THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

July 29, 2007

Who is that man in the mirror?

Filed under: Designer Inspirations,Fabric — georgene @ 5:37 pm


The most dangerous man I know! Kashi at Metro Textile on 37th St. in New York City. Since his move a few months ago, Kashi has increased his selection of ‘fine fabrics for nearly nothing’. Seriously, I try to avoid going there, but like a moth to the flame I am drawn. I have already exceeded my Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy, by a whole lot. But as always, after a trip to Metro, I find that I just have to acquire a few new pieces.

As I was drawn towards 8th Ave, heading towards Metro Textile, I got sidetracked into Pacific Trimming at 218 W. 38th St. What a great addition to the street! It’s very like a Hong Kong trim supplier you might find in Kowloon, with a vast selection of belt, buckle, and purse hardware, alongside ribbons and buttons, cords, and ?? A great selection, and the ablility to buy in bulk, should you have a need for that.

I had a ‘story board’ of fabrics pinned to a big sheet of 11 x 17 paper, so I was able to hone in on some things I was missing – colored silk organzas, solid silk charmeuse, novelties that worked in with my color story of shades of charcoal, black and grey with shots of hot pink and silver metallic. Hopefully I can make some serious inroads in to my planned wardrobe. As shoemakers’ wives go barefoot, designers often have nothing to wear. I have a closet full of rejected samples, and often never get a piece out of production of the items I really like. My resolution is to do something about that this year. Loooove the pink lame leopard!! I must make a cropped trench from that, and soon!


Here’s my pile in the photo below, sitting on the chair at Metro. Kashi will ship it to the studio, so I don’t have to carry anything. Oh the sweet anticipation! I didn’t get swatches of everything, as there were several other ladies in the shop, so I have to rely on memory for a few days. Kashi told us not to worry, he has no problem helping a lot of customers simultaneously. “Sometimes I have 20 ladies at one time!” he said gleefully. I told you he was dangerous…


July 21, 2007

Beauty Icons

Filed under: Fashion,Inspirations — phyllisc @ 10:41 am

Gloria Guinness 

I love, although the site is getting so dense that often I just feel overwhelmed…but there’s one fun feature that you may not know about, called “Beauty Icon”.  It’s a romp through fashion history with short bios and often a great slide show of 9 – 12 photos. 

The folks at never actually state their criteria for this list, and the only hard and fast rule I can detect is that for the most part no fashion executives or designers are included (Estee Lauder and Mary Quant being the sole exceptions so far). The archive is a great way to appreciate well known fashion icons (C.Z. Guest, Greta Garbo), those lesser known but equally worthy (Gloria Guinness, Mona von Bismarck) pleasant surprises (Amelia Earhart, Florence Griffith Joyner), controversial mavericks (Bjork, Grace Jones), and few head-scratchers that are sure to provoke Barry Bonds-like arguments (Sofia Coppola, Chloë Sevigny).

 It’s fun little time sink!

July 17, 2007

Mexico Lindo

Filed under: Designer Inspirations,Embellishment — georgene @ 8:08 am

My work in the garment industry takes me to a lot of far away places. I love seeing the local handicrafts, like weaving, dyeing, embroidery, and local clothing. This has led me to collecting Indian saris, Indonesian batiks, and Chinese embroidered silk pajamas. I have found wonderful buttons in Korea, and blazer patches in a New Delhi bazaar that are worthy of the most expensive Ralph Loren cashmere jackets.


Here I am in the packing department of a handloom/powerloom weaver in Coimbatore India. This is very far off the beaten path! Yet it is hard to find ‘local’ product – it is all made for export.

It’s tough though, as usually I only get to see the hotel, the factory, and the road in between on these trips, they don’t pay me to be a tourist. I have to steal time away, and beg people to take me to places where such things can be found. Often the local people devalue the indigenous crafts, they all want blue jeans and tee shirts, Adidas and Coca Cola. I would much rather have a chai in a rough hut in an old part of town and discuss making something with a elderly tailor who’s been trained in British-style menswear traditions. Give me an old guy, any day, who learned the old school way, rather than a young’un who wants to be all modern.

