Today, dear readers, we have a mystery…
But we’ll get to that in a minute. I just got back from a lovely trip back to the UK, visiting family (who recently moved to London from the north of Scotland), friends and new babies, and, of course, a few fabric shops.
My trip kicked off with a visit with my Mum to the Handmade Fair, a big crafts fete in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace, hosted by Kirsty Allsopp, a famous British property-TV presenter who’s branched out recently into floral crowns and applique, as one does. While pottering around tents full of fabric, glitter and glue guns was fun, the highlight was meeting Jane (of Handmade Jane) and Rachel (of House of Pinheiro) for the first time! You know how sometimes meeting someone in person is nothing like you expected? Well not here – I can exclusively report that they’re both exactly as you’d imagine 🙂 We noshed down on the poshest food truck fare I’ve ever seen (I can recommend duck confit wraps and churros for lunch), had a gossip, and Rachel even Periscoped a little interview. Have you ever tried Periscope? It’s a way of transmitting live video – it has a lot of potential, but when I tried it out myself I just had some random man asking me to eat cheese with him. I’m not saying that’s a *bad* thing per se, just.. not what I expected!
A few days later, another bloggy meet up! This time I met up with Katie, Fiona, Nicole and Alison, and we had a nosy around the Soho shops. In Cloth House, Katie pointed out the black brushed cotton she made some Ginger Jeans with, so naturally, I bought it. I’m terrible at buying solids so when I get a good reco, I’m going for it. We headed into Liberty, but Katie let me know that I should try Shaukat Fabrics instead.. well we’ll get to that in a second!
I popped back to Soho a few days later and went to Misan Textiles, a really gorgeous high-end fabric store. Curiously, most of the stock on the main floor is solids, but if you go downstairs into the clearance section all of a sudden there’s lots of fun prints – much more my style. I found this gorgeous set of tweeds, and ended up buying the second one down, for over 60% off!
Ok, so you’ve been wondering about the mystery, have you? Well here it is: the existence of Shaukat Fabrics, in Kensington. Here’s the thing: they have about 100 times the stock of Liberty fabrics than Liberty has… for way less money. As in, lawn is 17 pounds vs. 22 – 24 in the store, and jerseys/silk/twill etc. are around 20 vs. around 49 in the store! Not only that, but they have the latest collections, on top of a huge selection of past collections. How is that possible?! When I put it to Twitter, some people thought maybe it’s seconds – which is possible, except that there were no visible issues to me. Liberty also apparently knows of its existence and even refers people there…
There are corridors and rooms full of pre-cut pieces of Liberty, I think mostly 2 and 3 meters.
And then rolls and rolls of more.
Somewhat ironically, I’m not the biggest fan of Liberty usually because those tiny ditsy prints don’t really look at the right scale on my body. However, I did pick up two awesome pieces. The first is the pears which I feel have done the rounds of the blogosphere for years! This is a slightly heavier textured cotton than a traditional lawn, which will make a great skirt or top. The second is a gorgeous silk satin print, which I’m going to use as the lining for my trenchcoat – it would have been prohibitive at Liberty prices, but doable at Shaukat prices!
Finally, after all that excitement, I got to round my trip off with two more awesome ladies. First up, T, who’s not only my friend and part of the original CSC team, but also my graphic designer! Three-for-one. We finally got the chance to meet up in person and she’s every bit as awesome as I imagined, and we no doubt entertained the entire restaurant with our cackling. And then I also had the chance to catch up for a pint (OK, G&T and glass of wine) with Karen of Did You Make That – yet another awesome sewist. I know, I’m sort of boring, but it’s true.
Phew! I’m now at home with jetlag, with my fabric in pre-wash, and plans afoot. Now that my family lives in London I’m also looking forward to lots more London sewing fun in the future!
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If you’re looking for other fabric store guides, check these posts out: