I know this blog is supposed to be about beadwork, but at the moment I also have the dressmaking bug. This year’s Great British Sewing Bee inspired me to lug out the machine for me, rather than curtains, cushions or children’s fancy dress. I bought a copy of the lovely Japanese book (Yoshiko Tskiori’s Stylish Dress Book) a while back and have made a couple of tunics already, which I’ll tell you about at some point, but I needed some fabric which I can’t source locally, and as I’ve not yet settled into ordering dress fabric online I popped up to Goldhawk Road for the first time ever this week to seek some out.
Despite having been a Dress Fabrics and Haberdashery Department Manager in my early career I’ve never been to Goldhawk Road before – I used to visit Berwick Street regularly to check out the competition, but never ventured to west London. So I girded my sewist loins and boarded the tube for Shepherd’s Bush, trotted across the green and arrived in a strange fabric shoppers nivarna. In between the takeaways, Tesco Metros, betting shops and vape shops, for the 200 yards between the corner of Shepherd’s Bush Green and Goldhawk Road tube there are just fabric shops. That’s it. Each one different but the same – the same Aladdin’s caves of fabrics, spilling out onto the floor, rolls stacked every which way, but with a huge variety of fabrics in each individual shop. And no two ranges the same in any two shops – always different colours, textures, prices, qualities. Mind boggling.
In the end I spent about 2 hours there, going from shop to shop, trying to remember what was where, and work out what I actually wanted to buy. Going with a plan of some kind would definitely have been a good idea – my vague ‘stuff for a tunic or dress but not summer fabrics’ was helpful, but as you will see from my purchases, hard to stick to – everyone else seemed to have something specific in mind. I missed out on a couple of fabrics because I clean forgot which shop they were in (I can still visualise the stack of rolls of Liberty cord, but couldn’t find the right shop when I had decided to buy), and found the whole experience slightly overwhelming, with rolls everywhere, patchy pricing meaning you had to actually talk to people (not my favourite thing in shops), and just the sheer variety on offer was extraordinary, and much better than expected. I loved it, got some fantastic bargains (and some marvellous not so bargains), and will be going back (but not until I’ve made up everything I bought – I do have some self control you know).
Anyway, to give you some idea of the kind of things that are available, here are my somewhat random purchases. I’d love to tell you which shops they came from, but I really can’t be sure!
Lovely rough woven silk, medium weight. Not on my list, but it spoke to me while I was buying the muslin, screaming ‘ask him how much I am, I am so lush’. £12 pm – this was intended for a winter weight tunic dress, but may be too nice (and probably dry clean only, I forgot to check), so may be a collarless coat instead when I get a bit better/more confident.
Suiting weight polyester blend, this one will be a tunic dress for work. I’m thinking slightly A line (Stylish Dress Book F) but with fancy sleeves (SDB top B but without the wrist elastic so kind of bell shaped). £12 pm.
Muslin in vivid magenta (what else) – very narrow, but only £2 pm so I bought lots! Tunic shirty thing – SDB G, J or W depending on how clever/stylish I feel. But not until the spring since this is definitely summer wearing stuff. Will be quite exciting to make a garment for under £10!
Cheapo giant check gingham. I’ve wanted some of this for ages, it’s a bit stiff but hopefully will wash to soft. Probably a simple square tunic (would look nice as a SBD E but I don’t have the courage to try and sort out patterns and pleats with a cheap, probably slightly warped fabric). £2.50 pm!
Lovely Italian viscose jersey – not the cheapest on offer, but definitely the best quality. This is going to be a SDB tunic Q, but longer. It may have to wait until I can get some fusible seam binding though as I am still a bit scared of knits and this will help. I wouldn’t want any bagging around my bust after all. £12pm.
And then this was the really naughty one. The one that broke all the rules (price and season). But I don’t care because it is completely and utterly gorgeous, even the smallest snotty boy is fascinated by it. It’s a German digitally printed cotton voile (but quite a heavy one, just one step off a lawn really). It will need lining, and careful thought about use of pattern (the repeat is about a metre), and will be completely outrageous and totally, totally lush. A very brightly coloured, parrot like, Hiawathaesque delight. A dress I think, but only once I’m really, really competent! £20 pm. Oops.
So there you have it – a fun, overwhelming afternoon adding to my dressmaking stash. And not a dinosaur costume in sight.