Monday, 21 September 2015

Adventures in the U.S.A!

So I'm back from my very exciting trip around a small part of the south west of America and have just about got myself back on British time! If you follow me over on Instagram or Twitter you may have seen some of what I got up to already; I packed quite a bit in! I managed to meet up with a few sewing friends in both Los Angeles and San Francisco/Oakland and I think nearing half the weight of my suitcase on the return flight was fabric...oops! I thought you might like to see a little of what I got up to and enjoyed as I know from some comments on Instagram that some of you have trips planned to a similar area. I promise to try and keep things mostly sewing related!


My first stop was LA where I enjoyed exploring Santa Monica, Beverley Hills and Hollywood before meeting up with Christine, Kathy and Pam on Tuesday afternoon. Christine's Guide to Los Angeles in Seamwork actually came out the day I met her and is well worth a read! I was of course already planning a trip to Mood Fabrics but they also recommended visiting The Fabric Store which is just a few blocks north on S. La Brea Avenue so we started out there.


I loved this store. It's not huge but has enough stock to pretty much always have something to meet your needs. I was really impressed not only by the variety of fabric types but the well curated selection of unusual prints and colours. Plus I felt the prices were very reasonable for fabrics of such good quality and everything was well labelled and easy to find. I wish I had a shop like this on my doorstep back home! I made two purchases here. Firstly (despite the heat and sunshine my thoughts must have been turning to Autumnal sewing and colours) some gorgeous mustard rayon which has a lovely hand. I nearly left with this same fabric in a berry colour too! Secondly The Fabric Store is famous for it's wide selection of New Zealand merino jersey. It's incredibly hard to get hold of in the UK (and even elsewhere the US for that matter!) particularly at a reasonable price so there was no way I was not leaving without some. I settled on a mid-weight classic black so I could make something I'll get lots of wear out of. In the words of Christine 'You come all the way to California and buy black knit?!' Haha! It's sumptuously soft and I'm pleased to report has washed up beautifully on the wool cycle in the machine.


Moving on we stopped for a lovely light lunch across the road before Kathy and I headed down to Mood. Mood is huge and has pretty much every fabric type and notion you could ever need! It's really well laid out and organised though and the staff are so helpful and knowledgable. I had a great time during the couple of hours that I was there! I had a month's MSN allowance burning a hole in my pocket (plus a little more!) and had decided that this month I would treat myself to whatever screamed 'buy me!' rather than sensibly sticking to an idea as I usually would. At first I was wishing I'd come with a plan as the choice is a little overwhelming if you're looking for nothing in particular. Particularly as much of it is designer so the quality is great yet the prices I find very reasonable for such good stuff. However, I soon started pulling out bolts which caught my eye and began whittling down my selection. The right hand photo above shows you what I left with, from the top;

  • An incredible chunky knit from Derek Lam. I'd actually eyed this up online a couple of months back but hadn't anticipated the unusual texture it has in reality. I'm thinking of making an oversized sweatshirt or cardigan.
  • A gorgeous dusky blue knit from Theory which has fine white stripes. It's just the weight I'm after for making myself the perfect t-shirt dress and is totally opaque too.
  • This beautiful printed silk crepe practically jumped off the bolt and into my hands! I'm really enjoying checks at the moment and I love the colour way and hand painted quality of this.
  • Again I'm obviously loving the checks! This is an amazing sheer crepe from Marc Jacobs which I want to use to make a more feminine take on a plaid shirt.
  • The final fabric is probably my favourite piece from the whole trip. It's hard to see in a photo but it's a rich indigo blue thick raw silk which is embroidered all over. Look at that border! I can't wait to find the perfect pattern to use this for. I'm 99% sure it's a Rag & Bone fabric.


The next stop for me was San Francisco! I had a couple of days to myself to explore and fell completely in love with the place! I definitely hope to come back some day and see more. I packed in trips to Alcatraz & Angel Island and Golden Gate Park, I cycled over the Golden Gate Bridge which is definitely not to be missed, rode a cable car, explored the endlessly interesting mission district, took in the beautiful architecture and visited all the typical tourist hotspots like Fisherman's Wharf and Lombard Street.


On Saturday I met up with four lovely sewing ladies from around the bay area (and beyond!). From left to right in the picture below we have Iris, Kiran, Jeanne and Diana; special thanks to Jeanne and Diana for so generously driving me around! I was staying in Oakland which was perfect as we'd planned to venture to a couple of stores in that area rather than San Francisco itself. I particularly enjoyed our visit to Stonemountain & Daughter which had a lovely warm and welcoming atmosphere and was a lot bigger than I was expecting! There was an amazingly wide selection of it which I pounced on along with a gorgeous collection of silk jersey prints (on the right above) which are screaming to be made into DVF inspired wrap dresses! I limited myself to two purchases in Stonemountain as my suitcase was already rather heavy, the lovely ikat in the centre below which I've got earmarked for a Colette Aster or similar and the grey jersey at the bottom. This may look like a boring purchase but it is in fact a tricky to find wicking fabric which is perfect for activewear as it absorbs moisture. I've been thinking about making myself some running leggings for a while now and this stuff has the perfect thickness and stretch for that project. I spotted on Instagram yesterday a sneak peak of one of the new Sewaholic patterns which has got me even more excited about this find!


The one thing I possibly regret not buying was some gorgeous soft grey double gauze from A Verb for Keeping Warm which was a small but gorgeous store in Oakland recommended by Jeanne. I was drawn to that area of the shop after my recent first experience with sewing double gauze and was pretty amazed by the selection! I've never come across anything like it in the UK. I could instantly imagine it making an amazing Archer Shirt but it would have made a fairly pricey project because of the yardage needed and width of the fabric and the space in my suitcase was already running low... my wardrobe isn't screaming out for another Archer so I think I made the right choice.


In the afternoon Diana and I headed across the Bay Bridge to visit Britex Fabrics. Situated just off Union Square, I'd already been in when I was in the area a couple of days earlier so I came prepared this time for the scale of the place and the prices! There are four floors of fabrics of the highest quality with prices to match and it somewhat reminded me of Joel & Son in London but the good news is that the top floor is packed with sale rolls and remnants! I still had a good rummage through the other floors and was really drawn to an incredible neoprene which looked like a thick wool on one side and was shocking pink on the other. I had dreams of making a pencil skirt with a kick pleat to show off a flash of the pink but at $49.99/yard it was out of my price range! I couldn't resist treating myself to a little something though and came away with the burnout jersey pictured previously with the Stonemountain fabrics which was on the sale rack at $10/yard.


That's about it for the sewing related portion of my trip. The next day I ventured to Yosemite National Park which blew my mind despite the views being a little hazy because of a nearby forest fire. I took about a million photos (which I have bored my family stiff with!) but none of them really do justice to the size and beauty of the place.


The final major stop I made was in Las Vegas. It was huge, shiny, hot and a lot of fun! My stay there was timed so I could attend Sally's amazing second wedding celebration at the Graceland Chapel. It was a total surprise to her husband, Elvis led the service and she wore a stunning vintage dress which she had applied her refashioning talents to. I'll leave it at that and let Sally tell you the rest!


I filled my last full day with a trip to the Grand Canyon which was the absolute perfect way to top off an amazing and unforgettable trip. Again a place which photos just don't do justice to this was probably the highlight of my journey. I even plucked up the guts to do the skywalk! Thanks for having me America!

23 comments:

  1. Wow, sounds like an amazing trip! I would love to go back to San Francisco one day.

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    1. So would I! Hopefully we will both get to :)

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  2. You really managed to do so many cool things! It looks and sounds like it was an amazing trip. Nice fabric haul too.

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    1. It was a real trip to never forget! I am very pleased with all the fabric I chose, just need to find some time to sew it all now!

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  3. Sounds like you packed something in every minute! Way to go for making the most of your time...looking forward to seeing all those luxurious fabrics turn into beautiful projects ; )

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    1. I can't believe how much I did in the time that I had actually! I'm so pleased that I managed to see so much. i can't wait to get sewing!

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  4. Yayy! So glad the rest of your trip was so wonderful. It was lovely to meet you and spend time with you and our group.

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    1. It was lovely to meet you too Iris! I hope you guys all get to meet up again!

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  5. Aw, you are very welcome! I appreciate this post as I'm visiting a friend in Alameda next month (an island off Oakland) and I wanted to go to some shops. I'm actually from the Bay Area but when I lived there I didn't sew and the last time I visited it was a quick trip. All that to say, I can't wait to go to Stonemountain and Daughter and A Verb for Keeping Warm! (What a brilliant name!) I'm so excited and by the looks of your haul, I'd better start saving!!!

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    1. Haha! Yes you had! I could have bought so much more in both Stonemountain and AVFKW but luckily I had the weight of my suitcase to think about and stop me! I hope you enjoy your visit!

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  6. I love traveling and meeting with other sewing bloggers (or just sewing people). You trip looks amazing, I wish I could be a part of your luggage.

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    1. I would have taken you all with me in my case if I could! But then I would have had less room for fabric...haha! I so enjoyed meeting everyone, I've got the travelling bug now!

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  7. So glad you had a wonderful time in LA and up north. I wish I could have met up with you, Kathy, and Christine, but stoopid work got in the way :) I love The Fabric Store; I always feel so refreshed and excited about sewing whenever I go there.

    You packed in a lot during your trip! Sounds like you had a great time!

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    1. O that's such a shame! Hopefully we will get the opportunity to meet again.
      You guys are so lucky having the fabric store! I wish there was somewhere like that near me!

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  8. Yay! It was so lovely to see you as always! Your trip sounds wonderful and you picked up some really amazing fabric- even the black knit! xoxo

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    1. It was lovely to see you too! Thanks so much for taking the time to hang out when you've got so much going on!

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  9. sounds like such good fun, your fabrics are all so lovely!

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    1. They're in a stack in the corner of my room and I keep pawing at them they're so lovely! Haha!

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  10. Lovely to share this. Deeply envious of the fabric shopping! The Grand Canyon took my breath away when I went!

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    1. It absolutely did mine too, it's so hard to comprehend the scale of the place!

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  11. Thanks for sharing! What a lovely travelogue!

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    1. You're welcome! It was an amazing trip. I had a hard time trying to pick just a few pictures!

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  12. What a wonderful trip! I'm so glad you had fun!!!

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