My all-time favourite fabric is Liberty cotton, anything liberty basically! it is versatile, soft, presses so well and great for beginners fabric. I also love silk, there are less liberty silks available and they tend to be very dated. The Liberty prints on the other hand are endless. I have been known to use jersey, furnishing fabric and even wool, but nine times out of ten I end up back with liberty.
Searching for fabric
I don’t have a fabric shop locally to me, so have to do a lot of my fabric shopping online. I do a lot of searching and fabric research. Every time I search I find something new. I buy from a range of different suppliers. I start my research on the Liberty website looking at the latest prints. I rarely buy here, as they are so expensive, so I then look at AliceCaroline.co.uk. She has a broad range and a beautiful website. There is also sewbox.co.uk, abakhan.co.uk and finally eBay.co.uk
I regularly watch out for liberty fabrics on eBay and it’s the best place for small patchwork squares. I usually buy from Sew Box and Fabrics Galore at Sewing and craft Fairs, as they always have a lovely range and you can pick up something quite different and vintage.
I make lots of different Liberty products ranging from; children’s clothes, pyjamas, scarfs, cushion covers, shirts, quilts, ties and necklaces. All are available on my Etsy page and here on my website. I always keep my scraps and use them for future patchwork projects and I have recently made a lovely patchwork Christmas stocking. I pride myself on being very organised, so this has reminded me that I need to buy another clear container for my ever-growing stash of Liberty scraps.
I make liberty ties for my husband, he is always asking for new ties and I like that he wears ties no one else has. He is never sure initially at my choice of fabric and has had some online critics in the past, but soon recognises that my choices are on trend and way ahead of the average man. I found some Liberty jewel fabric, which was not easy to find initially, sourced from sewbox.co.uk It looks great as a tie and as a scarf. This would work well as a husband and wife gift. When I make ties I always make two, one for my husband and one for my website. I also do this as it is cut on the bias, so uses up over a metre of material. I use the scraps for patchwork, so, there’s never any waste.
I also found a Liberty fabric with dancers print on. I have never seen it before and didn’t know what to make with it for ages. I decided on a scarf and a kimono jacket. The jacket (doesn’t look great in the picture) is great as a throw over with jeans and the scarf is a way to make a day look more evening. I French seamed it and pin hemmed the sleeves and hem of the jacket. I wanted it to have a couture feel, over-locking is for mass-produced high street products, not for homemade clothes. My years working in bridal wear has brushed off on me and I like to make my clothes feel extra special to wear. I loved making this and it looks great with jeans.
I do use other fabrics, I made myself two jersey tops recently. I love how quick and easy it is to sew jersey, especially when you just have to over lock the seams. I was trained in the bridal industry and at college my collection was all silk chiffon. I used 150 metres of fabric in total, the collection was pleated and gathered, hence why I used so much. I worked alongside a couture specialist and she taught me how to do french seams and the thinnest pin hems ever. So it’s just not in my makeup to use jersey. I would like to go on a course and master it. I made the tops in a camouflage print and a pink Liberty printed jersey. I got the camouflage fabric from GirlCharlee.co.uk and the SewBox
I really enjoyed making a red wool vintage jacket recently too. I picked the fabric up at the Knitting and stitching show and unfortunately can’t remember the supplier. It was so thick, so different to work with and the collar was really challenging, but I was really pleased with the finish and wore it out to the Teaching awards.
Teaching and learning
When I am working at craft fairs I like making sure I have time to look at the fabric stands, there are not enough fabric shops in North London, so it is worth a visit to see all the online suppliers collectively. I have 3 fabrics I picked up at the last Knitting & stitching show from fabrics galore that I haven’t used yet. I think I may use these paper patterns?
I gained my fabric knowledge whilst working in a fabric shop all through college. I was a Saturday girl and loved being surrounded by fabrics. There was also a pattern section and I would spend the quiet time browsing through the pattern books. People would ask how much they would need for different types of products, I learnt how to rip fabric, all about the different interlining fabrics and the different fabric widths available. I had just left home at the time, I wasn’t as good a sewer at the time, my sewing experience came later, but I did save money by making all my own curtains and duvet covers. Many skills learnt when working here I still use to this day. I also taught A Level DT Textiles for 16 years and here I did a lot of reading to help prepare students for their written exams. This course link very closely to the science behind fabrics.
For the last 3 years I have been teaching sewing at many craft fairs, but as of next year I will be teaching at the Arts Depot from the end of January, teaching beginners and advanced sewing workshops. The beginners workshop is perfect if you have never used the sewing machine before or you’re feeling a bit rusty, this is the course for you. I will teach you all the basic skills of machine sewing to give you the confidence to start simple projects on your own. I will make a variety of products, starting with woven fabrics, fabrics that are easy to sew with and help give you added confidence. My advanced classes use a variety of silk fabrics, these are less forgiving and better to work with when you have more sewing experience. I am always sourcing fabrics for my workshops, so enjoy looking for quality fabrics suitable for many different functions. If you have any questions about fabrics please do not hesitate in asking me, I am more than happy to help.
I will also be selling lots of my liberty makes at The Crouch End Christmas Market on the 2nd December, so come along and take a look. Here is a little preview: