blow you away, some printed silks and some cotton prints that were just magical. Just lovely.

Then I stopped into New York Elegant.  By the way, you may be interested to know that the owners of this store were once fabric converters in Korea.  They really know how to choose great fabric, and, if you don't already know, this store is just HUGE.  Here's the thing though.  They can carry a lot of inventory, and keep it for a long time. There are times when fabrics have been around for 15 years before they actually have their "moment", when they are sold.  That is the beautiful thing about having so much room.

Here are some cool things I found:

Corduroy... seriously!

Pretty acrylic somethin' or other - loved it!


Wool sateen in a glorious regal purple at NY Elegant
Now, NY Elegant is selling more supplies for non-professional workrooms, too.  Near the front counter, you can pick up large sheets of carbon paper, small rolls of pattern paper, thread, magazines, and some general notions, too.   


Where to next? Chic Fabrics, where I found a sparkly-grey stretch knit, that would make a perfect holiday season Saturday shirt in my life, and a grey faux leather that calls out to cover a holiday dessert cart, accented with silver and glass ornaments.







And finally, Daytona Trimming, where I saw this loopy trim (below), in warm colors, begging to accent a mantle.  Just gorgeous.


Where else should you go?  A Saturday itinerary could easily include Paron Fabrics, where I found this great coating fabric:

And you should just feel it.  This picture doesn't do it justice.

Yes, you want this.
Are there more stores?  Of course, there are!  As you probably already know, Mood is wide open on Saturday, as is Gray Lines Linen, B&J Fabrics, A.K. Corp, and many of the trim and notions stores you know and love.

So, there you have it.  Now the only day you will see tumbleweeds in the district is Sunday.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

All about Kashi... An update on Metro Textile

Metro Textile

265 W 37th St # 908

New York, NY 10018


(Standard business hours are Mon-Fri 9-6)


212-209-0004



Well, we know what pictures are worth...



Fall is here in New York City.
This lovely sueded grey fabric, perfect for a dress, skirt, or pants, just called my name...



Metro was the source for this fabric before pleating (on top) and then...



Became this skirt!  If you've been following this blog, you remember.




A while back, I found  a deliciously brown charmeuse and lace combo...
And, using this photo as my inspiration...
I chose to pleat the charmeuse at International Pleating 
and create a blouse inspired by this dress! 
(I decided a blouse was better. I want to sit without crushing the pleats.) 
I really love different versions and color combos of camouflage, 
and this is one I particularly adore... it will be another fall/winter jacket.





And of course I love this... the softest, coziest stretch knit ever...

Hey, I liked the purple, too...  That became a shirt I love.





Here's what you need to know about Metro Textiles' proprietor, Kashi.


No longer a "secret" of the district, it seems, his curatorial eye is just wonderful, and he treats his customers like royalty.  Go in, tell him I sent you, and see what happens... seriously.



Here's the kicker. No one pays me to write these things, run this site, or promote their businesses.  I do it out of genuine love for the businesses and creative supplies the vendors offer, and then I talk about them here. 



I must tell you specifically, that Kashi, the person, is a special case.



Ask him "How are you?" and stay for the story.  He is a deeply caring and faithful man, who has a great, uniquely philosophical outlook on life.  There are plenty of places to go in the garment district, to pick up this or that, but he's got some seriously awesome choices stuffed into that little space, at outrageously great prices.  Visit this store, make your purchase, ask him what's great, what's new, what's special... and he will tell and show you.



To shop here, think garment sewing primarily.  While crafters and home dec enthusiasts will find things there, too, the garment sewing fabrics are far more plentiful.

When you decide to go in and see what he's all about (whether for the first time or as a visitor), do me a few favors please.  Swatching, and we know you mean well, is an incredible time waster.  Fabrics have no expiration date.  You love it, you buy it, that's it.  No need to think endlessly, swatch and sigh, wonder and consider.  Just take the plunge.  I've done that plenty of times. I haven't regretted it.  A good sized stash fuels my creativity. And frankly, a good sized stash is good for you.

It can be overwhelming to be in a small space with lots and lots of fabric, and you may need someone who helps you focus, relax, and isolate what you love.  The store is generally quiet, and Kashi will guide you to what you need/want.

