London Fabric Shopping

by Erin on November 26, 2007

Shaukat Fabrics

Through no actual planning on my part, my hotel here in London is an easy twenty minutes' walk from the amazing Shaukat Fabrics, so guess where I ended up fairly soon-like after arriving in London? That above is a picture of ONE of the Liberty Tana lawn walls; please to be clicking here and here for other views.

I bought half as much as I did on my last trip, but, considering that 1) the dollar has sunk quite a bit since then and 2) I haven't exactly sewn up all I bought last time, I don't feel as if I wasted my opportunities.

I bought a nice big chunk of this lovely Varuna wool:

Shaukat Fabrics

And three other pieces: two of the cricket-balls print (possibly called Schlesinger? Anyway, I want to make a BIG shirtdress in that) and one (about three meters) of the neuron print (that's not its actual Liberty name, but that's what I call it).

Shaukat Fabrics

I could have bought fabrics that I *didn't* already own in other colorways, fibers, and weights, but what would be the fun of that? In an ideal world, I'd only wear Liberty print everything … the same patterns in wool, babycord, cotton lawn, and cotton twill, over and over again.

Yesterday I went to the INCREDIBLE V&A "Golden Age of Couture" show — if you have any, any, any chance of going, GO. Go twice, if you can. I am not joking here, people. There was so much there — it just went on and on like a really good dream — and it was beautifully mounted, up to and including little line sketches on the information cards so that you could better understand the construction details. Cassie (from the V&A's web site) and Melissa kept me company (and indulged my geeking out over all the pockets), and it was just wonderful. (Disclosure — Cassie got us free tickets, but I would have definitely paid the special entry fee anyway …)

Yet to come: a trip to actual Liberty, and possibly Muji — anyone want to tell me which branch of Muji in London is the best?

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous November 26, 2007 at 3:11 am

I’ve always preferred the Muji on High Street Kensington. Have fun!-bex

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Rachael November 26, 2007 at 3:22 am

Hi ErinWelcome back to London! I think the Muji on Carnaby St is pretty good, plus it’s practically next door to Liberty. Also, if you get chance, have a wander along Berwick St (SOHO) to Cloth House. They have 2 branches at nos 47 and 98. Glad you enjoyed the exhibition at the V&A – great isn’t it?Rachael

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freudian slips vintage November 26, 2007 at 3:39 am

Hi Erin, Glad you’re enjoying London, I’d agree that the High Street Ken branch is my favourite Muji, and it’s a nice area to shop generally.Don’t know if you’ll have time or if you know it already but Barnett & Lawson (16-17, Little Portland Street, W1W) is an amazing little shop that supplies the fashion/theatre/costume trades in London and is quite literally jammed with fabulous buttons and trimmings, not vintage as such but I’ve often bought vintage inspired buttons, trims and frogging there etc and the prices are reasonable so you can pick lots up. It’s in a basment and you have to ring a buzzer etc to go in, but it’s like a little aladdin’s cave if you’re looking for things to add to your projects! Last time I was there someone was buying huge amounts of feathers for Alexander McQueen’s design studio – so also good for people watching!! They may have a website too, not sure.Holly

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Dilly November 26, 2007 at 4:40 am

Oh my goodness – you’re in the same city as me! No wonder it’s been feeling much cooler round here the last few days :)I’m ashamed to say I haven’t yet been to the V&A exhibit – despite working at Imperial College, right opposite, and having bought a membership so I could go for free every lunchtime! Must go soon as there’s only 26 lunchtimes left before it closes…If you happen to be in west London at all during your trip, visit the fabric shops on Goldhawk Road between the tube station and Shepherd’s Bush Green – there’s about 9 or 10. It’s not necessarily great quality fabric, but they all have enormous, which is all amazingly cheap (for the UK ;). There’s also several shops selling sari silks and African prints.

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xstpenguin November 26, 2007 at 5:09 am

We’re in the same time zone!! Sounds like you are already having a fab time in London. I’m glad the V&A was worth it. Maybe some other lifetime I’ll get to go.Apart from fabric what else do you buy in the UK – magazines, confectionery that you can’t get in the US?Those primary school kids are SOOO lucky. Have fun!Cheers,AJ

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fuggles November 26, 2007 at 6:02 am

Erin, I’m so pleased you made it to the V&A – I took out membership due to the exhibition, and have been twice so far. If you do want the book of the exhibition, I found a hardback copy of it cheaper than at the V&A in a bookshop near SouthKensington tube stationI’d also recommend the Goldhawk Road shops – one of them, on the opposite side of the road from the underground station also has liberty fabrics, at slightly cheaper prices than Shaukat, and some real bargain basement stuff downstairs. As for Muji. There is quite a big one near Covent Garden tube station. On Long Acre, close to the travel bookshop, Stanfords.

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fuggles November 26, 2007 at 6:28 am

Oh, and I meant to add, 10 mins from Shaukat, on Old Brompton Road, near the turning which leads to Gloucester Road tube station is a nice Belgian Brasserie – Abbaye. Nice food and beer at not extortinate prices.

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Anonymous November 26, 2007 at 7:20 am

Run don’t walk to Joel Fabrics, Church St near Edgeware Road tube….fantastic fabrics (pricey but what the heck!) and if you do go to Goldbourne Road, stroll down Portobello too to the Cloth Shop & say Hi to Sam & Alex from me! Trudy

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melissa November 26, 2007 at 8:05 am

oh my… Shaukat has an online shop now, too! That’s even easier than trudging over to West London!I had so much fun yesterday traipsing around the V&A with you yesterday! That exhibit was two hours of pure bliss, I’m dreaming of nipped in waists, full FULL skirts, and tailored tweed jackets now!

