Walthamstow Fabric Shopping

Walthamstow Collage.jpg

I’ve mentioned Walthamstow market numerous times in my blogging posts, so I thought I’d supply a guided tour to fabric shopping in E17. Even if you don’t live in London, I hope this makes for an interesting glimpse into the heady delights of the longest outdoor street market in Europe. If you want to know where to buy your fabric and notions for dirt cheap prices, follow me…

We’re going to start at the top of the High Street, by Hoe Street  and work our way down towards where the High Street intersects with Buxton Road. (For a free downloadable map of Walthamstow fabric shopping, visit here.)

First off, I suggest you visit Walthamstow on a Saturday. That’s when the market is at its best. Ready? Let’s start with a shop tucked away behind a stall selling what looks like industrial kitchen ware:

Textile Centre Ltd.jpg

Blink And You’d Miss It

It would be very easy to walk past this place on our right and not notice it. They have some unusual fabrics and I particularly like them for their border prints. I made the below from one of their border prints:

Coco dress iii

Carry on down the market and you will come across several notion stalls. If you want lace, ribbon, thread, needles, chalk, elastic, zips … well, anything! – it’s probably stocked on one of these stalls. If you’re a thread purist, don’t bother stopping. Their spools of thread are visibly fluffy.

My personal favourite notions shop in Walthamstow market is this one on your left as you wander down:

Favourite Notions Shop.jpg

Moving on! Outside Sainsburys we will find my favourite stall:

photo (10)

After this, cross over Palmerston Road and on your left you’ll come across Saeed Fabrics:

class-outing

By this point, you’re probably loaded down with fabric bought at £2 a metre and a bag spilling with lace trims. You’re ready for a snack, aren’t you? Walthamstow market supplies those, too!

Snackage.jpg

While you rest, ponder on what makes Walthamstow such a great place for fabric shopping. Well, it ain’t because of people like me. The market caters for people – largely from African and Asian communities – who aren’t going to find their chosen outfits any time soon in high street chain stores. I’m talking saris and caftans. As if to prove my point, last time I wandered down to the market I came across a group of people getting ready for a Punjabi wedding. Guys, this was serious – they’d hired four coaches. The street was full of people in bright, bright colours – strangely at odds with the dusty grey of an urban street. I was so thrilled when one of the ladies shyly allowed me to photograph her:

This is just one of the reasons that makes Walthamstow great. It’s not perfect, but it is home.

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62 Responses to Walthamstow Fabric Shopping

  1. melissa says:

    Great rundown! I used to shop here ll the time when I first started sewing but then we moved to the boat and it’s a lot more of a faff to get up there from ours. But I still hold a soft spot in my heart for the “Everything’s 75p a metre” store!

  2. Roisin says:

    Those photos looks great – I live in the midlands but this definitely looks like it’s worth a weekend visit. Thanks for the tip!

  3. Karin says:

    You totally have my attention now!

    What is the parking like? Outer London public transport is radial and it would take me forever to get there by train.

    • Mary says:

      I live in walthamstow, and the market is my spot for shopping especially fabric and trimming. It has a large carpark under selborne walk shopping centre.

  4. Debi says:

    FABULOUS! I definitely MUST check this out next time I am in London!!!

  5. Thanks for your comments! Melissa – one of my dear Walthamstow friends left to live on a boat in south London. Roison – I know Leamington. It’s such a pretty town. Karin – the parking’s not too bad. I can give you tips, or just come and park outside my house! Debi – yes, you must let us know when you’re in London next. All of us should meet up!

  6. Tilly says:

    Ooh lovely! Maybe we should do a two-ends-of-the-Victoria-line comparison? There are a few fabric shops in Brixton but I don’t think they’re as good as ‘Stow!

  7. Roobeedoo says:

    There are actually tears in my eyes. Walthamstow, I give in – I miss you!

  8. Oh dear, I’m sorry to make anyone cry but I’m glad my blog post touched you! Tilly – great suggestion. I feel an organised event in Walthamstow coming on…

  9. ejvc says:

    Please! I’ve been to Walthamstow to visit the weaving shop there, but not to the market. I’m now doing my fabric shopping at Goldhawk Road/Portobello market (similar notions vendors) and at Dalston street market. The whole outdoor fabric stall thing doesn’t make sense to me, but I’m learning to like it.

  10. Kajsa says:

    I am a fellow Londoner and absolutely love all the shops you’ve just listed. Despite the prices, Saeed is my favourite.
    Great guide!

  11. Alyx says:

    best description ever!!!
    a pleasure to read!!

