London's most fabulous fabric shops
London is a fabric mecca. Here's where to go when you're feeling crafty - or need some fabric to patch up your favourite garment.
Embracing the old (yet new for most of us) 'make do and mend' philosophy involves getting a little creative: extending the life of our can't-bear-to-not-wear-them-daily torn jeans with funky patchwork patches, giving an old jacket a revamp with an embellished trim, attempting to make our children's Halloween or fancy dress costumes... so that they're unique, exciting and have bit more of a shelf life since we've put some TLC into them.
Textiles have also become an alternative to wasteful, non-recyclable wrapping paper - and a rather lovely gift in addition to the gift.
And, as people shift away from disposable everything and are looking for gorgeous, reusable buys, fabrics are being used in everything from reusable makeup wipes to cloth wipes for babies. You'll also notice that it's not just adults that this craft movement is aimed at, with workshops and kids' classes to introduce the next generation to pattern cutting and sewing.
Here are the shops and areas - both physical and online - to stock up on fabric beyond our beloved Liberty.
The Christobal print at STORRS London
Best for screen-printed cotton: STORRS London
For 100% Egyptian superfine cotton lawn fabric, look no further than STORRS, where you'll find a huge variety of high-quality screen-printed fabrics in florals, paisleys, geometric and abstract prints (screen printing means you get the same depth of colour on both sides of the fabric, which doesn't happen in digitally printed designs). You'll notice an Arts & Crafts influence, and we also love that each pattern is inspired, and named after, a specific place, individual or object. Helpfully, they're all coordinated by colour on the website. Perfect for creating PJs, dresses, clutch bags... and everything in between.
Best for the experience: Goldhawk Road, west London
This strip of independent fabric shops next to Shepherds Bush Market is a favourite with insiders (fashion students and the like) and great for finding a range of fabrics at reasonable prices, as well as bagging some bargains.
Best for deals: Walthamstow Market, east London
On Saturdays, head to Walthamstow at the end of the Victoria line to bulk-buy cheap-as-chips fabrics, starting at under £2 a metre - ideal for sewing newbies. You'll find a mix of proper shops like Saeed Fabrics and stallholders like #TMOS, aka the man outside Sainsbury's, who is so popular within sewing communities that people come from far-flung destinations to purchase from him.
Best for variety: MacCulloch & Wallis, central London
25-26 Poland Street, W1F 8QN
A Soho-based London institution for the last century (and then some), you'll find everything here from millinery essentials to haberdashery to wedding trimmings, as well as gorgeous fabrics: silk, linen, velvet, satin, leather and more.
Photo: Mel Poole
Best for all the trimmings: VV Rouleaux
102 Marylebone Lane, W1U 2QD
Ribbons and fringing and frogging and more - VV Rouleaux is the shop to snap up any trimmings and accessories you require (what better way to spruce up a tired piece of old clothing or create a fabulous hair piece for your mini-four-year-old fairy?). Check them out for any wedding-related embellishments, from lace to roses. They also offer wreath-making workshops through the festive season.
Best for Liberty fabrics (outside of Liberty): Shaukat Fabrics, Kensington
170-172 Old Brompton Road, SW5 0BA
In addition to current and past-season Liberty prints at a discount, you'll find cotton shirting, embroidered tulle, viscose, linen and more.
Best for kids: Stoff & Stil
With a dedicated Halloween section, mini-me fabrics and patterns so you can twin with your child and plenty of inspiration and prints for babies and kids, Stoff & Stil is a great starting point for parents looking to make some pieces for their little ones. It's also a good spot for keen crafters, with Fraya yarn and felting kits.
For kids' home furnishings fabrics in spots, stripes, animals and alphabet prints, head to Fabrics Galore in Battersea.
Best for designer fabrics: Joel & Son Fabrics, north London
73-87 Church Street, NW8 8EU
Royal Warrant holders Joel & Son are known for their vast collection of high-end fabrics, used for theatrical and cinematic costume design (you'll have noticed some of their fabrics adorning the Crawleys in the Downton Abbey film). They are well-stocked in various designer fabrics, including Valentino, Emanuel Ungaro, Dolce & Gabbana, Givenchy, Loro Piana and more.
Best for denim: The Cloth House, Soho
47 Berwick Street, London, W1F 8SJ
A great spot for sustainable and natural fabrics, in addition to denim (including selvedge denim), you'll find hand-block printed fabrics, undyed handloomed cottons, Sashiko cotton, cork, raffia and more.
Sewing classes and workshops
Some fabric shops offer tutelage, too. Where can we sign up?
- Sew Over It, 319 Essex Road, N1 2BD: In addition to a range of reasonably priced fabrics and patterns, Sew Over It have online courses (the Stitch School), and sewing classes at their Essex Road outpost, from beginners' onwards.
- The New Craft House, Broadway Market Mews, London E8: Stylish crafters Hannah and Rosie run The New Craft House, where sustainability is at the core of the business. You can stock up on a range of recycled threads and deadstock fabrics that would otherwise have ended up in landfill - and learn what to do with them. Not only do they offer a range of classes for adults, there are kids' courses, and you can even throw a sewing and crafting party for your 8+ child.
- Merchant & Mills, 14a Tower St, Rye, East Sussex, TN31 7AT: Merchant & Mills is worth the trip out of London: instead of teaching you sewing skills, their classes are each focused on making a specific item: a trapeze dress, a tote bag, a pair of relaxed-fit jeans. You'll also find lovely cloth, buttons and trims and patterns online.
FabRap is the new, sustainable way to wrap your gifts
Textiles aren't just for fashion and furnishings anymore: they're the most stylish way to wrap presents. Even better, textile wraps are reusable, and, depending on the fabric, can make a lovely gift, accessory or scarf for the recipient. So scour the house for old bits of fabric you're not using, snap some up in a bargain bin or try these new wrapping paper alternatives:
The 10th-anniversary LUSH knot wrap
On the high street, you'll find gorgeous scarf wraps at LUSH (which you can now swap for different designs in store if you're keen to get your hands on some new prints).
FabRap is 100% organic cotton gift wrap featuring gorgeous prints, available in single or double-sided designs. Essential for a stylish - and sustainable - Christmas.
Wragwrap is a company making recycled fabric gift wraps, including stretch wrap, crackle wrap and bottle wrap. The designs come in a range of prints and are great for wrapping awkwardly shaped gifts, too.