Friday, June 28, 2013

Dream house, the construction starts...

So after 2 years of talking to loan officers, working with the architect and pulling magazine pictures it was time to start construction. I remember feeling surprised and shocked that they actually had a date to start demo. I think on some level I didn't think it would ever happen. Once we moved most of our stuff out we let the kids do a little demo of their own. They had a great time writing on and putting holes in the wall.



The week before demo started we had  a garage sale where we let people bring their own tools and basically buy whatever they could remove. While it was nice to make a few bucks, I was just so happy to recycle things that other people could use, like our wall ovens, hardware, doors, and light fixtures. When they came to demo a few days later it felt so good that these items were not going into the huge trash dumpster.

Finally the first day of demo was upon us. We were all so excited. Within a few days the cabinets, floors, and drywall were gone. Let me tell you it is so much faster tearing it down than building it up.




Since we started demo in November, they basically worked from the inside out. Our contractor wanted to leave the roof on just in case we got rain. Once a good chunk of demo was done they poured the foundation for the front addition. Once that was done they opened the sub floor and poured the footings for the second story.



After that they demoed whatever was left. Within a few weeks my house was no more. It was a little scary. Everyday I would go by and hope they had started re-building it.


By mid December the re-build had started. We were very lucky. We only had a few rainy days and the work moved along quickly. By Christmas the new beam had gone in,which would help us achieve the open feel we wanted and the first story was almost framed. Next the stairs were getting built.


In January they started on the second story. I remember the first time they let us walk up there. There were no walls, just the sub floor. It was our first glimpse into our master retreat. We were so excited.


By the end of January, we had what appeared to be a new house. It was amazing how much work happened in less than 12 weeks. IMG_1295

Next came the inner working of the house. HVAC, electrical, and plumbing all had a lot of work to do before the walls were closed up. There were days where I swore no work was being done, but then I would go in & see wires running in the open walls. Now when people come over and look at our house I always tell them all our money is in the walls. I know the inner workings are very important, but I was ready to get to the stuff I could see; fixtures, hardwood, tile, and maybe even cabinets. I learned I still had a way to go. Slowly over the next three months the windows went in, they wrapped the outside of the house to protect it from moisture, and they worked inside. They did more work on the HVAC, plumbing, and electrical, as well as, installing shower pans and bath tubs, built-in cabinets got framed, and the fireplace went in. Slowly it was coming together.



Finally in March they insulated and put the dry wall up. All of a sudden I had a house!


Check back next week for Construction, Part 2, the stuff you can see!


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Time for a few new dresses...

So you would think since I work at this amazing fabric store that I sew clothes for myself. That is not the case.  I have worked at Michael Levine's for over 10 years, and while I did learn to sew, read patterns and even knit, right now sewing is not something I do for myself. I have made a few burp clothes and blankets and even knitted a handful of scarfs, but with three kids and a full time job, I just can't squeeze it in. I do love fashion and home decorating so, like many of you, I am always walking through both stores saying what I want to make with our fabrics. Usually I hold onto the thought for a day or two and then move on. Last month, while walking through the warehouse, I came across two fabrics that really jumped out at me. I really wanted a dress from both of them and have been thinking about how to make that happen for a few weeks now. Yesterday, as I was driving (that is where I do my best thinking, especially if the kids aren't in the car), I had a brillant idea. I realized I could kill two birds with one stone. I could make a dress and blog about it and after I could wear them. Yes, see, I am amazing at muti tasking! LOL! I decided to enlist Robin, one of our employees who in a avid sewer. This morning, I wasted no time and went to her to propose my plan. She jumped onboard instantly. She will now be joining me on this and similar projects, as we continue to grow our blog. Next,  I went to the warehouse and pulled the fabric. They are both new knits and will be online next week.


I talked to Robin about the look I wanted and we found a few patterns that would work.



After a few minutes, we narrowed it down to these two.


The floral will be perfect for the long daytime look in Simplicity 1804. Robin may need to adjust the neckline, as it looks a bit low. The stripe knit, which has two usable sides (one side  is a stripe (shown above) and the other a solid grey) will be great for this funky romper dress, Marcy Tilton, V8813. The under layer will be the solid and the over pocket layer will be the stripe.


