Tag Archives: Berwick Street

A Bit of a Romantic

I’m a sucker for white linen. Can’t go a summer without a new white linen frock. There’s something utterly lovely about that first day, that high summer heat which permits its wearing. I’ve stopped caring too that it might be a bit transparent.

This linen came from the Cloth House, Berwick Street (it’s very nice quality).

I blame the Timotei advert circa 1980.











Filed under dressmaking, fashion, sewing


Sun’s out. Daffs are out. I’m out. Shuffling along Berwick Street in my sandals in the search for cloth for a very lovely client. I love this. Finding things. I can feel my eyes twitching, taking it all in. I’m on the hunt for silk satin for a wrap over dress. Sadly, both things fill me with horror: ‘silk satin’ because it has a life of its own especially on the cutting table and ‘wrap over’ because it’s a devil to get the angles right so that the front piece sits perfectly across one’s cleavage without that dratted gape. And don’t assume that having a flat chest makes it any easier…

My jolly forays to the cloth shops on Berwick Street are always tinged by a bit of discontent, though. I’ve been coming here for the best part of two decades and must have spent the equivalent of the GDP of a small country by now, but still, in some places I get no glimmer of recognition AT ALL, even though much of the time I’m wearing their fabrics. In other joints I have goodly chat, put the world to rights, ask about their children (and am asked about mine) and come away very happy, having spent a vast amount of cash. No prizes for guessing which establishments get my vote of confidence and my business.  It doesn’t take much brain to recognise a regular customer and say ‘good morning’ does it?

Berwick Street has changed a great deal since I first started coming here. If you’ve never been, it’s a long, narrow, busy street closed to traffic at one end where market stalls are set out . One time mostly fruit and veg stalls, the old boys rasping  ‘twofr’a paand’  at full lung and there are still one or two but most are now pop up food stalls, a chichi baker run by boys with beards and the fish man. It’s a street alive. Coffee house next to chippy next to cloth shop next to hardware store. It’s one of my best places and where some of my ashes will eventually be scattered (the rest split between Liberty – clearly surreptitiously done as I don’t want to end up in an industrial vacuum cleaner, Primrose Hill and a field in Wigan).

Anyhow, I’ve found the most glorious silk printed with fuchsia pink and indigo feathers. Sounds grim. Sounds a bit Dame Edna. But it will make the most glorious frock. A swooshing frock that makes a breeze.

I just have to make it now……

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Filed under oddbods

Berwick Street

I’m still pondering colour and although I wrote this a while ago, it continues the theme……


Berwick Street


To Soho we went

that damp Saturday, flat London drizzle misting our faces,

silver-gilding our hair.

You, small girl, fat hand in mine.

To the fabric shop, to the one that smells of incense and old wood

a smell of somewhere not England.

I pushed open the door.

Your chatter stopped and you loosened your hand,

drawn to the  bolts of cloth, to the clashing colour dyed in Indian heat,

printed on ancient tables

by filigree henna-ed hands: deft, precise.

Could you see them? The women near the mango tree in the courtyard?

Pinning out cloth to dry in the hum of the sun,

murmuring their soft song language.

It came to Berwick Street tight-folded and wrapped in ordinary brown paper

then stacked bolt on bolt

and we smoothed our hands across its cockerel colours:

hot pink, scarlet, turmeric gold,

tracing the patterns with our fingers.



Filed under oddbods, poetry