Monday, 25 March 2019

those things from Walthamstow: fabric haul and plea for suggestions

Hi! I had every intention of putting this post up last week, but then our flat developed a leak directly over the bed, which our landlord was confusingly reluctant to fix. So rather than writing posts and taking photos, the whole week was rather consumed with plumbers, arguing, and trying to find ways to get some sleep. Fortunately my new favourite person the Really Pushy Maintenance Guy found a way to bypass our letting agency and browbeat the landlord directly, so we now have a brand new pipe, a temporary ceiling, and the mental space to think about lovely shiny fabrics. Yay!

In my spring plans I talked about Those Things from Walthamstow, fabric I'd bought because it was bargainous and beautiful without any real idea what I was going to do with it, and more than one person suggested to me that maybe I could actually share what Those Things are. Which is obviously an excellent idea because then I can crib suggestions off of helpful passers-by.

I've photographed all the fabrics to the best of my ability, and I've made notes on fibre, weight, drape etc, as well as colour when the photo isn't quite accurate. I've also included a couple of non-Walthamstow (i.e. much more expensive) fabrics at the end because they've been hanging around for ages and I'd love to get some ideas.


(Please excuse wrinkles. Because of my storage constraints everything in my stash gets wrinkled; I promise I'm going to iron it all before I use it.)

This is a wool twill, it's beautiful, and it's the piece that's been in my stash the longest. When I bought it I think I intended it to become another bomber jacket or similar cropped unlined thing for summer, but quickly realised that this brick/terracotta colour, gorgeous though it is, matches literally none of the things I might have paired it with. That was over a year ago, and though I pick up and think about this fabric regularly, I haven't been able to think of a single alternative. All I know is that it deserves to be a cool, everyday statement-type piece. I'm a bit concerned about making a dress with it as I think it could go twee quite easily, and I can't pull off twee. I have 2m of it 140cm wide.


This is a crepe, somewhere between emerald and forest green (much greener and more saturated in real life but my camera, as ever, refuses to accurately record any shade of green in existence), and it's definitely less precious than everything else. It probably wouldn't be on the list at all except that it's an actually nice green and WHY IS THAT SO HARD TO FIND. I was actually looking for a much darker green crepe to make a pair of trousers, but I bought this anyway because I will always buy fabric in a nice shade of green unless it feels really awful. It's quite a spongy crepe; not quite right for trousers and definitely not right for a dress, so the only thing I can think of is a jumpsuit. Which jumpsuit I have no idea; I don't have any patterns appropriate for mid-weight wovens. I have 2.5m, 140cm wide.


This is a really lovely mustard and bronze viscose with a good bit of weight to it, and it's the second lot of it I've bought. I used the first bit trying to make a pair of Victory Patterns Esther/Megan Nielsen Flint mash-up trousers, somehow got it super wrong, and ended up with ones that are completely skintight over my backside. No idea how I managed that. The guy still had some more so I bought another piece, which has sat there ever since. Admittedly a large part of the problem here is that I'm paralysed by the fear of messing this same fabric up a second time, but also I legitimately don't know how this print would work best on me. I feel like I'd prefer a maxidress or jumpsuit to just remaking a pair of drapey trousers, but I'm worried the colour and print would be overwhelming on me head to toe. Maybe if I could find a sufficiently streamlined but not tight maxi pattern. I have 3m, 140cm wide.


This is a viscose twill and it's not my usual style at all, but it feels beautiful. I went over my budget to buy it because I just couldn't stop touching it. I can't even describe how perfect it is, it's one of the loveliest substrates I've ever encountered. I know it needs to be a skirt, but I cannot get any further than that. I can see it working for almost any style of skirt, which doesn't really help me to narrow it down. I have 2.5m, 140cm wide.


This is a sweater knit and it is bonkers. It's two metre-long panels of poppies and turquoise, and I couldn't just leave it in the shop but equally I don't have the first clue what to make from this. How would cutting this even work? I will take literally any suggestions on this one, including "there is absolutely no garment you can reasonably make with this, here's a link to a tutorial on turning sweater knit into a wall hanging".


This is the same sweater knit in a different print, and I can't work out what to do with this either. I thought this one would be easy, but the flowers are just SO HUGE that I can't get past potential pattern placement issues. I think it should be a dress because the flowers would be disproportionate on a top, but as to what dress... no idea.

And two bonus items I thought I'd sneak in:


This is a 3m cut of silk I bought in Shaukat the one time I went there. I still think it's absolutely gorgeous, but it is also a) see-through, b) very narrow, and c) definitely brown. That combination of things rules out almost anything I might think to do with the fabric. People usually suggest some variation of kimono-sleeve jacket when I ask them about this, and I get why but please trust me when I say that a long-sleeved brown garment is horrific on me 100% of the time. I've thought of a skirt but it would need a shorter opaque underlayer, and that's hard to do without it looking weird. Maybe I should just make a fully-lined Anna dress and be done with it.


