Stash shopping - Fratelli Bassetti Tessuti

So I am back from my trip to Italy. It was a bit of a whirlwind really, lots of fun, as Italy is, and I happily got a chance to check out Fratelli Bassetti Tessuti - Bassetti Brothers Fabrics - in Rome on the last day.
Entering the store through the door between the two motorbikes in the photo, you go up to the first floor. The store is a rabbit warren of adjoining rooms (7 or 8 or more?? I lost count ) with really high ceilings, packed with fabrics. I mean packed. Each room was more or less devoted to one natural fibre, so there was a room of wools, linens, silks and cottons with other rooms devoted to home dec and evening fabrics. Even though the store itself had a whiff of the 50s about it, the fabrics were unmistakeably high-end. If the names on the ends of the bolts - Missoni, Dolce and Gabbana, Versace and any other Italian designer you care to name - didn't tip you off, the prices give a fair indication.
Being used to Anglophone stores where you are more or less free to poke around the fabrics, Fratelli Bassetti was quite different. In each of those rooms, there was at least one middle-aged male assistant whose job it was to show you the fabrics, and cut them. And you really needed this assistant because a lot of those fabrics weren't accessible. He was the keeper of the ladder.
I have rudimentary Italian, which I am quite happy to inflict on all and sundry, and found this set up a little intimidating. If you had no Italian , it could be very intimidating, because I didn't get the feeling that much English was spoken amongst the staff, if at all.
Due to budget and luggage limit restraints, I limited myself to one fabric - a silk crepe de chine, for which I probably paid too much. More to the point, it is an aspirational fabric in that my current skill level means that I aspire to sew silk crepe de chine. Never mind, I'm quite happy to keep it in the stash for a while as my Rome souvenir.
The purchasing process is a typical Italian rigmorale . After you choose your fabric, one assistant cuts it, and sends it with the invoice to the cashier at the entrance to the store. Then you pay the cashier. Then you take the receipt to another assistant - right next to the cashier, mind you, and they hand you your fabric. Fortunately, I had read this was the case, otherwise I'd still be there floundering around wondering how in heck tomake a purchase.
I also picked up two issues of La Mia Boutique and the Italian issue of June 2013 Burda.  The May issue of La Mia is especially nice with some really lovely dresses in there. I have the odd issue of La Mia Boutique, and really like their designs. Their sizing charts seem to indicate that they have the hourglass figure in mind. Normally I go up one size for hip and waist, but in La Mia I go up two sizes for waist, and more confrontingly my waist measurement is in their Plus size territory. But then, I noticed that sizing in Italy is much smaller in general. I bought t-shirts for both my children in Rome and had to go for XL - including for my skinny-as-a-rake, 60kg son.
So there is the fabric report from Rome.
And as for what I was doing in Italy's a hint


  1. Oh what fun you look like you had in Italy!
    Lovely fabric. I bought fabric in Turin with no Italian. It was intimidating! And to top it all off, when I got back to my hotel and played with my purchases, I found that one of the prints had a flaw. So I had to go back...!
    There really is nothing like italian fabrics for quality though.

  2. The Italians make sure their stores aren't user friendly for us tourists, that's for sure. But the fabric quality makes up for it I guess.
    What a pain having to return fabric...


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