Category Archives: Quilt Tours

NYC Garment District Tour with Mark Lipinski

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Last weekend was Quilters Take Manhattan, which started with a tour of three quilt fabric companies in New York City. Our tour guide was the amazing Mark Lipinski, who I have long admired as a quilter, TV host, and editor of the now-defunct Quilter’s Home magazine. I have followed Mark’s work for many years, and he was exactly as I expected — warm, friendly, and opinionated! Mark has amazingly diverse experience as a quilter, fabric designer, media host and publisher, so he had some amazing comments and insights.

Our tour stops were Red Rooster, Quilting Treasures, and Michael Miller. All three companies were impressive with their offerings, enthusiasm, and willingness to answer our questions. We saw their 2014 fabrics, some of which had not yet been seen by their salespeople. Enjoy the tour!

Red Rooster

Red Rooster 1

Boardroom presentation at Red Rooster Fabrics. (Note Mark Lipinski in the yellow sweater)

Red Rooster 2

Red Rooster’s boardroom table runner. Fabric will be released in 2014.

Red Rooster 4

Our gift from Red Rooster! Thank you!

Quilting Treasures

Timeless Treasures 1

Presentation of artist sketches at Quilting Treasures.

Timeless Treasures 2

More artwork! So interesting to see how this was developed into fabric.

Timeless Treasures 3

Office space at Quilting Treasures. Even the professionals don’t have enough storage for fabric.

Timeless Treasures 4

A gift from Quilting Treasures. A beautiful cosmetic bag with my favorite — black and white fabric! Thanks!

Michael Miller

Michael Miller 2

The presentation at Michael Miller. Amazing, contemporary fabrics!

Michael Miller 3

Michael Miller open concept offices.

Michael Miller 4

Michael Miller’s awards for “Best Booth” at Quilt Market.

Michael Miller 5

We got to choose a fat quarter pack from Michael Miller. Love their fabrics! Thank you Michael Miller!

Visit to Dye-Namix Wholesale Fabric Dyeing Office

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My quilt guild, Empire Quilters, arranges some amazing field trips in New York City. Monday was no exception with the visit to Dye-Namix, located on Grand Street in Manhattan. I was excited to visit their open, airy offices that are responsible for many custom-designed fabrics for designers, costumers, and performers.

Dye-Namix’s all white lobby

The president of Dye-Namix is Raylene Marasco. Raylene began her career as a sculptor and learned a little about fabric dyeing during her studies. She had no interest in sewing (still doesn’t!) or dyeing until got a job dyeing fabric for a large New York costume shop. She admits that she knew little about how to dye fabric and learned by experimenting. After less than 2 years with the costume shop, she started Dye-Namix in 1991. Raylene still maintains the “I don’t know the right way, so let’s just find a way” attitude toward dyeing, and it shows as she develops innovative techniques every season.

Dye-Namix president Raylene Marasco tells us about her company.

The clients of Dye-Namix read like a “Who’s Who” in fashion — including Ann Taylor, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren — as well as actresses, movie directors, costume makers, and more. Raylene had some great stories about the need to match fabric in order to fix dresses before the Oscars, as well as last-minute changes that were required for runway shows. She also passed around many of their portfolio books, containing examples of their silk screening, hand dying, and digitally printed textiles, as well as the models who wore the finished garments.

Dye-Namix has several large printers for digitally printing fabric.

I found it interesting to learn that designers rely on Dye-Namix to create new and innovative fabric choices for each season. Raylene showed us many of their “experiments” where they chemically manipulate (and use other techniques) fabricĀ  to change its look and feel. Designers then use these innovative fabrics in their shows.

Members of our group looking through Dye-Namix portfolio books.

My blog readers know that I am a huge fan of Project Runway. Over the last four seasons, contestants have designed their own fabrics. It turns out that Dye-Namix actually produced that fabric. They had large swatches in a design book and it was thrilling to see the fabric I was introduced to on television. By the way, the fabric looked far more vibrant in person than it did on television.

I was thrilled to visit this company. It is wonderful to see a successful, woman-owned business that partners with designers and costumers. It sounds like Dye-Namix’s ability to provide fabulous service and innovative fabric choices has made them a winner.

You can learn more about Dye-Namix at their website.

A Hotel You Want to Commit Suicide In … and Other Adventures on the Way to AQS Lancaster

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I’ve been wanting to go to the Lancaster Quilt Show. However I had an evening appointment on Friday night (gotta get those nails done!) and the show closed at 5:00 PM on Saturday. With travel time from Long Island, it potentially gave me very little time to see the show. In addition, I like to shop while I’m in Lancaster, and everything is closed on Sunday. So I couldn’t figure out a way to make the trip worthwhile.

