Fabric + Shopping in London

I’ve already shared a couple of posts of fabulous fabric shopping locations in London – the Cloth House and Liberty of London. By no means am I the expert on all the great sewing shops in London, but I there were a few other shops and spots that I hit during my short stay that I thought inspiring and share-worthy.
Another great resource for Liberty of London fabrics is Shaukat in South Kensignton. (Thanks to all those who recommended it!) This was an easy walk from the Fat Quarterly retreat through a smart (posh) neighborhood in London.
The huge selection of Liberty fabrics was in the basement. The presentation is not the same as at Liberty itself, but the selection was just as good and the prices slightly less. Plus they would cut as small as a half metre (compared to Liberty which would only cut metre lengths and higher.)
The other great benefit there was they had a big stack of remnants and scraps. Liberty lawns are on the pricey side – but can go such a long way, so scraps are very useful. I had fun digging through the scrap pile with Cristina, Gunilla and Helene, who were also at the FQ Retreat, and found some gems.
I also splurged on 2 half metres of two of my all-time favorite Liberty prints. But so many good ones got left behind… Now to figure out what I’m going to do with these two.
Another favorite classic English stop was the Cath Kidston shops. I’ve been a total sucker for Cath’s style for a while now and those shops are so full of my kind of color and inspiration.

I love the haberdashery dept at Cath’s. Lots of pretty fabrics and notions to inspire.

I did a little splurge there as well, buying a fat quarter bundle and a small piece of yardage. And maybe a new bag that I love. (Thank goodness it was Sale season in London!)
The pictures from this Cath (as well as the shop with crocheted sewing machine at the top) were taken on Marleybone High Street. Though I’d heard of it before, this was my first time visiting this part of London. And it was lovely! I little less hustle and bustle than other shopping areas of London with cute, quaint little boutique shops and restaurants.

Lots of adorable children’s shops in that area. Maybe it’s where the next royal baby’s new wardrobe will come from. I’m kicking myself though because I missed The Button Queen and VV Rouleaux on nearby Marleybone Lane.

We passed the Orla Kiely shop near Covent Garden on our walk to the British Museum one day. My family was not in the mood to stop so I let them keep going. (This is the reason this shopping post is not super comprehensive.) I ran in just long enough to take a picture and feel inspired. It was still worth it  as Orla is one of my favorites.

And finally, while in London you have to hit the big department stores like Harrods, Fortnum and Masons, Harvey Nichols, etc. I’m not much of a shopper for luxury goods, but they’re still such a spectacle. We dragged our kids through the Harrods Food Halls. I’d forgotten just how gorgeous all the details were – even the tile ceilings and food displays were inspiring. We were tempted by the fancy chocolates and macaroons but settled for Cadburys from the corner shop near our flat for a fraction of the price. And it still felt plenty luxurious to us. :)

This list is by no means the be all and end all of sewing-inspired shopping in London, but it’s a start. Feel free to add more in the comments so we can make this post a more comprehensive resource. And so I have a list of other places to be sure not to miss if (fingers crossed = when!) I get a chance to go back.

Post Edit: I didn’t make it outside central London, but here is a great round-up of quilt shops in the greater London area from the London Modern Quilt Guild.

For fabric shopping in other big cites check out these posts for  fabric shopping in Paris and fabric shopping in New York City.

Liberty of London + Liberty fabric giveaway

One of the places I was most excited to visit during my trip to London is the iconic Liberty of London store. It’s literally one-of-a-kind. The Liberty store is located on Regent Street in the heart of one of the trendiest and poshest shopping districts in London. (Carnaby street is close by.) 
I first discovered Liberty when I lived in London as a college student 20+ years ago, but back then we’d go check out the fashion and the couture wedding gowns (which they don’t carry any more). Little did I know then, going back one day it would be all about fabric. lol
Liberty made it’s name originally as a business importing items from the Orient. It is still a department store stocked with a carefully curated collection of a variety of beautiful items from fashion, to gifts, stationary, dishware, accessories, and jewelry.

Not only is it full of pretty stuff to see and buy, but the building itself is worth a look. The iconic Tudor-Revival store was built in the 1920’s using materials from two old ships. The interior has so much character.

The details of the interior including the carved wood and the leaded glass definitely add to the ambiance. I loved the beautiful memorial to the staff members who were killed in “The Great War” (World War 1).

Liberty design and style is still famous – especially in the textile design realm and now probably most famous for their Tana Lawns fabrics which they have been producing for over 135 years. Inspired originally by the colorful silks and prints imported from the far East, Liberty teamed up with nineteenth century designers like William Morris to create in-house collections to sell in their departments stores.

