If you’ve read basically any sewing blog before, you’ve probably heard of Goldhawk Road… If not, it’s a street in London which is pretty much lined with fabric shops- heaven! Up to last weekend I’d never been before, but it’s my birthday soon and I thought a fabric shopping trip would be a lovely treat.
In preparation I read up on all the sewing bloggers’ tips for shopping there- this Sewisfaction blog post was particularly helpful- and if you’re planning on going I recommend you do the same, as it made me much less nervous knowing what to expect. I also compiled a notebook where I wrote down the yardages for every pattern I own- it’s boring to do, but takes a lot of the guesswork out of fabric shopping!
I started the day off by visiting an Edvard Munch exhibition at the British Museum (just the kind of uplifting optimism you need on your birthday…) and weirdly ended up queuing right next to Mark Gatiss! Then after lunch I caught the tube to Goldhawk Road.
It didn’t get off to a very good start, as I went into two or three fabric shops before I saw anything I liked. They were actually shops that had been mentioned in a quite a few blog posts, so I was surprised at how underwhelming they were. I was starting to worry that maybe all the shops were like this, until I went into the basement of a shop that was filled with the most incredible beaded laces and nets. I think the shop was Goldhawk Fabrics, but I’m not 100% sure…
The prices of the beaded and embroidered fabrics varied a lot, from a £5 bargain section to some of the most beautiful ones at about £90 per metre. I of course gravitated to the bargain section, and ended up buying 3 metres of this fun purple net:
The flowers aren’t stitched on very securely, in fact quite a lot of them came off in my bag on the journey home (as you can see in the pictures). I don’t really mind though, as it’s not the sort of fabric you’d make an everyday item out of anyway! I’ll probably use it to make next year’s Halloween costume, as then it will only be worn for one night so won’t have to last. I have a vision of a Marie-Antoinette style fairy costume (it makes sense in my head!) with wire panniers covered in the purple net… I guess we’ll have to wait until October to see if it actually works!
As I went further down the road, the shops were much more interesting, and I could definitely understand what all the hype was about. The next one we went to was called Orya Textiles:
This shop was quite small, but also well-lit so it was easy to see everything. Plus the staff were really friendly! I’ve been looking for a nice stretch denim to make another Cleo dungaree dress for a while now, and they had a pretty wide selection. I bought this navy/black one, which is quite sturdy and has a little bit of stretch:
All the shops sold these pre-cut pieces of ‘cotton lawn’ in plastic wrappers, and I thought this one would be perfect for a ’90s style button down dress. I’m currently torn between the Friday Pattern Co Hughes and the True Bias Shelby, so tips would be welcome if you’ve tried either of them!
Although they were labelled as lawns, they’re far more loosely woven than the lawns I’ve used before. They’re quite similar in weave and weight to a fabric I bought from Merchant and Mills, which was labelled as a ‘summer weight cotton’. Here you can see how loose the weave is:
After that we went to a much bigger shop called Goldbrick Fabrics. This shop had a little bit of everything, but overall seemed a bit pricier than the others. I think I managed to snag a bargain though, as I spotted a roll of a Liberty-style cotton near the entrance, and because there were only 1.9 metres left he gave me the whole thing for the price of 1.5!
This was my favourite thing I bought! I’m not usually much of a floral person, but there’s something about the colour combination and the delicate outlines that made me fall in love with this fabric. I’ve actually already cut into it, and I’m currently sewing another hack of the Morning Glory top, this time into a wrap dress. I think the fabric and the pattern will be a perfect match!
After that shop, we had a break in a cafe further down the road. From people’s blog posts I’d got the impression there weren’t any cafes or places to go to the loo except for the Costa next to the station, but I saw a couple of cafes along the road, and the one we went to was really nice (the iced coffee in particular). So, don’t feel like you have to go to the Costa, as there are other options a bit further down the road.
By this point I was really tired, so I only went to one more fabric shop:
Universal Textiles was huge; it felt like a fabric cave! They had a really wide variety of fabrics as well, including some more unusual ones downstairs such as faux fur and waterproof material. I bought this super soft, drapey viscose:
Although it looks like a pale pink in the photo, in real life it has more purple and grey tones in it. At first I couldn’t decide whether I loved or hated the colour; there’s definitely been a trend for lilac in the Instagram sewing community recently, and I’ve always been on the fence about it. Then I realised it would be perfect for the slip view of the Folkwear Intimacies pattern, which I’ve had in my stash for ages, and promptly decided that I loved it! I think I’ll add some hand embroidered foliage to the centre front of the slip, to add a special detail.
So there you have it; my Goldhawk Road experience… I don’t think I’d go back unless I was in London anyway, but nevertheless it was an incredibly lovely way to celebrate my birthday!