Walthamstow Shopping Frenzy. Who’s In?

Fancy a bit of it, do ya?

Okay, a girl can take a hint.

Carly: ‘I’m hoping to get a wee trip to Walthamstow market soon, is there a best day to go or is it only on certain days?’

Tilly: ‘Ooh I LOVE that fabric. Yet another reason for a pilgrimage to E17…’

Clare: ‘The fabric is excellent, I’m going to have to drag myself out to Walthamstow to stock up!’

Roisin: ‘my friend Alysa and I are planning a visit to Walthamstow Market.’

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

These are just a selection of comments on the one part of London I will never tire of banging on about: Walthamstow market.  It’s a dressmaker’s heaven as regular readers will already have learned. If you want a more detailed online guide, you can visit this blog post. But why look at pictures when you could be snapping up your own bargains, in person and with ready cash?

For those of you who are interested, I’m going to organise a Walthamstow Shopping Frenzy. I’m not entirely sure a frenzy can be organised, but that’s the pedant in me. Plucking a date out of a hat, I am going to suggest Saturday 19 February. If you can’t make this date, but are still interested in hitting E17, do also add a comment.

My loose plan is:


Meet at Walthamstow Central on the Victoria line.


Hit Walthamstow market and spend our way out of recession! I’ll give each of you a tour guide to the market, with print outs. We’ll move as a pack, but be prepared to split up if needs be. (It gets BUSY on a Saturday.)


Walk (or cab it) to Walthamstow village for lunch at Eat 17 and possibly a mosey around Beautiful Interiors nextdoor, where they sell all sorts of vintage and craft loveliness.


Tip a tired but happy collection of Sewists back onto the tube home.

As a sample of Walthamstow shopping, I popped down this afternoon. (The things I do in the name of research – and to avoid that business document I’m meant to be working on.) I need to get started on the V8363:

I’ve had this pattern since November and so far I’ve only cut out the pattern pieces. Get with it, Karen! So I wandered into Saeed Fabrics and asked them to recommend a wool. Immediately, a roll was brought out from where it had been hiding behind several other rolls. The most gorgeous fine herringbone in a mushroom colour. We also found some perfect lining to go with it:

Here’s a close up:

For two metres of wool, two metres of lining fabric, and two metres of canvas for a toile, this came to £16. I also received a free lesson in cutting out off the centre of bolt of fabric and learnt all about the owner’s experiences making clothes and patterns for major chain stores. Moral? Don’t. As he (the very Saeed of the shop name?) so wisely commented, ‘You can earn a little money and be happy, or earn a lot and never see your family.’ I could not agree more.

So come along and meet this wise man yourself. You can also meet a silly woman – me! We could even set up a Flickr group of Walthamstow Shopping Frenzy Makes. The world is our oyster.

Oh, one last thing. Happy New Year!

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29 Responses to Walthamstow Shopping Frenzy. Who’s In?

  1. Roisin says:

    YES. Sounds good to me, not sure about Alysa but I know she reads this so no doubt she’ll speak up! I might have to come along a wee bit later as getting into London before 111am is very expensive from the midlands but otherwise it all sounds fab!

  2. Kerry says:

    I love the wool and lining fabric you’ve chosen, they’re gorgeous. Bit jealous that I live too far away for a fabric shopping trip but look forward to reading about it!

  3. Shivani says:

    great idea, Karen! I’ve just splurged on some Simplicity patterns on sale, so count me in!
    All the best for 2011!

  4. Katha says:

    Gosh I am so jealous
    You recon a commute via plane from Dublin would take long?
    I guess I’ll just vicariously through you gals 🙁

  5. Clare says:

    Brilliant plan! Unfortunately I’m away on holiday that weekend, but this is probably a good thing given my bank balance and stashbusting plans.. I’m impressed with your organisation – travel guides and everything!

  6. Jane says:

    Hi Karen, sadly I’m not around that weekend (doh). Are you still planning to go to the Japanese exhibition in January? I’d still like to go and Kate from M is for Make (fab online fabric shop) is coming too. Jane x

  7. Carly says:

    I’m totally in, how can I not be after providing part of the inspiration (bullying??) haha!

    I can make that date, but my February and March are pretty free so whenever suits most people…

    Thanks for offering to be our guide!


  8. rachel says:

    I’m so jealous. Your skirt will look fantastic – and have fun!

  9. Suzy says:

    This is very, very tempting! Need to think about it. For what I remember you are quite right, Walthamstow market is full of sewing dreams stands and shops. I lived in Walthamstow village for 2 years before moving out of London late last year (2009 that is) but because I only started sewing June this year I never explored it with sewing in mind.

