London’s Best Fabric Shops

Hello,

Sewing Kit

The BBC’s ‘Great British Sewing Bee’ is now in full swing, so I thought I should share my research so far of haberdasheries in the London area.  It’s pretty much a mixed bag as you may expect, so here is a very quick run down of my favourites.  I plan to update this regularly, so if you have any tips and suggestions you wish to share, please drop me a line.

North London

Ray Stitch, Islington

Lovely fabric, lovely staff, lovely fabric selection. Fabric is of excellent quality, maybe a little pricy, but then this is Islington. Some fabrics are around the £14 per metre mark. Notions are very reasonably priced, worth the trip just for those alone! Plus they have a great looking cafe in the front and run classes in the basement.

East London

Saeed’s Fabric, Walthamstow

Don’t bother with the other stores or stalls on the Walthamstow market route, this one is by far the friendliest and best. Loads of home and dress fabrics, but you need time and stamina to root out the best material for your project. Staff seem knowledgable too and the prices very reasonable, starting around £2 per metre for sheeting width, plain poly cotton.

South London

The Wimbledon Sewing Machine Company Limited

Best to go on a free day, and prepare to spend hours there. They have everything you could possibly need all under one roof.  Most items very reasonably priced. When I visited, there wasn’t so much as a bargain bucket, but the fabric was so reasonably priced I didn’t mind. Good range of buttons, all much cheaper than the same ones sold in central London, so worth the travel fare.  Nice, friendly staff too.

West London

A1 Fabrics, Shepherd’s Bush

Nice enough staff, wide fabric selection, but the shop is a little chrostophobic, and prices do vary. They have a notions department upstairs, but I found these extremely expensive. Bang opposite the tube station, just cross the road at the traffic lights and explore. Excellent bargain bucket, I managed to secure 2 meters of liberty print fabric for a fiver! Best shop along the famous Goldhawk Road for material, only let down by the notions department.

Central London

Barnett Lawson Trimmings Ltd, Little Portland Street

If you can’t find it here, there is little chance you will find it anywhere else. Down side, is, the shop is hard to find unless you know the area well, and it’s down in the basement.  Very well stocked, but very little room to manoeuver – make sure you visit this place first, before you do any other shopping, or you risk yourself and other customers some serious injury! Great for all kinds of decorative trims, including feathers, patches, cords etc. Student discount available.

OK-ish Alternatives

Misan Textiles, Berwick Street

The basement is OK for bargain bucket fabrics – but be very careful, sometimes the fabric can be cut at an ackward angle, but it is folded up and packaged in such a way, you may only notice it when you get home, so that bargain, may not be quite the bargain you thought.  Good for suiting fabrics and a few unusual gems. Best to visit on a regular basis if you can, to view new stock and end-of-rolls one off fabrics.

Once on Berwick Street, check out the other fabric shops on the same street, but lock your wallet way, unless you want to return home a pauper.

V V Rouleaux, Marylebone

Good for usual notions, very bad for the wallet. Staff knowledgable and friendly, but you will either need to be a child of a billionaire, or remortgage your house – again.

The Shop, Cheshire Street (Off Brick Lane)

I found it an interesting shop, chock full with vintage fabrics, especially from the 70s, but it wasn’t for me. The shop is tiny and I mean tiny. Never mind cats, there will be no swinging of anything bigger than a dormouse. On the day I visited, it was jammed packed with shoppers, which meant everything took an age to look at.  It made for a frustrating visit, so unless you have the patience of a saint, or you’re specifically after vintage fabric and lace, then I would think twice about going.

The Dislike List

MacCulloch and Wallis, Derring Street

Over 3 floors, you would think this place would be a sewing haven, but alas the stock, I find is some of the most expensive in the Capital, even with the discount of offer. Staff do not appear very knowledgeable and on a couple of occasions have made billing mistakes. Once you can forgive, but twice in 1 transaction? Hmm. Very strict no refund policy, so be careful if you visit this shop. Very unfriendly atmosphere, especially to novice crafters.

Walthamstow Market

This market has previously been billed as one of the very best areas to buy fabric in London. Following my visit yesterday, I very much beg to differ. Apart from Saeed’s, which I mentioned above, I found that the fabric quality was poor at best, the prints ugly, and very old fashioned and some of the prices for the quality fairly high. I purchased a dubious ‘Burberry‘ print from a stall at £3 a metre, but the staff on the stall were not very knowledgeable about the types of fabric they were selling. If I have to explain to a fabric stall holder the difference between 100% cotton and 100% polyester fabric, then something is very wrong. Not worth a special trip if you live out of town, but may be worth a look around if you’re at a loose end.

*****

Overall, I find that the fabric choice in London for the novice sewing addict is very limited. If you like Liberty prints, then London is your oyster. If you like geometric patterns, then there is little scope and you have to expect to pay over the odds. If you are creative with notions, then you should be able to find what you need, but quality and prices can be varied. Overall, there are slim pickings when it comes to haberdashery shops in London. I hope that the recent resurgence of hobby sewing continues to grow, so that the overall stock quality improves and prices are lowered as demand increases.

Let me know if you come across any good haberdasheries, so I can add them to the list.

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