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After 45 years, Satin Moon Fabrics says goodbye to Clement Street

The sisters of Satin Moon Fabrics: Alice (L) and Susan Miyamoto

The sisters of Satin Moon Fabrics: Alice (L) and Susan Miyamoto

It has sat quietly at 23 Clement Street for 45 years, filled with yards and yards of beautiful fabrics, buttons, ribbons and notions. But come mid-December, Satin Moon Fabrics will close its doors and say a final farewell to the Richmond District.

The store is owned by two sisters, Susan and Alice Miyamoto. Originally from Los Angeles, the two came to the city for a change of scenery, and to follow the burgeoning 60’s music scene. Alice had studied fashion design in school, Susan had a degree in occupational therapy.

Neither of them knew anything about running a business or operating a storefront, but their love of sewing and design led them to open Satin Moon.

“Our parents were a little upset,” said Susan. “They wanted us to be doctors,” said Alice, in a 2010 interview with the Chronicle.

The 1,200 square feet that is Satin Moon Fabrics.

The 1,200 square feet that is Satin Moon Fabrics.

The store is small – just a little over 1,000 square feet. Originally it was a photography studio and the sisters invested to upgrade the space’s electrical, install new lighting, and the fixtures for their fabric displays.

“It was a lot of money for back then,” says Susan, the older sister by four years.

But since they opened in 1972, not much has changed inside. The store is a destination for sewers, people who want to re-upholster their furniture, or make some new pillows. They come for the fabrics, which Susan and Alice handpick themselves.

“We look at fabric, at prints, like a work of art,” said Susan. “We like abstract, and we like vintage,” said Alice in 2010.

At one time, the sisters had three full-time employees. But since the recessions in the late 2000’s, business has not been the same. Now just Susan and Alice handle the business and the customers that come from across the Bay Area to browse their high-end bolts of fabric.

Nowadays, Susan says that people who come in are not very skilled at sewing, and often have no idea what they want or what they’re looking for. She says a lot of people buy their supplies and fabrics online. But more crucially, people just aren’t sewing and creating as much as they used to.

“We used to buy fabrics a couple of times a year, at shows in New York and Los Angeles. But it’s been awhile since we’ve bought new fabrics for the store,” says Susan.

“We used to stock fabrics from Italy, and France – beautiful European fabrics but now a lot of those mills are no longer around or have changed their business, or there’s no market for it.”

The sisters plan to stay open until mid-December, and in the meantime are offering markdowns on their inventory to sell as much as possible.

While we waited to speak with them, one woman was agonizing over which fabrics to purchase, and said she would be back the next day. One woman bought straps for some bags she planned to make, and another bought some tea towel fabric to make a house present for her Thanksgiving host.

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One customer exclaimed that she was about to cause an avalanche with the bolts of fabric in one section.

“Don’t worry about it. We don’t care any more, we’re over it! We’ve been over it for the last 10 years!” the sisters yelled back in jest. “We’re old and we’re tired!”

Susan says their leftover inventory will be liquidated or donated to schools or arts programs in the Bay Area.

“I will miss the fabrics the most,” said Susan.

Be sure to stop in for your last yards of fabric at Satin Moon, and while you’re there, thank Alice and Susan for their years of business on Clement Street. We wish them all their best in their post-Satin Moon chapter.

Sarah B.

Satin Moon Fabrics (23 Clement Street) will close for good in mid-December.

Satin Moon Fabrics (23 Clement Street) will close for good in mid-December.

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Customers wait and watch as the sisters cut their fabrics

Customers wait and watch as the sisters cut their fabrics

Reels of ribbon inside Satin Moon

Reels of ribbon inside Satin Moon

18 Comments

  1. Man, this place is a true treasure on Clement Street and I will miss it. I hope the sisters enjoy a nice, long, and relaxing retirement!

  2. First Britex, and now Satin Moon: two iconic spots in SF where, not only fabric was sold, but many creative ideas came to fruition . I will miss them.

  3. So sad! Satin Moon carries such beautiful fabrics, and Susan and Alice are so pleasant and helpful. I’ll miss this treasure.

  4. Charlene, Britex is not closing. Some inaccurate articles have many people believing this. As a Britex employee, I can assure you this isn’t true. Britex has a long-term lease, and doesn’t intend to close anytime soon! Please let anyone who is worried know it is only a rumor!

  5. Breaks my heart to see this lovely shop close. I’ll so miss the lovely, artistic sisters who have help me so often over the years. Farewell and be well!

  6. Dandelion now Satin Moon….An end of an era…I am so sad. I will pass by to wish them well.
    Maybe it is time to move.

  7. Just tragic. Another San Francisco classic closing its doors. They have some really beautiful things in there..

  8. People who can pay $1M for a flat in the neighborhood either have both people working to cover it or have enough money to pay someone else to sew. In both cases, the number of people who “do things for themselves” is dropping like a lead brick here in San Francisco. As such, every business that catered to those people is either closed or closing.

    “County Club” San Francisco has arrived.

    I wish the ladies a great retirement, a customer since 1987.

  9. Oh, yes, this is upsetting to me. A jewel box. My friends Terri, Joy and I would get our “vintage look” moss crepe, silk charmeuse, laces, unique ribbons and buttons, etc. from here starting back in 1972, onward. I still have the 1930’s era dresses/trench coat patterns I bought here back in the 80’s! And Susan and Alice are a wonderful class act! All the best to Susan and Alice!!
    Susan Stockdale, SF Resident

  10. Bummer . . . I rarely went in this place, but if anything, since my sister has a pillow thing on Etsy, I always think of her when I walk by. 45 years is a long time to be doing anything, so . . . congrats.

  11. I will dearly miss Alice and Susan’s amazing Satin Moon Fabric store. It has been one of my all time favorite places to shop for fabric. I moved away some years ago and so wish I could be there to say goodbye. Thank You Susan and Alice for making so many of us fabric lovers a great place to come and shop for the unusual and beautiful fabrics that you have carried all of these years! May your retirement treat you both well! Hello from Nancy’s friend in Humboldt! All my best, Lela

  12. I am not a customer.
    My wife has always told me you both have the finest fabrics.
    I will miss sending customers down to your shop.
    Best of luck!
    Jesse /Toy Boat
    See You both around The Hood

  13. The sisters would also get ‘odd lots’ – left overs sold to them at discount
    by Interior designers, or discontinued left-overs from high-end Fabric providers – Scalamandre, Schumacher – often no longer in production anywhere. Lyon woven lampas brocade weaves, etc. As well as buy from new from other manufactures, Cowtan & Tout, Liberty of London (William Morris prints), etc.
    Their bus. evolved over the decades towards more upholstery, curtain fabrics as well as continuing to carry those for dressmaking, shirtings – and just unusual (Japanese peasant indigo patterns) & a huge variety delightful items. Always the best advice, usually pleasantly dispensed. Who can blame them for growing impatient with some of the customers (with attitudes and/or not much know how) over the decades ! My best to them. As knowledgable in their field as anyone I’ve met in my 65 yr.s !

  14. The sisters would also get ‘odd lots’ – left overs sold to them at discount
    by Interior designers, or discontinued left-overs from high-end Fabric providers – Scalamandre, Schumacher – often no longer in production anywhere. Lyon woven lampas brocade weaves, etc. As well as buy from new from other manufactures, Cowtan & Tout, Liberty of London (William Morris prints), etc.
    Their bus. evolved over the decades towards more upholstery, curtain fabrics as well as continuing to carry those for dressmaking, shirtings – and just unusual (Japanese peasant indigo patterns) & a huge variety delightful items. Always the best advice, usually pleasantly dispensed. Who can blame them for growing impatient with some of the customers (with attitudes and/or not much know how) over the decades ! My best to them. I suspect their lease rate renewal also skyrocketed. As knowledgable in their field as anyone I’ve met in my 65 yr.s !

  15. Satin Moon Fabrics was a genuine source of inspiration; it was like walking into a jewel box! Susan & Alice, thank you for years of sharing your artistic nature to all of us who were blessed to walk through your doors. I join many who wish you all the best in your next chapter of life.

  16. I spent many happy hours and lots of money in Satin Moon over the years. This is one of two favorite San Francisco stores; Jacqueline was the other. Desolate.

  17. Susan and Alice, all the best! If you are reading this, I am desperate to find the manufacturer of the last upholstery fabric I bought there-can I email you a photo? Please call: 415-425-8761 to speak to Mary if possible!

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