So, here's the thing.  Go.  Don't call, don't call to swatch, don't ponder... just go.  He has got an enormously wide range of things to see.  And crazy affordably. Tell him I sent you. I just have a sliver (but considerably more than I've shown here) of what he's got, but I am truly a fan of that store, and after a visit, you will be, too!  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

East Coast Trimming


A store that is a bit off my usual beaten path, but became part of my excursion last week, as I was picking up something oh-so-exciting from the garment district!  
(more info on that journey to follow in near-future posts...)


The window is decorated for Halloween!

Why East Coast Trimming?  Halloween is coming.  That's one good reason. I wasn't sure why I stepped in when I went last Friday.  Somehow, that garment district fever just grabbed me. But now that a weekend has passed in-between, I can certainly tell you how it all tied together.

And then... on Saturday, I was walking along Columbus Avenue, just behind the Museum of Natural History, when I saw a quiet little street fair.  I stopped and looked at their offerings, just astounded by the quality of work presented there. The prices for most of the things I loved were higher than any amount I would casually carry (or even have at the moment... who am I kidding...?), but I did get business cards with thoughts of Christmas gifts in my head.

One such vendor was Michal Lando, who offers some of the most exquisite jewelry, that I wanted to jump up and down fanatically at the mere sight of it.  She was wearing her won work, and it really had a wonderful lightness to it. Works of art, really... inimitable, as her techniques, choices of colors and materials are where the magic really happens... but I recognized a mystery material that I frequently fondle in various garment district shops, but have no idea how to use. The pictures on her site are beautiful, but you need to see how these pieces come alive in person, to truly appreciate them.

She was my link to a clue...  Click on this link, and come back to me.  I'll wait...

"What do you call this stuff?" I asked her, touching the tubular necklaces. "It is a mesh, typically used by milliners, I think," she replied.

Ahhh... there it is! That tubular stuff I've seen in many notions stores, but most recently at East Coast Trimming, where I really liked the colors they had in stock. Keep in mind, that this stuff comes in different strengths, with different amounts of springy-ness, then can be stiffened with millinery sizing.  It is also dyeable.  So, what is this stuff called?



Found on Ask.com:

"Sinamay is a type of natural fibre that is made from a plant called musa textilis found in the Philippines. Sinamay is usually dyed and stiffened, and is mainly used for the production of hats, fascinators and other clothing accessories."

A YouTube search for sinamay will lead you to a plethora of tutorials on fascinators, hats, tutus, decorations, and holiday ornaments. As if our brains weren't full enough of ideas already, right?


So, let's say you do to East Coast Trimmings.  Maybe you aren't going there for sinamay.  But maybe you'll spot those great buckles and closures, those beautiful dyed ribbons handing in the back on the left side, some buttons, some feathers... just gasp and sigh, and dream...

Monday, October 21, 2013

A picture is worth...

6 rectangles (two sleeves, two neckline border pieces, a front panel, and solid black back panel). Two hours. Made and worn in one weekend. Went to a great lunch with some fabulous sewing goddesses on Saturday, and had a chance to wear my new friend...


Yes, my "London Eye" panel became a shirt.  If you've been following the blog for a while, you may remember how/when I found her. She absolutely looks better worn on a body than on the dress form, but you know how I hate to pose.  She needs a breeze, a context, an environment to show her true personality.  I am very happy with her. 








Thursday, October 17, 2013

Have I been busy? A quick update.

Oh, yes, you bet! Not all of it very interesting content for my readers, but mandatory, hard work that has been occupying many hours of my time.  Much of it has to do with wrapping up projects, clients, logistics, and home life as I begin a new professional venture, but I do want to share with you, and will gladly tell you about tomorrow's garment district adventure!  For those of you waiting for answers from me, I am working very diligently and with great focus to make sure everything gets all tied up efficiently as soon as is humanly possible!


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Continuing my Norma Rae moment... Child Labor

After expressing my Norma Rae moments on the blog, meeting with people who come at the apparel industry from all different directions, further research shows me that our world's garment industry unfair labor tangle is all profoundly more complicated than I thought.

An example of an Indian girl at work



I was inspired to write this today after watching this moving speech by Amy Poehler. While not about child labor specifically, this simple speech is just so PROFOUNDLY true, that it calls us all to action.




Yes, we want garment workers to be paid a fair wage.  And the people who make the accessories, and transport the goods... but what about the people... the CHILDREN who help to pick the cotton and make the textiles?

