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Malbers Fabrics – Tiverton, Devon

Malbers Fabrics is a small, but well stocked sewing shop in the centre of Tiverton. Despite it’s small proportions it is incredibly well stocked with many fabrics, haberdashery and general craft items.

Malbers Fabric shop window

Malbers Fabric Shop

Malbers has a very unassuming exterior – you really couldn’t guess how great the inside of the shop is from the outside. It looks like it might just be a quilting shop, but no! It has many more fabrics and notions to enjoy. It does stock plenty of quilting cottons and poly-cotton prints, however there are ample dressmaking fabrics to make it worth visiting for dressmakers.

Rolls of fabric in Malbern Fabrics

The middle of the shop is stacked with rolls of fabrics!

The small floor size is absolutely packed with sewing goodies – the centre of the one-room shop has roll after roll of fabric stacked up on it, with plenty of diversity.

Bolts of fabric in Malbern Fabrics

Bolts of denim, chambray and cotton drills

When I visited (1st September 2017), they had a lovely stack of denims, cotton drills and chambray which made me instantly think of the Tilly and The Buttons Cleo dungaree dress I have planned! The soft denim chambray was so perfect I immediately bought some to make a simple gathered skirt. I can’t wait to sew it up!

Rows of fabric bolts

Fabric shops like this are so exciting to browse!

There are a good range of solid colours too, and ginghams – perfect for summer dresses and skirts.

Rolls of thick fabrics

Rolls of fleece, corduroy and chambray

Continuing the Tilly Cleo theme, Malbern also has some excellent corduroy fabrics: a soft claret coloured needlecord and a thicker olive cord had me lusting after them. Very affordable too, at about £8.99 per meter.

Different tartan fabrics stacked on top of each other

These tartans are crying out to be made into some A-Line skirts!

I’ve been wanting to make a tartan A-Line skirt for years, and its definitely something I will be sewing in the future, so I was also tempted by these lovely tartans on display.

Cotton Christmas Fabrics

Stacks of Christmas cotton prints

The Christmas quilting cottons are not necessarily something I would buy, but I was amazed by the volume of patterns they manage to stock in such a small shop. If you wanted to make some Christmas gifts, these would be perfect – you’d be sure to find something suitable with this selection!

Sewing and haberdashery tools

Lots of useful haberdashery items!

The shop manages to not only cram in hundreds of fabrics, but it also has a great selection of haberdashery products too. All the standard tools are here, and some I didn’t expect to see like sewing machine feet.

Colourful ribbons on display

I love looking at ribbon displays like this


Most of the fabrics are fairly priced, and affordable. Here are some sample costs I noted from my visit today (1st September 2017):
Soft cotton chambray £8.99 per meter
Striped Ponte Roma jersey £6.99 per meter
Cotton prints £7.99 up to over £10 per meter (varied for different prints)
Needlecord (lovely) £8.99 per meter


Don’t let the outside fool you – this is a lovely, and really useful fabric shop that is great for affordable dressmaking. The owner is really friendly and helpful and has a loyal following. I’ll definitely be visiting Malbers Fabrics again eagerly!


Malbers Fabrics, 10 Bampton St, Tiverton EX16 6AA

Tilly and The Buttons Agnes in black jersey

Agnes sewing pattern cover

Such a simple but wearable top!

The Agnes sewing pattern by Tilly and The Buttons makes a simple, but very wearable jersey top. It comes with several options to make it more versatile, with different arm lengths and ruched details. I am coming late to this party though after my sewing hiatus, I think every sewing blogger under the sun has made stacks of these by now!

I opted to buy the PDF pattern and download it and print it myself which cost £9.50. You can download the Agnes pattern here. The printed pattern costs £12.50. It took me a whole evening to cut out and assemble the pattern pieces, which makes me wonder how long I would take to assemble and cut out a dress or bigger project like this. It was easy to assemble though and felt a little like a brain training exercise!

Sewing pattern instructions

The instructions were clear and easy to follow

I bought some inexpensive jersey fabric from Fabric Land in Bristol for this make. It is very soft, with some stretch, and isn’t see through despite being black (yay!). It is covered in a very fine random polka dot pattern in silver. It was a bargain at £3.99 per meter. I bought 1.5 meters for this project and I have a fair bit left I could use for something-or-other.

Cat sitting on sewing

Kiki the cat modelling the black jersey I made the Agnes with

I used my normal sewing machine for this project and opted to do the super easy route of just using zig zag stitch and it has worked very well. I bought ball point needles for this project and they have worked well. I will try using a twin needle on a future project.

