Have you ever found yourself exploring a new city and then become awestruck by an unexpected finding? That is what happened to me on my most recent trip to San Francisco, California. This trip was meant to be a getaway to a big city, introducing my children to all the joys of San Francisco. I relished the opportunity to share my favorite activities and expose them to new experiences. From cable car rides to appreciating architecture and art – we found ourselves making memories that would last a lifetime! However, it was our interest in exploring a quaint street in the heart of Union Square that led me to one of my most memorable experiences. I found myself facing the back entrance to the world-renowned Britex Fabrics!
Britex Fabrics officially opened its doors in San Francisco’s Union Square in 1952. It is considered to be the ideal location for designers and anyone else seeking creative inspiration. If you are an Outlander fan, you will recognize this location as the store that is frequently visited by the talented Terry Dresbach and her design team. I follow and often read her blog – An 18th Century Life. I have found her blog very interesting as it opens a small window into her craft while also referencing her own points of inspiration. She has mentioned Britex Fabrics on multiple occasions within her blog and during various interviews. Now I have found myself here! Words could not relay my level of excitement!
As I first entered the store, I was immediately met by a welcoming and friendly staff. Of course my first inquiry was where I could find the selection of plaid wool fabrics. Little did I know the level of selection they would have! From floor to ceiling, there was such an array of designs from all over the world. This truly was an incredible place to be!
Inside the Store
I spent the next few minutes looking at different fabrics, trying to find the one that would suit my next sewing project. As I was marveling at the colors and touching each plaid and woolen fabric one by one, I was suddenly presented with a quick “hello” by the kindest gentleman who worked in the store. We struck up a great conversation as we looked at my various options.
He said, “Did you know that Britex Fabrics is the place where many theatre and ballet type productions come to in search of items to fulfill their costume needs?”
As I listened to the array of clients they service, I couldn’t help but ask if he had ever worked with costume designers from movies or any television series.
His face lit up, “Of course! Who are you thinking of?”
With confidence, I said, “I believe my favorite costume designer from Outlander, Terry Dresbach, shops here. I read that she purchased the fabric for the Parisian 1740’s brown flower gown at this location.”
“Why yes! I actually have helped serve her!”
“Really! Tell me about it!?”
He described Terry Dresbach with great ease. He mentioned that she was kind, down to earth, and very easy to talk to and work with during each of her visits. There were also times her husband, Ron Moore, would come to watch her purchase items for her costume needs. He spoke so highly of them, as they both where so polite throughout all their requests during their visits.
He mentioned that the fabric used to make the brown Parisian gown in Outlander is a heavy, luxurious furnishing fabric that originated in Turkey. The fabric was designed in panels, which were strategically used to create this one of a kind gown. This material was mentioned in her blog and during interviews. As a result, there was a large request by fans to obtain this fabric. He said in total, Britex Fabrics sold more than 150 panels! After seeing this beautiful dress in person, I can certainly see why!
You Never Know What You May Find
I decided to go to the third floor to specifically look for buttons, lace, and trim for my next project. While here, I met another friendly staff member who came to see if I needed any assistance. I immediately welcomed the conversation as it gave me the opportunity to ask questions while I marveled at the variety, style, and intricate details of each item.
As our conversation continued, I stated that I was an Outlander fan and was hoping to gain insight into the types of accessories that had been chosen for the costumes. I was thrilled when our conversation then shifted to a mini tour of some of the items that were chosen for Season 2 and even Season 3. I was informed that it is difficult to show a lot of the items that had been purchased because once a particular piece has been chosen, Terry Dresbach and her design team will often purchase the entire inventory.
Here are a few of my favorite finds during my visit:
- The first item she showed me was the eggplant Alencon lace trim that was used for one of Claire’s Parisian gowns. The lace was placed on the front bodice of the gown as well as the ruffles on the sleeves. You can see the dress by clicking here.
- The next item I was shown was a White Swiss Dot Eyelet Edging Lace that the staff believed was purchased for upcoming projects during Season 3. It will be something to certainly look out for!
- My tour then transitioned to buttons. On the left you will see a steel button. I was told that approximately 200 small and medium sized steel buttons had been purchased for costume production in Season 3. I was informed that a minimum of 20 to 30 buttons are needed per costume, which may impact the selection chosen due to the level of store inventory.
- Luxurious buttons, such as the one pictured above on the right, is made with crystals. This button was used in one of Jamie Fraser’s costumes in Season 2 while in Paris. I was able to appreciate this specific costume in close detail while on display at the Artistry of Outlander exhibit. Do you recognize it?
Outlander Related Treasures I Purchased
The best part of my time at Britex Fabrics was going to the remnant section on the fourth floor. It is a floor filled with all types and qualities of fabrics that can be used for a large array of projects. I was able to find and purchase high end material at reduced prices, which allowed me to stay within my budget.
I already had some ideas in mind for my next DIY project. Given the variety of options, I chose to search for the supplies I would need to make my own Outlander inspired shawl. I was able to locate a plaid wool fabric and satin, along with antique lace and buttons.
Please look for our next DIY project coming soon! This project is one of a kind, especially knowing that I purchased the materials from the San Francisco landmark of Britex Fabrics. Here is a little sneak peek. I honestly cannot wait to share what I have created.
If you ever have the opportunity, be sure to visit Britex Fabrics in the heart of beautiful San Francisco. It is a must-see location when you are visiting the city. You never know who you may meet or the treasures you may find. I know I can’t wait to go back!
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