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New York Pt. 2: Pins & Needles, Mood + More


Nothing will make you feel like a slob more than a trip to New York City after a long winter spent in the soggy northwest.

Looking around, I found myself wondering, where are all the leggings? The rainwear? The FLEECE?

I suppose you get sort of inured to what’s around you. I’d forgotten that there are fancy people in the US, and American cities where people don’t look at you sideways if you wear a nice skirt and heels.

And it’s not just the fancy people whose clothes are fun to watch, by any means. There’s an intense sense of individual expression in New York, maybe because of the city’s diversity and density. Paris is the only city I’ve been to that approaches it. Both extremely diverse, and both extremely stylish.






Pins & Needles


We stopped by Pins & Needles on the upper east side and met Rachel, the wonderful owner.

This is an incredible little store. I loved hearing about the classes they do with kids, and how enthusiastic the younger generation is about sewing! But more than that, I loved meeting the super friendly staff.








I also taught a class on sewing with silk at the incomparable Mood.

There are many places to shop for fabric in New York, but you’ve heard about Mood for a reason. Believe the hype. It is a dream.



They’ve also created a men’s haberdashery department within the store, which I was very taken with.





I’ve decided that I really must become a rich old lady one day so that I can have a pied-à-terre in New York. In the meantime, I’m planning to come back soon. It always feels like my home away from home.

Sarai Mitnick


Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.



April 18, 2013 #

It looks like you had an amazing time here in NYC! There really is something so unique about the city and fashion here. I absolutely love Mood too. I’m happy to read the sentence saying you will be coming back soon.


April 18, 2013 #

I love what you said about people in New York dressing so “fancy” (well that sounds very Tennessee-girl when I write it). ;) I used to have a friend that would tell me its necessary to visit big cities every once and a while, to get out of your fashion (or lack thereof) slump.

You look stunning in these photos. That coat is gorgeous, and I just LOVE that dress you’re wearing at Mood!! So flattering – and very stylish. ;;)

By the way, if I every decide to get a tattoo, it would be that one with the bird and spool of thread. Just precious!!


April 18, 2013 #

My husband and I recently moved from Brooklyn to rural Maine, and I am going through the opposite situation. I keep trying to wear my fancy city clothes (that are really not that fancy) amongst all the fleece, and my impractical shoes sit prettily in my closet, never worn. We’ve decided that we’ll retire in New York, go to the theatre and fancy dinners, and drink a lot!
I wish I’d visited Pins & Needles before I left…

Rachel Haynes

April 18, 2013 #

Aw man! I can’t believe I missed you at Pins and Needles. I recommended you go there and told the owner Rachel, who is a friend of the family and she got so excited.

I’m glad you got to see it. It’s a great little store. I pop in there when I want to whip up a skirt in a day or something.


April 18, 2013 #

I had a chance to visit NYC last summer (from Colorado). I would love for the whole country to dress like New Yorkers- I loved how creative and well presented everyone was.


April 18, 2013 #

Enjoyed this “your” visit – I especially loved seeing the lovely dresses in the pictures at all the shops. The owners and patrons looked delightful in their dresses and so inviting. Showcasing these places makes me confident to purchase from them.


April 18, 2013 #

Fun!!! Next time you’re down, you should come to the new Mood here. It’s still not as good as the NYC one, but it moved recently (dangerously close to my home) and is so much bigger and amazing! Glad you guys are having fun!


April 18, 2013 #

Great post and so true about NYC fashion, I felt exactly the same way last week while there. I’m so glad I had a chance to attend your silk class at Mood! Thanks again!


April 18, 2013 #

We loved having you Sarai and Kenn visit us – looks like you guys had a fabulous trip to NYC and it was “sew” great to meet you. Thank you for including us in your round-up. xx


April 18, 2013 #

I’m from New York and had to live in Appleton, WI for two threeish-month spans and, yep, there is a weird style culture shock that happens in either direction.

I’m so glad you had a good time. Your silk-sewing class was fantastic, and I’m just about inspired to try my hand at sewing some silk twill.


