Friday, December 29, 2017

My Favorite NYC Garment District Spots

Channeling Shams from Communing with Fabric at the Garment Worker statue last year

Hi everyone! Although I'm not blogging anymore, I am asked frequently enough about my favorite NYC Garment District spots that I felt it would be easier to direct those interested to a post. (For more info on why I'm not blogging anymore, see this post.  I'm still very active on Instagram, my whole creative life is there.)

Store hours
It depends on the shop, but most are not open nights, some are not open on Saturdays and very few are open on Sundays.  For maximum shopping fun, go on a weekday and start early (like 9am) and shop the (mainly 9-5) day away.

Hauling it / Shipping it
Note that you're in the city.  It's not like when you go to JoJo's and buy a bunch of fabric, throw it in your car and drive home.  Whatever you buy you have to carry with you, and fabric is heavy.  On some trips like PR weekend, folks bring rolling carts, but if I buy a lot I prefer to ship.  There are FedEx storefronts all over Manhattan, but honestly the easiest shipping method is to have Kashi ship.  You can throw purchases from other stores into your Kashi pile and he will ship them for you with the fabric you buy from his shop, but he will also chide you for not buying all the fabric from him.  If it's other stuff (say Kinokuniya purchases or notions), those will escape comment.  :)   Many other stores ship too, but the shipping process at Kashi's is the easiest IMHO.

Fabric stores in the Garment District:  there are a lot, here are just some highlights
I'm limiting myself to a little blurb about each shop; click on the PR Review link (if I wrote one) for more detail.  Note that some stores are in office buildings and there's no indication at street level that there's a fabric shop tucked away somewhere up above.  Just go into the lobby and press the elevator button confidently.

Metro Textiles --weekdays only--take the elevator to the 9th floor, take a right and another right and shop away!  Kashi will help you and is eager to cut your purchases.  Great for pontes, wool, silks, some denim, some fabrics you never knew you needed.  Small but incredibly fun and GREAT prices.  Be sure to get your picture taken with Kashi--a sewing blogger/Instagrammer right of passage!  My PR review.

French Couture Fabrics--Mon-Sat--take the elevator to the 2nd floor. On Saturdays there's a sign at street level with the phone number to call to let you into the lobby.  Spacious shop with French designer fabrics at great prices, and also an amazing leather section, most leathers are $20 each (ask for pricing).  My PR review.

Mood Fabrics--Mon-Sat--take the elevator to the 3rd floor (Mood Home is street level, but not connected to the fashion fabrics).  If you're a Project Runway fan you have to check out their three floors of garment fabric.  I find Mood to be overwhelming, though, and only go if there is something in particular I have in mind and my other faves above don't have it.   My PR review.

Notions/other shops 
Botani  (street level) is very high-end and where I get most of my custom zippers made (think girl with a ponytail zippers).  Tons of rib knit and bag hardware galore!!  Expensive, but makes your bag look SO profesh!  My PR review.

Pacific Trimming (street level) is amazing--great prices--large assortment of colors and sizes for underwear elastic, bag strapping, bag hardware, cording, studs, jeans shank buttons, Riri zippers custom cut, petersham ribbon (under a sign marked grosgrain)...these are a few of my favorite things about Pacific.  Much smaller selection of rib knit compared to Botani, but they have some.  My PR review.

SIL Thread (street level) --my invisible zipper haven and my place for buying YKK chunky plastic molded zippers cut to size.  Also my place for Clover notions.  My PR review.

Other shops etc

The Garment Worker statue--at the corner of W39th and 7th.   Have your picture taken there!

Kinokuniya --super cute bookshop that has Japanese pattern and crafting books in the basement.

Purl Soho--not in the Garment District, but such a fun shop full of inspiration.  Mainly for quilters, knitters, and embroidery types, but there are some garment patterns and a small selection of garment fabric.  My PR review.

