I started sewing about five years ago, and I soon discovered my local fabric shop seemed to be packed with naff and tacky materials. The range of fabrics available seemed to be more in keeping with stuff you'd buy to make a Halloween costume or hideous prints not seen since the 1980s - and not in a good way.
With my dreams of stylish bespoke curtains and chic tea dresses in tatters, I retreated home. Once settled with a cup of coffee and a renewed determination, I decided to try our good friend the internet. If you type 'fabric shopping' into Google no doubt you will be presented with a bountiful choice of sites to explore. My next task was to separate the wheat from the chaff.
If you're after good, basic fabrics you can't go wrong with your large warehouse type suppliers.
However, if you're looking for fresh contemporary designs it may be more difficult. The same goes for good quality pieces of vintage or reproduction fabrics. After a few months, yes months, I had settled into the online stores I had been looking for all along. I still use them all these years later.
Certainly don't discount your local cheap fabric store or market trader there are gems and bargains to be had. It just takes a keen eye and a bit of rummaging. Also charity shops can be great place to find curtains, bedding and off cuts which are great for re-purposing.
The best online shops
If your after a good all rounder try Ray Stitch. Boasting designer fabrics, organic cottons, wool felts and an excellent haberdashery, you will always find something you can't wait to stitch with. If you're lucky enough to live in London (sadly I don't) you can visit the shop which also has a beautiful café and runs workshops. Ray Stitch are always prompt with delivery and items come well wrapped with care.
If vintage is your thing take a look at Spinsters Emporium, it's like finding an old suitcase in your Grandma's cottage filled with buttons, fabrics, wallpaper and ready-made kits. The website and blog are a wealth of inspiration, and I can spend an unhealthy amount of time just looking at the beautiful projects and photos on the site.
Another beautiful place is Teawagon Tales, which is not only a fabulous blog full of crafty adventures but also has a fab Etsy store. The shop is filled with pretty pastel coloured packs of vintage fabrics, as well as ready-made cushions, crochet and garlands.
For fresh Scandinavian designed interior and upholstery fabrics, take a look at Hus and Hem. The range is considerably more expensive than Ikea but far less ubiquitous and worth every penny.
A one-stop shop for utterly gorgeous fabrics, yarn, notions and ideas is Purl Soho, with the physical store located in New York. Shipping is reasonable and the website is easy to navigate. You will be spoilt for choice and potential project ideas from beginner to seasoned maker.
Photo © Louise Bush for BitchBuzz