My day began with a migrane headache. This normally isn't a good sign.
I'd been waking up every three hours during the night (whenever the
aspirin wore off) and I was feeling tired. I took four aspirin, threw on
the clothes I'd laid out, and ran out the door. I was convinced that I was
going to have to just force myself through the day and wasn't going to
have a good time.
I was wrong.
I arrived a couple of minutes late (thank you MBTA) to the Chinatown
Gate, where I was met by Debbie Deutsch. We sat down on a bench and
started to chat about computers and sewing and everything else. We were
soon joined by Mary Ann (Mary Ann, I don't think you mentioned your last
name.) and having waited a good while for stragglers and obtained the
necessary dimsum minimum of three, we went to the restaurant.
Dimsum was as always marvelous. Debbie and Mary Ann generated a couple
of ideas for what I could make from the eight yards of rainbow metallic
fabric I bought recently, and we chatted about what we sew and which
pattern companies we prefer and so on. Then, having thoroughly stuffed
ourselves, we began the Fabric Crawl with North End Fabrics.
North End Fabrics is always a treasure, and we found a few real gems. I
was particularly amused that we found *three* prints of flying pigs, but
the one I may return to get some of (to make whimsical clothes for my
young cousins) was the print of cartoon pigs stuffing their faces with
pizza and donuts etc. It was a scream.
We all drooled over the lucious velvets and ***d the cashmere, and
when I showed Debbie the slinky silk that I've been working with for the
last couple of days, she gave me some helpful tips for the next time I
have to deal with a similar fabric.
One of the themes of the day rapidly evolved to be "fashion don'ts."
The #1 fashion don't from North End Fabrics was a screamingly bright
yellow (with a slight green tint) lycra, with big black polka dots.
Next came Van Fabric Company, which is a little Vietnamese store which
has extraordinarily beautiful one and two color silk jacquards and
gorgeous brocades, all with an oriental/chinese flavor. I was apparently
the only one who had ever been there, so I was pleased to be able to
show this fabulous fabric store to Debbie and Mary Ann. I bought three
yards of white silk jacquard, but only realized while it was being cut
that it was actually 30" fabric, so I'm going to have to sit down and
think again about what I'm going to make with it. Mary Ann and Debbie
both expressed how tempted they were by everything, but both decided to
hold off on buying anything until they could determine exact yardage,
as the fabrics there are (correspondant to their high quality) rather
Mary Ann, regretfully, had recently injured her wrist, and she said it
was beginning to be uncomfortable for her, so sadly, she had to depart
at this point. We bid her farewell as we were about to enter New England
New England Textiles didn't have anything particularly wonderful of
note as I recall. It did however have a number of fashion-don'ts, the
piece-of-resistance being the really horrible teal polyester (so
horrible that it was almost like swimming pool lining) with stuck-on
yellow-orange velve*** flowers. I don't think I've ever seen a more
hideous fabric. I'm tempted to go buy half a yard just so I can show it
to people so they'll believe it exists. I wonder if that's the only way
At this point the oppressive heat and humidity which were prevalent
yesterday finally got the better of Debbie and I, and we ***ed up to
Downtown Crossing to sit down and have some sodas. We sat in an
air-conditioned fast food restaurant and intook large quantities of
chilled liquids, and there we were met by Paulo, who was one of the
original instigators of this whole shebang but was unavoidably detained
for a morning appointment.
Debbie, Paulo and I wandered back in the direction of Chinatown, where
we went to Sleshinger's (which is actually presently a nameless fabric
store, as they took the sign down) and Clement Textiles. A few nice
things in each, but after the fl***poly at New England Textiles the
fashion-don'ts we encountered just didn't cut it.
On to DiCarlo Fabrics, the luxury fabric store. Normally DiCarlo is easy
to resist (if you want to) becuase even though the fabrics are almost
all gorgeous, they're also often fantastically expensive. Unfortunately
for Debbie, they were having a sale which included 60" wide cotton/linen
blend solids, and she gave in to temptation and bought some. :) Debbie,
whatever you make of it will be smashing, it's gorgeous fabric.
Surprisingly we even managed to find two fashion-don'ts among the
fabulous selection at DiCarlo, including a printed plaid exactly like
one we saw at New England Textiles. However, unlike the horrid polyester
we saw it on at NET, DiCarlo had the awful ***-red-on-black plaid
print done on a quality silk. (What a waste of lovely silk.)
At this point, sadly, Debbie had to depart our merry band, so we
bid her farewell and trekked back to Van Fabric Company so Paulo could
get to see it, as he'd never been there either. Debbie, Mary Ann, we
missed one of the best bits - those gaudily decorated panels of fabric
they have*** from the cieling. A few of them have really marvelous
bead and sequin work done on them. Afterward Paulo and I passed through
North End Fabrics again so he could shop there, and then we returned to
downtown crossing to sit down and rest and chat and get something to drink.
Paulo and I had a fascinating conversation about how opinions on what
constitutes an attractive stitch, and the machinery used to make stitches,
have varied over time. We chatted for a while, and Paulo showed me some
polaroids of the quilt he recently finished - his first project. I was
impressed to death - it was much larger than I ever expected, and done
with far more detail, and it looked tasteful and professional. He showed
me a couple of panels he had made but then rejected due to measurement
problems, and they were really gorgeous. Paulo, I agree, turn them into
We then headed across the street to Woolworth's, which is going out of
business. Unfortunately everything good in their sewing/crafts section
seems to already have been snapped up, so that wasn't much of a sewing
Anyway it was turning to evening at this point so Downtown and the
fabric stores were all closing. Paulo and I walked across the commons
and the public garden to Newbury Street, where we wandered up the street
gawking in the windows of Chanel and Armani and staring at the
stitching. (We couldn't tell if the Chanel buttonholes were done by hand
or machine, but were pretty sure the Armani stuff was at least mostly
machine sewn.) We also looked at the stuff in the window of the School
of Fashion Design, and decided that while we both felt the two outfits
on the sides looked like they'd gone out of fashion 40 years ago, I at
least liked the one in the middle, which was a sort of little-black-dress
in satin with devore' velvet around the shoulders and neck, with a black
satin cape with slits up the sides for the arms. It looked nicely dramatic.
The evening more or less ended with ice-cream at J.P.Licks, after which
we walked down Mass Ave to the transit station so Paulo could go home...
as I was already practically home (I live only a few blocks from there)
I strolled home where I went promptly to sleep after having been on my
feet most of the day. It was about 9pm.
I believe it might not be inaccurate to say "A good time was had by
all". I feel that I met three very nice people yesterday, and had a lot
of fun. I'll certainly plan to organize a similar day in a month or two.
Oh, and the migrane headache never came back.
(Off to the North End to watch them swinging children from rooftops at
statues of Our Lady of Money, or whatever it's supposed to be about. The
food should be good anyway.)
Tom Farrell - http://www.FoundCollection.com/~tfarrell/
Mount Wilson Observatory - http://www.FoundCollection.com/
Learn how to knit - http://www.FoundCollection.com/~tfarrell/textiles/knit/
"I am not responsible for your interpretation. All I know is food." - FJ!!