March 10, 2014

A Renfrew at Liberty

There’s no rest for the wicked, nor indeed for this Cashmerette. No sooner were the maxi skirts buried in a deep dark closet to hibernate for summer, than more planes were hopped on, and I’ve now been in London and Berlin in the past week. Phew!
Downside: jet lag, packing, sore feet
Upside: friends! family! fabric stores! (oh, work. Did I mention work? Probably should).
One must-do stop in London, was, of course, Liberty. I feel like I see Liberty fabrics even more in the US sewing blogging world than in everyday life in the UK so I thought, just in case you haven’t visited before, I’d give you a sneak peek at the Liberty store itself. Oh, and my new Renfrew! It is, I admit, a failure of imagination: another Breton top. But if it’s good enough for Tilly, it’s good enough for me.

Despite some non-Brit fantasies that London is all bowler hats, Mary Poppins and Tudor mansions, that isn’t quite true.

Except when it comes to the Liberty department store.

Then it sort of is:

Liberty dates from 1875, and has been in its Regent St location since 1885; the famous Tudor structure was built in the 1920s during the Tudor revival period (so no, it’s not actually from King Henry VII’s time, though it’s also not quite as bad as those mock Tudor mansions in the US….) You can read more about Liberty’s history here.

The inside of the building is breathtaking and incredibly unusual, with the different departments all connected with enormous atriums and glass rooves:

Here’s the haberdashery floor! Across the gallery you can see the extensive selection of Tana lawns.

Talking of which, did you know that Tana Lawn is named after Lake Tana in Sudan? Well now you do.

I took the opportunity to pose in my latest Renfrew, made with THE MOST DELIGHTFUL stable doubleknit from EmmaOneSock. This stuff is a total dream. I also have it in the navy/white stripe colourway and you can bet your cotton socks you’re going to see something else soon.
This garment was also (yet another!) silver-lining-in-a-cloud make. I initially made it with newly purchased purple silk bias tape. Did I pre-wash? Oh no I didn’t. Cue, purple dye all around the neckline that didn’t come out with various stain removal attempts.
So, I just cut it off! And re-did the neckline in my trusty blue bias.. and what do you know, but I actually prefer the wider, scoop-ier neckline.

Thank you to my photographer and Jenny-in-male-form brother Tom!

And a final pose in the flowers with my coat in action.

What are your favourite Liberty fabrics and makes, dear readers? I’d love to see what you’ve whipped up! I have a little turquoise number in the works myself…

17 thoughts on “A Renfrew at Liberty

  1. isn’t liberty amazing? i work about a 15 min walk away so i have to avoid at all times for the sake of my bank balance! i have never used actual real liberty fabric!

    1. Jenny says:

      oh that would ruin me! Luckily I work in a random office park in a suburb of Boston :$ You could occasionally go and have tea there though…

  2. Laurwyn says:

    It is a beautiful building! I went twice and it always feels magical. My poor husband also stops by when he’s in London for work 🙂

    1. Jenny says:

      I reckon there are worse things to be sent to do than fabric shopping 🙂

  3. Super cute Renfrew, Jenny! You look so chic in stripes!

    Also, Liberty is one of my happy places in the world. My favorite section is, hands down, the one with all the printed sewing notions. Inevitably, I leave with handfuls of Liberty-covered buttons. They’re too cute and useful to resist!

    1. Jenny says:

      Merci! Funny you should mention printed sewing notions…. look out for another related post 😀

  4. Nessa says:

    Sounds like a very busy but fun week! I love this building too – and once missed by flight because I spent too long browsing the haberdashery department!

    1. Jenny says:

      That sounds like the best ever reason to miss a flight! I also love going to John Lewis when I’m in the UK… The Oxford St one has a great haberdashery

  5. It’s a great building – I do have a soft spot for a bit of Betsy, but I’ve made a tank from their bunting print jersey, and I’ve some tiny dancer in my stash with hilarious little purple bearded men on it, and a great orange fabric with camouflaged cats. Their recent jewel printed fabric is divine too. So many!

    1. Jenny says:

      Oh I love that jersey! I recently bought this amazing turquoise tana lawn which is watercolours of summer-vacation vignettes – people on the beach and whatnot. I think I’m going to make my first Pendrell with it

  6. Gail says:

    Thank you for the virtual tour of Liberty! The last time I was in London was before I got back into sewing; next time I make it there, I’ll definitely be stopping in!

    Love your new top! No such thing as too many Bretons IMO 🙂 And your brother is so cute – he looks just like you!

    1. Jenny says:

      Oh yes, you definitely should Gail! It’s quite the experience. The Goldhawk Road is definitely where the most fabric is, but Liberty can’t be beaten in the quality stakes.

      And yes, it is funny how much my brother and I look alike! He’s a sweetie.

  7. tanyamaile says:

    That’s the grandest fabric store that I’ve ever layed my eyes upon! I love liberty fabrics, but I’m too cheap to buy any. May have to bite the bullet and purchase some yardage. Love your coat and your new shirt btw!

    1. Jenny says:

      Thanks Tanya! What I recommend for dipping into liberty is just to buy 1.5 yards and do something super simple like a Sorbetto or Pendrell with it – that way you totally show off the fabric, and don’t get too nervous about messing it up! I have several Liberty Sorbettos in regular rotation in the summer.

  8. Oooh, these pictures are wonderful. I had no idea it was so huge inside!! I always see people post pictures outside with their loot. Thank you for the glimpse! And your renfrew is lovely! Looks like a nice comfy staple.

  9. Alessa says:

    I’ll totally have to go by when I get to visit London again! Last time I had just enough time for a quick visit to Goldhawk Road, only…
    Yay for Breton tops!

  10. Anne Shaw says:

    Love Liberty – always a joy to my soul. I do treat myself occasionally but I have another source – Fabworks in Dewsbury sell Liberty prints made for Avoca at £11/m. I bought some fabulous silk satin Liberty print from there as a remnant for £5/m.

Let me know what you think!