Oooo, let’s go to fabric heaven, shall we?
I know, it’s pretty tough to beat Janssens et Janssens in Paris, (Fabric Shopping in Paris and…Steampunk Chanel?) but the sticker shock of getting there and buying there can only be pulled off once in awhile. I’m still in awe of Mary from the Cloning Couture blog, who took her husband to browse at Chanel first, and then over to Janssens after she’d convinced him how much money she’d save making her own. (Mary, yours is made better anyway.)
One morning in L.A., I announced to the boys that I was going to the fabric store, and not hearing any response, I grabbed my purse and ran. I drove south on LaBrea to Wilshire to hit the new giganto outpost of Mood Fabrics (645 S. LaBrea Ave.). (Mood Fabrics Website) I had been to this location a year ago soon after they’d opened, so I knew it was huge, but now they had twice as much stuff.
Fashion fabrics on one side, leather and home dec on the other.
Pretty much anything you’re looking for, they’ve got it. Knits, suiting wools, tweeds…
Designer roll-ends, particularly printed silks…
And gorgeous fancy stuff…
I had almost convinced myself to get some of that blue and black tweed with sequins (at the bottom), even though I know sequins are a bitch to sew with. But when I came back to get it, it was gone! (I was secretly relieved.)
Here’s what really made me jealous…
A bunch of women sitting around in muslins enjoying one of Mood’s FREE sewing classes. (Sewing classes at Mood Fabrics L.A.) Behind that wall of fabric rolls is another class of cute grade-school age kids learning to sew. The L.A. Mood location offers a mind-boggling array of sewing/draping/patternmaking/designing classes for free, often taught by professional designers and costumers. Every time I get one of their emails, I want to immediately decamp for L.A. and make up a little bed for myself among the linens and raw silks.
You know what they say, give someone a fast-fashion T-shirt, they have clothes for three washes…but teach someone to sew, and… (they soon have an overwhelming pile of fabric stash?)
As much great stuff as they had at Mood, the size of my stash was on my mind, so I decided to drive up LaBrea a few blocks to The Fabric Store, which is in a stretch of high-end hipster vintage and home dec stores around 2nd St (136 S. LaBrea Ave.). I’d read that this New Zealand company had opened their first U.S. location, and wanted to check it out. (The Fabric Store’s U.S. website)
In complete contrast to the “packed to the rafters” feel of Mood, the Fabric Store is in an open-plan store front with wooden tables and shelves, and sedate zen-y music playing.
I chatted briefly with the young, hip, soft-spoken manager, who told me that the New Zealand owners source the fabrics from their home office and ship them to L.A. What I found was a beautifully curated selection of mostly natural fabrics, including gorgeous silks and cottons…
and tempting linen tweeds…
But The Fabric Store’s claim to fame is their high-quality New Zealand merino wool jersey, which come in a range of weights, colors, and designs.
They were really something, and most were under $20 a yard for a hugely wide swath of jersey (up to 62″ width), all of it smooth, itch-free stuff.
I’m a Claire McCardell freak, and in the past year I’ve managed to track down, outbid, and over-pay for about 12 of her original sewing patterns. So I’m now starting to make them up. McCardell and Chanel were basically the original proponents of using wool jersey for sportswear, so I knew that quality merino jersey like this would work well for my McCardell “makes.”
I ended up buying some lightweight black New Zealand 100% merino jersey, a periwinkle/royal blue Italian wool/viscose jersey and some “tie” silk, all pictured above, and believe me, I could have gone home with more. I have since machine washed and air-dried swatches of both wool jerseys and they came out perfectly. I’ll definitely be stopping by The Fabric Store on my next trip to L.A.
The one L.A. store I didn’t get to this time, but highly recommend, is International Silks and Woolens at 8347 Beverly Boulevard, less than a mile from The Fabric Store and Mood. (International Silks and Woolens Website) When I visit, I go straight to the little room on the 3rd floor where they have authentic vintage fabrics that look like they go from the 30s to the 80s. They’re not cheap (usually around $40/yard), but you can find unique retro fabrics like the one I used to make this Madeleine Vionnet bias scarf. If you do buy any vintage fabrics, inspect them carefully as they may be faded at the fold, so you’ll need more yardage.
Here’s the post about how I made that scarf: (How To Make The 30s Madeleine Vionnet Scarf)
There are a number of other great fabric/sewing/costuming stores in L.A., and if you have been to any of them, let us know what you think!
Now to make a dent in my stash so I can go fabric shopping again.