The most classic Liberty designs are delicate florals in a variety of styles and colors. The reason they’re so iconic is they’re classic – they never go out of style. Liberty Tana Lawns are made from ultra-soft cotton, creating fabric that is almost silk-like. The cotton is ultra light-weight, making it lovely for garment sewing, but still works for quilting, with super-soft effect.
The Liberty of London store has a huge habedashery section with bolts of Tana Lawns as well as pre-made bundles of smaller pieces like fat quarters as well as pre-cut squares and hexagons which are a nice option because the minimum cut off the bolt at Liberty itself is 1 metre (meter). I did end up buying this little patchwork pear pincushion as my souvenir. It’s made from some of my favorite Liberty prints, light-weight to carry home, and something I know I could never recreate so perfectly. I love seeing it on my sewing room shelf.

Because of the quality of the fabric, the price of Tana Lawns is not for the faint of heart. They are definitely pricier than regular quilting cottons. Scrappy, pre-cut bundles are a great way to go. I’ve been collection bits and pieces for a few months now and putting them to use on this paper-piecing project.

Follow Amy Smart’s board Liberty of London on Pinterest.
The prints play so nicely together that scrappy projects look really great. Well coordinated, but not matchy-matchy, which I love. I’ve started a pin-board of Liberty Inspiration for ideas to play with my Liberty scraps. Liberty also has a Liberty Craft Blog with lots of great projects as well!
If you are looking to start collecting a little bit of Liberty, let me recommend one of my sponsors, DuckaDilly fabrics. They carry a gorgeous selection of Liberty of London yardage.
And if you’re looking to get a variety of Liberty pieces at once, check out their bundles and stash packs. There’s a little of something in different shapes, sizes, and colorways to give you lots of options.
And in extra fun news, DuckaDilly is giving away a $100 gift certificate to one of you! (This includes refunding the winner that amount on any purchase made between now and the giveaway ending.) To enter take a quick peak at DuckaDilly and leave a comment telling me something you especially love in their shop. Giveaway open until Wednesday, September 17 at midnight MST. GIVEAWAY CLOSED

WINNER: Lisa Marie said…

Liberty of London Tana Lawn: Felix and Isabelle (G) is gorgeous!
DuckaDilly is also offering a 10% discount with the code LIBERTY at checkout (exceptions on subscriptions, sale items, and gift cards) through Sunday, September 14. You can keep up to date on the latest from DuckaDilly by following them on Facebook and Instagram.

The Cloth House, London

When I travel – especially to big cities, I’m always on the lookout for unique sewing or fabric related shops (like Purl Soho in New York.) I was SO glad when a few of the ladies at the Fat Quarterly Retreat recommended The Cloth House because it fit the bill perfectly.
There are two Cloth House shops on Berwick street (at numbers 47 and 98). Because of time I only visited 47, before it closed. I’m wishing I could have seen number 98 as well. (No. 47 had more of the cottons, linens, and trims, where as I think No. 98 specializes more in the in garment fabrics.) They are located only a short walk east of Liberty of London.
The Cloth House is FULL of treasures. Not only are there a wide variety and number of bolts of fabrics, but there are also beautiful displays of vintage notions, trims, spools, ribbons, etc. or haberdashery as they say in the UK. (A much more fun word than notions, if you ask me.) I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. The displays were inspiring and tasteful.

Vintage linen hemp and pattern wallpaper 
  Those jars!

I was good and only bought a couple of 1/4 metres of cotton. I wanted to get something unique that would be difficult for me to buy at home so I chose a printed cotton and a hand-stamped cotton, both from India.

Highly recommend a visit to the Cloth House if you’re in London. The staff was helpful, but not pestering. They were perfectly happy to let me browse and very gracious when I asked if I could take photos.

Best. Day. Ever. Fabric and Quilt-Lab Science

For our April Bee block, April (appropriate) Rosenthal requested an X-Plus quilt block. And to make it extra fun, she sent us some of her new collection for Moda, Best.Day.Ever. (April has a free pattern for this block.) 

I am so excited for April! She has worked so hard. I first met April 3 years ago when I found her locally to help me with some web-design stuff (she’s got skillz I can only dream of) and found out she was a quilter too. Well look at what she’s done since! Here’s her beautiful booth at Market in Pittsburgh last month. You can learn more about her new collection of quilt patterns on her blog.

 Best. Day. Ever. doesn’t ship to quilt shops until next fall, but here’s a little sneak peak thanks to April. This collection is full of cheerful, saturated colors.

 The collection contains some great blenders in multiple colors.

I love this graph-paper looking print. I think it will be a popular “low-volume” print that can be used in so many ways. It also comes in multiple tone-on-tone colors.

