New fabrics store owner ‘feels blessed’ as she opens for business

Ipswich grandmother Lydia Tyson, owner of Lydia's Fabrics at Stonham Barns Park

Ipswich grandmother Lydia Tyson, owner of Lydia's Fabrics at Stonham Barns Park near Debenham - Credit: Keith Suffling

A grandmother inspired to move to Suffolk by hit TV show Escape to the Country has launched her own fabrics shop.

Seamstress’s daughter Lydia Tyson moved to Ipswich this year and decided to set up a shop at Stonham Barns Park near Debenham after her friend took her there for a coffee.

The grandmother of seven — who is originally from the Bahamas — came to the UK in 1991 and worked as an auxiliary nursing assistant in Hackney in London before moving to Worthing in West Sussex with her family.

“I had seen Suffolk on Escape to the Country and my friend was showing me properties around Ipswich and she brought me to Stonham Barns Park which gave me the idea for the location of my shop,” said the mother of four.

Ms Tyson has been matching people to fabrics for the last 20 years, having sold ethnic goods at local markets as a hobby. The hobby developed into a fabric supply business when a fellow-stallholder offered her two of his fabric stalls to run. 

She supplied schools with fabrics for plays and dressing up days, theatres with costumes and a college with fabrics for its creative design students. Her largest customer of all bought fabrics for historic re-enactment days to make replica costumes including tabards, dresses, coats and cloaks.

“I have always loved matching people with the fabrics they need, whatever it is for,” she said. “It’s all about sourcing the most practical and beautiful fabrics and then helping customers to make decisions about their creative projects.”

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Her new specialist shop stocks fabrics from designer dress materials to Irish linens and upholstery fabrics.

“I can be working to find the right silks for a customer’s dress one day and plaids and cottons for home interior projects the next,” she said.

“Everything from blackout fabrics and table protectors to something beautiful with glitter overlays for a dinner dance or prom. Two days are never the same and it’s what I love doing and so it hardly feels like work at all.”

She says that she has enjoyed the change in pace since moving to Suffolk and meeting new people.

“I feel blessed to have moved to Suffolk for a quieter pace of life and I enjoy everything about spending time here. When I moved here I only had one friend living in the county but know I am meeting people all the time and feel like I have made the right move for me. I love the country walks around Suffolk and I feel like I belong here already,” she said.