My European Fabric Shopping Adventure
Nathaniel and I knew that even though we went carry-on TO Europe, we were going to need to check bags coming back because he was planning on buying some Scotch. So I decided to pack my Vera Bradley duffel in my suitcase and give myself the freedom to buy fabric and not worry too much about how much space it was going to take up.
Before we went, I did a little research on fabric shops in Paris, London and Edinburgh. I figured I didn’t need to try to look for fabric in every single town (because we went to a lot!), but that Paris and London would definitely have fun options, and we wanted some tartan from Scotland. Also, doing research ahead of time meant we could go out with a mission, rather than aimlessly looking for shops.
Before I get to the shops we stopped through in the places I researched, we’ll get to my first fabric purchase of the trip!
I hadn’t been planning on buying any fabric in Munich, but as we were walking from our hotel to Old Town, we went right past a fabric shop, Orag Haus, so I had to stop in. The building also had windows with traditional German outfits, so we think that maybe you could also buy a custom outfit - I’m just guessing, though! When we went in, I asked if there was anything special that I could only get in Germany, but I don’t think the store clerk understood what I was really asking, so she showed me some fancy sequin fabric. While I love some sparkle, that wasn’t what I was looking for, and I gravitated toward some fabrics that reminded me of Dirndls. i ended up getting one meter of a dark blue fabric with white flowers. I’m not 100% sure what I’ll make with this, but possibly an apron, or a pair of shorts I could wear to Oktoberfest themed parties.
Our first stop in Paris was Anna Ka Bazaar, which was a very small shop that sells a handful of fabrics including the French brand Atelier Brunette (and as far as I can tell, the owner of the shop is also the owner of the fabric brand). I decided to get a couple meters of this pretty blue with paint splatter patterns, plus matching bias tape and piping - I love that they make it there and I don’t have to! Plus I’ll be able to have a couple pieces that go together if I use them separately! The woman who was working there was very friendly and helpful when I didn’t understand the French signs about what was on sale and what wasn’t. I thought the sign meant that you couldn’t buy the fabric, but it meant that it just was not discounted. Their website seems to imply that they are renovating soon - at least that’s what I gather from using Google Translate. 😉
The second stop in Paris was Malhia Kent. This is the kind of place you need to go to with no particular project in mind. Everything is sold as a specific length (a remnant), some things just a few inches, other things maybe a meter and half, so you can’t be too picky or need anything specific. The fabric is also very bold - lots of colors, patters, and textures. I think they use the fabric for actual fashion, then sell the leftovers. The salesperson there was not super friendly, unfortunately. She first asked me if I needed help and seemed kind of put-off when I said I just needed to look at what they had first, and when I finally needed help, she said that I made her lose her train of thought with the other task she was performing. I ended up buying two small cuts of decorative fabric (one for Nathaniel because he liked it), and one longer cut (close to a meter) of some shimmery pink sweater fabric. I have no idea what I’ll do with any of it, but it only cost me about 8 Euros!
We first went to the Berwick Street Cloth Shop. I decided to go here because one post I read about it said that some of the costumes in Game of Thrones were made with fabric from this shop! It’s in London’s West End, so this would be a great spot for a theatre’s costume designer to pop in. It was much smaller than I expected, but it was floor to ceiling in a deep, tall room, and had a large variety of fabrics, including faux furs (I see you, Jon Snow). I ended up buying a shimmery blue velvet knit (because I couldn’t stop looking at it or touching it), which will probably become a dress, and a floral woven fabric, which I still need to figure out what it will become.
Next was Liberty - this is actually a department store with several floors of clothes, accessories, dishes, furniture, etc., but they also sell fabrics. I’ve actually seen Liberty fabric before in small shops near me (Elfreide’s and Fancy Tiger Crafts), and I thought of them as small, intricate prints, usually florals, and they didn’t always really appeal to me. However, they had SO MUCH to choose from in London, including a new line with prints that weren’t what I would have expected with my limited knowledge of the company. I ended up getting two meters of a dark peacock print, one meter of a paisley print, and two meters of a sheer dog print, because some of the dogs look like Riker, and it was half off!
For the last stop in this fabric adventure, my research pointed me toward Edinburgh Fabrics, and even before we walked in, I knew they’d have something fun since I could already see the plaid! Nathaniel’s family is descended from the Gunn clan, so we looked for some Gunn tartan, and lo and behold, they actually had a brand new bolt of midweight wool Gunn. We bought 8 meters! Hopefully I’ll be able to make him a kilt and maybe something for myself to match? This cut is by far the heaviest, most expensive piece of fabric I’ve ever bought 😂 I also bought 3 meters of a black, white and red plaid to make myself a skirt, but I bought polyester - much less expensive, plus I can more readily machine wash it!
I had a lot of fun fabric shopping in Europe, and I’m so glad we decided to bring an extra bag to put everything in so I didn’t feel limited by space. I’m not sure what I’ll make with everything I got, but it will be really fun to wear something and remember where I bought it and reminisce about this trip.
P.S. This is what my basement looks like right now 🙈 Gotta prewash!