Tuesday, 22 March 2016

I forgot to post this at the time; brief reviews of the fabric stores we visited (London and Bradford)

A couple of  weekends ago, (comment -- a lot longer than that now!! 19/20 February) I visited Bombay Stores in Bradford on the way to Cambridge, a bit of a detour, longer because of an accident and significant problems on the A1. I'd  heard good things about this Asian superstore and had been recommended to visit to look at their silks.

So many colourful Asian wedding outfits! Gorgeous but not what I was looking for.

You've heard of ‘unplugged’ music - well they had an unsewn section - designer (Asian) outfits for which the fabric was packaged. Various prices. I picked up a bargain of 3 coordinating iris coloured fabrics.

Their fabric section was good but again didn't have what I was looking for. Their silk organza was available in a variety of colours but not white or ivory. I did buy some interlining fabric for the bridesmaid dresses.

They have a lot of bargain bins of fabric at £1.10 per metre.

While I was browsing, David visited the nearby National Media Centre for the first time in a few years

Their café, Asian of course,  was excellent and very inexpensive.

We drove to Cambridge and had dinner with oldest daughter, sil and grandsons in the pub our middle daughter manages. We spent the night and drove to London the next morning to meet our youngest daughter. She and I were fabric shopping while David was fixing their oven door.

First,  though, I had to fit a wedding dress toile on Helen. I discovered I had made a bit of an error and took notes to rectify that.

Helen and her fiancé had visited Joel & Sons fabrics and bought the fabric for the bridesmaid dresses and his waistcoat. They were very impressed - Helen of course didn't get a chance to look at bridal fabrics. I had heard good things from others, too. So this was our first stop. I won't say too much but in summary it was very disappointing because of extremely poor customer service. Perhaps a Saturday isn't the best day but it was the only day we had and Helen had good service on her previous Saturday visit. An Aladdin's cave of gorgeous fabrics, phenomenally expensive.

So we moved back to Soho.

First stop was MacCulloch and Wallis. Very helpful staff. We found a fabric that we rather liked but not the trims we were after.

We then planned to go to Soho itself but were running short of time.

First stop was the Silk Society. David, (that may not have been his name, sorry) who served us was supremely helpful, even to the extent of looking at our inspiration entries online and suggesting how they would be made. Unfortunately, we ended up a bit more confused because I hadn't been keen on the toile I made and the plans for it and as far as I was concerned,  David's opinion concurred. So we didn't buy the fabric we admired as we had more talking to do.

We missed Borovic somehow, though we'd been before. However, it was too late to backtrack.

We returned to Broadwick Silks and again found the staff very helpful. I hadn't realised it was a sister shop of the Silk Society. I highly recommend them both.

We then retired to a wine bar for a  glass of wine and discussion about the way forward. We had 3 basic options and I wasn't keen on the route we had previously pursued. We came to an agreement on the way forward and I agreed to try to make a toile for the following weekend when H would be visiting.

I ran out of suitable toile fabric but Rory offered to get some more for me to pick up in class that evening. I had less time than usual as my annual big fund raising bridge event for our Vets’ county golf was the next day  and I had stacks to do for that. So I only had the  Friday evening. Helen and I had a session with Rory on the Saturday afternoon.

Hopefully after that our path will be clearer - I'm afraid it's not at the moment and I'm getting a bit panicky as time is marching on so quickly.

I wrote this some time ago. Recent posts clarify where I’ve got to. The above session with Rory turned my previous ideas on their head but the current design is better.


  1. It seems to be a common theme in many places - poor customer service, and invariably a range that is not complete. I know it is impossible to cater to everyone with everything nowadays, cost is prohibitive, but I remember the old days when fabric stores were full of wonderful textiles. Of course, a lot of people did their own sewing then, the flood of cheap RTW rather killed this activity, and the fabric business with it.

    1. They did have gorgeous fabrics! Other people have commeneted on excellent customer service so was I just unlucky? With two separate assistants? They lost a big sale as we won't be buying the wedding dress fabric there (we had already spent a lot with all the bridesmaids dress fabrics and the waistcoat fabric from there).
      I recently heard of a wonderful fabric store in this city which regrettably closed down before I even moved here I think but certainly many years ago. Our two big department stores have a much poorer range than of old and more expensive than elsewhere and often in one you're serged by a generic assistant who knows nothing about the fabric.

  2. I have never shopped at Jasons, or Joels, which are both so close to where I live. I just can't justify the prices, but for a really special outfit maybe. I am getting so excited about this wedding Anne. Hope you are OK - it is so stressful.

    1. I popped into Jason's too, which we didn't know about and passed by chance but we'd had enough and needed sustenance. I realised I'd need to pay for decent fabric but oh my!
      Joanne tried on her toile today - a few tweaks needed and The others coming Thursday and Friday so I should have a really good idea where I am with this! I'm more terrified than excited at the moment but going okay, thanks, Kate. Still hoping to finish waistcoat bar buttonholes tomorrow.

  3. I also visited Jason's ( as well as Joel & Sons) last month. Yes you do pay for quality fabric but you shouldn't get robbed. Are you 100 % sure about import duties being prohibitive to order from the US. I paid no duty on my shipments from Linton and Lochcarron. My second order from Linton is arriving tomorrow and no duty. Same with my UK suppliers of bridal tulle. I know it may work differently going from US to UK but even with duty you might be better off. Best of luck with all your designing and sewing. We are all watching for photos of this wedding.

    1. Thanks, Mary
      I'm basing my thoughts on having paid more for import duty than the fabric cost, and about the same for shipping - so my fabric accounted for only one third of the cost! It was just a small quantity of fabric and due to an introductory discount on the fabric and on VAT, my costs were satisfactory and still cheaper than UK.
      I will investigate further though. Can you recommend a good supplier of nice sandwashed double crepe silk? The rest I'd buy in UK as need to see really.
      I have nearly finished the waistcoat bar the buttonholes. A still needs to choose buttons.
      Which UK suppliers do you use for bridal tulle?
      I'm looking forward to seeing your tartan creations.

    2. Both Mood and B&J are reliable suppliers and both ship internationally. B&J tends to be pricier but higher quality. There are many more in the garment district but I'm not sure how they would handle an international order.
      My silk tulle supplier is Edley, but they are wholesale only and require you to order full bolts. Try Etsy.com for a local UK source. I've found and ordered both silk and poly bridal tulle. What type of tulle are you looking for?

    3. We'll buy the silk in London as we've seen it in person and time is running short. Thanks for the links. I've also had a satisfactory swatch from a UK on line supplier - it's cheaper but not enough to make us go there instead of Broadwick Silks. Not sure about veil fabric as yet - I was assuming tulle for that but Helen hasn't decided.

  4. Thank you for sharing your textile shops expierence. I'll think twice before going there.

    1. I can recommend the others though! Also others have had a different experience.

  5. Deep breaths Anne, it's all going to suddenly come together, I think you're right to concentrate on Helen's dress for the time being as it will be a weight off your mind once that is done. I think you're doing brilliantly!


Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog. Please leave a comment. I welcome each and every one. I value criticism (constructive of course! ), love hints and tips and would appreciate suggestions for future direction.

Do you know? Can you answer?

I put up blog posts via Blogger. I follow blog posts via Bloglovin’ with a few via email. The stats on the Overview stats page o...