My trip to New York’s Garment District

Last January I was on the East Coast to visit family in New Jersey and I also snuck in a quick jaunt to New York. Because I only had a day to spend in the Big Apple, I contacted a few sewcialists before my trip to see if we could meet in the Garment District, the neighborhood in Manhattan where you’ll find a plethora of fabric and notions. Somehow I never got around to blogging about it so here (at last!) is my summary of that fun trip.

I began my exploration of the Garment District with lunch at Lazzara’s Pizza with textile designer Olgalyn who designs and sells sweater knits which you can see (and buy) on O! Jolly! We follow each other on Instagram (@ojolly and @csews), commented on each other’s blogs but we had never met in person. We shared some delicious thin crust pizza. Yum!

Lunch with Olgalyn - C Sews - csews.com

Last year I bought some of her lovely natural white cotton sweater knit and then realized I should get some ribbing to match. I bought it before my trip and when I told her I would be in New York, we made plans to meet for lunch and then she gave me the cotton ribbing, saving me shipping costs. 😉

Cotton Ribbing - O! Jolly!

It’s really soft and sturdy. Now I need to make something! After lunch we browsed a few notions shops. Zippers, lace, or super-wide elastic anyone?

Notions - Garment District - New York City - C Sews - csews.com

Then we headed over to B&J Fabrics, where I was going to meet Betsy, the designer behind SBCC Patterns, an indie pattern line aimed at the petite figure (in case you didn’t know, the acronym stands for Skinny Bitch Curvy Chicks – heheh). I first heard about Betsy and her patterns from the first Sewing Indie Month. (Her Tonic Tee is a free PDF pattern you can download from her site. There’s also a free long-sleeved version.)

I’m also the organizer for the Bay Area Sewists meetup group. More than a year ago, I had asked Betsy if she’d like to donate one of her patterns as a giveaway for an upcoming meetup. She sent us a paper copy of her Mimosa Blouse pattern. My other interaction with Betsy was when I got to select one of her patterns as part of my prize package for winning the Everyday Casual category of Sewing Indie Month last year. (My winning entry was the A-Frame Skirt by Blueprints for Sewing, which I blogged about here.) I picked SBCC’s Manhattan Trousers, which I still need to make. Obviously, I’m not petite but her patterns are easy to lengthen. I like the contoured waistband on these pants. So we knew each other from these interactions long before we met and we follow each other on Instagram. I love meeting other sewcialists in person!

Here’s Olgalyn at B&J Fabrics, a place where you can find some really sumptuous (and pricey) fabrics – imported wools and designer silks. She graciously agreed to let me take her photo. It was lovely to meet her.

Olgalyn of O! Jolly! - C Sews - csews.com

I had also been in touch with Sonja of Ginger Makes but she was out of town the day I was in NYC so we couldn’t meet in person. But she did tell me to stop by Fabric for Less, telling me that “you have to dig” but there’s usually something she likes for very little money. There was indeed a pile of fabrics that I dug through and found this guipure lace fabric, which I got for $1. It was a little less than a yard.

Guipure lace - Fabric for Less - New York trip - csews.com

When you travel, do you seek out fabric stores? Do you just go to browse or do you have anything in particular in mind? For this trip, I knew I wanted to do some browsing but I also had two things that I definitely wanted to get: red wool crepe to make a skirt and some gray ribbing for a coat. Betsy took me to all the places where I could find those two things. She was a great guide! We went to Botani Trimmings on 36th St., which has ribbing of many colors and sizes. I got the gray ribbing below – the roll that’s pulled out. I contemplated getting black but that’s easier to get elsewhere. This shade of gray isn’t easy to find so I got a yard.

Ribbing

And of course we had to stop by Mood Fabrics and look for Swatch, the store’s dog made famous by Project Runway. And yes, we did find Swatch who greeted another dog while we were there.

Swatch the dog at Mood Fabrics - csews.com

And here’s Betsy and I at Mood standing in front of many rolls of fabric.

Betsy and Chuleenan at Mood Fabrics - csews.com

And here I am at Mood in front of the colorful leather section.

Leathers at Mood Fabrics - csews.com

It was great to meet these two talented and lovely ladies in person! After we parted ways, I wandered around, checking out the lions at the New York Public Library (there’s one on the other side of the steps)…

New York Public Library

… watching the ice skating at Bryant Park…

Ice Skating at Bryant Park

And then dropping by Kinokuniya bookstore, which was right across from Bryant Park. I checked out the Japanese patterns books and decided to buy one. By that time, I was hungry so I bought the book and grabbed a bite to eat in the store’s small cafe. (Yes, the book is in Japanese so I’m hoping the diagrams will give me enough info. But if I’m desperate, I’ll pop over to the Kinokuniya store in San Francisco for some translation assistance. 😉

Japanese patterns & dinner - csews.com

[Dinner wasn’t great – this was a pre-packaged meal that I heated up in the cafe’s microwave. The only thing made fresh there is tea. I wouldn’t recommend the food. :/]

I had a wonderful but exhausting day – I walked more than 16,000 steps!

Steps in New York - csews.com

Now I need to get sewing! After all, it’s Me Made May -the perfect month to sew.

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2 Responses to “My trip to New York’s Garment District”

  1. May 9, 2016 at 2:38 pm #

    It was a real pleasure meeting you, Chuleenan. What fun! I’m so glad you enjoyed your visit that day. Wow! 32 flights of stairs!?

    When I travel I think I’m more inclined to visit yarn shops. I still get overwhelmed in fabric shops that are new to me for some reason.

    • May 9, 2016 at 4:32 pm #

      It was a really packed day! I think the stairs must be going up and down to the subway and the escalators at the airport. I took a redeye so that’s part of it.

      I can see you going to yarn shops. Fabric stores can be overwhelming so I try to have a list and stick to it – keeping in mind the limited space in my apartment. 😉

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