after hours tour at Britex

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A few weeks ago, I enjoyed a behind-the-scenes tour of historic Britex Fabrics in downtown San Francisco. It was fabulous and I highly recommend checking it out if you are in town. The densely packed multi-floor store can be a bit overwhelming but having a knowledgeable staff member to guide you through the stacks of fabric really demystifies the shopping experience. As you enter on the fist floor, you are immersed in floor to ceiling high end wools, silks, and laces. Our tour guide did a great job of familiarizing us with these fabrics, educating us about textile production and the challenging business of retail fabric. She also included a bunch of juicy historical tidbits and fun facts about the store which opened in Union Square back in 1952 by Martin and Lucy Spector. Today, their daughter Sharman continues to operate the family business, who also joined us on the tour. Her passion for making high quality fashion and home decor fabric available for her diverse range of customers is truly inspiring!

My favorite part of the tour was the laces portion. I have no experience working with lace, let alone the high quality laces that Britex carries. Wow – they stock such a variety, in both traditional and novelty patterns and in a rainbow of colors. Their selection really opened my eyes to the possibilities for using lace in modern garments. They make available very special Chantilly laces from France that are painstakingly handmade on 5 yard looms. Apparently, due to production costs, they are usually only sold in 5 yard increments in France, which corresponds to the typical yardage required for a gown. But, Britex is willing to cut this lace into smaller pieces for their customers – I guess Americans have different expectations. 🙂

herringbone winter shorts

herringbone winter shorts
The flip side of San Francisco’s non-existent summer is a very mild winter, making this outfit possible in January. Paired up with some tights or knee socks, these shorts are great for cool weather, and pass the bike riding test with ease.

herringbone winter shorts

herringbone winter shorts Continue reading →

Christmas eve lady skater dress

Christmas eve lady skater

On Christmas eve, I decided I needed something comfy to wear during our flight to Atlanta on Christmas day. Nothing like a silly self-imposed deadline to get motivated on a sewing project!

The Lady Skater pattern fit the bill perfectly. I considered using my modified Renfrew Top pattern for the bodice since I’m pretty happy with the shoulder fit, which is always the most challenging for me. But, why not try something new? I noticed the armscye was a tad longer on the Lady Skater. Perhaps the more relaxed underarm fit would be more comfortable.

As usual, I had to let the waist out and raise it up. I’m neither long or short waisted but I’m shorter than most at 5’2″. I prefer the look of knit dresses that hang from the natural waist. In the end, I had to take in a lot under the arm. It turns out the closer fit is plenty comfortable and looks better.

The fabric I used has been sitting in my stash for months. It’s a soft yet stable bamboo jersey with lycra. I love this color. I wanted to contrast the neck and armbands in a subtle way so I chose black. Totally digging on that.

Christmas eve lady skater

I added inseam pockets, even though I knew it would mess up the skirt drape on the sides. Too bad. I need pockets!!

Conclusion: I need more of these! Not only was I comfortable on my plane ride, I’ve been living in this dress several days a week ever since. Easier to wear than pajamas, seriously. For any of you out there that are nervous about sewing knits, this pattern is a great place to start. The directions are very thorough and chatty in a good way. Highly recommended!

While you can totally sew this dress with a standard sewing machine, a serger makes all knit projects go so much faster with a more professional finish. If you are looking for an affordable, entry level serger that is easy to thread, I recommend the Brother 1034D serger. My mother-in-law gave me one for my birthday a few years ago and it has completely changed the way I sew. I use it on almost every project, including wovens. I also use a twin needle to finish neck and armbands and for hemming – standard practice for knits if you don’t have cover stitch capability. One day, I might upgrade to a more full featured serger, but I honestly have no complaints with my current setup.