The Cottage Orné Quilt

The Cottage Orné Quilt
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Thursday, 14 February 2013

Liberty fabrics

We who live in the UK and make things, are very familiar with Liberty fabrics and we tend to forget that many of you are not.

This was brought home to me by Robin's comment on my last post and so I thought I would write a bit about Liberty fabrics and the wonderful London store in Regent Street.  Alas not as big or as comprehensive as it used to be,  for like so many retailers it has gone through hard times and has had to sell off its Regent Street frontage.  Never mind it is still there in a somewhat diminished form though we old codgers don't think it is nearly so good as it once was!  It is more edgier now and many of the fabulous departments have disappeared, for example the china department!  No one buys china anymore apparently!

I first visited in the early sixties and was smitten.  I thought it was the most beautiful shop in the world and through the years I have always returned. It became a sort of pilgrimage when going to London, first to walk around the outside and study every window before entering and then gazing up from the ground floor at the open galleries of the other floors very often draped with enticing things such as quilts, rugs, bolts of fabric etc.  Absolutely magical!

At Christmas it was particularly special.  A giant Christmas tree soaring up through the space filled with themed decorations!  A visit to Liberty's before Christmas was an absolute must, even if it was just to gaze!

Well now to the fabric.  Liberty has always had its own fabric ranges which were made here in the UK.  Nowadays I suspect, though they are designed instore, they are probably manufactured in the Far East?

Here are some pictures to give you a taster -

It is high quality, hence the price, and quite distinctive.  We patchworkers can pick it out at twenty paces and it is revered because it is so special.  At one time we could buy off-cuts and flawed pieces from specialist traders and these were extremely popular as you can imagine.  Those living in the North of England could buy directly from the mills.  Alas those days are long gone but many of us still have precious pieces collected then!

I have always used Liberty fabrics, not exclusively because sometimes they need a bit of calming down and I found that Laura Ashley fabrics were very good at this and their colours were complimentary.  I am still using them and still buying an occasional piece.  I rarely buy instore because that would mean buying a minimum of half a meter which would cost about £12.  I go now to eBay where you can buy small pieces.

There is nothing quite like Liberty fabric and though I have a large collection I am always tempted to add a piece now and then!

If you want to read more about the store and watch some videos here is the link.


Anonymous said...

I had a chance to visit Liberty of London this fall and bought some quarter yard strips.. maybe 10... knowing that the one thing I wanted to come home with was something from Liberty of London. I'd like to see what you have done with the Liberty fabrics. I'm thinking of star/hexagons with a plain deep colored background so I can show off each piece... The florals are so detailed, that they deserve to be put into a pattern that allows a look at each one.
Any suggestions. And thanks for posting the photos. I'm from a tiny town in the US's north and found London extremely comfortable ..... and jaw-dropping.

Robin said...

Thanks so much for the tour Mary. What a delightful place and quite magical. I wish I could go there at Christmas time too. It makes me want to collect some small pieces too. I'll have to go check out ebay.

Every Stitch said...

Wonderful post thanks so much! Such a fabulous place to visit

Sue said...

How funny Mary I was sat with a lady at my quilt group only last night and out came some hexagons she is working on - And yes they were Liberty print. I seem to remember a man coming to our group with liberty bundles some years back.
I have a couple of pieces in my stash.

Little Welsh Quilts and other traditions said...

Yes Sue, it was Barry the Tritex man! He used to visit our group at least once a year and everyone went mad buying up fabric! I often wonder where it all is now - probably in stashes like mine?

Pingere said...

A really lovely and interesting post Mary. Thank you.
I will never forget my first visit to Liberty, I must have been seven or eight and gazing up at that stairway.
Essie x

Vivienne at Vivebooks said...

Ah Mary, I used to do that pilgrimage too, whenever I was in London on business. Such a magical place. Thanks for the fab pictures. V x

Shirley said...

Mary you can stop those daft anonymous comments by resetting your comments in settings. I got inundated with them until some kind soul told me what to do.

Lovely review of Liberty. Have a few bits in my stash too.

Little Welsh Quilts and other traditions said...

Hi Shirley, I have put it back to word verification which I don't like doing because I think it is sometimes difficult for anyone leaving comment. Is this what you meant?

Anonymous said...


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Anonymous said...

Hi Shirley, I have put it back to word verification which I don't like doing because I think it is sometimes difficult for anyone leaving comment. Is this what you meant?

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