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laura November 26, 2007 at 9:36 am

I’ve loved my visits to London and I hope you check out some of the shops that sell gorgeous sari silks.

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Sondra November 26, 2007 at 9:52 am

Oh, Erin, (big sigh here) thank you for sharing your travels. If only technology allowed us to feel those fabrics. Your descriptions and pictures almost make me want to pack up and fly over all that scary water just to browse those fabric stores.

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Cassie November 26, 2007 at 10:15 am

It was lovely to meet you yesterday Erin – thank you for a great afternoon, and for introducing me to Melissa! And thanks to everyone’s comments, I now know more fabric shops to visit.I find it hard to say which London Muji is the best though.If I’m after something specific, I tend to head to Oxford Street/Carnaby Street as they’re very close together, so between them I can usually find what I want. Plus the branches Tottenham Court Road and Covent Garden (Long Acre) are within walking distance too.The downside is the West End can get very busy and there are nicer places to go shopping.

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rose November 26, 2007 at 10:20 am

Oh, so many lovely fabrics! I haven’t been sewing a *bit* since I started grad school, so perhaps I’d be able to restrain myself. But I think not. As for MUJI, I can’t tell you where to go in London, but I can tell you that we have a small one in NYC’s Soho, and we’ll have another in midtown at some point. Right now I want every toy in their online catalog, and of course there are no toys in the Soho store. *pout*

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beangirl November 26, 2007 at 2:00 pm

Well, Erin, I must say that I’ve never been one for unbridled fits of crazed jealously. Except in this case. You have just described the perfect (yes, perfect) trip.I think I’ll go home and sulk now. (PS. I so totally agree with you on the multi-fabric Libertymania as a sound wardrobe choice. Oh, and I hope you get that book for a good price, I think you should treat yourself. Having passed up a few good exhibition books in my day and always being sorry later, I say go for it!)

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Kate November 26, 2007 at 3:54 pm

Hee – I *have* been to the Couture exhibition twice, and actually had a ticket to go four times. Do I win a prize?! I loved it all, including Miss Lachasse and her world’s smallest stockings… I thought the book was a bit uninspiring though (Cassie, if you’re reading this, please could you respectfully ask the books dept to shell out for some decent photography for once, that will do the clothes justice!!)If you’re in the Liberty area anyway, RD Franks is always worth a look for its books – it moved locations recently and managed to completely mislay its atmosphere in the process, but it still has a fabulous collection of (fashion/clothes/sewing/costume related) books, it just takes longer to unearth the more interesting ones. And the Art Bar cafe on the 2nd floor of Liberty’s is a lovely place for lunch.

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Karen November 26, 2007 at 4:28 pm

wow, I have never seen a wool like that before and I am in LOVE! California just isn’t the place to be for wool. Anytime I buy it the people at the cutting counter always do a double take and ask me what I’m doing, like no one sews with it anymore. I’ve been trying to go to London, my husband goes fairly often but he isn’t a fan of the place, so we haven’t made a trip out of it. I don’t think he’ll go for my rationale of the fabric stores I read about on a blog. So for now, thank you Erin for the pictures!

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supermollio November 26, 2007 at 5:46 pm

I’m so jealous that you’re in London! I must find a job that sends me there regularly . . .I didn’t sew when I lived in London, so my memory may be faulty, but I don’t remember the fabric selection at Liberty being all that big–I just remember seeing the Kaffe Fassett fabrics. I must not have found the right place! I do remember the wide array of needlepoint projects, though. My very dear friend bought me a beautiful one of an Indian cow that came in a zippered velvet bag that you use to make it up into a pillow. [Happy sigh] I love London! Have fun!

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M. November 26, 2007 at 6:16 pm

Ooh, I’m so glad I read something good about the V&A exhibit! My own London adventure is coming up next week, and I was debating going to check that out. Now I think I will.(Also, I’m a long-time reader who’s finally got a blogger account. Been reading your site for over a year and think you are awesome.)

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enc November 26, 2007 at 7:08 pm

Look how much fun you’re having! Yay for you! I hope you get some great photos (and whatever else) at Liberty!

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Ali November 27, 2007 at 2:02 am

I’m very jealous right now! I was in london this time last year…

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Pencils November 27, 2007 at 4:00 am

I LOVE that wool! I shouldn’t look at Liberty fabric, it gives me ideas. And I don’t know about Muji in London, but we have one in NYC now. I tried to go on opening day, but there was an actual line to get in. I was on my lunch break so I didn’t wait. Must go back, maybe today…

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Karla November 28, 2007 at 11:21 am

I was at the V&A on Sunday and saw the exhibit. I sort of went to London just for it to be honest. The highlight for me was Zemire. Oh what an outfit. And the story behind it is incredible, how they restored it! I wanted every single cocktail dress I saw. sigh.

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monkeygrrl November 30, 2007 at 5:29 pm

The V&A makes me weep with joy.

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scormeny May 11, 2009 at 2:56 pm

I just got back to Washington DC from a wonderful one-week vacation in the UK. I spent about an hour and a half at Shaukat, my first visit there, and it was excellent. I spent about $420 on fabric (with the US dollar reasonably favorable at $1.49 to the pound).Thanks so much for the tip about Shaukat! When they hear an American accent, they know that we’ve been sent by “A Dress A Day.”

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