A Guide To Haberdashery – A History and Definition

3.5 minute read

Haberdashery – it’s a great word, isn’t it? Ever wondered what it is? Or where such a wonderful word comes from?

You’re not the only one! 

Read on to find out all things haberdashery. We’ll be going into detail and explaining all you need to know to become a seasoned haberdasher. You’ll feel confident going out and exploring the world of sewing accessories!

Boring Legal Bit: If you follow any tutorial or guidance found in this post, or on this blog, you agree to be bound by our disclaimer which can be viewed here

History of the word Haberdashery

Haberdashery is pronounced “ha-buh-da-shu-ree” and has a rich history. It’s such a great word! But where did it come into our language?

One of the first sightings of the word is seen in English poet Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Chaucer describes peddlers who sold buttons, needles & other sewing items. This dates the word back to at least the 14th century!

Haberdashery derives from “hapertas” that’s thought to have meant “small ware”, although others say it was used to describe a type of fabric.

The word has been around for centuries, nonetheless the true origins of it are still unknown today. 

Often the word “haberdashery” is shortened to “habby” so if you hear that being banded around, you know what this abbreviation means!

UK & US Haberdashery Differences

Interestingly the word haberdashery has a different meaning with our friends across the pond in the US, instead, the word “notions” is used to describe haberdashery supplies!

Over in the US the word Haberdashery is instead a term used to describe a speciality accessory store for men selling hats, gloves & scarves.

But they also sell what we now know as haberdashery supplies in the UK – buttons, needles, threads and more! 

As time passed US haberdasheries evolved to also tailor to women, but still focused on hats and accessories.

However here in the UK they became the go-to place for all sorts of sewing bits and bobs, more of a craft and sewing shop. 

The world of sewing and sewing accessories has experienced a massive boost in interest recently partly due to the pandemic, lots of people turned to their hobbies to pass time and even more people discovered new hobbies!

The Great British Sewing Bee has also massively contributed to the expansion of sewing and haberdashery in Britain, we all love a good competition!

What supplies do you find in a haberdashery?

ALL the sewing things! In short it’s an all encompassing word describing is the small bits & bobs used in sewing projects. You could call them a seam-star’s sewing accessories.

Some common items are:

This list isn’t exhaustive – there’s literally hundreds of variations for each of these items –  it’s pretty broad.

More often than not you can’t complete a sewing project without using some type of haberdashery! And over time your stash will increase (along with your need for habby storage & organisation 🤣)

Where can you buy haberdashery supplies?

Habby items are usually sold by fabric & sewing shops. A Google search for “haberdashery near me” will bring up all your local merchants, it’s a great way to support local small businesses!

And if there’s not one near to you then we’re here to help! Our online sewing superstore has a HUGE range of haberdashery items & we ship sewing supplies not only throughout the UK, but worldwide too.

We know that sometimes buying sewing supplies online can be daunting. What if the colours don’t match?! Colours CAN be off when buying from a screen – we totally get this… There’s nothing more annoying than ordering a thread to match your fabric from screen, only to have it arrive and it’s totally off. 
We have a service available as standard to eliminate any matchy matchy stress! We offer a free colour match service. Just order what you *think* matches then leave us a comment in the notes field at checkout asking us to check that your colours match. If they don’t – we’ll swap them for you – simples!

And if when your new haberdashery items arrive they’re not right, we also offer Free UK Returns

About Us

Plush Addict is a local, family run business started by myself and Mr.Plush (Hubbydasherer) over 9 years ago. We’ve grown from a bedroom business selling cloth nappy supplies to having one of the best stocked haberdasheries in the country!  

We stock a huge range of both fabric & haberdashery and we strive to be a one stop shop for your sewing projects.

We hope you found this insightful and learnt a little more about the history of haberdashery.

If you stumbled here looking for some sewing bits, head on over to our website to shop all things haberdashery and fabric!

Follow Plush Addict on social media and keep an eye out for more tutorials!

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