In Which I May Have Gone Slightly Overboard at Mood NYC

mood stack bag Short version, AKA I’m planning to look at the eye candy and then get out of here because I really don’t need to know that much about someone else’s fabric purchases: We recently took a family trip to New York City, and while I was there, I managed to squeeze in a visit to Mood Fabrics, where it’s possible I spent a little too much and brought more home than strictly necessary.

Full version, AKA I have a fabric fetish and even the most mundane details of a trip to a fabric shop fascinate and enthrall me, so I would like to read every ridiculous detail so that I may more fully live vicariously through your experience and then follow a link or two to make some unnecessary purchases of my own: So, my oldest child is graduating from high school next month. Yes, GRADUATING. And yes, NEXT MONTH. #freakingout

I don’t care if it’s inappropriate hashtag use, I am FREAKING OUT. But keeping it under wraps. Last fall, we made her a deal, in the hopes that we could motivate her to higher academic standards and thereby assist her in securing the widest array of possibilities in her college choices: make straight As the first semester of her senior year, and we–my husband and I, just the two of us, none of her younger siblings–would take her and a friend to New York City for Spring Break.

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There was cursing and gnashing of teeth (on both sides) over the months of that semester, and a near-miss when one of her grades missed the mark by a SINGLE GRADE POINT.  After forcing her to complete a PowerPoint presentation on why we should overlook the one point and still permit her to head to NYC with her friend on our dime (yes, we really did that, and yes, we expect to hear about it every holiday for the rest of her life until she has her own children, at which point we’re anticipating a hearty “my bad” from her), we made the travel arrangements and set out on our journey.

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My husband located a Vacation Rental By Owner in the Garment District, which I thought was an accidental stroke of luck but it turns out was just another example of him being adorably thoughtful (I hardly ever notice these efforts and the time, and he doesn’t call them to my attention, so when I realize he’s done something extra sweet, it’s always like falling in love all over again–but I digress).


image via Mood

The apartment we rented was on 37th, just two blocks from Mood Fabrics.  As our cab passed by on the way in from the airport, I had to physically restrain myself from tossing my body through the window in order to go roll around in some pretty fabric.  I do most of my garment fabric shopping online, so the chance to cavort through three floors of deliciousness and pick and choose based on texture and real-life color rather than relying on images and description and my steadfast avoidance of polyester seemed like a vacation in itself.

On the third and final day of our trip, I finally managed to pull off a visit.  We had walked all day and the dogs were tired–so we headed back to the apartment with about 90 minutes to change and rest before needing to leave for the restaurant to make our reservation, and then on from there to make our curtain time (it was all just so New York, y’all).  We lollygagged for a bit, but I finally persuaded my husband, “I really want to go to Mood.  You can come with me.  We’ll find some seersucker and I’ll make you a summer jacket!  You’ll be just like Matlock!”  I am not above bribery for any of my family members, it would seem.


image via Etsy

We had a scant 45 minutes to get to the shop, browse three floors of rafter-high fabrics, check out, get back to the apartment, change clothes, collect the children, and get moving.  It was a whirlwind.  A whirlwind that requires having a Plan.  I thrive when I have a Plan.

All this was scored during just 40 minutes on the shop floor, which included a lengthy conversation with the nice man in the linen section who had extensive advice to share with my husband regarding slacks (particularly his approval of the choice of mustard-colored fabric as a bold, fashion-forward selection in the pants department):

mood haul

And that doesn’t include the buttons, the trim, and the white twill that steadfastly refused to photograph well for this group shot.  We were ANIMALS, I tell you.

Keep in mind as I list these that we all carried on our baggage, had already purchased clothing and gifts to take home, and literally had NO ROOM for more stuff.  But when I see a fabulous linen, I simply cannot say no.  Here’s what I brought home with me:

shorts fabric | mood

These three are for shorts, for me and for the children.  But mostly for me.  I get super frustrated when shorts shopping, because while I have nice legs (if I do say so myself), I’m not 22 anymore, and the shorty-mc-shorts-shorts just aren’t appropriate for a nearly-40 mother of 4 to go galivanting around town.  However, I’m no matron, either, and I do like to think I have some sense of style–even if I’m wrong on that one, Audrey would never have worn old lady shorts.  Since I struggle to find anything close to that in the shops, I’ll be making my own this summer.  Either the red or the white will be a pair of piped sailor-style shorts, and the other will be an above-the-knee pair.  The grey will be a creased-front, zip-fly short that hits around mid-thigh.  These are all cotton, but the bottom has some stretch to it.  I got one or one-and-a-half yards of each, despite them being 60″ wide, because I wanted to have enough to make shorts for the children in addition to my own.

red linen detail | mood

The only thing I can think of to call this besides a “shot” linen is FABULOUS.  Even the sweet dude at the cutting table said, and I quote, “This is really something special.”  AGREED, homes.  I adore this fabric–it’s drapey for a summer linen, and has such amazing texture to it.  And those “shot” threads really make it stand out in an unexpected way.  You’d almost never know it’s linen, except that the feel against your skin is so perfect.  Plus, it’s my go-to shade of tomato red.  It will unravel like a crazy dog, but I don’t even care.  I’m planning to make a sleeveless, full-skirted sundress out of this one, and cannot wait.  I got 3 yards total, and I don’t even care if I have some leftover.  Matching handbag, anyone?

green linen detail | mood

Hello, nurse.  One: it’s my signature lime color.  Two: it’s linen.  Three: it’s checked.  Four: it has an embroidered eyelet border.  Five: it’s a DOUBLE border.  This is the last fabric I chose from Mood, after I nearly couldn’t carry everything in my arms.  But it had to, had to, had to come home with me.  I see no downside here, and I was prepared to wrestle the stewardess to the floor of that Boeing in order to get this puppy in the overhead bin.  I’m thinking of a lined summer shift, with the border at the hem.  Of course, I got 2.5 yds, so I could very well do another full-skirted sundress with the border at both the hem and the upper edge of the bodice.  Either way: yum.

