Brighton is a sea side City, around an hour from London. It is the sort of place you go for a day trip. Although there is a beach there is no sand and while Brighton can be fun it is also rather run down and undercapitalised. I know the place, especially its housing, well having been the Director of Housing from 1996 to 1999.
The shop I wanted to visit and review is located in the North Laines area of the town, just a short walk from the station. When I lived and worked here this was not an area I often frequented – its a bit hippyish, touristy, often crowded. The sort of place you go to buy a present or just mooch around.
Ditto Fabrics is located here, and if you are in the area I think it is worth a visit. The shop was founded by Gill Thornley in 1983 (so all that time I was there, she was there, and we never met). They have had a website since 2010. I met Gill working in the shop when I dropped in last Saturday on the way for a lunch date with my husband’s family – Chris, Carrie, Ben, Mel, Maia, Charlotte and Lee at the Regency. She is very animated and it was hard to get a photograph of her that isn’t blurred. In this picture she appears to be levitating the fabric – actually she is just ensuring it is cut on the grain. “We always cut on the grain” explained Gill. What a good idea – reduces waste and saves the purchaser the trouble of pulling threads or tearing cloth when you get home.
I hit it off with Jill immediately. She comes from Chorley in Lancashire, has a degree in fashion and lots of experience making clothes. She travels to Italy to buy unusual cloth (have a look at her vintage Italian silk), and I would say her prices are reasonable. Not as great as Simply Fabrics but mid range and acceptable. I asked for advice on putting in a jeans zip, and sewing PU fabric. I have never used polyurethane coated fabric before, but I saw this picture and thought that my silver accented SWAP might benefit. Anyway the advice is to sew in a cold room – if it’s too warm the fabric sticks to itself. You have to wonder what it is like to wear.
Gill is just passionate about what she does. I was impressed that she could see from what I was wearing (rainwear and a picnic rug scarf as it happens) that I would like cool, brighter fabrics and led me to them. She has warm colouring herself and there was more choice in these rusty colourways! She said
I don’t make a lot of money from running a shop. But everyday I am happy when I go to work that I am doing something I love. I really enjoy being with, and talking to, people who sew – just some of the nicest, most interesting people.”
I also liked the way Gill arranged the fabrics – putting complementary colourways together regardless of the fabric. I would do this too if I had a shop rather than sticking all the linens together, for example. Here are her vintage silks. I got a remnant of the dark green and purple squarish pattern (bottom centre).
Anyway this is a nice shop run by a great woman who you will enjoy talking to.
As I entered the shop on Saturday I immediately recognised one of the customers – Jane from Jane Makes. Then I realised she was shopping with five other bloggers and Instagrammers, three I followed already and a further two I now know. Its funny when you follow people you sort of feel you know them. Certainly Clarinda Kaleidoscope seemed like an old friend.