Folkwear Travels to California

I returned from 10 days in California this past week, and I must say that I really like the part of the state that I saw. Also, that there is a great sewing community in California! I traveled with my whole family (4 children and my husband) to mix a little pleasure with business. We drove from Los Angeles, up Route 1 (which had only just opened the whole way) to Santa Cruz. Then, to San Jose, Berkeley, and finally to the tiny town of Valecito (near Sonora).  Most of the first part of the trip was Folkwear business - visiting our stockists and doing a few trunk shows.  The last few days of the trip was visiting with family and exploring the natural wonders (and wineries) around Sonora.  Here though, I want to highlight some of the amazing Folkwear stockists I visited and provide some information and impressions for you.  If you live in, or visit, California, these are some places to definitely check out!

Los Angeles

Japanese American National Museum:  Located in Downtown LA (in Little Tokyo), this museum houses a permanent exhibit about the history of Japanese Americans in the United State, with a particular focus on Hawaii and California (main points of immigration) and the WWII internment camps.  While I knew a lot of the history, seeing the exhibit and hearing the docent talk about his experience living in a camp as a child, was very powerful and informative.  The story made more of an impact on my older children to meet someone who lived through that part of history.  The museum also had a great exhibit on hapa (being ethincally "half" or "half white") that was touching and important.  On September 15, a new exhibit on Japanese toys will start - and that should be fun!  The gift shop at the JANM is very well curated and has several of our Japanese sewing patterns for sale.  I loved the children's books (one of my favorites from my childhood was there - from Japanese illustrator Gyo Fujikawa) and the textiles (of course).

Folkwear patterns at JANM gift shop!

Michael Levine:  This fabric store is right in the heart of the garment district of LA.  I wish I'd had more time to explore the garment district because there were lots of shops everywhere - and very different from NYC because the shops are generally in one story buildings and lots of merchandise is outside (good weather there!) making the shop quite attractive to passer-byes.  But, at Michael Levine, you get a huge store with great selection of just about everything, plus great prices.  The store isn't very pretty, but it makes up for it in the selection and prices. There are large sales tables full of fabric and lots of people to help you find what you need (and get it cut).  I found the sales tables to be pretty fun!

Folkwear pattern catalog next to the amazing MimiG patterns (they happened to be right beside each other) and her cute model!

Santa Cruz

Hart's Fabric:  I was very excited to get to see Hart's Fabric because I often order fabric from them and have collaborated a few times (blog post here, sponsor of Sew Your Hart Out).  I find their selection of on-line fabric very good - and their website is excellent, as well as their customer service.  The ladies working at Hart's were fun and dedicated to the store and customers.  I did a drop-in trunk show there and met lots of Folkwear fans over the 3 hours I was there (some of whom drove over an hour to come see Folkwear garments). I also got some fabric to make a 142 Old Mexico Shirt and an apricot-colored linen blend to make another 102 French Cheesemaker's Smock for a tutorial on making a placket.

The button selection at Hart's was so pretty!

Folkwear set up for our trunk show at Hart's.  

San Jose

Nichi Bei Bussan:  This Japanese gift shop in Japantown has been family-owned for over 100 years and houses a tremendous variety of Japanese handicrafts, gifts, supplies, clothing, etc.  I enjoyed visiting with Arlene, the owner of Nichi Bei Bussan, and hearing the history of the store - which included her family's history of business, internment camps, and a connection with the Olympics.  Large murals are painted on the outside of the building, and the art continues on the inside.  There are so many things to look at in the store, from martial arts supplies, to futons, to tea sets.  Textiles also play a central role in the store with many Japanese garments such as kimonos, hapis, and tabis, as well as a great selection of Japanese fabrics.  They also have Folkwear's Japanese patterns in stock and will do custom sewing.  I loved visiting this unique shop!

Here's Arlene and me outside of the store and in front of one of the murals on the store's side.

Another mural

A customer brought in her Folkwear pattern collection to show us! Note the clothing and gifts in this cute store!

The Folkwear patterns for sale at Nichi Bei Bussan (they still have the Child's Kimono pattern which they rent out!).

NIchi Bei Bussan is part museum - here are some photos of the very early days of the store (early 1900s) showing some of the Japanese fabrics they sold.


Stone Mountain and Daughter Fabrics: I LOVED this fabric store.  It is jam-packed with great fabrics!  The selection is amazing and the quality is great - it is a well-curated shop, and completely filled.  I was glad I arrived early for the trunk show because I got lots of time to browse fabrics.  I had to start a tab!  I ended up buying kolkata cotton, a grey cotton velveteen, two knit fabric (on sale), and a beautiful striped rayon/linen blend.  The trunk show here was also wonderful!  We had over 30 people come to hear me talk about Folkwear's history and show a collection of our garments.  It was wonderful to see so many Folkwear fans (and the Folkwear clothing they wore - inspiration!).  I often order fabric from Stone Mountain and Daughter (and recommend them for online fabric shopping), but if you can get to visit in person, it is real treat!  Great customer service too - if you have a question about a fabric being right for a pattern, they can help you!

Stone Mountain and Daughter Fabrics has a wonderful selection of ikat fabrics!

And eco-friendly fabrics!

Suzan and I in front of the store wearing our Folkwear makes - me in 131 Tibetan Chupa and her in 142 Old Mexico Dress!

Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles: I was surprised to see that this museum included a large shop filled with vintage clothing, textiles, lace, unique crafting supplies, books, and patterns (including Folkwear, of course).  Everywhere I looked, there was something interesting to see.  I could have spent hours in this shop!  And, I got a private tour of the exhibits, which were amazing!  The Boteh of Kashmir and Paisley had shawls of amazing intricacies - woven and embroidered.  The Fringed Shawl exhibit was also beautiful - full of exquisitely embroidered designs and spanning over a hundred years.  I loved walking around the store and looking at all the vintage items and crafting supplies. I finally bought a set of vintage embroidered napkins and some crocheted hangers (they were just like my great-grandmother used to make).  It was such a great place and certainly a place to visit if you are in the area!  A definitely must-see if you love vintage textiles, too!

The vintage clothing (and supplies) were everywhere!

Lace samples

One view of the fringed shawl exhibit - they were wonderful!

A view of the paisely shawl exhibit and how they were worn in the 1800s.  These shawls were impressive!

Lacis owner, Jules, and I with one of their Folkwear patterns!


I loved visiting California!  These shops were all so special and fun, and I loved seeing our Folkwear patterns out "in the wild".  I definitely encourage you to include these shops if you are in the area or visiting. 

It was also incredible to meet so many Folkwear fans and customers. Folkwear started in California in 1976, and it was nice to see customers (and even an employee/model!) from the very early years of Folkwear.  Visiting with them (and the shops) made me so happy and energized for Folkwear!  Thank you all!