My $50 of Mood Fabrics

At the end of April Rachel of House of Pinheiro did a post about making her first pair of jeans, which you can read here. She made her jeans using Theory indigo stretch cotton denim from Mood Fabrics (sorry, sold out or I would link to it). And Rachel was offering a giveaway – a $50 gift voucher towards a Mood Fabrics purchase – and I won!

I was shocked and thrilled to win. I’ve left comments on other blogs that were offering sewing-related giveaways but I never won before. So this was a wonderful surprise. Thank you, Rachel! All I had to do was email Rachel my info and she got a code from Mood and sent it to me right away. How exciting, eh?

First, I browsed the denim, thinking I could try keeping with the theme of Rachel’s blog post. Maybe I could find some lightweight so I could try to copy a pair of trouser jeans that are pretty worn out. But after browsing through pages of denim (stretch, indigo, metallic, I got tired of reading the product details. Then I thought, why don’t I get a fabric I’ve never sewn before and that’s a bit unusual?

So what popped in my mind was: silk jersey. I first encountered this fabric at a Bay Area Sewists meetup at Britex Fabrics, which I blogged about here. It was so soft and had a lovely drape but it also seemed a bit slippery. When I searched for silk jersey on the Mood Fabrics website, I found several solid colors and just a few prints. A silk jersey print isn’t very common so I picked this Pink and Red Bold Floral silk jersey print for $24.99/yard. This is the image from Mood’s website:

silk jersey - Mood Fabrics -

I really like the bright red flowers. I have to admit that I didn’t really pay attention to the name of the fabric – “Pink and Red” or I may have reconsidered my choice. The background didn’t really register as pink to me. I ordered two yards of this silk jersey. What would you order if you had $50 to spend at Mood?

My order made me eligible for a few swatches so I picked fabrics I haven’t sewn before: silk crepe, cotton dobby, cotton gauze, and silk faille. My fabric arrived in a nice box.

Mood Fabrics box -

And here’s what was inside…

Silk jersey and swatches - Mood Fabrics -

I guess the website image was pretty accurate. I don’t have any pastel pink in my wardrobe. I didn’t like pink as a young girl either. The closest I get to pink nowadays is fuchsia. But I do like the red flowers so I think I can live with the pale pink background.

Now I just need to figure out what I should make with this fabric. It’s 43 inched wide (about 109 cm) and I have 2 yards (1.8 meters) of it. What would you make with this fabric? I’d love some pattern suggestions – maybe a draped top? The fabric is a little sheer so I’ll likely need to line it. And maybe I could make a scarf from any leftover pieces.


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 -

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 -

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 -

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 -

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.


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 -

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

Betsy and Chuleenan at Mood Fabrics -

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

Leathers at Mood Fabrics -

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 -

[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 -

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

Book Review: The Mood Guide to Fabric and Fashion

Mood Guide to Fabric and Fashion - Book Review -

Hi, last weekend I popped into the Berkeley Public Library and ran across two recent books, The Mood Guide to Fabric and Fashion and Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style. Usually new books like these are not on the shelf and have a waiting list so I thought: This is my lucky day!

In this post, I’m going to focus on the Mood book. (I’ll review Lotta Jansdotter’s book later this month.) If you haven’t heard of Mood Fabrics, then you likely don’t watch television or buy fabric. Thanks to the reality TV series Project Runway (more than a dozen seasons so far!), Mood Fabrics is famous far beyond the fashion world. The flagship store in New York City gets more than 1,000 visitors a day. Wow.

So it’s not surprising that Mood Fabrics would author a book on fabric. The Mood Guide opens with a brief chapter on the fascinating history about how this family business got started by Jack Sauma, a Syrian immigrant who studied fashion design in Sweden. You ‘ll also get to see photos of employees, the family members who work for the store, and Swatch, the popular Boston Terrier who roams the aisles of the NYC store. The book mentions that some people come to the store just to take a photo of Swatch. Yep, the dog’s famous, too.You can see him in the photo below.

Mood Guide to Fabric and Fashion - inside -

The book cover has a round black circle on it that says “A complete resource from Mood Designer Fabrics.” At 184 pages, with plenty of gorgeous photos, I’m not sure I’d call it a “complete resource,” especially when you consider that Sandra Betzina’s book More Fabric Savvy, is 234 pages long and only focuses on fabric. However, unlike Betzina’s book, which is more of a reference book, The Mood Guide features beautiful photos throughout. I’d call it sort of a combination coffee table/fabric resource book.

As I flipped through The Mood Guide, I wondered who would buy it? Beginning sewists? People who don’t sew but who want to know more about the store because of Project Runway? Intermediate Sewists?

The book is a nice overview of the Mood store and fabric. There’s a chapter titled “Fabric 101: The fundamentals of fabric for sewers and designers,” explaining basic concepts such as cutting against the grain, what’s a lining, interlining, and underlining, and defines terms and concludes with fabric shopping tips from Phil Sauma (Jack’s son), who goes on fabric buying trip for the store. For example, he advises shoppers who are buying a print, to check the fabric before it’s cut. Make sure the placement of the colors are where they should be because a bad print bleeds.

There are chapters devoted to certain types of fabric. Cotton, linen, and hemp are folded into one chapter. Wools, knits, and silks each get their own chapter. The last one (titles “Other Fabrics”) is a hodgepodge of everything from metallic and pleated fabrics to leather, lace, and fake fur.

Wools - Mood Guide to Fabrics -

If you are expecting a book that offers practical advice on how to sew a particular fabric, what needles and type of thread to use, whether you should prewash the fabric, and so forth, you’d be better off getting Sandra Betzina’s More Fabric Savvy.

(For really specific and detailed information on textile terminology, you may want to invest in a copy of The Fairchild Books Dictionary of Textiles (more than 700 pages!). But that book is rather pricey if you buy it new (more than $200) but there are used copies for sale on Amazon, too. I have a used copy of an earlier edition that I got for less than $30 at a book store.)

If you want a beautifully photographed general resource book on fabric, or you’re a fan of the store, this book’s for you.