Tag Archives: Dress a Girl Around the World

Britex Beach Memoirs

$69.99/yard imported Versace stretch fabric. That’s what I pulled off the shelf when I went to Britex, an old-school fabric store in San Francisco. Think SF’s answer to NY’s Mood. I got a sewing machine for my birthday last year, and a friend gave me a gift certificate for Britex as a gift.

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Britex is in the Union Square area of San Francisco, surrounded by expensive department stores (Barneys, Bloomingdale’s) as well as a Ferrari store. Lunch can be had in the rotunda of Neiman-Marcus, where you can watch brides modeling Vera Wang wedding gowns in the window across the street. Since I’ve been sewing, I usually by fabric from Hancock’s on sale, or use clothing from thrift stores. So Britex isn’t really my usual hangout, but off I went.

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Britex is four stories of fabric extravagance, with all colors and types of fabrics crammed in like they’re expecting an apocalypse and a subsequent century of sackcloths for clothing. The fabric is so beautiful! Luxurious textures, beautiful colors, and exorbitant prices. Want cheap remnants? Hike up to the fourth floor. (Yes, there’s an elevator too.)

IMG_0326 IMG_0321I wanted to get something special at Britex, not something I could get anywhere, and make something nice. However, my extravagant Versace tastes didn’t fit into the $50 budget, if I wanted to make something to wear. And what of my sewing skills? Let’s call them beginner. I did learn to sew when I was 13, but that was a long time ago. I’m on a steep learning curve.

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This skirt on the left is the first thing I made; cute, but I bought the fabric online (Amazon gift card) and really wasn’t stretchy enough for the style, so it kept ripping apart. I followed an online tutorial from Mimi G style, and decided I’d left too much room in the waist and not enough through the behind. My next skirt (above, right) I patterned after one I already had, and it was much more successful. Well, the waist shouldn’t be closed examined, but the blind hem is a thing of beauty.  I have more material to make another skirt before skirt with boots weather disappears.

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Above: Complete failure.  Again, fabric not stretchy enough for what I wanted. (What’s my excuse? I bought this in person.) I plan to repurpose the fabric for stuffed animals or something cute.

At this point I decided to spend some time brushing up my basic skills before I got back to making things for myself. I started making dresses for Dress A Girl Around the World, a charitable organization that provides dresses to girls at risk around the world. A similar organization is Little Dresses for Africa. Both of their websites state that girls are less likely to be targeted by predators when they have the appearance of being cared for by an organization.

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Now, don’t look for me on Project Runway anytime soon – the dresses are made from pillowcases. That doesn’t mean they have to be drab – I made all of mine cute with contrasting ribbon or fabric, and all except for the baby sizes had pockets. I put a bracelet into each pocket. (In many of the countries that receive these dresses, the girls have very short hair, which is why I chose a bracelet instead of a hair clip.)

My sewing machine is currently at the shop (the buttonhole wasn’t working correctly, and no, it was not operator error); I’ll post again when I’ve either made something with a pattern, or refashioned something; both are waiting in the wings.