Random DTLA (downtown LA)

My introduction to downtown was in the early 90s’.  We had recently moved to LA from Israel, for Joel it was moving back, for me it was a whole new world.  Our first year here I started taking classes at LA Valley college, a wonderful local community college. I then enrolled at FIDM and set out studying textile design. That is a subject for  a different post.

FIDM had just completed their lovely new building, so I found myself going downtown a few days a week. I stayed very close to the campus. I would venture to the Fashion District and even got a part time job there.  But in those days, downtown was still very sketchy. So I never ventured far.

How things have changed, today I am a downtown docent with The LA Conservancy and I love exploring on my own, which is what I did the other day. I’m sharing some pictures without much information. I know I should get better at both taking the pictures and gathering information.  Meanwhile, just enjoy some wonderful architectural details,  Los Angeles can boast as much as NY or Chicago – we have real beauty here which I am happy to share.Interior of Hayward Hotel LobbyThe exterior of this building is on my Downtown Renaissance tour,  since I am doing all the talking I don’t take pictures. I had the opportunity today to enter the lobby.  Today this is a low income building, but as you can see, the owner Izek Shomof takes very good care of his buildings regardless of how much rent is being paid.

P1020160I love the detail on the railing. Hotel Hayward was originally a hotel for traveling salesmen, very close to the PE Trolly station. Even then the cost for rooms was reasonable, but the lobby was very well appointed.
P1020166 This building is further south on Spring st, someone was filming there. I just love the details.P1020167 How about these wonderful eagles?P1020169 I think the address of this building is 801 Spring st. Spring st and Main st. meet  just beyond this location.  I was capturing the exterior when a young man with a camera exited and he just let me in.Straddling two streetsAs you can see, the building straddles two streets. Today this is a residential building, the lobby is beautiful and well cared for.P1020173 The details on the ceiling are lovely, someone cleaned and possibly repainted them.P1020174There are three elevators, only one still has the original doors, I don’t know if the car was replaced.  As you can it, it used to have one of those dials that let you know what floor the elevator was on.  I did see that the other two are modern doors, no I didn’t take pictures of them.

That is it for today,  I promise many more in the future.


Part of the Diane Von Furstenberg show

At the DVF show in my dressThe show closes tomorrow. I was at LACMA today, being a docent they let me in even though it’s not open to the public on  Wednesdays. There were some cute hipsters setting up for a party there tonight.

I asked one of them to take my picture. (once again, just with the iPhone). She was so surprised to hear that I didn’t buy this dress, it isn’t made under the DVF label. She had a whole new level of respect when I told her I made this dress myself.

So now, I’ve got proof that I was part of the show here in Los Angeles.


Back to making jewelry

Having a blog means I need fresh content.  Not complaining, just saying. So my creativity goes in cycles, knitting, sewing, quilting. There have been years when I stopped do any of these things. During one of those periods I got into beading in a big way. Yes, my eyes were younger than, it was easier.  Of course I still have a reasonable stash of beads and supplies. These days, big funky cheap looking jewelry is all the rage and to be honest. For $20 I can pick up something adorable downtown, buying the materials for the same necklace would probably cost me $40. green necklaceCase in point.  I get a lot of compliments when I wear this. So on that same trip downtown, where I found my I Love LA fabric, I found beads. Let me put it this way, the friend I was with wanted to visit the bead stores – they weren’t new to me.  I ‘thought’ I’d just be showing her around – yeah right. Of course one of the stores was having a big sale, like $2-4 for strands of nice beads.  My friend bought quite a few, me I bought some as well.  What I had in mind was knocking off this necklace.original and new beadsWhich meant finding a focal piece and getting some chain, two things I didn’t have at home.assembling the necklaceTools of the trade and starting the beading process.finished amber color necklaceKnock off,  never looks exactly like the original – that is why it’s called a knock-off, not a copy.P1020196I like the end result very very much. Went to dinner last night with girlfriends and one immediately asked if I made this. Score! So no, I don’t see myself getting back into beading in a big way, but it sure is fun from time to time to pull out the old tools, get a few new beads and make another necklace.  Oh and cost, yeah, I think this one was closer to $30.


Visit to Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach Ca.