The sizing is straight forward and it does seem to come up very true to what the patten says which is a huge surprise for me after lots of dubious sizing problems with commercial sewing patterns. I have a large bust and most clothes are a bit annoying to wear because I end up having pulling across the bust and loose fabric elsewhere like the shoulders, but not on this top! Its quite a miracle.

The instructions are clear and quite easy to follow. I only had one small head-scratching moment and I think that’s because the instruction photos feature a bright striped fabric that I got confused by (stripe directions). I was nervous about sewing the neckband in, but it was surprisingly simple and I’m very impressed with the results, even when using zig zag stitch.

In total, I think this took me four hours to cut out the fabric and sew together. I am sure if/when I make another one, it will be faster though.

Close up of Agnes neckband

Excuse the cat hair – that’s what happens when you have a kitty assistant!

Black polka dot Agnes top

Completed Agnes top, with shorter sleeve option (needs a bit of an iron)

Agnes top

A poor quality selfie taken hot off the sewing machine!


Will I make this again? Yes, definitely. I just need some nice jersey!
Any tips? Read all the instructions before starting. Use a ball point (jersey) needle. Try using stretch interfacing to secure the shoulder seams.
Overall verdict: A great pattern – simple but very wearable

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Heathcoat Fabrics – Tiverton, Devon

Heathcoat Fabrics is a wonderful sewing shop in Tiverton, Devon. It stocks a wide variety of dressmaking, general purpose, and soft furnishing fabrics and haberdashery products. It is one of my all-time favourite fabric shops and is well worth visiting if you are in central Devon!

The fabric shop is located next to the Heathcote Fabrics Factory. Top tip: If you visit before 11:30am you can also use the staff canteen to get a drink!

Heathcote Fabrics, Tiverton

Entrance to Heathcote Fabrics

The fabric shop is housed in an amazing building from 1841. Check out the beautiful windows:

Heathcoats Fabric Shop entrance

The Heathcoat Fabric Shop – next to the factory

Inside the fabric shop:

Inside the shop you will find four rooms dedicated to fabric and haberdashery supplies.

The first room is full of soft furnishing fabrics. These include things like curtain, upholstery and oilcloth fabrics. When I visited they were having a summer sale, which is why there are so many reductions advertised in my photos – I wish they had a sale all the time!

Heathcotes soft furnishing fabrics

Soft furnishing fabrics

Gutermann sewing thread stand

A rainbow of Gütermann threads!

The second room in the shop is jam-packed with a whole host of crafty goodies:

Rows of lace trims on cards

Lace trims, woven ribbons and decorative edgings

Rows of zips, fabric dyes and buttons

Racks of zips, Dylon dyes and thousands of buttons

Tubes of buttons on a stand

A glorious selection of buttons – they also have ‘serious’ buttons, not just novelty ones!

Craft kits

Craft kits and children’s fabrics

Fat quarters on a stand

A stand of really sweet fat quarters

Patterned webbing on rolls

Super wide Aztec (?) webbing – would make a great belt or bag strap

A wall covered in sewing tools

Lots of sewing tools: sewing machine feet and needles, as well as pins, chalks and lots of scissors (not shown)

There are a good selection of big-name sewing patterns available in the shop, however some have to be ordered. I don’t believe Heathcoat’s stock any Indie sewing patterns – maybe they will do in the future?
Simplicity sewing pattern catalogue

Sewing pattern books – including all the big names: Simplicity, Butterick, Vogue, Burda etc

Rolls of fleece fabric

Rolls of soft fleece and quilted fabrics

After you have navigated the room of haberdashery goodies, there are two further rooms, stuffed with dressmaking fabrics: one is dedicated to cotton prints, and fancy fabrics, while the other has more fashion-lead fabrics like denim, jersey and Liberty prints.
Sewing shop room

This room is lined on all sides with many racks of dressmaking fabrics!

There are two tables that are always well-stocked with remnants too! On this visit there was a lot of brushed cottons, scubas, cotton sateens, and some cotton prints that had been heavily reduced.

I always like to have a long, lust-filled look at the cotton prints they stock:

Rolls of cotton fabric

Some of the beautiful 100% cotton prints available

Their second dressmaking fabric room is by far, my favourite room in the shop though as it has all their latest fashion fabrics, and they are beautiful! They are (mostly) arranged into colour groups, however gingham, corduroy, and jersey are grouped by their type.

