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Posts Tagged ‘Britex Fabrics’

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Opening reception for Britex Fabrics on 117 Post Street, SF.

Last week Britex Fabrics, the renowned San Francisco shop known for all things fabulous in fabrics, celebrated its big move – around the corner.

IMG_20180111_184158079_HDRFor sixty plus years, Britex had resided happily on Maiden Lane. It was a charming space with a narrow stairwell and a big red sign outside the windows. But in ever-changing Downtown San Francisco, the building recently sold and the new owners had plans that didn’t include our beloved fabric store.

So Britex, one of the last family-owned business in the area, packed up and moved around the corner to 117 Post Street, right next to Gumps. (What appropriate next door neighbors!) The new space is about half the size with just two floors but it’s brighter and just as charming thanks to all the meticulously hand-chosen fabrics lining the walls.

The opening reception on Thursday January 11th gathered many a fabric fan, including fashion designer Karen Caldwell and hat shop owner Peggy Purcell. Britex owner Sharman Spector making the rounds was very happy when she heard SF Chronicle fashion reporter, Tony Bravo was in the house snapping photos and soliciting quotes. The champagne flowed and the guests chatted away the evening while also admiring brocades, silks, and wool, perhaps pondering their next creative project.

IMG_20180111_185905685_HDRI was happy to see a bit of the old store with the ladders – yes they’ve survived the move. I also really like the Wall of Velvets. The second floor houses notions and it was closed to guests that night but I’m sure it’s every bit as wonderful as the third floor on Maiden Lane.

Congratulations to Ms. Spector and her staff. I’m sure I can speak for all lovers of quality textiles when I say thank you for not calling it quits.

Britex Fabrics’ new location is 117 Post Street between Grant and Kearny.

 

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img_20161120_180053763Regular ODFL readers might recall that for most of 2016 I have been on a journey learning to sew. I’ve taken four classes using a sewing machine and as part of my continued education I decided to take a hand-sewing class at Britex Fabrics in San Francisco.

I first learned to hand-sew when at 9-years-old I signed up for a kid’s quilting class through Parks and Rec. I made two quilted pillows all sewn by hand. My mother preferred hand-sewing and she taught me as well. Still, I wanted to relearn and hopefully add to my skill set.

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Instructor Natalie Wiener has learned much about hand-sewing from her years building historical costumes.

That I did from instructor Natalie Wiener, notions buyer and manager at Britex. The class of six met for two hours on a rainy Saturday morning. We jumped right in learning:

  • Running Stitch – good for basting
  • Full Backstitch – to repair seams
  • Spaced Backstitch – topstitiching and setting zippers by hand
  • Fell – hemming
  • Slip – also hemming
  • Catch or Herringbone Stitch – hemming knits and my fave!

But there’s more! Natalie talked about tools and materials, for example the importance of thimbles – did you know they come in sizes? She also shared tips such as wax your thread to calm the thread fibers. (There is one tip that we all agreed has now changed our sewing lives, but sorry, not telling. You have to take the class.)

The two hours flew by. I really enjoyed the class and came away anxious to add some hand-sewing into my current project.

More classes will be scheduled in the new year. Check the website for information: https://www.britexfabrics.com/

Thank you, Natalie and Britex!

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It’s free, it’s easy, it’s very informative, it’s a tour of Britex Fabrics! I recently took this tour and it was even better than I expected.

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Lizzie works on first floor of Britex and is your go-to gal for all things fancy and bridal.

Britex employee Lizzie, donning one of her own creations and with infectious enthusiasm, guided us through all four floors of exquisite wools, silks, velvet … you name it. As she pulled out particularly beautiful and unique bolts of fabric from the French Lace collection (usually sectioned off by a red velvet rope), Lizzie shared with us the history of the store which opened in San Francisco in 1952. Martin and Lucy Spector owned a fabric store in NYC but while visiting here on vacation the couple fell in love with our city and relocated themselves and their shop. Since then, Britex has become a local treasure attracting brides, designers, society ladies, and lovers of textiles.