Clothing should be WILDLY expensive, when you really think about how many hands it takes for something to reach your closet.  My brain is spinning.  Short of picking your own cotton, and creating a completely vertical manufacturing process of your own... which would take FOREVER, by the way... what can we do?  Really, what can we do?

Seriously, what can we do?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

NYC Fabric Store Review: Fabrics World USA

Originally posted 7/10/12 - Updated today

This post has been revised today (October 8, 2013), because the only experiences commenters have shared on this business so far have been negative ones.  True to my responsible blogging philosophy, I feel compelled to let you know what I hear about this store, too.  Please read viewer comments below this post, and caveat emptor, folks.

Once upon a time, when I was a college freshman who sewed alot of her own, quirky clothes, I earned the nickname "Stripes" among a group of people who later became friends ( a clique, really) because they didn't know my name. Then it became a joke, and it kinda stuck. In that very geometric, Bennetton, assymmetric bobbed-haircut era, I made lots of striped skirts, pants, and deliberately cock-eyed Issey Miyake inspired stuff, that I would still wear (although a bit differently) today.

And this is why I am reviewing a store into which I randomly wandered on a day when I was actually headed elsewhere.

This store has an uninspiring, but fairly organized layout, and a distant, distracted staff, but that's no biggie... In fairness, it was a brutally hot day, and brutally hot inside the store as well. I just wandered in to take a peek at the piles of fabric inside. Now that I think about it, what drew me in were the colors.

You may wonder why I am featuring such a store here, but, frankly, their complete, deliberate disregard for current trends was refreshing. If you were blindfolded and led into this store, and asked what year we were in when the blindfold was removed, you actually wouldn't know. No color stories or fabric types seem to dominate in this store. That's actually kinda cool, don't you think? Allowed me to hit the "creative reset button", so to speak.

Now, this is not an insult to the proprietors of this store, but if you like a bit of humor/personality in your clothing, or if you make costumes, this is really the place for you! Completely reasonable prices, and lots of things that S-T-R-E-T-C-H.

And then, I noticed the stretchy, t-shirtlike knits toward the back, and had my own personal 80's moment. Lots of stripes, in color combos that sang to me in a sort of Depeche Mode, Simple Minds, Breakfast-clubbian medley. Deliberate, bold stripes of color reminiscent of Molly Ringwald, John Cryer and Anthony Micheal Hall.

80's teenagers among you... can you feel it? And, remember the wardrobe of Mrs. Roper from "Three's Company"? She's been my muse a few times in the recent past. Seriously.

And then, against my will, I started to hum... and dream... "Don't you... forget about me..." I was in love. You can bet I'll snag a few things there. Don't worry; I'll update the look. Cue the music. (... "the look of love... that's the look... that's the look... the look of lo-uh-uh-ove... LOOK OF LOVE!")



Fabrics World USA
252 West 38th Street
NYC

Saturday, October 5, 2013

What happens on a Speakeasy...

Stays on a Speakeasy...

It happened yesterday. The came, they shopped, they saw, they enjoyed.  I would LOVE to see pictures of what will get made using the lovely things I saw them buy!

A stream of consciousness summary of the day would sound something like this...

Busy city, frantic meet-up! Flustered, a few minutes late... Nervous energy!

Enthusiastic welcome, deep breaths and lively stroll.  Looks like an office building... what floor do I push?  Elevator ding... to the left? Deep gasp... what? It keeps going? Printed silks, what is pique? Oooh - Make a bag from this? Bias chiffon flounces, washed silk, knits and novelties and wools, oh my!  

What's next? 

Another stroll - oh... we're still in the lobby?  Maybe I should push the button, huh? Too busy talkin'! Turn right - past that little table?  Oh, this sure is a Speakeasy, huh? Where do I begin?  Explain the layout. Wow - spread that fabric out, and it tells a story! Oooh - this print!  How should I use this one?  What do you think?  Oh, the polka dot splashes!  Note: I wanted them myself, but knew she'd REALLY love it. Okay, fine... It will go home with her. Not me. Oooh! This double-faced wool would be just right for that pattern you brought along.  Just love it.  

Where to next? 

Another quick stroll... Elevator up - boy, when you said "small"... you really weren't kidding! But oooh... what's that?  The price is WHAT (in a good way)? And that matelasse... and that sorta artistic grid pattern...Oh yeah... 

But where can I find my notions?  Oh, let's go! This place is cool... What is this?  And that?  How do I use?  Are these feathers?  Yeah, I can see it in orange for me!  

I'm tired.  Let's eat. I have to go.  The rest of you, enjoy.  Wish I could have stayed to spend more time with you! Subways were STILL a delayed mess. But we all had fun!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Troubleshooting

Troubleshooting is a form of problem solving, often applied to repair failed products or processes. It is a logical, systematic search for the source of a problem so that it can be solved, and so the product or process can be made operational again. Troubleshooting is needed to develop and maintain complex systems where the symptoms of a problem can have many possible causes.

We can beat ourselves up over something that isn't working.  In the creative design and sewing world, we often suffer alone, when there is help out there!  Did you know that there are many people with amazing skills and abilities who can help you achieve the project  you want to achieve?  And, even better, businesses who can do things for you, better than you could ever do it yourself, for a fee you can actually afford?  I can tell you about them. This is a Q&A post.  Ask your question here, and I'll answer to the best of my ability.

Sometimes, we get stuck in a project, or a creative decision, regarding something we are working on, or plan to work on.  What solves it?  Exploration (non fabric related things can often truly give great ideas! Architecture, horticulture, cuisine), brainstorming (the energy and ideas of others), inspiration (books, exhibits, design shows), and fabric and notions stores (shopping, whether just exploring on your own, or on an organized SPEAKEASY!)

Sometimes, we don't even know what question(s) to ask!

So think about it... and you can still come along this Friday (or any other scheduled date), and fill your head with ideas! 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Queer History of Fashion at FIT - Review

The Museum at FIT
Seventh Avenue at 27th Street
New York, NY 10001
*Admission is free

Tues - Fri noon-8pm
Saturday 10-5pm
Closed all other times and legal holidays

I had to take a few hours to calm down after seeing this incredible exhibit today.  I'm going to do my best not to litter this post with superlatives, lest you think I am exaggerating my endless praise of this one in particular, but it was just so...

Great.

Where do I even begin?

Walking into this exhibit, I had no idea what to expect.  No, actually, that isn't true.  I did expect it to have a certain flavor.  An agenda.  It didn't. I was really surprised to see that this exhibit was not at all what I expected, which would have been some flamboyant bursts of excess and theatricality, like the Gay Pride Parades that happen here in NYC.





I actually have some of that fabric the rainbow bumblebee torso is made of...

But no.

It wasn't.

Not at all.




That's not even what this exhibit is about.  It isn't about feather boas, studded leather and sequins, shock-value, and overt, scandalous sexual themes and images.  It is every bit about embracing and respecting "otherness", making me question and acknowledge my own assumptions (and yours, depending on your own perspective), while giving a beautifully researched and displayed historical, political, cultural, and social context for the audience.

I must say this.  To really "get it", you have to go in person. Gay, straight, young, old, foreign, local... it was an amazing addition to the exhibit to quietly eavesdrop on the conversations everyone else was having as they explored the space.  Conversations that included the names Oscar Wilde, Marlene Dietrich, Charles James, Ru-Paul, Alexander McQueen and Gaultier... That is part of the magic happening in the space. The exhibit really isn't something to hear "about".  You really need to go in person.

The exhibit addresses the contributions made by LBGTQ designers and subjects spanning 300 years.  And yes, the word "queer" is used here, but in a celebratory and respectful context. Also added to my vocabulary today, were the words "dandy", "molly", and "macaroni", which relate to styles of dress I never would have known to define before. 

I could go on about this exhibit for pages and pages, but it is better for me to offer this post as an invitation and encouragement for you all to simply go. It will run until January 4, 2014.

Check out the Facebook page, too.

This exhibit had no agenda but to educate, and it absolutely served that purpose beautifully.  The range of pieces was just marvelous, and truly thrilling to see up close.  There will be a free symposium on November 7th and 9th, for those wanting to explore the subject further.

Will there be a companion book you can purchase?  Yes, there will be. Would it be a great stop after next Friday's Speakeasy tour?  Yes, it would be.

I wish I could effectively convey how beautiful this exhibit is, but I truly lack the vocabulary to effectively express it.  Please go see it yourself, and you will not be disappointed.





Monday, September 23, 2013

Gray Lines Linen... or is it Gray Line Linen?

