San Francisco Mini-Break, Plus Fabric Shopping at Britex

Last weekend, I escaped the rain and snow and below zero temperatures of Vancouver, to enjoy the sunny skies of San Francisco!

san francisco

Mr Sewaholic and I made a plan back in December that once we got through the holiday season, we’d treat ourselves to a little getaway. The holiday season can be stressful, so it was so nice to have something to look forward to once the craziness was over.

We rested, we relaxed, we enjoyed the sunset.

san francisco sunset

We rode the cable cars!

riding the cable cars in san francisco

If you visit, get the all-day pass or three-day pass so you can ride all of the transit options easily. It was $24 for three days of unlimited cable car, bus and streetcar access. Otherwise it’s $6 each time to ride the cable car. Here is the page that helped me figure it all out.

view from the cable car

I won’t bore you with too many vacation-type photos. Let’s get to the part you want to hear about – the fabric store adventures!

While we were there, I made it a point to visit Britex. It’s a famous fabric store that has four floors of fabric, notions, trims, and buttons. I’d been there once before, years before I started blogging, but I was too overwhelmed by the selection to buy anything! (This time, I vowed not to let that happen to me.)


Four floors of fabric and notions and buttons, oh my!

printed fabric

Have you ever seen that many buttons in one room before?

buttons at britex

How about trims and ribbons?

wall of trims at britex

See what I mean about it being overwhelming? There’s just so much to look at.

There’s a floor full of remnants, although not all of them are what we’d consider remnant prices…

cashmere coating

Can you see the regular price on that one? $395.00 per yard.

They have every possible notion you could imagine, from leather kilt buckles to peacock feather trim.

peacock feather trim buckles

What did I buy? Well, the prices are definitely on the high side. So I limited myself to two printed cottons.

printed cottons

One with little eyeglasses:

eyeglass print

and one with hot air balloons:

hot air balloon print

These feel amazing. They might look like simple, regular printed cottons but they feel so soft to the touch. I like the funky prints as a change from florals or stripes. Wouldn’t they make cute Alma Blouses?

To be honest I was only going to get the eyeglass print, but the girl cutting my fabric was like, “Did you see the hot air balloon print? If you like this one, you might like it..” and I couldn’t resist. I’ve been feeling the love for orange these days, so the hint of orange was what sold me.

We only spent a long weekend away, but it was wonderful to come back refreshed and inspired! No internet, no phone, no computer, just a new city to explore and plenty of time to think. Not to mention all that waiting time in the airport to sketch, read, and daydream. I’m constantly on the go in my everyday life, with a thousand things running through my mind. It was a nice change to have a wide open schedule and nothing but time!

(And now, back to work.)

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

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43 Responses to San Francisco Mini-Break, Plus Fabric Shopping at Britex

  1. Sabs January 25, 2013 at 6:05 am #

    Oh i LOVE the hot air balloon print, it’s so cute! Hope you had a lovely break (i’m very jealous…)

  2. Marie F. January 25, 2013 at 6:30 am #

    Oh! I really loved the hot air balloon print. Last summer I saw a nice top with exactly the same print at Oasis in the UK. I kept a picture of it since then… I planned to find a stamp with a similar design and stamped some fabric. I didn’t have the time for that yet!
    I understand the feeling of overwhelming those place can have. I have been to Mood 3 weeks ago, and it took me like 2 hours before finally making my mind on some fabrics. The employees must have thought I was crazy!

  3. Mary January 25, 2013 at 6:32 am #

    Welcome home! Glad you had a nice getaway! That’s an important part of a balanced life an SF is such a fun city!

  4. Staci January 25, 2013 at 6:39 am #

    Oh my! I could get lost in Britex for days on end!!! I love the prints, especially the eyeglasses and Yes! they would make such cute Alma’s!