  12. Little Hands Dreams says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I will definitely have to come round and check the market out.
    Emma (littlehandsdreams)

  13. Tonnie. Sola says:

    I came across this site whilst looking for patchwork quilters in London, via CargoCultCraft.
    Thank you very much for this informative post – will make the effort to trek further East next time I have a few pennies to spare.

  14. mujerboricua says:

    Finally going to Walthamstow tomorrow. My friend just moved tot he neighborhood and I’ve invited myself over :) Can’t wait to check out the market.

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  19. Clare says:

    Great rundown! I’ve lived in E17 for 4 years and despise the market but just started sewing and sounds like everything I’ll need will be on my doorstep! Now can’t wait to get to the market this Saturday :-)

  20. John Snowden says:

    Sounds a little different from when I lived their in the 50s, 60, 70s and 80s, BUT we are going back this week for a trip down memory lane, ( Hope Manzees are still there) my wife has never been, I grew up on Markhouse road around the corner, both parents had businesses at the bottom of the high street ( St James Street & Markhouse road ) dad has now passed on, but mum at 86 still goes once a week from Woodford to her favorite butcher in the high st, Wednesday will be a reliving of the place I knew with a different culture in place, wonder how I will feel on reflection Thursday.

  21. Milly says:

    I am so glad I found your blog (I have just got into sewing – a very early learner). Your blog reminds me how much I miss London and all those markets! (I now live in Birmingham.)

    My mum still shops down Walthamstow most weeks, so when I am down, we grab a coffee or go to the pie and mash shop and then I drag mum round the fabric shops and she drags me round the jewellers! Mind, you I do miss the market of about 10 years ago – it was huge. It seems to have shrunk over the years, don’t you think?

  22. Elisalex says:

    I have been living (and sewing) in London all my life, albeit West London, and have NEVER been to Walthamstow Market! Only since I started blogging have I even heard of its magnificence… Thanks for this wonderful post – I’ll be going Walthamstow-way this week! Am plotting a hefty shopping list as I type…!

  23. Annika says:

    This is a great post! I just found your blog and am really happy about all the Walthamstow shopping tips. I am marginally scared of people, so If I’m down by the market, I usually have my blinders on and just walk straight ahead. Look at what I’m missing! I’ve been to the fabric shop at the top of the high street, and to the beautiful, beautiful notions shop. When I first went there, I wanted to buy ALL the ribbon trims! I’ve heard talk of Saeed’s, but never been. Thank you for writing this guide!

  24. Shirley Accini says:

    Thanks so much for posting this. Using it, I tried out Walthamstow market for the first time today and was very impressed with all the fabric shops and stalls. I bought loads of stuff for mere pennies (well, you know what I mean).

  25. Suze says:

    hi there – thanks SO MUCH for the post, lovely work. Me and my mate Shirl (see comment above – hiya love!) popped along there on Saturday and an ace day was had. Hope you don’t mind I have also blogged about our day out and linked to this post, to credit you as our inspiration! Pop over and have a look at it on http://thejoyofsew.blogspot.com if you get a mo. S x

  26. newtosew1 says:

    I am going to start making clothesto for myself + my 17 year old daughter who is really into dressing up! She loves the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s era. We are on the look out for a Ball Dress for the end of the academic year. There is no way I would attempt anything that difficult but it will be so much fun to look and eel all the fabrics at Wathamstow Market. We can then let the dressmaker/seamstress (when we find one) what sort of fabric we’d like the Ball dress to be made up in. Thanks for your blog and opening my eyes to all that glorious, lovely fabrics and trimmings.

    Ready To Sew

  27. Dee says:

    Hey Thank you so much for this post. i did sewing in school and i am going to start again. Looking forward to visiting Walthamstow.
    Dee

  28. Michelle sayers says:

    Hiya hun thanks for a great blog, I have been sewing and designing clothes for over 27 years, having completed my degree at The London College of Fashion, many years ago and working for many a top famous designer, but having said that I have always trusted Walthamtow Market and shops for my one off special garments. I love the place its a dressmakers dream.
    Have fun making wonderful clothes and accessories.
    Michelle ..

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  30. Sarah says:

    Hi, The images of the treasure trove shops have lost their link by the looks of it. Am coming to E17 fabric shopping Saturday. Any chance you can sort the links out so I know where to rummage. Thanks! :)

    • I’m sorry – there was some over-zealous photo culling and they’ve disappeared for ever! I might try to update this post soon, but not before Saturday. Happy shopping!

