Fabric shop review: Our Patterned Hand

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!

Someone had just asked for 150 metres of these batiks when I visited the shop. How’s that for a fabric stash? (okay, it was for a business project, but still…)

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. The print is sort of like neon oil on water, you can see it on the OPH website here. 

And if you’re not based in London, they sell fabric through their website too, at www.ourpatternedhand.co.uk

23 thoughts on “Fabric shop review: Our Patterned Hand

  1. Kathryn May 29, 2012 / 7:09 PM

    ooh this looks like an amazing shop. Gorgeous fabrics and I’ve been wondering where I could get hold of some coloured elastic – time for a pay day trip at the end of the month methinks! Thanks for the review.

    • yesilikethat May 30, 2012 / 9:02 AM

      No problem! (good name BTW)

  2. Leanne May 26, 2012 / 2:23 AM

    Oop Sorry for the repeat! Not used to this blogging business, didn’t think my comment had gone through.

  3. Leanne May 26, 2012 / 2:20 AM

    Big thank you to Kathryn for a marvellous review.
    Those zips need a tidy! Can tell you took those pics on a Sunday, there’s a bit of an after party (the crazy Saturday haberdashery shopping party) look – oop can see we’re out of 30mm blk elastic too. Could make use of this photographing shelves technique.
    Look forward to seeing the dress. xx OPH

  4. Leanne May 26, 2012 / 2:12 AM

    Big big thank you to Kathryn for a marvellous review.
    Those zips need a tidy! Can see these pics were taken on a Sunday, there’s a bit of a ‘day after the party’ (ie crazy Saturday shopping) look – oo look, we’re out of stock of black 30mm elastic too. Could use this photographing shelves technique more often.
    Look forward to seeing the dress. xx from OPH

  5. shivani May 24, 2012 / 1:26 PM

    I really want to love and support this shop, but I’ve been put off OPH by the two instances of really bad customer service (once is ok – everyone can have an off day. but twice? I’ll give my money to someone else, thanks). looking forward to see what you do with your fabric – you chose a great print!

    • yesilikethat May 24, 2012 / 9:09 PM

      Oh dear, that’s not good, sorry to hear that. I’ve always had good service but have never really asked any in-depth questions etc.

    • Harry May 25, 2012 / 6:15 PM

      Just to balance out shivani’s comments – my experience of OPH has been great. They’ve always been very friendly, happy to talk through my project and offer helpful suggestions. I believe it’s important to support local fabric shops, perhaps you should think about giving them another chance?

    • Leanne May 26, 2012 / 1:35 AM

      Oh dear, Shivani! That is such a shame! How on earth have we managed to upset you twice?? Eek! It really doesn’t sound like us! Honestly!!!
      OPH is 200% about customer service. We have been working super hard at going for the gold medal in bending over backwards and doing double flips to help out our customers. We absolutely love spending time with everybody, passing on our long standing sewing knowledge, helping to choose the right fabric, or even admitting we don’t have the right fabric for a project and pointing people to one of the other great suppliers in London, measuring people to make sure they’ve got the good size pattern, taking pattern pieces out of envelopes and laying everything out to show the customer that they really only need 1.5m not 2m. It’s what makes working in a shop so enjoyable – getting involved with the people that we’re here for.
      So please do try us again! Because it seems that unfortunately you’ve been really unlucky, and we’re very sorry about that 😦

  6. Joanne May 24, 2012 / 9:33 AM

    Ooh you picked a marvellous fabric – you lucky thing you! Aren’t they lovely there? Feel very lucky – we lucky things we!

  7. Didyoumakethat May 24, 2012 / 12:40 AM

    My sister lives about two minutes from this shop. I think it is OBSCENE that she doesn’t send me weekly parcels of fabric. I really, really like that orange linen.

    • yesilikethat May 24, 2012 / 9:15 PM

      I agree, weekly fabric goodie bags are definitely required! I loved the orange linen in theory but me and linen will never last as BFF, the wrinkles just drive me insane.

  8. theperfectnose May 23, 2012 / 11:17 PM

    I love crazy elastic bands! *Sigh* London seems awesome for sewist-shopping, I really need to get back there (the last time I visited was before I started sewing so I blew my money on crap XD).

    • yesilikethat May 24, 2012 / 9:18 PM

      It is good for sewing although strangely most of the really awesome shops are away from the centre, so a bit of trekking out on the tube/bus is required. Annoying if you’re only around for a short time.

  9. gingermakes May 23, 2012 / 8:24 PM

    What a great shop! I’m really excited to see what you make with that fabric! And I’m also glad to hear that we don’t have the market cornered for fixie-riding be-mustached man-capri wearers here in NYC! 😀

  10. Jane's sew & tell May 23, 2012 / 7:36 PM

    I should have also added that there staff are great, really helpful and friendly

  11. Jane's sew & tell May 23, 2012 / 7:35 PM

    I love Our Patterned Hand they have some great fabric. I’m very jealous to hear you are getting some of the Italian digital print as I have had my eye on that for a while. I also love the Orange linen the shorts are made out of, I was thinking a straight skirt for summer.

    • yesilikethat May 24, 2012 / 9:17 PM

      Orange linen skirt sounds perfect for the weather we’re having at the moment! Long may it last…

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