Fabric Friday Reviews: The Makers Merchant

Happy Friday Everyone! It’s officially October now (somehow?!) and I have taken my first foray into stretch knits and cosy makes. My companion on this journey was a stunning light grey marl stretch knit from The Makers Merchant. My first purchase from them and I am thoroughly impressed! I would definitely like to revisit them for more fabric purchases in the future and I may explore their haberdashery for the hardware necessary for my Eden Coat.

The Makers Merchant

  • Online Shop / Physical Shop / Both
  • Web Link: https://themakersmerchant.co.uk
  • Core Purpose: Dressmaking Fabrics, Haberdashery and Crafts
  • Units of Sale for Fabric: 1/2 metre

Formerly Loubodu Fabrics, The Makers Merchant has expanded from just fabrics to a one stop shop for all of your sewing needs. There is a great fabric section, a fab haberdashery and a great pattern section as well. The team have clearly worked hard to create the kind of sewing shop we all wish was just down the road!

They have a wonderful range of fabrics and have a particularly good selection of jerseys, stretch and cosy knits. Fabric is sold by the half metre and while there is a fab selection, I’m not a big fan of their categorisation as you have to choose whether you want to look at plain or patterned fabrics before you can select a fabric type. I think its a case of personal preference in that it depends how you shop for fabric. Personally I don’t often know whether I want plain or patterned fabric until I get there, I prefer to see all the wool or all the kersey on offer and select from there. That being said their selection is very good, clearly curated but not too narrow. In terms of cost they are fairly affordable and do have a good range of prices to suit most pockets. There are cheaper suppliers out there but there are also more expensive ones, The Makers Merchant sit comfortably in the middle as a good allrounder. They do some excellent sales and I would definitely recommend them to beginners, especially if you are looking for your first stretch fabric project as their stretch fabric in particular is often cheaper than other suppliers and they have a good range. Delivery was very affordable at £2.50 for standard posting and was extremely speedy, although when it arrived there was no card or note from the supplier. Not necessary of course and doesn’t damage the experience but its always nice to get one in terms of purchase emotion and brand engagement.

It has to be said in terms of creative design I’m a big fan of the rebrand, I think its a better name and the logo is slick. The fabric photography is excellent and the aesthetic is pristine, the website looks gorgeous. However. There are some significant functionality issues. In terms of the parent site map, I don’t think there are sub pages for each section or if there are then the links in the menu are broken as when I tried to go to the haberdashery pages and look at fastenings I was unable to and it kept directing me back to the homepage, I was also unable to access the About page for the same reason. If there are no subpages that fine but then you shouldn’t be able to click on the subheading e.g. fastenings. Equally their FAQs are almost entirely focussed on the brand change and contain no practical consumer information about deliveries or refunds etc. In some ways I actually found their website worked a lot better on my phone however the payment window wouldn’t load properly so I did end up having to transfer to my laptop and pay in the desktop version.This may be a case of bedding in a new website and fixing but i think it should be addressed as its irritating especially when the actual products they sell are so good.

Rating

  • Range of Fabrics – 8/10
  • Cost – 7/10
  • Delivery (Speed / Cost) – 8/10
  • Ease of Use – 6/10
  • Ease of Payment – 5/10

Overall Score: 6.8/10

The Makers Merchant is a great shop that gives the online sewist a bit of everything and I can only imagine how nice the physical shop is! Their delivery is speedy and the service excellent. The only thing that bothers me about The Makers Merchant is some of the functionality of the website and the sitemap. The website has a few glitches and the payment interface sometimes struggles on a phone however it’s well worth persevering as the actual fabric and products they stock are of excellent quality and the range of affordable quality fabrics is superb.

Fabric Friday Reviews: Sewing At Number 51

Happy Friday everybody! You know what that means? It’s Fabric Friday! Although I am starting to run out of fabric shops so if anyone has any suggestions of places I should try please let me know in the comments. Today I have the absolutely joy and pleasure of talking about Sewing At Number 51. Last week I bought some absolutely stunning cotton poplin from them, picture above, and its beautiful. I have had a great idea of what to do with it but I’m nervous because its a significant pattern hack so I think that will be a project for next weekend. Definitely will vlog it though because I’m crazy nervous. Anyway, on to the review!

