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!
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!