Never look a gift horse in the mouth…

A rather amazing and wonderful thing happened to me last week. A fabric shop based in East London, called Our Patterned Hand, got in touch with me. Having followed the blog for a while and knowing that I was a local stitcher (local as in London and north of the river I guess!) they made the unbelievably generous offer – any fabric of my choosing from the shop, gratis, in return for just a mention on the blog.

The shop in Broadway Market

Now, I’m not proud and this is the first offer I’ve ever received from a fabric or haberdashery supplier so obviously I bit their giving hand off at the wrist. Soon I was arranging a time to pop over to the store, located in the midst of the hipster heaven that is Broadway Market. If you haven’t sampled this amazing unique place yet, I urge you to take a Saturday or Sunday morning visit there for a coffee and a wander. The food stalls are out of this world, there are lots of little vintage furniture stores and stalls and it’s just fascinating sitting back and watching all of human life pass by.

I lurked for a while at the back of the shop listening in while Hannah, an unflappable woman, answered queries about needles and fabrics, books and binding. I was discovered in my lurkery by Leanne, the owner of Our Patterned Hand, who had so kindly made the offer.

Leanne the owner - her 10 year old daughter made that top you know!

Leanne the owner – her 10 year old daughter made that top you know!

Leanne’s background is in fashion, she worked as a pattern cutter for many years before starting a family so the shop is very much geared towards dressmaking fabrics with interesting and quirky prints, Liberty lawns and poplins, Irish linen and Harris Tweeds.


Nicely laid out fabrics

It’s also the first fabric shop where I’ve noticed a mirror hanging up so you can check the fabric against you.  Now I know this is a tiny detail but can anyone say they’ve noticed this in other fabric shops?  I know there isn’t one in John Lewis haberdashery, and pretty sure there’s not one in McCulloch & Wallis or the Cloth House, or any of the fabric shops in Walthamstow market. We’d never consider a clothes shop without a mirror, yet we’d happily buy metres of fabric that we’ve not even checked against  ourselves? Anyway – I thought it was a brilliant idea and I guess it must come from Leanne’s fashion background.

Downstairs there’s a good size studio that caters for small sewing classes and workshops such as How to Make a Gypsy Skirt or How to Make a Kimono Jacket (tip: I’ve seen one of these jackets  in the studio and they’re gorgeous so that’s tempting me something rotten).

The studio downstairs

The studio downstairs

Well stocked haberdashery

Is that tie-dyed bias binding? Amazeballs!

Back upstairs, alongside the amazing fabrics there’s also a well stocked haberdashery, book section, pattern selection and an absolute treasure trove of buttons. Check out this window display.

Buttons, buttons everywhere

Buttons, buttons everywhere

But what did I choose, you’re asking? With all this fabulous fabric to pick from, surely you picked a digitally printed Liberty silk?! Or the finest Irish linen?! Oh no dear readers, I was in the market for something specific – fashion fabric for my Darling Ranges dress, after I finish the wearable muslin that is. I needed something soft and with drape, not too stiff. And something with an interesting pattern. With Leanne’s expert help I picked out three metres of this rather humble but adorable handwoven hand blocked vegetable-dyed Indian cotton, sourced from Gujarat in Western India. And how do I know all that? Because the guys at Our Patterned Hand like to tell the story behind the fabric – they pretty much know all there is to know about every single bolt – check out the website for further proof.

Hand blocked Indian Cotton - tulip pattern

Hand blocked Indian Cotton – tulip pattern

I’m so delighted and grateful to Leanne and Hannah for letting me have this for nothing – it really is ridiculously generous of them. And it also gave me my first opportunity to do a Q&A with someone who’s in the business, so watch this space for a interview with Leanne coming up!

If you’re in the area, pop in and say hello, It’s one of the friendliest fabric shops I’ve been to, never mind how busy it always seems to be. Definitely worth a visit.


15 thoughts on “Never look a gift horse in the mouth…

  1. Mirror in a fabric shop – genius. I’m always carrying around giant bolts searching for the tiniest reflective surfaces in mine… i know i look like an ijit but it’s necessary LOL.

    Great choice of fabric – it’s a perfect fit for that dress! Can’t wait to see it ! 🙂

  2. Oh how lovely of them and it sounds brilliant to have a shop that knows where it all come from. The one I use in southampton the ladies are lovely and helpful but it is part of a chain and they have no input in the choosing of the material etc.
    But for their credit there are mirrors in the shop! the kind of mirrored columns that are big clothes shops etc.

  3. That place looks well worth a visit, always nice to here of a new (to me) shop and the fabric looks perfect for the dress you have in mind.
    Debbie B

  4. That fabric looks great – and I know it must be if you passed up Irish linen for it. I’m currently working with a wonderful Irish linen, so I know first hand how marvelous they are. I can’t wait to see your dress take shape!

  5. How fantastic! This shop looks divine…I’ve already had a snoop online. And the fabric you chose will be so perfect for the Darling Ranges dress!

  6. This is just toooo cool. I love the fact that they know so much about the story behind each of their fabrics; and you made a great choice too 🙂

  7. I made a dress with some of that Indian hand blocked fabric last year , it’s lovely to work with and quite unusual.
    Big fan of Our Patterned Hand so it’s great to see you reviewing it in your blog!

  8. I am a member of the East London Sewing Club and Leanne lets us use her downstairs room (and all the wonders it contains!) every few weeks to have our sewing meeting – for free! She’s great! I really would recommend anyone making a trip there – I don’t think any of us can resist the delights in the shop. Broadway Market was a revelation to me as well, I first went on a beautiful sunny Saturday morning and found this other world I didn’t know existed – amazing stalls, great food. Go now before the tourists find it!

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