Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Popping in to Backstitch

Our Backstitch haul - minus Middlest's fabric

I have recently been adding quite a lot of new blogs to my reader, one of which was the blog for Backstitch an online fabric and haberdashery shop, run by the very helpful Alice. The first post that I saw was one to say that she was starting a 'bricks and mortar' store - the second thing I noticed was that it was at Burwash Manor. Hang on just a minute I thought, that's not far from here - hurrah for another fabric shop within striking distance!

The next post was a request for applications for a part-time sales assistant. OMG I thought, I'd love to work somewhere like that, but realised very quickly that she wanted people to work at weekends. With my bevy of girls and various commitments, I felt that wasn't a goer for me. Sad face, as Eldest would say.

Backstitch was opening the weekend of 15th &16th of March and initially I didn't think I would be able to visit that weekend. As it happened Husband was out all day on a 'how to teach cycling' course, the girls and I had had a pretty lazy morning and got all the homework out of the way, and it was a lovely afternoon.  I proposed a trip out, expecting a distinct lack of enthusiasm, but they all seemed keen so I bundled them into the car before they could change their minds!

The last time I had been to Burwash Manor was probably 14/15 years ago when Husband and I were deciding what to do with the large garden that came with the house that we had bought. Husband was keen to plant a mixed hedge somewhere in the garden with a view to laying it at some point in the future. As luck would have it the National Hedge Laying Championships were being held at Burwash Manor so we went up with his Mum to have a look. I recounted this to the girls (who weren't that interested!) as we arrived there . If you look closely at the hedges you can see at their bases, the trunks of the bushes and trees woven together.
example hedge -  image from

There are different ways to lay your hedge, depending on where you are in the country, so the hedge above would not be how it is done in Cambridgeshire.

We went straight to Backstitch and were very pleasantly surprised to find it quite busy.  The units at Burwash Manor are reasonably sized and as we walked in, the first thing I noticed was how bright it was, due to the large window that took up the whole side of the shop. All the fabric bolts are beautifully arranged along one wall and we all spent quite a long time admiring and stroking the fabric. Alice has a lovely wide range of linens, perfect for the summer and an extraordinary array of printed cottons. There were also a few jersey fabrics, that weren't quite to my taste, but very reasonably priced - think £8 -£9 per metre as opposed to £18 and more in places like John Lewis.

She also has a great range of patterns from Indie pattern companies such as Thread Theory, Colette, Sewaholic and the new stars of the moment, By Hand London.  I have been eyeing up the BHL Anna dress pattern for what seems like an age - mostly because I felt that after my pattern cutting classes I should be able to draft something very similar. However, I gave in and bought the pattern.
By Hand London Anna Dress packaging 2
Image from By Hand London

Whilst pondering this, I got talking to a very nice French lady - Hello Nathalie! - and we were discussing which of the patterns we already had and what we would like to get. While flicking through the Sewaholic patterns I paused at the Minoru and said something along the lines of 'oh I have that and material for it but haven't got round to making it'. It turned out that Nathalie had not only made it , but was wearing her version of it, in waterproof fabric no less. It was great to see a real life version of it and it has certainly pushed my version further up my mental sewing list.

I had already said to my girls, that if they were feeling crafty I would consider getting some stuff for them to make things with.  Youngest was keen to to make a pencil case and chose some spotty fabric with matching zip and various trims. Middlest wasn't sure, but was veering towards a cushion with embellishments so she got some fab fabric and embroidery floss. Eldest has recently started her Textiles GCSE course and has sporadically shown an interest in sewing. She is very keen on tops with a Peter Pan collar, and so we ended up with the Colette Violet blouse and some quirky fabric with foxes on for her!

After leaving Backstitch, we pottered around the rest of the shops there, and stopped for a cuppa at the tea rooms. By this time it was towards the end of the afternoon and our table in the sun was pretty chilly, but we had a great afternoon and will be going back I am sure.  I have already recommended the shop to a friend from my cutting class who is pregnant and I had noticed that Alice stocked Megan Neilsen's pregnancy patterns.

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