A couple of weeks ago, I had a Friday off work (yay for four-day work weeks, amirite ??)
What better way to spend a day off work – other than sitting at the sewing machine, obvs – than to go out fabric shopping?
Earlier that week, I saw on Instagram that Peter Jensen were having a fabric sale, and it just so happened that it was being held over my day off. AND it was payday. The stars were truly aligned for me ?
I’d also been wanting to visit Crescent Trading, who are sort-of geographically close to the Peter Jensen sale, and I began formulating an East-London-fabric-shopping plan. Crescent Trading aren’t open on a Saturday, and Saturdays is when I mostly find myself in that area so heading there on a Friday would be PERFECT.
I’m not really familiar with Peter Jensen as a brand, but I had a quick nosey at their website before I went and their stuff looked pretty cool so decided to give it a shot.
The sale was held in E18, on Shacklewell Road – the nearest stations are Dalston Junction and Dalston Kingsland. I vaguely knew the road that it was on but just couldn’t picture where it would be… turns out it was hidden from the street within a massive building and you had to push a buzzer in order to get in. But at least it was signposted:
The sale was held on the first floor, across a couple of rooms. I must admit, when I walked in I was immediately disappointed. There wasn’t many rolls of fabric. And the ‘accessories and trims’ section wasn’t big either. Since I’d made the journey there especially, I decided to inspect every single corner – thoroughly.
At first glance, nothing really caught my eye in the fabrics section. It was a small room with the rolls stacked up against three of the four walls. The first wall contained some sparkly numbers:
The second wall had some (from left to right) polys (£2pm), silks (£6pm), viscose (£2pm) and wool crepes (£10pm) – not really my colours (but if you love primary colours, you’re laughing – custard yellow trousers, anyone?), so I passed on by.
The third wall had some corduroy (£4pm) and printed fabrics (£10pm), and looked the most promising – but nothing really jumped out at me, not even anything for a shirt for the husbeast. And at £10 per metre, I didn’t think they were particularly cheap either.
And that was the end of the fabric. Sad face.
The trimmings section consisted of some thread cones (50p each), a box of zips at £1 a bundle, and a couple of trays of what seemed to be mostly hooks and eyes, and small snaps.
So what did I score? Erm, well a fair few (dusty) thread cones for the overlocker – I’m always wary about cheap overlocker thread, but if you’ve seen the prices of their clothes on the Peter Jensen website, if the thread is good enough for them it’s good enough for me – and a couple of metres of that black elastic that I can only describe as hair-elastic elastic. You know, the thin round black stuff that loops over buttons to hold it closed. Yeah, that stuff.
I didn’t manage to get a full matching set of four cones, but I got one green set, one burgundy set and one purple set (which is currently on my overlocker). The odd one out of the purple set is a bright pink cone – so my overlocking is currently matchy-matchy with my hair ?
When I got to the till, I saw a tub of buttons at £1 per scoop. I glanced over them, disappointed that most of them were white (I use white buttons like, never) but then one particular style caught my eye – black shirt buttons with a pinky sort of mother-of-pearl sheen to them. So pretty ? I then saw that there were LOADS of these particular buttons in the tub… so I asked the girl if I could hand-pick my scoop of buttons and she said yes. I proceeded to spend the next five minutes sifting through the tub picking out all these nuggets of beauty, and it was worth every second. I did say to the girl sitting at the desk that she would forever remember me as that loser that spent ages being fussy about what buttons she wanted, but apparently I wasn’t the first person to have done it so either I’m not as nerdy as I thought, or there are others out there that are just as nerdy ?
The scoop doesn’t *look* that big, but I ended up with enough buttons for a fair few shirts. (I probably could have fitted in another ten or twenty buttons, but by that time I’d been button-picking for a while and I thought I might look like I was being a bit extra if I carried on).
Anyway, the whole haul came to £8, which I was fine with – I would have paid that for the buttons alone.
So although I was a bit disappointed in the whole affair, I’m glad I went – but only because of the buttons ? (yes, I’m totes obsessed with those buttons).
Would I travel especially just to go to another of their sample sales? Not based on this one, sadly. There just isn’t enough fabric choice to warrant a special journey. When I see the next one advertised, unless I’m already planning on being in the area then I’ll be passing it up.
With my threads and buttons in hand, I headed back towards the train station to make my way on to my next and final stop – Crescent Trading.
The nearest station is Shoreditch High Street, but luckily this is only just a few stops down from Dalston Junction, on the same line. I’d seen their Instagram feed and was curious to go visit them – only once I was walking there did I realise that I have LITERALLY been ten seconds walk away from them every time I’ve headed to Brick Lane to take blog photos. The catch is – they don’t open on Saturdays, which is when I’m normally in the area. So even if I had stumbled across them, they would have been closed ?
Not today! ?
Crescent Trading is an actual warehouse (as opposed to like a proper shop), with racking and everything, and if it wasn’t for the signage outside you wouldn’t have a clue that the building was inhabited.
You get the feeling that you step back in time a little bit heading in here, the two (very lovely) chaps that run it have been doing this a while – the warehouse has been going for 30 years, and I think they might have been working there for the entire time ?
