I think I have admitted before that I like to sew on occasions. I can’t do anything much fancier than sew in a line. And my lines aren’t always straight. But it’s a useful skill when it comes to making curtains, table clothes, photography backdrops and bean bags. Anyway, Suzy and I spent most of the day today shopping for some of the final supplies for our wedding reception coming up. Part of that was going to the LA fabric district to purchase some fabric for table clothes. As I was about to leave I thought of how much fun going down there is, but how daunting it could be for someone who has never been. So I decided to bring my camera and create a quick guide to navigating the LA fabric district.
One might ask me why drive down to LA instead of going next door to Jo-Ann’s fabric. The answer is in LA you have ten times the selection and get the same thing for $3 a yard that costs $7-12 a yard at a local store. That, and well, it’s just a lot of fun!
First off I would recommend bringing cash. Bring just the amount you want to spend plus some for parking and lunch. I would also advise to dress down a little bit. The prices can be lower depending on what you wear.
Second, you have to drive there. As we all know LA has a lot of traffic. But a little known secret is that between 10:45am and 1:45 pm all those cars are parked somewhere and not on the freeway. When I plan to go I usually plan to leave around 10:45am in order to have a good enough time to slide in and out traffic free. In reality it only takes me 21 min to get there from my house. That’s half the time it takes to get an In-n-Out burger in the drive-through during lunchtime.
To get there you want to get on the 110 freeway and exit 9th street. Head south on 9th for exactly 1 mile and then turn left on Maple.
After you turn on Maple you will see this entrance to a parking structure. 305. E. 9th Street. Los Angeles. The price changes every so often, but it’s usually your best deal for security. Today it was $4. Pull up onto the roof and pay the attendant. He will direct you where to park.
This parking lot is also a cool spot for engagement photos. =). Once you secure your car you will want to take the elevator down to the first floor.
There are dozens of different shops all over the place. but I would recommend you start at the $1 shop on the north east corner of Maple and 9th. It’s a great place to purchase any cheap filler fabric you need and find some other cool prints. You won’t find anything much cheaper than $1 a yard. Everything here is equivalent to the $3.99-$4.99 a yard fabric at Jo-Anns.
After you check out the dollar store I would start to shop around till you find exactly the pattern and type of fabric you are looking for. The owner of each store will hover over you as soon as you enter. So once you find something you like ask the price. He will probably say something like “Normally $4.99 but for you $4 a yard. You might be a better bargainer than me, but I have yet to get anyone below the second number they give me. However, once you find what you want you can be assured there will be 20 other stores with the exact same thing. At this point you just keep going store to store, find the roll and ask the price. Tell the owner what the other guy quoted you for the same thing and see if he will beat it.
Often they won’t beat the other price, and will just tell you their fabric is higher quality. Remember that it’s not and just move on to the next store.
On our particular excursion today we found a print we wanted. The guy at the first store told me $3.50 a yard. The guy at the second store told me $5, but he could match the other guy at $3.50. The third guy said $5.99 and I was cheating him if I paid less. Then we came to the below store and met Frank. He gave it to us for $3 a yard and we were happy. In fact if you want to save some time I would just go talk to Frank in the first place. It’s on 432 East 9th Street. Suite 4. He even let me take his photo. If you go, tell him the guy with the big camera sent you. =)
Well that was that. Now we have an even larger pile of party supplies, some sewing to do, and a little more excitement as we finish planning our reception next week!