Chelsea area things
Walk or take the subway from the Garment District to Chelsea for Doughnut Plant doughnuts (the Brooklyn Blackout--a chocolate cake doughnut--and Wild Blueberry are my favorites), TrueMart (street level--Sun-Fri) a shoebox sized garment fabric shop that is uber fun and quick, and the FIT Museum (free, small, Tues-Sat).   Three great places to have lunch/dinner down there are Westville (farm to table, organic, great veggie plate), The Red Cat, and a restaurant called CafeteriaSullivan St Bakery (on 9th, not on Sullivan St) was highly recommended by Peter Lappin for breakfast/lunch and it's delicious! 

Shopping order
If I have custom zippers to order, I go to Botani first, then visit Kashi at Metro Textiles (and have him ship my fabric).  If it's cold, I have lunch at Macaron Cafe (great salads and sandwiches, then get some macarons--my fave is the dark chocolate), but in warm weather I go to Moaz and eat lunch in Bryant Park.  Then I go to trim shops (like Pacific Trimming) and then another fabric store or two, and back Botani to pick up my zippers.  Then I take the subway down to Doughnut Plant in Chelsea to pick up some doughnuts. 

Need more help?  Mimi at Shop the Garment District sells generic Garment District maps and also will create a customized map for your shopping interests.  I'm not affiliated with her or her blog, but based on everything she's ever written, I'm sure she can steer you in the right direction.

So the above are my faves, not a comprehensive listing of every single shop in the Garment District--there are a lot..  :)    Have a shop you love that I should know about?   Have a NYC Garment District question for me?  Let me know in the comments!

Be well!!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Navel gazing about blogging, or not blogging

Swatch at Mood

If I've met you in person the last three years, we've probably had this conversation at some point, where I talk about giving up blogging.     It's been on my mind for awhile, but I've pretty much stopped blogging this year.    I have not stopped creating, though.  I have a lot of things to show you that I've made recently (garments, keychains, embroidery.)   I have a lot of stories to tell (how I sewed a sweatshirt that is the most expensive thing I've ever made, how I used another sewist's scraps to sew 2 shirts for myself, how I used two lengths of fabric that I thought were the same to sew stretch velvet pants, and then it turned out they were not the same fabric, how I am getting the Jalie Eleonores to fit me better in the waistband.)   I still have flowers to show you.  I went to the Day Without a Woman rally in NYC yesterday at noon; I'd like to tell you about that.  I bought a cover stitch machine last weekend, I can totally see writing about that too.

However, I have a dearth of desire to write the blog. It takes a lot of time/effort to write the blog, match up the pix to the text, caption the pix, remove flickr tags that embeds flickr branding in the photos, etc etc etc). Most posts take 90 minutes at least.   Larger posts can take 3 hours.  I have tried challenging myself to write complete posts in 60 minutes including incorporating already-taken pix into the posts; most of the time I go over.

I used my blog as a public journal for keeping track of my sewing, for writing out what I changed about garments, writing about techniques, and just plain show and tell.  Sometimes I search my own blog for information, but I also keep a hand written notebook of techniques, and I could go back to the "pre blogging days" of writing changes on the pattern envelopes themselves.

My blog wound up being a way that I met fellow sewists, through your kind comments and your own blogs, and stayed connected with you.   I have never had a Facebook account (and never intend to) but I joined Instagram in August 2015 and have really enjoyed it. If there is a point I want to record for posterity, lately I've been adding it as an Instagram comment.  At this point I think I've met maybe half as many people IRL from IG as I have from my blog, but I expect that number will grow.

My entire creative life is there on IG.  You don't need an IG account to see my IG account on your computer, but you do need one to like and comment.  AFAIK, you can only get an IG account by downloading the app on your smart phone and signing up for an account--then if you want to you could log in, like and comment from your computer, or just use the app on your phone.

I love IG and am addicted to it.  IG feels like appetizers.  Blog posts are like 5 course meals.

I attended Sew Expo in Puyallup, WA for the first time ever this past weekend and maybe I will write a post about it this weekend?  I just don't know.  I don't know if writing this post tonight will somehow reignite my desire to blog.  It certainly doesn't feel like an official goodbye, but it doesn't feel like I'm just taking a break either.

I will be at PR weekend in NYC June 2-3 this year.  So maybe I'll see you there?  Or on IG?  Or maybe I'll meet you back here, this weekend, or next week, or next month.  
Here's my link to Instagram:
Right now, there's a lot on there about the Day Without a Woman march, and then Sew Expo, and then the creative stuff!
Thank you for reading and commenting!  Be well!!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day!

