A few weeks ago, I got an email that made me run around the kitchen with excitement, mid tea-making. It was from Our Patterned Hand, an East London fabric shop, asking if I’d like to come and choose some free fabric to make something and then post about it as I’m a local blogger to the shop. They also contacted the lovely Stitch and Witter, and you can read her post here.
Obviously I said yes within about ten seconds. I already knew about what a treasure trove this place was, and I think more people should know about the fabulousness. So here goes!
Our Patterned Hand is based in Broadway Market AKA the spiritual home of the East London hipster. If you can push past all the organic-beer drinking, fixie-riding, moustache-sporting trendy types, you’ll spot it mid-way along the street. It’s ten minutes cycle from my house, but I think it’s worth a visit from further afield in London. It’s a great area for people-watching (and laughing), and you could also visit the famous Lido and get some foodie treats from the market.
What OPH specialise in is truly amazing prints. I had an interesting chat with the owner Leanne, and she said that the plain everyday type of fabrics just don’t sell for her, and I can see why. They’d pale in comparison with some of the beauties that line the walls of the shop.
They stock interesting stuff, including exclusive fabrics by local designers which are really fun and unique. They’re pretty expensive, but they’re printed in the UK in short runs, and if you’re looking to make, for example, some awesome cushions, they’d be perfect.
Another thing I like about the shop is that it’s nearly all dress-making fabrics. Quite often you spot all these amazing prints and they all turn out to be for patchwork, but there’s only one or two quilting cottons in the whole shop. Back off quilters, this is all ours!
I liked these shorts in orange linen, which had been made up in a Vogue pattern.
Normally in a shop this size there’s not enough room for a good haberdashery selection, but they’ve installed this cunning little system to solve that problem (the drawers pull out towards you)
Plus, how could you resist this selection of BRIGHT NEON webbing and elastic?
There’s also a good selection of books, and some quirky products like iron-0n embroidery patches to cover holes in clothing, and make-your-own knickers kits. Plus a whole array of buttons, which also form the window display. That’s some crafty multi-tasking.
This isn’t the sort of shop where you go for a rummage and get a bargain, Goldhawk-Road stylee. Most of the fabric is over 10 pounds a metre, and there’s lots of gorgeous Liberty prints and silks. But it’s all been beautifully selected and curated, so you can guarantee you’ll find something special. This sort of shop is a great place for new sewers as well, as you can see how lovely everything is at first sight. I think a common mistake is using a super-cheap polyester for your first project, which then doesn’t hang well and looks cheap and creased, and you throw it on the floor and give up sewing in disgust.
I’m not saying you should cut into that 50 pound a metre cashmere for your very first A-line skirt, but I do think simple clothes are well suited to showcase the sort of amazing fabric this place sells. They also have a little workshop place downstairs where they run courses for newbies, as well as more advanced sewists (the ‘sew a silk top’ course looks intriguing).
You’ll get great advice from the staff, most of whom come from a commercial sewing background. I talked to Leanne a bit about how intimidating sewing can be for newbies, and how she gets lots of non-stitching younger customers in with their mums who’ve come to visit. They normally both leave buying fabric for a new project, which is encouraging.
In summary, highly recommended, and I’m not just saying that because they offered me free fabric, honest (although obviously it is the greatest thing to ever happen to me). Unfortunately I haven’t yet taken a good picture of what I chose, but it’s this insanely intense Italian digital print cotton which I’ve been eyeing up for, ooh, at least a year. I’m planning on making yet another hideous-on-the-envelope McCalls pattern with it, which I’ll post about soon.
And if you’re not based in London, they sell fabric through their website too, at www.ourpatternedhand.co.uk