Fabric shopping at Goldhawk Road

For most of us sewists, buying fabric and sewing are two completely separate hobbies. We may start out with good intentions like ‘I’ll only buy fabric for each project as I get round to starting it’ but these soon fall into oblivion when faced with a sewing show, or a fabric shop that’s currently got a sale on, or an exotic little craft shop that’s discovered while we’re on holiday so of course we have to buy all the things because we won’t be coming back any time soon. Slowly and steadily, piece by piece, that fabric stash starts to grow.

Most of you will have heard of the fabric shopping mecca that is Goldhawk Road in west London.Β If you haven’t – it’s a stretch of road with more dressmaking fabric shops in one place than you can shake a stick at. Despite living in London, I’d never been – until now.

The husband was making the trip from East to West to watch a football match (QPR v Ipswich, if anyone’s interested – we’re from Ipswich and they lost. D’oh) so I decided to tag along and finally fulfil my dream of checking out this fabric street that everyone talks about. Because of the train I came in on, it was easier to get off at Shepherds Bush on the central line rather than take the Hammersmith and City line to Goldhawk Road station – you would think that going to Goldhawk Road station would be the logical route, given that it’s Goldhawk Road you want to go to, but it actually worked out better to get off at Shepherds Bush.

Once you’re at the exit of the station, head right and you’ll see a park. Cross the road and head for the other side of the park and keep going along this main road. You’ll soon hit the start of the fabric shops.

Let me firstly explain what sort of fabric shopper I am, to give some context to my opinions. I buy the majority of my fabric online, and only occasionally order samples beforehand – usually if I need a very precise shade or the fabric is expensive. So I often have to put up with dodgy lighting on photos and not-so-true colours, and rely on the description of the fabric by the seller – which sometimes works out and sometimes doesn’t. I’ll normally go to the major craft shows in London to see stalls that I wouldn’t normally get to visit and see fabrics in the flesh where I can see the true colours and feel the weight and texture.

So for someone who isn’t used to seeing too much real-life fabric in front of their eyes, believe me when I say that Goldhawk Road is absolute fabric shopping HEAVEN. So many rolls of fabric that you can see and touch before buying. You get the true colours, can feel the texture and the weight right before your very eyes. The stretch of road I wandered along wasn’t the longest in the world, but I spent a good two hours there and went in at least 10 fabric shops. They don’t look that big from the outside, but they go waaay back and often have two or three floors.

The staff are mostly men, and will normally say hello when you enter and ask if you need any help – but other than that they left me alone and didn’t follow me round the stores like I had heard some people had experienced. It was a pleasant shopping environment and I will definitely be returning when the bank account has recovered.

I saw more fabric in those two hours than I think I have seen in my entire life to date. It’s overwhelming, but in a good way. There’s every single fabric that you could think of – wools, velvets, cottons, jacquards, coatings, leathers, linings, silks – at every price range you can imagine. I saw rolls ranging from Β£2 per metre through to Β£60 per metre. Some places are up for a bit of haggling, and if you’re paying cash it can work in your favour.Β It seemed to me that the shops I came to first (i.e. closer to Shepherd’s Bush) were pricier than the ones further along nearer to Goldhawk Road station.

Here’s just a few of the shop fronts – not glamorous for the most part, but it’s what’s inside that counts πŸ™‚

Each one of these is an Aladdin’s cave of fabric.

But less talk more action – here’s what you really want to see…


Amazeballs, right?! So. Much. Choice. The sheer volume of fabric just totally blew me away. The pictures above are not even a quarter of what I saw, and I didn’t go in every shop.

Below is the Β£60 per metre fabric I saw… heavily embellished, you can see the wrong side around the roll and the right side hanging off to the side. Beautiful, no?

I also had my eye on this pink-and-orange beauty (the colours, LOOK AT THE COLOURS) but at Β£30 a metre it blew the budget by just a smidge. I would love to make a coat from it, but that’s like two or three metres worth. If you’re buying more than one metre though it’s definitely worth asking for a discount.

I saw more shades of power net than I knew existed. I buy mine off eBay, for a higher price per metre than this. Doh. Will stock up next time I’m back.

Cut out faux leather, anyone?

How about real leather? There’s plenty of that too…

I stopped and turned back once I hit Goldhawk Road station – there may well have been more shops further along the road past this, but it was then starting to rain and I had spent the budget already.

Here’s what I bought!