Both are casual, but I can still go out to dinner on a wekend and look nice. Just what I am looking for.

Next week I will post an update. Hopefully they will be done soon. I can't wait!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

My dream comes to life, #1

So where to start. Last week I posted on Facebook about starting to decorate my house with our fabrics & I had  a great response. It made me realize I should blog about it. I've had a passion for home decorating since my husband and I bought our first small house almost 15 years ago. That first house needed a head to toe update. It went from grandma to cottage chic in no time and sold for over asking due to what my realtors labeled the "I can see myself living here" syndrome. My realtor (I've had the same one for all of our houses) has told me that the houses I decorate tug at people's heart-strings and that people will pay for that. Now let me just say I have never flipped a house or decorated my own home with thoughts of what a buyer would like but in the end, my homes have always been warm and inviting and sold super quick. Not a bad side effect!

Over the years I have gutted an original mint green bathroom, redecorated an old house, and even helped a local contractor decorate a house he was flipping. I guess you could say I have always  enjoyed home decorating and for many years have dreamed of building our own home from the ground up. I'm one of those people who love to go to open houses, but I'm always saying things like, "I wish there was a bathroom/bedroom here" or "Wouldn't a cabinet here make this room perfect?" Six years ago we were living in a nice house. It was on a great tree-lined street, had a small but nice backyard, and enough bedrooms for the four of us, that is until a wonderful trip to Italy added one more child to our bunch. Suddenly we found ourselves in a house we would soon outgrow. Since I moved a lot growing up, I was excited to move to our next house. My husband on the other hand, wanted to figure out a way to make it work. One Sunday, yes he humored me by going to local open houses, we came across this run down house on a great lot. While it was not what you would call a step up from our current home, the lot was really large by Los Angeles standards and it was on a nice quiet block.  To make a long stoy short, we talked about the potential to build a new house on this lot. Could we really do this? Could we handle 3 kids, moving, putting all our stuff in storge, the financial commitment, moving again, and building a house?  As we talked it through, we kept coming back to the good block, the good lot and the good footprint but it really needed a total gut and a second story. While we were scared to take this on, I was also so excited. My dream of building a new house  slowly turned into a reality.

In Febuary of 2009 we bought the house.

house flyer

A few short weeks later the market crashed and there were no construction loans to be found. We ended up living in our fixer for three years. We watched our roof blow away everytime the wind came up and we leaked in multiple spots everytime it rained.  But over those three years, we really learned what we wanted in our new space. We learned how the five of us liked to hang out in the kitchen, we realized we never hung out in the living room and that we all wanted more open space and way less walls. It was a long three years but so worth the wait. I knew soon we would start building our dream home. Finally, the market improved and we got a loan. During the three  years we lived there, I was getting organized. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you I love a project. I love a big notebook and planning. It gives me a purpose and a goal. Once we hired an architect and builder I was off & running. You would never find me without my big blue notebook.

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I loved ripping inspiration out of every home magazine I could find. I joined Houzz and lived on that app. I have to say that those years and planning really helped me make good choices during the actual construction process. Here are a few of the pictures and drawings that inspired me.

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These are from the kitchen section. I loved the white kitchen and big island in that picture. The drawings were from the kitchen place that did my cabinets. I love built-ins and knew I wanted a wine rack.
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I liked the idea of cubbies for the kids, but not in the dark color. I have always wanted a home with a Cape Cod feel, so white, bright, and light is what it had to be.
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This mud room was more the feel I wanted. It was missing the washer & dryer that I needed to fit in, but it gave the architect a good starting point.


Here is the picture that inspired the drawing above. My mini fridge and a wine rack.

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I really liked the idea of the island having one end open for cook books and pretty things.

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This picture helped me identify the windows I liked. I love the transom at the top. We have this detail on many of our windows.

Really without my big blue notebook, the Houzz site, and that first piece of inspiration fabric (more about this in my next post) I'm not sure the house would have turned out so close to what was in my head. I loved being able to pull out a picture or pull up an image on my phone when one of the vendors asked what I wanted it to look like. It took all the guess-work out of the equation. I would go to the room tab that we were talking about, find the picture I liked, and say, "please make it look like this" and 9 times out of 10 it did.