Sewing At Number 51

  • Online Shop / Physical Shop / Both
  • Web Link: https://www.sewingatnumber51.com
  • Core Purpose: Dressmaking Fabrics and Haberdashery Equipment
  • Units of Sale for Fabric: 1/2 metre

Sewing at Number 51 was started this year in 2020 and already is building a great name for itself as an independent fabric and haberdashery supplier. When I read that it was started this year I almost had to double take because while their range of fabrics is admittedly quite small, mainly just cottons, but it doesn’t feel like a *new* shop. It just feels like a smaller fabric shop which is fine. Not everyone has space to have thousands of types of fabrics on hand to send out and for a new operation the range of fabric designs is good and range of actual fabric types I’m sure will build over time. One thing I admire is the curation of the fabric collection. You can tell a lot of thought has gone into choosing what fabrics to stock. The beautiful poplin I bought, shown above, was such an instant win for me. I looked at it on their instagram story and went ‘yes please I want that now’ and they do stock fabrics that make me want to buy them and I have no idea what i will use them for. Equally in terms of haberdashery and sewing equipment they have stuck a toe in the water to see what people buy and I have no doubt will build on that. Honestly in this climate of despair it does me good to see a small business flourishing and I look forward to support Sewing At Number 51 through out the years ahead.

In terms of who their fabric is best suitable for I would say beginners straight away. No tricky stretch fabric to navigate so you pretty much have your choice of cottons to work with. I remember when I first started sewing and all you really think about is colours and patterns because you don’t necessarily understand the properties of fabrics themselves. Equally in terms of cost they are low range so very accessible to all markets and they stock fabric by the half metre. Delivery is quick and when your fabric arrives it comes in a lovely paper bag with a note inside from Abi. Check out my instagram fabric haul highlight if you would like to see exactly how it arrives. Honestly I’m such a sucker for a handwritten note I really feel like it makes the purchase, jut to know there is a real human on the other side makes the making journey feel so much more personal.

The website interface is clean looking however I would say that the inability to filter by fabric types/equipment is frustrating. However as it is a smaller store you are still able to look through all the available fabrics fairly easily and I’m sure as a broader range of stock is added this feature will update. A problem that many other sites have also applies to Sewing At Number 51 which is that the phone interface is so so much easier to use than the desktop. The mobile site is clear and easy to use, the menu is a usable size and the payment system simple, however the desktop interface has an incredibly small logo and a very small menu text. I wonder if focus has been placed on the phone interface to match new consumer habits. Which I completely understand because research shows that people are buying more and more from their phone. I love their blog section I think it reflects their brand identity really well and I look forward to seeing more posts there. Equally I think it would be nice to see some guest blogs as it would push up the profile of a fantastic new sewing retailer.

Rating

  • Range of Fabrics – 5/10
  • Cost – 8/10
  • Delivery (Speed / Cost) – 8/10
  • Ease of Use – 7/10
  • Ease of Payment – 8/10

Overall Score: 7.2/10

Sewing at Number 51 typify to me the ‘friendly fabric shop-next-door’ it’s sweet, it’s independent, the selection of fabrics although small is exceptionally well curated and when you buy from them you can’t help but smile. They have fantastic engagement on instagram and social media and you all know I love a brand that really engages with their makers and consumers. Would I shop from there again? Absolutely and I’m so excited to start using their fabric. I will keep you guys posted and look out for a vlog in the coming weeks on what I get up to with this stunning fabric.

Fabric Friday Reviews: Sew Me Sunshine

Happy Friday everybody, you know what that means, its review day! This week we are talking about the wonderful fabric retailer Sew Me Sunshine. About a month ago, I bought two beautiful remnants from them and I finally got around to using both of them this week so I thought they should definitely feature next. 

Sew Me Sunshine

  • Online Shop / Physical Shop / Both
  • Web Link: https://sewmesunshine.co.uk
  • Core Purpose: Dressmaking Fabrics, Haberdashery & Sewing Equipment
  • Units of Sale for Fabric: 1/2 Metre

Normally I start by talking about the fabric range and quality but this week I am going to launch straight in to tell you how impressed I was by their delivery and packaging. They are the ONLY fabric retailer that I have used so far who has used completely sustainable and non-plastic packaging. My order came in a brown kraft paper bag and inside the order was wrapped in tissue paper. Free with my order I received a cute postcard and a project planning card which I thought was a lovely touch. The delivery was also very speedy considering the current circumstances!

