Online Fabric Shopping Tips

Online Fabric BuyingMaybe this post should be titled, “An Alternative to Jo-Ann Fabrics.” I’ve gotten so many comments about J0-Ann Fabrics, and sewers are hopeful that the new ownership will decrease the real estate given over to home dec items and improve the quality of fabrics. So, I thought I’d pass on some information for buying online.
A number of readers commented that they are already buying primarily online. There was a recent Burda Style article about online fabric buying. The bottom line is to take time educate yourself about various fabric types and to take advantage of the swatch programs that the reputable companies offer. You don’t want to be surprised in the mailbox. Here are my suggestions for educating yourself: 1. Use your local poor fabric shop to begin the process and use the nicer shops that allow samples to build a library. 2. Ask an older sewer or relative who is fashionable or used to sew. 3. Ask at a higher-end consignment clothing shop. The shop girls might only be into fashion, but they might also be fashion students or have a special interest in fabric. Want to learn more about selecting fabric? Buy or order these books at the library:
More Fabric Savvy by Sandra Betzina
Complete Photo Guide to Sewing by Singer, or any “old-school” book on sewing (Readers’ Digest also has a version)
Fabric Sewing Guide by Claire Shaeffer

And here is the Burda Style article on online fabric buying, which describes how the product descriptions can help you decide between fabrics for your project. The article is worth saving to your favorites. Let me know if you’ve tried any of the shops or are tempted to — just leave a comment below.

Personally, I’m not sure that J0-Ann’s new owners will listen to their customers. First, Jo-Ann’s is a debt-free company, which made it an attractive buy for Leonard Green. Second, sewing is so popular right now, especially among young people who might not know quality, that profits are likely good or “good enough.”


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