April 18, 2013 #

I’ve lived most of my life in the Pacific NW and I couldn’t agree with you more! I lived in Nashville for a few years and would often feel as though I needed to dress up to go to the grocery store! I love to dress up, wear heels and cute dresses, but especially in the winter here its so impractical! I find myself often battling between being warm and being cute! Ughh…

Ana Sullivan from The Lost Apron

April 18, 2013 #

These posts have been so exciting. We live on the West coast but my husband took my daughter on a trip to NY and they went to Mood to pick out fabric for a dress. What an experience!!! I will be posting a series on learning to sew at:


April 18, 2013 #

My husband and I are planning a trip to NYC soon. It will be quite stretching for me being just a very small country woman. The pins and needles store looks delightful. I am overwhelmed with mood. I want to go to both places.


April 19, 2013 #

What lovely photos! Wish I could find shops with that much (lovely) fabric in Edinburgh. They look scrumptious. I have really slowed down with my sewing and needed some inspiration…


April 19, 2013 #

The only problem with living in NYC is so many of us live full-time in places anyone else would consider pied-a-terre size. ;-) I’m trying to get into sewing but as we’ve no room for a large table, I have to either go to a friend’s to trace patterns/cut fabric or else do it on the floor . . . However, I’m delighted to learn about Pins & Needles and Brooklyn General Store, and will definitely be checking both out!


April 19, 2013 #

Crazy idea here…if a lot of NYC sewers have this space issue, which it seems to me is limited to fabric and pattern layout/cutting, could a fabric store offer that as a service? It might net them a lot of good will, and devoted customers. Seems to me once the fabric is cut, the rest of the process needs no such large flat space (not talking quilts here, just clothing). Maybe sewers can schedule an hour or two for a cutting session. Perhaps the store can make it a benefit of frequent shoppers. It would encourage more sewing, more community, etc.


April 19, 2013 #

Ha! I lived in NYC years ago and do relate. I don’t know how I did any sewing at all.

Kathi sorensen

April 23, 2013 #

Years ago, in Berkley where my husband and I lived in a 450 sq ft married student apartment, I needed a large surface to cut out the “little Bo-Peep” dress I was sewing for my role of MOH in my brother’s wedding. I came back to my workplace at the Univ. at night and cut it out on the freshly cleaned hall floor. I swept up diligently, but next day one of the professors said” what’s this pin doing here?”.


April 19, 2013 #

I’ll be in NYC next week…so I know precisely what I’m in for….I need to be dressed to the 10s wearing my bestest handknit and sewn garments. It’s a fashion contest on the streets and sidewalks. I know I can compete. Really. I’ll be prettified too for my visit to Mood Fabrics.


April 19, 2013 #

NYC sounds like a wonderful place & we hope to visit one day soon. Looking at all of your comments I just had to add as one older woman about fashion and dressing up. When I was in school { dinosaurs roamed the earth you know ;)} we were never allowed in downtown Portland unless “dressed” ie: dress, heels maybe gloves & hat, dressy over coat etc. Never did we wear jeans out to dinner, only for working in the garden, farm, etc. School; we also dressed very modestly and what is considered now dressy. I attended fashion shows at Meier and Frank with white tables cloths. When pants became the hip fashion to wear around town, we had to attend the Patty Palmer class just to learn about the proper way to sew them and wear them out! { grin} Sew; as you can tell Portlanders have gotten very casual and hopefully with the sewing movement we will once again see dresses! :) Sew On!


April 20, 2013 #

When I studied abroad in London, it was funny because I fit in pretty well there and after a few weeks, people on the street seemed surprised whenever they heard my American accent. My roommates, however, were so obviously not Londoners and I think that’s because they were all jeans, t-shirts, and hoodies kind of gals, while “casual” dressing for me is “dressed-up” for everyone else. I sooooo miss living in the big city…


April 20, 2013 #

Manhattan is the only place where you have to dress up to walk down the street. :)

While in England recently, I went to Liberty of London for some of their gorgeous tana lawn and saw your patterns for sale. So cool!!


April 22, 2013 #

My culture shock as a transplant here in the PNW only comes out occasionally, like when I attend a gallery opening or a play, and realize everyone around me is in sandals and fleece… mostly I am happy to wear my jeans for every day stuff, but even after 18 years, I can’t succumb to the idea that one doesn’t “dress” for the theater or an art showing, or for dinner.


April 24, 2013 #

I went to Mood Fabrics, all the way from rural Australia (where people most definitely do not dress up!) , almost a year to the day. Amazing, overwhelming, just like they say. I bought a piece drapey silk as a souvenir, but I’m too nervous to cut into it. Also, I don’t live a drapey silk kind of life, so I don’t know what I was thinking.
Just got swept up in the Mood I guess.