  5. Linda January 25, 2013 at 6:40 am #

    Britex..oh my! I visited once and it is a bit overwhelming both in price and selection but since I live near Chicago, I wasn’t leaving without fabric!!..admittedly I easily spent nearly $800 for three cuts of fabric..a lace, a 4ply silk crepe and an embossed wool including notions. I called it “vacation” since my daughter was on business in SF and I stayed free. I also shop Britex on- line and my sewing skills are couture. I will soon post my Cordova jacket in a beautiful wool from Linton Tweeds…I am lining it now.

  6. Sam January 25, 2013 at 7:19 am #

    Oh, that hot air balloon print is so cute!

  7. Michelle January 25, 2013 at 7:33 am #

    I bet it was a perfect time for a little get away. I’ve been thinking about sunshine constantly since winter set-in.

    Both cotton prints you bought are really fantastic, especially the hot air balloons!

  8. Diane @ Vintage Zest January 25, 2013 at 8:03 am #

    Unexpected fabric purchases are a given when visiting a giant store like Britex! I was in San Francisco last August for a long weekend and would have loved to go, but since my guy is not really into sewing, there was no way I could have dragged him along for hours. Maybe they need some kind of guy hangout annex, like a sports bar or (insert luxury brand car name) dealership…

    • Tasia January 25, 2013 at 8:37 am #

      Mine went to a coffee shop with a book, though he did come back before I was finished!

      I know what you mean though, mr sewaholic has been to more fabric stores than he probably ever wanted to. I agree, it would be nice if each time there was a fabric store to visit, there was something equally interesting for him to do so we can take our time!

  9. Beth (SunnyGal Studio) January 25, 2013 at 8:10 am #

    I am so glad you had a great time in our wonderful city. And you were very lucky with the sunshine! Britex can be overwhelming but oh, the hidden treasures in there.

  10. Tasha January 25, 2013 at 8:36 am #

    Sounds like a lovely trip to relax and unwind a bit! I know what you mean about being overwhelmed by a huge fabric store. We are the home of both Vogue Fabrics and while they look to be nowhere big as this, they are big enough that my eyes just kind of glaze over!

  11. Katie January 25, 2013 at 9:27 am #

    I bought that hot air balloon fabric from Britex too, but in December. I’m still deciding what I want to do with it.

  12. Lynn January 25, 2013 at 10:05 am #

    I love Britex! Amazing place. My husband will actually go in fabric stores and help me find things that look good on me. I really hit the jack pot when I found him!

  13. Adrienne January 25, 2013 at 10:15 am #

    What a great post, Tasia! I know what you mean by being overwhelmed in big fabric stores. I experienced the same thing recently at Mood’s in NY.

  14. Avery January 25, 2013 at 10:16 am #

    Thanks for the shout out! I’m glad you had a lovely time in our store. Once you’re done with your project, we’d love to post pictures of your completed work on our blog and our Facebook page. Just email me photos, plus any comments about your creative process that you’d care to share, and I’ll put it up!

    And the charming cotton sunglasses print is for sale online too –

  15. Trixie Lixie January 25, 2013 at 10:27 am #

    I have the opportunity to visit San Francisco this summer, thanks for the tips, I am definitely going to Britex, I think the only place in the UK that comes close would be Liberties in London!

  16. Linda January 25, 2013 at 10:31 am #

    Okay, okay……I had to have the sunglass print fabric….it is on its way…..the power of Tasia!!

  17. Marlise January 25, 2013 at 10:51 am #

    I was lucky enough to live in San Fran for a couple of years and frequented Britex quite often:-) Loved it!! No nice fabric stores where I live now – not good :-( Good for my bank account however… and I am finally downsizing my stash out of necessity!. Great that you had fun in SF!

  18. Jill January 25, 2013 at 11:19 am #

    Loved hearing about your great getaway! I had my dad and husband in tow when visiting SF a while back. They found a bar down the street while I browsed the floors of Britex. What a great place. A Mecca really for all sewers to visit if they can. Just gorgeous stuff all over. Can’t wait to return someday.

