Friday, April 6, 2012

My whirlwind New York City fabric buying trip

On Wednesday, April 4, I left the house at about 6:00 a.m., bound for New York. Along the way I picked up two sewing friends (one of whom had never been to New York City before!), and we headed north to seek the Fabric Mecca known as New York City's Garment District.
We emerged from the Lincoln Tunnel at about 11:30 a.m. and, after parking the car, headed for Ben's Kosher Deli to meet up with two local sewing friends for lunch. Suitably fortified, we then struck out to seek our fabric fortunes. Luckily, we did have a map!
Many of the stores on this map were found via the excellent Shop the Garment District blog. I find it so much more useful to have at least something of a plan before heading to the garment district; otherwise you just go into total overwhelm at the multitude of possibilities.
Our first stop is, alas, not on this map, and I neglected to pick up a card. But it is affectionately known as "Kaballah Man" by my dear friend Sarah, and it's on 39th street between 7th & 8th. Just look for the poorly-spelled hand-written signs on paper in the window; you really can't miss it.
I picked up the copper charmeuse for my Smithson gown there, along with two other knits that will be made into tops:
The one on the left is a black and brown mottled slinky knit with sparkly glitter on it. After I laid it out on the table to take the above picture, I ended up having to use my lint roller to pick up the excess glitter. Needless to say, it got prewashed by itself, and I hope it won't continue to shed. If it does, I will not be using it.
(Note to myself: one of the biggest mistakes I made was in not picking up business cards from every store we went to, and noting which fabrics I got where. Since I paid in cash for everything, most places didn't give me a receipt.)
We were walking past Diana Fabrics and I happened to glance inside as the owner was rolling out some exquisite lace fabrics for a customer. So we went in to take a look. I showed her the copper charmeuse and she immediately grabbed a bolt to show us. It was an amazing hand-beaded French lace, very heavily embellished, that looked stunning with the copper. But it had two things going against it: since it was so extensively beaded, it was quite heavy, and I worried it would strain at the shoulders too much. And second, it was $95 a yard, far more than I was prepared to spend (although she did try to offer me a deal of $75 a yard). But we all agreed that we would keep looking, but come back if we didn't find anything more suitable.
The next stop was Spandex House, since one of our party was interested in printed knits. She found a few that she liked, and I picked up some for myself:
The "droplets" fabric just looked too fun to pass up (hey, I can make a "wet T-shirt"!), and we all agreed that a Home Inspector should have a shirt that looks like wood.

Next we headed for City Sewing, where I picked up some parts for my industrial machine:
I got a new Teflon foot, two bobbin cases and a dozen bobbins. One thing I really love about industrial machines is that the parts are so reasonably priced!!

By this point we were really starting to feel our feet, so just hit two more places: Around the World Fashion Magazines, and Metro Textiles. At Metro I picked up some blue bottom-weight cotton for pants, and a slate-blue chambray for some shirts. Kashi at Metro is wonderful to deal with; he has the ability to find exactly what you're looking for amid the masses of bolts stacked in his store.
I also picked up a piece of peacock-blue paisley knit at Metro that for some reason I forgot to photograph. But it will show up in a garment soon enough!

At quarter to six we headed for the car and started the trip back home. Even though we left at the height of rush hour, we only had a little slow traffic in the Lincoln Tunnel and the New Jersey Turnpike, but that lasted only a couple of miles before everything opened up. We listened to the Broadway Channel on Sirius XM and belted along with the showtunes during the drive home, and I was back home a little after 10:30pm.

I had so much fun doing this trip that I'm already thinking about when I can go back. I was worried that so much driving in one day would be too exhausting, but it was fine (especially since I had wonderful company!). With three people sharing the costs, it came out to just over $50 per person for gas, tolls and parking, which is only about $10 more than the bus would have cost. And driving gave us much more flexibility with the schedule.

Now that I'm stocked up on fabrics, I guess it's time to start turning them into clothes!

Note: we never made it to the stores on 35th or 36th streets; our packages were too heavy and our feet were too tired!! But next time I hit the city, I'll start South and move North.

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