I’ve lived in LA for 7 years. SEVEN YEARS. At first I hated it – as in I stopped bothering to put on mascara because I would cry it off immediately. It took me two years to like it, and 3 years to NOT want to leave it. That might sound like a lot of time but LA is a tricky place full of tricky people and weird neighborhoods. It never feels like a traditional city and even more rarely feels like a community – at first.
As a stylist it was EXTREMELY hard to maneuver because unlike New York it’s spread out over 30 miles, and a lot of it is kinda unsightly. Most people aren’t heading deep into the valley for the best welder or going to Pomona for reclaimed wood.
But we stylists do. So I figured it was time to document this stuff and bring you along for the ride.
First stop? The Fabric District in DTLA (Downtown LA). Thanks to our friends at NatureBox (healthy snack delivery) for sponsoring this excursion. We love snacks while we are shopping (see this post about the flea market), especially in DTLA where the street food isn’t exactly GMO-free.
I started shopping the fashion district for jobs probably a year after living here and now, after 7 years, I don’t get lost that often. It’s the area around 7th -9th Street and Wall – Maple that is the heart of the fabric district.
It’s an insane neighborhood near fancy/hipster restaurants like Bottega Louie and the Ace Hotel, but also near skid row which is a not so happy place full of hundreds (if not thousands) of displaced homeless. It makes for a really interesting, dynamic, strange, sad, exciting and intimidating shopping destination to say the least. So let me help you with the fabric part of it at least.
One of my favorite go-to upholstery fabric stores is Home Fabrics. When I only have 1 hour downtown I DEFINITELY only go here. It has the best selection of velvets, linens and a lot of other less cool fabrics that I skip (but that are probably popular), and its sheer volume, selection and price makes it worth it. And yes, it’s for everyone (not just wholesale).
Those velvets, below, are sooo beautiful. We used a lot of them in The Fig House and the Ban.do projects. Some are as cheap as $17.95/yd and some are more like $35.95. There is no minimum yardage and to swatch (get a sample) you simple ask one of their dudes. Don’t even think about bringing your own scissors.
Meanwhile check out this pretty floral fabric ALSO WHAT IS FREAKY BRADY DOING TO THE FABRIC IN THE CORNER? Hands (and all body parts) off the goods, sir. Weirdo. Although in a way I look way more like the weirdo because I’m all posing casually for the camera not knowing that there is a freak show behind me. I think he was just trying to get out of the shot but instead he photo bombed hard.
Besides fabric they have lots of upholstery trimmings; tassels and fringe and tie-backs galore. A lot of these are super decorator-y, but if you comb through enough you can find some chic ones made from cotton and way more paired back, less Marie Antoinette and more Laurel Canyon. Although sometimes those crazy ornate ones can be totally awesome.
That’s the crew. Doing the team posing thing (Brady, Ginny and me).
Who is that dutch boy in the middle of that silly stacked head photo???
They also have a section of $1.99/yard ‘no cut’ (meaning you have to buy all the have). I have found some decent stuff in here and if you are having a party or event this is a really good alternative for tablecloths or runners.
If you don’t want to shop through all the fabrics or of you are looking for additional ones they have books and books of fabrics upstairs that you can peruse and then either have someone go get for you or order it if they don’t have it in stock. You can purchase these books for $25 each (which is what we do for our favorites).
Shopping for fabric can be exhausting and make you very hungry so this seems like a good time to snack on, you betcha, NatureBox.
This is like the mid-podcast sponsor shout out and it’s important. So thank you, NatureBox. I love your snacks and your support.
I go for the more ‘nuts and fruit’ based snacks. Brady would eat sugar for 9 meals a day if we let him. When he first started working with us I asked him to go grab a bunch of ‘healthy snacks’ from Trader Joes. I was picturing dried fruit, nuts, maybe some hummus and chips, fuji apples, etc. He came back with low-fat cookies and chocolate covered pomegranate seeds. He actually thought those were healthy snacks. It was VERY hilarious and once we stopped laughing I fired him.
But we don’t have to worry about it any more because we have NatureBox a-plenty in the office now. One of the best things about it is that its abides by a strict policy of ‘No High Fructose Corn Syrup, No Partially Hydrogenated Oils, No Trans Fats, No Artificial Sweeteners, No Artificial Flavors, No Artificial Colors’. I don’t have to think about it – it does the healthy part on its own. And there are a ton of different snacks (over 100) to choose from and you can change it every month.
We ate the Toffee Almond Granola, Pumpkin Spice Nom Noms, Mexicana Mango Fuji Apples, Mango Almond Bites, Citrus Kick Almonds.
Also Ginny has such pretty hands. I constantly look at them with such envy. I want to cut them off and sew them onto my wrists so I, too, can have long luxurious un-bruised, un-pale fingers instead of my sausage fingers.
So we headed out to 9th street, between Maple and Wall street where there is fabric store after fabric store. A lot of them are selling the same stuff but some of them are surprisingly good. Maybe not for upholstery but for pillows, curtains and definitely costumes and parties. So much sequins, organza, fur, etc. A lot of it soo tacky, but a lot of it could be rad.
You can’t predict what is inside so if you have the time just go down there and pop into as many as you can handle.
Here are some random tips/info for you to know:
1. You can negotiate at the smaller stores. Sometimes I feel like they are making up pricing on their whim. Michael Levine and Home are not negotiable (well, sometimes they might give you 10% off if you buy A LOT) but the other small stores are.
2. You can buy 1/4 yard if you want a larger sample (some places only do 1/2 a yard). Sometimes the smaller samples are so small.
3. Park in a lot – not on the street. You’ll look forever for street parking and then you’ll get a ticket if you are one minute over.
I mean, $1.99 for crazy colored lace yardage has got to be good for something. Its more event or art installation-y but so fun.
Also if you are in the market for foam, there is foam. Just sitting there on the street. Get yer foam, y’all. Also you want to know what is expensive? Foam. And styrafoam. you know why? Because they have petroleum in it so when the gas prices go up, guess what else goes up? The cost of foam. Mind blown. That is why if you think your foam is good in your chair you should have your upholsterer keep it instead of getting new foam – it adds a lot. However if you are buying it used from someone you don’t know, then get yourself some new foam… trust me.
Next up is Michael Levine. Now I’ve been shopping at Michael Levine for a long time. It has two stores – one for apparel and one for upholstery/drapery. I go into both. The upholstery/drapery never has super fresh new hip patterns, but they have good simple velvets, linens and sheer fabrics, and its way easier to navigate, much less crowded and better customer service.
I’ve actually scored a lot of fabric in their ‘Designers heaven’ row that is $6/yard. You can’t get a ton of yardage but if you need under 5 yards you can probably get that there.
The apparel side has a TON of pretty awesome fun trendy patterns that can be used for simple pillows or sewn into napkins, table runners, etc. OR if you are crazy like I am you can buy 1/2 yard and photo copy for cute unique wrapping paper.
The service here is mediocre on a good day. Every now and again I’ll get a nice employee to swatch fabrics for me, but it’s always a circus in there. It seems like there are 45 employees at all times, but it’s like winning the lottery to get someone’s attention long enough to BUY LOTS OF FABRIC. I’ve never understood businesses that make it difficult to spend money. I hope they read this and change. They need some serious customer service improvements. There. Sorry, it’s just that bad.
There is also a Michael Levine annex that is upstairs on the upholstery side of the street. It has crazy cheap yardage of not soo good fabric but I’ve found some decent stuff in there for events.
Also there is a strange amount of tutus downtown. Fun for the whole family – if you family is into that sort of thing.
Also miniature hats. I found this little guy and immediately had to have it for Charlie, and it quickly became the inspiration for his first birthday party in a few weeks. (Geez, I’ve GOT to get on that).
So that’s the fabric district. It’s a very wonderful and weird neighborhood full of fabric, people (tons of people) parking lot flaggers, fringe, tassels and foam. Lots of foam.
Alrighty folks, a big thanks goes out to NatureBox, a company we support, whose sponsorship allowed us to bring this original content from our lives to your computer screens. For those of you that do not know about NatureBox – stop living in the pre-interstellar age (if you have yet to see the movie you will not get my reference) and GET with it. They are a subscription service that offers the ability to discover and enjoy healthy snacks on a monthly basis, delivered directly to your doorstep. They come in resealable packages that have a generous portion size in them (i.e. one bag is just enough for Ginny and I to share, or just the right size for Brady to inhale in a matter of moments).
The lovely folks at NatureBox were kind enough to send some FREE snacks through to my readers, so click HERE to head over to their website and get started. Free trial is available for new and US subscribers only. Not valid on gift subscriptions and may not be combined with any other offers.
In addition to free snacks… I feel like Oprah right now (you get a snack, and you get a snack, and you get a snack) 2 lucky readers will each win a free 6-month subscription to NatureBox. All you have to do is click HERE and then comment below on which of their snacks you would be your favorite. Make sure to leave your email address when you comment so that I can get in touch with you once we pick the lucky winners. (Open to US readers only. Must have a US shipping address and the contest open for a week – so the more you comment the more likely your chance to win is)
Obviously a video of us shopping never hurt, so for your viewing pleasure here is Brady, Ginny and I in action.
Also one time – I did this (below) probably to be funny but decidedly just kinda weird. 2.50/yard. ‘no cut’.
* I climbed in and laid horizontally on the fabric rolls. Apparently to be ‘wacky’. Also I’m terrified of myself if I still have this blog when I’m 68. You guys are going to get some real gems of insanity that you haven’t even seen glimmers of yet.
*All photos by the lovely Jayme Burrows for EHD. Video by Scrunch Media.
*This post was in partnership with NatureBox. Thank you for supporting the posts and brands that make this original content happen.