IMG_3482Today was a fun day with the grand kids at the Aquarium of the Pacific. I remember visiting  when it opened 16 years ago. Of course I’ve been back since, going with grandchildren makes it all the more fun. When it first opened, they stocked it with baby fish, by now many of them have grown and many others have been added – it really is a magical place.IMG_3484They have 3 or 4 pools where children (and adults) can use two fingers to touch the animals. Here it is sea anenomes,  in other pools it’s baby sharks, baby rays, star fish and jelly fish. Not the stinging kind!IMG_3485Aytan didn’t get the message to look at the camera.IMG_2309They have divers in the big central tank, saying hello is always fun.

What did Aytan think was the best part? Feeding the Lorakeets.IMG_3487 IMG_3491Birds at an aquarium?  Birds from Australia no less?  Well I guess it is on the Pacific ocean. At $3 a pop for that little cup of food, it is probably one of the best money makers the aquarium has.

This is a wonderful place for anyone interested in the bounty and beauty of the ocean.  A fun place to spend a nice brisk spring morning.


Diane Von Furstenberg Knockoff

The moment I saw the DVF dress show, I knew I had to knock off this dress. Actually I already have.

wrap dress 1I had bought this cotton jersey print at Joann’s on a whim. I have quite a large library of patterns and I made this cute little wrap dress.

This time around I’d like to use a few more elements from DVF.Fabric and patternI bought this fabric last year at Michael Levine’s Loft. One thing that Michael Levine does is work closely with jobbers. These are the guys that buy out mill ends and such from the many local manufactures. Which means you will see fabric here you won’t see anywhere else, unless it’s already on a garment. It also means you have to wade through piles of junk to find the gems.

They are brilliant at charging $2 a pound, rather than charging by the yard. I can attest that fabric weighs more than you think. I have come out of there having spent a lot more than I intended to. fabric close upAside from being a very detailed tropical print on a black background, the fabric has another element. It is overprinted with  vinyl polka dots, which shimmer and glimmer as you move. This is a cheep way of accenting fabric rather than covering it with sequins. I don’t know what the fabric is, my guess is some kind of polyester with a little bit of lycra.

I’ve been sitting on it for a while, once I saw the DVF show, that was it, it must become a fabulous DVF style wrap dress.Vogue 8379Perfect pattern, it has the collar and the short sleeves. One modification I would like to make, is the  pleats at the waistline which give fullness in the breast area. I would like to modify that. DVF dresses don’t have that element. So I will be playing with some cheaper knit to get the front bodice  to fit nicely without those pleats.


Diane Von Furstenberg – Journey of a Dress

I finally took the time today to go see the exhibit at LACMA, Journey of a Dress. Somebody other than Lacma must be sponsoring this show since it is free to the public. Also, I have to laugh, I have been a docent at LACMA for 13 years and we admonished to always call the building: Lacma West.

Historic building justice prevails and now it is once again called: The Wilshire May company, to differentiate it from the downtown May Co.DVF wrap dressPhotography was allowed! I should have brought my good camera, luckily the iphone does a pretty good job.

Here is the simple basic wrap dress in a wonderful graphic print. Pure simplicity. Next to it is another great print but this time the color and cuffs get an interesting ribbed knit treatment.DVF wrap dress with colorMany of the dresses have a collar. I love this floral print, instead of using the same fabric for the collar, she used what looks like the trim of a polo shirt. So classy. Also note long sleeves and keyhole neckline on the two other dresses.VF wrap dress big floral skirtLOVE! LOVE! LOVE!
This dress has everything I love! The combination of prints, the adorable collar. The wonderful bound hem of the skirt. Yes, this is going into my knock off queue.DVF wrapdress laceOf course I have made wrap dresses, they are very comfortable and after seeing this exhibit, I will be making a few more!  The neck treatment here is great. Using the border print as the accent of the neckline is brilliant.  A solid satin belt is the final touch of elegance.DFV wrap dress collar trimAnother elegant use of printed fabric. Next to a simple white dress with DVF signature icon as the neck trim and belt.DVF wrap dress evening gownsThe basic design upgraded and made in elegant fabrics turns the simple wrap dress into evening wear.

There were over 100 dresses in the exhibition. No way could I photograph them all, although they were all worthy.  You will see a future post where I knock off this dress and make it my own.

The Wrap Dress is 40 years old, this is the reason for the exhibit. Of course the 70s’ are back in fashion and one can buy a new version. At the LACMA gift shop they were selling for over $350.  Way to go Diane Von Furstenberg! DVF wrap pants suitFinal image, from 1973. What else but a pants suit in a leopard print. Notice how big the collar is. As well as the large folded back cuffs.

