San Francisco Textile Tour: Urban Burp

urban burp - sign

The second stop on the San Francisco Textile Tour (first stop: Britex) was Urban Burp. I originally learned about it from this post on the Golden Yard and this post on Apartment Therapy. The shop is owned and run by a very friendly woman named Electra Skilandat. She’s a longtime collector of vintage fabrics who has traveled the world acquiring her stock from private collectors worldwide. She told us that estate sale fabric is more time-consuming to acquire and usually isn’t of great quality, so she focuses her aquisition efforts on other collectors. These are collectors who have accumulated a lifetime’s worth of fabric and now wish to pass their treasures on to someone who will appreciate and respect them.

The store is packed wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling with vintage, contemporary retro, and discontinued reproduction/retro fabrics. But vintage is the star here; I’d say at least 90-95% of the inventory was 1940s-60s vintage. She has an especially nice selection of barkcloth.

urban burp - barkcloth wall

Barkcloth wall

urban burp - barkcloth - abstract

abstract barkcloth

urban burp - barkcloth - floral

floral barkcloth

Electra has spent years selling fabric in the big vintage/antique show circuit, and just opened the storefront two months ago. While we were there her sisters came in for the first time and remarked that the place “doesn’t even smell bad.”! You know it must be quality stuff if there’s no vintage fabric mustiness!

urban burp - pink and red cottons

Pink and red cottons

urban burp - brown and green cottons

Brown and green cottons

urban burp - green and brown

Another shelf of cottons — a heavier weight or wider width, I think.

Needless to say, this place made my head spin. It was total sensory overload and now looking back at the pictures I’m bummed I didn’t notice some of these fabrics when they were right in front of me! But I am very excited by my purchases. You’ve already seen this one and this one; here are a few more.

Vintage Waverly

Painted Floral

Vintage Blue/Green Plaid

The shop is still in pre-grand-opening disarray, with stacks of unsorted fabrics covering every available surface. She had two employees busy sorting, folding, and pricing fabrics. Some of the ones I bought were fresh out of the storage bin and not even priced yet.

Speaking of prices, they were very reasonable. Not bargain basement or thrift store prices, but more along the lines of typical eBay auction or Japanese fabric prices. She’ll cut pretty much any size piece from longer yardage; smaller pieces (< 2 yards or so) are priced by the piece but she said she’d cut those up depending on the fabric.

Electra and I exchanged contact info so I’ll be getting in touch with her for an interview. I was so giddy I forgot to ask about the crazy name!

Urban Burp is in the Financial District on the edge of North Beach. at 170 Columbus Ave, Ste. 110, kind of tucked back from street view so have faith if you go and can’t quite find it. Call before you go to find out store hours: (415) 399-8761.

The Grand Opening is scheduled for Oct. 24-26, 2008. Electra said that after the store is in better shape, she plans to offer all sorts of classes. So, lucky Bay Area-ites, pay a visit and keep an eye out for lots of good things to come.

18 Comments

  1. Heaven…pure HEAVEN!
    Its everything I dreamed it would be. LOL
    Well, at least what I can see from your awesome pictures.

    I’m so glad you made it there. I really NEED to go. Those cute cotton prints are calling my name.

    Love the ones you picked out, too! How on earth did you choose???
    Kimberly :)

  2. daisy janie says:

    I think I’d need a week to get through them all!

  3. stephanie says:

    Oh. I really, really, want to go there.

    I love your blog, btw, but have never said hi. Hi!

  4. Vanessa says:

    My heart. will. not. stop. racing.

    I think I am in love :)

    Gosh I wished I lived in the USA!!

  5. Baba says:

    What a great shop! You are so lucky to have gone there.

  6. I’m planning a trip to San Fran for early Spring, so I am LOVING these posts with the inside scoop! Keep ‘em coming!

  7. melissa says:

    simply amazing!i don’t think i’ve ever seen so much barkcloth in one place. lucky you! :)

  8. Kirsten says:

    You are so lucky having this shop over there!

    It’s making my mouth water….

    Kirsten

  9. Carrie says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! I’m planning a trip up there in Nov. and this will be an added bonus!

  10. Lisa says:

    Electra is usually at the Alameda flea market selling her vintage goodies. I always pick up something.
    Lisa

  11. Electra says:

    I want to thank all you ladies & guys for your input and in making it possible for me to open this shop. When I started collecting it was so hard to find anything. This prompted me to create a place where everyone from quilters to designer’s could find lots of interesting textiles, in good condition, in one place. Some of these textiles have brought up happy experiences during my life (hence the Burp). I hope when you come to the Burp it will evoke something in you. Happy Sewing!! Urban Burp/Rare Vintage Fabrics, 170 Columbus Ave @ Pacific, 415-399-8761

  12. Fabricpile says:

    I’m so excited! I’m headed to SF from Indiana in November and I’m really looking forward to experiencing this shop.

  13. floribunda says:

    read about this recently and visited the shop today on my lunch hour (it’s only about 4 blocks from where I work 2 days a week!) Electra was great and the stock is overwhelming… definitely will be back there on a regular basis.

  14. Al says:

    Electra, Ron,
    Great article , Congratulations !
    Al
    Al’s Attire

  15. Joan says:

    I love your blog and visit it several times a week. Thanks for the tip about this shop. I live in the SF Bay Area and will visit the shop tomorrow. And thanks, Lisa, for the tip about the Alameda flea market!

  16. Charlotte says:

    This morning I went into my cedar chest and came across some really lovely fabric that I’d forgotten I had. Do you buy fabrics?

    I am also planning to cover some dining chairs and will bring one of the seats with me to your store. It’s pretty exciting to find you. I used to shop at Poppy Fabric in Oakland for my upholstery fabric…had much classier inventory than Britex, but went out of business a couple of years ago. So, next stop, Urban Burp.

  17. Hello Charlotte,

    Thank you Kim for forwarding this message. Charlotte, I just received this message. Have you made it in yet. Just want you to know that I’ll be out of town from 2/12th to 2/17th as I will be selling at the Palm Springs Modernism Show & Sale. Looking forward to meeting you and if I can be of any assistance with you’re project please let me know. I also offer upholstery & drapery services. I’m having an upholstery sale til the end of February. Hope this info helps. Warmest regards.