The Man Outside Sainsburys – Revealed!

The Man Outside Sainsburys

If you’ve ever been curious about the most important man in my life (the one who fuels my sewing addiction aka The Man Outside Sainsburys) here he is! I screwed up my courage and asked for a photograph. So now you know who to look out for, should you be visiting. If you’re a stranger to Walthamstow, it’s worth knowing that the market is Europe’s longest. You have to take quite a stroll to find this guy, but it’s soooo worth it. Look how Ella adores him! She recognises a purveyor of fine fabric when she meets one.

I didn’t have time to hang around and chat, though. Today has been mainly sewing with pink crepe. Apart from when I had to step away, too tired to think straight and convinced all my hard work needed to be thrown in the bin. Always best to take a walk in the sunshine, when that sewing mood descends.

Do you battle creative demons, telling you you’re a failure? Personally, I think self doubt is all part of the process. It’s just knowing how to manage it. Any tips?

Crepe Detail

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55 Responses to The Man Outside Sainsburys – Revealed!

  1. Aileen Brown says:

    I think you And Two Random Words need to speak to each other! Both very talented and both currently full of self doubt. Give yourself a break! You are very talented and I love your blog.

  2. I didn’t realise that the Man Outside Sainsbury’s had a market stall. In my head he was just hanging about on the street corner looking slightly dodgy with some fabric about his person to push onto his clients…
    This makes much more sense and yet I’m slightly disappointed by reality.

  3. Jenny Lester says:

    He is much younger and more handsome than I imagined!! At least I will know who I am looking for when I next venture to Walthamstow. When showed this photo to my husband he did say “let’s go again when we are in London next month – the lunch at the Willaim Morris Gallery was worth it” so watch this space!! I must complete 2 more garments to allow myself more purchase.
    What are you making with the pink crepe and what are you having doubts about???

    • I had breakfast at the William Morris today! I’m making a dress. It was just that awful fitting stage when everything looks like a sack of potatoes.

      • Jenny Lester says:

        Lucky you!! Breakfast at William Morris must have been lovely in this weather with the view of the garden!! I know what you mean about the sack of potatoes feeling, certainly had that with the dress worn last week, but retrieved it as I am sure you will. Finished garment photo pleas!!

  4. Ann says:

    I am a long-time reader, and had a business trip to London this week so was fully planning on taking an afternoon off to go see if I could find The Man Outside Sainsburys. Alas, I got sick instead, and wound up in the hospital. All is well, finally, but I was So Disappointed! I think I was more upset about missing the fabric shopping than being sick. Tells you where my priorities are! My consolation prize today was a quick trip to Shaukat and that about did me in. Oh well, next trip, and now I know what he looks like so thanks for that!

  5. Aileen Brown says:

    What is going on with you fabulously talented people? Two random Words is having a crisis too. You are talented creative people and your blogs inspire me so please carry on being lovely inspiring people.

  6. he’s way cute! i, too, had this image of an older man, hat low on his head, with a trench coat ‘pst hey lady you wanna see some fabric?’ and he’d look around for the coppers before he’d open his coat. sort of like panurge in Rabelais or those fake rolex dealers.

  7. onedabbles says:

    I think self-doubt is part of the process when you challenge yourself and keep your sewing interesting – as you do. How dull if there were no wanderings and wonderings along the way. Love your blog and your dog! I tell myself that I might be a ‘failure’ but I’ll be a failure with a finished garment – wearable or not.
    Like ProlificProjectStarter above, I thought the MoSainsburys might just be lurking with notions and fabrics inside his overcoat a la Harpo Marx – not including the rubber chicken. One day I will visit!
    Bat on!

  8. Leah says:

    I am so glad you posted a picture of ‘the man outside sainsbury’s.’ I wish I had of known about him or Wathemstow market the last time in was on your side of the pond. I’m suck in suburbia where there are only chain fabric stores that carry mediocre fabric. The next trip to London will include a stop at the market.

  9. Alison says:

    Well “the man from outside Sainsburys” looks rather handsome but I found myself wishing you had more of the fabric he was selling on show, perhaps take a sneaky pic of the stall but tell him it’s him we want to see. P.s great blog always enjoy reading your posts

  10. I get sewing doubter-fatigue all.the.time! Basically on any project that is new, or has to be fixed, or is testing my skill set in some way. Which pretty much means I’m a baby when it comes to trying new things. Wahh–I don’t wanna! Wah–it’s not working! Wah–it’s too hard! Then eventually I pull up my big girl panties and get to it.

