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Mar 3, 2019


Readers, yesterday we frolicked, we frolicked, oh, how we frolicked!

Summer MPB Days are great fun, of course, but there's something about a winter get-together that's cozier.  Especially since not every Garment District fabric store has air-conditioning but they all have heat!

Yesterday's Winter Frolic was truly a blast, and I don't mean an Arctic blast though that's arriving later this week.  Like every MPB Day, yesterday's event was a mix of old faces and new faces (not on the same people of course); we had visitors from as far away as the UK (Charlotte, aka English Girl at Home, below), California, and as close as 25th Street (that would be me).

Charlotte was in NYC all the way from Birmingham and not the one in Alabama either.

Even with a fair amount of snow in the forecast, we had an excellent turnout, and the day actually turned sunny by mid-afternoon.  I failed to do a head count but I think we were around 40 people. Miraculously nobody slipped in the slush and shoplifting was kept to a minimum.

The day started at the FIT Museum, where we caught two wonderful exhibits, Fabric in Fashion, and Exhibitionism.  Either the alarms are less sensitive than normal or we're better at self-policing, because they rang only a handful of times during the hour and a half we spent there and no one was forcibly removed by Security.  Thank you, people!

After the museum visit, we had lunch at nearby Panera Bread (Has their food improved over the years or am I just hungrier?), where we held our traditional pattern swap, which has started to include more sewing magazines, Japanese pattern books, and even fabric. I fear we're going to start getting sewing machine donations next.

Gloria, Kelli, Johanna, and Michael
Michelle, Cherice, Mimi, Susan, and Aimee
Jane and Carol (left) dig through the pattern swap treasures.  Julie approaches from the right.
I accepted the challenge of repurposing James' scarf into a 1940's turban, recorded for posterity!
One of the surprises about this year's pattern swap was that, despite the larger size, there were many fewer patterns left over at the end: maybe twenty-five instead of eighty.  I attribute this to better quality donations -- let's face it, nobody wants to sew those vintage clown costumes!

I wonder if "Holly" ever got her cheerleader outfit...
I'd have snatched this one if Jane hadn't gotten there first.

After lunch we headed uptown to the Garment District, about 7-8 blocks north.  As always, we split up into groups, some people heading directly to Mood Fabrics, others to Metro Textiles (and beyond), and my group heading to AKN Fabrics, which specializes in African wax prints.

Me corralling the group outside Panera Bread.  Please remind me not to get photographed again with my tote hanging from my wrist like it was a Kelly bag--not flattering.  (Photo courtesy of Kyle (Vacuuming the Lawn))

Christine nabbed a fabulous day-glo yellow African wax border print at AKN Fabrics.
Amanda, Julie, and Rhode at Chic Fabrics.
Kashi, Sasha, Tomasa, Charlotte,James, Liz, and Meta at Metro Textiles (photo courtesy of Kyle)
Around 4 pm, having largely emptied our wallets, we headed to nearby Essen Cafe on Eighth Avenue and 36th St for affordable snacks.  Many of you know we normally go to Bryant Park in the summer but it's too cold in March to sit outside.  Essen was the perfect place to hang out: lots of upstairs seating and a wide variety of food if you wanted to eat.  I ended up staying till 7 pm but they're open 24/7 so sleeping over is an option for you out-of-towners on a budget.

And now onto our AWARD WINNERS!

1) Most Over-The-Top Fabric Purchase:

So much beautiful fabric was purchased yesterday, but the hands-down winner of the most over-the-top fabric purchase is Julie, posing here with her precious yards of pink silk chiffon embellished with real bird feathers from B&J Fabrics.  This looks like the kind of thing Jean Louis would have used to make a peignor for Eva Gabor on Green Acres.  Can't wait to see what Julie makes with it! 

Have you ever in your life?
2) Best Men's Coat

I wore my faux gorilla with the Chinese brocade lining yesterday, so you might think I was a shoo-in for this award but NO -- Duane wore his gorgeous winter white wool Pierre Cardin Vogue Paris Original creation.  As beautiful as it appeared on his blog, it is even more beautiful in person and the craftsmanship is inspiring.  He even let me try it on and I'm not kidding when I say I was tempted to make a run for it with the coat still on my back.  Congratulations, Duane, you are our winner and I hate you just a little bit.

Please note Duane's Pierre Cardin accessories: brilliant!

3) Best Top-to-Bottom Me-Made Outfit

If you're like me, you probably associate Amanda (@sewinintherain on Instagram) with those cute little wrap dresses she's made over the years.  So I was blown away by what she wore yesterday: her hooded "Pepernoot" wool coat from Waffle Patterns (wool coating from Chic Fabrics), a lovely cardigan wool sweater she knitted herself, and a super-cute coordinating dress (the pattern escapes me at the moment but maybe Amanda can tell us in the comments).  Congratulations, Amanda!

Great style lines on this coat!

4) Biggest Fabric Haul

Readers, in these times of increasing environmental awareness, I am sensitive to our need to focus more on quality and less on quantity, but hey, this is MPB Day, and fabric scores are what it's all about.  So I must take my hat off to Susan (@byluciagrace on Instagram), whose fabric haul yesterday weighed about as much as a Bernina 930.  Check out Susan's Instagram stories for the gory details!  Kidding aside, she bought some great stuff.  Congratulations, Susan! 

