When you run your own business, sometimes you’ve got to work weekends. This past weekend I worked all day on Sunday, so I tried to make a “weekend day” sometime during the week. It all came together yesterday, with the weather forecast set to be 24C and sunny, James at a conference down in Brighton, and me not completely swamped with work for once. So I declared this Wednesday to be a weekend day and grabbed the train down to Brighton for the afternoon!
My first taste of life in the UK was in Brighton, when I spent my study abroad year at Sussex University, and the city still feels like home whenever I visit, which these days is once a year or so. Instead of doing the usual tourist things (I realised after I got home that I didn’t even see the sea, ha!), I headed directly to the North Laines area. I love that there’s a whole area in Brighton where pedestrians rule and all the little shops and cafes are independent, quirky, and great for browsing! There’s really no need to spend any money in a chain store in Brighton.
Of course my first stop was at Ditto Fabrics, which is quite possibly my favourite fabric shop anywhere in the UK, where I had a great chat with the owner Gil and learned all sorts of stories about her buying trips to Italy to get the good designer stuff for us. I went with the aim to buy some coating and lining for the StyleArc Audrey coat, and indeed I did!
I bought some wool/viscose coating in Navy, though they had a bunch of really tempting other colours, like pale purple, pumpkin, camel, off-white, and black, off the top of my head. Ditto only have a fraction of their in-store fabrics listed on their website, but these wool/viscose coats are pretty well represented online, and the colours look pretty true to real life.
And then I discovered the vintage Italian silks upstairs. oh. em. gee.
A few are listed on their website, and I urge you to snap these up, because they are the real deal. They feel a little papery on the roll, but Gil had a sample that she’d handwashed in a bit of washing up liquid, and that sample was so freaking soft I wanted to rub my face against it all day. So then I just had to try and narrow down which I wanted as a lining for my coat, and I settled on this psychedelic red, blue and yellow silk twill (seen above), which actually came printed in 90cm panels with a subtle diagonal line at one part to help the original makers place the first cuts to make neckties!
I consider myself very restrained, but I did have one impulse buy – you know I’m a sucker for lycra, and trompe l’oiel prints, so when I saw this poly/lycra with huge, digitally-printed knitting and lace, I just had to have it. Yes, it’s kinda crazy, and because it’s printed in panels, I’ll be doing some fun placement jenga. But at £15 for a 1.6m length, it was super reasonably priced considering it’s ex-designer, too (Gil couldn’t remember which but I’d love to know if someone has seen anything like this on style.com?).
After meeting up with James for lunch, we actually went back to Ditto so he could pick out some linen for a shirt he wanted me to copy (which I traced and muslined a few months ago). He picked out an apple-green linen/cotton, which I’m all in favour of as the blends tend to wrinkle less when worn.
He also found an amazingly soft 50/50 poly/cotton flannel fabric upstairs, which still had an original tag attached…
Holy crap! Yes, they mean it when they say ex-designer… So then he had to have this one, too, for the copied shirt pattern.
I also checked out the Brighton Sewing Centre on North Road while I was in town, but all the fabric there was either quilty or the “token overpriced cotton jersey” made by quilting designers, so I didn’t buy anything. Instead I got some deals on my favourite paraben-free bath stuff at Infinity Foods (a big organic grocery store which has been there since my student days) and lugged my fabric bags home with a smile.
PS: oh, if you’re not following me on Twitter, then you probably missed my sneak peek of my next sewing pattern, the Threshold Shorts! These are engineered for running, with wraparound seams, three optional pockets, and a choice of standalone or integrated runderwear.
It’ll be released in about two weeks, but definitely before the 18th! It’s been in development since May and it’s taken me this long to be satisfied enough to run long distances in. (You’re welcome!)
Nope, Ditto haven’t paid me to write this post – I just really love their fabrics!