Earlier this month when I was in Mexico, it was no different. I had to ask several people to guide me to finding local embroidery and weaving, leaving them to scratch their heads and wonder where I might find such a thing. Finally, I found out that a small town near Puebla called Cholula had a Saturday market, and that there were 2 old ladies that often had local style embroidery and weavings for sale. Unfortunately we had to leave for the long drive to the airport in Mexico City at 10 am, so time was very short to mount an expedition. “They are at the market at the foot of the Mayan Pyramid” was the only directions we got, so it meant driving around losing time getting lost for awhile before we found it. Sure enough, the 2 old ladies were there, getting set up for the day. It was early and most of the others who would lay out their wares had not even shown up yet. It was so early that I was in a fog and neglected to photograph the women in front of the Mayan pyramid. I hope I can go back some day and get that photo, and see what else might be at that tiny market.

I was underwhelmed. There was not much selection, and the fabric used was the wretched poly/cotton that I can’t abide. I chose the 2 best pieces – the most sophisticated in terms of color and pattern. I suppose I could unstitch the handmade bits and set them on another garment – but that’s a project for a rainy day in the distant future. Meanwhile, it is totally awe inspiring the amount of work on these 2 garments, and what a surprise when you get up close!


Here is the black one, most definitely poly cotton.


The red and black one may actually be cotton, but most likely not.

And now for the surprise, it’s not embroidery at all, but actually seed bead work!blkbeadclose.jpg


July 14, 2007

The Cutting Edge

Filed under: Designing,sewing — georgene @ 2:13 pm

Some say if it’s in the New York Times, it’s already over. This Thursday’s style section ran an article about the resurgence of sewing, knitting and crafts in general. I guess that must be news to them.

The Home Sewing Association says that there are about 35 million sewing amateurs in the United States, compared with 30 million in 2000.

So for those who are new to sewing (5 million??) welcome to the wonderful world of sewing, ripping, and eventual accomplishment. How many returned to sewing, after abandoning it? did you learn from your aunt or your grandmother?


My grandma, and the teenage girls who lived next door to her, helped me make doll clothes, starting when I was 8 years old.

If you know how to sew, pass your skills along! It will keep sewing on the cutting edge.

My dear daughter participated in a runway fashion show at her high school this past year. There were some great outfits. Here is one of the 3 she showed – the seams are wobbly, but for her first efforts at putting stuff together, totally great!

July 7, 2007

Setting up the Lines

Filed under: Industry,Machines,Technology — georgene @ 10:18 pm


I just got back from a trip to Puebla Mexico to check out a factory that will be doing production for my current project.

I may have been in every industrial backwater in the world from Pakistan to Malaysia via China and India. This place in Mexico was wonderful in comparison to some of the manufacturing areas I have seen, where the ditches run green with effluent and wild pigs cavort in the dusty rags caught in scraggy weeds on vacant lots, next door to the pitted rusting factory. Did I mention that it might be monsoon season and you would be wading thru the muck to get there?

This factory was very clean, modern, and well lit by the skylights you can see bisecting the roof above the main floor. Someone who is much smarter than I am about the industrialization of design flew in to set up the manufacturing lines for the dresses we are about to produce.


Here is the first set up with the machines placed in the order of operation. Those bits of cardboard that you see to the side of each machine have a swatch showing the exact operation required at that machine as a reference. Each operation is timed so that the total amount of time per garment can be calculated. Only then can the real actual cost for the garment be established. Until this step is taken, its all estimated.


Here’s a line set up for a simple tee shirt running on the floor while we were there.


After the garments come off the machine, they are individually checked and loose threads clipped before going to pressing. I like the stand up angled tables this factory uses, and the fact that the mounds of finished pieces are not allowed to become overwhelming. Some places I have been there are huge ziggurats of shirts threatening to engulf the checkers. Just having that never-ending pile would be enough to depress me. In this factory, although the women are on their feet, at least the angled table makes the laying out the garment easier, and relieves neck strain from bending over the table.


We left the factory at the end of the afternoon, with the sun still shining on the cornfield next door. Within 20 minutes the seasonal daily downpour started. Once back in Puebla town, the streets were running rivers, and we had to turn back from a few intersections where cars were completely flooded out. A Mexican monsoon moment that was over almost as quickly as it had begun.

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