Monday, February 06, 2012

A little lesson on fabric...


I often receive emails from my readers inquiring about the fabric I've used. I occasionally buy less expensive fabric at local stores like Hobby Lobby or Hancock Fabrics, but when I want a better quality designer fabric I always buy online. One of my favorite online sources is Fabric.com. This online store has fabrics of all types, but I love browsing their quilting fabric section.


For those who may not know the difference between a good quality 100% cotton quilting fabric and a less-expensive cotton fabric here's the scoop:

Quality Quilting Fabric...
A quality quilting fabric is 100% cotton and is firmly and closely woven. If you hold it up to the light you won't be able to see through it very well because of the close and even weave. It will feel "smooth." There won't be variations in the weave or lumps in the threads. A quality quilting fabric has a well-known designer label on the selvage. I've found it repels dirt better than a less expensive fabric because of its tighter weave. In my opinion these quality fabrics have more contemporary designs and are {in plain terms} prettier! These fabrics are about $9-$11 a yard. Below is an example of a bag I made with a quality quilting fabric...


Lesser Quality Cotton...
An inexpensive cotton may feel thicker and stiff to the touch. This is because sizing is added to the fabric during processing, which makes inexpensive fabric look better when sold. Once the fabric is washed and used it will become limp. It has a looser weave and often the colors are not as crisp or vibrant. Lower quality fabric will have greater shrinkage. The regular price of a less expensive cotton is around $6/yard. The Snappy Bag I made below is an example of something made with a less-expensive cotton fabric...


I tend to use the more expensive fabrics, but both fabrics can work well depending upon the project.  If you are going to make a craft item that you might not want to keep for a long time or one that will have little wear and tear, the less expensive fabric might work well for this purpose. If you are going to make an item that will get a lot of wear or one that you would like to enjoy for years, you might want to use top quality quilting fabrics like the ones below...

{Fabrics, l to r: Hope Valley Four Square Piney Woods Green; Lola's Posies Whimsy Leaf Green; 
Lola's Posies Blue; Ty Pennington Impressions Foliage Chartreuse; & Ty Pennington Impressions Kimono Grey}

Just to be clear...
This is not a paid advertisement -- just some advice from mwaaaa.
The good news is that Fabric.com has quality quilting fabric for less. By signing up for their emails you can receive updates on sales that might interest you. I always take advantage of their free shipping and handling with orders over $35 -- and, of course, there is no sales tax! All great reasons to make a purchase. Because Fabric.com is such a huge store, I've found it to have a wider selection of fabrics than other online stores.

{Fabrics, l to r: Moda Half Moon Modern Leaves Aqua/White; Hope Valley Thistle Leaf Piney Woods Green; 
Lola's Posies Polka Dot Green; Wildwood Buttons Olive; Wildwood Sophie's Garden Green; 
Wildwood Modern Vine Lime; & Wildwood Wallflower Green.}

The other day I bought nine yards of designer fabric for $55 at Fabric.com. {If you do the math, that is a great price for designer fabric!}  I took advantage of a fabulous sale, qualified for free shipping and handling, and, of course, no sales tax...

Fabrics l to r: Michael Miller Peacock Lane Falling Flowers Red; Michael Miller Peacock Lane Sprinkle Dots Pink; 
Lola's Posies Polka Dot Pink; Lola's Posies Pink; California Dreamin Bedega Bay Pink; & California Dreamin Malibu Pink.}

I can't wait to put some of these fabrics to good use. I hope this post was helpful. There are many great online fabric sources. I've probably used at least 20 of them and never had a bad experience. Just wanted to let you know about my favorite online store. If you can recommend a favorite online fabric store that you've used, please list it in a comment below!

15 comments:

Sandy said...

This was very helpful, thanks so much! :)

Diane Merritt said...

I get a lot of pre-cuts, jelly rolls, layer cakes etc. from Green Fairy quilts - they seem to always have a sale going on. I love good fabric!!!