Well, that's it for tonight. Next week I will find and post a few pics of the process. It is really amazing to see it being torn down & then built back up.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Mimi G. in the house...

Over the last 6-9 months has started working hand in hand with many of you bloggers out there. We have met so many great women who love to sew apparel and children's garments, craft, and knit. Now when we say "met", we're using the word loosely. In the world of blogging I feel like I know and have "met" so many of you, but in reality our meetings take place over e-mails, reading your blogs and/or phone calls. Most of us do not live in the same city and many of us do not live in the same state.

When Mimi, of MImiG Style, came into our life it was pretty amazing to find out that not only is she a blogger, a sewer, has an amazing following, and loves our store but to top it off she lives less than an hour from us. Needless to say we had to meet. A few weeks ago we invited Mimi to go behind the scenes and get a first hand look at some of our new fabrics that are in the warehouse.

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These fabrics are being sorted for the retail store, the internet, and the Loft. Once we decide where they will live they get double & folded or put on rolls and sent to their new home. This process can take any where from a few days to a few weeks depending on the amount of fabric we're talking about. For anyone who has met Larry you know he loves fabric and the more the better. Sometimes we have thousands of yards getting checked in at a time.

Mimi was thrilled to get a peek at what would be hitting the sales floor. We spent a few hours walking all three floors of the warehouse.
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Larry just kept bringing out new fabrics and Mimi, as you will see a bit further down,  just couldn't help herself.  Every time Larry pulled out a fabric, Mimi would Oooh and Ahhh and that was Larry's signal to cut a swatch and get one of our warehouse guys to pull the roll and take it for cutting.

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These fabrics elicited an Oooh or an Ahhh and the scissors came right out. Mimi told us she mostly likes to sew knits, especially double knits, as seen below, but she also picked out this great geometric cotton print and a few textured suitings.
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Let me tell you we had fun! Between Larry's enthusiasm for his fabric and Mimi's enthusiasm for sewing our fabric, it was like two kids in a candy store. I loved hearing Mimi's thought process out loud. She would see a fabric and start talking about what she wanted to make with it. Let's just say she is going to be one busy camper!

Once we finished the third floor and had plenty of swatches in hand, we headed to the retail store. Orlando, one of our warehouse guys, had already pulled the fabrics from the first two floors and they were ready to be cut.

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One of my favorite cutters, Eldrina, was ready and waiting. She saw the filled cart and was prepared for the long haul.  Here are the fabrics getting stacked up as she cuts...
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Needless to say Mimi just couldn't resist. Once Eldrina was done cutting it took Mimi, her husband, and her oh so adorable son to carry out all the bags.

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As always, I can't wait to see what Mimi makes with the fabrics she picked out. She thought she might start with that great hexagon black & white print above, but who knows what will inspire her when she gets home and unloads her bags. I'm sure no matter what she starts with we're all in for a treat. While Mimi is amazing at linking back to our site, I'm thinking about starting a Mimi section on our home page. Let me know what you think of that. Also, I'm happy to report that we had plenty of yardage of many of the fabrics that inspired Mimi . Some of you may remember last month when Mimi posted that incredible front slit maxi dress, we sold through over 300 yards of that fabric in 2 days! While we love selling that much fabric, it was hard not to please every customer out there. We felt terrible when we ran out of both prints and there were still so many of you trying to order it. Hopefully this time we have enough for everyone. Check out her blog and if you make something please send us your pics. You can Facebook us, Tweet us, or Instagram us at Michaellevinefabrics. Happy sewing everyone!


Fabric Shopping Weekend Recap and a Giveaway!

I'm so sad I missed you. Next time you come please drop me a note first. We love to meet our shoppers in person. Makes this crazy internet world seem more real.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The bloggers came to town...

I just want to share a few photos and say a big thank you to the 22 bloggers that came and visited Michael Levine & It was really nice to meet these women. Most of them are moms, they all sew, and they love to post pics on Instagram. Needless to say we hit it off immediately!

They were scheduled to arrive at 12:30pm.


Once I was done setting up for them, I decided to walk downstairs and see if they were here yet. As I crossed the street from my office this is what I saw...


I knew I had found them. There was no shortage of hand-held devices.

