I have been living in Doncaster now for more than 4 years, but I still feel very much as though I am the new kid in town. I still travel almost everywhere with the help of a sat nav, and barely know the names of the neighbouring towns and villages! Over the years I have occasionally found a gem of a craft store, yarn shop or fabric warehouse, but the discoveries have been few and far between. I still rely on my North West finds, as most of the places I have found here stock furnishing, rather than dressmaking, fabrics.
Yorkshire, of course, has an illustrious textile heritage, particularly with regard to woollen and cotton mills. The wonderfully preserved World Heritage Site of Saltaire, built around Titus Salt’s famous mill (a must-visit!) lies just outside of Bradford, and the region was for a short time the world’s biggest fabric producer. In fact, the area is still reknowned for it’s fabric production today – current figures suggest 10% of the UK’s fashion, manufacturing and design jobs are still concentrated in West Yorkshire.
Here are a few of my top Yorkshire treasures – any tips for other finds would be greatly received!
1) Texere, Bradford – fantastic mill shop, stocking a huge variety of yarns for the past 40 years.
2)Knit and Stitch, Doncaster – my local craft shop. Yarns, threads, fabrics, patterns and workshops!
3) Salt’s Mill, Saltaire – a former mill converted into workshops, galleries, Hockney paintings, dining and shopping. Not so much a craft shop, as a step into textiles history.
4) Walton’s Fabrics, Goldthorpe
Walton’s is my new find and the reason for this article. As mentioned in my previous post, I am embarking on a quest to master the basics of dressmaking. The patterns are ordered and my next task is to buy fabric so that I can get started!
A Google search of nearby fabric shops came up with a few possible ones nearby. I spent a sunny Saturday driving around, and eventually hit gold!
– Goldthorpe actually, on the outskirts of Barnsley, which is the home of Walton’s Fabrics. It was like entering an aladdin’s cave of textile treats! There was lots of choice and the shop was pleasingly busy. The staff were really helpful whenever you asked them a question, as they whizzed around the store.
You will be happy to read that I steered clear of the patterns section – I think I’ve got enough to be getting on with! However, like a good student, I had brought a few of my purchased patterns with me, so that I could check fabric types and quantities. Fabrics of every conceivable type and colour were available, although a novice such as myself found it quite a struggle to work out what I should be looking at – most of the fabrics had no label or price. I eventually found a selection of crepe-backed satin, which was specified as a suitable fabric on one of the patterns: Very Easy Vogue, 8241.
I picked a lovely dark, plummy one, which seemed a little heavier than some of the others. I took it to the desk, where the sales assistant told me that she could tell I was a beginner because I’d picked the most expensive stuff, at £5.99 a metre! That price still seemed A-OK to me, so I picked up a few metres, adding a little extra to what the pattern required, just in case I screwed up at some point.
The next fabric that caught my eye was stripy and fabulous. This one had a label – 100% Silk, £6.50. It was love at first sight, so I rifled through my patterns until I found one I could use it for. I thought it would suit New Look 6022 perfectly. The print on the silk was quite a large repeat, so I picked up 3 metres rather than 2. At that price, I wasn’t too worried about having extra!
I also spotted a gorgeous jersey knit material, and although none of the patterns I had brought needed that fabric, I had to buy it. Jersey knits are my weakness – I can barely pass one by without adding it to the shopping list. It was only £3.50 a metre, and there were only 2 metres left on the bolt, so I took the lot.
I left the shop as happy as a pig in mud. What a find! Three lovely fabrics, amounting to 8 metres in total, and the whole lot only came to £42. I can’t wait to put these fabrics to good use! Hopefully, as I learn more about fabrics, I’ll be able to spot more bargains. I have already learned one or two things on my quest – apologies if these seem a bit obvious, but they weren’t to me!
1)Always take your patterns with you when buying fabric – you might have a particular type of fabric in mind when you go shopping but might spot something else which might just work, and you’ll need to check your pattern!
2) Always buy a bit more than you need – I knew to do this for patterned fabrics, but I suppose the same rule applies for plain fabrics. You never know when you might make a mistake or plan to create an accessory to go with your finished garment.
3) As my Mother said on the phone, when I called her from the shop – “Check the drape” – I guess this means, check the way the fabric feels, looks and falls. Lay the end of the roll of fabric over your arm and check you are happy with the way it feels against the skin and the way the light catches it. Does it feel like it’s trapping heat? Will it be comfortable to wear? Does it crease or hold pleats? I think I still have a bit to learn on this one.
Let’s get stitching!