  19. Michael Portuesi January 25, 2013 at 11:24 am #

    Hee hee! I am a San Francisco resident who just visited Vancouver for the first time in December. Even though I can drop by Britex whenever I like, I was still excited to wander the aisles of DressSew and one or two other fabric shops I happened along during my visit. In fact, I discovered your blog while websearching when I was in Vancouver.

    Glad you enjoyed your stay in San Francisco! I loved my stay in Vancouver – it is a beautiful, vibrant city.

  20. Debbie January 25, 2013 at 11:50 am #

    Very cute fabric and I’m so jealous right now! I absolutely love Britex and make it my mission to go there whenever I’m in San Francisco. Sure it’s a bit pricy, but definitely worth it. I look at occasional expensive fabric purchases this way – I’m not spending my money on cigarettes, drugs or alcohol (excessive amounts anyway), so why not splurge on fabric? :)

  21. Kacie January 25, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    That balloon print is adorable!! Thanks for mentioning Britex! I haven’t heard of them before and I found a gorgeous swallow printed silk on their website :)

  22. Christine January 25, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

    Longtime reader, first time commenter. Love your blog! You showed amazing restraint in buying only TWO fabrics at Britex! If you make a trip back, I’ll have to recommend some places for Mr. Sewaholic to go while you’re fabric shopping at some of the other fine establishments in S.F.! I live in the S.F. area, and often forget how beautiful it is here. Glad you had a great time!

  23. Tina Spear January 25, 2013 at 1:17 pm #

    I’m glad you were able to get away, Tasia. I know what you mean about being overwhelmed with huge fabric stores. We went to New York May 2012 and I went into Mood Fabrics. I was so overwhelmed that I didn’t buy anything. My family was very gracious as they all sat at the entrance and politely waited until I was done. The building Mood Fabrics is in is a very old building. In fact, it still has the old timey elevators with the elevator operator who manually operated it with the big round crank handle like you see on old movies. It was nostalgic to ride in.

  24. Seraphinalina January 25, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

    So much of our vacation time gets sucked up seeing my in laws in Manitoba that we’ve done many mini-vacations to explore a city. They always feel too short as we are leaving, but it is lovely to get away. 4 days in Halifax, 3 days in Montreal, 3 days in Picton, 3 days in New York… I have great memories from all those short trips.

    And I’ve been overwhelmed in stores before too. I went into so many stores in Montreal and only bought a couple of things. I think that would be the advantage of going on a PR Weekend, there would be other people to follow along with and give me a little time to feel comfortable rather than the single girl walking through the store.

  25. soisewedthis January 25, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

    The fabrics you picked are great! I’d love to take a trip to a larger city to check out the fabric stores =)

  26. Lillie Bender January 25, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

    I’ve been privileged to visit this amazing place twice on business trips. I was in immense sticker shock by the prices on the first floor. Luckily, I had the presence of mind to ask if there were reminents. I was directed to the 4th floor where I purchased some wonderful linens and a few other pieces. The second time, I knew just where to go.

  27. Edie Olson January 25, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

    Yay San Francisco! I love Britex. I’m about 45 mins away by train. Interesting to see your photo of the trims, I just (minutes ago) purchased some from our JoAnns, would have loved to chose from the Britex collection.

  28. Mika January 25, 2013 at 6:59 pm #

    Ah, my hometown!! I’m so sad that I didn’t really develop my sewing skills before I moved… I never got to go to Britex!

  29. Sandra January 25, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

    OMG we don’t have anything remotely like that here downunder – that looks like a whole day’s activity, just checking it all out. I am so impressed that you were so disciplined by only buying two fabrics. I really like the hot air baloons.

