Every week a bus journey takes me past Ray Stitch. Every week I manage to resist hopping off to poke my nose inside the door. Yesterday, I crumbled.
There’s a good reason I’ve been avoiding this place. It’s just so darn fabulous. I’d been trying to convince myself I didn’t need a Ray Stitch in my life, what with Walthamstow market being on my door.
I was wrong.
The fabric is gorgeous and covers a nice price range, from £6 to £20 a metre. I’m a bit of an inverted snob about high end price ranges on fabric, but it’s clear that Ray Stitch’s supplies are absolute top notch quality so if you have the budget and inclination, this is definitely the place to visit. There was a fat quarter of Japanese cotton that I can’t stop thinking about – I’m going to have to go back.
There are also more gorgeous patterns than a person can dream of (without shipping costs):
So far, some would say, so predictable. But the devil really is in the detail at this shop. Their sewing supplies are SUPERB. I leapt on these extra fine pins:
Indeed, a lot of my spending at Ray Stitch was on items to support my sewing – tailors chalk, a thread snipper, pins – rather than the gratuitous but sometimes quickly neglected fabric purchases that I know we can all be guilty of. (Okay, okay, so I did indulge in half a metre of something delightful that I can’t share. Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat, people!)
Don’t get me started on the buttons at Ray Stitch:
Yeah. I crumbled and bought two cat buttons, despite the fact that I have no idea what I’ll use them on. A person can’t NOT buy cat buttons!
The shop is arranged around a looooonnnng table with a beautiful inlaid measuring stick. This piece of furniture acts as both cutting table and cafe counter. Bizarrely, this set up works – it really does. BUT, I think this is all credit to the wonderful owner, Rachel, and her staff. Ray Stitch was busy when I visited – chock full of shoppers and diners. Despite the several people who needed serving, Rachel remained totally unflappable and calm – even when I started boring her with the fact that I know Tilly who did this interview with her and, oh yes, I know Pincushion Treats who works there, too. A lesser soul would have made it fairly clear she didn’t have time to chat, but not Rachel. Readers, she indulged me.
If you’re intending to visit Ray Stitch, I should flag up that opposite it is one of the best fish shops in London. Indeed, this part of Essex Road is full of interesting independent shops (including another fabric shop) and is walkable from Upper Street.
I have one final thought about this shop: the idea to combine it with a cafe is really, really clever. It brings all sorts of unexpected customers through the front door – not just the likes of me. I saw children AND men in Ray Stitch. Radical!
I think I’m going to have to stop getting the 56 bus. It could end up costing me a lot of money…