Saturday, January 05, 2008

The Veldt, Britex, and Thai Silks

We got home last night after spending the day driving around like idiots in the worst storm we've had in a long time! We finally had sun on our last day in ka anapali, but unfortunately had to leave. We flew into Oakland for MORE RAIN. When I was in highschool I read The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury. One of the vignettes was called "The Veldt" I believe. It was about a place that was like a big city under a bubble because all it ever did was rain. People had to live in the bubble because they would go out of their minds in the rain.
As we drove from Oakland to San Francisco, to Los Altos and then home - in a nonstop downpour, I was reminded of tht story over and over again. It NEVER stopped raining.

Of course, neither of us were dressed for it, but we went out in our sandals and light weight clothes, because that was all we had. Now if you know anything about California geography, you might wonder why in the world I would take such a strange route to get home. Well, that is simply answered - Britex and Exotic Silks! I had heard so much about Britex, that I really wanted to check it out. I was surprised how narrow it was inside Britex. I haven't lived in the Bay Area in so long, that I had forgotten that everything in San Francisco is narrow! Anyway, the store is overwhelming! There are 4 floors. The gentleman at the front desk, (who reminded me more of a concierge than a sales person) suggested I start at the top and work my way down. Now the coolest thing about Britex (besides the obvious) is the elevator! It is like an elevator in a luxury hotel. It was super quiet and super smooth. Kind of like the difference between a BMW and a Chevy. OK, I am intrigued by the simple things.

Floor 4 - this floor had all the remnants and flat cuts. I was expecting to find some real bargains here, but even the flat cuts might be 3 yards for $50. This may have been a bargain if I knew what I was looking for, but since I was just browsing, it was just overwhelming. There were 2 assistants on this floor. Now remember, this store is NARROW, so fabric on each wall with a table down the middle left little room for walking down the aisle on either side of the table.

Floor 3. This floor was all notions, trim and patterns. I wish I would have had some projects in mind that needed trim, because I'm sure I could have found it there. I did buy 2 yards of Petersham on this floor - but it was almost $5/yard for rayon petersham. There were about 3 sales assistants on this floor, and what ever you purchased on this floor, you paid for on the floor. All fabric from any floor is purchased on the first floor.

Floor 2 - this floor is all polyester, silkies, glittery fabric, knits, home dec. Most of the fabric in this store is on rolls rather than bolts.

Floor 1 - this is the most expensive floor. Here is where you will find wool, silk, and designer fabrics. They had fabrics that were over $100/yard, and I didn't even look at evening fabrics or fine silks! The walls on this floor are covered with stacks of bolts arranged by color. So you might have one stack of bolts, all plum colored, with wool gabardine, wool flannel, RPL, tricotine, and another blend, all together. There are tables down the middle featuring different things. One table had rolls of silk for $15/yard. They were all pretty much the Ana Sui silks - in fact, several of which I purchased about a month ago on Fabricmart for $5.95 a yard!

The sales person on this floor that helped me was Pat - also known as "the purple lady" because she always wears purple. She was very knowledgeable and helpful. That alone is worth paying a little more for fabric. They have fabric from Chanel, Bill Blass, Donna Karan, and many, many others and she seemed to know where almost all of them came from and little bits of info like "this one is already bonded on the back so you don't have to fuse the whole thing with underlining" She helped me pick out two fabrics on the 50% off table, both 100%wool. I think I spent about $45 on the two pieces. I am planning a dress for the plaid, and either pants or another dress for the teal/gray wool. My dear husband sat on a chair downstairs while I did all of this shopping! We walked down the street and had lunch at a little bistro after that.

The rain continued to pour, but I was on a mission. Next stop - Los Altos and Thai Silks. If you've ever bought online from Thai Silks, you know that they have a good inventory and I was shocked to find that the store is just a tiny place and there really wasn't that much in it. Well, actually, I guess there was, but I was expecting it to be much bigger. The best thing I saw there was their selection of silk Brocades. They were beautiful. The next time I go there, I will have to have a project in mind and buy some. They did have one dress made up in the back corner of the store that I found to be very pretty. It was a very simple dress with a tie front made up in what looked like a jacquard, but it was called a "silk crepe" The fabric didn't look like much on the bolt, but I kept going back and looking at the dress. I ended up buying enough to make a blouse.

Well, there's still lot's more to tell, but I do need to finish unpacking and I would like to get something done in the way of sewing today! I've posted more pix of the island if you're interested


narcissaqtpie said...

Fun story!

Vicki said...

Shame about the rain, but your fabric purchases are really nice!

Christina said...

Thanks for the detailed Britex & Thai Silks report! I hope to visit Britex the next time I'm in the Bay area.

Too bad it rained during most of your vacay, but it looks like you and your family had a fun time anyway. Welcome back!

Marji said...

welcome back! Loved your reference to the Veldt. sorry you had so much rain.
Isn't Britex incredible? You exercised much more restraint than I did when I was there 2 years ago. Nice fabrics.

Carolyn (Diary of a Sewing Fanatic) said...

Hi Nancy - glad you're home safe and sound despite all the rain! I loved Britex too. But to me it was all about the experience of going. I spent an afternoon there with my friend and I don't think I bought any fabric but I did get buttons and some trim. Can't wait to see your wool become the S3631 dress!

Anonymous said...

I purchased the fabric at a wonderful online store you can get to by clicking the following link: They have a full time designer on staff to help you pick fabrics and her services are free. Everything is ususally on sale. Hope this helps.