Daffodils are emerging, and suddenly it becomes apparent that if you want a special dress made for your once in a lifetime event this year, you had better get out there and find the fabric of your dreams.
This guide is intended specifically to help those shopping for evening wear and bridal fabrics, so prom, graduation, and ballgowns alongside brides and bridesmaids. It will not be terribly helpful if you are looking for everyday materials such as cottons, linens and wools.
Firstly, I’d head for Berwick Street W1. In the heart of Soho, there is a cluster of mid to high end fabric shops catering to the public, film and theatre. Other west end stalwarts such as John Lewis, Liberty of London and MacCulloch and Wallis are fairly hopeless when it comes to fancy fabrics, so unless you need haberdashery I’d give them a miss.
Heading south from Oxford Street, you will encounter the following stores:
• The Silk Society at 44 has an great array of plain and embellished silks
• Broadwick silks, 9-11 Broadwick Street (a few doors on the left) is very bridal friendly with multiple shades of various cloths
• Borovicks at 16 is aimed squarely at the theatrical market, but worth a look
• The Berwick street Cloth Shop at 14 has a huge range of embellished fabrics crammed in up to the ceiling
• The Cloth House at 98 is the branch which deals in fancy fabrics (the one near Noel Street is cottons, linens and some wools)
• Misan Fabrics at 4 has a good range of laces, and plenty of treats in the basement (again, the branch further north is for cottons, wools etc.
• Biddle Sawyer Silks at 2 is stronger on plain fabrics, but all are a lovely quality.
Away from Soho, just off the Edgware Road you will find Joel & Son fabrics, one of the finest fabric shops in the world. They stock the most gorgeous haute couture fabrics fit for our Queen. They have everything, and of the finest quality too. They also charge accordingly so set your budget before you fall in love embroidered tulle “with stones” at £300+ /metre.
New Rainbow Textiles at 98, The Broadway, Southall (train from Paddington) is both amazing and affordable. In the heart of west London’s indian hub, New Rainbow Textiles boasts 3 floors of silks and chiffons for all occasions, from the plain to the heavily embellished. What I particularly like is you can buy a “suite” of fabrics, including lining, plain, moderately and heavily decorated to use on different parts of the garments without it looking like a patchwork circus outfit. The stock is always surprising, and well worth the trip out to zone 4. You may also want to consider buying a sari. 5.5 m of fabric, often with borders and interesting design details can make an amazing gown.
The shops of Goldhawk Road (Shepherds Bush) are less reliable than those already listed, but the prices are good and you may strike lucky. The best bets are UK Textiles at 47 and A1 Fabrics at 50-52. A-Z Fabrics at 53 is big on colour and the wow factor, but the effect is can veer towards the panto if you’re not careful.
Outliers on the search for fabric for gorgeous gowns include Dalston Mill Fabrics and any number of indian shops on Green Street in east London’s Upton Park.