When Leigh Metcalf let us in on her top hidden-away fabric-shopping haunts in London, you loved her suggestions! Leigh is the author of London Stitch & Knit (Black Dog Publishing), and she’s inspired us to keep the search for London haberdashery haunts going! So we update this post regularly with new insider tips for where to visit if you’re heading London-way.
“We all love fabric and haberdashery shopping – but tracking down the best stores can be tricky. That’s why I wrote London Stitch & Knit, a useful, beautiful guide to all the great crafty supply shops in London,” explains Leigh.
Many of the shops featured in the book are well known and have a rich history, such as Liberty, while others like Sew Over It have a huge following both online and in the real world. But there are some special shops that are thriving businesses but a little more underground (some literally!). Here are my favourite London hidden gems.
Barnett Lawson Trimmings
Inconspicuously located in a Soho basement, Barnett Lawson Trimmings is one shop you’d never notice unless you knew exactly where to look. Its obscured entrance may make it feel like a members-only club, but everyone is welcome – and with more than 12,000 items on offer, including embroidered trims, silk flowers, sequins, beads and feathers, any sewist will be giddy to browse the (crammed) aisles.
If you’re the type of haberdashery shopper who wants to get in and out without distractions or the temptation to buy every single thing, William Gee is perfect.
This east London haberdashery takes an old-school approach to helping customers: simply go to the sales counter and ask for what you want. No frills, no fuss, but everything you need in a flash.
David Miller, in his one-man, one-room workshop tucked down Wardour Mews in Soho, makes buttonholes on just about any garment.
From period theatre costumes to fashion students’ collections to home-stitched dresses – if you’re not up to the buttonhole challenge, David is happy to do them to an impeccable standard.
He also offers a covered button and cufflink service and will rivet or grommet garments as well.
Stag & Bow
For sewists travelling south of the river, Stag & Bow is a must-visit. They offer an excellent range of vintage fabrics, dressmaking books and sewing patterns, lace and trims, all displayed alongside a great selection of locally handmade gifts.
If there’s any one thing in particular that interests you, such as vintage sewing patterns, just tell the salesperson and they’re likely to pull out heaps more than what is on the shelves.
While the majority of haberdashery shops featured in London Stitch & Knit are in London, a handful are outside the city and worth a day trip, such as Wayward in St Leonards.
Vintage lace, ribbon, buttons and trims overflow from almost every nook and cranny in this beautiful mess of a shop. One could easily spend a few hours admiring the unique pieces that owner Andrew Hirst has collected over the years.
If you can’t make it to St Leonards, he also has a stall at the weekend market on Portobello Road.
All photos copyright Leigh Metcalf, used with permission of Black Dog Publishing. Leigh’s book, London Stitch & Knit, can be purchased here. See more of Leigh’s work at www.leighmetcalf.com.
More fabric shops in London to explore!
The capital’s a big place! So if you can’t travel to Leigh’s suggested shops, we’ve asked Melanie Yurt (founder of South London-based modern makers That’s Well Lush, who specialise in me-made soft furnishings) for her insider tips on where else to add to your must visit list of sewing hot spots in the capital.
This Soho-based shop has been in the area for 20 years and they stock a gorgeous selection of fabrics and trimmings.
They source their beautiful fabrics from all over the world and work closely with local textile traders and artisans to celebrate traditional skills. Check out their Soho store of Camden Warehouse Shop (open Fridays only).
Goldhawk Road fabric shops
OK so this is a bit of a cheat as it’s not one shop but a collection of them! Goldhawk Road, near Shepherd’s Busy and Hammersmith tube stations, is “full of fabric shops” and the place that fashion students go to source their supplies.
Rolls and Rems
“This is where I often go and it’s always busy,” says Melanie. “It’s always busy and has a large selection and helpful staff. It’s got an affordable selection and the knowledgeable staff know everything you could need for sewing.”
Drink Shop Do
“They do funny sewing craft stuff here, and I’ve just been to a 90s night there too,” Mel tells us. “They have a world cabinet on the way in!”
THE place to go for a fun making experience in the city, Drink Shop Do started life as a pop-up shop in a bathhouse in King’s Cross in 2009 and offer “cafe by day, bar by night, fun things to do”. From temporary tattoo parlours to coasters workshops, lego robot buildings and hen dos, they’ve got a jam-packed collection of things to keep you busy.