Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Field Trip: Downtown Los Angeles Fabric District

As a event stylist, I find myself in DTLA quite often for a variety of things, most of which is to purchase flowers at the infamous flower market and secondly, to purchase fabrics in the amazing fabric district.

To venture downtown requires that you carve out a significant part of your day for browsing. If you think you're going to head down there and zip in and out, you are sorely mistaken. Mainly because it sucks you in! There are so many options. And if you are a creative mind, such as I am, it's simply impossible not to look around and be inspired over and over again.

- Wear comfortable shoes. You are going to do a lot of walking.
- Bring cash for parking. There is very little opportunity for street parking and lots can be anywhere from $10-20 bucks depending on how convenient the lot is to the district. Honestly, I just take the subway. It's easier for me because the streets are crowded and the parking is a pain. Take the Red Line, Blue Line or Expo Line to 7th/Metro and then hop on either the MTA's 51, 52, or 60 bus or the Dash E Line and head east down 7th Street. Get off at Los Angeles Street and walk 2 blocks south on Maple. Simple as that. Plus the exercise is good for you. Heck, you're already going to be doing a lot of walking. (Can you tell I've done this a few times?)
- Go in with a plan. It's easy to become distracted and overwhelmed.
- Don't expect to see everything. There are over 100 fabric stores in the district.
- Have cash for negotiating. Cash talks...and don't be afraid to haggle. This is the place where the price is never really the price. Example: Over the weekend a guy quoted $16 a yard for fabric that could be used for a bedroom set. After saying no, he went down to $10!
- Exercise patience. The streets are crowded, the stores can be crowded or hard to navigate because fabric bolts are spilling into the walkways. It's like this all of the time. If you have issues with crowds or are in a mood, just stay home. Trust me.

There are an incredible number of options for shopping in the fabric district. I tend to visit the same spots over and over because they work for me and offer the best options. However, when I am searching for upholstery or home fabrics, I tend to breeze in and out of several places. Nevertheless, here are my top spots:

FIDM Scholarship Store
919 S. Grand
I absolutely adore this spot. It sells new clothing and accessories donated by top fashion companies and all proceeds go to FIDM scholarships. This is the best place to stock up on $1 a yard fabric, $1 accessories and inexpensive grab bags of buttons and trim. It was named “Best Boutique/Store in L.A.” by the readers of Downtown News.

Angel Textiles
846 S. Maple Avenue
I like discovering little hole-in-the-wall places, such as this one. The prices here are phenomenal. They even have leather pieces if you are making handbags, jewelry etc. Cash and large quantities will help you negotiate.

Michael Levine
920 S. Maple Avenue
I never visit the fabric district without stopping by Michael Levine because of the huge selection of woven fabrics and notions. It consists of three stores: the main store, the home decor store, and the Loft. They have a huge selection of designer wovens and fun Japanese imports.

The Loft is a great place to find one-off finds and everything is priced by the pound. Currently their rates are at $2.50 a pound. Seriously, how can you go wrong? Sometimes I find great things, sometimes I don't. But I ALWAYS stop in because you just never know!

And, if you are buying in bulk you can ask to check out the warehouse for larger quantities.

Over the weekend I purchase a couple of yards of a pretty cotton fabric from Michael Levine to sew up a table runner for a Rooftop Dinner Party I'm hosting next month. It took me 40 minutes to decide! LOL

Target Trim
629 E. 9th Street
Trim heaven. 'Nuff said. If you need proof, just check out the photos below and you will see for yourself. Mind you, this is merely a sampling! Yes, it's that freaking awesome!

L.A. Fred's Fabric Inc.
411 E. 9th Street
So after popping in and out of my favorite haunts, I also stopped into L.A. Fred's for the first time. I was looking for fabric for drapes and ended up finding the perfect fabric for a shower curtain. When I say perfect, I mean perfect. I wanted something that looked like Mexican Tiles in the exact colors of my bathroom tiles, which I nearly gave up on. I mean what are the odds of finding the exact pattern in the exact colors that I had in my mind? But here it was. It is absolutely magnificent.

I met with the owner, Fred, who quoted me a price of $35 per yard! And then he immediately stated he will give me a good price. This was a new fabric in his store and he had a gigantic bolt of it. Well, being that I wasn't visiting the fabric district with the intention of buying the perfect shower curtain fabric, let alone finding it, I had to walk away. But I've been dreaming of it ever since.

Fred gave me his business card after asking me what country I'm from... {no one EVER guesses my nationality...EVER}, and I promised to return. Do you think Fred was attracted to me? Maybe I can get a good deal if I smile a lot. I'll have to keep you posted!

There are plenty of restaurants in DTLA but most convenient when you are on the go are the street vendors. You will find Hispanic vendors cutting up fresh fruit on the spot (especially nice on a warm day). And if you're up to a local favorite, you can find bacon wrapped hot dog stands all over the place. The smell will draw you in. I don't eat hot dogs but when I walk by these carts, it sure is tempting because they smell so amazing! Perhaps one day I'll buy one. After all, as an Angeleno it's my civic duty.

Follow my tips and have a great time! If you happen to stop by any of these places, let me know your thoughts.

So where do you shop for fabric locally?


  1. Great guide! I will definitely use this as a reference the next time I'm in the area.

  2. Thanks for the great guide. I enjoy making a trip to DTLA at least once a month, will pop into the trim shop have never been in that store.