Today Britex is run by the Spectors’ daughter Sharman, who travels the world looking for the best quality in fabrics for her customers: wool from Italy, lace from France, linen from Japan. Among the curated selection are fabrics used by designers such as Chanel and Gucci, unused bolts that may be a season or two old but just as beautiful.

Did you know that:

  • Lace from France is made with ancient machines?
  • Velvet has to be stored hung on tiny pin-like hooks so as not to crease and flatten the nap?
  • Every bolt of fabric on the shelves of Britex has been tested for its content?

I learned all that and more.

Britex Fabrics store tour happens every other Saturday, 11am (Next one is June 25th.) One full hour, questions are encouraged as is feeling the fabric, which, I warn you, can be addictive.

Reservations are a must: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/four-floors-of-fabulous-a-britex-fabrics-tour-tickets-23841887728

Britex Fabrics, 146 Geary St. SF.

 

 

 

 

 

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What an event it was on a very hot October morning with costume designer Patricia Field and ah … sixty plus mostly young fashion students packed into the narrow ground floor of Britex Fabrics in San Francisco. To be honest I had no idea she’d be such a draw, particularly among the under 40s.

Ms. Field is known for costuming the long running HBO series Sex and The City and the film, The Devil Wears Prada starring Meryl Streep. Both the series and the film are very much last decade (and prior) and I would have thought perhaps a bit passé for the 20-something crowd. But I was wrong. The students knew her work, so well in fact that there were several nods to Ms. Field in the form of Carrie Bradshaw copycats – lots of stiletto heels, one woman in pink sported a name plate pendant, another went for the strands of chunky pearls paired with a t-shirt look, and another donned a slip dress, which wasn’t a bad choice given the record heat. These outfits were noticeable for their Ms. Field touch but actually, I was surprised how dated they appeared and I had to wonder if a better nod to the costumer known for mixing it up would have been to simply dress in one’s own unique style.

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Patricia Field takes a cigarette break just outside the back door of Britex Fabrics.

But all that aside, Ms. Field was delightful – humorous and down-to-earth. She roamed among the tables and shelves of beautiful fabrics chatting with people, finally stopping in the middle of the floor and settling in for a discussion about her career, which she said began with her shop in New York City and then the pivotal moment being when she got the SATC gig.

People asked for “juicy” stories of working with the cast of The Devil Wears Prada and Ms. Field obliged with a nice tidbit about Meryl Streep, who played nasty magazine editor Miranda Priestly. The two were discussing the character and the potential costumes and Ms. Streep asked about hose. “I told her I didn’t have a problem with her not wearing hose,” Ms. Field said and then she recounted Ms. Streep’s reaction: “Pat! My legs are going to be coming out of a limousine on huge screens.” Lesson learned. Bare legs on screen look big, wear hose!

When the inevitable question was asked – What advice would you give a want-to-be designer/stylist? (read celebrity) – Ms. Field said, “Love what you do, if you don’t love it you shouldn’t do it.” Good advice but not satisfying, I suppose, as the same question was asked repeatedly in several different ways.

A more interesting question was – What is fashion? Ms. Field commented that fashion is just suggestion and it’s up to us to play with it and make it our own. “You don’t need to be head to toe designer … at the end of the day you’re expressing yourself.”

Eager for different challenges, Ms. Field said she no longer takes on head costumer projects but she will hire herself out as a consultant. Currently she’s working on a new Darren Star (creator of SATC) television production set to premiere in January. But her real passion is directing films and she’s anxious to explore that world.

Project Runway contestants Richard Hallmarq and Emily Payne joined Ms. Field later in the discussion. Both commented that PR changed their lives, opened doors and created opportunities that just wouldn’t have happened otherwise, but the fashion biz is still a lot of hard work. Photo ops and more questions and then Ms. Field needed a cigarette break and it was time for this reporter to move along.

Thank you to Patricia Field and Britex Fabrics!

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