Mood Fabrics, New York: a cautionary tale

Well, that sounds much more negative and ominous that it is, at all!

I had the privilege of spending five February days in New York last week with three close female friends, partly as a pre-celebration for my 30th birthday next week (eek!). New York is a wonderful place, and you can peruse some of the photos from my trip over at my personal blog (i.e. not dedicated to sewing) here: February in New York.

And of course, being in the Big Apple, I couldn’t not go to Mood Fabrics: a world-renowned fabric shop selling designer fabrics and all sorts of sewing and dressmaking supplies.

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It was three floors of wall-to-wall fabric. These photos show just a small, no tiny, selection. It was both wonderful and overwhelming!

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And so we come to the cautionary element of this post; elements which sound so obvious but things I wished I’d heeded myself.

  1. Shop with a plan. The phenomenal amount of fabric that confronts you when you step into a fabric shop like this; huge both in terms of its physical size and fabric variety, unless a seasoned professional (which I am not!) you won’t know what to do with yourself! This is especially true if you don’t have a plan. So, whether you focus on a specific fabric, project or colour, definitely focus on something. Whilst I had some patterns in mind, I’d not prioritised any specific project(s) and it resulted in feeling like a fabric magpie: ‘Ooh! shiny!’. I also recommend having a rough idea of how much you’d like to spend, overall and on individual fabrics/projects, etc. I did find some lovely green twill but wasn’t sure if it was the best deal in the place and so decided in the end not to commit.
  2. Go alone (maybe). This is a tricky one as it might not be within your control. I was with friends in New York but none of those friends were dressmakers, nor were they really in any way interested in buying fabrics. The (maybe) is because it might be that you go with other dressmakers or fabric-lovers, which I imagine might not present the same dilemma. The four of us split into pairs and the friend who came with me is a huge fan of American TV show Project Runway, in which Mood Fabrics features constantly, so she was happy to come along. However, after having a look around and purchasing some buttons, she was pretty much done. In fact, by that point, we were both done really, as the 40 mins we’d allowed ourselves was almost up. Which brings me on to my next point.
  3. Allow enough time. Just like #1, this sounds obvious but still, I’d neglected to give myself enough time and not because I’d not visited a huge fabric shop before — my trip to Hawaii Fabric Mart in Hawaii had the same effect — simply because I was a dumbass. Whole days have been spent at London’s Goldhawk Road, so why did I think less than an hour was going to be sufficient in a place like Mood?! Tut.

In the end, whilst I didn’t manage to pick up any fabrics, I did leave with a couple of items: a felt ‘Mood Fabrics’ bag, a magnetic seam guide and a Fashionary (more to come on this soon!), so not all was lost. In fact, it was probably for the best as I might’ve actually spent an absolute fortune in there!

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Needless to say, New York was wonderful!

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