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London Fabric Shopping – Tips from a Clueless American

Tip #1 – figure out where the stores are before leaving the hotel room

I recently visited London on vacation. I kinda sorta did some research on fabric shopping which amounted to skimming a couple of blog posts. I found the area with a good cluster of stores and headed there. I decided on Berwick Street in Soho, so off I went.

Source:  Lonely Crafter's Guide to London

Source: Lonely Crafter’s Guide to London

 

 

Tip #2 – Don’t confuse East vs West when coming out of the Tube station

The nearest Tube station to these stores was Oxford Circle. Coming out of the station I was completely at a loss of which way was East. Oh no problem, look for the sun. Oh gee, it’s cloudy in London and I can’t see the sun at all. Like not even a glimmer if it was to my right or to my left. 15 minutes walking in the wrong direction later, I found Berwick St. I recently bought a mini compass from REI that can clip to my sleeve for future preventative care.

Source:  Lonely Crafter's Guide to London

Source: Lonely Crafter’s Guide to London

 

 

 Tip #3 – Don’t get sticker shock when you’re in Soho

I found a few fabrics that I loved but they were over £55 per meter. Wow, that’s like $88+/meter. Apparently the problem with my lack of prior research (see tip #1) was that I had wondered into some of the priciest fabric shops in London. There were some reasonably priced fabrics but they were similar to fabrics I can get locally and not worth hauling all the way across the Atlantic.

Fabrics

 

 

Tip #4 – Pick up sewing magazines at the convenience store

I picked up issues of Burda, Ottobre and Mollie Makes at what I would describe as a convenience store. Drop into a few of these as their selection vary. These make great plane reading and don’t take up too much space. I tried looking in book stores but I didn’t see any magazines.Sewing Magazines

 

 

Tip #5 – Take pics because you won’t remember the shops

After a couple of shops it was all a big blur of where I’ve been and what I’ve seen. If you have a fabric in mind that you want to come back and purchase later, make sure you snap a pic of the shop and note where it is.  This is especially useful on Berwick St since there are a multiple Cloth House and Misan stores.

Fabric Shops

 

 

Tip #6 – Have fun fondling

Though I didn’t end up buying any fabric I enjoyed fondling fabrics. Bonus: Fondling is free.  I hope you had a fun time reliving my clueless American fabric shopping excursion with me.

Happy clueless shopping,

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15 Responses to London Fabric Shopping – Tips from a Clueless American

  1. Pingback: Vacay Like a Sewist - Detective Houndstooth

  2. Kyle says:

    I love magazines from the UK–a lot of times there are freebies included with the fashion mags!

  3. Stitchwiz says:

    I’m going to Switzerland, about an hour from Zurich, to help my sister with some decorating after major renovations.
    Do you have any experience or suggestions for shopping there?

  4. Gill says:

    next time you are here, go to the Goldhawk Road, Shepherds Bush. and look in W H Smiths for crafty magazines. The hammersmith and city, or district lines will take you to Goldhawk Road

    • Thanks for the tips Gill. Goldhawk seemed pretty far at the time but with my getting lost and the crowds of Soho it probably would be the same amount of time. I wandered into a Waterstone book store and didn’t see any magazines. I was at W H Smith in the Heathrow airport but that’s probably a super scaled down version of their regular stores. Not planning ahead was my downfall.

  5. aleah says:

    Aahh, I didn’t know you were going to Europe! I love London, it’s where we went on our honeymoon (pre-clothes-sewing era, though, so I didn’t do any fabric shopping). I hope you had a wonderful time! You should be proud of your restraint in not buying unremarkable fabric just because you were on vacation; I possess no such restraint usually.
    I can relate to the disorienting feeling after coming up from a subway station – once in Paris I assumed I would be able to see the Eiffel Tower from the tube stop – nope! Cue 20 minutes of wandering around like a crazy person looking at the sky and shouting “where is it? I thought it was tall!”

    • What I didn’t spend on fabric, went to help fund the extravagant dinner at the Savoy Grill. I have little restraint when it comes to great food.

      LOL You sound hopelessly lost like me. I’m surprised how I’ve survived as much traveling as I did. At least on vacation I have someone else to help me get oriented.

  6. Ellen says:

    I will be traveling to London & Paris next Spring on a tour specifically organized around fashion & fabric shopping! This post definitely builds on the excitement!

  7. Betsy says:

    Ah, ha! You and I should have swapped London fabric experiences. I made it to Goldhawk Road and got some real bargains, but wanted the top notch stuff that I will forever be afraid to cut into. At the risk of sounding a bit snobby, when I am importing/hauling fabric across the Atlantic I am looking for those WOW, one of a kind pieces and I will pay for it- monetarily at first then emotionally later when I get home and see how much I actually spent.
    Got my fix at Liberty though!

    • LOLOL I never figured you to be a fabric snob! I kept thinking that this very expensive fabric was going to end up in my stash forever like my very expensive silk Pucci fabric. It’s a border print and I only bought one yard of it so I’m STILL trying to find the perfect pattern for it. Maybe I should send it to you to forever be afraid to cut into it.

  8. Caroline says:

    Did you go downstairs at Misan? They have a great remnants table. In the end I didn’t buy anything either. Most of the nice fabric I saw was comparable to the quality of Mood and much more expensive. UK in general is so freaking pricey. I don’t know how people survive here! That Ottobre cover… Love that they are showing an older and plus size lady, but I have to believe they could have found a better picture of her!

    • I did explore all the floors at every shop. Nothing felt unusual enough for me to pick up. In Paris I picked up a beautiful double sided, different color each side, wool knit that I haven’t seen here.

      The Ottobre issue has lots of great basics. They did a lot with neoprene which seems to be the fabric of the moment.

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