One thing I will give you the heads up on is that this place is CASH ONLY. Don’t do what I did and turn up with your plastic. You’re in for a walk to the nearest cashpoint/ATM if that’s the case (and just a heads up on that – the closest one charges you a fee, so I walked to the Sainsburys on Bethnal Green Road which didn’t charge, because I grudge paying a fee TO WITHDRAW MY OWN MONEY.)
Also take note of Crescent’s weekend opening hours – half day on Friday, closed on Saturday, but oddly they are open on Sunday ?
If you’re looking for uber-modern, loud fabrics, this is not the place. If you’re looking for classic silks, shirtings, suitings and coatings, then this is DEFINITELY the place. There’s not a roll of cheap polyester in sight – natural fibres all the way here.
Everything is nice and neatly organised, with a little sample of the cloth hanging out over the edge (of most of ’em, anyway) so that you can see/feel the fabric *without* having to pull out the whole roll. Definitely appreciated this after the chaos of some of the shops that I went into in Paris earlier this year.
Prices aren’t displayed on the roll, so you gotta ask – I literally had no idea what sort of price level I was looking at when I walked in. Would stuff be reasonable, or hideously expensive? I saw a beautiful purple corduroy that I really loved so I chose this one as my price guinea pig. I paid about £10 per metre for the corduroy I used for my Madeline skirt (from Fabric-Dreams.co.uk) and the corduroy I saw at the Peter Jensen sale was £4 per metre… BUT! A side note on quality here. The fabric I used for my Madeline skirt was actually a little disappointing, because the button pulled a hole in the fabric (it wasn’t my fat belly, I promise. Well, I’ll be honest, it might have contributed a little). It wasn’t until I was sewing the button back on that I *really* looked closely at the fabric and saw that actually, it was quite a loose weave. And the corduroy at the sample sale seems to be the same loose weave. :/
Anyway, back to where I was – the purple cord. This fabric is a LOT more densely woven than the stuff I’ve used before – much higher quality. The cut edges of the fabric aren’t fraying at all like the one in the picture above (check out the edge of that red fabric ?). So how much was it? £5 per metre. YAS. I kid you not. It’s really good quality, and I find it quite hard to find corduroy in ‘autumnal’ shades (as opposed to lairy primary colours) so I was proper pleased to find such a gorgeous colour and thickness at a reasonable price – so pleased, in fact, that I bought four metres. It’s got some stretch to it so I’ve kinda got a retro pair of Lander’s in my mind… however that depends on me firstly actually buying the pattern, and secondly actually getting the courage up to sew them. Yeah, we’ll see how long it takes for that vision to become a reality. Pro tip – probably not for a really, REALLY long time.
Anyhoo, wanting to be a good wifey and take something home for the husbeast (after all, he was at work while I was swanning around the city like a lady of leisure), I delved through their shirting section.
Now, as I mentioned earlier, this is not the place for loud prints, so their shirting section was not one to rival the likes of Liberty. Well, not in colour, anyway – but they took a good stab at mirroring their quality. I eyeballed two fabrics to ask the price for – one blue and brown stripy number which reminded me of AllSaints, and a khaki green plain cotton. Yep – PLAIN. NOT A SINGLE PRINT ON THAT FABRIC. A SOLID COLOUR. WHAT MYSTICAL POWERS DOES THIS WAREHOUSE HOLD AND WHY IS IT MAKING ME CHOOSE A SOLID COLOUR. The fabrics were actually VERY good quality, to feel them in your hand they were super smooth and almost equal to that of Liberty. You guys know that I’m *super* fussy about my shirting fabrics (and if you didn’t know, you do now) which is why I very rarely use anything other than Liberty for shirts.
I held my breath while I waited for the answer to the question ‘how much are these’? They were both £3.50 per metre. ERMAHGERD. I bought two metres of each, enough to make a shirt. The stripy one will become a long-sleeved shirt, because I want to go bias-stripe crazy on the cuffs and placket. The green one will be a short sleeve shirt, purely because the husband already has two long-sleeved shirts which are that colour.
The warehouse reminded me a lot of the shops along Goldhawk road, but cheaper and less chaotic. If you’re in the area (or close to the area) it’s definitely worth a visit!
Here’s my final haul:
(that corduroy isn’t so shiny-shiny in real life)
I’m trying not to buy too much fabric over the next few months (ha!) because my trip to NYC is not too far away… which obvs means I’m saving myself for a totally cray-cray blowout at Mood Fabrics and the entire garment district ?
In other news, anyone else catch ‘McQueen’ at the cinema? A very emotional journey through the life and work of Lee McQueen, definitely recommended if you get the chance to see it. I’ve always been a fan of his – I really love the gothic and macabre theme to his creations – and OMG YAS TO EVERYTHING about this dress from the S/S 2001 ‘Voss’ collection ???
I personally really loved the way he expressed his thoughts and experiences through his designs, and it got me thinking about my post the other week on whether it’s ok-slash-sustainable to create purely for self-expression, enjoyment, and not for necessity. And you know what? Yes, it bloody well is ok. I’m gonna keep on keepin’ on, for no other reason than because I want to and I enjoy it.
So thank you, Mr McQueen, for helping me come to that conclusion.
Coming up next week on the Wanderstitch blog… my Republique Du Chiffon Jolaine shirt ? Subscribe below to make sure you don’t miss out!