Spoils from L.A.’s Fashion District

The Fashion District in Los Angeles (formerly called the Garment District) is 100 city blocks chock full of flowers, handbags, shoes, apparel, wholesalers, and best of all – fabric.

I walked the Fashion District one afternoon while Read attended his conference. It was like a reality-television shopping challenge: a bazillion stores, four hours, one credit card, no bathrooms, and whatever I bought I had to be able to carry on foot to the Staples Center about a mile away.

Some posts I’d read that morning over coffee (like this one from Sew Country Chick) recommended starting at Michael Levine, which is an actual store and not a stall. Credit cards are accepted, but not haggling.

All the apparel fabric at Joann’s and Michael’s has been pushed out by printed fleece and cheap craft project stuff, which makes shopping there for clothes-sewing very depressing. In comparison, Michael Levine is like Christmas. It’s  just magical. Wool, silk, suiting, eyelet, jersey knit, buttons, chintz, satin….bolts and bolts of it.

Across the street is Michael Levine Loft, where all fabric is $2.50 per pound. The bins (i.e. huge cardboard boxes on pallets) have obviously been pawed through by many a bargain shopper and it’s hard to excavate past the top few layers. I’m sad to admit that my arms got tired.


Just as I’d resolved to leave, someone called out “New fabric ladies!” and wheeled a huge bin in from the back room. It was full of beautiful prints, all perfectly folded. A fellow shopper and I went to town. She commented on every piece of fabric passing through her hands, which isn’t really that weird. It was external processing stuff like, “I could make a flowy dress thing out of this!” Pretty soon though I realized she not only wanted to comment, she wanted me to respond. If I didn’t, she’d persist: “Don’t you think? Huh? Can’t you picture a flowy dress?” So I spent the next 45 minutes stacking my favorite fabrics in a little pile and emitting a steady stream of “Yeah” and “Definitely” and “For sure”.

I left with just under 8 lbs. of fabric, the projects for which should keep me busy all spring and summer. This week I thought I’d post one project plan per day. First up is this lightweight jersey knit in gray, black, and yellow:

Jersey Knit

The print is somewhere between feathers and a geological cross-cut. It’s really pretty. My plan is to make a long maxi skirt with a fold-over waist:

The pattern will be simple to improvise, but I haven’t sewn much with jersey…do you have any tips? This is when it would be great to have a serger, but hopefully I can make do.



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  3. sewforward · December 19, 2012

    A trip to the Fashion District is truly a treat. For me, Michael Levine’s is the epicenter and all the other stores radiates from there.

    • foxflat · January 6, 2013

      Oh man, yeah can anything be better? I showed my 90-yr old Gramma (who sews) pictures of the interior of Michael Levine and she was sooo jealous. It’s so rare these days to go in fabric stores that actually sell apparel fabric.

  4. sandy · December 18, 2012

    Oh oh oh I so want to go to Michael Levine’s in LA! Before i move to Texas!
    I made the jersey Maxi skirt…
    Easy Hummm….. depends on how good you sew…
    I made the waistband tighter then the measurement for the waist.
    I did not want it to come down when my toddlers pull on my hem.
    So when you stitch the waist onto the actual skirt you have to pull slightly on the waistband while stitching so that it comes together nicely…
    Does that makes sense… (translate… your waistband will be shorter than the skirt and that is why you have to stretch the waistband accordingly while sewing) Sew of course with a zigzag only to keep the stretch of the fabric and you should be fine.
    Good luck.
    They are such comfortable skirts!


    • foxflat · January 6, 2013

      Great tip and instructions…thank you Sandy! They are the best skirts.

  5. lowpricefabric · December 18, 2012

    Reblogged this on Low Price Fabric and commented:
    “New fabric Ladies…”

  6. Pingback: Week of Projects from L.A. Fashion District – Mon | Foxflat's Blog

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