Saturday, July 24, 2010

San Diego - Day 2 - More Reviews!

Today is our second, and final, full day in San Diego. Comic Con 2010 ends tomorrow afternoon, but we leave in the morning. I am eager to get the 8 hour drive behind me and to return to my sewing machine.

After depositing the Teen Units at the San Diego Convention Center this morning at 7am (the Male Teen Unit insists on an early start and the convention center is 30 minutes from our hotel, so we leave at 6:30am), I headed for La Jolla. I was trying to remember the last time I have been to La Jolla. I am pretty sure, upon reflection, that it's been...well, never. I thought I had been there, but really, I can't remember ever visiting and none of it felt familiar. I've certainly been aware of it, so does that count? :)

Now that I have been there, La Jolla reminds me of a smaller version of Carmel by the Sea. I have been there, several times, most recently maybe 18 or 19 years ago. (If you get the impression that I stopped going out after having kids, you'd be right.)

The town of La Jolla is perched dramatically above the coast, with beautiful ocean views, and is a fairly well heeled community, with loads of tourists descending in the summer. Like most Pacific coastal cities, such as San Francisco, Carmel, and Santa Cruz, the weather is often gray and overcast, especially in the summer. It was like that today, though the temperature was a pleasant 70 degrees. But I wasn't particularly inspired to take gray "scenic" photos.

Because I arrived before most of the shops were open, I walked around the town, looking in the windows, and capturing a few photos of garments that appealed to me. For example, look at the draping on this golden goddess-dress. How amazing would that be as a wedding dress? (Sorry for the quality of the photos, but the lighting, reflections, and the windows made it a bit of a challenge.)

I love how the fabric is used in this polka dot dress. I have fabric just like this from FabricMart. Of course, I can't wear this particular style – I have been ruminating on just how to use such an interesting piece.

The same store (I think it was called Georgio's) also had this polka dot dress in the window. No, it wouldn't work for me, but if I were younger, thinner, with small perky breasts, I would don this (and the previous two dresses) in a heartbeat!

Finally, the shops started opening up and I headed straight for Pomegranate. I discovered this shop by googling "La Jolla babette blanque", which are two brands I like and, voila, out it popped.

I must have been the first person to walk in today and I was greeted warmly by the sales clerk, Irene. I had read that the employees at this store were not friendly, but that was not my experience. They were having a sale on their summer clothing, but had already started receiving fall items. For an hour or so, Irene and I admired the unusual fabrics and interesting details in some of these garments.

See the white top in the window (on the far left) – it's difficult to make it out, but I was curious about the print, which had lots of black lines and large-print labels with numbers like 46, 48, etc. Irene said they couldn't figure out what the print was supposed to represent, but they had noticed that the numbers were all even. On closer examination, I realized that the print shows the line drawings of pattern layouts, for different European sizes (46, 48, etc). I loved that fabric!

I tried on several garments and found two that I really liked, but not well enough to break my budget. I definitely recommend visiting this boutique, but if a trip to La Jolla is not in your future, you can see a sample of the garments they carry on their website.

About then, I was starting to worry about my parking situation. In La Jolla, as in San Diego, vigilant meter maids are always ready to enforce the 2-hour parking that you find throughout the town, and I had parked quite far away from the shop. I heard that parking tickets are very expensive in this area, and I wasn't interested in finding out how expensive.

However, there was one other La Jolla shop I wanted to check out, Jane's Fabriques, on Girard Street. It was on the way to my car, and I figured I probably had a ticket already, so I popped in for a quick peek. I had read that this store had fabrics that would appeal to the St John's crowd, so I was interested to see their offerings.

Immediately upon entering my eyes fell on a polka dot fabric that I had to have. It's a cotton silk blend, rather sheer, and I'm not sure if it's a chiffon or a voile. It feels a bit like both. It's a border print, but on both selvedges, which makes it a bit trickier to visualize, at least for me. I have no idea how to use it, but I secured three yards. I also loved a silk chiffon "travel" print, but it did not come home with me. The fabric budget must be respected.

The silk/cotton double-border-printed voile/chiffon.

They had an entire wall of cotton batiks, and a few rayon batiks on a rounder. They had quality wools, boucles, and silks, which I did not examine closely. The shop is definitely worth checking out.

By this time, I really needed to get back to my car, but my keys were nowhere to be found. The sales clerk helped me look and they were finally found on the bathroom floor – the non-public, employee bathroom that they kindly let me use. Thanks to the helpful clerk who helped me look for my keys! (I'm sorry I forgot to ask your name.)

I was starting to droop (the last few days were catching up with me), so I decided it was time to leave La Jolla behind, grateful that I did not get one of the legendary parking tickets.

A friend in the Bay Area had asked me to pick up a few Kwik Sew patterns at 40% off, so I headed for the Yardage Town closest to La Jolla. It turns out that the Madison Square Yardage Town, on Clairemont Mesa Blvd, is the 2nd biggest YT after the warehouse store in National City, and it's only 7.5 miles from the fabric store in La Jolla. I was impressed by how clean it was, how well stocked, and well organized. (I was a bit less impressed by the customer service.) Such a huge improvement over your average Joann's. After talking to the clerk there, I realized that I had really missed out at the National City Yardage Town yesterday. They have a basement, a huge basement, with rooms dedicated to various trims, and much more fabric, and I had missed it completely. Oops.

Yelp had mentioned that there was a great vegetarian restaurant in the same shopping strip as Yardage Town, so I had a late, and very yummy, lunch at Sipz. My Spicy Basil "chicken" with vegetables and brown rice did not disappoint.

It was only early afternoon, but I was done. As in, no more energy left, and I returned to the hotel for a long nap. Therefore, a shorter report today...

You're welcome. :)

The hotel gardens.

San Diego - "The Spirit of Cloth" review and more!

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. :)