I had a unprecedented experience yesterday.

I hate shopping. I find it anxiety provoking, and almost inevitably disappointing, and a huge time suck. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I have clothes in my closet that are over a decade old, and not because they have "come back in style." Shopping makes me uncomfortable in a way I can't easily describe. Masses of people pawing through racks, clothes hanging by one shoulder all catawampus off the dangling hangers, the terrible fluorescent lights, and dressing rooms mirrors - oh god, the horrors. Some people, I have heard, actually go to buy things to make themselves feel better. This concept is so foreign to me that ... that I just spent three minutes trying to come up with a metaphor, and I failed.

But yesterday, I went shopping.

I didn't mean to. I had a work meeting downtown, several miles from my office. Downtown is where shopping usually takes place. And where throngs of people congregate. My usual workplace is only about a mile and a half from my apartment, and my apartment is on the opposite side of the peninsula from downtown. You can probably guess where I spend most of my time.

I did not go downtown for this meeting planning on doing shopping afterward. As mentioned, it is not my favorite pastime. To be perfectly honest, I actually don't have the cash to even be thinking about shopping. But I was there, downtown, and it dawned on me during my meeting: Britex was just down the street.

photo credit: Britex

Britex is a place I have heard of a thousand times while living here, but have never set foot in. It's a San Francisco institution. According to the website, it has been around for over 60 years. It is massive. It is packed floor-to-ceiling with every kind of fabric imaginable, from silk and wool (first floor) to cotton and linen (second floor) to notions of all kinds (third floor).

It is absolutely nothing like Peapod, my personal favorite fabric store. Peapod is small. It's one room. It is carefully, painstakingly, beautifully curated, with primarily quilting weight cottons. It has a breathtaking selection of Japanese fabrics. It has a shop dog. It is run by a wonderful, sweet woman who also takes ceramics classes where I do. It is, like my work, very close to my home - and far away from downtown. Peapod is decidedly very much the kind of shopping I can enjoy, which makes it a rare bird indeed.

Britex is exactly the kind of stuff my shopping anxiety nightmares are made of.

But, I was downtown. It happens maybe once a year, people. It's rare. So I did it. I braved it. I entered Britex.

As I've already alluded to, there are many floors of Britex. But somehow I managed to get to the second floor. Quilting weight cottons are in the back of the second floor. Peapod, they got nothing on you. I felt vindicated. See! I have not been missing out on anything.

I tried to leave, but there was a wall of people; people in all the tiny limited spaces where there are not bolts and bolts and bolts of fabric. So I tried to dodge and weave, not to push and shove. I didn't make it back to the stairs. I ended up against the stacks of linens.

And then this happened.

Indigo chambray, my darlings. And indigo linen.

Those dots. Those selvages.

I had to.

I couldn't walk away without them.

So now, I'm done for. I am in love and I can't fight and I must have these treasures. So a saintly patient and sweet salesman kindly waited while I hemmed and hawed and looked at the price and did math (see also: rationalization) in my head until I let him cut me a big bundle. And then, well, I had to go upstairs. To the notions floor. I mean, I don't have the perfect indigo thread for these beauties, but I felt like maybe I knew where I might get some.

Oh yeah, and the zippers.  Remember my pillows? They have been on hold while I search for the ideal bright brass zippers. And by search, I mean put off going to somewhere warehouse-y and likely to have them, like Britex. Maybe these are them? The navy blue one sure is beautiful.

I was so excited about these purchases that I rushed home to photograph them to show you. And then subsequently talked my husband's ear off about the entire experience. Because not only am I sure that he has not heard enough about my overly reactive shopping anxiety in four years of living with me, but I am also equally sure that he can love this bundle of inanimate objects as much as I do. Both of these things are obvious.

That saintly salesman? He also - without my asking - cut me some swatches of other gorgeous linens that I was drooling over but unable to rationalize the price of (on this particular day). Now all I need to do is throw them in the washer and dryer to help convince myself which one I want. That, and muster up the mental and emotional fortitude to traverse the peninsula and re-enter Britex, again. I know I'm a drama queen, but I can't stress it enough. I really, really hate shopping.

Which I guess explains why I started this post by saying I had an unprecedented experience: I successfully went shopping and I actually came home in a good mood. Elated, even. Excited. And I cannot wait to get to work with these... I already know exactly what they will be.


  1. ;^))))
    brave girl!
    the fabrics looks beautiful!
    those dots....

    Patrice A.

  2. THAT SHOPPING BAG. your haul seems so worth the hassle!

  3. oh gosh...THOSE fabrics...HEAVENLY!

    from me

  4. Oh, Elizabeth! You are sooooo sweet!

  5. They are the most perfect purchases. Especially the spotty one!

    PS I loath shopping too, unless it's for yarn ;)