A trip to the art museum and Fabric Mart in Los Angeles is always a great way to spend a day. Both fabric design classes met at the Museum of Art in downtown Los Angeles. This is a place I’ve been to many times – changing exhibits (like Georgia O’Keefe, Picasso) and many permanent art exhibits that are quite familiar.
But this time, we are lead to a room of Indonesian textiles that are five centuries old. The designs are spectacular, swirling, colorful, and fascinating. We are told not to take pictures, and when I asked my instructor if it was okay to draw a copy of the designs we were seeing, she said that was fine. Here’s one design, so you can see what they look like.
The teacher told me it was quite common for textile artists to copy centuries old designs, because they are copyright free. The light bulb really went on then – if I couldn’t come up with something totally new, I could at least be inspired by what I could see in other, ancient designs. Architecture, antiques, old tiles.
In fact, there is a movement right now in the quilting world by women taking pictures of floor tiles in Europe and Asia, and then coming home to translate those tiles into beautiful quilts.
After the museum, I was off to the Los Angeles Fabric Mart. If you ever come to Southern California, this is a must do. Parking is always a challenge, but once you’re walking the streets, you’ve come to a wonderland of sewing excitement.
First time I went to the Fabric Mart, I was overwhelmed by the many streets and number of stores – all packed with fabric remnants, zippers, thread, elastics – everything discounted because it’s leftovers from the clothing manufacturers in the area. Now doesn’t that sound like a trip worth taking?
I’ve been there many times, and now know it’s better to have a specific project in mind, so you aren't tempted by so many choices. You probably won’t find anything other than polyesters, or blends. This is not nirvana for quilt makers looking for cotton, or for home sewers looking for linen, bamboo, soy, or hemp.
On this trip, I luckily found some silk prints – silk jersey and silk knits that are worth the price. Imagine this print in a flowing dress, blouse or robe.
I have this for sale in my online fabric store.