5) Sexiest Fabric Purchase

Readers, there are some fabrics that you know will only work as a go-go dancer outfit or a "Sexy Tarzan" Halloween costume (not mutually exclusive).   Gloria purchased this buttery black lambskin, embellished with what look like silver nail heads, at Metro Textiles.  Gloria assures me it's for one of her clients.  I didn't probe but I was happy when she let me try it on for inspiration.  Congratulations, Gloria!

I would wear this but with different shoes.
Friends, in conclusion, our Winter Frolic was a delight.

I want to thank everyone who braved the weather and participated and also say how great it is to see how warmly people interact with each other; sewers are the best!

Our next summer MPB Day extravaganza is Saturday, August 10, barring climate catastrophe or worse.  Till then, keep sewing and see you soon!

Think Pink!


  1. A second MPB day within a year. What a treat! Always a great time so many of us return year after year. Peter, thank you for your organizing , enthusiasm and welcoming spirit.

  2. Peter, I'm a faithful reader and sparse commenter. I love your report. I'm hopeful to one day take part in MPB day - likely the summer one as I'm a high school Home Ec. Teacher. I'm in Alberta and our Polar Vortex is currently freezing us out as well. Stay warm and keep us posted on your sewing adventures.

  3. Peter, what a fantastic day! Thanks for making it possible. I don't know if you heard this..... I was with Kyle's group and we were all ready to leave Pacific Trimming, when a woman walked by us and exclaimed, "OMG you're all those blogging sewing people! I recognize you!" It was surreal. How lucky we are to be part of such an amazing community. August can't get here fast enough!

    1. That lady recognizing us and thanking us for sharing our sewing knowledge on the internet....that was surreal!!!

  4. OMG - between Julie's fabric and Duane's coat, I am speechless!

  5. i'm happy to see there were SOME gentlemen representing male fans. duane's coat is really a keeper!

  6. MPB Day is on my bucket list and I'll make it one day, all the way from Australia!

  7. Fantastic turn out for such a winter's day.

  8. I was there in spirit as were, I am sure, many others. We ethereal types like to have fun too. Glad everyone had a great time!

  9. Another huge success! I’d wear that lamb skin too, with different shoes!

  10. I haven't mastered twit or insta and i miss you: really enjoyed this recap

  11. Sewing machine donations? Hmmmmmmmm

  12. (wiping the drool off the keyboard to type). I love the pink/feathers, you wear that turban like a PROFESSIONAL, and do not mock a gogo Tarzan, that's very much my noninternet JAM -----
    However, Duane wins. The coat is legendary, the pin is a prize, but the scarf. Oh My God.
    I am so happy for you all. The recap is possibly as much fun (and Peter, your wit is winsome as always)(and doesn't quite come through on IG).

  13. I wish I can also participate once. It sounds great

  14. Sorry to miss it but we were at the opera. But we plan to be there in August (you’ll miss my opera cape).

  15. Thank you so much for details of your fabulous day!! This is on my bucket list, but not likely this summer. I am not a garment sewing; I make bags, pillows, aprons and such out of vintage linens. However, I use new fabric for linings and accents so a trip to these wonderful fabric stores would be such a treat! I live in a small town with very limited shopping. And a visit to the FIT Museum would be amazing, and I'm sure I would find a lot of inspiration there as well as in conversation with other sewists! I also have a HUGE stash of vintage patterns that I'm sure someone in this group would love!

    1. Hope you can make it sometime in the future, Susan!

  16. Peter! Someday I may make as well! It looks like you all had so much fun! I would love to meet cousin Cathy, too! --Erik in NW Ohio
    PS: I always end up carrying my tote like a Kelly bag...I understand!

  17. Thanks for the award, Peter! So cool. I actually tried leaving a comment on Monday, but it looks like it didn’t go through. Trying again. The dress pattern is Butterick 6494. Thanks so much again for a fun day! Off to look for a spot on the wall for my award...

  18. Miss you! One day I will have to return for another MPB Day, but I suspect it will be in the summer - I don't know if I could deal with the cold and snow and slush, even in pursuit of fabulous fabric. Keep warm! And keep those little puppy feet nice and warm too!!

  19. Thank you so much for hosting and posting this wonderful outing. I would love a cool weather outing. One day...

  20. I'm envious of your fabric stores, but I have a stash to get through so ......It looks fun, though! I'm intrigued by that wonderful white coat-luscious! At one time, Vogue patterns included a label that could be sewn into the garment: I wonder if Duane found one in his pattern packet? I met a woman in the park recently whose coat caught my eye: she was happy to discover that it had a "Vogue Paris Original" label at the neck as she had bought it for £10 from a charity shop. ☺

    I'm just (re)discovering your blog and came across an early piece where you wondered why underwear is referred to in the plural. It's probably because when underwear was first developed as a concept, it was as 2 "legs" pulled on separately ("drawn" on) and tied at the waist. Men just pulled the long tail of their shirts up to the front. The history of clothing is endlessly fascinating!

    I've just (re)discovered your blog


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