Can you guess where I am?
When you travel to New York with work, it’s important to pay careful attention to budget, schedules and colleague liaison.
Which is why, on arrival, I threw my suitcase into my hotel room, slammed the door back shut and ran out onto the streets of the city that never sleeps. I had priorities: to meet Elizabeth from SEWN.
Here’s Elizabeth and I in Paron. We’re both beaming because we’ve both bought fabric:
Elizabeth and I met up outside Mood Fabrics, a store I’ve read so much about on US blogs. I nearly walked straight past the building – the shop is tucked away discreetly on the upper floors reached by a rattling elevator. I was worried about struggling to spot Elizabeth, but we clapped eyes on each other straight away. Her son patiently tolerated two lady sewing shoppers for the rest of the afternoon, behaving beautifully.
Mood is massive. It’s on three different floors (or is it four?) each of which houses five or six large aisles holding hundreds of bolts of fabric:
I ended up buying some brocade (the pattern looks as though it requires a relatively stiff fabric). I also bought some denim that I would describe as either mustard or gold. Yeah, I know – sounds a bit iffy. I have been drawn before to metallic denim. It will either work or it won’t, but I want to give it a go. My purchases below:
As well as Mood and Paron, Elizabeth took me to two other stores. Unfortunately, I was too overwhelmed to make a note of their names. The Garment District is jam-packed with reasonably-priced fabric stores. Makes me think we need more mid-range stores in London. Or just more stores! Fabric either seems cheap as chips (Walthamstow market) or high end (Liberty). Having said that, I’ve yet to visit Goldhawk Road, so I should probably suspend judgement. Not that I’ll be doing any fabric shopping for a while!
Amusing culture clash moment: in Mood I was queueing up to have the denim cut, chatting to Elizabeth. People milled around us. I noticed the odd other customer drifting past me and would politely step out of the way. At this point Elizabeth was probably thinking, Does this woman not want to get her fabric cut? In the end, she told me straight: ‘Maybe you should be more aggressive with your line standing, Karen.’ Oh, dear. I was being too English. I had to learn some New York attitude! I stepped forwards and made sure to raise my hand when it was my turn next. Raising my hand in a polite way, obviously, whilst apologising profusely for the abomination of my existence.
Right now I am feeing a bit dizzy with jetlag. There’s some bloke on the telly in my hotel room called Billy The Exterminator. I’ll meet my colleagues for a drink soon, then sleep well tonight. Thank you, Elizabeth, for giving me such a warm welcome during my first hours in the city.
New York, New York – so good they sewed it twice.