Press Releases




Urban Burp selected for the 2012 San Francisco Awards in the Fabric Shops category by the San Francisco Award Program committee.

Our selection of your company is a reflection of the hard work of not only yourself, but of many people that have supported your business and contributed to the subsequent success of your organization. Congratulations on joining such an elite group of small businesses.


Article from SFGate:  Aug. 24, 2012

Vintage fabrics at Urban Burp


Vintage fabric collector Electra Skilandat reopened her Urban Burp store in Point Richmond recently after a rent increase forced her to shut down her San Francisco shop in 2010.

Her new shop, in a small industrial space off Interstate 580, has twice the space and now includes the full inventory of fabrics - about 2,800 bolts.

"I really wanted a space where I could show it all off," she said. The North Beach location was cramped, "and only I knew where things were. Now customers can explore for themselves."

Urban Burp is both a home decor fabric showroom and a museum of 20th century textile history, and Skilandat is as much a curator as a saleswoman. The store's name comes from the "emotional burp" of recognition that comes when a customer catches sight of a pattern once used in a curtain or couch in the family home, said Skilandat, who has been collecting textiles since she was a child in Boston.

New showroom

Her new showroom features fabrics going back to the 1920s, when florals and abstracts were trendy, through 1930s and '40s bark cloth and natural motifs, 1950s Space Age and atomic, 1960s architectural prints and earth tones, to the 1970s neon fantasies.

From Virginia she's added a wealth of shantungs - a cotton rayon that mimicked the dupioni silk popular after World War II - and woven fabrics, mostly from the 1950s to 1970s. In 2009, she brought in a large selection of bark cloth - heavy cotton fabric with a texture like tree bark that can be key to replicating the upholstery and drapery of 1930s bungalows as well as mid-century homes.

As the definition of vintage expands with the years, her collection now includes the 1980s and '90s - not her favorites.

"The '80s were florals all over, saturated with single patterns, muted and pastels, Jacobeans and toiles and 18th century France. They really overdid it," she said.

"And the '90s was shabby chic with that furniture that they made look kind of crusty. ... It was all cabbage roses, and I am willing to like them more as time goes by."

Skilandat prefers the clean lines of mid-century styling and quality craftsmanship, but says her tastes have evolved a bit. A Clarence House print from the '90s with a natural medieval theme of trees and wood nymphs has caught her eye, and she might use it in her home. "It reminds me of Bali because of its very magical and metaphysical character."

In contrast to the computer-generated design and silk-screening done today, fabrics in earlier decades were meticulously designed and printed by hand and dyed in vats. With striking, complex patterns and rich layers of color, they are almost small works of period art that can transform a room when used on accent pieces like chairs, pillows or headboards.

Vintage bargains

"People don't always realize what they have when they buy from me," she said. At $38 per yard and up - although some light cotton prints and simple weaves are less - the older fabrics are a bargain compared with the contemporary design house lines that Urban Burp also carries.

Skilandat has books of fabric samples from Kravet, Brunschwig & FilsLee Jofa, Clarence House and Kirk Brummel that start at $85 per yard. Her most expensive offering: a Cassaro Italian velvet at $320 per yard.

Urban Burp also has a selection of loosely woven cotton, linen, hemp and flax "casement" fabrics, which were used frequently as sheers in mid-century Southern California homes and are catching on again. "They filtered out the sun and let in the light," she said. "They're great for outside cabanas and open warm venues."

Skilandat sells old patterns, notions, trims, buttons, even measuring tapes and "almost everything is made in the U.S.A."

Customers range from period purists to the young and creatively adventurous, but Baby Boomers are her best customers, she says.

"They know what fabrics were like when they were growing up."

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Article from The San Francisco Chronicle: Aug. 12, 2009

In the hierarchy of odd names given to small shops these days, Urban Burp may be among the more idiosyncratic. But for owner Electra Skilandat, it explains what happens to so many when they step inside her vintage fabric store on the edge of North Beach in San Francisco.

