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Where I buy fabric: in London and online

April 25, 2013

This week I wrote a guest post for the lovely ladies at Tatty Devine! It’s all about getting started with sewing, and you can read it here. (While you’re there, you should also see this awesome post about the clothes Tatty staff have made).

Watching the Great British Sewing Bee has started me thinking. Specifically, about what the most challenging part of dressmaking is.

My conclusion? I think it’s matching the right pattern to the right fabric. Everything else is a skill you can learn, but this is more like a dark art.

Fabric selection for quilt - greens, purples, yellows

I still struggle with it, but it’s even harder when you’re just starting out and have no idea how to tell good fabric from bad, and where to buy it.

So I’ve been having a think about where I usually buy fabric and haberdashery, and this is what I came up with. I’d love to know where you get yours!

Where I buy Haberdashery

My first port of call for zips, thread, and elastic is always Ultimate Craft. It’s 5 minutes from my house and next to a newsagent that sells Burda magazines, what’s not to like?

Ultimate-Crafts-149-Stoke-Newington-High-Street-London-N16-0NY-Image-by-Homegirl-London

Their haberdashery selection is immense, but I steer clear of the fabric after some bad experiences, although the jersey ribbing is okay (I still haven’t found out what the hell American D-Kripp is).

If Ultimate Craft don’t have it, or I can’t get there in time, I order online from Jaycotts. They have everything and the delivery is super-fast.

Where I Buy Fabric

I am terrible shopper. I’m a cheapskate and bad at making buying decisions (seriously never go shopping with me, it’s horrible). This applies to fabric too. So I mainly stock up when I spy a bargain on the horizon, like the Peter Jensen Sample sale or the semi-mythical Tottenham knit warehouse.

Otherwise, I would head to Dalston Mill Fabrics. Again, the ‘near my house’ factor is key, but they do have a big selection of fabrics, and a haberdashery cave at the back which has LOADS of buttons. Seriously, this is an A+++ button destination.

Dalston-Mills

The people who run the shop are a little eccentric, and lots of the bolts are stored up on high shelves – they literally pull the fabric down on top of you with a massive stick. So it’s an interesting shopping experience. You don’t get that online.

For vintage fabric, I can’t resist The Shop on Cheshire Street.

the shop at cheshire street

It’s a vintage clothes shop that just happens to sell lots of  textiles. This photo is misleading – these shelves are normally full to bursting with amazing fabric. Not just little scraps either, I’ve bought 3 metres there before in one piece. And it’s cheap – about £5-£20 for each length. There’s also an old cabinet chock-full of vintage ribbons, lace and trims.  It’s tiny though, so don’t all head there at once.

Online fabric shopping destinations

You may think I’m crazy for saying this, but Fabricland has become one of my favourite online fabric websites. Yes, it’s a hell-hole of animated gifs, but it’s updated all the time, and they have SO MUCH STUFF.

I’ve regularly found the exact same fabric cheaper here than in other online and off-line shops. You just need patience and a strong stomach. Ordering is done over the phone but they’re very helpful.

fabric land copy

The Fabricland website. Not suitable for epileptics or UX designers.

Tissu Fabrics This is the motherlode of stretch fabrics. Delivery is fast, it’s cheap, and the quality is good. My Elisalex skater dress is made from ponte knit I got from here.

Honourable mentions

Goldhawk Road is objectively the best place to buy fabric in London, but I find it overwhelming. There’s too much choice! I hardly bought anything at the recent sewing meet-up for this reason. It’s also really far from Hackney, so I only make it out there about once a year.

Raystitch is lovely and sells gorgeous, organic fabric (I reviewed it here), I pop in whenever I’m in Islington.

Our Patterned Hand (review here) has beautiful fabrics you won’t find anywhere else, but it’s pricey.

Fabrics Galore I believe this is where a lot of the Great British Sewing Bee fabric came from. It’s a lovely shop, but again a huge pain to get to from Hackney so it’s a once a year sort of thing.

Have I missed anywhere out? Where do you buy fabric?

