The Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace is a quilter’s dream, but I can’t help but feel that contemporary dressmaking is a little under-represented. Never the less I did stumble upon some interesting fabric finds in amongst the tidal wave of floral cotton lawn fat quarters.
Montreux Fabrics, a company specialising in that hard-to-find yet versatile fabric; jersey. They’re launching an online store soon. I picked up a couple of meters of gorgeous geometric print fabric with no particular purpose in mind (maybe something from the Drape Drape book? If I ever feel brave enough).
OK, I confess I did come home with some fat quarters, but they are far too special to chop up into small pieces for patchwork.
These beautiful pieces were from Japan Crafts, whose stall was overflowing with stunning fabrics, kits and authentic materials. Owner Katie Chaplin told me she visits Japan four times a year to source fabrics… and to scour second-hand shops for vintage kimonos!
My favourite fabric discovery of the show was something much closer to home. Merchant & Mills, based in Rye, Essex and founded in 2010 describe their brand as “profound contrast to the pretty, flowery image of the average haberdasher”, a sentiment I can certainly get behind! I was drawn to their inspiring stand by their extensive range of top quality utility fabrics, from Harris tweed and felted wool, to sturdy denim and slubbed linen, much or it British-sourced, fair trade or organic.
They produce card patterns (more durable than paper), and have published a Workbook of sewing projects for artfully designed garments that are simple, wearable, practical and stylish. Their unique trimmings collection is also well worth a look.
If the busyness of the Merchant & Mills stall is anything to go by, the modern seamster at Ally Pally for has an appetite for quality over chintz, and I am eager to see where they take the utility aesthetic.