It was so fun watching them all take pics and get so excited as Larry & I took them on a behind the scenes tour. Many of these bloggers were from out of town so they had never been to the garment district or our store. We started our tour in the Home Decorating store and that moved to the warehouse. They were in heaven...


(Entering the warehouse)


(They can't believe their eyes, so much fabric)Image

(Three stories of fabric)                                                               (photo from Little Hooligans)

Once we were done with our tour, and lots of laughing, we sent them off to shop. Between the Loft, the Apparel store & the Home Decorating store it was a full day. Here are a few of the bloggers getting up close and friendly with the fabric they found....Image

Leanne Barlow from with some amazing sequin chevron
(photo from Leanne Barlow)


Caila from loving The Loft (fabric by the pound)
(photo from Caila)


Merrick from with some two tone sequin
(photo from Marrick)

They all left with lots of fabric and I'm so excited to see what they make.


A very full trunk                                  (photo from Melissa Esplin)

If you want to check them out, just #fabricweekend2013 on Instagram and/or Twitter and you will find them. There are lots of pics on Instagram, as well as on each blogger's individual blog. Lastly, make sure you visit The Train to Crazy and enter to win one of the five prizes from this Fabric Weekend Giveaway.

Hopefully these bloggers will inspire you and you will come back to us and buy your fabric.


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Getting back on the horse...

It has been way too long since I have posted here. There is so much going on at our store & with the online division that I am having a hard time blogging and getting everything else taken care. I am going to try & get here once a week. I have so many ideas for the blog, it's just finding the time to make it happen.

I'm not sure it you blog followers also follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but that is where I post new products , as well as daily specials and anything else I think may intrest our followers. Last week we hit 500 followers on Instagram and we gave away a bag of Shabby Chic fabric. Next we want to hit 1000 followers. We're getting close. Follow us on Instagram and you will be entered to win 2.5 yards of one of our ITY prints. Just find the post that asks you to enter the ITY you would most want. Enter the ML number in the comment box & you will be entered to win. Remember you must also follow us.

We have new products in store & online almost daily. I just want to share a few of those items here.

I love, love, love these new colored sew-on spikes. Add a little neon to your look.


We have been receiving cottons like crazy. Don't forget they are 10% off everyday. We just added our Liberty to that as well.(online only) I know cottons have gone up in price the last couple of years. Hopefully this 10% will help a bit.

This is Paloma from Dear Stella. Beautiful aqua & citron colors.


This is a brand new Japanese import from Seven Islands. It has two usable sides. Great nautical look.Image

This is our newest Liberty. Last week we received over 15 new products. From this sophisticated blue & white, to a really fun candy print.


We also just received new licensed prints. We have The Simpsons, Family Guy, and the ever popular Star Trek.

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One more collection that caught my eye was Taxi. Designed for Timeless Treasures by Alice Kennedy, Taxi is bold. Black, white, and yellow really make a statement.


Beside cottons we have new knits, wool blends, and linens that just arrived. Here are a few bright wool blends and just a few of the ITY's that we have.

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Lastly, for new product, I have to share Sealah-No-Sew Tape.


I love it. We carry it in all the sizes, as well as an assorted pack. It is a double-sided, pressure sensitive, transparent, peel & stick adhesive. (It is always a good idea to test it with every fabric before you use it on your project) It can be used on a variety of fabrics, trims wood metals, glass, leather and plastic – just about any surface. It is great for window treatments, trim applications, home decorating, crafting, lamp shades, scout badges and appliqu├ęs, scrap booking, stamp embossing and repairs or all sorts. Most of your gluing can be done mess free and without burns. I just used it to do a quick fix on my daughters ballet costume and it worked great. I also had a blogger Instagram a photo of a hem she did. She loved it as well.

All the new produts above are being added to our online site as I type,. They should all be online by June 14th. Thanks for your patience. They are all ready for purchase in our retail store in Los Angeles.

Hopefully I will post again soon. I have so much more to share with you; they're filming a reality series in our store, Mimi G's posted a dress from our fabric and we sold over 300 yards in less than 24 hours, we hosted 23 bloggers last week, Mimi G took a behind the scenes tour and had a shopping spree, and more. Stay tuned, I promise there is more to come.