04 July 2011

213. Dots and Bubbles for a Happy 4th!

If you're celebrating, I'm wishing you a Happy 4th!  I made a new dress for the occasion from Simplicity 2725 (my review on PatternReview.com is here), using a cotton/ lycra woven:

In this shot, I'm blowing the bubble hem out of proportion.  In its natural state the dress isn't this distorted at the bottom:

The white dots were like stars on a blue background.  Didn't want the dress to get too literal with red and white stripes, so I wore the dress to the neighborhood parade this morning with red and white sneakers.  Louis had the camera and took this photo randomly on our walk to the parade, which I think captures the natural movement and shape of the dress when I'm not posing for a picture -- and I like the natural movement and shape:

So let's talk about the fabric for a minute.  It's Robert Kaufman, and printed on the selvage was proof that this fabric and I were meant to be:

Only, here I am, a month and change before the last birthday of my "mid-thirties", and I'm wondering about the girlish shape of the dress I just sewed, and the fabric named "LUCKY GIRL", and the name of this blog, CleverGirl.  I may have a girlish figure but the fact is I'm so NOT a girl anymore!  Even if I sew princess dresses that look like they're made for 7-year-olds.  Ha!  I seem to over-think my age, and whether or I'm dressing my age, every year as my birthday approaches.  More to come on this topic, I'm sure......

Back to the July 4 bubble dress -- I bought this fabric last month at Metro Textiles in NYC (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).  I worked in NJ for a couple of days and flagged down Kyle from Vacuuming the Lawn.  I asked her if she wanted to make a day trip to NYC with me to shop in the Garment District.  Not only did she accept, she also planned our transportation there and graciously invited me to stay with her after my work was done in NJ.  SEWING SLUMBER PARTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kind of.  My first night there, Kyle showed me where all the blog magic behind Vacuuming the Lawn happens. You know, the nooks and crannies of our homes where we take in-progress photos, and finished garment photos, and oops-I-need-some-fitting-help photos.  She also shared with me the many garments in her wardrobe that she has made, and it's a great collection!

During our ride into the city, I had butterflies.  All my life I've loved the idea of NYC.  I thought about going to college there, and I've visited White Plains and Syracuse before but never made it to the city.  I have about a zillion impressions of NYC from as far back in my memory as Fame (do teenagers dance and sing on cars in the street that are stuck in traffic?), Beastie Boys videos (no sleep til Brooklyn!), Midnight Cowboy (seedy!) and Dog Day Afternoon (transvestite love and tense hostage negotiations) and endless episodes of Law & Order in all its incarnations.  All I could feel were butterflies, like I was going to visit my childhood crush.  For all intents and purposes, NYC kind of IS my childhood crush.

I couldn't help the touristy wonderment.  We came out of Port Authority and the first thing I saw was this:

It was clear we'd arrived in the Garment District just a few blocks later:

Kyle had also done a bunch of information-gathering about where we wanted to go.  Much of her research came from the excellent information at Meg's (of Lindsay T Sews fame) Shop the Garment District.  I can't recommend this site enough for its reviews, maps, and list of stores with restrooms.  ;)

One of our first stops was Mood:

Unlike big-box fabric stores in Austin, there was way more than one cutting table and lots of employees around to help.  And SO MUCH FABRIC it boggled the mind.  Interestingly, I brought a list of about 10 very specific items that I wanted to buy and didn't find most of it during my entire day of fabric shopping.  But I did find a couple of great things that I'm excited about.  More on that later.

It was interesting to see the many kinds of people employed at Mood.  I got the sense that some of them were fabric people through and through.  They weren't big on sewing but knew fabric like no one's business.  A few had "fashion design student" vibes, and there were a couple of ladies who may have been budding stylists.  I don't know anyone else who wears platform heels to a job where they climb ladders and are otherwise on their feet all day.  The bouncer at the door was very solemn and stern, until Kyle and I took one too many photos at the entrance, at which point he HAD to crack a joke at our expense.  At which point I INSISTED he join me in a photo:

We got to visit other shops that day, another highlight being Metro Textiles, where I picked up another couple of cuts of fabric.  The proprietor, Kashi, is a rock star of some kind in the home sewing world.  He's got a great personality and almost sold me a ton of silk brocade I really don't need and would probably never sew!  Here are four of the five fabrics I purchased in NYC:

The top two are from Mood -- a printed cotton to make a top to wear under my black work suits, and a striped denim that might have a fun life as a new garment I have in mind.  The bottom two are from Metro Textiles -- a stretch woven pixellated flower print, and the dotted fabric that became by July 4 dress.  There is one more fabric, the creme de la creme, that I purchased at Mood.  It has a special place in my sewing room.  I'll show you when I have more direction on what it will be.  Very special, this one....

Did I mention that Kyle and I got stuck in a hailstorm in the middle of our day in the big city?

I have a few more photos in my NYC Flickr set, but Kyle did a much better job of documenting our trip, both in photos and in this great blog post.  Thanks for everything, Kyle!  I had a really great time hanging out and exploring NYC's fabric stores with you.  Goodbye, pretty city!  See you soon, I hope.


  1. Love IT! You looked so jazzy wearing your white sneakers with red strap this morning.

    Yeah, that's right. I saw you and did't say hey.

    Cause I'm stalkerish that way.

  2. Awww...thank YOU for coming to visit! It was so fab! and thank you for showing me how to use my serger!!

    I love your bubble dress--good job on the circle placement, clever girl!!

  3. Clever Girl, love your dotty bubble dress, it looks great on you. So glad you had such a good time in NYC, see pictures of your trip reminded me of my past two summers there. Couldn't make it there this year, but I'm so glad that you did!

  4. Hey clever girl - we were meant to do NY together! I am seriously in love with your dotty frock and green shoes. Hope you and yours are well.

  5. Wow, i love it (might have to add the pattern to my wishlist).
    I also can't wait to see the orange flower garment you make - v. jealous of that fabric.

  6. Love your dress! Isn't visiting Kashi fun?

  7. Love the dress. It looks great on you. Soon I'll be fortunate enough to get to the NYC garment district, and I will probably feel the same as you.

  8. Nice! And appropriately festive as well.

  9. hey that looks so cool on you! My figure is only boyish in that I have negligible waist definition, and unfortunately those 60's dresses I love so much and which are great for boyish figures are just a bit ridiculous on a 40-something-year-old!
    Looks like you have a great time in New York :-)

  10. The first thing I noticed is that the dress looks great on you - it shows womanly curves rather than makes you look young. Or worse, make you look old but dressing too young HAHA! I struggle with that too because I'm petite and look(ed) young. I was once lectured about teen pregnancy even though I was 29. (gotta love crazy control freak strangers) Anyway, I think when "girl" is used as a personal label it's more about a fun and young attitude and not so much about age. And I bet that fits you well.

  11. Yay! You went to MOOD!!! I still have 3 yards of a red and black silk knit that I bought there when I went to NYC to try out for Project Runway season 3. I'm too afraid to make something with it because it was so $$$, isn't that silly?

    Anyway I love that dress! Very perfect.

  12. WOW! I love this large polka dotted fabric. Nice pick....and the shoes look great with it too.

  13. oooooooooohhhhhhhhhh. dots. excellent.

  14. Love the bubble dress!! Great choice of fabric, the white dots on the blue (and the sneakers)is quirky-ly chic:)..it looks great on you,well done!


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