"Just got Botox"

Happy Valentine's Day!  Sending y'all love and warm, soothing, healing energy today.  Love these lips craftspacecontinuum stitched up and sent me.  :)

Be well!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Womens March on New Jersey

Outside Princeton U stadium the day before the march, distributing the last of the 64 hats I sewed.  (I gave them to people;  I didn't leave them there).

It's about time that I write about the Womens March, which took place on January 21, but feels like it was so long ago.  I marched in Trenton, NJ, the capital of my home state, with Francesca, my 81 year old friend from my meditation group, and her husband George.

We had tickets to take a school bus from Princeton (right around the corner from my office) to Trenton.
The crowd filing in
Everyone hold up your signs
The first part of the event was held at the War Memorial Theater.  We arrived around 9:10 or 9:15am or so for the 10am start, and we got seats third row from the back of the theater.  The theater filled up as well as the overflow of 1,000 seats  behind the stage.  Everyone else had to listen over the loudspeakers outside.  Estimates are all over the place, anywhere between 4k and 6k people at this march.

James from craftspacecontinuum had knit a hat for me.  I am allergic to wool so I can't wear it for long, but there was no way I was giving his hat away!!!
George put on his pussyhat!

There were almost 2 hours of speeches by a diverse and inclusive group of speakers:  Different ages, races, genders, sexual identities, religious backgrounds, and activist groups were represented.  This was my first time hearing my congresswoman, Bonnie Watson Coleman, speak.  She is the first African American woman to represent NJ in the House, and she is awesome!  "We will not be shut down.  We will not be silenced.  We will NOT be silenced!"

Then we marched.

"I can't believe I still have to protest this sh*t"

The march ended at the State House.  My mother worked here during the 60's in a job she *loved*, and it was fun to imagine her walking up the stairs and into the building.  There were more speeches, then it wrapped up at 1pm.  Francesca then danced to Aretha Franklin on the sidewalk as we waited for the bus to take us back to Princeton.

While waiting for the bus, I asked this guy if I could take a picture.

The overall vibe was positive, and I never felt in any danger.  One of my friends had told me I should write the name and number of a lawyer in sharpie marker on my skin, carry pepper spray and have someone to check in with later that afternoon.  I didn't do any of those things, and it wasn't necessary.

I was instagramming throughout the day as I could with pix and video (my phone and/or the network wasn't working for part of the march) and I really appreciated the overall good comments I received.

It was amazing to see that there were marches not just in the US but all over the world, including Antarctica. I knew from IG that there was going to be a march in London, but WOW the marches were all over and non-violent.

The overarching theme was "this march is not the end, it is the beginning."  As we have seen over the last 18 days, there is plenty of work to be done.  I'm still working out a path forward, but on Valentine's Day I will show you my next bit of craftivism (which I already showed on IG, but not here).

I made and distributed 64 hats at my Pussyhat Factory (I removed the throat plate on my sewing machine and vacuumed it, and vacuumed my serger, and vacuumed my cutting mat--so much pink fleece lint everywhere after sewing up 8 yards of fleece).

I know of at least 3 people who made hats because I had been instagramming them in the weeks leading up to the march, which was awesome!  And the Pussyhat Project received some donations because of hats I made for others, yay!

Don't doubt the power and influence you have and the inspiration that you are--these little ripples can add up, even for an introverted hermit like myself.

Photo from IG friend kayeightysews

I have received many pictures of people wearing my hats in Atlanta, NYC, DC and of course Trenton, but I am too overwhelmed to get them into a collage here.   Above is one of my favorites, by Anna Christina's daughter (kayeightysews on IG), during the NYC march.

Be well, my friends, be well.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Crazy. Floral. Pants! Jalie Eleonore 3461

Oh hey!  Happy New Year!

Normally I blog all my makes in order, but today I want to skip ahead to what I made at the tail end of my vacation time.  I'm sure you can understand why...
Soooo....when I bought the Jalie pattern to make the red jeans for PR weekend Chicago, the cover picture included floral pants.  I am normally a solids and textures kind of gal.  Not really into the florals.
My New Years Eve included sewing and sugar.