Two metres of red (not pink as it looks in the photo) fairly heavy jersey. Not much stretch so may well become a jacket. Β£4.50 per metre.

A 1.5 metre Liberty remnant – Β£15. This will become a shirt for me, and I’m hoping to make a burnt orange skirt to wear with it.

Some boring basics for winter skirts – burgundy and black wool. Both were listed as Β£15 per metre, but the black was a 1.7m end of roll piece that the owner offered for Β£15. The purple is a buttery-soft wool and cashmere blend that I managed to snaffle two metres of for Β£25 rather than Β£30. So Β£40 for these two but I’m hoping the skirts they become will last me for years.

Here we have two Liberty prints for shirts for the husband – the one on the right was Β£9 per metre and the one on the left was a 2.2m piece that I paid Β£14 for. When you consider that Liberty lawn retails for Β£22.50 per metre, that’s pretty good.

I can honestly say that when I next want to buy fabric (so, like next week probably lol) I won’t bother to go anywhere else. The cross-London journey is long but absolutely worth it as you have so much choice here. If you’re making a special trip you could always hit up Shaukat on the journey back if Liberty is your thing…

There were a few fabrics that caught my eye which I might go back for – mainly the beautiful autumnal tartan in the photo below. I don’t actually own any tartan (in a way I feel like it’s kind of reserved for the Scottish and Burberry stuff) but would make an exception for this. It would make a lovely midi skirt, don’t you think? It was Β£25 a metre though and two metres of that would have eaten up most of the cash I had in my purse, so I had to leave it behind. I whispered to it to wait for me and promised that I would come back for it. Which I will. Next month πŸ˜‰

Do you have any local fabric shopping gems? Have you shopped at Goldhawk Road? Tell me what it’s like for fabric shopping wherever in the world you are!

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24 Comments

  1. September 13, 2017 / 9:06 am

    Loved reading about Goldhawk Rd. Hoping to visit soon down forcsewing bee live.

    I live in the north west of England in Ormskirk and an hour up the motorway is standfast and barracks factory shop in Lancaster. Oh wow it’s fantastic. They do telesales . They have liberty fabric ( slight seconds though I’m never disappointed) at Β£9 a meter, just been an offer fir Β£ 4.50 a meter. If you are ever near the Lake District it’s a must visit ,

    • Sarah
      September 13, 2017 / 6:39 pm

      Ahh I’m off to the Sewing Bee too! I hope you enjoy it ☺️ oooh sounds like you’ve got a little gem near you then – liberty at Β£9 is a bargain let alone at Β£4.50!!! I’ve visited the Lake District once a few years back and the scenery was beautiful 😍😍😍

  2. Linda
    September 13, 2017 / 9:16 am

    Thanks for this Sarah. It’s been a while since I was there. Used to go to A1 fabrics. Good to know it is still there and as good. Am sure there are others too. Too much fun.

    • Sarah
      September 13, 2017 / 6:42 pm

      Ahh yes I think A1 is where I bought the most from! I can’t believe I left it so long before going here to shop! I will definitely be making regular trips now 😜

  3. September 13, 2017 / 11:16 am

    Nice post! I’ve been there last April and was also blown away.

    • Sarah
      September 13, 2017 / 2:14 pm

      It is literally like fabric heaven on earth isn’t it! Can’t believe it took me so long to get round to going, although my bank account is probably thankful for that πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

  4. September 13, 2017 / 12:57 pm

    One of my favourite Saturday morning destinations when we lived in London. Leave the kids with dad, grab a coffee, and hop on the 148 all the way. Hours lost browsing and “window sewing” projects πŸ™‚

    • Sarah
      September 13, 2017 / 6:45 pm

      Sounds like a fabulous time! Yes I could have spent hours there too! And I’m sure I added about 20 projects to my sewing list while I was there πŸ˜‚ unfortunately I think I need another 20 salaries and another 20 hours in the day as well to sew them all!! πŸ˜‚

  5. September 13, 2017 / 3:25 pm

    Love this review! I usually go fabric shopping there, luckily for me (not so lucky for my purse) we live nearby. I like the place – doesnt look glam but so much choice! Just got a beautiful tweed fabric. Which shop is the tartan pic from?
    Thanks for posting!
    Szilvi

    • Sarah
      September 13, 2017 / 6:49 pm

      Ahh so jealous that you live close by!! You’re right it’s not glamorous but my word they have everything! I can’t wait to go back πŸ™‚ ohhh I don’t remember which shop it was in πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ if it helps (which it probably doesn’t) it was one of the ones close to Goldhawk Road station and the wools were right at the back of the shop. I realise that’s probably no help at all, sorry!!! Glad you enjoyed the blog post πŸ™‚

  6. Karyn
    September 13, 2017 / 3:48 pm

    I will have to check Goldhawk Road out next time I am in London. I was in London yesterday with time to spare(unexpectedly) and visited Berwick Road and Poland Road – fantastic fabric and haberdashery shops, but pricey!

