Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Crafters' delight

Los Angeles' Fashion District is the home of the largest selection of textiles and notions in the United States - or so it's claimed. Over 200 vendors selling everything from cheap polyester to the finest silks and leathers are concentrated in the blocks between Eighth Street and Olympic, along Maple Street, Wall Street and San Julian Street. Most vendors sell to both wholesale and retail customers, although they may require you to purchase a minimum amount of yardage.

On a clear spring day, you can stroll past bolts of fabric displayed on the sidewalk, brilliant in the sun. Everything displayed on the street is usually priced to sell.

These bolts of raw silk were priced at $5 a yard.

And how about these colors, at $1.50 a yard?

The day I went exploring, I didn't have a project in mind, so I wasn't buying. I'm thinking about a future upholstery project, so I checked out the Michael Levine upholstery fabric store.

Michael Levine has two stores across the street from one another on Maple. The one on the east side of the street has fabric for apparel and quilters; on the west side it's upholstery fabric and in the second floor loft, discounted polyester knits sold by the pound.

I still don't know what I want to do with my project, but I really liked this roll of cotton toile - on the discount table at $6.00 a yard.

They carried a lot of patterns of Sunbrella, fabric that resists fading from exposure to sun. They weren't on sale, but I thought it sounded like a pretty good buy at $18.00 a yard - wouldn't you like a slip cover or a set of cushions in one of these luscious tropical prints?

Levine also carries a great selection of polished cotton prints, like these.

I adore browsing through the stores that sell lace, braid, ribbon and other trims. Some of these shops are tiny, and crammed floor-to-ceiling with racks filled with spools of beautiful things. Some shops spill out onto the sidewalk, they have so much stock. Look at these selections:

Tempting, huh?

Back to upholstery fabric - these silks and damasks in pale blue and chocolate brown were pretty. Here a braid tie-back with a tassel shows how elegant this color combo can be.

Of course, there are lots of colors to choose from.

A coppery silk sheer.

Classic blue toile, chintz, or ticking.

There are stores here selling furniture, too - rococo and "Oriental" imports, some pretty, some hideous, and some over-the-top outrageous. Like this faux-victorian couch, clad in a tufted beige vinyl.

I'd never buy something like this, but with all those amazing fabric choices nearby, it got my creative juices flowing. Wouldn't it look cool upholstered in some of the patterns above? What fabric would you use to transform this ugly duckling into a swan?


Sue said...

I can't sew a stitch, but I would certainly get caught up in all that color! Beautiful!

Blondie's Journal said...

This makes me want to get the old sewing machine out!! I love the toile fabric and it would make for a great upholstered chair or sofa. It might even make that vinyl thing come to life!! Love all the trim and fabrics. What a field day it must be for some!


Ash said...

i love all the patterns and materials and this is the time when i kick myself for not knowing how to sew.

Gilly said...

I'm not a sewer now, but I just love fabrics!! Odd, eh? But those colours are so beautiful.

Now then, I want new curtains at all the windows, and new cushion covers, and while I'm at it it some of that other fabric would look good on the chairs in our summer house and..........

Dream on!!

giorno26 ¸¸.•*¨*•. said...

Bellissime queste stoffe colorate provenienti dai paesi esotici....

mo.stoneskin said...

Beautiful photos, all that colour and all, but presumably you found some wardrobe space to store all the cheap polyester that you bought?!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I would love to take my mother-in-law there when she visits from Minnesota. She adores working with lush fabrics.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

Vinyl is just WRONG!! But I am having trouble choosing the right fabric... I think I need to to a bit more shopping...