However, there was something about this combination of slim legged pants and florals on the cover that made me want Crazy. Floral. Pants!!!

I wanted a smaller scale floral in stretch twill or denim, and this fabric from Kashi (Metro Textiles) in Sept fit the bill.

I made them just like the red pants but with functional front pockets, see below.  They went together pretty quick, though I basted them together first just in case, as this fabric seems slightly less stretchy than the other fabrics I've used, but they turned out to be fine...though in the calves I used 1/4" SA instead of 3/8" to grant some extra room.

They grew a little in the thigh as I wore them during the day, and maybe a little in the waist too.  I'm probably going to leave it as-is.  For the first time ever, one of my "Vacuuming the Lawn" labels was scratchy and driving me crazy so I'm probably going to remove it or sew over the scratchy edge with a satin stitch or something....

I added functional front pockets to this version.  It is really easy to draft the pieces, though next time I will make them deeper.  I already had the basics of front pocket construction down as I had taken Jennifer Stern's professional jeans construction class at the ASE.
I was lucky to have this salmon colored poly blend broadcloth from ~20 years ago in my stash to use as the pocket lining.

I pattern matched the back pockets, which is a super easy thing to do as no seams are involved.
I traced the pocket pattern piece onto Swedish tracing paper, including the fold line for the upper portion of the pocket, aligned the fold line with the pocket placement line on the cut out fabric, then outlined some of the flowers with a pencil (as I was afraid pen might bleed through to the fashion fabric.)

I then found the pattern on the fabric, cut it out, and sewed it on. (yes, the pocket is different in the picture above and below).

There will be  a matching backpack...


These were some test shots for outside, pussyhat and all.  I needed to move the camera down but it was way too cold so I brought the photo shoot indoors.

I'm probably going to undo the entire top portion of the stretch velveteen pants I made last month.  As I was making them, I suddenly felt like the waistband was too tight and I sewed with smaller SA and did not pull the back of the elastic as tight as I did on the red pair.  Well guess what, they are too loose in the waistband.  If I'm going to take the waistband off, I might as well add real front pockets right?   And fix the angle of the CB seam?  And remove some of the excess fabric from the CF ?  Might as well right???

But for now, I'm back to the Pussyhat Factory.  I want to sew 32 hats this weekend.

In other news, my Great Aunt Iris turned 101 on New Year's Day so we took some selfies.  When she saw herself on my screen, she said she looked old but that I had good teeth. :)
Be well!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Kyle's 2016 Sewing Year in Review Extravaganza

It's my usual New Year's Eve rush to write my sewing year in review!

First, let's start with what I've sewn/done during my winter vacation but have not blogged as shown above:

  • Finished a Jalie fleece started the weekend before my vacation
  • McCall's Echino Kokka French Terry sweatshirt
  • Creatively cut apart a large man's cotton thrift shop sweater and used Simplicity 1283 to make it fit me.
  • Used S1283 to make this lace sleeved shirt.  Fabric was sent to me by goodmombadmom
  • Used a hack of S1283 and the remnants from the long sleeved shirt to make a tank
  • Made 16 pussyhats (8 in this beetroot tie dye and 8 that aren't pictured in hot pink).  I have a crazy goal of making at least 48 of them before the end of next weekend.
  • Handstitched this Christmas cactus ornament and hung it on my Christmas cactus
  • Went to NYC to buy some supplies and visited Swatch at Mood Fabrics.  He was totally conked out.
  • Cut out these crazy floral pants.  Yes, that's right, me, the solids and texture woman.  Yes, me, I am going to make Crazy. Floral. Pants.