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66 Comments leave one →
  1. May 12, 2014 10:55 AM

    Such a shame, Our Patterned Hand closed shop in Nov 2013. It sounded lovely.
    I don’t know if anyone else mentioned it, there is a unit in Brixton Market (on Market Row) that sells some nice fabric, I went earlier this year. It’s not far from the two Simply Fabrics shops.

  2. April 25, 2014 7:48 PM

    Hi! I’m doing first year Fashion design in East London! I’m so gutted to hear about Goldhawk Road as I get most my fabrics here! I usually go and get samples and swatches from the Shops on Berwick Street (Each shop will give you 3 or 4 samples) then i take them to Goldhawk street and usually find an exact match for half the price!

    No one mentioned the fabric shops in Hackney, there is mermaid fabrics which is pretty big with a large range, not too pricey and thats just 2minutes from Hackney Central, and a little further down the road in Merr/Wells street you will find Wool Crest, which is great for all fabrics at a great price, it is a wholesalers but it sells to ‘passer bys’.

    I also had a little venture down to Ilford, Ilford Lane has a long row of ethnic fabric shops, mostly for dress fabrics, embellishment that sort of thing! But there was a lovely little shop called Regent Sewing Centre, it has 3 floors and includes sewing machines, haberdashery, fabrics, trimmings, buttons and more!

    • April 27, 2014 9:17 AM

      Great tips,thanks Alice! I keep meaning to go to Mermaid fabrics, never been to Ilford but it sounds like it’s worth a visit.

  3. April 6, 2014 10:04 PM

    Hello
    Just found your blog.

    Did you know the Hammersmith and Fulham council have given permission for developers to demolish the shops at Goldhawk Rd? Go there soon, and buy what you need! They’ll all be gone by the end of the year. Bad news.

    Annie

    • April 7, 2014 8:50 PM

      Oh no, I did hear about this but didn’t realise the process had got so far. That’s really terrible :(

  4. February 25, 2014 5:52 PM

    thank you so much for your list! truly valuable! planning a trip to london at easter from finland (american expat). i order fabric from the u.k. often so i am on a mission on this trip.
    i am also a ‘cheapskate’ so i can appreciate your comments on prices of shoppes.
    as much as i would like to order fabric at a great price i just simply cannot handle fabricland’s website. drives me insane. so dammed distracted by the flashing gif i click out.
    thanks again, making lots of notes for the trip.

    • February 28, 2014 6:07 PM

      Ah no problem if you have any questions let me know! This list is by no means comprehensive. You should also check out Shaukat.

  5. Lavana permalink
    February 1, 2014 4:54 PM

    I live in Stoke Newington myself so I know well about the haberdashery store and Dalston mills! BUT… I find them very expensive. I Normally pick the material there then go Goldhawk Road to buy it! Have you ever looked at the market stalls in Dalston? they sometimes have good fabrics for a good price

    Interesting Article Btw!

  6. Rachel Cooke permalink
    January 16, 2014 2:16 AM

    Great article…You should check out William Gee in Dalston too. They’ve been going for donkeys years! http://Www.williamgee.co.uk – they’ve got a decent online shop too by the looks of it.

  7. October 21, 2013 8:18 AM

    I can see that you are putting a lot of efforts into your blog. Keep posting the good work.Some really helpful information in there. Nice to see your site. Thanks!

    Well, you are finding an Online quilt store. You can get all varieties of fabric clothing materials from our store Threads of Time.

  8. Edit permalink
    October 5, 2013 6:34 AM

    We discovered a very nice small and quaint fabric and haberdashery shop in Ealing London. It. has a good variety of dress fabrics, haberdashery(such as yarns, threads, Scissors, ribbons, Lace, etc.) accessories, upholstery and patterns. They are competively priced and one can place an Order. Try it. out!!
    http://www.ealing-fabrics-london.co.uk/

  9. October 2, 2013 12:18 PM

    Thanks very much for following my blog! I’ve always made a bee-line for Berwick Street, to The Cloth House (cottons and linens at the north end; silk, wool, stretch at the south) and less so, to the Berwick Street Cloth Shop. Both can be pricey but I’ve had very good wool for around £20/25m and silks for around £16. Kleins haberdashery is great (just off Berwick St) and RayStitch is fab for nice cottons. I treat myself to Liberty once in a blue moon when I’m feeling flush although the days are well and truly gone when Liberty was a serious contender in the cloth stakes. A shame. Great blog btw!