Rows of fabric bolts on shelves

Lovely fabrics for making lovely clothes with!

Liberty Tana Lawn fabric on bolts

Who doesn’t love a good Liberty print?!


Prices vary, however they are on the more expensive side for me. Here are some sample costs I noted down from today’s visit (30th August 2017):

Striped cotton drill (lovely quality) £4.99 per meter
Fashion print jersey £18.00 per meter
Light weight denim £9.99 per meter
Cotton fashion prints ranged between about £8 per meter up to about £20 per meter

The smallest increment they cut is 25cm – at least you can control the spending a little more closely than some other shops!


Heathcotes is an excellent fabric and haberdashery shop. If you visit you should allow at least half an hour to have a quick look, but you should really spend longer to fully appreciate everything they have to offer. Make sure to check out their remnant tables as I have found great bargains there in the past. The staff are friendly and helpful and there are three cutting tables in the dressmaking section so they are able to handle quite a lot of customers at once.

I thoroughly recommend a visit to the shop if you are in Devon!


Heathcote Fabric Shop, West Exe, Tiverton EX16 5LL
Website: Sadly this is not site you can buy from

New plans from the Woodland Cabin

I’ve been having a break from surface pattern design, and been spending more time doing hand drawn illustrations which has lead me to think about what I really want to be doing in my evenings and weekends.

Time is valuable!

Since I changed job roles last autumn I have been working longer hours – which is why I ended up stopping doing more computer-based designs in the evenings. It was just too much screen time every day. Around the same time I bought several books by the amazing Lynda Barry and spent some time doing hand drawing again. She’s so inspiring and understands all the ins and outs of why people get blocked with drawing, I totally recommend checking out her books if you are at all interested in learning to make comics too!

Anyway, in doing this drawing I realised how important it is to me, and how I had stopped feeling like myself because I had stopped doing all these creative, crafty things because I had let work take over too much. I was left thinking “Will I ever look back and wish I worked more in my early thirties?” or will I look back and think “I wish I had balanced my time so I did more fun, memorable things”?

So, after some more thinking, more drawing, and re-discovering my love of beads and zines I have decided to re-create my early twenties and open an Etsy shop again! When I was at University I had an Etsy shop back before it was much of a thing in the UK. I used to sell odd little creatures, odd handmade jewellery and craft supplies and I LOVED IT. I gave it up when it started taking up a ridiculous amount of my time and I was at risk of jeopardising my degree.

For me an Etsy shop is a lot of fun as it taps into so many things I enjoy: everything from playing shop through to creating packaging designs as well as being a way to create things and have a way of getting them out of the house so I don’t have a mountain of crafted items in my spare room!

The plan:

My new shop is called Woodland Cabin Studio, and I am planning on selling the following things:

  • Woodland inspired jewellery with personalised options: think animals, mushrooms, trees and slightly witchy things
  • Zines: I have two I’m working on
  • Craft supplies: beads and vintage things

Etsy has to fit around work, and can’t become the all-encompassing monster it did ten years ago when I was on there to begin with. If I don’t sell anything then never mind, I will enjoy having a go. I’ve spent about £60 to get started (seriously I didn’t need to do this considering how many craft supplies I have, but some people spend that on a night out and I’m basically a recluse so I’m saving money… no, I’ve just got a craft problem!).

Stay tuned…

I’ve not listed items in the shop yet, but they are on the way. I can’t wait – I am super excited especially as the jewellery is what I want to wear, and the zines are really fun to work on.

1990s Nostalgia Pattern

1990s pattern

This pattern was a lot of fun to make! It features items I find very nostalgic from the decade I grew up in. Stretching between being a child and becoming a teenager, the pattern features a real mix of iconic items.

What’s included:

Boglins: I wanted one of these so much. My best friend’s older brother had several that lived on a shelf in his room, in their little prison style boxes. They were so much fun to play with – rubbery monster hand puppets with grotesque expressions.

Polly Pocket: Another childhood favourite. Polly Pocket was a tiny doll that lived in little cases that opened up to reveal a house or other diorama scene. There was a boys version too that lived in a monster’s head but I cant remember what these were called…

Gameboy: I remember when my cousin had one and I played Tetris for the first time… I felt like I wanted to play it forever!

Friendship Bracelets: These seemed to keep coming and going throughout the 90s. I remember having a set of neon ones like those in the pattern, but I also had a big thing for making ones out of embroidery floss and selling them.