  10. Roobeedoo says:

    Hee hee! I can’t wait to see the pictures! And I had forgotten about that restaurant… nostalgia strikes again! Looking forward to seeing your new skirt!

  11. Love the wool choices – should be great. And what a brilliant plan! I LOVE the idea but am trying to reconcile against what seems now to be a foolish NY resolution not to buy more fabric …. Will try to rustle up some creativity to suitably justify!

  12. Lysy says:

    I’m with Roisin – sounds excellent – will try to bring some willpower!

  13. Tilly says:

    At last, you took the hint! 😉 It’s in the diary. Although it’s just underneath “Boyfriend goes to America for 5 months” so I may be a blubbering wreck… but I can fabric shop my way out of depression! x

  14. Katherine says:

    I would love to go to Walthamstow Market, but I’m not 100% sure I can make the date. I actually going to be up in London on Tuesday and I was wondering if it’s worth the trip? Can bargains still be had on a Tuesday?

    I have been a bit of a lurker on your blog for a few months and I love it.

  15. Saranne says:

    I’m definitely in – a brilliant plan. I will save my pennies to make the most of it!

  16. Pin Queen says:

    I’d love to come! Although I promised myself no more fabric, Saeeds looks too good to miss. Keep us posted, Ruth

  17. melissa says:

    Yeah I might be up for this! I used to hit up the market all the time, but I haven’t been in ages, mostly due to Ditto, Goldhawk Road, online shops, and the garment district getting in the way. But I might be up for a good ol’ bargain hunt.

    Can I bring my lighter for back-alley burn tests? 😉

    Anyway, keep me in the loop.

  18. Molly says:

    I’ve just been catching up on Christmas Craft Club posts and saw yours mentioning this market so I’ve come from there to find out a bit more about since I live in Stratford and here is the perfect post!

    Great idea, I might well sign up for this too, better go put it on the calendar before I forget. My own qualm is, shopping with fellow sewing fanatics tends to lead to the spending of way more than intended on fabric due to the enthusiast encouragement from others!

    But I have been looking for cheap local fabric, thank you!

  19. I promised myself no new fabrics till I used up at least some of my stash but I did promise myself this year that I’d try and meet other sewers and crafters in London. I’d really love to come along and I am very flexible with dates. Just tell me when and I’ll be there. Its not far from me anyway as I’m also in Stratford.

    I’ve been meaning to get out to Walthamstow for a very long time. This sounds like the perfect opportunity. So cool that you’re going to give us printouts and show us all the good places to go to. I’m so impressed and more than a little bit excited!

    Can’t wait to meet everyone! (and buy fabric too!)

  20. Abi Bown says:

    Crazy isn’t it – I’ve lived in East Ham for 13 years and never visited Walthamstow Market.
    I’d love to take the tour Karen, count me in 😉

  21. Laura says:

    Here via Tilly *waves* Hi 🙂

    It’s fascinating to read this about Walthamstow. I’m from E17 originally, and when I left, the fabric shops were just getting going, really. It’s a little surreal reading about what’s going on somewhere that you went shopping every week for 18 years!

    It’s awesome that they’re so good now, and the sewing shopping trip sounds like a fantastic idea. Hope you all have a great time, and I’m going to be watching with interest – looks like I should make a trip home sooner rather than later!

  22. Steph says:


    Also here via Tilly! I’ve lived in London for about a year and still haven’t ventured that direction for fabric – I’d love come! Count me in! x


  23. Mikki says:

    Oh how I miss Walthamstow Market, up until 18 months ago I lived in a road just off of the High St and it was a source of wonderful bargains. Now I’m a poor exile in the frozen North!

  24. Geri says:

    This sounds fantastic, am always up for a bargain — Have been out to Walthamstow a couple of times, but didn’t know it was a fabric hot-spot! As a fairly new London-er it will be great to meet some fellow sewers too!

  25. Allison says:

    I LOVE WALTHAMSTOW MARKET! I found your blog via many, many sewing blog links. I moved to London in September and Walthy, as i’ve taken to calling it, is one of my favourite finds. This outing you’re planning sounds great! I’m only a beginning sewer, but hopefully I will be able to come along.

    ps. there is a pretty good kebab stand kinda towards the beginning of the market (bit up from the lloyds, think). You can’t shop on and empty stomach, and kebabs are only 1.60! it’s the stand that always has a lunchtime line, across from a little old fruit and veg man who is eternally hawking pineapples, loudly.

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