Fabric hunting in Brussels

Like many sewers I seem to aquire fabric at a faster rate than I produce new garments. While Brussels might not be the best city in the world for fabric shopping there are some great places, you just have to hunt a bit to find them. So here are some of my favourite places in Brussels to add to my ever-expanding pile of textiles.

First up are Les Petits Riens and the fleamarket in Place du Jeu de Balle (pictured above): by far the two best places to get original fabric in Brussels. What is great about them is that if you plan to go there and are looking for something amazing you probably won't find it, but when you just happen to pop by you'll happen upon something wonderful!

Les Petits Riens
Several branches in Brussels but the biggest shop is:
Rue Américaine 101
1050 Ixelles

Les Petits Riens is a Belgian charity that collects unwanted clothes, bric-a-brac, and furniture to make money for social projects that are trying to fight poverty and social exclusion. The shops are staffed by people who have been excluded from the job market for various reasons and working in Les Petits Riens is an opportunity to gain skills and experience.
It really is an amazing place. You can find everything here! The clothing section at the Rue Américaine shop is split into a sort of 'unsorted' part and a side shop called 'Retro Paradise'. The unsorted part is the real treasure trove for fabric. Get there early as there is often a hardcore contingent of rummagers waiting for the doors to open at midday!
Monday to Saturday from 12h to 17h30

La place du Jeu de Balle/Vossenplein
Marolles, 1000 Bruxelles
A lovely market that you can go to again and again and always find something surprising! I think the goods that find themselves here are mostly from house clearances. Most days there are plenty of clothes. There are also lots of nice cafés and restaurants around the market for a post-rummage coffee.
Every day from very early to about 13h (weekdays) and 14h30 (weekends)

And the rest of my favourite places for sewing goods in the city:

Various branches around the city

I love Veritas! I hate to think how much money I've spent there! It is a shop that mostly stocks accessories (bags, hairbands, and tights etc.) and you could be forgiven for not noticing the amazing haberdashery section in the back. Not so great for fabric but for everything else you could possibly need it is brilliant!
Weekday and Saturday

Maison des Tissus
Chaussée d'Ixelles 117
1050 Ixelles
Lovely staff and a really great selection of fabrics. Great for walking around and hunting for inspiration!
Open from 10h00 to 18h30 (Fridays 14h30 to 18h30)

Les Tissues du Chien Vert (Le Chien Vert, Les Puces du Chien and Le Chien du Chien)
Rue du chien vert, 2
1080 Bruxelles
These two shops are in one of my favourite parts of the city: beside the canal. Le Chien Vert is the main shop and Le Chien du Chien a couple of doors down stocks mainly furniture textiles. Regardless of whether you find anything you like it is worth heading here to marvel at the shop interiors alone, particularly in Le Chien du Chien as it is all done out like a boat!
Les Puces du Chien is the reduced section in the back of Le Chien Vert and it is probably this part that will most interest dressmakers.
I really like their selection and it is here I always stock up on Calico Toile. It can err on the expensive side though so the best time to go is during the Belgian sale periods (July and January).
Open Monday to Saturday from 10h to 18h00

Gare du midi market
Gare du midi
I recently bought some lovely lawn cotton here for about 5 euro a metre from one particular stand. There are loads of fabric sellers so it is good for rummaging although the quality of some fabrics might match the cheap prices. Good place for stocking up on lining.
Every Sunday morning

Passion Tissus
Chaussée de Waterloo, 99
1060 Saint-Gilles

Very reasonably priced place and they also stock some cheap invisible zips.
Weekdays and Saturdays

Mondial textiles
Rue des Capucins 20-28
1000 Bruxelles

In the heart of the Marolles area this shop has a relatively standard stock of fabrics, but it is quite extensive and perhaps a little cheaper than Le Chien Vert. They also have a good selection of bits and bobs: zips; interlining; chalk etc.
Tuesday to Friday from 10h to 13h and from 14h to 18h
Saturday: 10h to 18h
Closed Sunday and Monday



Reviewing recent makes

Here are a few of the things I have made over the last few months since I upped the ante on my sewing. I'm pleased with them all in different ways as while they are far from perfect I learned from each experience.

Orange and yellow dress
I made the pattern loosely based on a dress I made a few years ago with my Mum (Simplicity 9446, from her teenage pattern collection!). The main things I learned were that the while I think the fabric colours go well together they don't match at all in terms of weight. I made some bias tape but I didn't, err, cut it on the bias, or in a very straight line for that matter, and I really rushed to sew it in, the result being that it looks pretty shoddy.

Orange and brown dress
I'm quite fond of this dress! It was my first attempt at inserting a lining and a zip together. I made the pattern using a basic block I had made up and then drafting a skirt to go with it. The brown fabric was an old pillowcase!

Blue dress with orange zip
Same pattern as above. I didn't press the seams well enough.

Colette Sorbetto top
I loved making this top! The fabric is a cotton lawn I bought at Gare du midi market one Sunday. I really took my time and tried to pay attention to achieving a clean finish. I made my own bias tape too. I should make this top up in a multitude of colours as it is really nice and simple to wear. Also seems like the perfect pattern to try out some adaptions: a peter pan collar and some capped sleeves, perhaps?


Techniques: Sewing button holes


Here is a quick step by step guide to how I sew buttonholes.

First mark on your fabric* the length of your buttonhole in chalk and make sure you have a buttonhole presser foot.

Step 1:
First you sew down right-hand side of the buttonhole using the 1 function (or equivalent function depending on your machine type, I use a Silver 1008). Make sure that the last stitch you sew is on the left and that the needle is up. I like to go down once, then reverse stitch back over it before sewing downwards once again.

Step 2:
Use the 2/4 function and do an odd number of stitches, so that you finish on the right-hand side.

Step 3:
Now you use the 3 function to go up the left-hand side. The last stitch should be on the right and the needle should be up.

Step 4:
Now use the 2/4 function again to do the top of the buttonhole.

Step 5:
Now I sort of 'trick' my machine and use the 1 function to go over the left-hand side two more times to strengthen it like I did for the right-hand side. Make sure you place the needle carefully so you go exactly over the stitches that are already there.

Step 6:
Carefully burst the fabric in the middle of the buttonhole with a seam ripper.

*Always do multiple practice buttonholes on a scrap of fabric first!


Tea is the answer to all sewing quandaries


Hello sewing world....as a longtime sewing blog peruser, I decided it was high time that I too joined in the fun and set up camp in my own little corner of the wonderful online sewing community!

I hope to both log my dressmaking exploits and pattern cutting pursuits, as well as keep track of important tips, tricks and techniques I learn along the way. I've presented myself in more detail here.