Friends have asked me that from time to time and, at Anne’s suggestion, I decided to do a post about it. Timely as yesterday I had a bit of a fabric shopping spree. Your two basic choices are online and in person. Although I know many people worry about buying fabric online because the color might not be what they were expecting and they can’t touch it I have only ever had two experiences where something didn’t turn out quite right and one of those times I hadn’t bought the fabric (both times involved the color red, so maybe that’s difficult to match?) Here are the sites I favor:
Hawthorne Threads: I like this site because it is a beautifully made site. They carry all the chi chi and in vogue fabric designers and pretty much everything is $9.95 a yard. They have a great weekly newsletter that makes you drool over what’s new in the shop (and every week I enter the giveaway and have yet to win.) Two things I especially like about them: 1. the color grid. Want to browse some chartreuse fabric? Click on the color grid and there are all the fabrics they have in that palette. It makes online browsing and coveting a dream. I use pinterest to pin fabrics I like. This is how I chose the fabric for my kimono bathrobe. 2. for each fabric they show pictures/links to handmade items using the fabric. So theoretically I could post my kimono to go with the fabric. It really does give you a good idea of how a fabric will look when made up into something. Also, I have purchased “mystery bags” (I forget what they are really called) from here-a collection of remnants and scraps for a reasonable amount. A total surprise what you might get, but I’ve gotten some very fun bits and pieces this way and since I do like to use scraps in things, a useful way to add to my stash (and some of the remnants were quite large.)
Fabric.Com: a very comprehensive and large site. They have frequent and terrific sales. I once bought some pricey delicate voile and it arrived with a rip in the fabric. The customer service when I called about it could not have been better and the fabric was immediately replaced. My very first online fabric purchase was here and there was a slight mix up in my order which was also immediately resolved in a friendly manner. I think of fabric.com as being a combination of Hawthorne Threads + Jo-Ann Fabric-they pretty much have everything. They also have a design wall feature which is nice and allows you to see lots of different things together and then order from the wall. I have found that occasionally their online colors are not as true as Hawthorne Threads’ are, but overall I’ve been very pleased with purchases from here. Free shipping over $35.
Fat Quarter Shop: They also have a nice selection of trendy lovely fabrics, with an emphasis on “jelly rolls” and “charm packs”-fabric collections pre-cut into squares or strips. Sometimes they have yardage. I have bought a few charm packs from here-I think they’re fun, a good way to sample a collection, and not a bad value. In fact, I have a Christmas one waiting for me to do something with it!
Sew Mama Sew: They have a great blog and also an online shop. They have patterns (I won one once!) and fabrics. I’ve only purchased a couple of times from here, but the packaging was lovely and I was pleased with what I got.
I’ve also ordered once or twice from random other sites, including The Fabric Fairy (their site has changed since I used it, but I believe it still has an emphasis on knit fabrics and has a huge selection of them) and Hart’s Fabrics (who had amazing customer service on the phone-helping me select a fabric by looking at the stuff for me in person.)
Now, as for in person. Wherever you live you are probably lucky enough to have a Jo-Ann’s near you. Alas, that is not the case here. The nearest one is 35-40 minutes away. Which is a real drag because it would be so convenient to have it nearby. As it is I end up keeping a list of notions I might need and fabrics I might need and then doing a gigantic expensive all at once trip, as I did yesterday. I can’t just say “Oh I wish I had a half yard of some green fabric to finish off this apron” because it’s a big trip. I do really like Jo-Ann’s-especially the big rainbow wall of calicos and the extensive trims section. I would go there every day if I could. Also in my radius:
Walmart. I shudder to even write that, but the fact is that if I need thread or a button or zipper, that’s where I have to go. There is never anyone there to cut the fabric, but I have occasionally bought fabric there. A further away Walmart (30 min.) used to have a pretty good selection, but the one closest to me has a very wee selection.
FabricLand. The name is super, it’s the fabric store of my youth. My bridal veil comes from there. My mother bought many yards of fabric to make me clothes there. They have a nice apparel collection as well as specialty bridal stuff, but they no longer seem to carry quilting cotton in any great supply, so even though it’s closest to me (30 min.) I rarely go there. They do have a smashing button and trims selection, though.
PQW (Pennington Quilt Works). A fancy and somewhat expensive quilt shop about 30 min. away that carries basically the stuff Hawthorne Threads does. I have bought many lovely fabrics here and the customer service is delightful. It’s probably good that it’s not closer because I’d spend a fortune there.
Other resources: once I got a bolt of navy blue fabric off of Freecycle! And I never say no when anyone offers to give me stuff from their stash. All this has led to me having a pretty large stash of my own. And while I do make things out of smaller pieces-jewelry rolls, scrap things, embellishments, zippered bags-the fact is I do need to buy yardage to make aprons. And that’s what I’m mostly making now and trying to gear up to get a good inventory going for this craft fair in November (and if it doesn’t sell there, well then into an Etsy shop.) Since it’s in November I have to have some Christmas items:
And I had some leftover cupcake fabric, but needed to get something to go with it. I chose a pink polka dot, but as I laid out all these fabrics discovered that the tiny brown pindot fabric would also look good:
In fact, I found several lovely things that went together that I hadn’t necessarily intended:
I had to buy a full two yards of this cherry print because who wouldn’t want an apron made out of it? Especially with the red gingham ruffle?
Planning the aprons putting fabrics together and then the trims, is really my favorite part of sewing. I love choosing colors and prints that are fun and pretty together.
I’m feeling excited about making and selling these wares, though I am super aware of how much I spent on fabric and how I need to earn that back! I’ll also be selling some notecards and I’m pretty excited by the logo that I made for myself: