Good Luck Comes with Strings Attached (to the LA Fabric District)

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m working on a Little Red Riding Hood costume for an upcoming(ish) photoshoot. When I left off last time, I mentioned that I was going to go to the LA Fabric District to go broke buying fabric for the cloak.


If you’ve never been, the LA Fabric District is … an experience. Nestled in the middle of Downtown LA, it’s 5 (?–can’t remember exactly) blocks of fabric. I’m not talking fabric shops, though the streets are lined with them, or at least not the kind you’re thinking of, with their fabrics on neat bolts organized in clean rows inside a store. No, when I say it’s 5 blocks of fabric, what I mean is that the fabric from each store spills out onto the sidewalk so that, from the street, the individual stores are barely visible. Inside, a few stores have some semblance of organization (meaning the aisles are more than a few inches wide and the bolts of fabric are held up by poles) but most are so packed that any organization is long gone. One store I went into yesterday had probably around a hundred bolts of fake fur leaning up against the far wall, five or six layers deep. How you were supposed to get to the farthest bolts, I have no idea.

You’re probably thinking that store had to be unique, right? I mean, there can’t be that many kinds of fake fur everywhere, right? Hate to break it to you, but you’re wrong. The fabric there is nothing like the fabric you’ll find at Joanns. You want rainbow fake fur? You get rainbow fake fur.

Seriously, they have everything. Sequins (more sequins than I have ever seen in my entire life), upholstery, linen, every kind of embellished fabric you can think of, lace, stretch knits, prints, sheers, did I mention sequins? … the list goes on an on. It’s sensory overload of the best kind. And then there are the bead shops and the notions shops and the hot dog stands and the bustling crowds — and it all comes together into an atmosphere that is alive.

TL;DR: That’s what the Fabric District feels like: alive.


Okay, so back to my shopping.

Keep in mind that I came into this knowing I had to buy nine yards of 60″ fabric — and the fabric had to be perfect. The kind of perfect that usually costs upwards of $10 a yard. So when I say that I was going to go broke, I’m serious. I joked before I left that the only way I could afford it was if I found a fabric I liked for $2 a yard.

For the first hour or so, I just wandered in and out of shops, liking some things but not loving any of them (or being brave enough to ask the price). Frankly, I was stuck in sensory overload.

Which is probably why I just sorta stopped and stared when I saw Lady Fabric’s storefront. Literally every inch of it is covered in “$1.99” signs. I, being stuck in sensory overload and ready to go broke, didn’t immediately realize that the signs meant everything in the store is $1.99 a yard.

Seriously.

Remember my whole “the only way I’m going to be able to afford this is if the fabric I fall in love with is $2 a yard” joke? Guess what? I got you beat by a whole cent.

Look:

The color might be a little weird on your screen (my phone had a hell of a time trying to photograph it) but it’s a deep, almost purple-y red with black streaks. I think it’s a poly-cotton, heavy on the poly, but I can’t find it in me to care. It drapes beautifully. It’s cheap. The color’s perfect and the texture gives it the feel I was going for. I’m in love.

Quick review of Lady Fabrics: There’s a reason they’re prices are so cheap: they’re selection isn’t nearly as wide as some of the other stores. The stuff they have isn’t going to be walking down the runway — it’s random prints and linens and semi-tacky embellished fabrics. But the store is fairly well organized, the people are nice, oh and did I forget to mention that everything is between $1.99 a yard and $6 (yeah, the signs lied a bit)? It’s a wonderful little corner of broke-seamstress heaven. I will definitely be going back there again.

I think I was lulled into a false sense of richness by the low prices because I ended up with 2 more yards of fabric, one of each of the following. In hindsight, they’re a bit tacky and I have no idea what I’m going to do with them, but, what can I say?–they jumped off the bolt and into my arms.

I also found these awesome beads in Beadshines Beads and Trinkets. I have no idea what I’m going to do with them, but I couldn’t just let them sit there, could I?

Overall, it was an awesome day. I’m itching to go again (and get more pictures). Look forward to future posts about the Red Riding Hood cloak coming together.

What do you guys think about my purchases? In love like me? Any ideas for the black and blue fabric?

–Samantha


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