I love the selection of unique silks, stunning prints and other bright fabrics that I use to make clothes for my grandchildren. I’ve absolutely loved sharpening my sewing skills again and using another outlet for my creativity. This is something that Charlotte Bayliss, owner of this gorgeous Bowral fabric store, has been seeing a lot of lately.
“A lot of my customers are saying the same,” she said when I chatted with her recently. “They’ve been getting their sewing machines out and have been making dresses and some gorgeous items of clothing.”
Bowral Fabric Store Boom
Charlotte revealed that the majority of our community is drawn towards brighter colours, which I think is wonderful. It’s always fab to see bursts of colour brighten our streets. However, there are some neutrals and plain blacks available too.
“Everyone has their own thing, but I am mostly selling a lot of quilting cotton,” she said. “I also have heaps of requests for really bright ‘out-there’ florals, as well as demand for black and neutral, or as plain as possible, for men.”
Back To Bowral From The Big Smoke
Charlotte opened her gorgeous Bowral fabric store just over eight years ago, when she and her husband relocated back to the Southern Highlands from Sydney.
“My husband grew up here,” she said. “We met in Sydney but we were always down here every month for a weekend away. So, we finally decided to move down and open the shop.
“When I left school, I first wanted to design clothes. I studied fashion design at a little tailoring school in Sydney, as well as TAFE. At the time, I was also working in a big fabric store. It really was my dream job. As my studies progressed, I realised that I loved the fabric side of things so much more than the design side. So, I thought, “why not give it a go?”
There was no turning back for Charlotte, and now her store is one of the best and most innovative fabric stores in the Southern Highlands.
Fabric Finds From Australia And Around The World
Charlotte sources her fabrics from all corners of the world, including many from Australia and a few fab vintage finds.
“I do get a lot from overseas suppliers, and I normally do a sourcing trip every year, to all sorts of places – Italy, America, Japan. It’s great to try to go somewhere different every time and I get some really unique things that are hard to find in Australia.
“I’m also getting new things from wonderful Australian suppliers all the time. I have also sourced some fantastic vintage fabrics from dressmakers over the years and have bought their collections. That has been really fun.”
Of course, with access to all those incredible fabrics, and a slew of Tessuti patterns to choose from, it is only natural that Charlotte makes almost all of her own clothes. Aside from knits and denim pieces, she makes pretty much everything that she wears throughout the year.
“I was actually not one of those people who started sewing when I was five,” she admitted with a giggle. “My passion for sewing started in high school. I was really bad, but I really liked it, so kept going. When you make your own clothes, you get something different that nobody has else has. I am into unique clothes, and this is a great way to get them. You also get the fit perfect.
“I use – and sell – Tessuti patterns. They are designed and printed in Australia, and they put a lot of effort into getting them right. The instructions are also really clear. It is so great when I sell them to beginner sewers. Even if they have never read a pattern before, they get it.
“These days, we see such a change in pattern making ways. Everyone used to buy Vogue or McCalls that came in the tiny A5 packets. But now we have all these independent brands that are made and packaged so beautifully that a lot of older customers do a double take.”
Charlotte’s Top Tips For The Home Seamstress
Of course, having freshly re-entered the world of sewing, I had to ask Charlotte for her top tips!
“Persistence!,” she laughed. “You will learn something new every time you sew something. Most of what I’ve learnt, I have learnt from experience. Try to learn from your mistakes with every new project.”
She then added to remember to put your individuality into every garment you create.
“Sew to your own rules,” she advised. “One person may not be happy with a garment, but another person would love and wear it. Find what suits you and your way to sew and make sure you’re pleased with it – don’t please anybody else.”
Well, I love the sound of that, and will be heading off to buy more fabric soon!
If you would like any more information about life in the Southern Highlands, please get in touch with me at any time!
Love, Di xx