I find the fabric I work with wherever I can, and I'm always on the hunt for new fabrics. My expertise in finding places that sell material is a bit of a joke in my house. I have an ever expanding list of favourite places to go in the local area and further afield, whole days out and trips can be based around visiting some fabric shops and warehouses. Fortunately I have a few friends who share my passion, and I'm working on the rest.
I'm always on the look out for remnants and vintage pieces, so charity shops and markets make great places for a rummage. I found some fantastic linens in a local shop last year and used them to make a drawstring bag amongst other things ( Charity Shop Finds and Drawstring Bag Make 19/2/12).
Some lovely vintage gingham fabrics found at my most recent visit to Altrincham Vintage Market- all sorts of plans for them.
It has become a little embarassing as on a couple occasions recently shop assistants, without any prompting on my part, have shown me to the shop's remnant baskets. As I was being led to these secret remnant stashes, hidden away at the back of the shop, I did wonder if I give off a 'frantic for fabric' vibe. The shops in questions were Dunelm Mill and Terrys Fabric Warehouse, both sell good quality and well priced fabric. If you're only looking for small pieces of fabric the remnant bins are worth seeking out.
Scandi Storage Box lined with Ikea cotton in orange and cream spots
Ikea has also become a source of fabric for me, although I have mix feelings about the place- very much a love hate relationship. If I go, I usually slink in late at night as this generally avoids the crowds of people (family days out etc.) meandering through the shop. Then I try to beat the store planners, ignoring the arrows on the floor looking for the short cuts to avoid the marathon tour around the place. My aim is to get to the fabric department with as few distractions and hold ups as possible. I am very fond of Ikea fabrics as the quality is generally very good and the price reasonable (and in case you're wondering Ikea often have a remnant bin).
I tend to buy their plain cottons and linens for linings. They have some fabulous prints, sadly (for me) many are very large designs ideal for curtains and large cushions but not so good for smaller items. I do love them but tend to resist these large prints and also the ones that are very recognisably 'Ikea', but I recently succumbed ( encouraged by a very good sale discount).
I found a bold floral print cotton, with large stylised flowers with a real 'retro' feel, and a lovely striped cotton canvas fabric. The both fabrics have a wonderful summery feel and work together quite well- I think.
The first make was this large reversible bag which was designed for the beach and holidays. The bag is very spacious with a large base almost like a bucket bag. There is a large pocket that closes with velcro ( the button is just for decoration)- ideal for smaller items so they're not lost in the bottom of the bag.
The bag is reversible makes it a little more versatile, and it folds flat so great to fit in a suitcase.
The striped cotton fabric is ideal for aprons with its strong tight weave, and the flowers from the floral fabric just great for large pockets. They add a bit of fun and interest, and are quite practical. They are lined with the main fabric- this avoided any raw edges and also strenghtened the pockets.
The rest of the striped fabric and floral print is destined for cushions.
A quick word of warning about Ikea be prepared to measure and cut your own fabric (invariably with a pair very blunt scissors). Your fabric is then weighed by an assistant for pricing.
I have a long list of other favourite haunts for fabric including my local shop, Cae Du Designs, here in Harlech, Textile Express in Oswestry ( they also sell online) and many,many more.