Fabric shopping can be so exciting, sometimes even treasure hunt like. I live about 45 minutes away from one of North Americas few fabric and manufacturing hubs, Downtown Los Angeles. Where there is garment manufacturing there is fabric. If you are visiting Los Angeles, you like to make clothing for yourself or others and you brought an extra suitcase (not really, but maybe) you really should get out there and shop DTLA (Downtown Los Angeles).
There is lots of walking and lots of people (if people aren’t your thing try to go during the week or early in the day)
It is very dirty downtown and you will be walking, a lot
Micheal Levine has a bathroom, most fabric shops don’t, some chain restaurants or food places may want you to deposit a quarter or use a code given by a cashier to unlock the bathroom
Bring cash. While many are totally fine with using a card swiper, you have more bargaining leverage if you pay cash, at the smaller vendors especially
If you are driving, everything is paid parking expect on average $20 (I’ve usually paid about $15 but rates can change) or use a social ride service, taxi or public transport
There are a multitude of small shops along Maple Ave. packed so tight it’s hard to walk into them but it is so worth it, thats were I found an entire roll of picot elastic for $6.00. Be aware some are closed on Saturday but open on Sunday. In between Maple Ave. and Santee St. on E. 9th St. is my favorite place to find swim and some underwear fabric Blue Moon, Google maps will take you to an indoor mall where its appointment only so beware. On Maple Ave. is Michael Levine’s, the map apps will take you to the right location for this one and it is worth it for a wide variety of fabrics, notions, yarn and ribbon or just a bathroom break.
Across the street from the main Michael Levine location is their Upholstery fabric and The Loft above. DO NOT MISS THE LOFT! This is where the treasure hunting starts. Up above the beautiful rolled and sorted upholstery fabrics are large boxes and bins of “one offs” “remnants” and “end of bolts”. Sometimes it’s a yard or it could be four, all of it is sold by the pound. I found loads of poly and nylon for lingerie sewing and knits, oh so many knits. The Loft is closed on Sunday so plan accordingly.
If you go on a weekday or Sunday (they are closed Saturday) there is a large vendor of trims and elastics on Maple between 9th and 8th. The building has “Trim Expo” painted on it but I don’t know if that is still the name of the business. So many beaded trims, woven ribbons, wedding lace and lingerie elastics in the back.
Once you are done getting down and dirty for your fabric fix, head toward Mood Fabrics in the Miracle Mile/La Brea part of Los Angeles. There on S. La Brea Ave you will find Mood fabrics and a bit farther up The Fabric Store-Los Angeles. This is where you can find silks and french ribbons, linens and New Zealand merino Jersey. At Mood they are happy to help pull down rolls or if you are wanting to “wait and see” give you a generous swatch. I am still using the swatch of Tulle Leonardo I received there, Bra making is great for using small bits of fabric.
There is also FIDM to visit if there is a costume or fashion installation to be displayed but that is for another post. I hope this has giving some intrepid sewist out there the info they need to explore what DTLA has to offer, it really is an experience that should not be missed.
Until next post, As Above Sew Below,