Textile Flowers Plus Free Fabric Flower Give-away

Paula Nadelstern, a lifelong New Yorker, introduces you to one of her favorite stops in the New York Garment District, a genuine textile lover’s shopping mecca.

I fell in love the first time I walked through the door of M&S Schmalberg, the single remaining custom, handmade fabric flower manufacturer in the New York City Garment District.  It’s my kind of place: colors, textures and creative process everywhere plus a historic backstory of kindness and survival.

Handmade Fabric Flowers

Handmade Fabric Flowers

Family owned for four generations, the business will celebrate its 100th anniversary in February, 2016. Brothers Morris and Sam opened a storefront at a time when every woman wore a hat and every hat wore a fabric flower. In the 1920s they were competing with twenty similar businesses in the neighborhood; by the 60’s and 70’s this number was down to ten. Like many others that defined the “garmento” trade in its heyday, these jobs have moved overseas.

Handmade Fabric Flowers

Handmade Fabric Flowers


The current owners are Warren and Debra Brand; Warren’s son, Adam, helps run the business. During World War II, Warren and Debra’s father, Harold, miraculously survived Birkenau, a concentration camp in contemporary Poland, but lost his entire family in the holocaust. After the chaotic forced march from the camp prior to its liberation by the Allies, Harold had a chance meeting with an American soldier who offered to contact Harold’s NYC cousins. They arranged for him to immigrate to the US and live with them in Forest Hills, Queens. Harold worked in their fabric flower business, taking it over when Morris and Sam retired and passing it on to his children.

Warren and Adam Brand of M&S Schmalberg
Reds and greens and blues. Oh my. Yellows, oranges, magentas, purples, plaids, black and white. Silk, suede, leather, velvet, burlap, sheers like organza. Whimsical, life-like, elegant, delicate and everlasting. It’s deliciously mind boggling.

Handmade Fabric Flowers

Handmade Fabric Flowers

Handmade Fabric Flowers

Handmade Fabric Flowers
Warren, the consummate tour guide, enjoys revealing how his flowers grow, leading you deep into a maze of industrial shelving housing boxes of flowers for instant purchase and rows of last century’s ‘dies’ imported from Europe. Also known as molds, these are used like cookie cutters to form the perfect flower. By combining multiple layers of petals and embellishments, the possibilities are infinite. A mold can cut as many as twenty layers of organza, six layers of lace or four layers of leathers at once.

Handmade Fabric Flowers - Molds

Handmade Fabric Flowers - Molds

Warren drops factual gems like bread crumbs, peeling layers of the process for an insider view. Immersing the fabric into a mix of hot water and starch is the first step. Next, the fabric is stretched out on frames. Once dry, the fabric is layered and die-cut into petal shapes. Often a pneumatic press equipped with molds marks veins replicating a real leaf or forms delicate rippled edges suggesting an orchid. Alcohol based dyes are used on premises for hand dyeing because it dries fast and doesn’t wilt the flowers.

The nine employees embed quality workmanship into every flower. At the last work station, the petals are stacked and glued together. An intricate embellishment, for example a combination of pearls or crystals, may be added before the finished blossoms are hung on a wire to dry.

Handmade Fabric Flowers - Die Cutting the Fabric
Handmade Fabric Flowers - Stretching the Fabric

Handmade Fabric Flowers - Making and Drying Flowers

Handmade Fabric Flowers

Handmade Leather Flowers

If you need flowers for a wedding dress or a quilt project, one flower or a wheelbarrow, these are your Flower People. For one hundred years, they’ve practiced making flowers for clients like Vera Wang, Manolo Blahnik, Kate Spade, Disney and Broadway shows. They are responsible for Carrie Sex-In-the-City Bradshaw’s oversized signature pin and iconic Marchesa gowns like Ann Hathaway’s 2008 Oscar dress. Now they are finally ready for you. You can send your own choice of fabric. Call, go online, or plan a visit next time you are in NYC.

M&S Schmalberg Custom Fabric Flowers
242 W 36th St. 7th Fl. • New York, NY 10018 • 212-244-2090
Contact Adam or Warren Schmalberg at [email protected] or visit their website.

For a complete Guide to the Garment District visit http://paulanadelstern.com/guide.php

Handmade Fabric Flowers

Handmade Fabric Flowers


M&S Schmalberg’s Gift For You

Debra and Warren offer two of their beautifully handmade fabric flowers to one awesome WeAllSew reader. The lucky winner can choose a color and Warren will pick two flowers from his vast fabric garden in that color.