Somewhere along the crowded shelves of bold designs and colors representing six decades of American interior design will be one pattern that jumps out. And it will produce what Skilandat thinks of as an "emotional burp" of recognition because, inevitably, it was used in a curtain or couch in a family home and carries a wealth of memory. "All that emotion has been shoved down into the lower chakras and all of a sudden it takes one piece of fabric to bring you back to that place," she said.

electra at urban burp

And if color and pattern elicit emotion, as so many designers insist, Urban Burp is chock full of it. Not in the subdued, suggestive manner of a design showroom nor in the stimulating choices of a standard fabric store, but in its total assault on sense memory. The rows of fabric bolts jump out at you from decades of history. They date back to the 1920s when florals were popular but adventurous designers also played with abstract forms. "They were influenced by Kandinsky, Miro and Salvador Dali," Skilandat said.


Kandinsky_milo_Salvador Dali

They reflect changes in the always fashionable trend of toile, with tone-on-tone colors and some classic French and English country scenes but other proudly American ones with such classics as cowboys roping cattle and Indians rowing canoes.

Moving into the 1930s and '40s, some bring to mind a bungalow full of Mission-style furniture and curtains of dark primal colors and tropical leaves. "They were very nature-oriented then, big leaves and flowers, very distinctive," Skilandat said.

urbanburp vintage fabric flower horse

She can describe the eras by the weaves as well. "In the '30s and '40s, they used a lot of popcorn weave. It really pooked out," she said, stroking a bit of cloth. After the war, the industrialization, scientific and space discoveries inspired new designs, and interest in modernism sent designers back four decades into the abstract expression for reinterpretation, Skilandat said.

Willing to take risks to illustrate the bold experimentation done by designers in the 1950s and 1960s, she pulled out a bolt with a blue rose pattern. "They had no problem mixing three different greens or four different blues. They had no problem being out there." "They" were in-house designers whose names, sadly, have been lost to history, she said.

Pulling out a frantic abstract design - something Jackson Pollock would have understood, she noted: "This would have taken 40 to 60 hours to design by hand." Design students who visit Urban Burp marvel at that, she said. "They try to get those effects on a computer. ... It's not easy."

Skilandat's romance with fabric began as a child in Boston, where her aunt was a commercial seamstress and her mother sewed all her clothes. "I had my own little collection, and as I got older it just got worse." After early schooling in interior design, she came to San Francisco in the 1970s and obtained degrees in physical education and business and worked in those fields until, 10 years ago, after the death of her only son, she shifted gears. "I was yearning to get back to the creative part of my life," she said.

She visited flea markets, antiques shows and estate sales to build on her collection of 100 or so bolts of old fabric. "Anything I could get my hands on."
She began to sew for people and finally bought an upholstery workshop. When her husband, Ron, opened a hair salon at Columbus and Pacific avenues, the couple realized they had more space than he needed, so Skilandat grabbed half of it and opened in April 2008.

Getting a 'legacy' She doubled her collection recently after accepting an offer from the daughter of a fabric manufacturer in Virginia who supplied Hollywood set designers from 1940s to the 1960s. The retired stock sat in a 2,600-square-foot warehouse and "she wanted to find someone to pass the legacy on," Skilandat said. Luckily for her, several economic and social shifts have caused a renewed interest in vintage fabrics and home sewing. Where once she catered to people obsessed with period styling, Skilandat now sees more, especially members of Generation X, who want to learn to do things with their hands. She's thrilled to see them reject the corporate-logo-touting fashion ethos of recent decades.

"Guys are doing the interiors of their cars or trailers, girls are into making handbags," she said. "I am trying to make them more creative in their own right again." Her vintage fabrics, which range in price from $9 to $300 per yard, represent decades of American quality manufacturing before the 1980s brought about bland designs and producers shut down or went overseas. Brian Haley is a midcentury enthusiast who has spent hours at Urban Burp, searching for fabrics to use in decorating his 1953 ranch home in Santa Rosa.