  30. Anthea January 25, 2013 at 11:55 pm #

    Those fabrics you bought are awesome! I especially love the fabric with the eye glasses

  31. Seattlerain January 26, 2013 at 8:14 am #

    Your post is timely as my family is about to go to SF next week. I am thrilled to go back to Britex, as we were just there in October 2012. My first “visit” was a no go as I didn’t realize they are closed on Sundays. D’oh. My second attempt was filled with trepidation. Yelp reviews accuse Britex of rude customer service and I was not about to buy any fabric that runs in the triple digits per yard. My surprise was that they were ever so kind! No, you can’t start pulling bolts and opening them up. Yes, Britex will let you know they are there to assist you at any of the four floors. They showed me little buttons and opened remnants for me, so my purchase was small potatoes including the Japanese thread I bought. However, they were sooo nice to me.

    This time around I get to go and thank them for giving me the PVF coat that I won in a giveaway! And hopefully my little munchkin will let me shop a little this time.

  32. Seattlerain January 26, 2013 at 8:16 am #

    And I hope to stumble upon your hot air balloon fabric in the remnant section! ;) Great choices, Tasia! If I find it, I’ll definitely make a Sewaholic blouse out of it!

  33. Amy January 26, 2013 at 9:12 am #

    Glad you could get away in the city I call home. Isn’t it fun to take in?! And, what a treat that you got at Britex. Those cottons are unbelievably cute! Hope your weekend was the perfe t refresher for you!

  34. Sassy T January 26, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

    Love your choices but absolutely adore the one with the glasses. So Cool!!!”

  35. silvia January 26, 2013 at 6:53 pm #

    SF is my home too and I’ve spent many a dollar in Britex – too many if truth be told. In fact my dentist is right across the square from Britex. Who loves the dentist?! Meeeee!

    • Tasia January 28, 2013 at 10:50 am #

      Hilarious! Now that’s one way to make an unpleasant appointment way more fun!

  36. Nancy January 27, 2013 at 7:58 am #

    Took 7-year-old granddaughter, Lizzie, this summer, we both fell in love with it. The ladies on the 4th floor gave her swatches of glittery fabric. They mailed our purchase back home. If you have them mail it, there’s no tax, so we came out ahead, and there’s no way we could have put all that fabric in our luggage.

    We actually came back a second day, and they all said they knew we’d be back! It was a highlight of our vacation. We came home and sewed a book bag for Lizzie’s 3rd grade year. It was cotton with pictures of San Francisco landmarks — Golden Gate, Chinatown, The Haight, etc. We sent Britex a picture of Lizzie and her SF book bag, and they posted it on their website. Fun memories for us!

  37. evilincarKnit January 28, 2013 at 10:18 am #

    Your holidays must have been wonderful, Tasia, knowing you had a break at the end! And I’m so glad you love it here in SF. If you or other sewing bloggers want to plan a meet-up next time you’re in town, I’m happy to organize it.

  38. Diana from San Francisco January 29, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

    Hi – Oh Britex is heaven. But next time you go visit San Francisco – check out Peapod – for the most incredible printed fabrics and some japanese patterned fabrics – I love that place. Also, Satin Moon – their collection of fabrics are stunning. In the Oakland/Berkeley border there is A Verb for Warm – they carry wonderful organic cottons and Alabama Chanin cotton as well. While in the East Bay – Stone Mountain and Daughter. Back in San Francisco – if you like discount fabrics and like to hunt to see what you find – Fabrix on Clement Street (just a block up from Satin Moon) – I found black wool jersey and am still kicking myself for not buying the entire roll. Also Discount Fabrics in the SOMA district. If you like oil cloth – the best selection is at Mendels on Haight Street.

    Come back soon…

    • Patricia Lewis February 1, 2013 at 5:04 am #

      Love living your trip to SF through you. I have always wanted to visit Britex. I wonder onto their site regularly and I dream of touching these fabulous fabrics. Thanks for all your sharing about your trip to your new hubby. Also, I think I love the eyeglass fabric best. I am thinking of geting it myself, if there is still some left by time I make up my mind. Selecting prints is very difficult for me!

  39. Gillian January 12, 2014 at 11:58 pm #

    Diana, thank you sooo much for your fabric store guide to SF. I will be visiting from England in March and will certainly be working through as many as I can!


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