  11. Daniela says:

    Haha, that’s so funny. I went with fellow seamstress Charlie to Walthamstow on Tuesday and tried to find the man outside Sainsburies. But couldn’t. So next time we might be more lucky now that we now how he looks like 🙂
    When my projects don’t work out I usually have a strong urge to use my scissors and destroy them! Luckily, I never follow that urge and was able to save a few projects! Good luck with yours!

  12. senjiva says:

    I also imagined the Man Outside Sainsbury’s as an old guy, kind of quirky, but with hidden fabric powers.

  13. Catherine says:

    Hello. I enjoy reading your blog. How lovely to see a photo of the man outside Sainsburys! I buy a lot of my fabric from a local market stall (mine is in St Albans) – think its great to support the local traders – and it’s a great way of getting fabric that’s not too expensive especially when you are still learning and may have disasters!

  14. stgilbert says:

    I have been riddled with self-doubt about my sewing for months!! I finally reached out on my blog and received so many wonderful compliments! When my self-doubt rears its ugly head, I remind myself that I can do it and of those lovely comments.

  15. tatimaio says:

    Ah, I loved this picture! It’s so nice to have a face for him , he looks like a nice guy!

  16. Chris says:

    I call it the “7 Wadders in a Row” Blues…
    happens to all of us, right?

  17. I think anytime you take a chance, do something creative, try to express yourself, etc., there are guaranteed to be moments of doubt. All the artists I know go through these times too. Sometimes it helps me to work on something different for a while, or take a break and cook something, then preferably eat it with friends and laugh together. The worst is when whatever I decide to cook goes wrong too! But even on those days, it’s just a day, and things usually look better the next morning.

  18. Pat says:

    I pictured him as a wizened man. I wonder if he knows how famous he is now. Let’s hope all this attention doesn’t go to his head and he raises his prices. I had a day like yours. I am working on my shorts and I cannot get the pocket to lay flat against the waistband. I brought my knitting outside and figured out how to knit something intricate. At least something was accomplished. Tomorrow is another day and I’m sure after I get a good night’s sleep I’ll figure out what I did wrong. I talked to a few neighbors and soaked up the gorgeous sunshine on the first day of summer. That’s how I cope with the sewing lows.

  19. Melody says:

    We’re usually our own worst critics. Your sewing is fabulous, the pink crepe also fabulous. i can’t wait to see what you make. You’ve inspired me to make my first piece of apparel-the afternoon blouse. I think I’ll make a muslin first because mine might seriously be in the bin!

  20. lovelucie1 says:

    I was expecting a much dodgier looking character selling knock off out of the back of a van! Glad I no longer need to worry.

  21. Kathy Lynch says:

    Aaaahhh, I think you’d make a cute couple! Is he married???

    And I think most dressmakers have a little self doubt occasionally – keeps us humble & no harm in that! You do beautiful work Karen – just take that walk in the sunshine! 🙂

  22. Jane says:

    But you look so good together! And Ella adores him! I think you should ask him out…. x

  23. Helen says:

    I suffer with self-doubt and it really shows itself when I sew so I give up a lot. I used to have such confidence when I used to make my clothes as a teenager and wish I could find that carefree approach again

  24. Does he wonder why all these gorgeous sewers hold him in such regard? and now that he is famous will he be searching for more and more eye catching fabric in a bid to woo his lovely customers? Oh it’s all wonderful intrigue and mystery.

  25. Jan says:

    Karen – he’s mine!! LOL

  26. Jo says:

    Karen, you are amazing! Finally we get to *meet* man-outside-sainsburys! (I’m a sewing blog lurker coming out to say hello. Hi!) I suffered from sewing doubt/fatigue yesterday, convinced I had made my skirt section all wrong (maths and pleats confuse me!) Then my mum pinned it to the bodice and said “it’s fine, stop doubting yourself!” Sometimes I just need a stern talking to… and a cup of tea!

  27. Mertxe says:

    Well, we’re talking about a creative process, which is the upper category in metal processing. Doubt is a clear sign that our little brains are working, and I feel it like a very good traing for my brain. It is a learning process…
    Hurray for your hero. He is my number 1 visit when I travel to London, you can bet about that!!!

  28. Karine says:

    Thank you for sharing a picture of THE man outside Sainsbury. I wish I were there when you asked for a photograph !

  29. lisa g says:

    self doubt is the worst! you are a talented lady, so hopefully you can work through it. and thanks for sharing the pic of the Man Outside Sainsburys… he’s a cutie, you should act on that! 😉

  30. Fadanista says:

    Thank you for this post. Like others I had a mental picture of TMOS – I had him with a barrow and a striped awning, also slightly dodgy!! I also thought there would be no other sellers in the vicinity, just him and his fabric. I have already got London in my sights for next year and will be visiting TMOS!