Another fun new item I got my hands on is Ali Winston’s new book, Quilt Lab-The Creative Side of Science: 12 Clever Projects. Ali is a math-teacher and self-proclaimed geek. All of the quilt are inspired by scientific themes, symbols and designs. It’s a beautiful book with a entirely new take on quilt design. Here are a few pictures to give you an idea:

If you are looking for some fresh, modern quilt inspiration, or you’re also a quilt-geek, or you have loveable geeks in your life that need a quilt, check out Quilt Lab. You can see all of the projects in the book on Ali’s Blog.

Ali has also designed quilt-geek t-shirts! You can check them out in her Etsy shop. I know I definitely have quilt-geek tendencies. Obviously people quilt for different reasons but I know for me designing quilt patterns is definitely housed in the same part of my brain that likes to play tetris and efficiently load a dishwasher. I just wish that efficiency spilled over into my fabric storage skills…

Shimmer Stars Quilt

Last spring at Quilt Market, one of the fabric designers that really caught my attention was Jennifer Sampou in the Robert Kaufman booth. So when Jennifer contacted me earlier this year to see if I would like to play with her upcoming collection, Shimmer, I totally jumped at the chance.
Metallic in fabric prints are a huge trend right now and Jennifer’s collection celebrates the spectrum of metalics in a subtle and contemporary way. I’ve been redecorating parts of my house and right after Christmas I found a bunch of great mercury glass pieces on clearance at West Elm and Target that were the perfect accents in my new room. 
So I chose the Steel colorway from Shimmer to work with because they play so nicely with those silver and gray mercury-glass-tones. I wish the camera captured better the subtle sheen of the metalic prints.
For years my taste in fabrics has been the bright primary colored, retro/vintage style. I feel like my tastes have evolved a lot and I am finding myself drawn more to of the sophisticated, sleeker designs. I really loved playing with these fabrics.
I did, however, use them in a very traditional design. I’ve made a similar quilt in bright solids. It was fun to try it with the more monochromatic Shimmer prints.
Because of the metallic sheen, the fabrics are just slightly heavier and stiffer, so to soften this quilt and give it some added texture I quilted it pretty heavily. I LOVE the result.
Jennifer has invited a number of other quilters to create with her fabric – I have LOVED seeing the variety of creations using the Shimmer collection! There are some seriously inspired quilts on this tour. You can check them out on the following blogs/dates.

For more Shimmer inspiration, checkout Jennifer’s gorgeous Shimmer LookBook too. Shimmer fabrics are available at the Cotton Patch, JAQS Fabrics, and Hawthorne Threads.

Today I have a Charm pack of all the prints in the Shimmer collection to giveaway to one of you. Just leave a comment on this post. Giveaway open until Saturday, April 19 at midnight MST. GIVEAWAY CLOSED.

WINNER: HeatherK @ A Reformed Heath’nApril 15, 2014 at 7:51 AM

I love how traditional patterns can vary so much with different fabrics. The pattern really does seem to shimmer a bit with your choices.

Jennifer Sampou is also giving away a full Fat Quarter bundle of Shimmer on her blog. To read more about how to enter and the rest of the Shimmer blog tour click here.

Short-cut quilt preview and new fabric

Today another sneak peak of a quilt in the upcoming Fabulously Fast Quilts. This book is a collection of of quilt patterns – some traditional, some all new – with some kind of short-cut method for assembling them. This modern version of a traditional buzz-saw pattern is one of them. (The quilting on this quilt was done by Melissa of Sew Shabby Quilting.)
This was the last quilt I finished before shipping them all off to the publisher last May. I took this shot as I finished stitching the last bit of the binding, the morning before I took all the quilts to the UPS store. I was feeling so giddy by that point to have this huge project done
For this quilt I used a lot of Vanessa Christenson’s collection Simply Style – which I still really like. There are some great tonal basics in that collection. (Simply Style is still available from the Southern Fabrics (on sale!) and Fat Quarter Shop.)

Vanessa’s latest collection, Color Me Happy, is hitting stores right now. I’ve sewn quilts for Vanessa to use at Quilt Market a few times and she super-generously sent me this bundle as a thank you. (whoa.)

This is another cheerful, colorful collection of prints and some great basics and blenders. I’m especially smitten with this micro-dots. I think this is one I need to stock up on for sure.

The bundle looks so pretty the way it is, I can’t bring myself to break it open. I’m going to have to get really courageous to do it at some point. (Why is it so hard??) Color Me Happy is available from the Fat Quarter Shop, Green Fairy Quilts, and coming soon to Pink Castle Fabrics.