Sunday, 10 March 2019

#sewdowndewsbury March 2019

I visited Dewsbury to meet up with the Yorkshire Spoolettes on Wednesday 6 March. Ali had kindly organised another meetup - hashtag is #sewdowndewsbury on IG.

In the  morning I took a taxi from home to the station,  Interestingly the taxi driver was a textile graduate from Huddersfield who had left the business in 1994  as the only posts available were on the death of the previous incumbent. He was apparently a thread specialist. We had a bit of a chat about the need for succession planning in these industries.

I started writing this on the train coming back from #sewdowndewsbury. My return trip was easier than my journey there. A points failure in Newcastle meant our train was stuck in the station! A later train was able to to enter and leave by a different route via a through platform - we were eventually transferred across to it. It was a faster train but delayed because of the points failure as some trains were out of place and the passenger transfer and they had to add an extra intermediate stop to the journey, I just missed my connection to Dewsbury in Leeds but my later connection was faster so I arrived only about 30 mins later than I'd planned. By this time I was wishing I had taken the car - but I gather there were problems on the A1 too. Honestly, though, it wasn’t bad and I prefer the train to the car. I wasn't the last to arrive and many had arrived just shortly before me.

My friend Margaret @thecraftycreek had looked out for me in Leeds as she thought I was due to be on the same train.

We all met in Wetherspoons. Kent and new faces. Organised as previously by Ali @akathimberlina. Everyone was still there drinking coffee and chatting. Ali gathered the fabric and patterns for the swap. I took a couple of patterns with me but no fabric as I didn’t want to be left with it or carry it all over. The first time I was at one of these meets the amount of fabric and number of patterns left over was mind boggling so we were all asked to be much more cautious with one or two pieces at the most.

I had two (three?) purchases in mind - peachskin fabric, a slightly beefier striped fabric and ribbing for it. The peachskin fabric is to replace the sandwashed silk in the silk dresses I’ve made for Helen - or rather to see if it would work as I didn’t like the last lot of sandwashed silk at all. The striped fabric is to make a top for #sew50visible though if stretch fabric it would also work for the GBSB sewalong provided I get on with it!

Margaret and I paired up. We didn’t want to be moving around in a big group.

Our first stop was Fabworks. I asked about peachskin fabric but of course that is a finish and not a type of fabric. They didn’t have anything suitable although occasionally they do get fabric with a peachskin finish. I found an organic cotton knit that I loved - lilac striped. The stripe is VERY narrow and so will be difficult to match. There was toning ribbing fabric, wide not ribbing size pieces, which I also bought. There was probably just enough on the roll to make another top.  The organic cotton was reduced by 35% so was very affordable. Two down.

We then moved to Lucky Fabrics. They did have some peachskin fabric but not in a colour that Helen would like so I didn't buy. There was a shade I liked for me but not for anything I wanted to make in the near future. I’m trying to think much more carefully about purchases! I was going to walk away but bought a navy and white striped knit with a wider stripe (easier to match and I liked it anyway) and a floral fabric with a lovely handle in my lighter colours. Both destined for specific makes.

We then went to The Cloth Quarter (previously known as £1 a Yard Fabrics) but didn't buy anything. We had a nice chat with the ladies there and learned that there is a textile college planned for that area. It's running over timetable. Those who live closer to Dewsbury might in the future have access to some interesting classes. The area is pretty rundown as I believe I’ve mentioned in a previous post but there are planned major upgrades to the shop fronts. This shop will apparently be one of the last to be done. The planned college should certainly help.

The market seems to be thriving. I say that because one of our local markets - in Chester le Street - is shrinking dramatically and now Immanuel Fabrics (Burnley) who have gone there on Fridays for years  are stopping - although there is still a market and there is still a space for them, they would have to put up their own stalls which just isn’t possible given the volume of fabric they bring. They will be going on that day to South Shields market instead; an additional day as they already go there on a Saturday. I was at the Chester le Street market a couple of weeks ago and was saddened to see just how run down it is and completely missed seeing the fabric stall. I went to South Shields market the following week to catch them (there is only one fabric vendor, though they have several stalls), when I learned of their plans. Probably only a quarter of the market space was used in South Shields - even a couple of years ago, it was full. Locals put it down to Amazon. However, in Dewsbury, the market seemed full and there were several fabric stalls

In the market I bought 4 cones of overlocker thread in a shade to match the cardigan I was wearing and I succumbed to the geometric fabric Margaret bought having turned my back on a pretty floral, also in my lighter colours. Interestingly, the prices for fabric in the market were higher than I see in our area. I got a few fabrics in a particularly good quality cotton range in South Shields for £2/m that I saw in Fabworks today for £6/m. Our market prices tend to be £2/m whereas in Dewsbury they were £4+/m. I’d like the extra choice though!

We were hungry by this time. We were due to meet up in the Creative Craft Centre with its new cafe for a bite to eat and the pattern and fabric swap a bit later but we decided to go a bit earlier to see if there was any ‘proper’ food rather than just coffee and cakes. We ordered soup and sandwiches and were glad we were early as our numbers (varying at times but up to 15, I think) overwhelmed the tiny cafe and service was extremely slow.

I hadn’t previously visited this centre. Previously it was around the corner from its current position, and I passed the old shop on my way from the station to Wetherspoons and found a dark and derelict building, not realising it had moved 18 months ago.  I hadn't been in previously because I thought it was largely a yarn shop. They now appear to do a range of classes and groups and sell Simplicity patterns, though not fabric. They still primarily deal in yarn though as far as I could see.

Others arrived and we had nice introduction to those we didn’t know and plenty of chat. No-one was really bothered about the slow service though a couple had to leave early for other appointments so couldn’t wait to be fed. We swapped IG details with others who didn’t already have them. Jen taught us (the older dinosaurs!) how to get details from someone else really quickly, not something I was aware of before. We heard about her terrific new creative space - TeesCreative in Middlesbrough, which sounds well worth going to. Accommodation is available for space users - so a weekend course, as they did recently, making Ginger jeans, becomes very possible. Middlesbrough is not that far really - easily commutable, especially at the weekend when there is less rush hour traffic, but a nice place to stay if there are a few of you. Up to 6 of you. They do dressmaking, quilting, candlemaking. The space is available for hire.

By the time we left a few others had gone but we were far from last in going. I took one pattern from the swap but no fabric.

My journey home was uneventful. I walked through my door just 2 hours after leaving the Creative Craft Centre. I did take a taxi from the station as it was raining heavily. Another interesting taxi driver which makes the 15 minute ride fly by!


  1. Sounds like a lovely day. Oh my, no wonder your markets are shrinking. Who could make a profit with those fabric prices?

  2. Lovely to meet up again, I thought I was quite restrained this time, still not made anything up though :-)

    1. Ha! We were both rather restrained. I've already cut into one of my fabrics - cut out Breton top. First time I've used a pattern from a book or mag! I didn't find it terribly easy and I decided against any pattern alterations other than a slight increase in length of body and sleeves. This is from 3rd GBSB book. Should be a fairly quick sew but I hope to use coverstitch machine on it and I still need to check tension on my sewing machine after replacing bobbin case. I want to do for #sew50visible. Need to finish by Thursday.


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