Shopping for Liberty at Shaukat

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In the absence of any new garment posts, I thought I’d share some pics of the little fabric-buying excursion I took to Shaukat a couple of weeks ago. I’m sure if you’re a Liberty fabric fan you’ve already seen their website: they offer current and past season Liberty prints at a significant discount to the prices you’d pay in Liberty itself.

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Their range is pretty darn comprehensive, with some more unusual Liberty fabrics like twill and jersey sitting alongside a massive range of the classic Tana Lawns. My finger’s been hovering over the buy button on their site for ages, but last week I made a pilgrimage to the actual store to stroke some fabrics in person. (I was in that part of town seeing the V&A’s wedding dresses show, well worth a visit for sewing geek-outs too.)

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Upstairs are the twills, poplins and craft cottons. There are also quite a lot of non-Liberty fabrics, including dress-weight prints and plain jerseys.

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I was wondering where all the lawns were, until the older man on the till pointed me to the stairs at the back. The first thing you see is a wall full of long bolts of the classic florals. Not really my cuppa though, so I pressed on.

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It was at this point I started having fabric-buying palpitations! Wall after wall covered in shelf after shelf of perfect prints. Shorter bolts near the back have past-season designs, and there are lots of pre-cut pieces of yardage.

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To the front are the crepe de chines and silk cottons. Pettably soft and beautiful. On the left are jerseys, cords and stretch poplins.

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Magical corridors and nooks stuffed full of the stuff dreams are made of. It was literally like being in a fabric cave!

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Remnants, so tempting to dive in and rummage through.

So what came home with me?…

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I’d really thought beforehand about what I wanted to buy (the wishlist feature on the Shaukat site was a useful tool to keep me focused on what to look out for) and especially since it’s Me-Made May I wanted some fabrics that I could use to make real everyday clothes, rather than fancy ditsy blouses or occasion dresses. So I bought the horse-print twill to make some trousers, likely my third pair of Burda 7017s. This is a fairly heavy twill with no stretch – they also do a cotton/elastane twill that’s a bit lighter, but not in this print. I just love that this print is kind of surreal but also really subtle – you can’t really see it from a distance. Secondly, a jersey which I can’t seem to find on the site now. I love the mustardy colour and subtle African wax-type print; this’ll make a great day dress. Plus two classic tana lawns: the Graham Coxon-designed ‘A Boy Dreams‘ from the 2011 Liberty Rocks collection, and ‘Shavings and Sharpenings‘, a sweet print of pencils and sharpenings. I love how it looks abstract from a distance and the colours are lovely.

The pricing was basically £17 a metre for everything, even though I had a mix of twill, jersey, and lawn. Seeing as lawns are £22 and jerseys £32 in Liberty itself that represents a significant saving! So I feel okay about spending over 100 quid, ahem. Not bad for four will-be new garments though, not to mention the pleasure I’ll get from sewing them.

So would I recommend a visit to Shaukat? Overall, HELL YES, but here are a few things to bear in mind:

  • Do your research first: have a look through their site and try to be focused on what you want to look for, or you might just end up wandering round in a daze
  • Nothing is really labelled with either fabric type or price, so you may have to buy ‘blind’ or risk asking for help – see below
  • Don’t go expecting friendly, helpful service. The staff are hardly the most welcoming bunch I’ve come across, borderline a bit hostile and rude (especially to other lower staff members, in front of customers!). I didn’t really feel comfortable asking for help. Though there are ample people to cut for you so I wasn’t left hanging around.
  • I think it’s especially a worth a visit if you’re interested in seeing how the vast array of prints look in person (the colours are not very accurate on the Shaukat site, fyi) or if you’re interested in any of the more speciality fabric types. If you just have a few specific lawns you’d like I would order online instead, but…
  • …do bear in mind the prices on the website do not include VAT or P&P, so 2m of lawn at £14.25 actually costs £36.60 in total from the site. You’ll see the actual total after you enter your billing address.

Right, better get sewing…

25 thoughts on “Shopping for Liberty at Shaukat

  1. Annabella

    Thanks for the write up! I am a regular online customer so it’s interesting to hear about what it’s like in person. The jersey print you bought is called Achilles but I can’t seem to find it on the website either. They have other colour ways of that print in cotton lawn.

