Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Local's Guide to Dublin Fabric Shops

One of the issues I had when I first moved to Dublin is that fabric shops can be few and far between. Knitting seems to be the predominant craft here, and there are plenty of online guides that can fill you in on the myriad of shops that cater to all things knit. But there really isn't one for Dublin, so hopefully this  can be a start.

Dublin is missing a fabric district. It is sad, but true. As I mentioned before, the European model of shops means that one of the major difficulties I’ve found is that I can almost never find everything I need in one place. Swatches have become staples in my wallets so I can pull it all together when I finally find the right fabric. Fortunately, the majority of the fabric shops here are within walking distance of each other, although does make going back to shop number 1 difficult when you find out that nowhere else carries that fabric.

A quick preface: No shop in Dublin is cheap, and very few of them even carry the more esoteric crafting supplies. If you are a serious fabric person, Dublin should not be your destination shopping place. That said, without further ado-

Bigger Stores:

Fabrics Ireland
If Dublin has a fabric/textiles Mecca, this is it. It isn't for the faint of heart, and it is clearly designed to cater to professional and large quanties, but the selection isn't matched anywhere else. Don't be fooled by the outside, this place is a giant warehouse full of goodies. It is certainly off the beaten path, but if you are looking for something specific, this is the place. Based on Mountjoy Square, you'd easily miss them if you didn't know to look. I love Fabrics Ireland, but their location and opening hours means I only go there when I have to. That said, if you're looking for something that isn't standard- these guys are the place to go whether it is fabric, leather, notions, or tools. 

They do have a smaller branch on Parnell Street called Fabric Select, but the selection is much less unless you're looking for bridal, suiting, or stretch/dance fabrics.

Hickey’s used to be on both sides of the city centre, but now its only located on Henry Street, one of our main shopping thoroughfares. It has undergone a significant revamp in the past 5 years- from a shop strictly selling fabrics to one that now caters for a lot more crafty options like paper craft, embroidery, household DIY. Fabric selection ranges include bridal, fashion, upholstery, and crafting cottons (although they don't carry the more expensive quilting cotton). They are pretty good for notions and tools, and this is where I finally found 505 spray baste. Hickey's is also where I usually buy patterns from the major companies like McCalls, Simplicity, etc.

WM Trimmings
Trimmings used to be a much larger affair near the Ha'Penny Bridge and there are plenty of people who thought they had closed down. They haven't, they just moved to a much smaller space on Capel Street. Trimmings is one of my go-to stops for just about everything. They have a broad base of notions, tools, fabrics, trims, patterns, buttons, you name it. Fabric wise, I've always felt they have a wider selection than Hickey's, even since they moved to their new space. They'll carry PVC, quilting cottons, furs, and linings as well as the fashion fabrics. They do have a wholesale side of the business, but I've never availed of it.

These three constitute probably the largest selections on a consistent basis, however like I said, I often go elsewhere. I tend to find a lot of specialty and interesting fabrics in some of the smaller shops.

Shops of note:

Murphy Sheehy
I have a soft spot for Murphy Sheehy. It was one of the first fabric places I ran into, and I still frequent it regularly. Murphy Sheehy regularly stocks a good selection of wools, but importantly is a great place to find random bits that you won’t get elsewhere. I’ve found beautiful leathers, luxurious furs, and PVC. Be warned: if you like something you see there, you should buy it. While they have mail-order catalogues for collections (primarily upholstery-based), Murphy Sheehy almost exclusively stocks offcuts, so once its gone they will not be able to get it again. Having said that, there isn’t a better place for wools in Dublin that I’ve found. They’ve recently been stocking Liberty fabrics, which are usually cheaper here than elsewhere but are offcuts.

Sew is slightly out of Dublin’s city centre, but if you are interested in quilting fabric, this is likely going to be the place for you. Additionally, they stock some unusual and harder to find needles and notions for embroidery. The shop is charming, with a good selection of cottons, although be warned, they are Dublin-priced. You won’t find cheap fabric here, but you will find quality and Kona.

The Cloth Shop
This quaint shop opened up rather recently, but is oh so charming. They stock non-standard patterns like Amy Butler and Colette which are otherwise mostly available online. They also stock Liberty fabrics and lawns. Their fabric choices run towards the higher end (silks, velvets, lace, faux fur, etc) so you won't find cheap here, but you will find beautiful pieces. They are also great for jerseys.

A. Rubenesque
Ok, its not a fabric shop, but I can't not mention it. Rubenesque does nothing but ribbons with the odd DMC thread and books thrown in, but they are just... well, beautiful. They've diversified some recently, but they are still primarily in the business of ribbons- and beautiful ribbons as well. I can't help but love this place. Its cute, with beautiful aesthetics, and just has fabulous stuff. 

