The question I am asked more than any other is “where do you get your fabrics from?” Customers ask because they can see and feel the quality of the cotton. They are beautifully printed and very soft and absolutely key to the success of Roundabout. The bright colours or interesting prints are what people notice first and, generally, it’s what draws them on to the stand. For me, choosing the fabrics is the most fun and a warehouse stacked with fabric is my Aladdin’s cave.
I mostly buy from studios designing for patchwork, quilting and craft enthusiasts and who supply retailers all over the UK. So it is highly likely that you will find the same cotton prints and woven cottons in any good quality sewing shop. Please note, the keyword there is ‘quality’.
I have a few favourite suppliers…
All the collections last year included pre-shrunk cottons from Lewis & Irene; a family business based in Hampshire, my home county. Their designs reflect my own love of wildlife and the countryside and are beautifully drawn. The best seller at the Christmas shows was definitely their water meadow on blue. In fact, it was so popular, I’m repeating the design in green for spring/summer this year. (www.lewisandirene.com)
Another bestseller in 2018 was the dinosaur dress, fabric supplied by Makower. Based in Maidenhead, it’s great to go to their open days and browse the warehouse. They design some great prints for children – in 2018 customers loved their dinosaur fabric and this Spring Summer there will a fun sheep print. I also couldn’t resist a very bright pink, funky paisley print that has a retro 60s feel to it.(makoweruk.com)
I could buy fabrics for dresses all day long but it’s much more challenging to find fabric for shorts that can be unisex or for boys and which isn’t brown or navy. Having said that, customers do like traditional colours and they do sell very well. I’ve picked out a great knights scatter print by Makower for this year which I think will sit well alongside a dragon print from Lewis and Irene.
Whilst I’m talking about fabric, I do want to acknowledge the concerns that have been expressed about the production of cotton recently. I found Stacey Dooley’s report on how damaging fabric production is to the environment extremely upsetting and worrying. This year I am signing up to Fashion Revolution an organisaton encourages consumers to question ‘Who made my Clothes?’ I will write more about this another time, but the relevance here is that I am going to speak to my suppliers about their production processes because I know that their fabrics are printed abroad, but that’s all I know. So, when I visit the Stitches Trade Show at the NEC next month I will be asking, “who makes my fabrics and how?” I will let you know how I get on.