Hello Sewists!

Well, have I got some stories for you!

MrA & I have not long returned from an amazing trip to the USA. Our sister in law and nephews live in Vermont and we try to visit them every year at least. The boys are 14 and 17 now and the activities have got a lot more intense as they’ve grown older (… who remembers a stroll in the park, or playing on the swings…?) now it’s all; Trekking, kayaking, zip-lining and paintballing, we had the most incredible time – but I know you’re really here to read about Peter Lappin‘s biannual Male Pattern Boldness (#MPBday) event – so I’ll waste no more time!

Getting There…

An early start had us flying out of Burlington at 7 am. We took the bus from La Guardia to Jackson Heights, then the E train to Canal Street. After dropping our bags off at the hotel in Tribeca we took the 1 train Uptown to 28th Street and crossed the road to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) gallery on 28th and 7th… Just in time to miss all the introductions, but just in time for the group photo! (Anyone travelling to NY, I highly recommend the free ‘Citymapper’ app to always know where you’re going – and there is free wifi everywhere!)

The Sewists of Summer MPB Day 2019

FIT Museum

There is a free gallery at the museum, the current exhibition was Minimalism and Maximalism and we all strolled through in a buzz of friendly chatter. The clothing and accessories on display were a feast for the eyes and it was a joy to discuss them with so many different sewists, swapping opinions and noticing different details while also getting to know each other. It was fantastic and overwhelming to meet all the sewists – at the museum, around the fabric stores and later in the park – I know I didn’t get to talk to everyone and I wish I had. Remembering names was almost impossible too, but thankfully we have Instagram to back us up, so if we did (or didn’t) get to connect on the day, come and say hi on IG at @sewandrew.

Panera and the Pattern Swap

I’m ashamed to admit that I missed out on the pattern swap completely. In hindsight I also realise that this was another great time to get to know more of the gang. But MrA and I got to know one particular member of the gang a little better than the others as we lured Blanca to the tables outside the Irish Bar next door and enjoyed a very British lunch of wine and lager!

Blanca & Me outside the Irish Pub next to Panera on 7th Ave

The whole day was a whirlwind but this was by far the calmest moment of it. We sat for an hour in the sunshine, chatting and getting to know each other, swapping stories and ideas. Blanca is a truly amazing soul, cool and funny, effortlessly stylish, quirky and inspirational, it was a joy spending this precious time with her.

Fabric Shopping

Lurking at the bar outside Paneera Bread we pounced on Duane as we knew he had a plan, and appointed him head of our expedition into the garment district. Armed with maps, swatches and lists, he knew exactly where to go for everything we wanted to see. When I first started sewing I found Duane’s blog – and along with Peter‘s – I found the encouragement and inspiration to push my sewing and eventually start blogging myself. These two really are role models to me and it was very special to have the time to get to know Duane as we raced from store to store in the New York heat. He’s an absolutely charming man and an excellent tour guide! My only disappointment was to not meet Homer his gorgeous dog who was patiently waiting in New Jersey for the long drive home!

Fabric shopping with Duane at AK Fabrics NYC Garment District
Duane, Blanca & Me upstairs in Spandex World

I can’t remember the names of all the shops we went into, but these were my purchases from AK Fabrics… Both Alexander Henry prints, both pretty bold. I fell in love with this first one and think it might feature somewhere on a new bag…

Alexander Henry Electra African Queen fabric

And, well, as a gay man this next one is kind of an obvious choice, but I was drawn to the colours, honestly 😉 and I’ve no Idea what it will become!

Alexander Henry Pin Ups The Outdoorsy Type fabric

The 3rd one from AK Fabrics was this one, I think it might be a summer shirt, but we’ll see…

Our Lady Saint Mexico Virgin of Guadalupe Flowers Floral fabric

MrA chose this one from Metro Textiles – I think I heard that they had opened especially for the event…

No Idea who designed this fabric, but love the colourful pattern

I picked up some nice elastics from Pacific Trims – destined to become new underwear…

Finally of course, no trip to NYC’s Garment District would be complete without a visit to Mood. Again, it was quite a frenzy and I limited myself to looking at tshirt jersey. There was a lot of choice, and a lot of animal prints… not wanting to come away empty handed I chose this one…

Leopard Jersey fabric

… and on the way to the check-out, I spotted this poplin striped fabric, I love the way the ships are sailing on the crests of the stripes – I grabbed a couple of yards of this too…!

Ships sailing on stripes – poplin

I had such an enjoyable time buying them that I can’t begrudge a single one of them room in my fabric stash – although having chosen by fabric rather than by garment it could take me a while to work out what they will all become!

Bryant Park

The last section of MPB Day is the meet up in Bryant Park. The weather was perfect and we’d somehow managed to commandeer a sizeable area with plenty of chairs. (The whole day was organised and executed to perfection – I wouldn’t be surprised if Peter was out at 4am wrapping police tape around this corner of the park to keep it reserved for us!)

Having a look at Carol (@makeitanywear)’s purchases!

We got to the 6th Ave side of Bryant Park on 42nd Street a little late, around 4.30 and got to mingle with the whole gang in one go. This was a good opportunity to admire the fabrics everyone had bought and the outfits they had worn on the day. Of course it was amazing to meet everyone, and it was especially exciting for me to meet so many other male sewists. Check out Peters blog about the day for more (and better!) details, photos and introductions! He did an amazing job of leading the day and getting around talking to everyone, he was the most perfect, charming host and (although he didn’t show it…) I can only begin to imagine how exhausted he must have been by the end of the day!

I wished this bit could have gone on all night… indeed, perhaps it did…? But around 6pm (just as the band was starting up!) MrA & I had to say our sad and somewhat hurried goodbyes – we still hadn’t checked into our hotel yet, hadn’t eaten anything except lager and had theatre tickets to collect for a show at 8! We cheated on the Citymapper app and took a cab back to Tribeca, both of us buzzing and chatting incessantly about what an amazing day it had already been…

Further reading…

… The buzz didn’t really stop for the rest of our visit, which also passed as a bit of a whirlwind. That Saturday night we ate street-pizza and made it by the skin of our teeth to see King Kong on Broadway! Although it’s not done so well (closing in about a week) we absolutely loved it – it’s one of my favourite stories, I always cry when they kill the monkey. To be honest, they’d have to have really mucked it up for me to have not liked it, but just look at that monkey! What’s not to like? (I cried again, of course)

King Kong takes his curtain call

Sunday was incredibly hot and we took the City Bikes around Central Park – stopping every now and then for ice lollys. Then we cycled down the Hudson stopping in Greenwich for a late afternoon drink, and I finally got my hair cut (after 4 months!) As it is the 50th year of Pride, we set out on Sunday night to where it all began, The Stonewall Inn. We walked in and it all seemed a little underwhelming… then we explored upstairs and the place came alive! We saw some great Drag Artists and had a fantastic time before heading over the road to The Monster for more amazing drag acts as well as dancing and cocktails! It’s been a long time since MrA and I have been out ‘on the gay scene’ – we live 5 minutes walk from SoHo and very rarely go to the bars & clubs anymore. We put this down to getting older (we’ve lived here for 18 years or so) but I must say, that if the clubs in London had the energy, diversity, atmosphere and camaraderie of New York I’m sure we’d step out a lot more often.

Sunday night in Greenwich Village

I’m ashamed to admit the 99c pizza place featured a couple of times – we kept on running out of time to eat! However it was all rounded off with a helicopter flight over the city and around the Statue of Liberty (sneakily organised by MrA, who also managed to secure a pretty hefty discount too!)

That’s more than enough from me for now. I’ve got my hairdressing thing going full swing now, so I was straight into that on my return and I’m itching to get back to my sewing machine. I’d got a couple of projects made before the trip which I’m looking forward to sharing with you soon.

I can’t sign off without saying again what an amazing experience it was to meet Peter and all the sewists of MPB Day 2019, If you ever get the chance to go I highly recommend it.

Happy Sewing!

Notes to self;

  • Have a plan when fabric shopping – Duane can’t always be there!
  • Try not to plan meeting 60+ new people when you’re on week 4 of Invisalign!
  • There are a few London meet-ups I’d like to attend, but they’re always on while I’m working… I’ll keep looking for a Sunday one.