There you have it. These are my primary shopping places in Dublin. Yes, there are others out there, but these are the ones that if you are in city centre Dublin that you can get to easily (and easily within a single day). While I have visited others, I haven't been impressed enough to make multiple trips. 

As I said at the start, Dublin isn't great for fabric, but if you find yourself here, hopefully this will help.

*I should mention that this is my own personal listing. I don't get paid or have any affiliation with these shops other than being a regular customer.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Travel Buying

This city can be so pretty. Shot from quays today. #flickr
Do you ever spend ages writing about something, only to find in the end you weren't really talking about that thing at all? This keeps happening to me.

This post started out as a lament on Dublin's woeful fabric shop selections, but really, it was more about how I keep buying when I travel. Not everyone is as lucky as I am in the travel department, and the lack of proper fabric buying facilities in Dublin is pretty shameful, but that's a rant for another day.

I travel a lot these days, enough that I’ve considered a new blog about travel (because, you know, I need two new blogs as much as I need a unicorn, which is to say not at all, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want it). Last year, I made a concerted effort to make time to hit the fabric shops in all the places I went to and it really paid off. I've been continuing this trend this year and its been interesting to see how it crops up.

Sometimes it has happened by accident. In Ayr, I had been shopping the main street for family presents and stumbled into the doors of a quilt shop by pure happenstance. 

Other times it has been more purposeful. Before leaving for my trip to Canada I specifically looked up whether and where there might be fabric shops so I’d have a clue if there was no wifi available at my hotel. 

London, however, was my most blatant fabric shopping excursion. I very boldly asked the organisers of my trip if I could stay an extra night, with no good reason other than that it would allow me to cross London and get to the fabric shops. 

As it happened, I was staying quite close to Walthamstow Market, which, if you’ve never been, is rather charming. I had beautiful weather, and went back a second time to Saeed Fabrics. I was looking for cheap stretch materials, and Walthamstow had plenty to offer. 

My other London stop was to hit Goldhawk Road. I will be returning there my next London visit, for certain. There is such a huge selection, and the prices are still reasonable. If you have a day to fabric shop in London, you could certainly do worse than spend it here. 

I must, however, say thank you to my fellow bloggers. I would likely have missed out on both Walthamstow Market and Goldhawk road had previous bloggers not written reviews and guide beforehand. So, in the vein of giving back, I’ll be doing a whistle stop review of the fabric shops in Dublin next week so that those who come to Dublin have similar help in choosing their destinations

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Touching Base

It has occurred to me that there has been not a lot of posts on here and what there has been has been backward looking for the most part. It could easily be seen as that I've nothing to say or show, but the reality has been far from it.

The reality is I've been busy elsewhere. Too much time actually crafting to really talk about it. Weekly blogs for Craft Hackers have been ticking along, and I've been quite busy on a number of projects. They are just not done. 

I'm still ticking along on my Guardian project, which is the only one I feel particularly like sharing. It is coming along nicely. 

Then I have not one, not two, but three costumes planned by June-July. 

First, there's Peggy Carter, which is probably the most complete at this stage. I liked Peggy in Captain America, but I fell utterly in love with her once the new TV show came out this year. She's just so fabulous. Anyway, her suit is coming along. The pattern is settled, the skirt almost complete, but I only just received the dye I need in the post today to finish it. I still need to deal with her shirt, but I've something that could do in a pinch if necessary.

Secondly, there's Mara Jade. I've loved Mara for a long time and have been wanting to do a Star Wars costume to go trooping with the 501st as something other than just the cameraman. I'm a little torn as I do love working on my photography skills while out with them, but I'm also itching to see people's reaction. And I want a lightsaber. That's normal, right?

Lastly, I've something that is in my head as my own design. It's been kicking around upstairs for about a year and I think I have everything I need for it other than the time to get it all done. This one will be for July instead of June, so I've got time. I, hoping to get Peggy and Mara done for early June and have a full month to finish up this one. No, I'm not telling. I'm not quite ready to.

So there ya have it. I swear, I'm not avoiding here, it's just been busy. I have at least been posting updates and WIPs on my Instagram, so if you follow there, you might find a bit of fun.

Here's hoping I can get it all done in time!

Sunday, May 10, 2015


Mother's Day is today in the United States. I specify this because Mother's Day has already long passed here in Ireland (it was back in March). However, even though I will already have sent my mother her Mother's Day gifts, I always like to do something for her at this time. After all, why not celebrate twice?

This year, I'm celebrating by showing off her work. On my trip home in January, I realized that I come by my love of needlework and crafting rather honestly. There has always been needlework of various types on the walls in my house.

Some hung in my room.

Some she did for my now departed grandmother.

Others she did simply because she loved it.

There are some things I'm less thankful to have inherited, like my allergies and need for glasses, but I love that she passed on her love for needlework. And I feel blessed to have grown up around with such beauty and talent around me. 

I love you, Mom.