Monday, October 20, 2014

New York City Fabric Shopping Guide, A Tourist's Point of View

The first weekend of October I got to take an awesome trip to NYC and shopping the garment district was our main goal. It really is a sewist's dream. Within two blocks there were more fabric stores than I have visited in my lifetime. I did a bit of researching before we went, and learned a lot while we were there, so I thought I'd share.

We stayed on the 37th floor of the ONE UN hotel (which is 38 stories tall) so we had a great view. The hotel felt like it was in a "safe" location, since we didn't really know our way around NYC. But it wasn't super close to a subway stop. So my advice would be to also factor that into your hotel choice. We bought a groupon for the hotel room and saved a lot of $$, but it was kinda a pain since the hotel "didn't receive the reservation from groupon" blah blah blah, eventually we got it straightened out. But the view made us forget about that....

So since we weren't super close to a subway stop, we used Uber quite a bit. if you haven't heard of it, it's a pretty smart idea and the process is super smooth with their App. Plus we each got a free ride when we signed up and another free ride for referring each other, so lots of free rides! And then we walked A LOT (wear comfy shoes).

On to the best part: Fabric stores. If you can, plan your trip to include a weekday, like a Friday or Monday because a few stores (including one of my favorites) are only open weekdays. Also take into consideration if your trip will be around a holiday. Think about other religious holidays as well, as some small family-owned shops may be closed. Here is my list of my favorite shops in order with all the pertinent details...

Hours: Mon-Fri 9am-7pm, Sat 10am-5pm, Closed Sundays
Address: 225 W 37th St, you will see the Mood Home Decor store from the street, for apparel fabrics go into the lobby to the right of the Mood Home Decor store, and take the elevator to the 3rd floor for Mood. 
Tips: Give yourself plenty of time! This store is HUGE. 3 stories, you'll want to look at and touch everything, excellent selection of knits on the bottom floor. Zippers for $1! Less crowded early in the day. Prices range, but everything was pretty well labeled. I can't imagine only having a very short amount of time to shop at Mood  (like the Project Runway contestants). I needed several hours, if not an entire day.

Metro Textiles
Hours: Mon-Fri 8am-6pm, Closed Saturdays & Sundays
Address: 265 West 37th. (between 7th & 8th Avenues) Suite 908. This one is a HIDDEN GEM! Go into the lobby area of 265 West 37th and take the elevator to the 9th floor. Then walk down the hallway toward the back til you get to Suite 908. It's basically just a long room full of bolts and bolts of fabric.
Tips: The owner Mr. Kashi is one of the Nicest people we met in NYC. Seriously. Awesome. Make friends with him because he's the best. It's a tight space and prices are not marked, so I was a little skeptical at first. But Mr. Kashi will happily tell you any prices, just ask him. And he gave us Excellent prices. Great quality and diverse selection. He also knows his stuff, so he was able to find fabrics when we told him what we were looking for and also pulled out some great silks that I might not have seen. This came close to being my favorite shop, but Mood edged it out simply because Mood is 3 stories. But seriously, make sure to plan for a weekday so you can visit Metro, although Mr. Kashi mentioned to call him to see if he'll be in on a weekend if you want to shop.

Hours: Mon-Thurs 8:30am-7pm, Fri 8:30am-6pm, Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 11am-4pm
Address: 257 W 39th St
Tips: Paron had some of the best prices. I think it was the only place that had a sale section. I scored several fabrics that were marked 50% off, so I was pretty excited about that since I shop on a budget.

Hours: M-Fri 8am-5:45pm, Sat 9am-4:45pm, Closed Sun
Address: 525 7th Avenue (near corner of 38th street, by the Starbucks) Go into the lobby and up the stairs and then there's an elevator to B&J 
Tips: B&J has some fancy fabric, so if nothing else, go there to look. If you have something very specific in mind, you'll probably be able to find it there. They have superb quality stuff and so it's priced accordingly. They also have a large selection of Liberty fabrics for all you Liberty fans. I just drooled at all the lovely fabrics (but not literally because I would've gotten in trouble.) There was a gorgeous floral fabric that I picked out for... $210 a yard. It cost as much as my plane ticket. Very fancy. No, I didn't buy it... I wish!

If you wander around the blocks where those fabric stores are, you will come across a million more: Chic Fabrics, Fabrics Garden, AK Fabric, M&J Trimmings... I can't even remember all the names! There were also quite a few shops that would be perfect if you were looking for sparkly sequins and fluffy feathers, perfect for your super sweet sixteen birthday dress or your next ice dancing costume...

But seriously, the selection at most of these fabric stores was amazing and I came home with a great haul:

The top three are silks and the rest are various knits. Super excited about these! I'm having a hard time deciding where to start. Idea overload.

Oh and one last highlight of the trip: meeting the adorable and famous Swatch

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Angel Baby Gowns

I haven't been doing much sewing for myself lately. I did make a simple knit skirt a few weeks ago, which took only one evening, because I needed something to wear for a friend's themed party. But other than that, it's been awhile. I should plan a new sewing project for myself.

Instead, I've been sewing little gowns for a group called Angel Baby Gowns of Charleston, which a friend found through facebook. They use donated wedding dresses and turn them into tiny gowns for babies that don't make it home from the hospital. I can't even imagine having to cope with a loss like that. It makes me sad, but I'm also happy to help out. The gowns are packaged with loving notes and delivered to local (and also distant) hospitals.

