A rather amazing and wonderful thing happened to me last week. A fabric shop based in East London, called Our Patterned Hand, got in touch with me. Having followed the blog for a while and knowing that I was a local stitcher (local as in London and north of the river I guess!) they made the unbelievably generous offer – any fabric of my choosing from the shop, gratis, in return for just a mention on the blog.
Now, I’m not proud and this is the first offer I’ve ever received from a fabric or haberdashery supplier so obviously I bit their giving hand off at the wrist. Soon I was arranging a time to pop over to the store, located in the midst of the hipster heaven that is Broadway Market. If you haven’t sampled this amazing unique place yet, I urge you to take a Saturday or Sunday morning visit there for a coffee and a wander. The food stalls are out of this world, there are lots of little vintage furniture stores and stalls and it’s just fascinating sitting back and watching all of human life pass by.
I lurked for a while at the back of the shop listening in while Hannah, an unflappable woman, answered queries about needles and fabrics, books and binding. I was discovered in my lurkery by Leanne, the owner of Our Patterned Hand, who had so kindly made the offer.
Leanne’s background is in fashion, she worked as a pattern cutter for many years before starting a family so the shop is very much geared towards dressmaking fabrics with interesting and quirky prints, Liberty lawns and poplins, Irish linen and Harris Tweeds.
It’s also the first fabric shop where I’ve noticed a mirror hanging up so you can check the fabric against you. Now I know this is a tiny detail but can anyone say they’ve noticed this in other fabric shops? I know there isn’t one in John Lewis haberdashery, and pretty sure there’s not one in McCulloch & Wallis or the Cloth House, or any of the fabric shops in Walthamstow market. We’d never consider a clothes shop without a mirror, yet we’d happily buy metres of fabric that we’ve not even checked against ourselves? Anyway – I thought it was a brilliant idea and I guess it must come from Leanne’s fashion background.
Downstairs there’s a good size studio that caters for small sewing classes and workshops such as How to Make a Gypsy Skirt or How to Make a Kimono Jacket (tip: I’ve seen one of these jackets in the studio and they’re gorgeous so that’s tempting me something rotten).
Back upstairs, alongside the amazing fabrics there’s also a well stocked haberdashery, book section, pattern selection and an absolute treasure trove of buttons. Check out this window display.
But what did I choose, you’re asking? With all this fabulous fabric to pick from, surely you picked a digitally printed Liberty silk?! Or the finest Irish linen?! Oh no dear readers, I was in the market for something specific - fashion fabric for my Darling Ranges dress, after I finish the wearable muslin that is. I needed something soft and with drape, not too stiff. And something with an interesting pattern. With Leanne’s expert help I picked out three metres of this rather humble but adorable handwoven hand blocked vegetable-dyed Indian cotton, sourced from Gujarat in Western India. And how do I know all that? Because the guys at Our Patterned Hand like to tell the story behind the fabric – they pretty much know all there is to know about every single bolt – check out the website for further proof.
I’m so delighted and grateful to Leanne and Hannah for letting me have this for nothing – it really is ridiculously generous of them. And it also gave me my first opportunity to do a Q&A with someone who’s in the business, so watch this space for a interview with Leanne coming up!
If you’re in the area, pop in and say hello, It’s one of the friendliest fabric shops I’ve been to, never mind how busy it always seems to be. Definitely worth a visit.