“Liberty, Here She Is!”

This is a long post, but try to hang on — there are some good tales from Britex at the end (or at least I think they’re good!)!!

Whew! I feel like I’ve been away for a very long time! I have several things I want to post about here, including a video, but I’m having trouble downloading the ginormous thing (planning to edit it down) onto my computer. What’s up with that?

So, I took my mom to SFO this morning, but before I go full throttle into my homework catch-up phase, I wanted to post about our fun outing last Friday. We hit three places that I have been dying to see — Exclusive Buttons, Urban Burp, and Britex!

Exclusive Buttons was really unbelievable. It’s been in business for a long time (click the link I’ve put in for a great newspaper article with all the history).

Exlusive Buttons of El Cerrito

Here’s the owner. She was really fun and gave us a tour of the shop when we came in.

Owner of Exclusive Buttons

It’s tiny. I mean, I once had a bathroom (granted it was a big bathroom with a shower and a bathtub) that I think was as big as this place.

Exclusive Buttons interior

But it is FILLED with vintage buttons. And do you know we spent about 2 1/2 hours in this little button shop? It’s unreal (as my mother would say)!

Vintage Buttons on Cards

There was just so much to look through in that tiny place. And while I didn’t have any specific projects in mind, I did want to get some things that really caught my eye. Problem was that everything caught my eye!

Czech Crystal Buttons

These are Czech crystal. Really beautiful! And the ones below are real shell and bone — some are real abalone.

Abalone and shell buttons

Here’s a drawer of really sweet novelty ones. Check out the guy in the bottom left corner. What a funny look on his face!

Vintage Novelty Buttons

And here’s my favorite drawer, the Bakelite.

Drawer of Vintage Bakelite Buttons
We ended up spending about $85 total on buttons. Crazy, but so much fun! My mother bought some as gifts for some artsy friends. I don’t have photos of those. But here are photos of what I ended up with.

Vintage buckles. Get out! I have really been wanting to make some patchwork belts, and these will be perfect!

Vintage Buckles

Sets of buttons on cards…

Sets of Vintage Buttons

…as well as some random buttons.

More Vintage Buttons

And I couldn’t leave without Bakelite, could I? These are all Bakelite (swoon!).

Bakelite Vintage Buttons

After the button marathon, it was time to head to the city. It was a beautiful day, and we snuck in a bit of traditional site-seeing (this is from the bottom of the curvy block of Lombard Street, which, yes, I did drive my mother down!).

Coit Tower from the bottom of the curvy block on Lombard Street

Then off to Urban Burp!

Urban Burp Exterior, North Beach

I absolutely LOVE this place! I love those old bark cloth fabrics and the patterns they used on them, and the owner of this shop is swimming in it. And as a bonus, she was a really lovely person, and we got another personal tour of the shop!

Urban Burp, mid inventory

The shop was not at its most photogenic, because she just got in a huge shipment of dead stock from someplace on the East Coast and was in the midst of inventorying all of it.

Urban Burp, mid inventory

This set of shelves was all bark cloth curtain panels. SO much fun on these shelves!

Vintage Barkcloth Curtain Panels

In the end, I left with a pair of curtain panels in a geometric design. Each one is about 30 x 36 inches, I think. Without a specific project in mind, it was hard to buy lots, because this isn’t a bargain thrift store (though I do think the prices are fair). I’ll definitely be back when I have a particular project in mind.

Vintage barkcloth curtain

I just adore the print on this!

Vintage barkcloth curtain

After a quick bite to eat at a random little place in North Beach, we headed through Chinatown to Britex.

Britex!

Wow. If you want to make something really nice, this is the place to go!

Here’s the first floor, with all the nice woolens if you are making a suit or something.

First floor, Britex

This is just *part* of the Britex button wall.

Button wall in Britex

All the sales people were so fabulous here. They are all excited for you to be there and excited to help you. The woman working remnants said, “Here you must see this piece. It’s Christian Dior silk, and it’s probably $350 a yard on the bolt. But it doesn’t cost anything to look.” And it was just spectacular. She was talking about spending more to make a single thing of quality than to spend less (per yard) so you can make two things of lower quality. “Think about your closet,” she said. “You don’t need anything. So why not make fewer things that are really good quality?” Gotta say, the woman has a point. No one shopping in Britex technically “needs” any more clothes, I’ll wager.

The piece de resistance — their Liberty of London.

Liberty of London at Britex!

Overheard on the cotton floor at Britex:
Redheaded shopper: Excuse me, can you tell me where the Liberty is?
Nice saleslady: Yep. It’s right behind you.
(Redhead turns around. Angels sing and trumpets play.)
Redheaded shopper (as she paws the fabric): Ooh. Aahh. Wow. (etc. ) Sorry, I've just never seen it in person before.
Nice saleslady (addressing the fabric): Well, Liberty, here she is!

Did I mention how nice and fun the sales people were in here? I could stay here all day, I swear.

When I come up with something perfect to make with the Liberty, I’ll be back to buy some. But at $50 a yard, I’m going to have to plan carefully! Instead, I left there with two half yards of Kokka that were $25 and $30 a yard. It was SO hard to decide which ones to get! But in the end, I just couldn’t resist the little helicopters and rocket ships, or those little lions’ manes (Britex saleslady: Look at their little hair!!).

Kokka!!

A stop by the Ghirardelli shop at Union Square and we were ready to head home.

Whew! It was definitely a long day — we made a giant circle around the East Bay up to El Cerrito, across the Bay Bridge, around the city, and then back home down the 101. But we had tons of fun and I *LOVE* all of these stores!!

Hope you all did something fun over the Memorial Day weekend too!

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