Fabric shop review: Ray Stitch in Islington

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.

Ray Stitch fabric shop in Islington

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.

Inside Raystitch on Essex RoadYou 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.

Wall of patterns and cafe at Raystitch

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).

Haberdashery at Raystitch

It’s pretty impressive how much fabric they’ve crammed into the space without it feeling too cramped.

Japanese Fabric at Raystitch on Essex Road

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.

Notebook quilting fabric at Raystitch
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).

Raystitch packaging

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!


10 thoughts on “Fabric shop review: Ray Stitch in Islington

  1. mujerboricua September 10, 2011 / 3:30 PM

    I finally visited this place today and fell in love. My best friend and I sat and had some coffee and some lovely Chelsea buns. Delish.

    I managed to leave without buying much (just some remnant fabric) but I was so tempted by the bamboo fabric. Gorgeous!

    • yesilikethat September 12, 2011 / 9:04 AM

      I know, that bamboo fabric is so soft and lovely!

  2. Rachel September 6, 2011 / 9:36 PM

    Hi! Thanks for reviewing my shop so thoroughly! I’m really glad you like it, it’s great to hear that the space works and there’s enough choice although it’s a bit on the small side. I’ve spotted lots more display opportunities in there so will be cramming more stuff in soon. I suspected it but I’m absolutely delighted to confirm that there are LOTS of sewers in the world and even more wannabe ones, am thrilled to be part of it. Love this blog BTW, especially the cape post. I want one too, even more after today’s revolting weather. Have you seen DIY couture’s cape book? Say hello next time you’re passing and thanks very much again for your kind words. Rachel (Ray Stitch)

    • yesilikethat September 7, 2011 / 9:05 AM

      Hi Rachel, thanks for commenting, I love your shop and will definitely be back to visit! The DIY couture pattern was actually what prompted my cape post, I totally forgot to include it though. Good luck with everything at Ray Stitch.

  3. Suzie September 6, 2011 / 9:15 AM

    Oh how I wish I lived in London – so many gorgeous fabric shops! Thanks for posting this review…at least I can live vicariously through your experience! Lovely cotton for the Beignet.

    • yesilikethat September 6, 2011 / 3:29 PM

      I know, I don’t think it will be good for my wallet having Ray Stitch so near!

  4. Jane September 6, 2011 / 7:42 AM

    Ooh it’s open, how exciting! I wish it was nearer to me but I’ll be making a special trip anyway. Fab review of the shop and yes, how cool must it be seeing Colette Patterns on general display like that?! I’m intrigued by your crossweave cotton, it would look great as a Beignet, good job you accidentally bought the pattern. x

    • yesilikethat September 6, 2011 / 8:53 AM

      I think it’s worth a special trip! It’s near Loop as well which is always worth a visit.

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