So where do you start when choosing fabric?  Asking yourself the following questions will help start you off…

Are you looking for soft furnishings fabrics or lighter dress-making fabrics?  For soft furnishings, which I recommend using, there are a whole host to choose from.  You can view fabrics online at each individual company.  Alternatively, for a better look you can visit a fabric shop locally to have a look through their sample books.  If you want to borrow these books to check fabrics at home, you can usually organise to borrow one or two books for a few days.

The Fabric Hut is a small independent fabric shop set in amongst the houses to the north of Stratford-upon-Avon.  Angela and Eddie have been running their shop for many years and have a great selection of sample books for soft furnishings fabrics which are well-presented and easy to look through.  They have some fabrics on the roll and in the small back room there are all sorts of smaller pieces of fabric to buy (ideal for cushions).  They sell threads, linings, etc  and all sorts of haberdashery too.  Also some light cotton in Fat Quarters (50 x 50cm) which are cut this size for quilting with. Always happy to help.

The Fabric Hut, 28 East Green Drive, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 9HT

PHONE   01789 263379         MAIL  thefabrichut@btconnect.com

The Quilter’s Den, 9 Smith Street, Warwick, CV34 4JA      www.thequiltersden.co.uk (for light cottons)

Curtainwise is a large independent store which has also been long-established in Stratford-upon-Avon (off the Birmingham Road) and has a good selection of reasonably-priced sample books which are well-presented to look through. Threads and some haberdashery also available.

Brewers has a good but smaller selection of sample books (also off the Birmingham Road).  They also have larger samples of paint colours on wood for brands such as Farrow & Ball, Little Greene, etc which can be very useful when matching colours together for a scheme.

Home of the Sofa (on the Birmingham Road) have a great selection of sample books at the back of the shop (some more expensive lines too) and are really helpful when it comes to choosing. Settle down in a sofa and have a look through the books!  You might even get a cup of tea whilst you are there!

Dunelm Mill (various locations but I use the one near the Bagington roundabout, Coventry) has a small but lovely selection of furnishing fabrics on the roll at really good prices (£10-18/m).  They tend to be bright and cheerful patterns.  A few more designs available online. Thread and linings etc also available.

Ordering online – if you are happy ordering online, you can find some good deals.  The fabric makers sell their fabric through online shops or local shops so you will need to find who is selling the fabric you want for the best price.  For example, I use a couple of shops who as well as their high street shop, also supply online.  These are Textile Express (Oswestry), and The Mill Shop Online (near Northampton).  I also use Higgs and Higgs for mainly lighter cottons (Gloucester).  If you are ordering online, I always recommend using a supplier who will send out samples to you BEFORE you order.  These are sometimes free or can cost around 75p for one to three samples but are definitely worth it as weight, texture and exact colour are difficult to know from a photo. Check delivery charges.

John Lewis (Solihull) and Laura Ashley (Stratford-upon-Avon) have fabric on the roll but both of these have a certain style which stays pretty much constant. Laura Ashley have good sales twice a year so it’s worth waiting for those.  Laura Ashley has a store in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon.  For other fabrics to order,  John Lewis is a great place to look at fabric samples as they have large samples hanging up. It’s a good place to see what colours are currently on trend.  Taking photos of these is always useful.

What is your budget per metre?  The cheapest fabric per metre in my experience is roughly £20/m.  These fabrics are printed (the pattern is simply printed onto the fabric) which keeps the cost down.  Fabrics which are more complex and have a pattern woven into them are therefore more expensive.  Organic cotton can also be more expensive, as can some of the fabric from independent UK designers.

I will be adding a list of some personal favourite fabric designers and a rough description of each in due course.

**Please bear in mind these are my personal choices and it is up to you entirely to check them out for your own personal use.