Thursday, May 30, 2013

SF Day 1, part 2: Britex 1

First off, let me just admit that I was surprised to hear all the San Franciscans say "Brite-ex" -- in my mind I've always been pronouncing it as "Brit-ex!"

So, after Stef and I parted ways, I wandered back toward my hotel.  Luckily for me, Britex was right along the way.  Hubby and I had accidentally discovered its location the night before when we were looking for a quick dinner.  The sweetie even offered to stop in with me then and there, but I was kind and spared him, knowing I'd have opportunities to return on my own in the coming days.

The first thing that struck me when I walked in the door was the very high ceilings on the first floor!  Then I looked down and saw roll after roll of beautiful silk prints on the tables, and tall shelves full of bolts lining the walls.  (Sadly, photography is prohibited within the sacred walls of Britex.)  A little overwhelming, especially as I was tired from the trip out and a full morning. 

After about two minutes of looking at some of the silks on the table, I started to feel stressed.  I'm the kind of person who, when I do shop, can't bear to shop in department stores or at places like TJ Maxx or Marshalls (as much as I'd love to - my BFF is always finding the greatest stuff in those stores!).  It's just too many choices; I get overwhelmed and can't focus. 

So I decided to employ my usual shopping strategy, which is to scan all the tables and shelves to see if anything pops out at me, rather than try to look at all the offerings. And having taken a gander at some of the price tags on the silks, I decided to start with the remnants room up top.

After I've done the complete round on my walk-through, I step away for a little bit and then see what filters to the top of my mind.   On this occasion, I did that by going to the notions department.  I'd forgotton to bring along a tape measure with the socks I planned to knit!  In addition to the tape measure, I picked up this nifty little gadget:


I'd often wished for something like this but had never seen one in any other fabric store.  I find my seam gauge isn't very accurate for measurements like 3/8" - the little slider just won't stay put.   This nice little tool will get used a lot, I'm sure.


All the while I was in the notions department, I kept remembering a piece of fabric I'd seen in the remnants.  So I headed back upstairs to purchase it:


This is a nice, wide piece of cotton/lycra sateen with enough width to make a dress.  I'm envisioning some kind of dress with a fitted bodice and slightly full skirt.  However, I'm not allowing myself to start on it until I've done some more reading on fitting and have figured out what I need to do up top.  So for now, it's stash!

I noticed this fabric because of the color combination, but when I pulled it out I was just as delighted by the print.  It's a horizontal wavy stripe pattern that reminds me of bamboo.


Here's a zoomed out look to show how the stripes are arranged:


I'm really happy with this purchase, and even happier that it didn't break the bank!  I've heard so many people say that Britex is quite expensive, but I'd convinced myself the prices would be similar to those I pay at the "fancy" fabric store near my home.  Wrong!  I really had a few moments of sticker shock!  And I won't be complaining about the prices at Fishman's any more!

Once I'd purchased my fabric, I was pooped.  So I headed back to my hotel for an early night.  I needed to rest up for the adventure the following day!

And as the title implies, I did go back to Britex on another day when I found myself with a spare hour.  But since I'm a crazy blog lady who likes to keep things chronological, I won't be sharing that for a few days :-)

29 comments:

  1. That fabric is gorgeous, I'd have been drawn to it as well.

    I love the little measurement gadget you picked up. I'm sure I've seen them somewhere in the UK, but I can't remember where.

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    1. It could almost have a nautical feel too, couldn't it? It will be fun to daydream about what it should become!

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  2. I just found that little measuring gauge in Jo-Anns. It is stored in with the quilting notions. Check out that section, all the cool stuff is there instead of general sewing. Having worked at a quilt shop you might want to stop by one of those two. Great gadgets you would have to order online otherwise.

    Brite-ex suprises me too!

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    1. Oh, good to know! I guess I wasn't looking in the right places! But now that you mention it, the quilting section of JoAnn's is where I found the marking pencils that I love.

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  3. I love that store. I noticed the difference in pronunciation when I was there too! There remnants a awesome! Such eye candy on all levels!!!!

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    1. It was definitely worth the trip(s)! I forgot to mention that I found the staff to be very friendly too. :-)

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  4. Love the fabric! And I have one of those nifty gadgets - I got it for free with my first fabric.com purchase - good thing, as they seem tricky to find :) You will love using it!

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    1. Cool! Yes, I think it's going to be handy for both sewing and knitting :-)

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  5. great fabric! that should make for a very cute dress. i just picked up a book on fit ("the complete photo guide to perfect fitting" by sarah veblen) and it seems pretty good. haven't had a chance to fully immerse in it, but it's worth a check out at the library at least! hope you work out your fitting issues, it can be so frustrating!