The gown above is one that had some beautiful lace details. I've also sewn little boy gowns that have vests with tiny buttons. Evidently there are groups that sew Angel Baby Gowns in other cities. I hadn't ever heard of this cause, so I thought I'd share.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Wedding banner

I just wanted to quickly share this photo because check it out, my handmade banner made it in the shot! They hung it above the wedding cake, and the window looks out onto the beautiful harbor. And how cute are my friends! 

credit: Liz Duren Photography

Yay! Here's the original post.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Burlap Bunting Banner

A friend of mine had a bridal shower recently, so to help with the decor, I sewed a bunting banner. I used burlap fabric (found at Hancock's Fabrics) to go with her rustic theme, and mint ribbon to go with her color scheme. It was a fun project, different from the usual things I make, but it did take longer than expected to make (perfectionist here).

I cut out large diamond shapes out of the burlap, butting them next to each other so that no fabric was wasted when cutting. When the diamond shape is folded in half over the ribbon, it makes the triangle shape. Before folding them, I used a plastic letter stencil (from Michael's) and white fabric paint to paint the letters (did the heart shape freehand).

These Wonder Clips I got for Christmas were super handy - much easier than pinning! You can kind of see in the photo below how the diamond shape is folded in half over the ribbon to make the triangles. You could also just do triangle shapes and just sew the tops to the ribbon, but by doing the diamond shape, you get a doubled up triangle and it just looked better to me for this.

Then I just sewed all the way around the 3 sides of all of the triangles. I kept double-checking that I was sewing the letters on in the correct order, beacause it would be just my luck to finish putting it together and have it be misspelled. I was thinking about writing this post as a tutorial, but it wasn't that complicated. I just figured out what I was going to do as I went along and it worked out well, having never made a banner before. But it turned out cute, and I think the bride might even use the banner as a part of her actual wedding decor.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Sewing Scrub Caps for Children's Hospital

A little while back someone reached out on facebook looking for volunteers to sew scrub caps for a local children's hospital. It sounded like a really good cause, so I was happy to help. I don't have an unlimited amount of free time to sew, and I usually stick to sewing projects for myself. Well, occasionally I'll fix my friends torn jeans, hems, etc. for a barter of baked goods (I'm easilly swayed by cupcakes and brownies). Last year I hemmed some school uniform pants for children that are staying at a local shelter and don't have the funds to make sure their pants fit them properly. Doing small things like that really do make you feel good, and something small that you do can actually be really huge for the recipient. It also makes you think about how fortunate you really are. So I had been thinking about what else I could do, and sewing these scrub caps just popped up.

I made 13 total, and hope to make more if there remains a need. I used some cotton that was gifted to me in a swap. It's a fun green swirly print, but I've learned that I don't really wear clothing made of quilting weight cotton, so it was better to put the fabric to use for a good cause. These caps went to the MUSC Children's Hospital. There's more info about volunteering projects through this link. Here's the pattern they provide for the scrub caps. There's also a pattern and instructions for blank therapy dolls. There are also opportunities to make pillowcases, as well as knitting and crochet projects. (And by the way, I just took up crochet! Well I'm attempting to teach myself. More on that to come.) I'm sure there are children's hospitals all over that would love to receive donations of sewn/knitted creations if anyone else is looking to contribute. A little selfless sewing is good for ya! ;)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Kitschy Coo Lady Skater Dress in Leopard

wow. so, way back in september i mentioned that i had new fabric picked out for my second lady skater dress. in october i had it cut out and i think i had it finished sometime in november. and now it's... february. and i finally took some photos. this dress would've worked perfectly for "jungle january" or even for "ferocious february" except that i finished it last year...

this is a leopard print ponte from in my blue lady skater the waist was too low, but now i think it's just slightly too high. i'll have to find a happy middle ground next time. i had to also go down a few sleeve sizes because of my tiny arms/lack of bi-ceps. but now this dress is a little too tight in the bust and i think i messed that up when i was trying to merge in the smaller sleeves. plus this ponte is not quite as stretchy. i found a link on pinterest for an FBA on knits so maybe i'll try that next time.

all in all i'm pretty happy with it. leopard print isn't usually something i gravitate toward, but i like this! and the colors are more cream, black, grey than it looks in these photos i think.

love a good knit dress! makes me do silly poses. i guess this is what i think an ice skater does? i already bought fabric for several more knit dresses, but i've been sidetracked by several other sewing projects: some volunteer sewing, mending/altering for a few friends, sewing a bunting banner for a friend's bridal shower. can't wait to get back to sewing for myself soon!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

i caved in to pinterest

i had been holding out so well for so long. but i'm sad to say, i finally caved in and joined pinterest.

i was so resistant because i didn't want something else sucking up my time. i hear how easy it can be to get lost in pinning things to pinterest boards and then hours pass by and you're still pinning things, and then you never actually get around to doing any of the adorable clever crafty projects you pin. i already have a limited amount of free time, so i really have to prioritize. i never joined twitter, barely use facebook, and my instagram (which is also fairly new) is mostly just pictures of my dog (love her! she's just so cute!).

but i came across a very useful way to use pinterest: to store and organize all of your bookmarks in a clean, visual way. awesome idea! my bookmark list in firefox was a mile long. so i started a pinterest account and moved all of my bookmarks onto pinterest boards. i made 4 boards: "sewing tips," "free sewing patterns," "free sewing patterns - baby gifts," and "sewing inspiration" (haven't pinned anything to that last one just yet). it's great! i can see everything and it's organized! i tried to keep it to tips and patterns i will actually use and not let it get too crazy.

are you already using pinterest to organize your bookmarks? and do you have any sewing related pinterest boards? let me know so i can check yours out!

here's a link to my page and you can also find it under the "free patterns and sewing tips i like" tab up at the top of my blog page. i moved all of those tips onto pinterest too! woohoo! anybody else get excited as me about getting things organized, ha ha!

and i'll leave you with an adorable instagram shot of our dog: