Monday, 3 October 2011

Marmalade houses and bungalows


Look what dear Julia very sweetly posted to me from her House of Marmalade last week! Some beautiful sari fabric harbouring at least a month's worth of Pukka teabags inside. I knew that she might be sending some tea to me, but the sari fabric was a complete and breath-taking surprise. It's even lovelier in real life and is destined to become a vest or skirt for my daughter to wear next summer.


The sari was Julia's thoughtful response to a conversation we'd been having a few weeks ago about fabric designs. I'd been bemoaning the fact that there aren't more sari-inspired prints. I wasn't suggesting that cultural identities should be commercialised or divorced from their roots, but it seems odd to me that in amongst the many collections launched every season, not one has really seized this as a direct source of inspiration and created a line of fabric around it (at least that I know of....please do let me know if I've missed one). The closest we've got is this print by Amy Butler as part of her Soul Blossoms line...but it's not a print where it feels as though the idea has been embraced as wholeheartedly as I'd like. And, for me, it won't hit the spot unless it has a little gold thrown in there too (or at least, so I thought).

You might think that the cost of printing gold onto quilting weight fabrics could be the stumbling block behind this, and it crossed my mind until I remembered that Robert Kaufman have done it for years as part of their collection of oriental fabrics and these have the same retail price as standard quilting cotton; Chris Chun has certainly designed some gold-edged florals for Clothworks; and I made a dress from just such a fabric three years ago, although the designer or fabric house now elude me.

I'd thought it was all about the gold for me when it came to Indian fabrics....but then I was looking on Nina's lovely blog and saw a link to an intriguing danish company, Bungalow, who commission Indian fabric designs created from hand-carved blocks and then have them made into lovely things. I followed the link in that post and was barely able to breath for all the loveliness. Look at this fan of handkerchiefs....and look at these tea towels. Seeing these made me realise that I will forgo the gold if a fabric designer can come up with something similar. I just want fabrics like this to work with. I want them printed onto voile and silk and other delicious substrates. And then I want to be locked in a room with them for the next twenty years (or until I ask to come out....whichever happens first).

Would you love some prints like this too? Bungalow, would you please add fabric to your range?

Florence x

Ps. Has anyone seen any Bungalow goodness in England? I'd love to know if there's a stockist. I wrote to ask Bungalow to ask...but they seem to be locked in their bungalow doing things more exciting than answering emails.

12 comments:

  1. I've just picked myself up off the floor after swooning at the sight of those glorious fabrics - if only there was a shop in Australia which stocked them.

    On the subject of gold printed onto quilting fabric several years ago, I seem to recall friends who owned a patchwork shop telling me that they were being discontinued because of health scares with the people involved in the dyeing process - not sure exactly what the problem was.

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  2. I used to go to a camera club on the south side of Glasgow and drool at the sari fabrics in the shops I passed on the way, even before I was into sewing! I must go back now and see what I can get, although my wallet may regret that...

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  3. You need to go on holiday to India Florence, you could come back with bucketloads of fabric! I dream of finding an Ikat fabric to make some dresses with with no luck in my search yet...

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  4. You don't need to go as far as India! Walthamstow and Forest Gate in East London are both rammed with fabric shops selling thousands of different sari fabrics and other Indian prints. Silks and muslins usually, rather than quilting cottons. Most of these shops also sell glorious African fabrics too.

    I have a good selection and love them for skirts, as there is often a trim incorporated into the fabric, along one of the selvedges. Head east and be inspired!

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  5. ...and on the west side of London is Southall, near where I live, which has sari fabric shops to die for! As The List Writer says, they're mostly silks and muslins but definitely worth a look. Good luck in your search - your sari fabric will look stunning as a skirt for your daughter. x

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  6. If you go to any district in the UK where a high Indian population you will no doubt find sari fabric shops. London, Birmingham, Bradford...most large areas have them. I think the reason a lot of fabrics aren't having gold printed on them is the fashion has changed considerably and the masses do not seem to like metallics on fabrics. Sadly metallics on fabrics seem to be generally received with as much contempt at batiks right now.

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  7. For a stockist try this Edinburgh based firm: http://www.curiouserandcuriouser.com/shop/kitchen/151-bungalow-tea-towel-neem-yellow.html

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  8. I would just get sari fabric from a sari fabric shop! I have to say I don't really 'get' designer fabrics in the same way I don't get designer clothes. Hand made for me, is moving away from all of that. A local fabric shop is all I need.But haven't got one. I find the expensive designer fabics stick in my craw a bit and very limiting.

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  9. Hot Fudge - I think they're in current collections too though - I don't know why I've come to this conclusion, but I'm sure I'd read something about Robert Kaufman being a very ethical company...

    Kate, Nancy, Jane...what a choice, which to go to? Thank you for both suggestions...I may end up in Walthamstow/Southall first as that way I may have some money left for fabric buying.

    Isisjem - gosh, it hadn't even occurred to me that that might be the reason why they weren't available within the quilting ranges...I'm unsure anything so beautiful could be so deeply unfashionable could it? What a shame.

    MsBossy - thank you - what a wonderful link. They don't have exactly the print I'm after, but it's so nice to know that somewhere in the UK lovely Bungalow products are arriving.

    Anonymous - yes, I know what you mean. I think the reason why I like the idea of something being available through the big fabric houses is because it makes them easier to view and buy online...which isn't necessarily a good reason, I know.

    Thank you so much for your comments. x

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  10. Hi Florence,
    thanks for the mention/link to my blog post.
    Nina :-)

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  11. There's some kind on Nina explosion happening on your blog, Florence!

    The stuff from Bungalow looks stunning - I was a bit disappointed not to find anything on the site about a fair trading policy. Have you seen www.nkuku.com? No block-printed fabrics but maybe a similar-ish aesthetic. People Tree sometimes have clothes in block-printed cotton too - right now they have hand-printed Orla Kiely bags on sale.

    Have you thought of looking for secondhand saris? If my grandmother ever decides to sell some of hers (she's got cupboards stuffed with them) I'll be sure to let you know!

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  12. Just did a quick scout around... www.onevillage.com has some Indian block-printed bedding, as does www.traidcraftshop.co.uk. And www.theindiashop.co.uk has quite a few bedspreads, which I guess are more cut-up-able than duvet covers.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x

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