I was thrilled that a nail appointment opened up on Thursday and made quick plans for a trip to Lancaster. The GPS said it was a 4.5 hour drive from my home in Long Island. I planned to leave Friday at 8:30 AM, be at the show by 1:00 PM, and then spend a few hours on Saturday shopping before I headed home. A quick and fun trip, right?

Well … my 4.5 hour trip took 7 hours. Despite my efforts to force my GPS south of NYC, it was determined to have me drive through Brooklyn, across the Williamsburg Bridge, through the Holland Tunnel, and along most of the turnpikes in New Jersey. I was very stressed and behind schedule.

About 2:00 PM, I realized that it was ridiculous to arrive at the show after 3:00 PM. I decided to visit my two favorite stores. I’d arrive at the show when it opened the following day and all would be wonderful.

The first store I visited (about 30 minutes off my current course) was Hayloft Fabrics in Morgantown. I’d looked up the address the day before on the Internet. There were a lot of hits, and I hadn’t realized that their website no longer existed. So I was shocked that their was no evidence of the store anymore. The other two tenants in the mall had changed as well. The supermarket was now a discount food store. And their formerly lovely gift shop was a thrift store.

The second store on my list was Burkholder’s Fabrics. I love this store. They have an incredible selection, great prices, and complete lines of many blender fabrics, as well as Stonehenge. I’ve been known to spend a few hours there. I arrive at their parking lot and there were 3 buses of women in the store. I’m guessing there were close to 100 people in line — in a very small space — to pay. I walked through the aisles but there were no carts for fabric and I wasn’t willing to wait in line. I left without purchasing anything. (I also realized that I don’t want to take a bus tour to fabric stores … too many people!)

http://www.burkfabrics.com/Store/pc/home.asp

So by now it was 3:30 and I decided to go to my motel. Yes, it was cheap — but it was still $60 plus tax. I’m sure it was built in the 1960’s and had not been updated since. The beds had seen better days and the wallpaper was peeling off the walls. The toilet eventually flushed and the sink eventually drained … but I was not impressed. It was very depressing. As I lay on the bed, I had the thought: This is the kind of hotel where people go to commit suicide.

I ended up going to Friendly’s for dinner. I sat beside a family that had five children under the age of 5 (including one set of twins). Not exactly relaxing, but I felt better once I’d eaten something. I spent the evening reading in the hotel room.

Peeling WallpaperBathroom, View #1Bathroom from the 60's -- Another View

49 Days to MQX (Machine Quilter’s Exposition)

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This will be my third year attending MQX and I have to say it is my favorite quilt show. (I haven’t been to Paducah or Houston, but I still bet this Rhode Island show would provide stiff competition!) In previous years, I have taken back-to-back classes. The first year, all of the classes were lectures geared toward my domestic machine. Last year, I took several hands-on longarm classes in addition to the lectures.

I cannot say enough good things about this show. The quilts are spectacular. Many of the vendors offer wholesale prices, so it’s a great time to stock up on supplies. The teachers are organized and clearly very talentedĀ  I’ve come away from each class feeling like I’ve increased my skills and learned a boat-load of practical techniques that I can apply to my quilting.

One of the best things about the show is being able to talk to other quilters. When I went last year, I was in the middle of serious tension problems with my longarm. I mentioned it to everyone who’d listen. I came home with some very practical suggestions that solved my problems.

http://www.mqxshow.com/MQX/East/Home/index.cfm

Trip to Parson-Meares costume design shop in NYC (Part 2)

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I was very surprised at the lack of technology at this costume shop. I watch Project Runway and they’re using tablets for design. We quilters use EQ. So it was interesting that their patterns were made with brown paper and fitted on mannequins. The sewing machines (industrial Singers) were 25 years old, but looked like they could have been from the turn of the last century. The space was busy with activity and cluttered. We saw people beading, sewing, serging, appliquing, painting and dying, I have to say … these costume designers are artists!

(I’m still have issues with my photos in emails. Please visit my blog at quiltnotes.wordpress.com if you can’t view the photos).

A view of the workroom

Singer Sewing Machine

Employee Working at Serger

An art quilter (like me) found heaven in their painting and dying room. The work that these ladies do on fabric is exquisite. I’d say most of their fabrics are dyed and painted. Applique and trapunto are then added to many costumes.

