I’ve been to different places in the States several times over the years but so far, the West Coast has remained unexplored territory for me. When the opportunity came up to visit California, I obviously couldn’t resist going to find out whether there was anything on offer to rival some of the lovely places I saw in Boston on my last visit.
America tends to do big, bold and grand very well and Britex Fabrics in San Francisco is no exception. It is a multi-storey bonanza of all things craft related and has one of the best collections of craft gadgets I’ve seen outside of Japan.
Since my visit the store has moved just around the corner to its new address (117 Post Street) but judging from Britex’s lovely blog, seems to have retained most of its bounteous collection of fabrics, accessories and ribbons. They still seem to be running classes and workshops and, although I unfortunately didn’t get the chance to try one there, judging from the fun, helpful attitudes of all the shop staff, it’d be a fantastic place to learn.
Britex Fabrics is primarily a fabric shop with a ginormous range across lots of price points for every type of sewing project, be it from fashion to upholstery. There is little danger of not finding something suitable, only leaving with more fabric than you can carry!
While it is probably more dressmaking fabric focused than for quilting, they have a really nice collection of cottons and I, of course, couldn’t resist leaving without a few more batiks…
I also had a moment of slightly more questionable decision making and picked up some ‘souvenir’ fabric and ribbons which I have zero idea what I’m going to do with! Help, readers!
The upper floors have even more fabrics and the most fabulous collection of feathers and buttons I’ve ever seen. Make at 140 definitely comes a close second on being button-collecting heaven, but Britex has a nice mix of functional pieces with some more extravagant vintage ones. Their collection of piping and trims spans the entire colour and taste range as well.
The haberdashery section has a truly comprehensive ribbon collection and I couldn’t resist coming away with some hand-dyed pieces. I’m not entirely convinced how well they will work for ribbon embroidery as the silk doesn’t feel like the nicest quality but if they end up being okay to work with, the colour palette will certainly have an impact!
For those State-side but not local to SF, the Britex Fabrics website carries an impressive amount of their stock. They do ship internationally as well for those of your very deep pockets. If you can though, go in person. A store like Britex Fabrics is becoming an increasingly rare thing, particularly somewhere large enough to carry such a comprehensive range of materials and accessories. I’ve moaned before about some of the annoyances that come with online craft shopping but there are very few physical shops left that can really be ‘one-stop shops’ for everything you might need for a project. When you couple this with helpful, friendly and knowledgeable staff, you have a shop that is really a fabric-addict’s heaven.
I have spent way too many hours of my life in too many craft stores and I can honestly say Britex Fabrics is easily on the top ten list. It’s a beautiful shop with a diversity of stock to rival Yongle Fabric Market (whilst being significantly less painful to navigate) and also has so much more than just fabric. If you’re a craft-gadget geek then there’s plenty on offer here, including some of the awesome Clover accessories that seem to be tough to find outside of Japan and meters of gorgeous ribbon and trimmings to set the final bit of glamour on your garments.