Posted by: marymarthatours | June 28, 2013

Quilt & Textile Tour–Shopping Opportunities, Part I

If you are a quilter, you have a stash.  That does not mean a pile of money; it does mean a pile of fabric that is waiting for just the right project.  The travelers on our upcoming Quilts & Textiles of England & Wales tour will find vast opportunities to add some real treasures to their fabric and needle arts hoards.

Before I take off on a major trip, I make a list of what I hope to find and am willing to spend top money for.  Be realistic, fabric in the UK is more expensive than in the US and often you can purchase the very same fabric at home.  So why purchase there?  Well, some fabrics, buttons, and trims are simply not available in the US, and some are just too fantastic to pass by while traveling.  Besides, fabric can be a “usable souvenir”.  We quilters can find any excuse to make a purchase!

I have fabric, ribbon and trims from previous trips that are still waiting for me to create a wonderful little something.  Here are some of my finds from various trips.


Liberty of London fabric from London, purchased at Liberty’s and Shaukat & Co.  This is Tana lawn cotton, so smooth it feels like silk, takes no room for packing, just costs a lot!


Tilda fabric from Norway purchased in Dublin and ribbons from India purchased in Ireland.


Ribbons, buttons (some from antique stores) and Cath Kidston fabric with images of UK sights, purchased on various trips to Scotland and England.

For this year’s travelers, I have prepared a list of shops that we will visit and others in the towns and cities along the way.  Mary and I will distribute this list at the pre-trip information meetings.  It might help folks to think ahead about where they wish to do some serious shopping.  I’ll describe some of these shops in my next blog article.

One of the questions I have been asked this year is “HOW do you get a load of fabric home?”  I know from experience that there are two items that add a ton of weight to your luggage:  paper (books, brochures, etc.) and fabric.  For their size, the weight is more than you might imagine.  No one wants to pay the additional fee for a second suitcase or an overweight one.

Here are some tips on how to get the heavy stuff home:

  • take some clothing items that you can throw away to make room for purchases.  Clothes from a second hand shop are great for travel and cheap enough to toss.  And don’t just “toss” them, pass them on to the hotel to go to a local charity shop.
  • pack a large collapsible tote bag in your suitcase.  It can be your “carry on” piece for the trip home.  If you have a smaller tote for the outbound trip, throw it away or pack it for the home trip.
  • ask the shop where you make a large purchase if they will ship.  That can be cheaper than airport luggage fees or doing the mailing yourself, plus you will not have to pay the VAT (value-added-tax) for a purchase shipped from the UK to the USA.
  • share the cost of an additional piece of checked luggage with a friend.   Maybe the purchases are worth the additional cost to get them home.
  • know what you want to purchase and TRY to not exceed your limit (in cost, packing space, and weight).

For many, shopping is part of the total travel experience.  And making a creation with material purchased overseas will give you the opportunity to relive the trip with every stitch and every time you look at what you made.

(by Martha) 



  1. I think a person could also wear her fabric home. Surely a four yard piece is the perfect scarf!

    • As the Brits say, “brilliant”. Or perhaps wrapped as a kilt!.
      Love your comments, Ellen.

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