maison21 needs fabric to cover the seats of his newly acquired totally 80's and totally hot, black lacquer queen anne dining chairs. we're thinking white patent with a black cord welt, but that could change depending on what strikes our fancy as we shop for fabric. while we love the "to the trade" fabric houses at the pdc, and in a perfect world, we probably would prefer to use them exclusively. unfortunately our resident fabric durability tester, richard the cat, hs ruled that option out, and made sourcing affordable fabric a necessity. it's a trade off maison21 is happy to make- we''ll take fur over fine fabric any day, thank you! so as we hunt for a bargain feline-friendly fabric for our chic chairs, we thought this would be a good opportunity to share a few of our better priced fabric resources with you.
one of the first places we turn is ebay- you'd be surprised at what kind of amazing fabrics from some of the best houses turn up on ebay. often, they can be purchased for a song, especially if you are looking for a small amount of yardage. for larger amounts, there are often generic fabrics listed that are almost as good as some of the big names, at a fraction of the price. i know of one very fancy decorator who would never use anything less the the top names in fabric for her clients, who literally has covered almost every item in her own home with bargains she's won on ebay. don't overlook the men's suiting fabric section when you are searching either- a great way to get basic wool fabrics for less.
here in los angeles, my first stops will be diamond foam and fabric on la brea (no website! it's 2007!) , and michael levine in the downtown garment district. you probably won't find that fab, over-sized pagoda print you dream of at either place, nor anything from kwid, (or for that matter, any named brands at all), but with a little hunting you'll find something that you can work with, and maybe even something you absolutely love!
diamond is by far the better known, and you'll see every decorator and set designer in town there. they have a fairly wide selection and good prices, though the parking situation is far from desirable- they do have an attendant, but i recommend going before 3:00 pm when la brea turns into a tow away zone. diamond is close by the maison21 atelier, so they are always my first stop.
michael levine, while somewhat lacking in the wider selection of diamond, just might be my favorite of the two, however (the schlep downtown sure ain't my favorite, though). the parking situation is worse than diamond and never, EVER go on a saturday- the crowds in the garment district on saturdays are crazy-making. the staff at michael levine is super-helpful, and the prices, are pretty darn amazing. their selection can be surprisingly hip too- on my last visit i purchased a zebra stripe fabric very, very similar to that of the two chairs featured on the cover of last month's elle decor for 20 bucks a yard! can't beat that!
my last piece of advice is don't overlook the unconventional- some of my favorite fabric finds have been scored at swap meets, yard sales and thrift stores. as always in that kind of situation, if you like it- buy it. you'll figure out a use for it later, but hesitation leads to regret. talk to your upholsterer too- you never know what fabric has been left behind by another customer- it just might be enough for that single chair or ottoman you need to recover. another tip- a while back i found a bargain on a humongous milo baughman sectional for a friend, and since it took something like 28 yards to cover, the white leather he fantasized about was not an option, so instead we bought car upholstery vinyl for 6 bucks a yard, and it turned out SENSATIONAL!