The internet is a wonderful place, granting us access to a miriad of wonderful things. Whatever you’re looking for, you can usually find it online, this also applies to fabric. Green satin with pink polka dots, or crepe fabric in a million different weights and finishes or in 50 shades of beige.
But for shopping for fabric you cannot beat shopping in real life shops.
There is nothing quite like the tactile element of fabric and there is nothing that the internet can do to make that a part of the experience of fabric shopping online.
When looking for the perfect fabric for a dress or skirt you need to feel the fabric, to see how it handles, how it drapes and how it will look against your skin. Seeing the colour through the distortion of your screen resolution doesn’t compare to seeing the colour with your own eyes and having the opportunity to view it in naural daylight.
If you’re really lucky, your local independent fabric shop will have really talented staff, who can be an invaluable source of tips and information. I was lucky enough to do just that at my favourite local fabric shop; Thread Mill on Chruch Street in Swinton (S64 8QA)
Thread Mill is owned and run by a really talented lady, Cheryl Barnes, who has become my friend and mentor. With Cheryl, dressmaking is truly in her blood, her parents were professional dressmakers and her Great Aunt, who trained in Paris, was a Gownmaker to Queen Mary in the Royal Court.
Cheryl has a really creative mind and such a good eye for matching colours and fabrics that everything I have made from fabrics purchased at Thread Mill have been a roaring success.
The majority of the garments I create are from self drafted patterns, however if you are looking to purchase patterns Thread Mill stocks McCalls and New Look Patterns and has Vogue, Butterick & Simplicity to order.
Cheryl has will take the time to ensure that you leave with the most suitable patterns and fabrics to make what you have described to her and is so knowledgable, that she will impart hints and tips that will make your task so much easier.
Independent shops of all types are a dying breed as our high streets are increasingly derelict and the big faceless chain stores move to out of town retail parks. I urge you to take the time to explore your local area and find these little gems of independent retail, and shout about them far and wide. It is only with good paying customers that these shops will stay viable and mean that you actually have the option to shop in a real life fabric shop and not online.
I am a dressmaker with 20+ years of creative dressmaking experience, having graduated in Fashion Design from the Surrey Institute of Art & Design in 1999. I now offer monthly Learn to Sew Workshops, one to one dresmaking courses and bespoke made to measure dressmaking.