We've all heard about Berwick Street, that lovely street in Soho where all the amazing fabrics live. There's no denying that that small stretch is home to some of the best fabric shops in the world, with variety beyond imaginable. But for the regular home-sewer who creates many garments almost weekly, it can be an awfully expensive shopping haunt. So whilst I was in London for long enough, I decided I would see what and where else London has to offer for the fabric enthusiast inside me.
Walthamstow Market - My new ultimate favourite place to buy fabric!
Now, I'll admit I was a little sceptical at first. I'm a fabric snob through and through so the thought of buying fabric from a stall in the middle of the street on a British 'summer' day filled me with dread. Fortunately the first day I went it actually was summery, which made my mood more hopeful. And when I found the first fabric selling stall I was not at all disappointed. There was such a selection! Every kind of fabric and not in boring plains. Lovely chiffons, jerseys and wool mixes that fabric snob me almost immediately changed her mind! Cash in hand, I bought some chiffons at only £3.00/m. I think the dearest fabric on the stall was £5.00m. I was amazed.
As I ventured further down the road I saw many fabric shops lining the streets including Saeed's Fabrics. This became my go to for jersey, hard not to be since they were all £2.00m. Saeed's is also awesome for basics and some unusual prints. What made it even better was that the staff very super friendly and always chatted away. I don't remember paying more than £5.00m for anything in Saeed's but I did spot some Liberty-look (not the real thing peeps, so don't be fooled when they tell you it is) cottons at £8.00m.
On the other side of the road, slightly further down, is Ribbons for all your haberdashery needs! After I got all my fabrics I went here to stock up on zips, bias tape, ribbon, machine needles, trims etc. All great quality at awesome prices. Up here I always hate how notions can end up costing more than fabric. Not here, zips from 40p, 5m bias for £1.00 and needles at £1.00 a packet. They have a great selection of colours and widths/lengths that the staff are more than happy to help you out with.
There are 2 other shops that I loved to go into. The first being Textile Centre which had some awesome prints in lots of different fibres. They also have some, what I would call, evening wear fabrics - heavy embellished and embroidered fabrics that were a little more expensive per metre. And the second, New Fabric Shops, I didn't actually go in to until my last weekend, which I instantly regretted! Nearly every fabric is £1.00m! I went a little mad and just started buying 1m of this that and everything I liked because it was soo cheap! There was only one downfall to this shop; most fabrics are only 45”, which can be a pain at times.
Finally, there is a great selection of African cottons to be found at Walthamstow. African cottons may be my new favourite fabric. Sold in pre-cut 5m packs, they come in the most lovely colours in the most unusual prints and are a bargain at £10.00 a pack.
The one thing that surprised me the most about these cheap fabrics was the quality. I wasn't convinced that fabrics at £1.00m and £2.00m would be of a quality my fabric snob self would approve of but how wrong I was. All of the fabrics I bought were on par with what I can buy at work, which suits me perfectly! Some are even ex-highstreet, so if that doesn't convince you, then I don't know what will!
Goldhawk Road - where I forgot my camera!
Goldhawk Road is perfect for basics and plains. Working in a fabric shop I’m well aware of what fabric comes for what supplier and what they’re quality is like. And I can assure you that all the fabrics were the same as the ones we have in work but about half price. (Note: I’m not saying that we’re over priced, I’m still trying to work out how they can afford to have such low prices. I have my theories…economies of scale and all that.) I found myself going here to things like cotton, satin, interfacing etc. I'd recommend A-One fabrics and A-to-Z Fabrics as these seemed to have the best selections.
A great tip if you’re buying loads of the same fabric here is that if you pay cash they will usually give you a discount. This is great for students for their collections and they always have loads in stock.
Goldhawk road isn’t just for your basics though. I found some awesome cotton prints (again from suppliers who we use in work) and even better wool mixes and suitings. It wasn’t quite the season for these when I was down, but it’s definitely worth a look. I found some brocades for around £6.00m and as most shops are Asian owned, there is a great selection of embellished fabrics and great quality silks.
That’s, believe it or not, only a short summary of my favourite London fabric haunts. I tended to visit one or the other every week and always managed to find something new and exciting. I would certainly recommend a visit to both locations if you get the chance. In fact, I’m currently likely to be wandering around Walthamstow as I’m down in London for a few days with my mum just now (the joys of scheduled posts!).
Does anyone else have any other favourite London fabric shopping places? Liberty is always a good answer!