Here are my favorites:

Favorite item all year: the StyleArc Stacie Jean Jacket
Close up view
professional photo
Favorite tank, which I wore, with one of my favorite shrugs from last year, for our professional photo day at work (I received permission from the photographer to use this photo across social media)
Favorite sweatshirt

Or maybe this is my favorite sweatshirt
Favorite backpack
Blue Calla Boronia Bowler Bag:  Front angled
Contest winning bag
Favorite leather bag

What I've machine sewn this year
  • 7 tops (includes tanks, tops, shells, sweaters)
  • 2 shrugs
  • 2 jackets
  • 1 fleece
  • 3 sweatshirts
  • 1 sweatshirt dress
  • 4 dresses
  • 2 pants
  • 2 skirts
  • 8 bags
  • 1 pillow
  • 16 fleece hats
  • some keychains and business card holders
I didn't blog everything.  I know of at least one dress and one bag that were not blogged, in addition to everything in the first photo.  But, my entire creative life is on Instagram, all of it!.

What I've hand sewn or hand stitched this year
  • Sublime Stitching
    • Octopus
    • Folk Foxes pillow
  • Heidi Boyd
    • Softies
      • Half of the squirrel softies kit
      • One bird softie
    • Felt Hoops
      • fox
      • blueberry bears
    • Embroidery kits
      • 2 chicks
      • squirrels
    • The 7 ornaments in the Woodland Animals Ornament kit
  • Paulson
    • Red coat ornament
  • Betz White
    • Sewing machine ornament
    • Christmas cactus ornament
  • Mollie Makes
    • Love heart hoop
    • 2 foxes in a hoop
Dabbling with Quilting.  
I'm not a quilter but I tried it a little...
  • Mollie Makes potholder and coasters
  • Fancy Fox II, just the top of the pillow size.
  • I've never been able to draw realistically, but I did enjoy the Creativebug draw a day challenges in January, March and July.  They got me to see that drawing is not just about drawing realistically, that there are other styles of drawing too, ones that I can do.  Thanks, Craft Space Continuum, for getting me into the drawing!
New sewing skills
  • lined skirt with a kickpleat  (not that I'd remember how to do that now--I'd have to go back to my blog post)
  • leather bag and keychain techniques, including making a tassel keychain (so easy!)
  • how to install rivets, purse feet, and bag bling
Contest wins  
After entering 10 contests total in my sewing career, I won:
  • 2nd place PR accessories contest at PR weekend
  • 1st place PR handbag contest.  Definitely a highlight of my sewing career!  I've wanted to win a contest for a while now.
Sewing meetups
  • MPB Winter Frolic, NYC, March
  • PR weekend, Chicago, May
  • MPB Day, NYC, August
  • Lisa from As I Said, Philly, August
  • Antoinette, NYC, September
  • James from Craft Space Continuum, and Tomasa from Sew Much Fashion, NYC, November
  • Antoinette, Austin, December
  • Leslie from The Seasoned Homemaker, Austin, December
  • I went to NYC 7 times in total, for meetups or on my own
  • I put together a calendar of 12 of the bags I made, which was a total hoot for me for the most part, but was also a total and utter bomb at the office white elephant party, ugh.
Store closures
  • Paron, NYC, Sept--I will miss your curated collection, how every bolt was labeled with origin, fiber content, price, the mirrors in your store so I could hold the fabric up to me to see how it looked on me, your amazing collection of sweater knits....
  • City Quilter, NYC, Oct (but they are still selling online)--you always felt like a place of inspiration even though I'm not a quilter.   The CQ was where I originally discovered the Heidi Boyd kits
  • Stitch Lab, Austin, potentially Feb 2017--another place of inspiration, love that little Craftsman style house full of goodness.  I said goodbye in Dec but they recently posted on IG that there is hope that it will survive--fingers crossed!
Goals last year/this year
  • Last year, and the year before, and the year before that, I said I should make a denim jean jacket, and this year, after 3 years of thinking about it, I finally made it!
  • I also said last year that I should make some underwear.  I didn't make any UW after all, but I did organize all my lingerie elastic during my sewing room reorg in the summer
  • For next year, I'd like to make some more pants, maybe jeans, and another jacket.  And sometime I'd like to learn more about fabrics--like being able to identify the different types on sight.
General sewing navel gazing
  • I feel like I reached a new level with my sewing this year, especially with the use of leather and the amount of topstitching in my jean jacket.  What am I now?  Advanced intermediate?  
  • I am starting to see the benefits of experience (or just flat out getting older, however you want to spin it)--and also appreciate those benefits.  I am a better sewist than I was when I was 12, 25 or 35.  I am more perfectionistic than ever, but I'm also more patient and I have way better tools than I did at any of those ages (cue that line from Fried Green Tomatoes: "I'm older and I have more insurance").  10 years ago, my sewing success rate was around 50% or less, and now it's more like 75-80%.  It looks way more professional IMHO too.
  • Hand stitching continues to be a way for me to feel creative each day without the effort involved in garment or bag making, and if I mess it up, it's easy to fix or start over because the scale is smaller.
  • I still wish I had the time to do the same project several times in a row--like making 5 lined skirts with kickpleats, one after the other, to really get the technique down, but with a full time job and so many things I want to make, that's not going to happen
  • I am utterly and thoroughly addicted to Instagram.  I have met so many seamsters that way!
Post-election navel gazing
  • The election did not go as I expected it to go (massive understatement there), but I'm getting involved in ways I haven't before.  
    • At the gym there is PB and J sandwich making event every Nov.  In past years, I donated supplies but this year was the first year I actually made the sandwiches.  We made 510 sandwiches and packaged them with snacks and juice into bags for the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen.  My job was slapping peanut butter on bread for 2 hours, and it felt good to actually do something.  
    • This week I started making pussyhats for the Pussyhat Project, to be worn at the Women's March on Washington.  So far I've sewn 16 hats and have a goal of at least 48 hats before the end of next weekend.  Thank you to those who commented that you're also going to make hats too!  Hurrah!  Spread the word!!
    • I realize, my contributions above are really, really small, but it is a start.
  • I really loved all your comments on my post about Devastation and Doris.  I should update the post to note, that while my father originally told me Doris passed the day after I saw her, she actually died the day I saw her, so I saw her in the last 8 or so hours of her life.  She was 99.  I attended her funeral, and it was amazing.  Doris outlived her husband and both of her children, so her grandchildren talked about her life.  They talked about her positivity, and how she liked to give the "thumbs up".  She was a nurse for 40 years, and she took care of soldiers returning home from WWII.   Apparently she made amazing cookies too, and I love it when women are remembered for things like that.
  • I highly recommend subscribing to and reading ATP's blog.  She has an almost-daily post with tips and recommendations on what to do now going forward post-election.  Not all of her articles are on the blog though; for the early ones, you'll need to read the archive (highly recommend).
So, congratulations if you made it this far!  Hope to see you in 2017, maybe at PR weekend in mid-May in NYC?  Maybe at Sew Expo in Puyallup in March?  (I'm seriously considering that one).   Maybe on Instagram or on your blog?  

