Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fabric to fall in love with

I have few regrets about our recent trip. Most involve things we didn't get the time to do or see, and one in particular is not spending more time and money at the great fabric shops in the Garment District of New York.

We started out that day with good intentions and even had our subway rides planned out. Visit the 9/11 Memorial in the morning. Go straight to Mood and the other shops after. Go home and relax before an evening performance of Wicked on Broadway. But as is typical for travellers, you get waylaid by other interesting things, and then you have to eat lunch, and then someone (not me) gets a bee in his bonnet about needing a burger from the Shake Shack, and it must be the one in Madison Square Park and it must be NOW.

Shake Shack

Shake Shack

It was worth it. The day was a beautiful one to be lunching outside under the trees, the burgers and root beer were great, and the bee-bonneted one was happy.

Outside Mood Fabrics, NYC

By the time we got to Mood it was mid afternoon and I was very tired and very footsore. In the back of my mind I knew I couldn't go crazy as I had limited luggage space, and limited patience to carry said luggage. So I decided to buy one really nice piece of fabric from Mood, as a memento, and then move on to another fabric store. The fabric wasn't cheap - not cheaper than most places in Australia, anyway and that surprised me. I easily could have spent all day browsing all three floors, and then I could have spent another half day going through their button collection. I spent an hour there in total, but it was an hour well spent. I had engaging conversations with both my cutter and the cashier, and I had a lot of fun being in a store I'd only ever dreamed about.

This is what I bought. It cost me $18 a yard. See? Pricey. But it's lovely printed cotton, and I plan to use it for this year's Christmas frock.

Printed cotton - Ascher Studios

We then moved on to Paron Fabrics which is about a twentieth the size of Mood, but a little bit more personable and cheaper. I fell in love with a few fabrics there, but again decided to be sensible and limit myself to one piece. It's a cotton sateen with a crazy print on it, and I've never seen anything like it. I'm planning on making a skirt for work, maybe with a couple of little pleats. I haven't decided yet.

French cotton sateen

And then before we knew it we were too wiped to go anywhere else, so we walked past Parsons, found the nearest subway and headed back to Harlem. I was actually satisfied with what we'd seen and done and was on a massive high from it all. And to be honest it was only after I'd gotten home to Canberra that I realised I may have missed a few opportunities. I wish now I had planned to spend the whole day in the garment district. Not buying necessarily. But watching and browsing. I'll be back, I'm sure.

A couple of days later we found ourselves on the Upper East Side and Lexington Ave, and we visited Pins and Needles NYC. It's a fantastic little quilting shop and the lady there was so helpful and friendly, jotting down other addresses of places we needed to visit in San Francisco, and also websites I'd find interesting. And they had excellent husband chairs, which we all know is very important in any crafting store. I really wanted to buy something at the store as both a memento and to repay the kindness that had been shown to us, and my eyes eventually fell upon the collection of Liberty Lawns. At much cheaper prices than Australia. Finally.

Liberty lawn - Pelagia

This might be a Not Sorbetto, or some other summery top. I haven't decided yet.

But something I did decide when I got back home was that I have to use these fabrics before I sew with anything else. They are special, and mean something to me. They have stories. It is only fitting I do something special with them.

Until of course I went to the Spotlight sale yesterday morning and came home with arms full of lovely embroidered cottons.

Embroidered cotton

Must. Not. Be. Seduced.


  1. Gorgeous fabrics, all of them! I especially love your Christmas dress fabric! Can't wait to see it made up! Get sewing lady!

  2. Rubbish. Seduce away, I say. You know how to pick 'em!

  3. Hi - I've only recently happened on your blog via Did You Make That? Thank you for your thoughts on NY fabric shopping. I'll be there late April with the family. Sounds like I'll need to ditch 'em for a few hours at least.
    Jealous of your Spotlight score - my local Spotlight only seems to stock dregs of dregs. Sigh.

  4. I love seeing people buying fabrics - Christmas dress oh yes! Crazy print oh yes yes!! Liberty lawn yes yes yes!

  5. I cannot believe this. I stumbled across that square when I was in New York and thought it was such a pretty space. I wandered back there when I was thinking about lunch, but I couldn't face the massive queue! I sat on a bench instead and gathered myself. Wow, I can't believe how nearly we bumped into each other in a city neither of us live in. Your fella looks soooo happy!

  6. Mood was totally awesome - only spent about half an hour there but bought a scrap of fabric for my Dad to get a bow tie made.

    I like to tell myself that the places I didn't go are reasons to go back - and am adding Shake Shack to the list!

  7. Beautiful fabrics. I was surprised to hear it wasn't cheaper than us! When I was there in the 80s I was blown away by how cheap all the fabric was. Gawd, can you believe I still have some of that fabric in a box under a bed? It sounds sensible to not overbuy as well. Hard to do (at least for me) but very noble.

  8. Oh my! Am I envious! Glad you had such a wonderful time....

  9. Oh well some of the best plans don't come to fruition BUT .) you got to shop ! ..and this is ALWAYS a good thing .D
    Fabrics => YUM ! my fave are the bottom two, so pretty :)

    What an amazing holiday you've had Michelle, I'm totally envious of it :D

  10. I do love a vicarious trip to NYC. Any time. Glad you enjoyed your time there and picked up a few little mementos.


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