Today’s blog is about my new favourite place. No, it’s not a boutique selling aggressively reduced Acne and Stella McCartney (although if anyone knows one of those please do let me know). It is a very unassuming fabric store right on my doorstep in South London. If you are coveting all the dramatic prints that have been filling stores this summer, but don’t want to find yourself along with several others in a matching dress, then this store may be just the ticket. Stocking a huge range of gorgeously patterned 100% cotton waxed fabrics, this is a treasure trove of bold daring prints. The pictures speak for themselves. Fabrics are sold in set lengths, but if you don’t want the whole 6 yards there is a selection of 2 yard off-cuts that sell for £5. Yes, that’s £5! This is like manna to a serious bargain hunter such as myself.
I have bought 3 different short lengths over the last few months and always pop by for a quick peek or to see if one of my favourite fabrics has made it to the off-cuts rail. With my first 2 yards I made unique cushion covers as presents for my friends’ weddings. This is enough fabric for two 20x20in cushions and then some. Both couples were supremely happy with their gifts (or so I am led to believe). Another length I am hoping to make into a summer dress or top, or even perhaps a pair of harem trousers if I’m feeling brave. The final length has yet to be assigned a plan.
A home-made cushion cover I gave as a wedding gift
The fabric is very durable and so perfect for both interiors and hard-wearing clothing. The tradition of using batiq to create these wax print designs goes back over 150 years. Produced originally by the Dutch and sold to West African traders, these fabrics soon became synonymous with African culture, and prints were given unique names by the traders based on characteristics in the design.
A selection of the amazing fabrics available at Sovereign Textiles in Tooting
If you don’t have a fashion degree, or aren’t adept with a sewing machine, then take the fabric to your local tailor and get yourself an original custom-made garment. I highly recommend Andy Piccos of Stitchin Biz (find his blog at http://andypiccos.com ) who I have worked with for years and is a wiz with a pair of scissors and a measuring tape. Otherwise try your local dry-cleaners, who often have competent and reasonably priced tailors on hand. Or be daring and turn your nimble fingers to a needle and thread. At only £5 you can afford to make a couple of mistakes and you never know… you may unleash the next Alexander McQueen.
Sovereign Textiles, 113 Mitcham Road, Tooting Broadway, London, SW17 9PE. T: 020 8682 1444. www.sovereigntextiles.co.uk
Opening hours 10-5:30pm but call in advance to check as they are quite flexible
For further information about the history of West African fabrics go to http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/design/2012/03/african_fabric_where_do_tribal_prints_really_come_from_.html