Yorkshire Fabric Shopping – Hitting Keighley

Some people claim that time travel is a science fiction conceit never to be achieved in our lifetime. When I walked into the covered market at Keighley, Yorkshire, I passed through a time and space continuum. Or, to put it another way, I thought, Ooh, I’ve been here before. When I say ‘before’ I mean precisely 21 years ago.

It hadn’t changed a bit.

Isn’t it amazing? Some ancient yet fresh part of my brain thought, If I turn left and a right, I’m going to see a fabric stall. And see a fabric stall I did.

This is the third time I’ve spotted the rose print cotton that I’m planning to use on my make of the B5605 dress. Yes, the new term at Morley College has started and the pattern pieces have been cut out. Soon, I need to actually invest in the final fabric. But out of the three sightings, the cheapest has been at … Goldhawk Road! Enough said, I’m holding out. It had ruddy well better still be there next weekend.

The arrangement of stalls at Keighley market is a Sewist’s dream. Two stalls selling fabric, and one selling notions including the buttons above. One stall even stocks knock down patterns:

Basically, a few metres of space provides everything you would need: pattern, fabric and notions. A Sewist could go home and start work immediately!

But me? I desperately wanted a little camping stool and a magic wand to make myself invisible so that I could settle down for the day and earwig. There was a three way conversation going on between an American customer and the two Yorkshire Asian stall holders. She wanted a loud bell for her cat’s collar, one very camp stall holder was imploring his friend to embroider his mum’s sari fabric, and the three of them joked and chatted with each other in dialogue that could have come straight out of a Peter Kay sketch. I was in heaven, my ears flapping like mad as I pretended to peruse the buttons. I LOVE people watching.

I thought I’d share another little insight from my trip to God’s Own Country. After meeting the people here, I really think it is GOC. That killer combination of warmth – ‘Here you are, love, let me help you’ – and, how do I put this, strength – ‘Cross me and your life won’t be worth living’ – is incredibly seductive. You just know where you stand with people!

Anyway, anyway. I visited a library where I saw this:

I love that it’s ‘profusely illustrated’!

This is from 1897. I wonder if I’ll see anything sewing related, I thought, flicking through the ancient pages. Yet again, Yorkshire didn’t disappoint:

From what I can gather, a reader could look at any illustration of an outfit in this magazine and order a pattern for it! Wow. More fascinating still are the waist measurements: the highest they go to is a 28 inch waist. Yeah, ahem. I’d have needed a corset! Well, I guess that’s what they were all wearing.

So I’m now on a train back to London. I love London, but I truly adored Yorkshire. Impossible to commute between the two.  For now, time travelling memories will have to do.

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19 Responses to Yorkshire Fabric Shopping – Hitting Keighley

  1. PinQueen says:

    If you go up to West Yorkshire again, let me know. There are some fantastic mills around Bradford, Aisan stores, Leeds market etc, etc. I’d be happy to make you a ‘hit list’!
    It is true isn’t it? Yorkshire Folk are lovely”‘ello luv, need any ‘elp” is something I miss hearing and it truely is Gods Country (with Derbyshire a very close second in my humble opinion!)
    Safe journey home

  2. True! Highly recommend Leeds market. So cheap compared to London. But then again, I’ve never been to all your secret spots where they sell fabric at 1 pound a yard!!

  3. Dibs says:

    yeah they really are quite friendly up there. I lived in manchester for years, and although its not exactly Yorkshire, or North East , its kinda similar. My husband is from Darlington, which is not far from Yorkshire, and all you really hear is “elo luv”.

    Looking forward to saturday. its quite hard not being able to buy fabric because you are holding out for Goldhawk road. Wow.

  4. Yadira says:

    OH GOD! Those shiny buttons are my dream 8-D. I would love to be able to go to such place.

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  6. Anwen says:

    Oh! That rose print fabric is lovely! I won’t be able to make it on Saturday, but would be terribly grateful if you could let me know which shop had it… (Don’t worry, I won’t get there before Saturday, either!)

  7. Lisa says:

    Now I really need to make a trip to Yorkshire . I am in Cumbria and I would love to hit that market and then onto Leeds market . I am planning a trip there later this year . I agree Northerners are the best :-))

  8. louise says:

    ive just come across your blog,so sorry about late comment. but if ever in yorkshire again check out The Shuttle in Shipley a fantastic fabric shop , reasonable prices too. They are so few and far between especially where I live, which is why I originally went off dressmaking. Also with reference to the lovely rose print you can also get it here http://www.croftmill.co.uk/products/floral-fabrics/rosas-printed-poplin-cotton-cloth-product.html, of course there will be postage on top.

  9. Justin says:

    I too have just found your blog and was pleased too see such positive comments about yorkshire. There is a store in York, that has traded for circa 50 years. You can shop for sewing machines, fabric, buttons, needles lots and lots of different items. They also run sewing courses, if you want to have a look at their courses they are on their website, http://www.gilliesfabrics.co.uk/ http://www.gilliesfabrics.co.uk/

  10. sam says:

    i work in that shop so weird its on the nett!!!

  11. sheena says:

    oh, I can’t wait! I am planning a trip to North Yorks. for a holiday soon and top of my list of must- sees is The Fent Shop in Skipton. I live in Lincolnshire and we are seriously short of sewing shops.

  12. Pingback: A Grand Day Out | Craft (Alchemy)

  13. DENISE says:

    do you know any mills which sell printed fabric with Yorkshire dialect on

  14. Marcia Ockrim says:

    anyone ever been to the shuttle in Shipley for fabric? Small but perfectly formed. Got amazing stretch jerseys from there and also some very hard to find lovely thick sweatshirt fabric. They always have ends of rolls at great prices and my favourite place to go (apart from Goldhawk Road, when I am down in London). Check it out – fantastic!

  15. Jeanette says:

    I’ve been going to the Shuttle in Shipley since I moved to Yorkshire in 1994. They have covered all of my needs for sewing children’s clothes, toys, bean bags to name a few and I even ventured into a few things for myself. There is always good quality cloth at very reasonable prices to suite most projects. Definitely check it out!

  16. lisa says:

    Barry’s in Birmingham and Leons in Manchester stock everything and market prices in a warehouse.

  17. lisa says:

    Doncaster market has a fantastic indoor stall for upholstery with a modern and traditional range. the outdoor market has about 3 or 4 fabric stalls on a Saturday, only a couple on Tues and Fri I think and a massive haberdashery stall. Close to the train and bus station. Well worth a trip up from London. Waltons Fabrics in Goldthorpe, market stall prices in a shop. Excellent for all dressmaking but not upholstery or quilting.

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