"I didn't quite know what to start with because there was so much there," he said his first of five drapery projects with fabric from Skilandat's collection will be an Eames-inspired geometric design in oranges, blues and reds on a forest green background for his bedroom. Haley said he has been so entranced by the artistry of particular patterns that he has simple pillows made to give away as gifts. "There was excitement and talent in that period that you don't see much today," he said. "It's interesting to go back through the fabric she offers and see it all firsthand."

This article appeared on page E - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle
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Reviews on


We stopped in our tracks when we saw Urban Burp's sign outside that reads "Rare Vintage Fabrics." We quickly made a detour for their door and spent at least an hour talking textiles with Electra Skilandat, the shop's owner. Electra is as vibrant as her inventory, and her passion for fabric is seen through her shop. From Art Deco to Mid-century Modern, Urban Burp has a pattern (or texture!) for everyone.


Electra has been in the fabric, upholstery and home decor business for awhile, but she just opened Urban Burp a mere two weeks ago. Based on the photo above, we think it's safe to assume this shop will quickly become a favorite amongst fabric junkies and the like. It should also be noted that Urban Burp has a great collection of original (did you hear that!) Marimekko, Pucci, and Knoll fabrics.


We absolutely fell in love with this hand-printed fabric. Our only gripe? The sheen. Thankfully Electra chimed in with "Not a problem! Just give it one wash and the sheen is gone."


Unlike most other retail fabric stores, Urban Burp has extremely reasonable prices. The majority of fabrics that we fell in love with were priced 20% below retail. Electra also made it very clear that she aims to please and is willing to work out a deal with any individual client.


In addition to carrying vintage fabric, Urban Burp also carries new fabric, recycled fabric, and also offers custom upholstery.


Blog entry from
This entry was posted on June 15, 2009, in Inside the lady brain and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment

How’d we get our shirts to match the wallpaper?


Lauren and Steph

Lauren and Steph

Glad you asked! We’d like to give a shout out to Electra at Urban Burp for helping us choose the fabric we used in our photo. Her store sells an amazing selection of retro fabrics that will not only bring up memories (hence the ‘burp’)… but will also inspire you to create new ones. Our tops were created with pure craftiness by Lauren’s mom–who somehow manages to listen to us and not disown us!



Blog entry from

Palm Springs Modernism Show
By Melanie Carlson

The Palm Springs Modernism show was nothing short of amazing. From the M Modern exhibit of Shag paintings to an über-opulent bed designed for Dean Martin by Charles Hollis Jones, we were surrounded and inspired by mid-century modern goodness. All the exhibitors were fantastic and we hope to write about them soon, but in the meantime we’ve compiled our top 5 favorites so you can check them out!


Reviews on

"Serendipity brought me to Urban Burp, a purveryor of Rare Vintage Fabrics, Home Decor and Upholstery. There I met Electra Skilandat who showed us all the wonderful upholstery fabrics she stocks in her store. These are all top quality designer fabrics that just aren't available anymore. Of course she doesn't have unlimited yardage because these fabrics are no longer produced - but she did have enough to cover the cushions on two large rattan chairs I had that sorely needed their cushions to be recovered.

It couldn't have been easier! We fell in love with a fabric she had, she made all the arrangements to have the cushions re-covered in her upholstery workshop. We live in the East Bay and she let us deliver our chairs to her home in the East Bay and later pick them up there, so we didn't have to keep driving into the city! And, we just picked up the finished product and we couldn't be happier. The chairs look amazing. They've never looked better. And we have something totally unique. She is out of this fabric now and we are enjoying it. It lights up our living room. The quality of the fabric, upholstery and the service we received were unparalleled. We had looked at some new chairs and we ended up getting our two existing chairs recovered for the price of one new chair. 

So not only were we happy customers because of the choice and quality of fabrics Electra offered, we were happy with the service, quality and price. Plus it was fun to get to know Electra who is very enthusiastic, open, knowledgeable, helpful and very stylish.

We had fun with this project or should I say Urban Burp.

Electra will explain the name of her shop to you if you go."