The exhibit is open until May 1st. You have one month left, if you are in Los Angeles – just go!  If not, pull out your patterns and make your own wrap dress.



The color of my garden

Sorry to all my east coast friends who are buried under yet another snow storm. If it makes you feel any better, we are having earthquakes. No I don’t think you care, so I will share my color of the moment in the garden. No it isn’t  Radiant Orchid, although I think I may have some of that. It is a bright magenta pink.Gerbera daisyThese are some of the flowers I cut this afternoon.pink roseSame group of flowers, slightly different angle. Of course leaving color in the garden is also nice, as it is getting pleasant enough to sit out there.two tone cyclamenThis cyclamen took me by surprise. It’s a leftover from a few years ago. Usually I plant new ones each year. I forgot to this year and until today, none of the old ones bloomed.two tone fuchsiaHere in the valley it can get too hot for fuchsias, so our small window of having pretty blooms is pretty small. Every year I get a few flowers, never a bush full.P1010782Just to break the monotony,  some red and yellow.

Actually I don’t have a favorite color or a color I won’t allow in. I guess that right now what is blooming is mostly that bright pink.


Hotel Figueroa

Another downtown Los Angeles gem. The hotel Figueroa. It was built in the late 1920’s by the YWCA as a hotel for businesswomen, but unfortunately it didn’t survive as one and by the 1930’s was simply a hotel.hotel figueroa signNothing in Los Angeles is simply anything. If you have seen any movie or TV show where people are meeting in a restaurant or lobby in the middle east – it was probably filmed here.IMG_2100Although when doing so, they have to remove the Buddhas and the very Mexican looking items.IMG_2116A view into the restaurant

Hotel Figueroa lobbyTiles in lobby of Hotel FigueroaThese tiles are on the wall right as you enter, I need to find more about them.

IMG_2112The long hallway to the bar and pool.  As wonderful as this lobby is, and it is a feast for the eyes. This is what is really impressive about this hotel.In ground pool at Hotel Figueroa dtLA

Yes indeed an in-ground pool. When this was built, land was at a premium and since then, no-one, not even the Los Angeles Athletic club put a pool in the ground. It has survived the area being run down and everything around it becoming parking lots. I met an old woman who told me that as a child she learned how to swim in this pool.el Figueroa, Morrocan benchIn the bar area, right off the pool is this wonderful day bed, I’m sure that at night when the place is full, people enjoy this luxury.

Over 20 years ago, I was a student at FIDM , in those days, the only places I went was the school campus and up to the garment district. Downtown was still very sketchy. I’d often drive down Olympic Blvd to get to the freeway. I’d pass a large building, with three sections facing Olympic. There always were and still are full size advertisements on these sections. Only years later did I find out the history of the place and venture in to look at the lobby. I have since met people who have stayed there. The rooms were renovated a few years ago, but are simple run of the mill hotel rooms. These days the hotel is right across from LA Live and the Staple center. Sure you can stay in the JMW Marriott, or stay here, enjoy history and take a dip in that pool!


Handmade handbag

I tend to use one handbag for a season, changing only between winter and summer. Once I started making bags, that changed somewhat. I am particular, I don’t want  the loving hands at home look, or  even just another quilted bag.. The finishing details matter.                                                                                                             At a quilt show last year I found this patternPattern, Bag BostonianSince they were also selling the hardware,  I bought this Korean pattern. Don’t you just love name: bag bostonian.                                                                                        When I travel I like to buy fabric and yarn as mementos, that way when I am working or enjoying a completed project – it reminds of the trip. I found this charm pack of fabrics in Oregon. Creating the bodyThe instructions were wonky, but other people have made this bag, thank God for the internet. I used not only batting but a layer of canvas as well as the lining fabric. This bag had good body and doesn’t flop around. I also like the combination of simple squares with circular quilting.P1010610Unclipped the bag is very spacious, I probably won’t use it often like this.Moda charm packWhen piecing the fabric, one never knows for sure if the conversation piece will be in the correct location. Luckily it worked out for these typewriter keys.P1010623A final touch was these little feet. But something was missing, I had used a sturdy zipper, but the pull was typical, small and not easy to use. fish zipper pullBack when I was making Jewelry, I wire wrapped this fish. The necklace came apart long ago, but I held onto the fish. Perfect, now it has found it’s new home.final touchmodeling bagAnd final shot, looks very good in action.