Anyway on to the shop itself. The range of fabrics is excellent, its definitely on the pricier side but the fabrics are excellent quality and worth the money. When I was a complete beginner I wouldn’t have bought fabric there because I wouldn’t have made anything well enough to justify the expensive however as an intermediate sewist their choice of fabrics excites me. As we are in a pandemic and no one’s job is safe I am of course still cost conscious so I was just going to have a nose around the website and not buy anything, that is until I saw that they had a remnants tab. And oh my goodness, what remnants. Normally remnants areas have half a metre of this or a fat quarter of that, but they have a well stocked remnants section and I managed to get two amazing remnants, both about a metre for under £20 including delivery which considering the cost of most of their fabrics I was super impressed with. This week I used both of them for different styles of tops, the first to make my red batwing top and the second to make my new cream shell top (vlog coming out tomorrow!), and I can confirm that the fabrics are as good quality as they seem.

swipe to see both makes

One caveat is that both of my fabrics were types of viscose so I can’t attest to their other choices but I wouldn’t imagine they follow the same high standard. Their range of fabrics is good and they even have technical/outdoor fabrics which I thought was a nice touch. Not a massive selection but its nice to see them there. Fabric is bought by the half metre generally and delivery is a fixed cost of £3 and there is free delivery on orders over £60 a threshold which I personally feel is too high however i do admire their commitment to sustainability. Their website is bright and friendly and invites you in to buy more fabric from them. The web interface is excellent and payment was quick and easy which is all you can ask for really. I would say that I haven’t had the same engagement from them on social media that I’ve had from other brands, however they do have a business hashtag for makers #sewingsunshine where it is possible to win a gift voucher for £20.

Rating

  • Range of Fabrics – 8/10
  • Cost – 6/10
  • Delivery – 9/10
  • Ease of Use – 8/10
  • Ease of Payment – 8/10

Overall Score: 8.5/10

Overall Sew Me Sunshine are high on my recommended list, the provide a quality service in line with modern approaches to sustainability and they stock an excellent range of fabrics. Their stock is quite costly so approach with caution if you are a beginner and you aren’t sure of your skill level but also definitely raid their sale and remnants section, its well worth it. Sew Me Sunshine are an impressive brand and i love the little personal touches in the delivery and the about section on the website, you really get the impression that Harriet is someone who understands her client base and truly cares about customers. Now I’m off to raid their remnants section before I go on holiday and I will see you guys next week when we will discuss Sew Sew Sew!

Fabric Friday Reviews: Pound Fabrics

Happy Friday everybody and you know what Friday means, it’s review day! Today we are talking about Pound Fabrics, a retailer absolutely renowned in their for their low prices and high fabric quality. I stumbled upon Pound Fabrics by accident on instagram and decided to explore their website, where I bought the beautiful red cotton shown above.

Pound Fabrics

  • Online Shop / Physical Shop / Both
  • Web Link: https://poundfabrics.co.uk/
  • Core Purpose: Dressmaking & Home Fabrics and Patterns
  • Units of Sale for Fabric: 1metre (N.B. minimum 3m order)

Initially I was unsure about Pound Fabrics as their prices are very low and I absolutely hate anywhere that makes me have a minimum order, that is a personal bias of mine, but its worth knowing as a consumer that Pound Fabrics will require a 3 metre minimum order for the vast majority of their fabrics. I’m always honest in these reviews and initially this put me off however then I looked into their about section to understand why. The original purpose of Pound Fabrics was to provide a cheap dressmaking fabric outlet, an online pound fabric shop, as they recognised that sewing and dressmaking has the power to be an exceptionally expensive hobby. Originally they sold all their fabric as £1 per metre with a 3 metre minimum so you could get 3 metres for less than one metre at most other shops. They have now widened their selection to include some higher priced ranges but the £1 section is still there and thriving.

They also have a bundles section where you can buy mystery 15 metre fabric bundles in lots of different types of fabrics, e.g. stretch bundle, viscose bundle etc. This is something I really want to try in the future, I would do it now but I’m in a self-imposed fabric embargo period as I’ve bought too much fabric and I need to get through it first! It may end up being something I do as a birthday present to myself in the Winter.

The website is simple and the branding may not be very elegant but it gets the job done and the interface is very user friendly. I have to say a word about the mobile shopping interface which is quite frankly fantastic. There are no fussy membership requests, you can choose your fabric and buy it within minutes. I do always try and test mobile and desktop interfaces and I would argue that their payment system is better on the phone but actually viewing fabric is a lot easier on a computer. The delivery from Pound Fabrics was extremely slow however as I’ve said on other reviews, don’t pay too much attention to that as we are very much still in the grip of a coronavirus pandemic and therefore post is obviously goig to be slower and they do warn you of that on the website clearly.

