12 May 2012

Fabric Shopping in London

One of the most common questions I'm asked is where to go fabric shopping in London. I buy much of my fabric online, but I do so like a pootle around the shops too. Here are my suggestions of some places to go – not at all a comprehensive list of fabric shops in London, but the places I most often visit myself. Enjoy!

Berwick Street
Nearest tube: Oxford Circus / Tottenham Court Road / Piccadilly Circus
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You’ll find a string of fabric shops along this bustling street in Soho, including The Cloth House (two shops, in fact), Silk Society, Misan Textiles (again, two of them), Biddle Sawyer Silks, Berwick Street Cloth Shop and Borovick. Prices can be jaw-droppingly high and the friendliness of staff varies, but if you are in town they’re worth a browse even if you don’t buy anything as the stock is really beautiful. Don’t miss Kleins on Noel Street just around the corner for an amazing selection of trimmings.

Great Marlborough Street W1B 5AH
Nearest tube: Oxford Circus
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The world famous fabric prints need no introduction, but Liberty also has a delightful selection of gorgeous notions, buttons and trims in its haberdashery department. It's also a beautiful building in itself, a shopping (or browsing) experience like no other. Again, extremely expensive, but worth a visit if you fancy a treat or are just happy to appreciate fine things from afar! Not far from Berwick Street so you can visit both in one trip.

MacCulloch and Wallis
25-26 Dering Street W1S 1AT
Nearest tube: Oxford Circus
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To be honest I’m a little intimidated by this place and have only been in once, when I heard the shop assistant being extremely rude to a customer. But I thought I'd mention it as I know it does have its devotees, plus it's not far from Liberty if you're going there anyway. Three (small) floors of unusual fabrics, trimmings and supplies, established in 1902.

John Lewis
300 Oxford Street W1A 1EX
Nearest tube: Oxford Circus
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The haberdashery section of this departments store isn’t the most inspiring place to visit, so I wouldn’t recommend it to international readers over here on holiday, but as a Londoner who works nearby I often pop in here to pick up thread, needles or the odd length of fabric which catches my eye.

Nearest tube: Walthamstow Central
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Right at the northern end of the Victoria tube line, so this one is for Londoners and hardcore fabric shopping tourists/pilgrims only! Walthamstow really is a wonderland for stitchers, with a plethora of shops and market stalls along the high street piled high with bargains and bursting with gems. Expect to pay £1 or £2 per metre for most things, unless it's supposedly "end-of-the-roll Hobbs wool" in which case prices may go up to a (very modest) £5.

[photo courtesy of Karen]

Goldhawk Road
Nearest tube: Goldhawk Road / Shepherds Bush
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Again, a bit of a mission out of central London, this time towards the west, but if you are in London to buy fabric, Goldhawk Road is a great place to visit. There is a string of small fabric shops along the stretch of road between Goldhawk Road tube station and Shepherd's Bush Green. As part of the local council's redevelopment plans for the nearby market, these units are soon due to be torn down. As far as I understand the situation, the shops have been offered to be rehoused, but the fear is that they won't be able to afford the new rent rates (more here). Visit while you still can.

Nearest tube: Brixton
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And finally I couldn't not mention my home turf! I wouldn’t go out of your way to go fabric shopping in Brixton, but if you live nearby I would recommend Simply Fabrics, two shops on Atlantic Road, for a fairly good selection at super low prices. There's also Atlantic Silks on Electric Avenue, which doesn’t have the best selection of apparel fabrics but is a good place to get cheap zippers and other bits. There are also a couple of fabric stalls in Market Row where I’ve been known to find some gems, and if you’re after sewing tools or thread, there's Morleys department store opposite the tube station. If you’re visiting Brixton, do make time for lunch or coffee at one of the lovely eateries in pop-up-turned-permanent Brixton Village (my favourites are Franco Manca and Honest Burger).

I hope this was helpful. If you're a Londoner yourself, feel free to chip in with your own favourite fabric shopping destinations. Happy fabric shopping!