There are no pictures with this post, and, believe me,  I defer to the company's own website photos for this, which give a great impression of the store's  layout and offerings, and are better than mine would be. True to my responsible blogging philosophy, I offer this store as a suggested addition to your garment district  explorations.

Last week, I walked into Gray Lines Linen, (notice that the store signage reads "Gray Lines", while the website reads "Gray Line") with no idea what to expect. Linen isn't necessarily "my thing", so I didn't understand why one store would be dedicated to linens only, and I had never sought this store out specifically. Why did I go in? I had an inquiry from a person who was looking to make liturgical garments. Apparently, this is the go-to source if you want to make traditional, quality garments for clergy. They absolutely have what she needed. The staff was exceptionally personable and knowledgeable, giving me full information on the products they offer, and enthusiastically extended a business card to me for future reference. 


Gray Line Linen

260 W 39th Street, Store #4

New YorkNY 10018-4410

M-F 9-6:30

Sat 10-5:30 

212-391-4130



As for the basics (this is their own description):

"Gray Line Linen, offers 5 different types of solid linens: handkerchief linens, warsa linens, barry linens, judy linens, and yarn dye linens. The width of each linen is 58/60". Due to the natural characteristics of linens, colors are subject to variations.


At Gray Line Linen, we have been providing linens and fabrics to customers across the country for more than 20 years. During this time, we have earned a highly favorable reputation for our amazing prices, our fantastic customer service, and our beautiful linen designs."

Used for upholstery, apparel, bed sheeting, table runners, etc., linen certainly has more variety than I first realized.  From the most formal, sedate, traditional offerings, to the more fashionable, colorful, and textural ones, the store is extremely well organized and tidily presented. Be sure to visit their website for more information.

My impression as a shopper in this store:

Gray Line has a very clear view of who they are and who they serve.  You'll notice that there are no wasted words on their website. Since this is a very no-nonsense business without cute stories or gimmicks, this is the place for you if you know what you need.  Employees are eager to help or explain/describe the products to anyone with a plan in mind.  


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The garment district speakeasy culture and the waterfall dress...

*Store names in this post are omitted to "protect the innocent".

I often make light of the Garment District's "speakeasy culture" - the secret sources for fabrics, services and notions, whispered among vendors and creatives,  as if you were avoiding government spies...

While the secrecy may seem to be a bit of an exaggerated effort, the garment district is fraught with challenges, obstacles, and extremely well-equipped foreign competition, doing things faster and more efficiently elsewhere.  The Garment District's  history is echoed in the sidewalks, monuments, and publications that dot its landscape.

Nowadays, while it is not exactly a "Speakeasy" culture, as much as a tightly constructed web of interdependent businesses, grown and nurtured over several generations.


It was just this culture that would have prevented the creation of the "waterfall" dress I am creating for a client, which requires a careful transition of a blue/grey/silvery cascade to communicate the soft, elegant flow my client is seeking.

We all know that shopping at ground level in the garment district, and going to all the stores we know, can give us a wealth of options.  But let's say you want to get REALLY specific, and you really need the right colors to make it work.


Shopping in very well-known stores, I just couldn't get everything I needed (texturally and the right levels of sheer and opaque) in one store.  While the stores are as helpful as they can be, they don't suggest going to the stores you would never even know exist, without doing your own research/legwork.

I do understand the dilemma.  No single store can carry everything you want, and the wholesalers who  also sell retail know the big retailers "don't like it" when the wholesalers sell directly to the retail customers, removing the middleman from the deal.  I get it.  But without knowing some of these other businesses exist, this may have been a cancelled project, meaning that none of this fabric would have been bought at all. Not from EITHER source. The lovely wholesale showroom from whom I purchased two of the fabrics above (at half the price the retailer would have charged, BTW) whispered, "Our retailers aren't too happy about this.", and I quickly retorted, "But they also don't have this, which is why I'm here."

My point is this.  Everything is partnership. A rising tide lifts all boats, and I sincerely believe that a person who would never make curtains might change her/his mind, if they only knew grommets would be professionally installed for them, covered buttons made, get pleating done without needing to do the math yourself... we are all interdependent. A point that John Travolta attempts to make in one of my favorite movies (at about 1:15 - the Aspen trees comment) couldn't say it better.  It is this way of thinking that inspires me to lead the shopping tours I run.  Come along, and see for yourself!





Tuesday, September 3, 2013

And they call it "Pleasure"... with good reason

This is the classiest faux metallic leather fabric I have seen. They call it "Pleasure", and I found it at Rosen and Chadick. Leathery, with a sueded other side, it completely goes with my London Eye, and will make the perfect bottom for the ensemble. I was thinking slim pants, but now I'm thinking a slim skirt is a better option.  Visit it in person. Touch it. You will fall in love.


This, coupled with my digital print find, is gonna complete my favorite outfit this fall. Guaranteed.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

I see London, I see France...

The London Eye

Sometimes the garment district can feel like an amusement park, and the stores within it, a carnival ride. A dizzying assortment of fabrics and notions, offered at a wild range of prices, and often of unknown origin, it is such a win when you find that magical spot, where the collection is carefully and artistically curated, AND you are greeted like an old friend.

If you're like me (and I think many of you are), you crave beauty and an outlet for your own creative expression, appreciating the quality of the luxury brands and the materials they use, but, even if you love exactly what they offer, you may not choose to spend or have the kind of cash those items require of you. 

I was leading a private tour in in mid-July when we walked into Elliott Berman Textiles to explore their selection of fabrics.  My heart nearly stopped when Eugenia pulled out a selection of headers (sales showroom cards for display and ordering information), featuring the beautiful digital prints that were due to arrive a month later. The above panel  (London Eye ferris wheel... and YES, that is FABRIC pictured above) stole the show for me!  This is a wonderfully soft poly print, with the image of perfect dimensions for the front of some fabulous silky T or blouse I have yet to make. The shipment was due to arrive the the end of August.  I couldn't comment publicly here on the blog, for fear that it would just be gone in an instant.  And now... yes, it is gone.  When designers saw this one at the DG Expo, they FLIPPED OUT, and bought ALL of it! And Elliott Berman doesn't plan to have more.

Pictured above, is the panel the store saved just for me.  Sorry, folks... Sometimes, I just have to keep some secrets to myself.  Sorry you missed it? 

But, here's the good news...  There are other AMAZING digital prints they have to offer.  And, no lie... they are just as amazing.  The London Eye just happened to be very ME. Had you been there yesterday afternoon, like I was, well... I can barely put it into words.

Some of the fabrics are so beautiful, that just a very simple sewing project can take a basic garment into the wearable art category, simply because the fabric makes such a powerful statement of its own. 

IMPORTANT... BREAKING NEWS...

A wall has come down.  On purpose. Yes, in the store. As a result,  a new room of new goods is being filled.  NOW. Yesterday, I watched that room starting to come together, at first, about 1/3 full of new fabrics from France, and then a TRUCK arrived, UNLOADING brand new goods from Italy.  Yes, I was there to see them!  A true first look.  Think brocades, high-end swimwear fabrics, Chanel, Etro, Clavin Klein...

 Go there in person.  The magic cannot be effectively conveyed in a blog post.  I will tease you with some photos, but you will have to take the next step.

Digital printed velvet, as used in Etro's collection.  Feels like magic.  Winter 2013/2014 collection.  




Oh, and ask to look at the cool Calvin Klein sorta burlappy coating/handbag/tough stuff that Calvin Klein has used as well.

Believe me when I tell you this.  Go now.  I am not lying when I tell you that some fabrics are actually HIDDEN in the store because they are so wildly popular. Yes, really.


A lovely Chanel high end swimsuit fabric in bright white... for the bravest among you!


Stretch high end swimsuit, snug dress or legging, perhaps?

Stretch high end swimwear fabric.


Another fantastic print.

Need I comment on how pretty and crisp the colors are?

Sparkly, random silver polka dots on a white cotton background.  Check out the textured cottons, too!

Stretchy, fuzzy, and beautiful.  Must be experienced in person!

What I cannot capture, is the fabulous digital prints (like my London Eye), because my photos are terrible, compared to the quality of the photography on the fabric.  You'd have to see it in person to believe them.If you're not local, visit their website here to see what they have to offer! Oh, and by the way, what I am showing you here represents only the very tiniest tip of the iceberg of fabrics they have to show.  The digital prints are just unbelievable when seen in person.

And, it doesn't end here.  To make things, you need notions, linings, complementary fabrics.  You will need to visit  more stores to do your best work.

For more opportunities like this, come along on a Speakeasy tour!