A trip to Merchant & Mills, Rye

Merchant & Mills
Merchant & Mills

I managed to drag Josh out of town last weekend to go on a daytrip to Rye. I promise there were a couple more reasons than just visiting Merchant & Mills, err honest, but it was a hefty reason for the trip I have to admit.

Merchant & Mills

I’ve had a bit of a sea change around fabric this summer: I’m trying to slowly ditch my poly/synthetic habit and get into buying more natural fibres. You really notice the difference in comfort and stickiness when cycling in the heat! So Merchant and Mills is the perfect place to stock up on beautiful cottons and linens, and there are still enough pretty prints to satisfy me thanks to the Rajasthan handblocked cotton collection.

Merchant & Mills
Merchant & Mills
Merchant & Mills

They also have the most gorgeous solids, enough to even tempt this pattern fanatic. Slubby, creamy linens and gorgeous denims running the range from silky chambray to rough and tough selvedge, mostly in my favourite shades of drab and sludge.

Merchant & Mills
Merchant & Mills

Naturally I cooed over all the pretty notions too, all designed in-house.

Merchant & Mills
Merchant & Mills
Merchant & Mills
Merchant & Mills

Yummy shiny hardware to cap it all off, to make your oikskin tote bag.

Merchant & Mills

What came home with me? A bit of handblocked dotted cotton, some ticking striped linen, the most beautiful silky grey and white linen (I snagged the last 90cm!) and a gorgeous khaki trouser-weight Irish linen. Can’t wait to sew ’em up.


As it happens, there actually are more reasons to visit Rye besides the wonders of Merchant & Mills. It’s so pretty: full of cobbled streets, antique shops, cream teas and fish ‘n’ chips, with the fresh tang of the sea in the air. (You can see more about Rye in general in this post from my last visit a year ago.) All that only an hour from St Pancras! I could also catch up with Michelle, who left London for a more idyllic life living in the countryside and working at M&M itself. I heartily recommend a visit to stock up for your autumn sewing.

35 thoughts on “A trip to Merchant & Mills, Rye

  1. AvatarGillian

    Oh man, what a beautiful shop! They’ve just nailed their aesthetic – so consistent, so textural… the kind of store that makes me want things I know I really don’t want! ;)
    I spent a few months living in Jaipur, where those Indian prints are from… I even visited a block printing factory once. I wish I’d been more into sewing garments then… although I did spend a 72 hour train journey writing up a business plan to make and sell pillows at a local market in Canada so that I could justify bringing home a heap of silk saris and block-print bedsheets! I did end up making pilllows for a while… but pretty soon reaslised I’d rather just hoard the fabric! ;)

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      Oh wow, I’m jealous. India is on my ‘one day’ list. I know M&M source these fabrics direct from India (and also wholesale them).

  2. AvatarSam

    What a lovely day trip. Hubby and I spent a couple of nights in Rye last year, we thought it was a lovely place, even before I stumbled upon M&M. I really must go back.

  3. AvatarMarilla

    Lovely photos, you make the fabrics look even more alluring than they do on the website! I really would love to go, but I just checked and it’s over 3 hours away from here, so not very realistic for a day trip. Maybe one day sigh!

  4. AvatarHilde

    Fabric heaven! I’m not from the UK, but will definitely try & fit in my next trip across the Channel (I noticed it’s quite close to the Eurotunnel! Win!)

  5. AvatarBella

    Rye looks lovely and M&M to die for. I’ve spent a good deal of time on their website lately, filling and emptying my cart! Must fight the urge! By the way, drab and sludge is so where it’s at. I’m trying to move in a more neutral direction myself.

  6. Avataremily marie

    Oh wow, I need to make it there one of these days (probably years, let’s be honest)! I just love little English towns like this- and what an absolute gem of a shop! Just guessing there isn’t anything in there I wouldn’t deem worthy of my hard-earned cash.

    p.s. I fully support your quest to make the switch to natural fibers. They just feel better! :)

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      You’d love it! They sourced/sell the same fabric I sent you for Bossy, so there’s much more of the same.

  7. AvatarSuzie

    Oh so many lovely things in that shop – I would love to go sometime. Really love the photos you took, they have a lovely warm depth to them.

  8. AvatarStevie

    Wow I never knew they were in Rye! I live in Sussex and I have never ever been there! Think I might have to take a trip too if anyones interested!

    1. AvatarKatie Post author

      Ha, that’s crazy you didn’t know it was there. A sewist trip there would be awesome, maybe tie it into the Brighton meetup?

  9. Avatarsallie

    I think if I visited that place I’d never leave!! How idyllic?!? I mean, the town, obviously, but that STORE takes the cake! My heart aches just knowing that places like this exist but they’re so. far. awaaayyy!!! Sigh. Thank you for sharing. I’ll be dreaming about this the rest of the day!

  10. AvatarGwen Gyldenege

    How dreamy. I feel like I’m looking at a Film Noir from your photos. WOW! That fabric is so yummy. I’m excited to see what you make. Merchant & Mills reminds me of Alabama Channin. They both have the same “feel” and energy about them.

  11. Avatarjenna

    I have been avoiding look at Merchant and Mills’ website because I knew once I did there would be a lot I want to buy and I have plenty of fabric to be going on with, but now I’ve looked and there is a lot I neeeeeed! You are an enabler!

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