Fabric Shops: The Cheap Shop in Tiptree, Essex

March 7, 2011

I’ve been a naughty girl, and been on a huge fabric splurge these last two weeks. I’ve bought some gorgeous pieces, all destined for Baby E’s summer wardrobe, but I didn’t really have any method to my shopping and needed some nice plains / co-ordinates to complement the prints I’ve bought.

So when my mum suggested that baby E and I venture out of London for a three-generational visit to The Cheap Shop in Tiptree, I jumped at the chance. I was really looking forward to spending a day browsing through a real fabric shop in an actual bricks and mortar store; quite a different shopping experience to buying online. I know I was only at Liberty’s last week, but somehow that’s not the same: there’s something about the traditional fabric shop, with all sorts of fabrics crammed together in quite random fashion in to a tiny space, that is really appealing. You never know quite what you’ll find.

And The Cheap Shop is definitely a surprise. Despite it’s rather dodgy name, it is a complete Aladdin’s cave of crafty goodness! From the outside, it doesn’t look like much at all and you’d be forgiven for driving right past it. Especially as it’s situted in a village with a population of just 8,300. The last thing you’d expect to find here is a crafting shop, but they’ve been here for over 40 years.

Even stranger is that when you walk in the front door, you’re in a newsagents. Very bizarre. It’s only when you go to the back of the newsagents that the shop opens up and hey presto, you’re in a craft shop. And it just keeps going. There’s papercraft supplies, painting, dolls houses, beading, wadding, felt, fur, cushion pads, embroidery, not to mention a whole host of other crafting goodies.

There’s also a whole room dedicated to wool. It beats the Liberty Great Wall of Wool, hands down – the room at the Cheap Shop has four Great Walls of Wool ! It stocks Rowan, Sirdar, Sublime, Stylecraft, Debbie Bliss, James Brett, Noro, Louisa Harding, and Amy Butler.

The Cheap Shop has a whole room with its walls crammed full of wool

Then, once you’re past that, you’re in the large fabric section. Again there’s huge variety here – I just can’t believe how much they cram in to what looks like a tiny shop from the outside. There’s a decent choice of quilting cottons as well as dressmaking fabrics, with small sections of oilcloth and fleece as well.

Just a small section of the fabric department at the Cheap Shop

You could easily spend a whole morning or afternoon just browsing. Luckily for my wallet, we were a bit tight for time as baby E’s lunchtime was approaching, so I was quite focused and went straight for what I was looking for, which were some nice plains / co-ordinates to match other fabric I’ve splurged on recently.

Not the most exciting purchases, but I was very good and resisted the urge to go for more yummy prints (except for the strawberries – I just couldn’t resist those, especially as they’re on dressmaking fabric not quilting fabric, and had a beautiful drape). The top fabric was also a bit of an impulse buy – it was in the remnant bin and I just knew I could use it for a baby dress. So maybe I wasn’t as good as I thought, but I did resist lots!!

I also bought some buttons as they had a great selection. The only small disappointment was that they didn’t have a huge selection of bias bindings or ribbons. The bias binding was only in solid colours (no prints), and it was a poly/cotton mix – no 100% cotton. I wasn’t inspired by the ribbon selection either, but both of these are pretty minor complaints.

The Cheap Shop must draw people in from quite a wide area – it’s clearly doing something right as it’s situated in such a small place and yet is still going strong after 40 years. I was there on a Friday afternoon and it was very busy. And whilst you’re here, it’s also worth stopping off at the Tiptree Jam Factory – we didn’t have time, but were told it has a very nice cafe.

 

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Julia March 7, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Oh my god, I was in Tiptree on Saturday (well, passing through) and I didn’t know about this shop. These photos are literally killing me!

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Ursula March 8, 2011 at 10:56 am

Now you just have to find the time to stitch for Baby E!
This shop has served as an Alladdin’s cave for me since we moved to Essex!

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kerry November 8, 2011 at 10:41 am

Well feel sorry for my purse – I live just up the road :-) )

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Lauren March 4, 2012 at 10:51 am

my mother in law has bought some lovely material for a cot quilt for my little one due in July. I can’t wait for a free day to go – pity they’re not open sundays or we’d be going there and to the tea room (very nice scones – with or without currants – all served warm) instead think we’ll just stick around Writtle today! thanks for the post! :-)

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Michelle May 3, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Hey I come all the way from Norway to buy my frabric from here!
I have loved this shop for the last 20 years!

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