Samples of Dyed Fabric

Close-up view of dyed, painted and appliqued fabric

Almost Complete Costume

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Trip to Parson-Meares costume design shop in NYC (Part 1)

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My local quilt guild arranged a trip to Parson-Meares costume design studio. My daughter and I attended yesterday and were thrilled to see inside this prestigious costume shop. Of the 20 or so costume shops in New York City, Parson-Meares is one of the largest. They do costumes for such Broadway Hits as Spiderman and The Lion King, as well as costumes for singers such as Bette Middler.

(I apologize if photos are not working. Please go directly to my blog at quiltnotes.wordpress.com to see the proper format.)

Dragon Tail Costume

Here is Christian, our tour guide (a Project Manager manager at Parson-Meares) showing us one of the costumes.

The gown is pleated. The rest of the garment is hand painted with dyes. The bodice is a separate piece so that the gown can be dry-cleaned.

Christian explained the costume-making process. First they receive a sketch from a costume designer. After viewing the sketch, they ask many, many questions. Is the actor wearing a harness under the clothing? How much twisting will they be doing? If they’re dancing, how high will they be kicking? If you want sparkles, do you want sequins (cheaper) or rhinestones (much more expensive).

The next step is to place a bid for the costume. Hopefully they will be successful.

An employee shopper then combs the fabric district for appropriate fabric and notions. In one legal size file folder, we found 10 strips of one inch black lace. In another, there were swatches of orange. The costume designer will then pick the fabric that they wish to use.

Lion King Costume

Here’s another costume for the Lion King. It is made of soft ropes over a metal frame that has enough “give” that the actor can walk through doors.

In Christian’s left hand you can see the hand-woven bodice made of silk plant leaves.

This part of the tour took place in their large fitting room. It was interesting that this room has a variety of lighting options (including black light) so that the costume can be seen in its show environment.

Samples of flesh color

I believe this is called the “Skin Ring.” It contains samples of all flesh tones for the nude part of the costumes. I was amazed at the number of colors of flesh, so it’s possible to match skin exactly. Also, these were not flimsy fabrics like pantyhose. These were a thick mesh.

Design studio

Here’s a peek into the costume studio. It was a large room that accommodated about 60 people. I’ll show you some more pictures tomorrow.

Mannequins

A Modern Quilting Bee

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When I was a child, my mom would set up the quilting frames in our basement and host quilting bees. By then her church lady friends all had school age children, so they’d quilt for a few hours during the day. I’m not sure what they talked about, but — knowing quilters — they likely spend some of the time complaining about their husbands and kids!

In those days, quilts were utilitarian. They may be for happy occasions (such as a wedding) or gifts (such as the church minister leaving). Although, to my knowledge my mother never entered a quilt show, every year we would wander through the local fair and notice whose quilts won ribbons.

Today, quilting is essentially a solitary practice. Most of us do machine piecing, so we don’t have the portability — and potential to socialize — associated with hand piecing. And the quilting no longer occurs in someone’s basement, but is done (again alone) on our sewing machines or by longarmers. The people I know who hand quilt (including my mother) do most of their quilting alone. Shows tend to be bigger and more competitive.

This is why I love the Friday Night “Sit and Sew” at my local quilt shop. Up to a dozen of us lug our sewing machines and projects into the classroom, where we cut, sew, chat and laugh. It’s great to see people’s projects evolve from week to week, and to share ideas and viewpoints. It is the only time I get to experience the social side of quilting — and I love it.

Workshops are another form of modern quilting bee. Usually all day events, people are chatty and helpful. By lunchtime you have a new group of friends! You learn new skills, but often you only have a block or two to show for your efforts.

Conventions are a mega-quilting bee unlike anything my mom and her friends would envision. Busloads of quilters travel hundreds of miles for a chance to view quilts and to shop. This is fun! But it is also interesting that most companionship happens while we are spending money and viewing quilts, rather than while we are quilting.

I know I would have enjoyed the “good old days” and quilt bees.

Trips and Tours for Quilters

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After my last post, my girlfriend did some investigation of the Ireland trip. Apparently Sew Many Places offers all sorts of wonderful excursions for quilters. I do not know anybody whose taken these trips, but the instructors are awesome and the itineraries look great. Check them out!

http://www.sewmanyplaces.com/trips.html

Tour of Ireland with Luana Rubin, owner of eQuilter

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I saw this tour advertised and had to share it. First of all, it’s worth $3,000 for 11 days with Luana. I am an avid follower of her blog and she offers great fabrics at eQuilter (probably my 2nd favorite online store). Luana is definitely one of the people in the quilt world I’d like to become my BFF! Here’s the info on the tour. If the Financial Fairy starts dropping money on my home, you can count on me to be there!

http://sewmanyplaces.com/tours/iqfoi_luana_0612.html