Visit to Beckford Silk, Gloucestershire

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I managed to wangle a day off work yesterday, so to get over missing out on the Sewing Bee Live event this weekend, I took a trip to a local fabric producer up the road near Tewkesbury. I thought I’d share a few pictures and some info in case you’re curious.

Beckford Silk is a family-run silk printing and dyeing business that’s been going for around 40 years. From their workshop in Gloucestershire, they use screen and digital printing to create some beautiful designs on around a dozen different silk fabrics. Lots of their fabric is turned into scarves for museum and heritage clients (think National Trust gift shops), but they also sell plenty of solid-coloured and printed silks by the metre for dressmaking.

If you visit, as well as the shop and a cafe (with sublime fresh scones!), there’s also a small visitors’ centre room. Here you can watch a film about the printing process and the history of the business. There are large swatches of the different fabrics to examine and a fantastic display of old printing blocks on one wall.

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A scarf-sized swatch of each fabric is available to handle so you can examine the different weight, drape and feel of each one.

There’s a range of different printed silks available to buy in the shop – my favourites included this, and this. Plus there’s a even larger range of solid colours. If it were payday, I think I’d have succumbed to this oxblood silk velvet, and a metre or so of this deep red heavy crepe de chine – perfect for a slinky-but-office-appropriate woven t-shirt.

After my first experience of working with slippery silk fabrics earlier this year, I’m now definitely inspired to try something else in silk soon. The new Liesl + Co Chai Tee pattern stood out as a potential silk make for me this week. Or a dressing gown, perhaps?

Have you sewn with silk, and which substrate would you recommend as the easiest to begin with?

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If you’ve got a bit longer to spend in the area, there are two awesome things to do nearby:

  1. On a clear day, take a walk up Bredon Hill for fantastic views of the Cotswold ridge, May Hill, the Malvern Hills and beyond to the Brecon Beacons.
  2. On a cold, wet day, head over to Tewkesbury High Street and seek out Cafe au Chocolat. The speciality hot chocolate is to die for…

J x

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NEC Sewing for Pleasure event

I spent last Friday at the Sewing for Pleasure event at the NEC. The lovely Mr Wardrobe had bought me two tickets for Christmas, and (because his interest in sewing is limited to whether or not I can repair his jeans) I took my Mum as my guest.

The NEC is huuu-mongous, so I was looking forward to see what had been crammed into three of the halls for this event. And there was a lot. Because there are dozens of fabric retailers in one place you can really compare and shop around in a way that isn’t possible on most high streets in Britain. I came away with 2.5 metres of a beautiful deep teal cotton-spandex jersey from Fabrics Galore at £10/m.

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This picture doesn’t really do the colour justice – it’s a deep greeny teal colour.

Any suggestions on what I should do with it? I’m thinking a Closet Case Files Sallie jumpsuit

The Big 4 pattern companies were all there, offering discounts (new season patterns from £3). My Mum picked a Burda dress pattern with princess seams that will make a great summer staple in chambray, cotton lawn or a drapey viscose. The Simplicity stand was heaving with shoppers, so it was a shame that there weren’t more pattern companies there – of the indies, I only spotted Sew me Something.

We also took a look at some of the amazing quilts that were there. Neither my Mum nor I quilt, but we were still really impressed by some of the displays. My favourite was this quilted vegetable patch:IMG_2057

I’d have liked more workshops, but I think the show is bigger than it was when I first went four years ago so maybe there’ll be more up-and-coming exhibitors and activities next year.

Did you go on Friday, or over the weekend? What did you think? And which other sewing events are worth the entry fee?