Fabric shopping and meet-up in San Francisco

Britex shopping bag

I had a fabulous trip to San Francisco this past week!  Everything work-related went well, but the highlights of the trip were sewing-related, of course.  🙂

The shopping bag you see above is from Britex Fabrics, which pretty much blew my mind.  I’ve never been fabric shopping in the NYC Garment District, but I suspect the shopping experience at Britex is similar.  This place is hardcore.  The store is completely devoted to apparel fabrics and notions with a small home dec section, and it was my first time shopping for fabric in a “non-crafty” store.  The selection was as astounding as the prices, and needless to say, I had to go back several times throughout the week to soak it all in!

The store is four stories high and organized by floor: silks and wools on the first floor, cottons and linens on the second, notions on the third (an entire floor of notions!!), and remnants on the fourth.  I saw, petted, and swooned over all sorts of glorious fabrics that I had never laid eyes on before, and it was a great way to get to know all the various fabrics that I’ve been hearing about over the years but never had a chance to explore.  Suffice it to say that this store has everything, and it’s all high-end.

And the notions floor – holy crap!  Miles of ribbon, cording, elastic, leather, webbing, and lace in every color and style imaginable.  An entire wall of buttons.  Bra-making supplies, bag hardware, feathers, pom-poms, the works!  It was unbelievable.  At one point one of the employees heard me say that I wish I could move to San Francisco just to shop at this store all the time.  It was that good.

Britex haul - silk organza and checkered canvas

Although I was completely overwhelmed by the selection and jaw-dropping prices (cashmere crepe for $200/yard!), I managed to walk away with two pieces of souvenir fabric.  On the left is a silk organza remnant that I plan to use as a press cloth and for garment construction as needed.  I’ve never seen organza sold locally in Boston (unless I’m missing it?), so this was an exciting find.  On the right is a checkered home dec fabric with a pretty substantial weight (heavier than canvas, I’d say).  I bought 1 yard and plan to make another Moss mini.

I *almost* bought some absolutely gorgeous Italian cotton shirting to make another Archer, but I changed my mind at the last minute.  I have plenty of button-down shirts at this point, and I wasn’t totally in love with the white/gray/black color palette of the fabrics.  If they had a cheerful, bright color, it definitely would have come home with me!

Carolyn and Carol

Photo courtesy of Carol

The best part of my trip to Britex was meeting Carol of Make.Wear.Live and her husband, Matt.  Carol and Matt were both awesome, as expected!  🙂  This was my second time meeting up with sewing bloggers, and once again I can confirm that people who sew are seriously the nicest people.  It was so fun to chat and shop with Carol at Britex, and even Matt seemed to be really into sewing – how cool is that?

Carol was wearing a gorgeous handmade jersey dress, and I learned that she is a super talented and dedicated sewist who has tackled many more challenging projects than I have, including bra-making.  Go Carol!!  She bought at least two pieces of fabric at Britex and visited a few other fabric stores in San Francisco, so I’ll be curious to see her haul and what she winds up making on her blog.

Carol, it was so great to meet you!  Hopefully our paths will cross again one day.  🙂

Despite the constant rain all week and some less-than-ideal cross-country flights, my trip was a roaring success.  Now I’m off from work for a solid two weeks for the holidays – hooray!

Hope you’re all enjoying the holiday break and find some time for a little sewing.  As for me, I have grand plans for some much-needed indulgence in sewing, coffee drinking, and cat snuggling.  Happy holidays from John, Maggie, and me!

 

18 thoughts on “Fabric shopping and meet-up in San Francisco

  1. Sounds like you had a lovely trip! I used to live in SF (before I sewed) and I miss it hugely – such a lovely city! The first time I went to Goldhawk Road in London i couldn’t manage to choose any fabric – just too many options! Happy holidays. louise

    • Thanks Louise! I had been to SF a few times before (all for work), but this was the first time I really had a chance to walk around the city a bit. It’s such a vibrant and eclectic city! I wish I had more time to explore, and better weather too. One day I hope to go fabric shopping in London… I’ll be in Europe next summer, so maybe I can swing it!

  2. I was looking forward to hearing about your trip to Britex. It sounds amazing! I think I went once, before I was really into sewing. I wish I could go now, when I could truly appreciate it, especially after your report! I hope you have a great Christmas and New Year and get in lots of sewing time over the break.

    • Thanks Lisa! I know the feeling – I lived in New York almost all my life but didn’t get into sewing until I moved to Boston. How I regret not visiting the garment district! Oh well, just gives me an excuse to go back. 🙂 I’d definitely recommend Britex if you’re ever in SF – it was truly unbelievable. Happy holidays!

  3. Britex is the bee’s knees! So glad you enjoyed your trip and your meet up. 🙂

    Also, the garment district in New York is very different from Britex (imo) — tons of small shops stuffed to the gills with fabrics and/or notions, and lower prices than Britex (Winmil-ish or a bit higher). Britex is heavenly and manageable, in New York you need to have a plan or you’ll get overwhelmed!

  4. Most timely post ever! I’m heading to San fran with my family around new year and was wondering where to fabric shop. I won’t have much time, but it sounds like britex might be my one stop wonder!

  5. I had the same exact feelings and approach to Britex! It’s overwhelming! I too had to go back a few times after things soaked in a bit, and “only” ended up bringing home one very nice remnant of cotton sateen and some leather scraps and a few notions.

    One thing I regret is not purchasing anything from Thai Silks in Los Altos. I took the approximately 40 minute train ride down there to meet a friend, and she took me to that store – gorgeous selection with pretty good prices. Next time I’m out that way, I will be heading there!

    • Oh, that place sounds amazing! I’d love to go back to SF one day and see more of the city, including doing more fabric shopping. Work always seems to get in the way, haha.

  6. Sounds like heaven! Have you tried Sewfisticated? I hit up the Framingham location and they always have silks at no more than $10/yd. Their selection is hit or miss, but always worth a stop. I know they have a second location but I can’t think if where it is at the moment. Fabric Basement in Natick also carries a small selection. And NYC is only 3 hrs away… went to the garment district once (didn’t have much time) but all the shops are tucked away so that you’d never even know they were there. Very strange!

    • I’ve been to the Sewfisticated in Cambridge a few times, but it’s not easy for me to get to since I don’t have a car. Same with Fabric Place Basement – that shop is amazing! I’ll have to convince John to drive me out there again sometime soon. The NYC garment district is high on my list once I finally finish my degree and can travel more easily. Maybe it will be my graduation present to myself. 🙂

  7. Sounds like you had a great trip to SF. With 4 stories of sewing goodies I would have felt overwhelmed too. Great choices with your fabrics. I’m looking forward to seeing that checkerboard fabric again in a FO 🙂

    • I’ll be curious to see if it makes it into a garment. I pre-washed it earlier this week, and the black squares faded significantly, ugh! Kind of annoying considering the price of this fabric.

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