Fabric Shopping in Paris

Voulez vous faire du shopping avec moi?

From Mablethorpe to Paris. Difficult to believe, I know, but all in the week of a Sewist’s life. Above is a snap of the fabric shopping district in the Montmartre area of Paris. There is absolutely no reason why I need write a detailed guide, because Fehr Trade has already provided all the information you need so concisely here. Just take it from me – the shopping is good. It’s soooo good.

Many of the shops sell pre-cut three metre lengths of fabric with price labels such as these:

I particularly appreciated all the wool and tweed fabric on offer. For some reason, this type of fabric seems thin on the ground in London unless extremely expense. Oh. Talking of extremely expensive, have any of you seen this before:

Self-lined fabric

This is what I assume is some self-lined wool fabric. It was gorgeous, with a soft silk wrong side. I could only assume that this was so that a Sewist could make a nice wool item without having to line it. Do you think the same? It was 50 euros a metre. Pheweee. You’d have to really not want to bother with lining!

Here’s one of the shops. It had loads of these miniature mannequins so that Sewists could see how a particular fabric would work in an outfit:

Eccentric? For sure.

So, you’re probably wondering what I bought. Well, I’ll be honest with you. It wasn’t easy. There was too much choice. I spent ages wandering around with my boyfriend’s stepmum and she snapped up some bargains. I was still empty-handed. This just wasn’t me.

Fear not. (The story has to have a happy ending, after all.) After lunch, I pottered off on my own and wandered into this happy establishment:

Even more eccentric? You betcha!

Yes, I bought fabric off the dancing man. Remember my plans to make the Vogue V1183? After a suggestion by Dolly Clackett, I’d been thinking of making it in a Ponte double knit. Then I saw the red cashmere wool. Three metres, 40 euros. Not cheap – but not bad either, in my opinion. I could squeeze a dress and a skirt out of that. Maybe. Anyway, I ended up buying it. I carried it around Paris all day, terrified that I would leave the bag behind in a cafe or restaurant. I finally got the fabric back to our hotel where I lay, exhausted, on the bed and stroked the wool until I fell asleep. (I’m not joking.) Then I dreamt about the fabric. Then I woke up and photographed it:

Je t’aime, cherie cashmere.

Want another photo?

Address details, should you ever need them.

It’s odd, because this wasn’t one of the largest or most impressive of the shops. You could easily have wandered past and not paid much notice. But there it was. The fabric of dreams, just waiting to be eased out of the pile and stroked.

The good news is I safely carried the fabric back home to London. It’s by my bed as I type. ‘Did you stroke the cashmere today?’ my boyfriend asked when he arrived home from work this evening.

Needless to say, if I mess up this fabric I will not be happy. So it’s a good job I am working on a muslin of the Vogue V1183 with some cheap-as-chips navy wool mix from Walthamstow market for £3 a metre. So far, so good and details to come!

A final couple of photos. We stayed in the student area of Paris and I couldn’t help notice the number of independent cinemas. Tilly and the Buttons, this is for you:

French cinema

And here are some lovely ladies I spotted in a photoshoot on a bridge. I managed to catch them, just as they were rushing to pull their warm coats back round their shoulders:

Fabulous dresses, non?

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16 Responses to Fabric Shopping in Paris

  1. Roisin says:

    Oh! I LOVED fabric shopping when Nic and I were in Paris in June. I didn’t buy anything in either Reine or Au Bonheur des Dames (although I wanted to from that one as it’s also the name of one of my favourite novels) but I did spend quite a lot across the street in Dreyfus. I was bowled over by the range and also by the amount of people shopping but as clothes are so expensive in Paris I can only imagine that there are a lot of talented Parisiennes! I look forward to seeing how you get on with the ponte knit too!

  2. Karin says:

    Wow, red cashmere! I think you got a bargain. I can’t wait to see you make it up into something gorgeous and RED.

  3. whimsycate says:

    ooh, thanks for the taster, i’m off to Paris for my birthday in a few weeks, and i hope to do some serious fabric shopping!

    lovely cashmere, can’t wait to see what you make!

    cate, x

  4. Roobeedoo says:

    Ooooh! Looking forward to seeing what you make!

  5. Aldara says:

    Oh, shopping abroad is always so much fun! Congrats on finding your perfect fabric, and I can’t wait to see what you’ll turn it into! 🙂

  6. Suzanne says:

    What a beautiful shade of Red…look forward to seeing what you create!

  7. Tilly says:

    Aww! Thanks for the cinema pic! Can’t remember if I told you but I lived in Paris for a year and that’s where I learnt about cinema, spending my afternoons in the Accattone et al! So Parisian cinemas hold an extra special place in my heart.

    Love your story about dreaming about the red cashmere – so sweet. That man in the door looks like a hoot! xx

  8. Ooh, Tilly, I am VERY jealous that you lived in Paris for a year.

  9. Liz says:

    That seems like a (very gorgeous) bargain to me. Not only will you get a dress and, hopefully, a skirt out of it, but it’s a souvenir as well. And it is essentially free as things bought on holiday don’t count as proper spending, they just come out of ‘holiday money’ and red cashmere seems like a better buy than a plastic model of the Eiffel Tower and a guide to the Louvre that you’ll never look at again.

  10. I like your logic, Liz!

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  12. Melizza says:

    I took this post as a sign. I’ve been *thisclose* to booking a trip to Paris to go fabric shopping for months. But each time I never went through the purchase. But not today. I’m booked and ready to shop! Thanks for the push 🙂

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