Charles James at the Met and Loving The Garment District

Yesterday, I met up with Claudine to see the Charles James exhibit at the Met in NYC. Friends, it was breathtaking. The last time I went to the Costume Institute was in July 2010 for the American Style exhibit. I think Brooklyn has a better display space, but the Met has more space. The exhibition made amazing use of technology to show you how dresses were constructed and the pattern pieces used in them. No photos allowed. But, I did buy the accompanying book. From Amazon. It was $15 less and I didn’t have to haul five pounds through the city for the rest of the day. Plus, it arrived this afternoon! I totally now regret not getting the hardback version of American Style four years ago.

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If you get a chance, please do go see the show. It closes in August and was worth the ‘recommended’ admission of $25. And, going on a Thursday was ideal! It had plenty of people but neither the subway/ busses nor streets were packed. I’m so lucky I can get there to see great things like this in a day.

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I did go into the Garment District. But, really, it was just to pick up a few supplies I needed for upcoming projects. I also wanted to step in some stores I don’t often go to. In the past, Mood took up most of my shopping time.  And, the organization there has spoked me I think. This time, I went to Chic Fabric, SIL Thread, Pacific Trim and Fabric Fabric (formerly Lace Star).

I think, in some ways, I’m ‘over’ the Garment District. Now, hear me out! The garment district has my heart. But, it’s packed, crowded, and expensive. I think for regular shopping I prefer places with a curated collection and better prices.

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Now, I did pay $30 for one yard of that silk pink taffeta at Fabric Fabric because it was exactly what I wanted for an upcoming project. And, that’s what NYC fabric shopping is good for. You just cannot find the breadth of notions and findings anywhere else.

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I was super excited to find loads of ribbing and collars for polo shirts at Pacific Trim. You can’t find that stuff on line! I didn’t actually buy any. But, at least I know where to find it!

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I saw this black and cream silk jersey for $38 a yard that I paid $14 a yard for at SR Harris in Minnesota. Yes, I know it’s NY. But, I just wanted to point out that the prices aren’t always better and where they excel is the selection, options and findings. Plus, you really have to shop around / go to lots of stores and it can be tiring. I think if I had the leisure of strolling there for specific items easily, it would always be my favorite place to shop.

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So, I’m back home today and have a completed project (that was due well over a month ago), an in progress tunic from four year old silk, and in in progress skirt from week-old linen. Hopefully some photos over the weekend.

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18 thoughts on “Charles James at the Met and Loving The Garment District

  1. I went into the NYC Garment District once and that was enough. Not too many places seem to have signs outside so you have to know where you want to go in advance. I found the inside of Mood hot and stuffy and the sheer amount of stock they had was too overwhelming on a day where I just wanted to casually browse. Online shopping is so much easier.

  2. As someone who lives in NYC and work just 10 blocks away from the garment district, I rarely go to the garment district. This is due to various reason, some of which you mentioned above, but in general, It’s mission to find nice fabric in my budget and the haggling aspect (since you rarely see an actual price tag) is exhausting. This is exciting to someone who lives out of state but for me, my shopping primarily happens online.

    • Yeah. I don’t know that the fabric should have been $30 a yard. But, it was there and what I wanted and I didn’t want to go to three more stores. This trip also reconfirmed why I do have a stash. Buy things you like because you don’t know when you’re going to want / need it.

      On Fri, Jun 27, 2014 at 4:29 PM, Miss Celie's Pants wrote:

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  3. I love the garment district but I never allow myself enough time when I go to NYC. I always want to go say hi to people and then we talk to long and then I have to rush. I love rayon jersey but I need to see before I buy, so that’s what I’ve focused on that last few times I went. Thanks for the museum review! I gotta go !

  4. Except for thread and YKK zippers (SIL), I rarely go to the garment district for general fabric shopping. Many shops are specialized and it is hard to the find basics that I always seem to need. (If I only had the kind of life which demands sequins and layers of silk chiffon!) One place that does have some nice basics is Mood, but it is not cheap. One time I found an identical fabric, a distinct cotton-silk print, online for literally 1/2 of the price I paid at Mood. I’m sure that Mood has high overhead, and that’s why, but I can’t always justify that level of damage to my budget. For me, the garment district is best for trimmings. Personally, I’m not a big fan of Pacific Trimmings, but for bargains I go to Daytona Trim. The beautiful stuff, and bit more pricey, is at Mokuba and Shindo. In my view, the prices for best quality trim at those two shops are worth it (and great for browsing).
    ~Jen (NYC)

    • I made a pair of shorts from a mood cotton. A friend emailed to say it was a quarter of the price on another site. I snatched up five more yards of it. I think, at Mood, you pay for the space and the curation. And, Mood feels like a store for home shoppers too. Versus the other places are probably just not geared to home shoppers. Thanks for the tips on Daytona Trim. I never seem to make it over there. I want a zipper shop like SIL. Ohmygoodness. The options are mind boggling.

      On Fri, Jun 27, 2014 at 5:07 PM, Miss Celie's Pants wrote:

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    • Somehow, Paron’s never really caught on with me. And, I have no idea why not! I need to give them another shot.