Trolls: I had quite a collection of trolls and I can’t think why! They were really odd things to collect! Me and my friends used to have the mini troll catalogue booklets and go through them again and again choosing each of the ones we really, really wanted. The ones with the rainbow hair were always the most coveted.

Lipsmakers: I really remember these lip balms being advertised in the younger teen girl magazines when I was about 13ish. It felt like it was important to choose a flavour that represented “you” … like at the same time how it was important to know all about your star sign and complete all the personality quizzes in the magazines to find out who you were.

POGs: I cant remember when these were a thing exactly, but they were quite a thing for a while. Walkers crisps gave away similar disk things called Tazos at some point too. Did anyone actually know how to play with them?!

Cord necklaces: Yin Yangs, Suns and Moons and peace symbols were all over the place in the mid 90s. They always seemed to be on black cord necklaces with silver balls either side of the pendant. Or on a chocker of course.

Dummies: I guess these were a rave scene thing, that seemed to seep into kids and teen culture through sweets. They never appealed to me, but I remember school friends wearing them and feeling grossed out by the idea of wearing a big boiled sweet that gathers fluff and dust.

Hard Candy nail polish: Oh how I wanted a bottle of this! I never had enough pocket money to get one, and even if I did, I don’t know how I could have chosen a colour and ring from their range. They were all so bright and desirable!

Tamogotchi: Everyone at school had one, or a copy version of the virtual pet. I remember wanting one so much it almost hurt. When I got one of the copies, it was great for about a day before I realised it was a waste of time. Oh well.

Nokia mobile phone: Everyone started to get mobile phones when I was about 16. I couldn’t afford one and there would have been no point as there was no mobile reception where I lived, but seeing the others playing Snake made me want one badly! It would be two more years before I finally got to live the dream and play Snake on my own phone!

Mix tapes: I’ve saved the best till last. I LOVED MIX TAPES. I still love mix tapes. Everything about them excites me. I remember making and receiving them from other people. Sometimes they were beautifully executed works of art, with handmade inlays, glitter, stickers and tip ex, and sometimes they were just straight copies of albums with scrawled listings. I loved them all. They let me get music I couldn’t otherwise listen to, and share music I loved.


Pastel Owls Pattern

Hand drawn owl pattern

I drew these owls the other evening and thought how fun they’d look all lined up together! I scanned them and used Illustrator’s image trace (set at low res photograph) and coloured them in. I’m really enjoying turning hand drawn pictures into patterns at the moment. There is a moment of magic when the flat colour makes them pop that never gets boring.

Illustrated owls

Don’t they look sweet and surprised?!

The Smiths – Meat is Murder Illustration

Illustration of a helmet and daffodils

This is a concept illustration for an enamel pin badge, featuring the iconic ‘Meat is Murder’ army helmet from The Smiths album of the same name. Morrissey was photographed with daffodils many times during the 1980’s too, so I’ve used them to increase the ‘Smithsyness’ of the pin. Just four colours – it seems like this is the basic limit of colours on simple enamel pins. Its nice to try drawing something a bit different!

Kawaii Creatures Pattern

Pastel animal pattern

Little creatures inspired by 1980’s toys: Care Bears, Keypers and My Little Pony. A kitten, a bunny, an owl and a puppy! All in pastel shades on fluffy clouds.

Mockup cushion

Illustrated animal characters

Woodland Doodle Pattern

Simple woodland pattern

A simple woodland pattern made from some basic pen and ink doodles. I scanned the doodles using my little Doxie scanner, and did an image trace in Illustrator.  I like its simplicity – just little brown mushrooms and little pine trees. Here it is mocked up on a notebook:

Notepad mockup

Minty Mushrooms Wallpaper Pattern

Illustrated mushrooms

Its been a few months since I last posted on here. I’ve been rather drained from my day job so my crafting and design projects have been on hold. I’ve still been doodling though – this mushroom pattern is made up of a series of doodles I’ve traced in Illustrator. I like the idea of featuring the little mushrooms appearing out of the foliage.

Mushroom pattern

I’m not happy with the green background in the wallpaper pattern – I think its a bit too warm. Perhaps I will experiment further with it. Although the pattern and design is simple, its been an uphill struggle! I’ve been ill in bed for a week with tonsillitis and this is the first productive thing I’ve done. I couldn’t remember how to make patterns repeat, I think the sickness has eroded my mind!

Mint coloured mushroom pattern

UPDATE: New pattern using the mushroom shapes 🙂 Need to fix the green leaves on this as they bug the eyes.

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