    • Sarah
      September 13, 2017 / 6:52 pm

      Yes definitely do! Ahh you must have gone in MacCulloch and Wallis on Poland Street? I usually buy my buttons from there as it’s close to my work and I can nip in on my lunch break πŸ™‚ oh yes Berwick street is VERY pricey! I made the mistake of walking into Silk Society along there… some of the fabrics I saw were three figures per metre! πŸ˜±πŸ˜±πŸ€‘

  7. September 13, 2017 / 6:38 pm

    I’ve been there twice now, love it! There’s only a couple beyond the station so you didn’t miss many πŸ™‚

    • Sarah
      September 13, 2017 / 11:15 pm

      Isn’t it fabulous! I can’t wait to go back! Better get sewing up the fabric that I bought so that I can buy more 😜 ahhh good I’m glad I didn’t miss much! Will check out the ones past the station next time ☺️

  8. cat golden
    September 13, 2017 / 9:04 pm

    SERIOUSLY, I have to cross the pond to go here! You are killing me! Definitely a slow long day of two with lunch and coffee breaks. I WOULD KILL FOR THAT YELLOW PLAID NEXT TO YOUR PINK PLAID!!! I could care less how it looks and OH!!!! the fabrics you got! Fantastic.
    Thanks for the journey! Cat

    • Sarah
      September 13, 2017 / 11:14 pm

      It’s definitely worth the journey! I was only there for a couple hours, I’d need to win the lottery to spend a whole day there πŸ˜‚ what’s fabric shopping like where you are?

  9. September 13, 2017 / 10:18 pm

    I wish I still lived in London; I didn’t sew then! Looks like you had a rewarding trip!

    • Sarah
      September 13, 2017 / 11:14 pm

      Yep, it was definitely a good trip! Worth the long journey to get there. Can’t wait to go back!!

  10. September 14, 2017 / 1:40 am

    You got some great fabrics! I nearly went ‘fabric blind’ when I visited. I was on a bit of a time crunch on my last day of a 4 day trip to London (on the way to a wedding in France from Australia!) but I did get some lovely pieces. I also went to Shepherd’s bush market and got a lovely piece of viscose there. That was 2 years ago and there was talk of all of the fabric shops going (we just missed the famous pie and eel shop), glad to see they are still there.

    • Sarah
      September 14, 2017 / 7:17 pm

      Sounds like you are due for another visit then, surely?! πŸ˜‰ I can totally understand the ‘fabric blind’ thing… there was just so much! I was only there a couple of hours but I can imagine that once you’ve been there for a longer time everything starts to blend into one! I didn’t go to the market (it had then started to chuck it down with rain and I’d spent out anyway) but I think when I go back I’ll have a little wander through as I’ve heard some good things about it! Ahh yes a couple of other people mentioned the shops closing down, and that there was petitions, but there was none of that when I went so I’m hoping that it’s all blown over and the shops are here to stay! I’d be gutted if they closed down after I’d only just discovered them!!

  11. September 14, 2017 / 11:00 pm

    I know what you mean about the trek. For me it’s one end of the Central line to the other but so worth it! My first time a few months ago. And the denim, DENIM! So many choices! Definitely go with a budget or projects in mind otherwise your bank account is in real danger!

    • Sarah
      September 16, 2017 / 8:14 am

      Argh it’s so long isn’t it! But totally worth it πŸ™‚ You can pass the time on the way there *thinking* about all the fabrics you will buy, and then on the way back you can spend the time *looking* at what you’ve bought! πŸ™‚

  12. September 15, 2017 / 8:54 pm

    Thanks for including me comprehensive directions than the name of the station. I have considered going and this certainly helps… The shop fronts are deceptive. You got some great deals

    • Sarah
      September 16, 2017 / 8:15 am

      Ahh you’re welcome! Always happy to help someone buy more fabric πŸ˜‰ I would 100% recommend going, it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen!

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