      On Fri, Jun 27, 2014 at 5:10 PM, Miss Celie's Pants wrote:

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      • When my husband was Head of Mission for the Int. Red Cross at the UN, I needed a ton of suits for events, but had no special budget and three kids in diapers. Paron’s and Vogue Designer Patterns saved my skin. For five years straight, I sat through a hot and empty August in New York with a sewing machine squeezed into a corner in our tiny bedroom sewing up what I needed to look presentable for the General Assembly-related social events, where lots of the diplomats’ wives attending were wearing fabulous outfits. I’m glad that frantic time is over, but the sewing was fun.
        Thank you Paron’s. I’ll never stop feeling grateful for your assistance!

  5. NYC Fabric District sure sounds like a challenge. From the descriptions I’ve read, I think it would just wear me out, unless I had 3-4 leisurely days and well planned and spaced, but it’s so good you know your way around.

    About the rib knit ready made collars, I have a couple from my dear late Mom’s ancient stash, so I know they’ve been out there for years. If you want solid colors, Zoelee’s has them = $2.00 each. I’ve dealt with her before = positive experience.

    http://www.zoelees.com/products/Fashion_Knit_Collars.htm

    The exhibit sounds incredible. I had to check out the website to get a feel for all it encompasses: http://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2014/charles-james-beyond-fashion Really special.

    How are you liking your Bernina? I’ve been sweating and fighting with a generic ruffler foot I’ve used for years that needs the low shank adapter for my 930. I finally called a dealer I’ve known and asked if it’s supposed to be so tough… you have to be a contortionist with 2 extra hands. So FYI = according to him, Bernina never made their own ruffler foot = they likely brand a generic, but that there IS a special Bernina ruffler foot adapter. Who knew? Swoosh – it’s on its way, along with the single needle hole plate for sewing delicate/light fabrics and a few other must haves.

    I’m done fighting the Hoover sucking down vortex with the regular plate for the knit/light fabric dresses and ruffles for my granddaughter and the other delicates I sew. He even took the time while I was at the machine to guide me through the replacement process of the needle plate = easy. The prices are certainly gulpable = but I know their accessories/feet do the job.

    • I love every single thing about my Bernina! It it making me so very happy. Right now I’m working on a thin / light silk and am using the adapter with my Singer straight stitch foot. I did buy the branded walking foot and will likely use it soon as I’m working on something with stripes that has the be matched perfectly. I wonder if I shouldn’t look for a straight stitch plate too?

      I also have to say that the invisible zipper foot might be worth the money. I seriously inserted the best invisible zip of my life with the least amount of effort ever. It was a thing to behold. I also have nothing but incredibly good things to say about the edge stitch foot. The top stitching I’m doing with it is the best Iv’e ever done. So, you’re right. It’s pricey but they are marvelous!

      On Fri, Jun 27, 2014 at 5:31 PM, Miss Celie's Pants wrote:

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      • I wonder if I shouldn’t look for a straight stitch plate too?

        ~~~

        I guess your experiences will foretell the tale of that. I’m just beyond tired of trying to inch what I’m sewing backwards and forwards and sometimes finally having to cut the blob out. I feel fairly sure .. just logically .. it’ll make a positive difference in lightweight/silky fabrics, but see what you discover. Of course, as the dealer said:
        DO NOT forget to put the regular plate back for other than straight stitching. I think I’ll have to mark it in red or something somehow as a reminder or else my urge to complete will cause calamity .. (I can readily see myself doing that .. ;)

        I’m really happy you’re loving your Bernie .. I don’t think you’ll regret adopting it
        .. ever. Solid, RollsRoyce were the descriptions I heard multiple times in the years before I finally made the decision to buy the 930 .. I’ve not had a moment’s regret. I would honestly sob if some hopefully imaginery event were to take it from me. It’s just the best, reliable, almost unbreakable, even though I’ve had and done what might be breakable events to other machines (lighter,more plastic, etc.).

        Don’t forget the Yahoo groups: Bono’s Berninas and Bernina ThirtySomethings to join and monitor now and then. They’re fantastic resources and touchstones for newbies due to so many experienced owners. And enjoy your treasure for years of happy sewing! (NO doubt in my mind you’ll be a full-fledged member of the Bernina Foot Patrol, before long .. LOL)

        • You’re making me want a Bernina!

          Have you tried holding taut the threads from the bobbin and spool as you start sewing, and gently pulling them behind the presser foot for the first few stitches? That works for me with very thin fabrics.

          Good luck!

  6. I’m so glad you enjoyed the exhibit. I’m going to see it in 3 weeks when I’m on vacation and I can’t wait! I also ordered the book from Amazon and it’s awesome!

  7. Thanks for an objective view. I haven’t been but it would be good to know these things. So when do we get a review of that delicious book I see ?

  8. It was such a treat to see the exhibit with someone who appreciates this kind of thing the way I do! Thanks for meeting me. Re the garment district: I love it because I don’t keep much of a stash. I know they will always have what I want and if I pay a little bit more, I make it up in storage space that I don’t have to provide for my nonexistent fabric collection!

  9. I’ve just stumbled upon your blog and absolutely adore it! I may have read through 8 pages over a course of 2 nights. I’m incredibly late to the party but recall an earlier post where you mentioned that you need Australian ziplock bags to fit particular pattern pieces? Do you know which ziplock ones you are specifically after in terms of dimensions etc. Am happy to help out as your blog has thoroughly entertained me!

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