Fancy Silk Fabrics
Fancy Silk Fabrics, located in Cheltenham’s West End, was bought out in 2002 by Ms Dawn Saksoontron who had become frustrated at the lack of quality fabrics choice within the Gloucestershire area. Originally from Thailand, Ms Saksoontron has many business contacts within Thailand and South East Asia, meaning she has been able to import a huge variety of top quality silks and fabrics, offering customers wider choice and lower prices.
They offer a ‘courteous and efficient’ service and if you are unable to find what you need from their stock, they claim they can normally source what you are looking for very quickly from suppliers in South East Asia and around the globe.
“We deal mainly with just fabric rather than curtaining and upholstery. We also offer a repair and alterations service as well as an exceptional haberdashery”.
“The name of the shop is a little misleading as it’s not just silks we sell – the fabrics range from cotton, muslins to velvet. We get a lot of students wanting fabric for fancy dress - we sell leopard print fabric by the bucket-load! When they go on holiday in the summer it gets pretty quiet”.
“Not that many people sew their own clothes anymore; it’s a dying art, especially when you can buy things so cheaply in shops nowadays. However there are a lot of dressmaking courses available at the moment, so perhaps I’ll see more people coming in to buy materials?”
Shop volunteer Sue says she still makes some of her own clothes though admits it can be very time consuming. “I buy a lot of things that don’t fit me so I alter them to make them fit me – it’s good for the environment as I’m not throwing things away. Using a sewing machine is very simple actually, all it takes is a bit of training and patience and you can do it”.
“We offer a repairs and alterations service, for example we’ll help with jeans that are too long or a little bit frayed – although I suppose that’s the fashion nowadays! We get a lot of people wanting things let out, taken in, and so on”.
“In the summer we get people coming in with their ball gowns; we’re forever taking up hems! We’ll do anything - within reason - and we’re very reasonably priced. Compared to our competitors, last time I checked we were half the price. It makes us want to put the price up but then if it’s too expensive the customer will just go to a charity shop and replace it. It’s about trying to get a happy medium”.
After chatting with Sue I have a quick poke around the shop, finding some little gems such as the unique handmade bags at the front of the shop and some stunning jewellery, which is also handmade. After rifling through the second-hand clothes rail, I discover two beautiful dresses from Topshop and Vila, respectively priced at £7 and £2 – well, what other choice did I have than to buy them?!
If you want to have a rifle around Fancy Silk Fabrics, they are open between 10.30am and 5.30pm every day, except Sundays when they are closed. See if you can find a fabric that inspires you!