  31. anca says:

    hi. my mother-in-law, bless her, can saw anything :) so we want to go shopping there together, but i`m not sure if it`s only saturday opened, she went there once but said it wasn`t market just shops. the shops are open all week + sat? thanks a lot :) can`t wait to visit walthamstow…. btw nice post !!! :)

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  33. Vanessa says:

    I’m off to Dublin and then London tomorrow! Timely post, which is really weird because you posted about your trip and meetup in San Francisco a few days after I started following your blog. The meetup was my first trip out of the house without the baby. Thanks so much! I hope that I can convince my husband (and baby) to check it out.

  34. teri says:

    my grand-daughter (aged two) wants a fleece blanket like the one i made for her dad (30yrs ago!
    but with bunnies on it, has anyone seen any? bunnies seem to be extinct in the land of fleece.
    i would love to bring her to walthamstow to buy it, but dont want to come and have her disappointed.

  35. Shaz says:

    Loved reading this post, only some of your pics are missing – can you re-upload? I’m heading to London soon and really wanna check out some of these places! thanks! x

  36. zozo says:

    hi love the shopping guide. I have been visiting london to shop for fabric since i was 14 years old living in kent and staying with my nan in london when i visited. Walthamstow and Romford Markets were my favourite haunts then. I still visit Walthamstow and love the atmsophere especially on warm sunny day. BUT last year i discovered Goldhawk Road, now I cannot decide which area to visit. I live in Kent so although not too far away it is not an every week excursion. Still i know i am lucky that i am this close to great fabric shopping and to be honest my fabric stash could do with a rest.

  37. Sarah M says:

    Hi, great little guide, thanks for posting. Any chance you could make another trip to E17 in 2013 to update the post and retake the photos you’re missing? Would make navigating the market, so much easier. Many thanks ;o)

  38. After being disappointed about the overpriced rude fabric shops on berwick street (I live close to oxford street) this post gave me new hope :) Do you think the market is open at this time of the year? I’d love to go there this saturday. And in case you will organise another event some day, I’d love to come! Charlie @ thisblogisnotforyou.com

  39. Janet Dixon says:

    What a great blog I was bought up In north London and was born under there sound of the bow bells which makes me a cockney which I am very proud of but my parents moved us to Kent in my teens and then life took over kids and family but now they have all left the neat I am free to do what I love best crafts and was wondering about where to go for cheap fabric as I can’t afford £6 and up for fabric so I thought lets go back to my roots and the London markets but which one and then here you was with this great blog so I know where I am going on sat thanks very much Janet

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  43. beverley says:

    after stumbling onto your blog a few months ago I persuaded my hubby to drive me to the market..on a Saturday of course ;)..round trip of 4hours..but oh so worth it!!! I memorized all your places of note, found a few more myself and had such a fine time :) thank you so much for sharing with everyone..next trip is planned for next week :)

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  46. Anne says:

    Hello all! I’m Anne from the Netherlands and next week I am planning to go to the walthamstow market (on Saturday). What time is the market starting? And what time is it finishend? Thanks for sharing! Greetz!

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  48. Katie M says:

    Thank you so much for all this fabulous advice. Is there any chance you could repost a picture of The Man Outside Sainsbury’s? I’m trying to score myself a kid-free Saturday so I can head over and check out a few of these places. I want to make sure I head to the right place.

    • Katie M says:

      I finally made a trip to Walthamstow Market. Thank you so much for you great tips. I walked the entire length of the street, and managed to come home with just three fabrics and a bag full of zips, bias tape, and other miscellaneous bits. I was much better behaved than I thought I’d be! I blogged about my trip on Random Crafting Adventures, and included photos of the fronts all the shops I found.

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  52. Jayne says:

    This blog is so helpful! I live in Jersey and have to do all my fabric shopping online which is hard as it often looks slightly different in the picture and is very expensive! I am coming to London in May and hope to visit this market. What sort of prices should I expect approximately? Also, I won’t be there at the weekend and will end up going on the Weds or Thurs. Will it still be worth it as I saw you said to head there on a Saturday. Thanks :)

  53. I am going to drag the children there on Saturday because I am all fired up now. Just one thing – someone mentioned the broken photo links, which I can live without, but is there any chance you could name the shops for us. I especially don’t want to miss the one that’s easy to …. well, miss! Thank you!

  54. Oh I do miss Walthamstow! I lived there for about a year (1998-9) and since then I’ve moved to West London (where I’m from), Saudi Arabia and now Algeria! I’m SO looking forward to a trip back home and heading over to Walthamstow market!

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