Apart from a surfeit of nail bars and chicken shops, the cheaper parts of south and east London still have a range of specialist shops. World of Sewing is located in an unpleasant part of Croydon, on the road to Brighton. Of course there is a demand for haberdashery, fabrics and sewing machines shops, but the price of real estate in Central London, plus the internet, has reduced supply. My foray into a few of the warehouse shops of the North of England showed me that the internet is dominant, except where land prices remain distressed. World of Sewing does have a website, proudly proclaimed on the front of the shop, but I wouldn’t buy a machine online without trying it first. Having researched details of specific models, the prices at World of Sewing seemed keen.
Park outside (it is not really accessible by public transport), go in, and you will find a small but very well stocked shop. Local people come here for their quilting supplies, thread, a pressing aid, or some needles. The manager is Jennie – a grey haired lady who knows her stuff and is dressed in a smart white blouse, navy skirt and smart flat shoes (every day). A shopper comes in “Oh so glad you are still here (Jennie, or the shop?). I want some black bias binding”. Another person arrives with a broken zip; “Do you do alterations?” “No, you can try the drycleaners”. “Well what about a 20″ white separating zip?” “Yes we will have some next week – come back then”. I think, but of course I don’t say it out loud, “what is wrong with the internet for a zip“? But maybe if you only want one, and it is not urgent, maybe it is nicer to talk through how to insert it with Jennie rather than just go for it, on your own.
Although I wouldn’t bother with it for a zip, it is certainly somewhere to consider if you wish to buy a sewing machine.
In fact liked it so much I bought two!
One a year ago I bought an overlocker. And then, after a long period of research, pondering, test drives and longing, I bought another one. I have explained my thought process on what machines I might buy.
So I more or less made the decision, and then visited World of Sewing. I had to wait for ten minutes while the customer before me chose some patchwork supplies, but once free Jennie was the most professional salesperson imaginable (and unwilling to be photographed), with her clear tights, low court shoes and thick, tidy hair. She is helpful but clearly an introvert. You have to ask for information, and then you get it.
So I spent a happy half hour putting the Juki through its repertoire. Advised by Mrs Mole I checked it could handle chiffon and denim. I tried blind hemming and button holes, decorative stitches, using the knee lift. Eventually I was satisfied that the Juki was just what I had always wanted and I got my husband to put the machine carefully into the car. Jennie assured me I could call at any time if there was something I needed to know. Once home I found I had been given a good induction and the instruction booklet plus a DVD are available for more challenging topics.
I have also had what is now my “spare” machine serviced here and I would recommend it. Some commentators feel being asked for £25 up front for an estimate is a bit rich. And some people argue about the cost of a service (around £100). But I feel that they did a very good job and if you use your machine daily then this is a reasonable investment to make. The labour, workshop and careful customer service mean you can’t get a good service for much less – in my view (but happy to be corrected).
Overall I would give this company 8/10. They have other shops in Tunbridge Wells and Pratts Bottom (yes, really).