All you have to do is post a comment below answering the following question:

Where would you decorate with your custom made fabric flowers?

A winner will be chosen at random on February 29, 2016 and announced later that week!

Good luck!


Congratulations “gympygirl”, the winner of the two textile flowers.

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76 comments on “Textile Flowers Plus Free Fabric Flower Give-away”

  • What stunning flowers! If I had one or two of them, I would give one of them to my granddaughter Evelyn to wear in her hair. The other one, I would keep in my sewing room for inspiration.

  • Congratulations on the shop’s 100th anniversary ! My favorite color is pink and I love roses ! I would wear the flower as a corsage on my dress for Easter Sunday. I remember my Mothers many hats with flowers that she wore to church every Sunday . Would love to visit NYC some day and tour your shop and the garment district. Terri
    T2mcgreer at gmail dot com

  • Where would I decorate? I’m having a difficult time deciding between my bedroom and using the flowers on an otherwise-plain jacket. Maybe I’d just alternate the two!

  • I am absolutely captivated by these flower creations!. I wore one of their perfect red camelias on my jacket lapel for years. I need a new one! The bright yellow, red and blue flower cluster with black stamens you show would look great on a simple black dress too.

  • I spend most of my time in my sewing room (and that is where my friends head for), so I would hang them in there so I could see them every day. They are just so beautiful! Thank you.

  • I would decorate myself, of course. I love fabric flowers pinned on my coat or suit. These are just beautiful. And red or deep orange suit me just fine.

  • Aloha from a hawaiian wahine, who is from the land of leis. Your fabric flowers are beautiful. I would wear your flower proudly on my sun bonnet.
    with aloha,

  • I love peonies, camillas, and gardenias….but I live in a cold climate and can’t have the real thing as I once did when we lived in a much warmer southern climate. If I had one of your lovely flowers I could put it on my shelf in my sewing room and have spring all year long….

  • These are lovely! I googled Anne’s dress and it is exquisite! I just recently finished designing a dress with a flower belt, so that is where I would be able to use some of these lovely flowers.

  • Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. My mother loved, and used, fabric flowers. I learned to handle them carefully, and love them, from the time I was very young. This story brings back so many wonderful memories. I am glad people are keeping this art alive.

  • I have a red leather flower with yellow stamens that I love to wear with a tunic or to spruce up a jean jacket. I enjoyed the history behind the business and am happy that they are celebrating 100 years in the business, which is no small feat considering that most houses have moved operations overseas or given in to mass produced embellishments. Going to bookmark this page so I can place an order for more flowers!

  • Gorgeous! I’d wear one of these beauties as a brooch on jackets from silk to denim. My wardrobe is primarily black, white, red, turquoise and denim and I’d love any of those colors.

  • This article fascinated me! My daughter is getting married on June 4th, and we could definitely use these flowers to help us decorate! Thanks for the giveaway.

  • What a great history! Amazing to see a company now last this long and with such dedication to keeping the art alive!! If I were to win two of these magnificently made works of art, I would keep one in my sewing room in a shadowbox frame to adore and cherish. One would be reserved to use on a very special gift yet unknown but knowing it would add so much for the recipient who would be informed of it’s significance and the history of the company. Simply amazing!

  • It would definitely be a project that got a lot of wear time because I’d want everyone I met to see my flowers!! They are just fascinating as is the way they are fashioned all by hand, amazing! I would put my flowers onto a summer hat, have to have a hat to go outside when it’s sunny to keep my complexion at it’s best! 😀

  • My Brother has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. He is now confined to a wheel chair.
    He has had a productive life, has a caring wife, and 3 grown children and 4 grandchildren.
    I would like to start a T-Shirt Quilt/Wall Hanging for him with memories of his life, using some of his old college sweatshirts, T-shirts, and memorabilia. Beautiful handmade flower appliques would add a very special “smile” to this Quilt. Thanks for sharing this site. I loved learning about it.

  • Love the flowers. Had no idea about the process. Very intricate. I would love the flowers to put on a memory wallquilt i plan to make about my mother in law. She loved to put a flower in her hair. Her favourite colour was yellow. She liked other colours but this was her favourite.

  • What a wonderful, old world skill to be carrying on. I think a smaller one would be included in something for my granddaughter – maybe a hair decoration or at the waist of a dress. The other I would love to pin on my design wall until the perfect project for myself revealed itself.

  • I would like to make an elegant floral arrangement for my Easter table. First I would remove three small flowers to add to the fairy princess crown I made for my young niece.

  • Beautiful flowers. A great story. I would wear a flower on a jacket for Easter and Mother’s day. If my Mom was here I would give her the other flower as a gift. She loved the beautiful fabric flowers too!

  • I’d love to see the flowers in person, they look lovely! Wish I’d known about them about 25 years ago when I was making a flower girl dress for my son’s wedding and turned my fingers into hamburger while making roses for the waistline on the little dress, and stabbing and poking my fingers. They were a huge challenge! If I won the flowers I would use them on a bag or a special wall quilt. It would be wonderful to decide where to put them!

  • I love your fabric flowers, they are truly unusual.
    I would use them for my niece’s (hair) “fancy” that she wants to wear at her October wedding.
    She has a very 1950’s short lace dress.

  • Such a wonderful story! Thank you for sharing it with us! I would love to show off some of these flowers where I work! I think they would bring a fresh breeze of beauty into a very sterile environment! 🙂

  • Absolutely beautiful flowers! I would create an arrangement in a complimentary vase to place in my breakfast nook! A little bit of sunshine to start my day!

  • What a great article! Love these flowers!! So many places … a art quilt sounds like a fun place for these or to decorate a fabric basket. Thanks for the chance to play : )

  • I would love to make something for my one and only grand daughter,the first girl born on my side of the family in 46 years! I think she would love it! Thanks.

  • What stunning creations! As a milliner, if I had some of these lovely flowers, I would use them on hats. Realistically, I will probably be ordering some now anyway. Thank you for introducing me to this company!

  • What an inspiring story. The flowers are gorgeous. I would share one with my Granddaughter who loves pink and is very fashion conscious. The other one I would keep for a special project for one of my daughter-in-laws.

  • As we get ready here in Washington DC for the 2016 Rose of Tralee selection, I would give one to the 2015 Washington DC Rose, Camille Sheehan to wear on her sash, and the other to be given to the 2016 selectee to wear on her sash, as she heads off to Tralee Ireland for the International selection for 2016.

  • I can think of two ways to use them right away. I love hats and can think of several which would love a flower or two! Then, the flowers are so beautiful in themselves, that I would sew one to a piece if ribbon and use it as jewelry. They are art pieces and would make anything you put them on shine !

  • I loved these flowers and that they are still handmade my local craftsman. I work on landscape and still life quilts frequently and would love to use on the the flowers as part of quilt. The second would hang above my sewing table to remind me where it came from and how it looked before being incorporated into a quilt


  • I’d love to go to the NYC garment district again, it’s been 50 years since I’ve been there. My flowers would be used to decorate my dining room, the centerpiece of my house.

  • Thanks for posting this story. We don’t often think about the process of making flowers. I have made a few from fabric folding, so I appreciate the true crafts-person making these gorgeous flowers. I loved the backstory as well.

    I would use the flowers to decorate a purse or two, that I would make to match the flower.

  • What a wonderful story. This destination is definitely on my “bucket list”! I began making flowers as a child from crepe paper, then Rick rack, then wool and now, silk and leather. I would love to own flowers created by the “masters”–proudly displayed for all to see along with sharing their story. The heritage of beautiful fabric creations should be appreciated and treasured by generations to come.

  • Thank you so much for that story. I am so happy that such beautiful things are still made in the US and I hope to visit there someday. Textile art is my favorite hobby and each flower can teach me so many things. My fabric of choice is 100% felted wool and I wonder how Mr. Brand would prepare the wool before creating a flower.
    I have a faded pink satin glove box that was my grandmother’s. I hope to decorate it and I think one of these would be a beautify addition.

  • I have been wanting to visit this flower manufacturer for two years now! I did a talk at Colonial Williamsburg about the process of creating millinery flowers in the 18th century, Victorian times and now and would love to see them in action! I would proudly wear my flower on my jacket lapel!

  • I enjoyed seeing your fabric flowers and hearing the story of 100 years of family ownership! I would use the fabric flowers as a corsage and would keep them by my desk to enjoy every day. I love pinks or reds, but they would all be lovely!

  • In actual fact, I won the flowers. They are beautiful. And I got 3 flowers! A little lavender bloom on a hairclip, a grey leather bud on a pin and a large navy blossom on a pin. I wish I could share a picture of them with you. Thank you Bernina and M&S Schmalberg.

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