On Essex Road in Angel, there is a small and eclectic parade of shops which boasts a funeral home, a pet accessory shop, a Thai massage parlour, and a tropical fish retailer. The latest addition is a fabric shop and cafe in the shape of Raystitch.
I was very excited that this shop would be opening in Islington (not least because it’s only 15 minutes from my house), as they’ve been selling online for a while and have some lovely organic fabrics and trimmings. The new location is very near to where the old Loop used to be on Cross Street.
Raystitch reminded me a lot of craft shops in New York I visited a few years ago. They have a small space but everything is beautifully presented and the selection of products has been edited very well. It’s also interesting that they’ve combined a cafe with a sewing shop. It did make me wonder about possible problems involving spilt coffee on posh fabric, but they do have a huge wooden counter which seems to be divided down the middle into a food area and a shop area.
You can see the fabric cutting area in the foreground with the cafe and cakes at the back
On the main wall (on the right as you come in) there’s a good selection of all their plain cottons, as well as some organic prints. Opposite this there’s a nice selection of patterns, and the tea/coffee area. There’s more fabric hidden underneath the big wooden counter including flannel, checks and plaids.
It’s great to be able to browse and buy Colette patterns in person.
At the back of the shop they have haberdashery and accessories, more quilting and Japanese fabric, and swatches for all the fabrics which they aren’t able to display on the shop floor, including anti-static lining and the softest bamboo knit in the world.
The haberdashery selection is small but perfectly formed, including ribbons made from Wallace Sewell offcuts, giant rick-rack in bright colours and embroidery silks. They do sell essentials like machine needles and thread so you can buy everything you need for a project here (although I’m spoilt for haberdashery, with Ultimate Craft in Stoke Newington about 5 minutes from my door).
It’s pretty impressive how much fabric they’ve crammed into the space without it feeling too cramped.
I totally love the Japanese fabric on top of the pile in the photo below. It looks exactly like note paper, complete with the double red margin lines down the side. I have no idea what I would use it for, but it’s brilliant anyway.
It would have been rude to come away with buying anything, and look how nicely they wrap up your purchases, in a pale blue bag and bright orange tissue paper (love this colour combination).
I bought some of the Organic Crossweave Cotton in a very pale denim blue (it’s exactly the shade of the inside of a pair of jeans). It It seems like a good weight for skirts/dresses. It will probably end up being either the Colette Patterns Beignet skirt (which I also accidentally bought), or the Lisette Traveller dress. I love the texture and variegated look. I need more plain fabrics in my stash but I’m not keen on flat colour for sewing so this is perfect.
I really liked Raystitch. I quite often prefer smaller shops as it cuts down on the amount of dithering I do when confronted with a huge wall of fabric. Too much choice can be a bad thing when you’re naturally indecisive.
If there’s anything I’d change, it’s only that it’s a bit cramped trying to look at fabric while someone’s trying to order a cup of tea, as the aisle isn’t very big. This is unavoidable given the space they have, though. All the clientele seem polite enough that it isn’t a huge problem!
It would also be nice to have some more information somewhere (on the wall? a leaflet?) on why they sell so much organic fabric. I was a bit hazy on why this is a good thing, but there’s a thorough explanation on Tilly’s blog about the benefits of organic cotton.
I will definitely be back, not least to sample one of the massive Chelsea buns they sell!