    • October 2, 2013 12:25 PM

      Great tips, thanks! I love Raystitch, beautiful shirtings and organic fabrics. I forgot to mention Shaukut in this post but that’s an amazing place to buy Liberty fabric, still not cheap but definitely better value (and more choice) than Liberty itself. I never really go shopping around Berwick Street but I need to check it out, I want to sew a lovely silk blouse this winter.

  10. September 3, 2013 4:43 PM

    Try Joel & Son Fabrics in Marylebone for a fantastic range of fabrics: silks, jerseys, wools, couture, tulles, cliques & more. Visit their new website http://www.joelandsonfabrics.com as they also now ship WOLRDWIDE! An incredible collection available at the touch of a button.

  11. Donna permalink
    August 29, 2013 9:34 PM

    Hi we are have a one day clearance fabric sale for 1 day only on Saturday 31st August 2013 11 am to 3pm, all designer fabrics, linens, cottons, silks, velvet, voile linens at really silly prices from 50p per meter at 39 Amwell Street, London, EC1R 1UR near angle

  12. July 3, 2013 11:52 AM

    Been living abroad for 4 years but moving back to Stokey in the next couple of months and this post is an awesome resource! I knew about the glories of goldhawk road and that place in stokey -didnt know it had a name though! But like you, west london is faaaaar, so the closer the better. Thanks for this, should stand me in good stead when I get home.

    • July 4, 2013 11:18 AM

      Awesome that you’re moving back to Stokey! Did you live here before? You’ll have to come to a meet-up when you’re back in Blighty :)

    • July 5, 2013 10:36 AM

      Yes I lived just off the common. I’ll definitely come along to a meet-up, I need some sewing buddies in London, until I convert all my old friends I’ll have no one to talk to about my endless stash and how i can add to it!

  13. June 6, 2013 7:44 AM

    You Should swing by B&J Fabrics

  14. Sheree permalink
    May 19, 2013 5:45 PM

    I am new to your blog ( found it through Did you make that?) so reading your old posts. I totally agree matching the right fabric and pattern is the hardest part. At least with RTW you can see the end result. Thanks for all the shopping for fabric places. Funny, as soon as I read about ones new to me I felt the urge to visit them. Why, I ask myself, when I have enough fabric to last me for years, do I love to buy MORE!!

    • May 22, 2013 11:03 AM

      Ha ha, I think we all suffer from the same urge Sheree! It’s that feeling of new possibilities, I think. There’s nothing like a lovely fabric shop.

  15. May 9, 2013 5:06 AM

    This is sooo useful to me at the moment!!! I’ll be in London in July and this awesome local fabric knowledge will come in very handy. Thanks heaps!

    • May 9, 2013 1:57 PM

      Hey that’s awesome! When are you coming? These recommendations are very east London centric, where will you be staying? I can give you better ideas for central fabric shopping :)

    • May 10, 2013 3:20 AM

      Awesome! I’ll be in Shoreditch for about a month tagging along on my man’s Fellowship trip. Thanks so much!!!!!

  16. Harrietta permalink
    May 7, 2013 1:59 PM

    Great post. Rolls&Rems on Lewisham high street is really good too!

  17. April 29, 2013 11:51 AM

    Croft Mill is unpredictable: I’ve had good luck and bad. But they so send out samples, which is worth it if you really like the look of something. Fabrics Galore gets most of fabric money – they’re a 15 minute drive from me, so almost too easy. I’ve also bought from sewbox.co.uk, and Village Haberdashery (both v good). I never seem to have any luck at Walthamstow though… If you fancy a trip to Fabrics Galore, let me know… happy to drive us there!

    • April 30, 2013 8:39 AM

      Thanks Shivani, might take you up on that! Although I must sew some of my stash first. The spare room is starting to look more like a fabric shop (a very badly organised one)

  18. April 27, 2013 1:48 PM

    Nice job on the Tatty Devine post, my favourite jewellery company :)
    This’ll be a good post to refer to next time I’m in London.

  19. Christine permalink
    April 27, 2013 12:08 PM

    If anyone is interested in organic and fair trade fabrics http://www.organicfabrics.biz is great. Not expensive either and when I ordered they were fast in responding.

    Otherwise this is a great list for when I am in London

    Christine

  20. Janice A. permalink
    April 25, 2013 9:02 PM

    An interesting post. I love the sound of “Our Patterned Hand ” . Seems like a gorgeous shop. However , speaking as a Hebridean girl, I take exception to their claim that they are the only shop outside the Hebrides selling Harris Tweed – this is not true. I have seen it in Mandors in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Also their price for Harris Tweed is too steep at £38.00 per metre . You should be able to order it from suppliers in Lewis and Harris for no more than £30.00 per metre for double width ( ie 60 inch). Also available in the original single width for between £12.00 and £15.00 per metre. Although you would also have to factor in postage. Having said all that – kudos to ” Our Patterned Hand ” for stocking it – just think they could reduce the price ever so slightly for all you southerners !

    • April 26, 2013 8:31 AM

      I didn’t realise they were claiming that, yeah it’s definitely not true. They sell it in Raystitch for a start! (massively expensive though). I’ve also seen it in Mandors, good tip about ordering it from the islands themselves. Have you sewn with it? Think I would be scared to cut it up!

    • Janice A. permalink
      April 26, 2013 3:31 PM

      Check out http://www.harristweedhebrides.com for a great range of colours of tweed and other items. I have no affiliation – just wanted to point you in the right direction should you ever have an urgent need for tweed ! It is a fantastic fabric to work with btw – very easy to cut and a dream to sew ( both by machine and by hand) Over the years I have made a few skirts and cushion covers – hoping to find the courage to make a tailored jacket or coat soon !

  21. April 25, 2013 8:54 PM

    I am a big fan of Fabricland and am fortunate to have a bricks and mortar one close to work (Reading)…on line I like Croft Mill because they have different stuff…

    I second the comment that the Fabricland staff are friendly and helpful, which is unfortunate as I always end up more because of it !

    • April 26, 2013 8:30 AM

      I love the Croft Mill descriptions, I go there just to read them!

  22. April 25, 2013 7:44 PM

    I like fabric land too. Horrible site but great fabric at amazing prices!

    • April 26, 2013 8:29 AM

      I was just looking through Minerva Crafts and saw a couple of doubles that are cheaper on the fabricland website…worth a rummage!

  23. April 25, 2013 7:36 PM

    Ooh great post! I live in Dalston so am on similar stamping ground. Totally agree with you – UC haberdashery is good but the fabric is a bit dodgy. William Gee in Dalston has very comprehensive haberdashery but you’d never know it as their crazy 1950s shop display technique involves not actually displaying anything that’s on sale. Pffffft. If you ask they are very helpful. They even sell buckram and all sorts of tailoring stuff.

    I find Dalston Mill is a bit pricey and I intensely dislike the rude skinhead bloke who runs it, but they have an amazing selection (especially good for wool I find) and its on the next street to me so I end up going there on a weekly basis!

    I went to Simply Fabrics in Brixton today and was VERY impressed. Roland Mouret wools! Printed Italian silk for £6/m! Definitely worth a trip. I have never ventured to Walthamstow so would be interested in a little mini fabric pigramage.

    • April 26, 2013 8:29 AM

      Hey Tara, just checked out your blog, I love it (and the name!). I have been to William Gee a few times, I kind of like the old-fashionedness of it, but it’s frustrating as it’s such a huge building, it must be a wonderland of haberdashery back there…would kill to be able to rummage through it all. Dalston Mill is a bit pricey, some of the things are reasonable but some of it is ridiculous. There’s also a little haberdashery stall further up the market which has some good stuff, have you been there?

      Must make a trip down to Brixton, that sounds amazing!

    • April 29, 2013 3:46 PM

      Can definitely recommend Simply Fabrics in Brixton. Two stores across the road from each other on Atlantic Road, see site here:
      http://www.simplyfabrics.org.uk/
      Open til 6pm, super-close to Brixton tube, great range of fabrics. I’ve bought everything from neon stretch lace to chiffons to faux leather. Bargain bins are ace for some dabbling as well.

    • April 30, 2013 8:37 AM

      Good tip, need to visit Simply Fabrics for sure! Brixton is pretty easy for me on the Victoria line.

  24. mrsnsfamilymatters permalink
    April 25, 2013 4:45 PM

    We have a fabricland in Brighton and its worth going to. Not always the best quality fabric but I have picked up some good bargains and the haberdashery section is good. My othe favourite is Ditto, Kensington Gardens, brighton. They are brilliant, great stock, good quality, and reasonably priced. There’s another fabric shop in the north laine but its so chocka I can’t be bothered. I find it frustrating that I can’t see what they gave properly.

    • April 26, 2013 8:26 AM

      I didn’t realise there was a Fabricland in Brighton! A branch was the nearest fabric shop when I was growing up in Poole, although I didn’t really sew then. Ditto is a lovely shop, always try and pop in there when I’m in Brighton.

    • mrsnsfamilymatters permalink
      April 26, 2013 3:48 PM

      The Fabricland in Brighton is on Western Road, about a 5-10min walk from the Churchill Square centre going towards Hove!! It’s almost opposite Waitrose. Worth a visit for sure!

  25. cecilia772013 permalink
    April 25, 2013 3:41 PM

    Thanks for this amazing and informative blog. It’s really interesting. I was looking for haberdashery shop for myself, unfortunately I dont really sew myself, even though I’d love to learn, but I do hand knit, especially during winter time. But I have a super tiny project I want to do for my jeans jacket. But at the same time I was looking for places like these as I want to blog about them too on my londoninyourhand.net blog (that, easily to guess, it’s about London…. LOL).
    So, thanks again…..

    • April 26, 2013 8:25 AM

      Hi Cecilia! I’m the same, I love knitting in the winter but in the summer I prefer to sew. Good luck with your London blog!

  26. April 25, 2013 2:43 PM

    I literally can’t look at the fabricland site, I’ll have to wait until I visit the south coast again.

    I’ve bookmarked all the online ones I’ve found here: https://delicious.com/kmarcus/shop+fabric

    I love Dalston Mill, it’s like a lovely little fabric cave. Apparently Walthamstow market has a bit too, I’ve been meaning to go check it out sometime.

    • April 25, 2013 2:58 PM

      Last time I went to the Fabricland shop in Bournemouth you had to ring the buzzer to get in, as apparently people had been running out of the door with whole bolts of fabric?? Also cutting fabric from the roll with their own scissors?! Oh Bournemouth, when will you change…

      I must go to Walthamstow market, I’ve heard there are gems there (although hidden among a lot of polyester). I’ve managed to miss all the meet-ups in the area. Maybe we should have a mini one!

      Thanks for your link, some great ones there I’ve never heard of.

  27. April 25, 2013 1:51 PM

    Thank you for this post! I am going to London this summer to visit my family and I was wondering where I should go fabric shopping.

    • April 25, 2013 2:56 PM

      I hope it’s useful, it is very East-London centric though! If you’re only going to one place and you have a lot of time I would recommend Goldhawk Road for sure. It’s a bit of a trek from Central London though.

      In fact I just realised I left off one of my favorite fabric shops, Shaukat, which has amazing Liberty prints for good prices and is very near the museums in South Kensington, so not too far off the tourist track. That is definitely worth checking out.