Blog entry from

Post by Lisa Solomon

When Kim [from the blog True Up some of the photos are hers] came to visit we spent a day perusing as many fabric stores as we could. I think we both were incredibly happy to find Urban Burp. Urban Burp is an amazing resource for vintage fabric. Hands down it is the biggest collection I've seen in one place ­ especially of barkcloth. Electra ­ the owner of the shop is incredibly knowledgeable ­ and nice to boot! If you have a hankering for vintage fabric [in excellent condition] then this is a place you MUST visit. Her prices are very reasonable. Kim and I both walked out with much more than we "needed" - including my new favorite fabric a 1930's piece.

Electra was kind enough to answer a few questions about her lovely shop:

Why did you start Urban Burp? And what's in the name?
"How it started was I designed and managed the project for my husband's salon (Sync Salon) next door. During that time there was approximately 800 square feet left over. Well as much as I hate to admit it Lisa, I'm getting older and lugging those 70 to 100 lb bags around to the vintage shows for all the vintage fabric lovers was starting to show it's wear. So, the Universe handed me the means to supply all my favorite customers much more of what I had, in one place, more often.  

Throughout my travels of shows I inevitably experienced someone exclaiming how this brought up and out an old memory of the past. Hence the "burp or burp moment". It's not a physical burp but a mental or memorable one. Mostly positive but once in awhile ghastly. The best burp I had from a client was at the Modernism Show in Palm Springs where this lady went by my booth, jerked her neck around after having past and rushed toward me exclaiming "THAT FABRIC, THAT FABRIC" well she startled me and I had to ask, what about it. She remarked that when her son was six she had made curtains for his bedroom with the identical fabric. The content was of knights and damsels in distress on horses etc. Well, I thought that was the end of the story until she told me he ended up becoming a Medeival Historian. Isn't that just a great burp story!!!!"

What sparked your interest in vintage fabric? And where are some of the crazy places you've gone to source your finds? [if you don¹t mind telling us]
"Ya know early on in public school in Boston (I think it was as early as 3rd grade) they started you on a sewing machine (treadle) in Home Economics. and I have in some way been involved in the "rag" way of life ever since. Both my Ma and Auntie made my clothes or were involved in sewing. After High School I went to College for interior design and decor and later in my life I sold apparel and had my own clothing store where I made and imported clothes from Bali.

I've been all around the United States, England, Germany, Italy, Mexico for fabrics. For my retro prints Heimtextile is great for French and Spanish as well as the other countries already mentioned. I'm just starting to get involved with the Ethnic textiles. My most favorite periods are 50's and 60's."

Does urban burp do more than just sell vintage fabrics? And if so what?
"I offer upholstery and drapery services as well as full Home Decor and Soft goods. My niche is 1920's to 70's and beyond. I
also carry retro, and contemporary but it usually appears to fit in within the Epochs mentioned. You know designs for hundreds of years have been taken from older periods of time and used for current fashion. Hopefully, I will be starting
upholstery classes for small projects as well as pattern making, sewing and knitting 101 and more. I will need more help for these projects."

Any thoughts/tips on owning and running your own business?
"Don't come work for me! Right now it's pretty tough. I have to thank everyone passionately for all the support given me. Thanks so much. I couldn't have picked the worse time. I started my husband's project Summer of 2007. Who knew it would turn out this way. Please, a shout out to all you fabric lovers and beyond please . . . . VOTE! Otherwise, I don't know how much longer I will be around."

What inspires you?
"Compassion, creativity, education, Love of Life and people, determination and purpose, loyalty, good food and wine . . . . . . .

Dancing ­ pro or con?
"Dancing, absolutely. I've always hated the gym and always just danced but lately since I've opened this store I haven't had
time. Maybe I need to get to the gym, HAH!"

Hug or handshake? 
"Both. They both involve a connection, eye contact and affirmation of whom is in front of you."

What did you have for dinner last night?
"Crock Pot and salad. My husband's the cook but I can make a mean pasta sauce and lasagna."

Anything else we should know about you and your store???
"Come find out first hand. There's always more than the first impression. Oh, I almost forgot. I will have a website up hopefully before Xmas -"