One thing that is genuinely really impressive is their range of fabrics, you can get almost any type of fabric at a mostly reasonable cost. My one quibble would be that the red cotton I bought wasn’t fantastic quality and the photograph of the fabric gave a false impression of the size of the pattern however as I only bought one type of fabric from them I can’t pass judgement over all of their stock. This was my experience and I will definitely try them again in future but maybe for different fabric types such as stretch and jersey. From my own experience, I would advise to shop with caution when it comes to photography of the fabrics to make sure you are getting what you ordered.

Rating

  • Range of Fabrics – 10/10
  • Cost – 9/10
  • Delivery (Speed / Cost) – 6/10
  • Ease of Use – 7/10
  • Ease of Payment – 7/10

Overall Score: 7.8 / 10

The thing is that I believe in the Pound Fabrics dream, I do. I want to believe in the low cost/high quality idea but the evience so far to me is that the quality doesn’t quite match that ratio. Don’t get me wrong its still good fabric and it is very affordable so it is fulfilling the mission statement but I would rather pay slightly more for better quality cotton. After all, one of the joys of making your own clothes is revelling in the luxury of choosing the perfect fabric for the perfect pattern and making it fit you. However I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and I will buy from them in future because I want to explore their range of fabrics for quality and cost. So the fat lady has not yet truly sung in this review, I will review again in the future and I will buy some wools, jerseys and winter fabrics and do another quality test.

Thanks for joining me for another Friday review! Next week we will be talking about beautiful viscose from Sew Sew Sew and gorgeous personalised delivery.

Fabric Friday Reviews: Fabrics Galore

Good afternoon everybody and welcome to a new, and hopefully useful, series for the blog. I know what it’s like when you start sewing from home, you’re desperate to get going but you have no idea where to get your fabric from. If you are very lucky you may live somewhere with a haberdashery or proper fabric shop that you can visit in person but the reality is that the vast majority of us need to use online retailers. The good news is that the supply has increased to match demand and now there are hundreds of fantastic fabric shops and pattern companies of all shapes and sizes online waiting for you to visit them and buy the fabric of your dreams. This is excellent news for experienced sewists and those who know what they are looking for, however, for beginners this can make it even more daunting.

Thats where this series comes in. I’ve been making myself a list for the past few weeks of fabric shops I use and ones I want to try. I’m trying to diversify the fabrics I buy and where I buy them from and I’m inviting you to come on this journey with me. I will be waiting all shops on the same criteria and trying to provide fair and balanced reviews to give you a maker’s perspective.

Fabrics Galore

  • Online Shop / Physical Shop / Both
  • Web Link: https://www.fabricsgalore.co.uk
  • Core Purpose: Dress Making & Home Furnishing Fabrics
  • Units of Sale for Fabric: 1/2 metre

First up we have a long time favourite of mine, Fabrics Galore. Their bricks and mortar shop is in Lavender Hill in South London but they have a very good website with a fairly wide choice of fabrics. A particular strength of Fabrics Galore is that they have a wide range of fabric types even if there aren’t that many in some categories. I have found them particularly good for high-quality cotton with a good range of brushed cottons. I made some awesome pyjamas from their brushed cotton last year, I’m going to make some more for Christmas this year so I’ll make sure to do a blog post on it. They don’t sell notions or zips or buttons, they are only for fabric but I have found their fabric selection does compensate for this.

The delivery costs are fairly standard, £3.50 per order, and delivery times outside of Covid are fairly quick. There is no minimum fabric order which is good. Fabric is bought by the half metre. I find the prices a little high but not bad compared to some other retailers, there are a few affordable options as well as some more expensive options, the average price is £7 per half metre. The website interface is clear and easy to use with a standard payment system.

Their only weakness? Sometimes the photo colouring isn’t entirely accurate and I’ve definitely had a few fabrics arrive looking a bit different to the photo but not enough to matter drastically except on one occasion. The only way I would improve their site is that I would like a small description of the fabric including colourways.

Rating

  • Range of Fabrics – 7/10
  • Cost – 6/10
  • Delivery (Speed / Cost) – 8/10
  • Ease of Use – 7/10
  • Ease of Payment – 7/10

Overall Score: 7/10

Fabrics Galore are a good solid choice. They will provide the majority of what you need as a beginner sewist in a timely manner with a consistently high quality of fabric.