As if you want to do anything besides shopping for fabric while you are there!
As much as I would love to spend all day browsing through the obscure little shops with floor to ceiling fabrics, I usually have one or more of the girls in tow with me, so I have to be realistic about how long I can browse before everyone starts to get really bored, and since we live out in the sticks of rural Ventura County, I always try to add a little cultural pit stop or two to the itinerary. On this particular trip, I had three young people in tow!
So if you are like me and don’t have the luxury to shop alone when you are in the Downtown Los Angeles fabric district, I have a few ideas to round out a day of fabric shopping that includes some fabric, culture, and of course, food!
First off, some practical advice. By the time I get to downtown LA after an hour plus drive, I or one of the girls needs to use the potty! If you have shopped for fabric in downtown LA, you will know that there are virtually NO public bathrooms anywhere. Unless you stop and eat a meal in a restaurant. But fear not, there are two options. The only public bathroom in the fabric district bathroom is at the Michael Levine fabric store on Maple. It costs a quarter and there is often a long line since it is the only public restroom to be found for blocks….
The second option is to stop first at the FIDM Scholarship store after getting off the 110 freeway at 9th, before heading down south a few more blocks to the fabric district. Which is what I always do. The girls browse the donated jewelry and inexpensive clothing, while I see what kinds of fabrics are in the back room for one to five dollars a yard. It’s a win, win situation! The restroom there is not inside the store but inside the FIDM costume museum which is around the courtyard from the store on the ground level. This will give you a great excuse to visit the museum as well. With it’s revolving exhibits of Oscar nominated film and historical costumes, and free admission, it’s totally worth a visit!
FIDM Costume Museum
Wonder Woman Costumes
Tulip Fever Costumes
By the time we actually get to the fabric district after stopping at FIDM, we are usually very hungry! For me, fabric shopping on an empty stomach is a recipe for buying the wrong things and forgetting what I came for. So yes, let’s stop on Maple Street and go to one of the many hot dog stands there and have some bacon wrapped hot dogs.
These are no ordinary hot dogs. First they are wrapped with bacon and then grilled. Then they are topped with grilled onions, peppers, and jalapenos and topped with Pico de Gallo and guacamole. A true fusion of Mexican/ American street food.
You can find an assortment of fruit and fresh Licuados (fruit juices) stands nearby to end your meal with something sweet. The mangos topped with Tajin and Chimayo are so delicious! So is the watermelon juice.
Blue Moon Fabrics on 9th Street has the best selection of workout and dance and swimwear fabrics of any store I’ve ever been to. It’s not as cheap as the other places but there are some great selections.
Don’t let the glittery eye candy on the sidewalks think there aren’t beautiful natural fabric s to be found, as well. There can be substance behind the flashy fabrics. I didn’t buy much on this trip. Just a yard of matte black bathing suit fabric to make a new swimsuit.
After our jaunt in the fabric district, we had planned to meet big sister a few blocks north at The Broad Museum on Grand & Third. I hadn’t been to the Broad yet, so was excited to check it out. It stands across the street from the Frank Gehry designed Disney Concert Hall. The Museum Of Contemporary Art, or MOCA, is also across the street.Jeff Koons steel sculptures
FYI, the street where the Broad museum now is was once known as Bunker Hill. Where the museums now stands, rows of Victorian Mansions lined the street to house the city’s rich at the turn of the 20th century. Slowly, the area fell into disrepair and became tenement housing. In the 1960’s the whole neighborhood was demolished and redeveloped into the business and cultural district it has since become Here is a fascinating blog post about the history of Los Angeles’s Bunker Hill.
The corner of 2nd street and Grand, across the street from where the Disney Hall now stands.
There is one thing still left up on Bunker Hill from the early days. The Angel’s Flight Funicular Cars! Built in 1901 to take the residents of Bunker Hill down to the lower area of downtown and the Grand Central Market, it was refurbished and reopened in the late 1990’s and kids love to ride up and down it for a dollar.
After all the shopping and museum going, we were a bit hungry again, and I really needed a coffee break! So we took Angel’s Flight down to The Grand Central Market, one of my favorite spots to eat in Downtown LA. Built in 1917, it’s like the original food court of Los Angeles. Lately, like a lot of old LA neighborhoods, it’s been gentrified, and you can find micro breweries and farm to table food alongside original Chinese and Mexican eateries.