This is a really amazing quality barkcloth and it's one of the few pieces of fabric I actively regret buying. I bought it because I loved this fabric so much and wanted to make another dress in the same stuff, but this was the only other print they did and in retrospect I did not love it enough to pay £50 for two metres. I intended this to be a Yoyo dress, and I know now that it will never be a Yoyo dress (partly because I can't get the fit right enough to make into a dress that expensive, partly because I've just gone off the idea of a Yoyo dress in this fabric). I haven't had one single other good idea for what to do with it. Help? I have 2m, in one 1.5m piece and one 50cm piece.

Please do share any thoughts you have on any of these. I'm not going to make anything that buttons up or anything with the word "blouse" in it, but beyond that I would be really grateful for any ideas anyone might have. I don't like having an overflowing stash and I really want all of these pieces to become clothes I actually wear and like, preferably within the year. I'm excited to hear what you think!

Since my last post I've managed to complete several new patterns to a standard I'm comfortable sharing, so I just have to decide what order I'm going to post them. I'm in a bit of a strange place both health and sewing-wise at the moment, so apologies in advance if I get all rambling and introspective on you!


  1. All I can say is this........... I want them all!
    Can't wait to see what you come up with.

    1. Haha, hopefully inspiration strikes me soon!

  2. I had a similar green that I couldn't quite place and decided on pine green. :-p

    The turquoise/poppy fabric would be fantastic for a kimono-esque topper (Wiksten? So Over It Kimono? S1108? Style Arc Besharl?)

    I can see the blue print viscose twill as wrap (or mock wrap) skirt. Or even the MN Tania Culottes!!

    I think that wool twill WOULD make a great jacket so maybe hold on to it!! I don't think you're much of a jean-wearer but it would work with jeans or black (blue??) pants/skirts. I can't tell which the darker color is.

    You've got some really awesome pieces in stash!!!

    1. Thank you, these are great suggestions! I'm going to hunt down a wrap skirt pattern for the viscose twill and reconsider some jacket patterns!

  3. To me the 3m cut of silk should be a sleeveless top. Maybe Ogden cami or something similar.

    1. Thanks for the suggestion, I'll have a look into woven top patterns!

  4. Is the wool twill too heavy for a jumpsuit? It would make an epic Zadie jumpsuit. That blue is so gorgeous. And wtf that poppy border print knit!!? I love it!! But what the hell do you do with it? I have seen some nice knit duvet covers recently...

    1. I don't think there's quite enough of the wool twill for a jumpsuit, but either way I am definitely making a Zadie this month!

  5. I don’t think I could leave some of these pieces behind at the shop either! you have some gorgeous ones.

    1. I haven’t worked with wool twill before, but I love your original idea of a cropped jacket. From the photo, it seems like it might work paired with black? perhaps a black/dark pair of Palisade pants? I really like the way the olive ones you made turned out. If you didn’t want to go the jacket route, I think a dress would also be pretty smashing, especially if you kept the shape simple. Although I’m actually getting a modern Asian vibe from the print, so I wonder about incorporating some Asian details into a dress (kimono sleeves/wrap front, etc) might keep it from going “twee”. (my idea of “twee” is retro/fifties/vintage look, so trying to think of things that aren’t that. I always thought this collection of Burda patterns was interesting, but haven’t tackled any of them yet.)

    2. No idea- is the problem that it’s too light for pants but too heavy for a dress?

    5. That poppies print is fabulous- I see that as a maxi dress to try to keep the print as intact as possible- does it have enough stretch to be able to cut things so the flowers are across the bodice and the blue border is the hem? Perhaps a maxi version of the ruska dress? (without the knot overlay). Or a a Kielo dress? Although I guess I don’t know how the Kielo’s wrap would work on a sweater knit. If the “sweater knit-ness” means it has to be a jacket sort of thing, I might go for a long dressing gown with fabulous kimono sleeves, again to try to keep the print as intact as possible. (although, on second thought, maybe just regular sleeves depending on the knit)

    6. I would maybe pick one of those patterns with some interesting pleats/gathers wraps, because that will sort of pull the flowers closer together so it looks a little more uniform over your body? maybe?

    8. I see a statement jacket. Biker jacket? The print is so strong I hesitate to do a full body piece/dress.

    Can’t wait to see what direction you go with these! interested to hear updates as you figure it out.

    1. It never occurred to me that the barkcloth could be a jacket, but you're absolutely right! It would be perfect. I will see if I can find a pattern I like! I'll also break out my Kielo pattern this week and see if I can get a decent print placement.

      That Burda collection is genuinely the nicest one I've ever seen!The dresses in particular are stunning. I would make almost everything if it came in my size, but I'm not confident grading up such fitted patterns!

  6. Shoot, yes, the limited size range in Burda is frustrating. I did see that the black diagonal seam lines dress is made from a knit if you were on the border of the size range? I find grading/fitting pretty challenging too (stuck in the middle of trying to adapt one of Named's breaking the pattern fitted patterns when I am significantly shorter... none of the bust/waist/hip lines are in the right place) I did find this burda collection with a mandarin-inspired dress in the larger size range... actually think those curved darts on some of the other dresses in the collection are pretty elegant: I actually love browsing "burda collections" on Pinterest because it gives me ideas of new things to try.