Thursday, 22 April 2010

Where are you, UK sewists?

In light of my recent foray into quilting, I have be doing a little cyber-browsing of quilting blogs and websites. Wowzers – quilting is VERY popular in the US! Not sure what other UK sewists have found, but I have noticed that sewing and quilting is much more popular in the US than it is here. Or at the very least, there are a lot fewer people who blog about it here… There has been a resurgence of crafting in the UK – particularly with respect to knitting which has become very trendy in the past couple of years (I am STILL knitting the back of a baby cardigan I started AGES ago – the bloody pattern is written in Greek or something) – a result of the credit crunch and the desire to improvise mainly, but I think people have also started to realize how satisfying it can be to make things; either for yourself or to give away. I haven't yet got to the stage where I have (a) made very many things, or (b) considered that any of the things I have made would be welcome gifts. That is something I hope quilting might fix – quilts must make lovely presents. I know I'd love to be given one! If only they didn't take so long to make… though I think that is probably just practice. And the fact that the quilt I have decided to make as my first appears to have about one billion teeny tiny pieces (I am prone to exaggeration).

A couple of my girlfriends have expressed an interest in sewing / knitting / quilting (one is making a rag rug – though I think her current rate of progress is not dissimilar to that of my baby cardigan) and we keep talking about having some sort of sewing circle. Maybe just meeting up one weekend or evening to chat and sew (or 'rug' – whatever the 'doing word' for that is) – a few cocktails, cupcakes, some Lady Gaga… Perhaps I should be more aggressive in my corralling and just propose a date.

Do any of you meet with like-minded people to natter and stitch? If so, how did you get started?


  1. I know what you mean. I only ended up with a sewing machine because we bought a new house, the credit crunch came a few months later and we really, really needed curtains. My Janome (£189) paid for itself on the first set of simple pencil pleat curtains. And that would have been the end of that. But somehow, I slowly got into sewing bit by bit. It started with kids clothes, xmas presents and quilts.

    I haven't found anyone in my neighbourhood interested in sewing. So, it is nice to have a conversation on-line with like-minded people where ever they may be.

    Another problem, in my opinion, is finding nice fabric. When I am attracted to RTW it is usually for the sake of the fabric, not the design or the quality of the construction. It seems so difficult to find fabrics that look current and appealing. I know there are some great on-line sources in America, but I am put off by the fact that anything worth over £18 including the cost of shipping will trigger an unknown customs charge and an £8 administrative fee from Royal Mail on top of that! Often these sites describe the fabric being milled in Italy. I always think, but that is the EU! Why can't I get it here? Even cheaper?

  2. I totally agree with you on the fabric issue - living in London you'd think we'd be overrun with choice. There are some fantastic places in central London (MacCulloch & Wallis, Borovick Street) but they are expensive and the ranges aren't THAT great (compared to some of the giant fabric shops that you seem to get in the States. Goldhawk Road is probably the best place on balance. But the online resources in the UK seem a long way behind the US. I have ordered from Gorgeous Fabrics once before - but like you say, the customs charges are a killer! There MUST be some fabric warehouses SOMEWHERE near London??

  3. As a fellow UK sewist and blogger, I have to agree that there seems to be less people who sew/quilt, or blog, or both in the UK. (But, of course, the population of the UK is considerably less than in the US). As I don't quilt or knit my work isn't portable so I rely a lot on the blogosphere for my fix of sewing chat but I also have had very nice sewing chats with people I bump into in fabric/haberdashery stores. So, next time you are in the Goldhawk Road and you come across a crazy woman talking to strangers, it might be me!

  4. Have you tried Fabrics Galore in Battersea? It's got a really good range of fabric. My latest purchase was an olive green silk/cotton blend that I'm going to use to make a Sencha blouse.

    Their website is rubbish, but the shop is good!

  5. I have never heard of Fabrics Galore - thanks for the tip!

  6. I sew with my sewing friends once a week. Every other Monday we meet here at my place, and every other Tuesday we meet in the sewing room at the local school. It is a good combination between being at home and having a looot of table space.

    We found each other in odd ways - a once colleague suggested that I started going to sewing classes every week and we did that for a couple of years and turned friends. Then we both had children and started going to the classes held every other week. When the tacher stopped we stopped as well and started sewing at my place insted together with another friend of mine. Then my friend bought another friend along. Last year we set up a course and needed a few more participants and my husband asked a collegue of his and she wanted to go and she just fit in nicely with the rest of us so now she comes every other Tuesday at the school.

    Sewing with someone is so great and inspiring and my sewing has gotten better with it. I hope you find yourself a little sewing group. It can be expensive, though - you inspire each other to buy more nice fabric, notions, gadgets and even more sewing machines. :-)

  7. Hi there,

    Im a fellow London sewer. I created a googlemap open to the public & to edit listing all the sewing shops in london. Im hoping it will grow and that fellow Londoners find it useful!

  8. By the way , that wasn't meant to be a shameless plug :D


Hey, thanks for commenting!