Shopping for fun is not really my jam. I mean, I don’t get a rush from buying things. But to lift myself out of my sewing funk, a trip to New York’s Garment District always works.
I like to start my trip by rubbing the handwheel on this sculpture for good luck:
This statue, by the sculptor Judith Weller, is modeled after her father. It’s dedicated to garment workers from the city’s heyday – many were poor Jewish immigrants who toiled on piecework for pennies but gradually built themselves prosperous lives in the United States.
There’s a New York Fashion Walk of Fame that celebrates 28 New York designers. I meant to visit Betsey Johnson’s plaque, but I forgot where it was, so here’s another favorite – Diane von Furstenberg.
There’s also a big needle and button sculpture (there’s construction around the site right now – here’s a picture I took a couple of summers ago):
People are always moaning that the Garment District “isn’t what it used to be” and I’m sure that’s true. But it’s still a fun, vibrant place. Walk around and you’ll probably see fashion students, designers and models, people pushing racks of clothes down the street, and plenty of shoppers. Many sample shops offer unique experiences. Lots of little shops cater to certain kinds of fabrics or trims, including some that serve ethnic shopping niches. There are also some big stores – Mood is the most famous from its Project Runway sponsorship, but there’s also B&J Fabrics, Elliot Berman, and many more.
I stopped first at my favorite specialty shop, Lou Lou Buttons. It’s a store that just sells buttons, and wow what a selection! Everything is top quality, and you won’t find many bargains, but if you need something special, it’s the place to go.
I am making my mother a blouse for holiday parties out of some gold satin. I wanted something to bling it up a bit. I was delighted to snag these rhinestone-studded beauties:
Then I headed to Steinlauf & Stoller to get some interfacing. They have the best quality stuff – I will never use that dreadful Pellon junk again.
I also scored a big roll of patternmaker’s paper. This stuff is transparent enough that you can see through it for tracing off patterns, yet sturdy enough that you can tissue-fit.
I also threw a little love the way of some trimming shops. I can never seem to remember their names, but they seem to be run by families and they have great prices. I stocked up on more pins, elastics, tailor’s chalk and a few others odds and ends.
It was a great way to spend my lunch hour from work. If you’re ever in NYC and want to shop, give me a shout!