The question I get asked the most when I’m selling at craft sales, and when people hear I sew is “Where do you buy your fabric?”. You’d think, living in a large city would mean lots of really great, affordable fabric stores but unfortunately that’s not case. I’ve heard good things about a couple of smaller quilt shops in Calgary but non of them are near the area of the city I live in and lets be honest, I don’t really want to take kids to the fabric store regardless of how near, or far it is.
This means that I buy about 90% of my fabrics online. The only big exception to that are the solid fleece fabrics I use on my Baby Booties which I buy at Fabricland. So far they seem to carry the best quality of solid fleece fabrics that I’ve found anywhere.
So where do I buy my fabric?
I would guess that around 70% of the fabrics I buy are from fabric.com I kind of have a love hate relationship with fabric.com but it’s the most convenient place for me to source supplies. It’s a give and take. The pros fall in the line of most affordable, largest selection, and fairly quick delivery time. Note that I said delivery time, not shipping time. Fabric.com is horrendous for shipping your order quickly. It used to be better, but in the last year I’ve found that it’s a solid week to ten days from when I order to when it’s shipped. Thankfully once it has shipped it’s usually at my door by late afternoon.
Another pro to fabric.com is that they tend to carry a fabric print for a lot longer than most places. That means that when I make a bag, dress, or pair of booties that sell really well I can be fairly confident that I’ll be able to keep that item stocked for a long time. I also love that they carry a wide selection of notions and patterns so I can get the majority of my supplies delivered to my door. Another bonus is their large selection of organic cotton, which can be next to impossible to find at our local big fabric chain, Fabricland.
Customer service at fabric.com can be either really good, or really bad. I’ve had excellent service when I received a wrong item, and I’ve had terrible service more than once in regards to items being out of stock that I had ordered. All in all I’d say they do not have reliably good customer services, but they do have their moments.
All my waxed canvas comes from A.L. Francis Designs on Etsy. The quality is fantastic, prices are really good, and I’ve been more than happy with shipping times and customer service.
When I’m looking for something a little more unique I browse Etsy for fabric shops. There’s a great mix of small fabric shops, and gorgeous hand printed fabrics available so it’s usually where I go to splurge on something really nice.
I haven’t ordered through Spoonflower very often, but when I have I’ve been very happy. My favorite part is that when I’m ordereing fabric I’m also supporting an independent fabric designer and that always makes me happy. I very recently purchased some fabric from a Calgary local designer, Tara Put and I look forward to turning her gorgeous designs into a bag.
Thrift stores are a fabulous place to buy fabric. Sometimes you’re not successful in finding usable, great fabrics, but when you do it’s so worth it. The prices can’t be beat, and you can feel good about using fabric that might otherwise have been thrown out.
Of course with finding great fabric shops, you also sometimes don’t have the best experiences either. Here’s are some thoughts on places I most likely won’t buy from again.
I’ve been continually disappointed with the quality of the knits I’ve ordered from Girl Charlee. Often the fabric fades and pills quite quickly. Aside from that, I have ordered from them a lot in the past. I was a big fan of their bargain lot sales as the prices were unbeatable, and the slightly flawed bundles were great for using to sew either a new pattern or clothes for the kids. A few months ago however, they stopped shipping the bargain lots outside of the USA. That kind of rubbed me the wrong way so I really can’t see myself purchasing from them again.
Where do you purchase your fabrics? Do you have any amazing shops to add to my compiled list?