Al's Attire.........or, election night candy.......

As the results of the election stream in tonight, I can't decide which is worse- watching it unfold in front of me on the computer, or not watching.  I'm choosing something in between, and multitasking.  Is it a great idea?  Who knows?  I've been pinning lots of stuff to my Embroidery Boards over on Pinterest, if you're interested. If you've got an awesome  link you think I'd like- leave it in the comments. I could use any bright shiny (french knot!) distraction you've got. I'm updating my mailing list in preparation of a big announcement coming later this month (sign up HERE)   Meanwhile, I've been meaning to share the details of one of the side trips I took while I was in San Francisco.  So, while the New York Times and NPR work on figuring out who won Ohio, I'll tell you the story of how I came to spend an afternoon with Al Ribaya, of Al's Attire in North Beach.....
Courtney, Me, and Debra at Al's Attire- Northbeach- San Francisco, 2012
I found out about this amazing store from my friend Courtney, who posted a beautiful picture of one of Al's Samplers on her Instagram feed.  As a surprise she planned a trip to the shop while I was there filming last week two weeks ago.   We drove through the tunnel and Chinatown and spent the afternoon interviewing Al and taking pictures of his incredible store/ studio and all his impeccably handmade clothing.  All the clothes are custom sewn, with hand stitched buttonholes, vintage buttons, impecable cuffs, and tremendous care.  To wear an Al's original is to wear a work of art, right down to the hand embroidered label on the inside, free hand machine stitched just for you, many with an original drawing (each one  slightly different!) of the Golden Gate Bridge.  I am certainly not going to ever win any fashion awards- there's a reason people still stop me on the street in New York and ask where I'm visiting from (Brooklyn!) but I can appreciate the detail and hand stitched love that goes into everything in this unique shop.

We went in search of that original sampler, and found not just one but an entire garment rack full of them! Every year or two, Al sews all the buttons in circulation to a new sampler.  He collects from flea markets and yard sales, preferring vintage over new plastic.  The samplers are unique works of art, and Al told us they are often auctioned off at the end of a season for charity.  I'd hold my paddle high for one of these, but I must admit that I can't help but extrapolate my own version.  With over twenty quart sized mason jars of buttons in my collection, I'm going to need a big garment rack..........