Go forth, dear sewing ones, go forth.  My best self honors your best self.  

And of course, be well!  

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Hats for the Women's March on Washington


I don't knit or crochet so I was excited to see the instructions for sewing hats, called pussyhats, for the Women's March on Washington, DC by @craftivistchi


I tweaked it a bit and made the rectangle 19" long so the hat covers my ears with a 1" hem. Make sure the direction with the stretch goes around your head otherwise it won't work (so you'll need to buy at least a half yard of fleece, or a little more if you want it to cover your ears like mine). I didn't tack the cat ears because they seem to form naturally like the knitted versions. 

My fleece is wide enough to get 4 hats out of 5/8 of a yard (or if you want to make your hats shorter, then you can get 4 hats out of a half yard.)

This fleece is from Joann's and is called "Anti Pill Fleece Fabric-Beetroot Tonal Tie Dye" on their website.


I sewed 8 hats last night out of 1.125 yards of this fleece in about 75 minutes assembly line style and that's with legit seam finishes on the serger, tucking serger thread tails, serging the raw edges and twin needle stitching the hem. Going to stitch up another 8 in hot pink, maybe more! 

Go to for details about the march, why pink cat hats, and why this is important.  I plan on mailing mine to the address on the website--they are due by Jan 14.  They will have a pickup point for marchers who don't have a hat to obtain a hat.   @joymacdonell has a video on how to hand knit the hat if you prefer.  


The styrofoam head is smaller than a human head, or at least it is smaller than mine!

Anyway, this is a really easy way for seamsters to get involved, highly recommend!

Be well!