Do what I do and wait until the remnants show up at the jobbers...scored the polka dot material for this bag (http://www.localtalent.org/bag1.jpg) for like $10/yd, it was woven nylon with a cotton backing, the guy said it started out at ~$70/yd...
You're going to need a few supplies as well (non-fabric stuff is called 'notions'), nothing to break the bank (and keep in mind these are insane NYC prices). :
Pins (~$3 for a big ol box) Pincushion (optional, but helps - $3) Tailor's chalk for marking ($.50) GOOD scissors. Do not use them on paper, ever. ($15) Needles for your machine - a packet of 'sharps' or 'all purpose' is fine to start with. (~$4) GOOD thread. Crappy thread will bring you way more pain than the $1 you're saving is worth. Get Gutermann, and get a couple of colors to match various fabrics (~$12 for several spools) Seam ripper - the 'eraser' of sewing. Little ones are OK, I find bigger ones easier to hold (~$2) Some hand needles for detail work, hemming, etc (~$2) A couple of bobbins so you don't have to unload the one you've got when you want to switch colors (~$3). Make sure you get the ones for your machine.
Total: ~$45. Most other stuff (point turners, rotary cutters, etc) can wait. You will need a good iron too, but I'm assuming you've got one.
Get a decent book - it's going to be a much easier time than scrounging on the Internet for your first project or two, most of these assume some level of knowledge and omit details. I flipped through the Sew Everything Workshop (S.E.W.) book by Diana Rupp, seemed pretty good. So did 'Sew U', although I haven't done any of the projects out of it. Someone gave me Bend-The-Rules Sewing, but most of the projects aren't really my style, so I don't know. The Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing is a good reference book, but it can wait.
Get the manual for your machine if you don't have it, it'll help a whole lot. Call up Singer and they may be able to help you with either a photocopy or a PDF scan of the manual - it's worth a shot. Google might turn something up too.
If you can find a super beginner class in your area, it might be worth it, but otherwise try to get some familiarity with the machine before launching into classes.
Figure out what fabric you'll need for the pattern you want and go get it. Woven, non-stretch fabric is the easiest to work with. Start with that.
Sewing basics are really pretty simple. Make a skirt, make an apron, it doesn't matter that you won't wear it - it's for learning. I've got a closet full of women's clothing and no idea what to do with it.
A word of warning: most men's patterns are terrible. I attribute this to two things: one, the market is small, and two, a lot of men's clothing is difficult. A pair of pants or a button-up shirt is a whole lot harder than a pencil skirt, and there's a lot less room for slop when the clothing isn't flowy. The awesome people over at Burdastyle.com, however, have put up a couple of really great ones in the past few months, and I really need to get cracking on making a couple of them - one's taped together on my floor right now, waiting to be cut out...
Cheap, as has been said above, is relative. Interestingly, industrials are quite cheap here (saw a Brother F40 for free at a garage sale, you can easily get used industrials in Chinatown for a couple hundred) - probably because nobody has a car and nobody can move them.
They last FOREVER. The Jukis we used at school were that avocado green color that hasn't been used in ages.
Keep in mind that:
-they're extremely heavy, this makes getting it home an issue as well as service: someone's probably going to have to come to you if/when it needs repairs -they're huge -they're noisy/vibrate -they do straight stitch only
However, I'd love to have one because they're awesome- too bad it isn't going to happen in a little NYC apartment
I see them when I'm riding around, particularly in Greenpoint and Jackson Heights/Corona. There's some in Manhattan, but they're always really picked over. Mostly I just stumble upon them when I'm going to a friend's house. Pick the areas where older people and families live - they're more prone to the yard sale thing. Also check out Freecycle for your swap-meet fix, it's sort of like a yard sale.
One time in Greenpoint, a lady had a Brother F40 industrial sewing machine, she was going to give it up for free...if I could take it home. Too bad
just make sure you don't walk past it like i did...it doesn't look like your typical tattoo parlor. not a ton of lights, pictures of tatoos outside....etc. i'd go back definitely. the people are really nice too.
My good friend's girlfriend works at Brooklyn Adorned. They do nice work.
Well, it was a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, but I finally finished my first complete outfit (except for buttons - the buttonholer broke tonight, but I was too excited and had to post it as-is). I was really just trying to get my feet wet with more tailored clothing, so the fabric isn't terribly exciting - it was whatever they had at the store by my work
A couple of lessons learned:
1. When sewing darts, thread a hand needle and run it through the end of the dart. Hold onto both the thread ends and the needle (so you have a loop through the fabric pulling it tight). This gives you a lot more control over the garment when you're sewing the dart. When you're done, pull the hand needle and thread out and clip the machine thread as normal, but leave a little extra. Tie it in a knot against the fabric to get a nice point on the dart.
2. When sewing an invisible zipper in, shorten and cut it after you sew it in. Unzip and press the coil open as usual, but stitch it in as far as you want before cutting, because when you cut it, the pull gets in the way. You can move the pull up to the top, but when the zipper is closed it's much more difficult to get the stitch underneath the coil to make it nice and invisible on the other side of the fabric.
3. Cheap thread is horrible, spend the extra $2 for the good stuff and save yourself a thousand headaches.
Is there any place in the garment district that has patterns? I've been in great fabric stores, but can't seem to find any reliable sources.
I've never had much luck for patterns and notions in the garment district. P&S has a ton of them, but they're on Broadway south of Canal. Unless you meant that garment district and not the one on 7th in midtown