tangerine seersucker | mood

I saw a sweet little dress at the department store not too long ago (you can find the original in my Instagram feed) that I thought was just precious–but not so “precious” that I couldn’t pull it off.  It was an orange cotton seersucker with a line of trim down the center, on a simple sleeveless shift with a short hem and bust darts.  Except the bust darts!  Were basically pointing to my chin, and nowhere near my bust.  So while it fit, it didn’t fit, you know what I mean?  I took a shot on the IG and everyone agreed with my husband: why bother buying, when you can just make it?  So this was the first fabric I was looking for when we got to Mood.  That, and a trim to go with it.  The lovely woman in the trims department helped me choose a few, and this is the one that I liked best.  At just $4 a yard, I think it will really perk up the seersucker and give this shift some real life.  I got 2 yds of this seersucker, I think.  I tend to over-buy, but that’s because I like to be on the safe side.

navy linen | mood

My husband has a navy blazer, as I think most men his age do.  And I do NOT like it.  It has brass buttons and simply looks dated every time he wears it.  But there have absolutely been occasions where I could see that a navy jacket would be appropriate, and that it was understandable he should want one.  So while we had a men’s jacket in mind for him, anyway, and were up to our knees in the linen section (basically my mothership), I eyed some beautiful navy linen.  This photo is a little blown out–it’s actually a deeper blue than this–but I wanted to show the gorgeous texture this linen has.  It isn’t stiff, it has a real softness to it, but without being so flowy that it won’t make a very nice men’s jacket.  My husband picked out the buttons while I waited in the (very long) line, and got them to me just in time.  He got a few spares, too, at the suggestion of the folks in the buttons section, in case one goes missing.  He’s VERY excited about this jacket, which I am planning to make partially lined and use a Hong Kong finish on the seams.  We brought home 3 yds of this linen, on the (very small) chance that there will be enough leftover for me to squeeze out a teeny matching vest for our son.

blue seersucker detail | mood

And finally, the fabric that was (theoretically) the purpose for our visit: the classic blue seersucker for a men’s summer jacket.  I adore this fabric, and while we briefly fingered a couple of other colors, it’s the classic blue that makes the most sense.  Again, my husband picked out the buttons himself, and they’re much better than what we would have found at a big box fabric store.  I love the weight of this fabric, and the very high quality you can feel in it.  The seersucker texture is just right, and the stripes are woven, NOT printed–extraordinarily important distinction when shopping for seersucker.  I won’t do printed stripes, because honestly, if you aren’t going to do it right, why even bother?  We got 4 yds of this one, since it’s so awesome, and our girls will get skirts to match Daddy.

If you’re keeping track, that’s somewhere around 20 yards of fabric, plus buttons and trim.  And I had to get it all home in my suitcase–which I did!  Hooray for fabric and efficient packing!

Mood was lovely, it was so fun to be there, and seriously, I think having a strict unbreakable time limit saved me about $500 that I would have spent if I’d actually seen all there was to see.  I can’t recommend enough going with a PLAN and knowing the two or three categories of fabric you MOST want to see so that you can target your shopping and not get overwhelmed by all there is–because that’s when you get home and look at your purchases and think, “What the crap did I just buy???”

Thank you, Mood!

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  • Karen chatters
    April 30, 2013 at 11:47 am

    FYI – I know EXACTLY where you live!!! Bwa-hahahaha!!

    • Deborah
      April 30, 2013 at 11:56 am

      Does that mean I should be keeping this under strict lock and key in order to keep it safe?? #scarednow

  • Gayle
    April 30, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    That bordered lime check makes me want to hop the Acela to NYC, run into Mood to buy a pile of it and then run directly back to DC and get my Laurel on ( and I am not in any way affiliated with Colette, I just thought you needed to know).
    Except that when I wear lime green, people ask if I have been ill/if I’m feeling alright today. So I will have to just count on you to report back with your lime green gorgeousness. So jealous.

  • Michelle
    April 30, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    I did something similar on my last trip to NYC. My sister works in the fashion industry, and took her lunch break to go shopping with me before we flew out a few hours later. Husband and our little kids took in the “pizza wars” while we shopped. We didn’t go to Mood, but 3 or 4 other stores, and we had a great time! I didn’t have much of a plan, but I’ve used most of the fabric, so it was definitely worthwhile, and our power shopping is such a great memory of our time there.

  • Diane
    April 30, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    The equivalent (in our family) of discovering the Lost Ark, or ascending Everest. I went to Mood a couple of NYC trips ago just to soak up the atmosphere. Tim Gunn. Christian Soriano. Chris March. And on and on.

  • Katy
    April 30, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    Bwahahaha, I love that you made her do a Powerpoint presentation to justify the trip!

  • Meg at Mood
    May 1, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    So glad you made it here!

    • Deborah
      May 1, 2013 at 9:39 pm

      Everyone at Mood was so kind and patient and helpful–really a lovely experience, even in a short amount of time. Will have to come back again and stay longer–thanks for being such great hosts!

  • michael moebes
    May 2, 2013 at 10:36 am

    I can’t believe you didn’t include the picture of Matthew Broderick and me.

  • Men’s Jacket Series: Am I Really Doing This? | Whipstitch
    December 10, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    […] when we flew to New York and visited Mood Fabrics, I promised my husband I would sew him a linen sport coat for summer.  At the time, it seemed like […]