Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Shopping Spree

Is a trip to San Francisco complete without a visit to Britex? I think for most sewists the answer is a resounding "NO"!

For those of you who have never been and are curious, here's my country bumpkin impression. It's a four story "townhouse" of luxury fabrics in the posh Union Square district of the city. It's surrounded by every luxury brand emporium that you can name. Every floor is well staffed with sales associates that are eager to help you. The selection and the prices can be totally mind blowing.

Photography is not allowed in the store, so here's a little rundown (with images from the internet). The first floor is primarily solid fabrics all arranged chromatically from floor to ceiling and from the front of the store to the back. Think ... walking into a fabric rainbow. If you're looking for a specific shade of a specific color, this is your nirvana. The prices are all discretely hidden on tags tucked into the ends of the bolts. Pull the tag if you dare.

The second floor, as I recall, is mostly prints. Keep in mind that I'm shopping from a menswear perspective, so I tend to "glaze over" when there are lots of colorful prints around. Amidst the prints there's a large selection of traditional cotton shirting,including Liberty of London. Drool worthy.

Notions are on level 3. What does it say about you when you get excited about thread? Buttons? Milliner's needles?

Last stop, level 4 is the bargain "basement". Yes! This is where I belong. Everything is well organized here. All the remnants are arranged by fiber type, and everything is as neat as a pin. The staff are also wonderfully helpful, even for those of us who are "dumpster diving" looking for a deal. I saw some beautiful things up here.

So what did I splurge on ???

I picked up this almost 2 yard remnant of velvet on Level 4. (Sorry, but the first two floors of Britex are totally out of my league.) It's not quite enough for a jacket, which I would have loved, but more than enough for another Victorian vest, or two. It's really hard to capture the iridescent quality of this fabric, which alternates between purple and a loden green.

Here it shows a little better, falling over the edge of my work table. It all depends on the light and which way the nap is running. Funny story, I took the fabric to the button counter and couldn't understand why the sales associate kept pulling green buttons while I was looking at the purple ones. From her vantage point the fabric looked totally green! In the end I went with her green choice.

I also picked up an assortment of silk buttonhole twist. I really want to make some handworked buttonholes this year. They look so amazing, so Jermyn Street, and I'm in total awe of the guys I see doing them. I just need to get up the courage. Of course having the right materials to work with is key, and I'm not going to find this at JoAnn's. So... this little splurge was a no-brainer.

Lastly, I couldn't resist these felt toggles!

Each one is made with a roll of felt. Love!!!! I don't really have a plan for them yet, but I just couldn't resist. I also knew that I would kick myself forever if I passed on them.

Oh, and after you shoot your wad on expensive fabric you'll be needing cheap eats. I'd suggest Curry Up Now on Valencia in the Mission.

Happy sewing and shopping to you all!


  1. the velvet is gorgeous! Have you considered pairing it with some (faux) leather for the sleeves so that way you could use the velvet for the body and get a jacket out of it after all? Just a suggestion. Happy weekend!

  2. That sounds (and looks) like a fun trip. I love velvet myself. A bit tricky to work with, but produces fantantic garments. If you need a great list of velvet tips, try the link below. I found it invaluable in a recent project. Thanks for all the pics.

    1. Thanks so much for this link! I'll really need to think through the whole project, whatever it turns out to be. I've been looking at Folkwear's Belgian chef jacket which I might be able to eeek out of my limited yardage.


  3. Let me know if you'd like a really detailed post on buttonholes, and I'll put one together. Can't wait to see what you make with that velvet!

  4. Oh scrummy velvet love!!! And what an incredible shop. But I find places like that too overwhelming and rarely end up buying. I'd be straight up to Level 4 like you!

  5. I so miss living some place with real fabric stores. It is the notions I can never find. I never try and match a solid to a print, seems like you could there.