Friday, November 11, 2011

Garment District in a Whirlwind

I spent the last 2 weeks on an unexpected road trip. What I thought would be a quick 2 night stay in DC (a 6 hour drive), turned into 12 nights out and included a drive right past Manhattan and onto Long Island. Our time in DC was extend due to a family funeral, which wasn’t all that unexpected as my brother’s mother-in-law had entered hospice a few days prior. We sat shiva with my brother and his wife for several days before heading to New York.


While in DC I had visited G Street twice and pulled some lovely fabrics off the $2.98 wall. But I started itching for trims. And with NYC within arm’s reach, it was a no-brainer. The train station was directly across from the hotel. I’d never taken the Long Island Rail Road, but I used to be adventurous and felt I could resurrect that long-dormant trait. One hitch in my get-up-and-go: we were traveling with Murphy, a 12 pound pooch and the hotel would not permit me to keep him in the room unattended. Last minute attempts to locate a pet sitter failed. So, if I were to go into the city, with Murphy I would go.


I chose this photo of Murphy even though it isn’t his best side because it shows you the life he’s accustomed to. There are cattle off our back deck. Planning a trip into the city with the jungle of feet would require concessions to Murphy’s need to not be stepped upon. This dog is skittish in a crowd. Can’t blame him, really. I could carry him. Except I can’t carry 12 pounds for hours on end even in a pet carrier slung over my shoulder. I needed wheels. My husband had a wheeling over-sized brief case…see where I’m going with this? Isn’t a trip into NYC worth the silliness?

I put a towel in the bottom of the case, took Murphy for a test ride in the hotel room across the carpet. He wasn’t happy but he stayed put after a false start or two. I attached his leash in the event he decided to jump out (or someone decided to snatch his cute hide while I wasn’t looking). I wore a vest with zippered pockets to keep my hands free – lipstick, license, credit card, cash, hotel card, and hand-drawn map of stores I hoped to visit – basic essentials (oh, and a water bottle in the suitcase with Murphy for his needs). Check check check. Taking chutzpah in hand, setting my determination to reach the Garment District, Murphy and I wheeled confidently out of the hotel. (Picture me with attitude.)

A haughty spirit is despised and mine came to a crashing end a mere three feet past the hotel doors in full view of the 5 doormen and bellboys hovering to lend a hand. A haughty spirit can be a heavy burden, therefore it was a good thing strong men were available to assist.

At the first rumbling sound as the case bumped across the concrete, Murphy absolutely freaked out, jumping out of the case, straining against the leash holding him close, trying to do one thing: escape!

Murphy on Sewing Table102

A dog used to the finer things in life was not going in peacefully. But by then, I had decided going in was the only way I wanted to spend my day. So we made it work. I coddled and baby talked and eventually he decided he trusted me.

The train ride was uneventful, the city was hot hot hot and more crowded than I ever recall witnessing. Murphy was a good boy. Until he wasn’t. He did freak a time or two, jumping into the jungle of swiftly moving legs.

Mike Feeds Murphy to Tiger

(I mean, that’s not even a REAL tiger. Goodness!)

Within short order, Murphy decided his case was a haven and gladly stayed put. By then I’d shed my vest (did I mention how HOT I was?) and added it to the bottom of the case so he was able to sit a bit higher which made it easier for him – perhaps it was more comfortable as well. All the store owners were kind (especially Paron’s). People on the street laughed behind my back. Children were delighted. I wish I had a photo. Perhaps I’ll mock one up later to show you.

I didn’t need more fabric. Well, I did, always, but I wasn’t going to try to carry the weight and I couldn’t justify the expenditure after last week’s G Street haul. So I aimed for trims.


M&J Trims: hem tape in black and white, fold over elastic in gunmetal grey. I would have bought oodles more but they simply did not have more in a good color or weight. How disappointing. The brown mesh is stretch. And the black is faggoting. I’ve never used faggoting or FOE.


From Daytona Trim:


I’d love to show you photos of separating zippers – but I could not find what I wanted anywhere.

After a few hours, I was hot, tired, Murphy was exhausted and so we headed out. I wish I had found more goodies to come home with me, but I think overcoming fears and finding a way to “make it work” was worth the effort. I have regained a bit of my youthful sense of adventure.

Mostly, I feel I have arrived. When I last visited the Garment District – two years ago? – I felt like an uninvited guest to the banquet. Not so this time. I belong. I’m a sewist. I know what I’m doing with a needle and thread. My suitcase was packed with clothing I’d made, sandwiched between the RTW. As a matter of fact, my best clothes, those I wore to the funeral and family events were mine: a black knit suit with pencil skirt and matching jacket, plus a sleeveless turtleneck and a winter white wool jacket and faux brown suede skirt.  I have just realized I have no photos of most of these elements – I must get better at photographing my creations!

Here is the wool jacket, photo taken last spring.


With my “adjustment” I found the jacket too large, so I added buttons and hand-bound button holes. I’ll have to get a photo of the new me wearing it, but this will have to suffice for now. With the buttons, I don’t need to alter the darts and the jacket looks fine.


Today, Murphy is happy to be home where the worst thing that can happen to him is a faux fox stole.

Murphy with stole

And I did all this without the hand-drawn map. I'm not sure it even made it onto the train with me. Yes. I have arrived.


KC said...

What a great, funny, uplifting story! Isn't it a wonderful feeling of freedom when you decide that doing what you want to do is more important than how you might look doing it?

Anonymous said...

Great story! You are unstoppable! Glad to hear the shopkeepers were understanding about Murphy. I still love your white jacket and want something similar.

Remnant said...

Thank you for the comments!

KC: As I get older, I'm less inclined to care about how I appear. Perhaps it's because I'm fighting a losing battle? haha

Bluemooney - is it the fabric or the pattern you like? If it's the fabric, I understand. I wish I'd bought oodles more!!! It is self-faced wool, bought at G Street sometime last year. Amazing stuff, really.