I'm in San Diego for a few days while DD2 and her friend (hereafter known as the Teen Units) enjoy Comic Con 2010. I've been seeking out textile shops and worthwhile clothing boutiques to pass the time. San Diego doesn't seem to have as many "must see" textile-related destinations as one might hope for in a large metropolitan area, but I have managed to find some worthwhile spots to visit.
I dropped the Teen Units at the San Diego Convention Center at 7am today, so I had some time to kill before most businesses opened up. After breakfast at iHop (where I ate, just to say I did), a little trip to Walmart, and an aborted trip to Joanns, where the two employees left the store three minutes before it was to open and hadn't returned several minutes after it was supposed to open (so I left), I started by visiting the Yardage Town Warehouse in National City, which, conveniently, opens at 9am on weekdays.
The outside of Yardage Town, located in an older strip mall, is not impressive. But when I walked inside, it was as if I had been transported 30 or 40 years back to the old New York Fabrics chain of my youth. Inside is a large room, a really large room, filled with... wait for it... FABRIC. Fabric on the walls, fabric on round islands, fabric on flat fold tables, home dec fabrics on giant rollers. I hadn't realized how much I missed a giant room full of fabric to explore. They also carry the big 4 patterns, as well as Kwik Sew, all at 40% off. I picked up several KS patterns I've been eyeing. While I'm not saying that you will find cutting edge fabrics at YT, or luxurious, decadent fabrics, they have some nice selections and I picked up a few pieces, on sale. I found the sales staff to be very nice and helpful, and those I dealt with, know how to sew and are interested in sewing, which is always refreshing.
After a lengthy visit to Yardage Town, I set the GPS in my car to the Old Town of San Diego. Old Town is the historic part of San Diego, a tourist destination full of shops, restaurants, and the odd mariachi band. A friend had told me about the fabric store, The Spirit of Cloth and I wanted to check it out.
Sally Hickerson, in front of her fabric store in Old Town, The Spirit of Cloth
Ensconced between two really nice bead stores on Juan St, The Spirit of Cloth is a small, but well appointed fabric store owned and run by Sally Hickerson. Many sewists know Sally as the former owner (for 25 years) of the well loved independent fabric store, Waechter's Silk Shop in Asheville, North Carolina. I've never had the pleasure of visiting Waechter's, but I know several sewists through Stitcher's Guild who have frequented that shop for years. Sally opened The Spirit of Cloth about a year ago, and it's a jewel.
It's not a large store, but you see beautiful fabrics, carefully selected, everywhere you turn. Inspiring sample garments of Diane Ericson patterns, Sewing Workshop patterns, and other independent patterns decorate the room. A wall of great independent patterns, such as La Fred, Kayla Kennington, Loes Hinse, Sewing Workshop, is near the register. She offers classes from time to time on the second floor (over one of the bead stores). I recognized several of her fabrics as those carried by Marcy Tilton, Britex, and some of the nicer offerings from Fabric Mart, and her prices were reasonable. A rack of antique kimonos, and pieces of kimono fabrics are for sale.
I had never met Sally before, but we had great fun chatting and I bought one piece of beautiful striped cotton (destined to become a SW Hibiscus top) and a single gorgeous button. I could have easily picked up some of her Tencel denim, or her Ikat denim, or her beautiful striped rayon, but I was feeling the need to watch the fabric budget... for now. I may be phoning her later to pick up a piece or two. Heck, if I lived closer, I'd be there all the time. I might even work there occasionally. :)
Me in Fabric Heaven! Don't I look at home amongst the silks from Vietnam? I'm wearing my test Plaza jacket, over a Mimosa top. Not shown are my cream linen/silk/rayon Trio pants. Hanging from the ceiling is a sample Plaza jacket made from a sheer fabric.
After visiting Sally, and getting many recommendations for places to see in Old Town, places to eat, and other places to visit in the San Diego area, I left to pursue her suggestions. Old Town is a nice place to explore, so I wandered around for awhile, enjoying the beautiful day. (Did I mention at home it's been in the 50s, chilly and cold? San Diego has been in the 70s - very nice!)
Scenes from Old Town
Next, I set my GPS to Little Italy, near the Convention Center.
Sally had told me about Carol Gardyne's Boutique. Carol does gorgeous fabric painting, and she also sells beautiful, Paris-inspired clothing with interesting silhouettes and made from beautiful fabrics. Given that the best I could find was a 15-minute meter for my van, I didn't have long to check out her boutique, but she did have some beautiful pieces, including some attractive, reasonably priced jewelry, and her silk painting is gorgeous.
After a quick dinner at Landini's Pizzeria, and buying some Canoli and Chocolate Dipped Strawberries from the bakery deli at Trattoria Fantastica for the Teen Units (another recommendation of Sally's), it was time to pick up the two exhausted Comic Con-ners and head back to the hotel.
All in all, a great day. :)