Inside the Bridal Boutique at the G Street Remnant Shop, an enchanted room of white and cream laces, satins, pearls and veils, Marshene Berry wrapped herself in lengths of white French lace and smiled into a full-length, antique mirror.
"They have the prettiest and oddest fabrics here," the bride-to-be said. "You can come in here with a picture from a book and find the material to match the picture."
Berry is among the last of the brides who will be enthralled by the Victorian ambiance of the shop. A fixture in downtown Washington for nearly 50 years, is moving in August to Rockville Pike near White Flint Mall.
The departure will leave downtown shoppers without a store that has a variety of materials, zippers, threads, ribbons and other sewing notions.
The G Street Remnant Shop, in the ornate Old Central Building at 805 G St. NW, has built its reputation by offering a sewing emporium that includes everything from everyday cottons to hard-to-find leathers and furs.
"We need more space," store manager Molly O'Sullivan said. "Also, our lease came due and we couldn't negotiate a long-term arrangement. We want to grow. We don't want to be limited by time and space. But because G Street is an institution, we don't take this move frivolously."
"The Bridal Boutique will be twice its present size at the new location," bridal consultant Linda Winner said. "Right now, we have lace in storage because we have no place to put it."
Customers spend hours browsing and poking through the store's three floors that brim with bolts of material, from inexpensive polyesters to vicu na wool that sells for $400 a yard.
There also are arrays of beads, buttons, ribbons and metallic fabrics. Many of the laces and buckles are displayed in antique china cabinets. Framed antique lace collars and old buttons hang on the walls. Wicker baskets of buttons or silk sit on counters.
On the seventh floor, customers find designer silks, Guatemalan cottons and genuine wax batiks. There also is the Silk Boutique, a small sitting room with an antique sofa and a roomful of fine silks, feather boas and more metallics.
For some customers, the store will still be a draw. "I'll find them. I'll drive wherever they go," said Berry, who was selecting material for her gown and those of 12 bridesmaids.
Shopper Mary Campbell said, "I'll take one Saturday each month and go to Rockville."
Woodward & Lothrop and Hecht's department stores have phased out their once-large sewing departments, and Garfinckel's does not sell sewing goods.