  2. sandesh

    I have been there once and found the same thing with the customer service!! thought it was just me and haven’t been back since. Might have to check out their website now though as I am a sucker for liberty. Thank you

    1. Katie Post author

      Glad it wasn’t just me – I will definitely order online next time I think – avoid the bad service and too much extra temptation!

  3. Heather

    This place looks like heaven! This is my last day in London, and I am actually a bit relieved this shop is closed on Sundays as I am already over my fabric budget. Thanks for sharing you tips, I’m going to hit this shop up next time!

  4. Ree

    My goodness. I often work very near this place and never knew it existed! Thanks for the very thorough write-up. Must visit for some liberty jersey!!

    1. Katie Post author

      It’s quite tucked away but definitely worth a trip, especially if you’re nearby. The jersey is quite a bargain.

  5. Caroline Joynson

    I love that you have written a review for this store – its been on my to-do-list to visit for a while (I currently have certain fabrics bookmarked on my internet search – didn’t realise they had a wishlist function. Shall get wishing straight away).
    Think I will go with a set £ budget so I don’t go crazy. I really like your selection and like Sonja love teh non-ditsy floral prints the best too.
    Looking forward to seeing your garment + fabric pairings during the rest of MMM ; )

  6. Tilly

    Amaze. Can’t believe I still haven’t been there! I hate it when staff are rude, both to customers and their comrades, hence the reason I avoid another rather famous (and infamous) London fabric shop ;)

  7. Sarah

    What an amazing place! I have bought a couple of pieces from them including the orange crazy cat lawn I’m planning to make up this winter. I think the pieces you chose look absolutely perfect for you – love the idea of pony pants!

  8. Debbie

    I made my first visit to this shop in December and found the customer service rude too. I had no plan on what to buy and overwhelmed by the choice so your tips are wise words indeed!

  9. Kathryn

    Ooh love your choices, especially that horse twill! I found some of the staff so rude it was almost funny, especially when the website is written in such a familiar & friendly tone!

  10. Annie

    Great review. I feel like their reputation for rudeness is as well know as their huge collection of liberty stuff! I used to go to fabrics galore on lavender hill for my cut price liberty prints – the man that owns it is so helpful and friendly. The choice isn’t as vast but at least buying there is a pleasant experience!

  11. Laura

    Just made the mistake of looking on their website and realising they have Queue for the Zoo. I’ve been thinking about buying that for ages, but I’m worried about looking like a toddler. Now I could be a slightly less expensively dressed toddler!

    1. Katie Post author

      I saw someone wearing a dress of that the other day, it was decidedly non-toddlerish! Though I am wearing a frock of paint by numbers stags today so my taste may be untrusted…

  12. Suzie

    I made the pilgrimage to Shaukat when I was in London last month (the sightseeing tour I planned for my husband and I just so happened to go past their shop….coincidence! lol) and wow it is an amazing shop! Like you suggest, I had a rough idea of what I wanted to pick up, but once I was faced with hundreds and hundreds of options it did make me doubt. I was impressed to see they had a full length mirror, which helped me a lot when I was deciding which colour way would suit be best.
    But yes I totally agree with you on the staff – generally very unfriendly and unhelpful. However, there was one lady there who smiled and was actually nice to me, so I made sure I got her to serve me when I was ready. If she had not have been there I may not have actually bought anything because I do NOT appreciate shi**y staff!!!
    Anyway, LOVE your fabric choices. They are very you :) And how awesome is that horse twill?! Wow!

  13. Camilla

    That pencil fabric is awesome. I went there a few years ago and was so overwhelmed by the oodles of choice I didn’t buy a thing. And I love Liberty tana lawn so that’s saying something. I discovered a local fabric shop called Desai Fabrics in NW London does discounted Liberty fabric from current and past seasons. See my post here: http://pootleandmake.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/desai-fabrics/ It’s a bit out the way if you’re not local but I guess you could make it worth your while and combine it with a trip to the Village Haberdashery in West Hampstead.

    1. Katie Post author

      Oooh that looks great, I am not too far away in N16 and have made the visit to Village Haberdashery before. For £12 tana lawn I would visit Desai too!

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