Featured Stockist: Ray Stitch, Islington

I just wanted to share this press release with you... UPPERCASE magazine and the dottie angel book have a new stockist in the UK! The shop looks absolutely marvellous and Tif and I are thrilled to have our book on the shelves (real and virtual) of Ray Stitch. Thank you to Michelle Zimmer for making this happen.

World’s First Haber-café-ry opens in Islington
Official Opening Monday September 19th 2011
Ray-Stitch, a new concept in haberdashery, is opening on Essex Road in Islington. It’s the brainchild of Rachel Hart, a self-confessed “maker of all things”, who felt fabrics and sewing materials weren’t being done justice by existing retail outlets.
When you walk past the row of brightly-upholstered deckchairs into her beautifully-appointed shop you can see what she means. One end of a six-metre-long, solid oak counter works as a coffee-bar specializing in Climpson & Sons coffee, delicious pastries and freshly-made sandwiches, while the other acts as a generous fabric layout and cutting table.
Fabrics from Ray Stitch’s many and varied suppliers fill the whole of one wall and are displayed like precious books rather than on the usual, clunky white metal rollers you see in department stores. There are patterns for things you might actually want to make such as bags, cushions, and cloaks. And at the far end of the shop are all the tools of the trade – glass-headed pins, tailor’s scissors, measuring tape – an extensive range but, again, tastefully displayed.
“I wanted to present textiles in a non-mumsy, non-tacky, non-bland way,” says Rachel, otherwise known as Ray, as in Ray-Stitch. “But most of all I wanted the shop to be comprehensive. It’s a pain if you want to begin a project and can’t get everything in one place, so I aimed to create a one-stop shop. People can pick up a pattern and browse for the fabric, trim, and buttons. But they can also get the useful and technical bits in the way of an old-style haberdashery or a DIY or art shop.”
So how did the haberdashery get combined with a café?
“I think it’s easier to walk into a café than a sewing shop,” says Rachel, “and what could be nicer than browsing the shelves with a hot drink and a snack close to hand?”
Sam Richards runs the café and he’s downstairs making up the sandwiches before the shop opens at 8.30am each day. He’s become a specialist in the art of good coffee and fits in happily between the pins and the patterns.
If you want tips on what to make, however, you’d do well to ask Michelle Zimmer. She left top textile magazine, Selvedge, to join forces with Rachel and is an avid fabric ‘stasher’. “I’ll always buy a metre of nice fabric wherever I go,” she says, confident she’ll have many uses for it “…cushion covers, a skirt, a bag, a needle bag, bunting, or even wrapping paper for a friend’s present.”
A programme of sewing classes will begin in the basement workshop later in September and Rachel and Michelle are confident in their market. The business has been running successfully online for two years. “Our customers are happy to buy fabric on the internet especially if it is well-chosen and well-presented, but as soon as we started talking about a shop it was clear that many would be delighted to view our wares in real life. There’s also an amazing buzz from local people – it’s a proper high street shop, selling proper things and people are interested to see the how the café/haberdashery mix will work.”
And with their tape measures hung round their necks they return to the counter to welcome their first customers.
Ray-Stitch is at 99 Essex Road, London, N1 34P