One of my favourite parts of any commission is the shopping part, (I secretly fancy that I could have made a career as a professional shopper) and so a trip to London is never much of a hardship.
Soho is my first port of call. Although there are loads of great fabric shops all over London, and indeed the country, you can’t beat the variety and choice that Berwick street has to offer. It must be mentioned that although the choice is great the prices are very ‘London’ if you catch my drift? You will not be getting the absolute best value for money but I defy anyone to shop here and not come away buzzing with ideas. There are certainly cheaper places to shop, but it takes a bit more effort as they tend to be scattered about.
This is my run down of the best of Berwick Street…
Cloth House – there are two branches of Cloth House in Berwick street. They have the most quirky interiors and sell good quality fabrics alongside bits and bobs of sewing paraphernalia and props for the lifestyle sewing room.
No.47, W1F 8SJ stocks cottons, buttons, linen, denim and felt.
No.98, W1F 0QJ stocks silks and silk-like fabrics, jerseys, wool, neoprene and rubber.
Berwick Street Cloth Shop – 14 Berwick Street, London, W1F 0PP, Broadwick Silks – 9-11 Broadwick Street, London, W1F 0DB, The Silk Society– 44 Berwick Street, London, W1F 8SE
These three shops are part of the same business which is why I’ve grouped them together, they stock similar fabrics but each have their own personality. The staff are really helpful and clearly know both their stock and their craft (everyone has a background in fashion or costume) so know how to use the fabric, what interfacings you’ll need etc.
They each stock a huge range of all kinds of silk, but also stock wools, faux fur, beaded and sequinned fabric and highly embellished fabrics. They are also (in my opinion) offer the best range of lace and embroidered tulle.
Borowicks – No trip to Soho is complete without stopping at Borowicks, the oldest fabric shop in Soho and it’s still run by the same family that established it in 1932. The shop is not as glamourous as some of it’s neighbours but sells a great range of theatrical and dance wear fabrics and have a huge range of silks to order. They also stock threads and dye which is handy. The staff are very friendly and helpful, and all male (if you like a bit of cheeky banter you’re in luck).
Misan Fabrics – 4 Berwick Street, London, W1F 0DR. Great range of wools, silks and textured and printed fabrics. The store is laid out in colour which makes it a great place to shop if you have a specific palette in mind. I usually take Mothers of the Bride in here as the aisle layout and blocks of colour make it an easy place to browse fabrics for that all-important outfit. I wouldn’t come here to look for basics.
Misan Textiles – 52 Berwick Street, London, W1F 88. This branch stocks Liberty, Harris Tweeds, Cotton, Linen, Jersey, Polyester , PU/Vinyl and a plethora of technical fabrics. They also have a great selection of leather and suede in a variety of colours.
And the best of the rest in London…
Button Queen – 76 Marylebone Lane, London W1U 2PR. If you have a specific button requirement I wouldn’t bother going anywhere else.
John Lewis – 300 Oxford Street, London, W1C 1D. Not the most exciting fabrics by any stretch but a good place to get basics and craft fabric in central London. I mostly use John Lewis for essentials like thread, zips and basic haberdashery at a reasonable price. The shopping experience is typical of a large department store and there is definitely comfort in that.
Macculloch and Wallis – 25-26 Dering Street, London W1S 1AT. Stocking a really extensive range of trimmings and braids, and what I’d call technical haberdashery (such as shoulder pads, bra cups etc.), a massive range of elastics and every type of thread you can think of. This shop is a great place to get unusual fastenings and probably stock everything you could possibly need for more unusual sewing projects just don’t expect the staff to help you find it. You might enjoy the shopping experience more if you shop online.
I’ve just spotted this news on their website… “Now, in 2015, we are saying goodbye to Dering street and moving 400 paces East from Oxford Circus into Soho where we shall continue to ply our trade in our exciting new shop at 25 Poland Street where you will find us after Easter. The new shop is going to be tidily arranged over two large floors, rather than five small floors, so we hope to spend less time looking for errant stock and more time helping you to choose it.”
I guess there’s hope yet.
Barnett Lawson – 16-17 Little Portland Street, London W1W 8NE. I don’t shop here nearly as much as I should but it really is a wondrous place to visit. You need to ring a bell to be let in but don’t be daunted, once inside you’re faced with possibly the most extensive range of trims I’ve ever seen. “This secret underground world of wonderous trimmings is brimming with all kinds of embellishments for fashion fabrics, home furnishings, millinery, jewellery and other decorative uses.”
A One Fabrics – 50-52 Goldhawk Road London W12 8DH. There are a whole host of fabric shops in Goldhawk road but my favourite is A1. They are much more reasonable than many other places in London and aren’t offended by a bit of haggling. A great place for bargain hunters.
On my list, but not yet visited…
Fabrics Galore – 52-54 Lavender Hill, Clapham Junction/Battersea. I’ve seen what theses guys stock at craft and stitch shows, really lovely selection of printed cottons, a great all-round fabric shop for the home sewer. Definitely worth a visit.
Textile Garden – www.textilegarden.com Gorgeous buttons and fastenings, brilliant service.
Til the sun goes down – www.tilthesungoesdown.com/category/fabrics Beautiful printed silks and cottons using genuine vintage designs, perfect if you want an authentic vintage look with the quality of a modern fabric.
Jaycotts – www.jaycotts.co.uk Best value I’ve found for quality haberdashery such as zips.
Chrisanne – www.chrisanne.com This is where I buy all my crystals for prom and Bridalwear. They also sells huge range of dance fabrics.
And last but not least…
Ditto Fabrics – 21 Kensington Gardens, Brighton, BN1 4AL. Obviously I’m biased as I’ve grown up with this shop (I’ve been visiting since my Mum brought me in a push-chair), but it really would be my first stop for any dressmaking project.
I then worked here for several years but had to stop because I was spending more money on fabric each week than I was earning!
Many of the more basic fabrics are sourced from the same suppliers as the fancy shops in Soho, but without the London price tag (I’ll frequently find a lovely piece of silk in Ditto for around £15 per metre and spot the very same fabric in London for £65!!!). As I’ve pointed out, prices are really good so it’s always checking the website if you aren’t local. But if you decide to make the trip, you won’t be disappointed, the shop stocks a great range quality fabrics and the staff are all experienced dressmakers so can offer lots of help and advice.
Phew! I hope I haven’t missed anyone!
I’d love to hear about your favourite shopping haunts. Hook up with me on Instagram to share your little black book secrets. Find me at studio snippets.