Britex Fabrics loves everything about silk and it shows. Silk is a natural fiber that is usually derived from the mulberry silkworm’s cocoons. Silk has it all; it is smooth, soft, strong, and lustrous. Silk is ethereal for a summer frock, and just as smart for a winter frock-coat lining. We delight in traipsing about to find you the most chic Italian silks, natty necktie silks, brilliant jacquard silks, and airy sheer silk chiffons.
Quantities are limited, so order your swatches now! This sale good for online silk category purchases* only 8/23 – 9/5. *This online sale does not apply to in-store, email, phone, or Customized Swatch purchases.
At Britex Fabrics we believe it is important to know your fabrics. Knowledge of how fabric came into being is equally as important, and can be an endlessly fascinating topic. Enter Geana Seaburger, with her workshop Warp X Weft: Textile 101. Geana, a former Britex assistant buyer and marketing whiz, is an Oakland-based maker with a design studio,and owner of GDS Clothgoods. Although she is currently making aprons to order-and quite successfully-her passion seems to be textiles from the ground up, literally.
Attend her workshop Warp X Weft: Textile 101 at Britex Fabrics and you will hear, touch, smell, and see cotton, linen, wool, and silk in their most natural form. These natural fibers each have very different characteristics, which becomes evident the more you handle them.
In the classroom, she encourages students to touch, poke, prod, and pull apart a cotton ball, flax (linen fiber), wool fibers, and silk. Each fiber has differences in length, texture, strength, and beauty.
“Typically with fibers, length corresponds with quality… ”
As she talks, students rip or pull pieces of the natural fibers and cut swatches from the corresponding finished fabrics, then glue them on sheets of paper, labeling them and taking notes. This exercise helps to illustrate the process that these fibers must go through to become fabrics. Students swatch different examples of fabric weaves, and learn that the sheen of a fabric is controlled by the type of weave it is woven into/from.
Terms such as hand, sheen, drape, resilience, wicking properties, protein vs. animal fibers, plain weaves, and matte vs. reflection, are thrown around the room as the students handle and catalog examples of each of these. Synthetics and man made fibers are also discussed.
“If we’re interested in textiles, it’s good to know the whole story.”
It is a given that Seaberger is very passionate about her subject matter. She touches on environmental matters as a part of her discussion, at one point saying “conventional cotton is terrible for the environment” in the way that it is produced. She praised polyester for its ability to “imitate so many natural fibers,” and described one of the fabric swatches she used as an example of a synthetic blend as a “coarse wool and yucky acrylic.”
Her workshop is given practically every month and tickets sell out weeks, sometimes months ahead of time.
As September approaches, we’re gearing up for the Britex Fabrics fashion show, PROJKT MAIDEN LANE, featuring Project Runway designers Kini Zamora, Richard Hallmarq and Emily Payne (our own Britex alumna and Project Runway All Star) and Under the Gunn designer Rey Ortiz. Showing new pieces for her edgy Leathertongue line, Emily’s focus is a loose-lined, non-gender-specific look featuring painted fabrics by designer Mary Rosenberger.
Emily also commissioned a series of unique masks created by artist Lance Victor Moore, (L.V.M.) who utilized a different organic material in each exquisite piece. Emily’s mask in the picture above, for example, features gilded branches gathered in Golden Gate Park, while Lance’s look sports gilded starfish arm tips. Lance explains, “Emily contacted me in July asking if I’d be interested in making some masks for her runway show–her line is very ungendered, and the masks are designed to give the models an anonymous, androgynous look.” Enhanced with trims and hardware (most of which can be found in our Third Floor notions department), the masks are crafted from leather, animal bones, tusks, shells, wood and even porcupine quills: anything that “had a sharp, spiky feel,” as Lance puts it.
Lance and Emily’s collaboration is unforgettable–we’re so proud to feature their work in PROJKT MAIDEN LANE! We’ll be posting photos as soon as we can after the event.
Lance describes the materials he used as things like “leather, stamped metal, beads, chain, horn, shell, wood, glass, crystal, antler, etc., along with airbrushing, hand painting, sculpting and burnishing metal.”
We asked him what his favorite mask is. “My favorite three masks are the wood one, the antlers, and the gold shell one. ”
Check out Lance Victor Moore’s new website coming soon.
We have this vintage circa 1920s-30 bobbin lace that we roar for! We have over 200 vintage lace trims on our third floor at the bridal counter. Many other animals, and lifestyle activities, such as tennis are represented. As well as traditional floral and geometric designs. In addition to vintage lace trims we have hundreds of modern lace trims and ribbons on the third floor of our brick-and-mortar store. Many of these trims are also available online.
To learn more about vintage lace and vintage lace trims, please visit the third floor of our brick-and-mortar store, or if you’re not local, please chck out our excellent selection online.
Additionally, an excellent resource for vintage fashion enthusiasts is available through the San Francisco Public Library. This includes The Vogue Archive 1892 – present, Harper’s Bazaar Archive 1867 – present, Women’s Wear Daily Archive 1910 – present, The Design & Applied Arts Index 1973 – present, as well as The Women’s Magazine Archive: Homes & Gardens 1922 – 2005 Good Housekeeping 1885 – 2005 and Redbook 1903 – 2005.
Recently, the New York Times wrote an article about the incredible bedazzling of the leotards, worn by the United States Olympic Gymnastics Team this year. According to the article, in 2008, when Nastia Liukin won the gold medal in the individual all-around at the Olympics in Beijing, her leotard had just 184 crystals on it, whereas, in 2012, when Gabby Douglas won the same event in London, her leotard had 1,188, and this year, many of the Team USA leotards will have close to 5,000 crystals on each. Ironically, the amount of crystals on the U.S. Gymnastics Team’s Leotards has been growing along with the point system by which they are scored. In 2006, the Assessment System went from a 1-10 scale to an infinite one. Be sure to check out our amazing Crystals by Swarovski™ wall on the third floor of our brick-and-mortar store in San Francisco.
Leotards, which were once called maillots, were popularized in the late 1800’s by Jules Léotard, a pioneer acrobat, known for the flying trapeze. In the mid-twentieth century, leotards took on a more modern shape, where they began to fit the human form, and were less baggy than they had been in the past. As recently as the 1970s, leotards were made from polyester, and it wasn’t until the early 1980s that they began being manufactured from Lycra. With this new material came bold graphics, such as the stars and stripes on the side of the leotard worn by Mary Lou Retton and the rest of the U.S. gymnastics team during the 1984 Olympics.
Currently, the U.S. Gymnastics Team’s Leotards are made of a shiny Lycra-like fabric called Mystique, which in addition to the crystals, adds even more sparkle to them. Despite being judged on their performance alone, and not by their outfits, many of the gymnasts like to feel good, and sometimes the added sparkle helps.
On the second floor of our brick-and-mortar store, you can find shiny nylon Lycra, similar to the Mystique fabric used in the manufacturing of the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team’s Leotards.
Whether you are creating an outfit for your next circus act, trip to Burning Man, costume for a dance competition or your kid’s dance recital, we have an amazing selection of Lycra and crystals available in almost any color, in our brick-and-mortar store.
To order Lycra swatches for your next project, please use our Customized Swatch Service.
Wool fabric from Britex Fabrics is perfect for every season. Summer-weight wools make elegant pleated slacks, wind-resistant boiled wools are perfect for snow-angel expeditions, tricotine is retro-glamorous for a 1950’s gored skirt, and everyone craves a snappy bespoke double-breasted pin-striped jacket for year-round urban flair.
Quantities are limited, so order your swatches now! This sale good for online wool category purchases* only 8/9 – 8/22. *This online sale does not apply to in-store, email, phone, or Customized Swatch purchases.
When Britex offered me some midnight navy spotted silk to sew with, I thought I might make a kimono robe or another lounge item. But when the silk showed up, it was just too gorgeous to only wear at home, so I decided to sew the Clover Dress from Paper Cut Patterns, and it was a perfect match.
When sewing with silk, especially one that is semi-transparent, having gorgeous seams is key since there’s a good chance that they will be visible through the garment. This is when using a French Seam is a perfect choice, and if you don’t know how to sew one, here’s a handy tutorial for you!
Note: the tutorial is sewn using a scrap piece of the silk, not on the garment itself.
Step 1: After you have cut all your pieces according to the pattern instructions, the key is sewing them in a reverse order from how they instruct you to sew a regular seam. So instead of right sides together, we will be putting wrong sides together. Pin in place.
Step 2: Sew the seam at 3/8” seam allowance. Trim the seam allowance down to 1/8”.
Step 3: Press the seam allowance to one side.
Step 4: Fold the fabric so right sides are together and the seam sewn in step 1 is right at the top of the fold. Press the seam.
Step 5: Pin the fabric together and stitch at 1/4” seam allowance. The 1/4” and 3/8” will equal a 5/8” seam allowance. Should your project have a different sized seam allowance, these two amounts added up will need to match the total seam allowance and adjust accordingly.
Long time Britex Fabrics customer, custom clothing designer, and couture documentarian Dolly McFadden has been sewing couture fashions since her mother taught her to hand sew. “I spent more time ripping things out and pressing them than working with the sewing machine,” she said in the 1990 October/November issue of Threads magazine.
Her research and cataloging of the “Theatre de la Mode” fashion exhibit won the documentary of the same name an Emmy. The exhibit was made up of over 200 one-third scale French mannequins and garments. The Theatre de la Mode was created in 1946 and toured all over the world to raise money for post-war France economic recovery. It was also designed to highlight the French fashion industry. It kept the Paris fashions on the map as the world recovered from the Second World War.
Designers such as Lanvin, Balenciaga, Balmain, Sciaparelli, Patou, and others were represented in the Theatre. Extreme care was taken in the making of each mini-garment, down to trim, buttons, hats and accessories. The result was a true reproduction of the designer’s creations. The collection has been housed at the Maryhill Museum of Art in Goldendale, Washington, since its last exhibition at the De Young Museum in San Francisco in 1946. McFadden says she feels “So fortunate and grateful to be part of some of these projects.”
McFadden has been shopping at Britex Fabrics over the years, and is considered one of our regular customers. She creates custom clothing designs and teaches couture techniques. Special occasion gowns she has designed over the years include wedding gowns and headpieces, after five dresses, and a variety of one-of-a-kind fashions.