Harley helps.

Harley helps.
Harley, my hard-working sewing assistant.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

day tripping: Providence, RI

We did an overnight trip to Providence, RI earlier this week. Providence is one of my favorite day trips. It's so quirky and interesting, partly because the Rhode Island School of Design and Brown are there, and there's a lot of nifty art and architecture and stuff for textile geeks. (Yay!) It's a pretty easy commute from Boston -- just over an hour on the commuter rail.

Also it's very walkable and pretty.

The seagulls of Providence welcome you.

Here are a few suggestions in case any sewing-type people are interested in going there. Most of them are (unsurprisingly) RISD-related.

RISD Museum: Good textile/costume exhibits, and a whole dedicated textile study space on one of the upper floors, which you can browse through if it's not occupied by a class. Also, they almost always have a Ralph Rucci piece on view, which are really fascinating to see close up. This time around, they had this fantastic coat:

It's hard to see, but the insets are alligator. And the trim and buttons are hand-braided.

Also, while we were there, we stumbled across a room with a bunch of recently acquired pieces -- so new, they'd been acquired the day before and they weren't on exhibit yet. Among them were an Alexander McQueen coat, a Comme des Garcons dress, and these two pieces, a Dior dress by Galliano and an ensemble by a designer who worked for Issey Miyake. (Don't have the name written down, unfortunately!)

Close-up of the second one. It's really fantastic -- appliqued all over.

The curator of textiles (!!) happened to be in the room, so I got to squee and gush and be a Ralph Rucci fangirl at her. (Sorry, curator of textiles.)

RISD Store: Right across the street from the museum -- where RISD students get their art supplies. No fabric, unfortunately (unless you count muslin and canvas), but there's a really good selection of sewing and dyeing supplies and books. RISD offers continuing ed classes on sewing and fashion design (I really wish they weren't so far away!), so they had a bunch of Claire Shaeffer books this time around. 

I really need all the disposable income. I'm just saying.

RISD Library: A short walk from the museum/store, it's more or less open to the public -- you just have to sign in. (I was also told once that you need to get permission from a librarian, but they don't always seem to enforce that.) They have entire shelves of textile books, as well as dissertations and theses from their graduate students, if you're interested in reading that sort of thing. 

Also it's in a beautiful old bank and has comfy chairs. It's a nice place to while away an afternoon.

Okay! More shopping!

A short walk from the library on Westminster Street (pronounced "Westminister Street" by every Rhode Islander I've ever met):

Craftland: All handmade, lots of it locally. Also the best t-shirts; I freely admit to swooning over one that said, "Woonsocket: The Paris of New England." 

Symposium Books: Lots of inexpensive academic books and a pretty good fashion/textile selection, including lots of street style books. 

Westminster Street also has quite a few interesting clothing and consignment shops, as well as a RISD student collective with a big FREE FABRIC sign in the window. (I chickened out.)

And (drumroll) my new favorite place:

Restored by Design: I stumbled across this on the second day of our trip, shortly before we left. She upcycles fabric into dresses and tops, sells fabric, notions, and jewelry, and offers sewing classes. 

It's also a flat-out gorgeous space:

Here's the top I spent too much time obsessing over.

She's inspiring me to save and reuse my scraps. (Have to dig out all those leftover pieces of lace!)

So that's Providence. I already can't wait to go back.

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