  28. senjiva permalink
    April 25, 2013 1:10 PM

    I am infinitely envious of all you stitchers in Europe. You have numerous brick-and-mortar places to buy fabric. Here in the sad land of Ohio, I am sorely limited to the corporate giant Joann Fabrics. The fashion fabric selection there is greatly lacking, and they seem to specialize in fleece and cheap quilting cottons. Sigh. Maybe I’ll just have to learn Metric and emigrate. Anyone want to host me? ;)

    • April 25, 2013 2:54 PM

      I feel very lucky now you put it like that! I guess we are spoilt in London and I shouldn’t really complain about having to go a whole hour on the tube to get to Goldhawk Road, ha ha :) Come for a visit!

  29. April 25, 2013 11:45 AM

    That’s meant to say I’ve only ever bought online ONCE! :)

  30. April 25, 2013 11:44 AM

    I live in Edinburgh so can only dream of choice like you have! We have some decent fabric shops here but they all seem quite expensive compared to what you have. Although, maybe I just need to get over my aversion to poly!

    I’ve only ever bought fabric online which was from Fabricgodmother. They are expensive (as in they sell expensive stuff – I’ve never seen their stuff cheaper elsewhere) but I was impressed with the quality. I actually stumbled across Fabricland last night, in my quest for plain cotton lawn for a Laurel, and found their website really off putting! Good to know they are reputable! They really need to sort that site out though!

    I know Didyoulikethat rates Stone fabrics, but I find their website difficult to navigate and they don’t give fabric content, as far as I can see (not percentages anyway, and I really do hate too much poly!). Their choice is nice, but difficult to narrow down. I really don’t have time to scroll through 100 and something pages of cottons…

    • April 25, 2013 2:54 PM

      Have you checked out the fabric shop in Bruntsfield in Edinburgh? My family live near there and I love that place. It’s pretty expensive but the woman that runs it is so nice.

      Never seen Fabricgodmother, they do have some rather nice bird fabric, thanks for the tip!

      I’ve heard that Truro fabrics are good but again they are pretty expensive and I am cheap…

  31. April 25, 2013 10:55 AM

    Thanks for this. I’ve always been put off by Fabricland’s website, even though they seem cheaper than most places, but I think you have persuaded me to give it a go. And I dream of finding a place locally like the shop on Cheshire Street.

    • April 25, 2013 11:30 AM

      They are super-nice on the phone, and they send out samples too if you’re nervous about ordering online (the photos are not the best…).

  32. April 25, 2013 10:35 AM

    Thanks for all the tips, there are some great ones there. I’d never heard of DIY Couture before, but I’m totally making that tulip skirt now! I’m all for free patterns at the moment – I’ve just downloaded a sorbetto too!

    • April 25, 2013 11:31 AM

      Yay! You should download the Dixie DIY hot cocoa sweater too – I made one (as yet unblogged) and I love it. And it’s free! x

  33. April 25, 2013 10:02 AM

    Hehe! I am near Goldhawk Road, so I never venture to places like Dalston or Islington, but it looks like I might have to soon!
    I also love Fabricland – they have a massive range, but yes, the website is AWFUL! But then they are lovely, lovely, lovely on the phone.
    I’ve also bought some nice fabrics from Croft Mill Fabrics who are online.

    • April 25, 2013 11:32 AM

      Oh man I’m jealous that you’re near Goldhawk Road though. Because I go there so rarely I always feel I have to make the most of the opportunity and just end up panicking about what to buy :) (I know it’s only across town, not in Timbuktu, but it seems like such a trek!).

      I always browse Croft Mill but haven’t bought yet, I’ve heard mixed things…

  34. April 25, 2013 9:33 AM

    I keep forgetting about Ultimate Craft but it’s my closest too. I’ve never been to Dalston Mill Fabrics so I’ll need to give that a try! I love Ray Stitch but tend to limit my visits to the week after pay day.
    I loved the Peter Jensen fabric sale meet-up that you organised – and still have to use the fabric I bought! That place on Cheshire St sounds amazing – thanks for the tip!

    • April 25, 2013 11:32 AM

      I’ve had some truly awful fabric buys from UC (glittery jersey where the glitter came off after one wash) but the haberdashery is amazing. Ray Stitch is a bit pricey. Lovely fabrics though.

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