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    1. and p.s. i shop just like you!

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    2. That's the book I bought just before the trip! I'd meant it as my take-along reading, but it ended up being much larger and heavier than I'd imagined.

      I've made it about half way through the first section, and I have to say that aside from the Horizontal Balance Line idea, it's not really clicking with me - as in, I don't quite get it. But I'm going to power through to the end in hopes that it starts to make sense to me.

      Meanwhile, expect to see a lot of knits and tunics!

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  6. That must have been a wonderland for you! San Francisco is wonderful enough, but some of the shopping is just unforgettable. I'm so glad you came out of there with some great new tools and some unique fabric.

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    1. It was interesting for me to see the concentration of high-end shops in the Union Square area, because although we have most of the same shops in Chicago, they are spread out across a few different neighborhoods. Got to say though, I haven't actually done any shopping in a couple of years, and it made me really glad I sew! (See reply to Linda below!)

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  7. I spent about an hour in Britex a few years ago, and didn't buy a thing, I was so overwhelmed! I love your bamboo fabric and look forward to seeing the dress it will become. :)

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    1. I went two times, and I doubt I was in there even an hour each! It's just too much to look at!

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  8. I am loving hearing about your trip, Gail!

    One thing that struck me on your lovely fabric was the price...for a remnant. I am glad you mentioned the prices were on the high side in this place. I am trying to get my head around how much sewing my own things is going to cost! Sewing isn't a cheap hobby, either, is it? ;-?

    But the dress will surely be gorgeous!

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    1. Thank you, Linda!

      Yes, I agree - it's a little steep for a remnant. And believe it or not, this was one of the lower-priced items I saw! And I don't think it's even "designer" - there is no marking in the selvedge to identify it.

      One of the reasons the prices are so high at Britex is that a lot of the fabrics are designer - i.e. actual Missoni, or Chanel, etc. It also seemed to me that they don't take as significant a percentage off the price of remnants as I'm used to at my local shops, although I didn't do a comprehensive analysis.

      I'd have to say no, sewing isn't a cheap hobby! You CAN make garments for much less than they would cost in RTW - it's just that the impulse to acquire more patterns, stash fabric, tools and books usually compensates for the savings!

      That said, I spent another couple hours or so in SF doing "research" in some shops I used to love and bought many of my clothes from back in the day, as well as a couple lower-end designer shops. I was shocked to see the high prices, poor quality and garments made mostly of polyester. When you compare home sewing to those items, I think the cost is much less.

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  9. I'm itching to start some sewing projects this summer ... just simple tees ... but I, too, get really overwhelmed when I go into a shop that has a lot of choice. Of course, I'm grateful to have that type of access but I know I'm alittle nervous about my going fabric shopping. Come with me? ; )

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    1. Maybe!! Or we could do a virtual fabric shop - that's actually how I do a lot of my fabric shopping, especially for knits.

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  10. My first trip to Britex was definitely a sensory overload also! And, I ended up (and still do) on the 4th floor. Love the fabric, and can't wait to see what else you came back with :)

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    1. It's nothing fancy, just a couple bits and bobs!

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  11. Loooove that fabric! And I always wondered as well how to pronounce "Britex". Thanks for clearing that up!

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  12. That fabric is so you! I always had pronounced the store's name like you. Didn't know pics couldn't be taken in there. My mum bought fabric for the flower girl dresses for my wedding and my bro's. each dress was $120 but I told her her handmade ones were so much better than what was sold at David's Bridal.

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    1. I could have sworn you were in the Brite-ex camp!

      I agree - your mom was probably able to get a better quality fabric than what she'd find at David's, and the dresses were much more special and sentimental, I'm sure!

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  13. I love your fabric -- the green and white looks so refreshing. I enjoyed the notions section at Britex when I was there ... bought a little pincushion on a golf tee (well, that's what it looks like!) to put in the top of a spool of thread on your sewing machine.

    To me, the remnants at Britex were more like fabric "coupons" I've seen in the shops in Paris -- fairly generous pre-cut pieces. I did have one thing cut off a bolt at Britex, and it was not a quick process.

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    1. Take away message: You've been fabric shopping in Paris?!? Gah!!!

      My local shop does the same, and the prices are much lower. Of course, many of those fabrics are polyester ;-)

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  14. Oooh, what fun fabric! I'm excited to see what you make!

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    1. Hehehe - don't hold your breath! My list seems to be growing by leaps and bounds!

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