Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Shopping at Mood

By West Village Bill

On a day off from work yesterday, I visited Mood, the fabric store in New York's Garment District that everyone knows from Project Runway.

I like unusual prints, and it's hard to find men's shirts that aren't plaid, solid, or striped. And I was inspired by that show—and a guy I used to work with who made his own funky-print shirts—to "someday" give shirtmaking a whirl. My sweetie remembered me mentioning that eventual goal, and so he gave me a beginner's sewing machine for Christmas.

I've got a lot to learn about sewing because I haven't touched a machine since eighth-grade Home Ec class. I bought a book that appears to be the only English-language one on shirtmaking. And I went to Mood today to get some tools, such as fabric shears, the book said I would need to get started. And also some printed cotton fabric that will eventually become a shirt and some plain, cheap muslin to practice on.

My friend John, who's visiting from Austin, Texas, and I got to the store about 5:30. I wasn't expecting to run into Tim Gunn and a group of contestants at that hour, but I was sure hoping Swatch, the cute little dog who hangs out at the store, would be there.

And he was. He ambled up to John and then sniffed at my jeans, where the scents of my basset hound and corgi were no doubt strong. He was a very friendly woofer who enjoyed the attention we gave him.

The endless variety of fabrics was almost overwhelming, even though I'd decided to limit myself to all-cotton prints. A guy who worked there pointed me in the direction of the cotton shirting fabric. There were some beautiful solids, plaids, and very subtle prints in that section, but I wasn't going to buy one when my whole reason for getting into this project was to avoid those kinds of patterns or nonpatterns.

Later, I told that guy that I wanted to get some tools, and he told me to go to aisle two, where I found no scissors but did find this stuff.

I couldn't resist taking a photo of the sign at left, which marks the location of perhaps the gayest fabric ever.

I finally settled on the floral print in the top photo. I got two yards of that, three yards of muslin, and spools of dark-blue-gray and white all-cotton threads. "Thank you, Mood!"


  1. This is too delicious an adventure. I'll be wanting detailed descriptions and photos of the process.
    The idea of making one's own shirts opens up such relief in the business of fit and such delight in the range of fabric and color/print. I think the challenges will be the seams, collar, button holes, cuffs business. Me, I'd start with a tee shirt and work up.
    I love the print you chose.

  2. As an amateur costumer (I built my resume of work on Halloween for my niece and nephew - from Barbie Princess to Power Ranger), I've never really tried making my own clothes. I'll be anxious to hear about your success with the effort and how well the book supports it.