Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Searching for Felt

On Saturday I went to Mendel's on Haight Street, pursuing the next stage of construction on the baby dwelling (last seen here) that is steadily coming together in an honored but small portion of my daughter and son-in-law's downtown San Francisco apartment. I was looking for charcoal-gray felt for the front opening of the dwelling. We thought of a neutral, solid-color felt because we wanted something that would not fight with the three vibrant patterns that are already incorporated. And felt might also go some ways toward soundproofing the space, which is buffered by walls and bookcases on its other three sides. We also pictured half-circle appliques in shiny fake yellow leather as handles to pull the felt drapes open and shut. But Mendel's only had silver-gray felt, no charcoal-gray. And no fake leather. But what they DID have in the proper shiny yellow was oilcloth. So I bought a piece of that and got advice from the salesboy on how to warm it with a blowdryer in order to make it take the shape I want. At home I hung up the oilcloth so the folds would fall out of it and so that I could email its photo to the expectant couple.

Seeing the pictures, they approved of the oilcloth but agreed that the silver-gray would not work. Today I had a chance to shop some more, and my first stop was Cliff's in the Castro. There were some quite attractive colors of felt at Cliff's, but no suitable gray.

So then I hiked over to Mission Street where I knew of a discount fabric store down below street level where the merchandise is marked 50% off every single day of the year.

But there was no felt even close to the right color in the Mission Street store, either. Discouraged but not defeated I got on BART and went downtown to the grand empress of all San Francisco fabric stores, the famous Britex.

And at Britex, yes! Substantial weight and rich texture and a good medium gray with some subtle variegation, 72 inches wide at a reasonable price. Benignly reminiscent of 1950s wool flannel suiting, but there wasn't a great deal of fabric on the bolt. My original intention had been simply to photograph my finds, and then get approval from the other fabricators of this project before making a purchase. But a desire to grab up what was available along with a conviction that this was exactly what we had been picturing all along induced me to go ahead and tell the patient Britex veteran to cut me three yards, please. If my daughter and son-in-law turn out not to like it, I will find something else to do with it.

At Britex I also found this weighted cord. I intend to sew it into a small hem at the bottom of the felt panels to encourage them to hang straight.