Somehow I’ve managed to live in California for the vast majority of my life and never been to the city of Los Angeles? I’ve been to Pasadena to visit CalTech and the Norton Simon, and Malibu to see relatives, but not LA proper, so my mom and I decided to fix that before I leave the country for the next two years.
The plan looked something like this:
- Fashion District
- Getty Center
- French General (mom’s choice)
Since my mom and I have our priorities straight, we dropped our suitcases off at the hotel and headed straight for the Fashion District. The lovely Noelle of costuming_drama on YouTube posted a video a while back about her favorite shops for historical costuming there, which was particularly helpful. I recommend watching it if you’re planning on heading to the Fashion District and looking for appropriate fabrics instead of stuff to make a quinceañera dress.
The first place we went to was Tex Carmel, which was recommended for linen and silks. Although they had a large selection of linen, I wasn’t particularly impressed by the quality. I wouldn’t say it was worse than, say, fabrics-store.com, but the stuff from Burnley & Trowbridge is much nicer.
Next up was Home Fabrics. I had heard it was fabulous…. but after walking around the first floor I honestly felt like I was either going to have an aneurysm or spend all of my money. Home Fabrics specializes in, well, home decorating fabrics, but a lot of it is very high quality and they have very reasonable prices for silk taffetas, shantungs, and satins.
For the approximately 5% of my readers who haven’t met me off the internet, you can see my face going a little demented while grinning and experience my slightly manic California accent here.
Because of course my mom and I randomly went to LA during the exact same weekend as CoCo. And people who go to Costume College tend to go fabric shopping. On the day beforehand, apparently. Which was Thursday. So we ran into them at Home Fabrics. Including Noelle.
Look there’s a reason why I blog instead of making YouTube videos, and it’s not just because I hate video editing.
I went a little nuts at Home Fabrics, at least for me. The best find was 6 yards of voided black-on-black velvet.
It’s 100% polyester, but it has a good drape and isn’t icky and plasticy. Of course about the only place you can get 100% silk velvet with a motif like this is Bevilacqua, and like most people I can’t afford $600/yd fabric.
We actually went to lunch, and then I decided I needed to go back and get some of the $12.75/yd changeable taffeta. I have since burn tested it and it is improbably pure silk, which makes it about the steal of the century. I have yet to get a good photo of it, because photographing changeable silk is a nuisance, but it’s a orange-y gold woven with a blue/black which together makes a nice rich chocolate-y brown. Me being me I already have a plan for this fabric, but it’s going to have to wait for a while.
My mother the children’s librarian requested we also go visit The Last Bookstore, which I had forgotten existed and was very happy to go and look for art books. This is probably the coolest bookstore I’ve ever been in, with all kinds of interesting decorations and features. I didn’t take any pictures because I was personally annoyed enough at all the people taking selfies with the book tunnels and dioramas. They keep the antique books in what was the bank vault, and I found two needlework books from the 1920s for $5 and $6 respectively. One is on embroidery and tapestry weaving, and the other is a general needlework book full of amazing things you don’t find in sewing books anymore, like how to darn holes. So that was a pretty good find!
The next day we headed to the Getty center, by way of the most stereotypical LA uber driver (recent college graduate working for fashion PR with celebrity stylists and trying to start a line of skateboarding shoes) and proceeded to spend the entire day there.
I took a ton of pictures, all of which are visible on the Facebook page that corresponds to this blog. A particular highlight for me was a Breughel scene I’d never seen before, with some figures in fitted gowns in the foreground in incredible detail.
The entire scene is about 8″x10″, and these ladies can’t be more than an inch and a half tall. And yet you can clearly see the guarding on the skirts, the wire of the supportasse, skirt hooks, and cuttes on the trousers of the man on the left-hand side.
I got two books at the Getty bookstore, one on Moroni portraits and one on Brueghel in Detail, which is quite possibly the most fabulous thing I have ever seen. The detail is absolutely incredible, and there are lots of back views of gowns, partlet styles I’ve never seen before, details of hose and pointings and skirt hooks and seam lines I thought ended in 1530. I’m not sure, as usual, exactly how much I can post from it, but I’ll probably get some photos up eventually.
That’s most of the textile parts of the trip–we got dinner with relatives, bought mom some new shoes, and had a disappointing visit to LACMA since 90% of it is closed for construction. We returned to Northern California with our suitcases significantly heavier (the velvet I bought weighs at least 10 pounds by itself, plus the two big coffee table books).
Since then I’ve slightly changed my pre-Glasgow goals to finish all the assembly by machine and leave the finishing details for when I’m there, since I’m not bringing my machine with me. The waistcoat is in time-out because godets are stupid but I mocked-up the fitted gown and trimmed and assembled the shell of the bodice. I still need to make the lining and do all the finishing, and it’s going pretty quickly.
I wore my new kirtle while crawling around the floor doing pattern drafting and it passed muster for comfort, so I’m planning on wearing it this weekend for the SCA demo at San Jose Ren Faire. I’ll probably sweat a lot but what else is new.