Tuesday, August 20, 2013

LA Fabric District Part 2

Welcome back to Part 2 of my review of the LA Fabric District!  Last time I shared with you some of the stores I visited.  Today, I will finish with the stores I visited on Saturday.

A note about Saturday shopping in the Fabric District:  1. It is really crowded.  2. It is more expensive to park than during the week. 3. Some of the stores are closed on Saturday.  4.  It is really crowded ;) 5. It is fun.  How could it not be?!

I parked at a meter on Saturday, because I found one close to the stores I wanted to visit.  The first store I visited was LA Alex:

LA Alex is on 9th between Wall and Maple next to Tex Carmel.  This store was a little on the larger side and had sections really organized into types of fabrics (they have mostly polyesters in their store).  It was a breath of fresh air not to have to barter here as all of the prices are set and labeled above the bolts.  I stole a shot here of some type of polyester and denim.  A lot of the fabrics were on the cheaper side (in quality) and being an apparel sewer, I would only use these fabrics for costumes.  The minky and linens were $5 per yard and there was a lightweight woven poly/cotton section for only $2 per yard.  I snatched up some blue and white gingham for a costume (guess which costume.....that's right!  A Dorothy Wizard of Oz costume!) for only $2 per yard.  In the back there were a bunch of zippers, some dye, and a bunch of notions. 

Journal Fabric, on 9th between Wall and Maple, was full of apparel fabrics and they had a surprisingly decent selection of knit solids.  I saw some silky (poly) prints, swimsuit fabric, and as you can see at the storefront they have a bunch of fabric for only 99 cents per yard.  Here, I found the perfect shade of blue fabric to make a T.A.R.D.I.S. dress for Halloween.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you need to check out my favorite sci-fi show of all time, Doctor Who!

Before walking into Zip-Up Zipper, I had no idea so many zippers existed!  There are silver, antique, and gold metal zippers.  There are zippers that open from both ends.  There are cute zipper pulls with palm trees on them.  There are zippers that are over 12 feet tall!  And the cool thing is...if the owner can't find a zipper that is the exact length you need, he can cut one down to size for $2 more.  They also had a cool selection of buttons and other notions.  I really enjoyed browsing in here.  I would love to come back.

Angel Textiles was my favorite apparel store to browse in, probably because at this time in my sewing journey I am totally into sewing with knits.  I kind of stumbled upon this place via the back door.  Up to this point, I hadn't found any poly cotton knit prints I liked, and this place was chalked full of them.  The associate sold me 8 yards of fabric for $2 each.  I didn't have to barter down to this price.  I was astonished at the price.  I would have liked to have bought more, but by this point my truck was chalked full of fabric.

A special thanks to my husband who came with me to the District the first day:

You are simply wonderful!


Well, there you have it!  That is everywhere I visited my first trip to the Fabric District.  I absolutely loved it, and I hope that if you visit LA, you get to go to the Fabric District, too.  We stopped in LA in the middle of a road trip and had to take our fabric camping in the Redwoods, through Idaho, Utah, and now will be trekking all the way out to South Carolina with my spoils.  Fitting this stuff in the back of the car amongst our camping gear, my serger and sewing machine, is a bit tricky (even when your trunk has almost the capacity of Mary Poppins' handbag).

We stuffed fabric in the cooler, around the boxes, and on top of everything.  What you see exposed is not even 1/4 of it.  I have a very patient husband who tolerates my fabric hoarding.

Our car has 193,000 miles on it.  The water pump sprung a leak a week ago (just a problem caused by wear) and we were lucky to not be traveling when it happened, so it was easy to get to a mechanic.  Now, we will be traveling between Utah and South Carolina.  I am praying that we will make it to our new home safely. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

LA Fabric District

My husband and I were in Los Angeles this month for a wedding and were fortunate to be able to visit the Los Angeles Fabric District.  This was BIG for me!  We are moving to the East Coast and I have no idea if or when I will ever have this opportunity again.  The advantage to shopping here is the amazing selection.  You can find supplies you might not be able to find elsewhere.  The other spectacular draw are the low prices.  I read blog posts and wrote up a route for us to follow, complete with a map on Googlemaps.

We made sure to bring plenty of water and some snacks, and I had lots of cash in small bills.

I started my shopping in FIDM Scholarship Store.  This is on the corner of 9th and Grant and if you get there when the store opens (M-F 9am, Sat 10 am) you may be able to park at a nearby meter like I did.  They use the proceeds to benefit students at the Fashion Institute of Design.  In the back, there is a fabric room with a ton of remnants and larger rolls of fabric.  It requires a little digging, but if you are looking for some hip, nice knits, you may get really lucky.  I paid only $1 per yard for remnants.  They also have clothing for sale.  A lot of them have a hole or two, but they are really cheap.

Then, we headed over to the heart of the Fabric District and parked on 9th and Wall Street.  If you're headed down 9th and pass Maple, turn left on Wall Street.  A quick left will take you up a ramp to a parking lot that charges only $4 for the whole day.  (There are other lots, this is just the one we parked at.)  You may be able to find a meter on the street if you come early, or if you are lucky. When I came back on Saturday, the lot was $7, so I opted for metered parking.

We went to Tex Carmel, where they had loads of beautiful linens and wools.  Unfortunately, their prices were a little high, and they didn't seem willing to barter with me, so I left without purchasing anything.  It's not a bad idea to shop around and see how the prices compare.  You can always come back.

Next, we went to Fabrics and Fabrics, on 9th between Maple and Wall Street (sorry, no pic).  An employee pointed me to the linens, where I saw this lovely, lightweight teal linen.  He said everything on that wall was $10 a yard, but when I started to leave, he gave it to me for $8/ yard.  I probably could have talked him down another dollar, but I really did think it was a good price.  He pulled the roll from the huge stack of linen rolls, and started cutting.  They really aren't that precise when they cut - just so you know.  They eyeball it, and from what I hear, most places only cut whole yards.

After I bought the linen, my husband and I stopped by one of the hot dog carts and I got a 'street dog' with a bunch of pico de gallo and avocados.  It was sooo good, and only $3.  I highly recommend the street food.  We sat on some steps.  I am a really careful eater.  I started to chow and promptly dropped an avocado blob onto the linen fabric I had just purchased.  Yay.  So glad the spot came out!

Next, we stopped by the highly raved about The Loft of Michael Levine Fabrics. It is on Maple between 9th and Olympic.  Here you can buy fabric for $2.50 per pound.  This is where all the cast offs and remnants go, and you have to dig in tallish cardboard boxes.  I actually found quite a few large pieces and we ended up cutting all of them ourselves, into smaller pieces.  They also had some rolls of fabric against the wall, organized by color.  I didn't find too many wovens here, mostly jersey knits in solid colors.  I hear that the Loft changes daily, so your experience could be totally different than mine.

Lastly, I stopped by Michael Levine Fabrics, just across the street from The Loft, where you can find almost anything.  They make you pay for it, too.  Their prices are usually higher than the small businesses nearby, but everything is really well organized and priced.  You won't be able to barter here.  There are plenty of salespeople to cut fabric and ask questions.  If you can't find something at one of the other stores, Michael Levine has a great selection, so make sure you stop by.  It's kind of like walking into a Joann's or Hancock's minus the pretty posters and sales signs.  It has more of a warehouse feel.  They don't use the high-low price strategy, which I liked very much.  You can park in the lot behind Michael Levine, but it's quite expensive and they validate, but only for 15 minutes of your time.  That is why I would prefer to park in one of the other lots or at a meter and then just run my fabric back to the car.

After 3 1/2 hours of shopping, my feet hurt, my legs ached, and I had seen so much fabric I wanted to vomit.  I know, a real trooper, right?  But after a good night's rest, I was back at it again for a few hours the next day.  Stay tuned for my next post and I will tell you where I went on Saturday!

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Lifetime Supply of Serger Spools

My husband and I LOOOOVE estate sales.  We don't typically shop garage sales because at garage sales, people are trying to get rid of stuff they don't want.  There can be a LOT of junk.  At an estate sale, people have to get rid of things they actually want to keep, but don't have room for.  Estate sales are usually a lot bigger and so you can comb though more things and find what you are looking for faster.

I usually type 'estate' in the search field of the 'garage sales' section of Craigslist to find estate sales in the area.  Estatesale.net is also a good place to look for nearby estate sales.  The good sales will usually have pictures of the types of things that are for sale.

Last month we went to a sale south of Denver for a couple who was going to a nursing home.  It was a large home, and the woman was an avid sewer.  When I get old and have to get rid of my stash, I want it to be as big as hers was.  It didn't even fit in one room - they had all of her sewing stuff laid out in the master bedroom AND another bedroom.  I wish I had taken pictures of it.  It was pretty impressive.  

There were three tables of fabric that had mostly remnants of a yard or less.  I did pick up some interfacing bundled up that was a great price.  There were two entire tables filled with thread.  I would say half of it was serger spool thread and the other half was $$$ Gutterman thread.  There were all different colors.  It was a sewer's dream!  Then, there were bins full of bias tape, hem tape, piping, buttons, and other notions.  

I decided I wanted to beef up my stash of serger spool thread.  I grabbed one of the four bins and carefully chose the spools that would be coming home with me.  They are 36 in all...or 35.  They are kind of hard to count in the bin.  Most of them are the Maxi-Lock brand which are $$$ at the fabric store, even on sale.  I took the bin downstairs to the table and paid $30 for the whole thing.  Because I was buying so much of it, I was able to negotiate down.

Her lifetime supply of serger thread lasted longer than her lifetime, and I bought a quarter of it, so I'm hoping it will last me 10 years. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Very YouTube Workout

Last summer, while I was still trying to recoup from shoulder and knee injuries, I discovered workout videos on YouTube.  I have a Smart TV, which allows me to watch Netflix, listen to Pandora, and watch YouTube Videos.  Some of you may have a Roku box, which does essentially the same thing and attaches to the TV.  I make a playlist of workout videos on my YouTube page (you have to create an account and be signed in to do this).  When I'm ready for my workout, I just turn on the TV and select which one I want to complete.

My very favorite workouts come from Class FitSugar.  While I was still building up strength, I didn't have the stamina for a long workout, so I chose one of their many 10 minute workouts.  I love these because they are short and easy to work into a busy day.  The teachers show options for beginners, or ways of making an exercise more advanced.  Many of the workouts require little to no equipment.  If I want more of a workout, I can just combine 2 or three videos.

Here are a few of my favorite 10 minute workouts on YouTube:
Full body workout with Holly Perkins
CrossFit Workout (no equipment needed)
Ab Workout/ Strength Training
Arm Workout with Andrea Orbeck
Booty Shaking Waist Workout - actually a Tiffany Rothe workout.  I was so out of shape the first time I did it, and even though I was able to complete the workout, I was SO sore the rest of the week!

When I was a teen, I didn't understand fitness at all.  I thought 'working out' meant that I grab my mom's 5 lb. dumbbells and do a ton of reps (with no form, I might add) as fast as I could until I was totally worn out.  These videos have taught me how to lift, bend and stretch to avoid injury.  I have learned that doing a little workout every day or two is healthier than doing one really crazy one every month...and then hating it and not exercising for a while.

Today I tried a 40-Minute Full-Body Workout and it totally kicked my butt!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Portable DVD Player Tote

I purchased a Portable DVD Player last week via Craigslist. My husband and I are moving cross country soon and wanted some road entertainment. My player didn't come with a soft cover, so I decided to make one. In my search for a good design I came across this fantastic tutorial via Make it and Love It. 

I whipped this up in couple of hours. It's so nice when I have an idea for a project and I have everything I need. I found the upholstery fabric in my stash.  I used some fleece from a sweatshirt to act as the padding between the upholstery layers.  The serger made quick work of finishing some of the edges. It's SO NICE  to make a quick and easy project after working on a long and tedious one. 

The velcro flap secures the DVD player in place.  The front pocket has its own flap to secure the car and wall chargers.

Note: I have learned my lesson never to buy sticky-backed velcro.  It will gum up your needle and eventually the thread won't be able to loop to form stitches.