  31. MoS! Part of me never wants to know his true name but he looks very dapper in his purple jumper.
    As for battling creative demons, maybe focus on a process in sewing you reliably love? So sketching some new ideas of a bit of hand sewing to remind you of the funnest bits. Or maybe wear something you’ve made that you’re proud of as you tackle your current problem? Remind yourself of what you can achieve.

  32. LinB says:

    All you need do to reassure yourself that you are not going silly-bonkers is to open your closet and look at the many lovely garments that you’ve made, that are in regular rotation, that give you a frisson of joy every time your hand brushes across them. That, and drink more water and get more sleep. We always suffer more mental and personality blips when our brains are under-hydrated, and/or under-rested. Just try not to fall asleep with a glass of water in your hand.

  33. Colleen says:

    Just like you, I have to walk away for a while. If I keep at it, I start to get angry and frustrated–then I make really dumb mistakes.

  34. Gem says:

    I have been so intrigued as to what this man looks like! Thanks for the reveal!!!

  35. ooobop says:

    Forget the fabric! What are you waiting for?! 😉

  36. Jan says:

    Self doubt? You do have a mirror?!? Your makes are lovely and creative and because of the time and thought and study you put into your creations they fit!
    I have to say your sharing the doubts and the creative stumbles is humbling and encouraging.
    I have sewn nary a garment since I was 20. Now I am shall we say quite a bit past 20. Unlike Helen above I was not fearless as a teen but I was productive.
    Now I have been reading, taken classes, replaced my sewing machine, purchased patterns galore, and fabric. All of which is carefully sacked and stacked in my closet.
    Your blog is a joy! And with your example,I may actually take my measurements (sure to be a frightening ordeal) and do some cutting.
    As for the MOS I am in rural east Texas. But London beckons so who knows 🙂
    From dreaming by a lake in Texas

  37. Jan says:

    PS Sorry for the long post. Must edit before posting next time. 0300 here, makes me wax on

  38. michelenel says:

    I agree with Prolificprojectstarter – that really should be my profile name too 🙂 – I have images of a bloke in a long coat flashing the linings with all sorts of fabric contraband hanging off him! I really wish I had something like this lurking outside our Sainsbury’s.

  39. Linda P says:

    Hey I bought some fabulous duck egg fabric from this man to make a 50s style wiggle dress that’s nearly done. I did have to put it down after an unpick and relegation to the cupboard until that particular funk lifted. The fabric cost me all of £4. What a star he is.

  40. Charlotte says:

    Self doubt is the ballast required to stop everyone from becoming a massively inescapable ass.
    It becomes a problem when you feel defeated by your own predicted failure before you’ve even begun. I get that. A lot.
    But yes, *strokes chin in the manner of a bearded gentleman* quite normal.
    Your posts are consistently inspiring, so thank you for that 🙂

  41. Sheree says:

    I am a bit late in replying to this post. Many years ago I had a stall a couple away from ” your man”. At the time I was going through a non-sewing phase of my life, but I did buy some fabric to make a skirt. Can you believe, I still have it – in my unfinished drawer! Maybe, if I can get into it, I might try and finish it. Are skirts with flippy hems back in fashion?? I wonder.

  42. Angee says:

    Hi Karen, Thanks you so much for all the useful information about Walthamstow Market. I made my first trip last Thursday afternoon and was totally totally overwhelmed by all the shops and stalls. I have never ever seen so many fabrics and notions at such reasonable price! I plan to make another visit tomorrow (Saturday). Do you know usually what time the stalls and shops open on Saturday?

    P.S. The photo you took with the Man outside Sainsbury’s was indeed a life saver. I tried but couldn’t find the legendary man outside Sainsbury’s. Then I saw the familiar-looking guy outside of Lloyd’s. I opened your blog again to look at the picture and confirmed that’s him. Turns out his stall is running outside Sainsbury’s on Sat but near Lloyd’s on Tue and Thu. 🙂

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  44. Joanna Hehn says:

    Finally met the man outside sainsburys last weekend on my first trip to Walthamstow market. I can understand why you return. He showed me a lovely border print after my first choice, did a good deal on some linen , and then another deal on some wool. He gave me strict washing instructions and I think I’m in love! Thanks for the map, it was very useful.

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  48. Hannah says:

    Finally got to Walthamstow market today, this is my new favourite place to shop for fabric, bought lots and everything was less than £4 a metre! I now have a lot of sewing to do.

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