Sharon Dawn said...

I think your point about the quality of your fabric is important! I have had people tell me they bought the same fabric (some fabrics come in more than one quality line) as mine at a cheaper price, then were disappointed in the finished project. If you are going to take the time to make a piece of art, the quality of your materials makes a difference!

Waiting for a sale can get those lower prices for a higher quality fabric!

Jess said...

Super helpful as a beginner sewer. I will take lots more notice next time I am out fabric shopping and may try online too.

Cindy said...

Wow, that is all great to know. Here in Australia though, we have to pay between $20 - $30 per yard for good quality fabric. You ladies have it very good in the US. And most online fabric shops of course wont honour 'free shipping' deals for overseas.

Connie said...

A very good point about the difference in fabrics. Your snappy bag is so cute, I can't wait to make one!

grammajudyb said...

You are correct of course regarding good quality fabric. I suggest supporting your Local Quilt Store as often as possible. They are there, no shipping and you can have it right away.
You probably should check with your sales tax department in the state where you live. Our state requires that if I buy online, I still need to submit the required sales tax to the state department of revenue. Unless the online store you purchase from is licensed to collect tax for your state and they have included the sales tax in the price of the item,the law is the law. Of course, not everyone obeys this law, and the state cannot enforce it, but as a law abiding citizen who supports my state I follow this law. Just FYI

cjn said...

Great explanation...would make a nice link in my Etsy shop to explain why my goods may cost more than others. Unfortunately, though, I have had to stop using Fabric.com. While their prices are definitely the best around, I have had three orders in the past two months take over a week and a half to be shipped. Their customer service hasn't been the best, either. I have started paying more for better service elsewhere (Hawthrone Threads, The Intrepid Thread).

Suzanne said...

cjn - I agree with you in that fabric.com has areas where they can improve. For me, they need to package their fabric better when shipping (it often comes folded sloppily and it isn't enclosed in plastic.) Other than that I've always had a good experience with them. One time they sent one piece of the wrong fabric, so I called customer service and they said to keep the one that I hadn't ordered and immediately sent out the correct fabric, so my experience with their customer service has been good. I've never heard of having to pay taxes for online purchases that don't require you to...I tried to look it up online to see if Colorado had that law and couldn't find anything -- How would you know that you need to pay taxes?

I used to shop very frequently at two local fabric stores, but one has gone out of business and the other NEVER has sales. I'd rather wait a little while for my fabric and get it at a lower cost. Don't think because "shipping" isn't listed on the receipt of your local fabric store that you don't pay for shipping. You do. And you always pay for tax when you buy local! ;o)

Barbara said...

I love Fabric.com too. Recently I needed 9 yards for a back. I found something perfect there for $2.98 per yard. Such a deal!

Ricochet said...

I pinned this post. Great info! thanks!

Melinda said...

Not the originator of the tax comment, but my state (Michigan) also has that law. It's a line on your state income taxes that you have to report all internet goods purchased without tax over $10, and pay your sales taxes in with your income taxes.

Laura said...

My closest shop is an hour away, northwest of me and I wouldn't shop there even if you paid me. Everyone working at that store are NASTY, beginning with the owner, employees and the teachers.
It not only happened to me but, to my daughter and some friends, so it's not me.
I don't know how she does any business at all.
Even Joann's is an hour away and they DON'T carry quality quilting fabric.
All the other shops are a lot further away. On-line is, I guess, the only way to go for me here on Miami Beach.
Thanks for your information, it has been very useful.

jsf creations said...

wish upon a quilt is my favorite. The selection is not as good as fabric.com, but for the fabrics it does have, the are usually a better price. And, the do have lots to choose from!

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

Thanks for this post.
I have hesitated to buy fabric on line. I have a need to see and feel fabric in person. I get the F.C newsletters, but have hesitated. Based on your review, I'll give them a try.
Have a great weekend.