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Archive for the ‘fabric shop reviews’ Category

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I had time to check out a couple fabric stores while traveling the past couple of weeks. All of the above fabrics were found in the sale section of New England Fabrics in Keene, New Hampshire.

The easiest way to describe this fabric shop is an independently owned Jo-Ann Fabrics. It’s not affiliated with Jo-Ann’s in any way that’s just what it reminded me of. The quilting fabric selection had a lot of novelty prints and mostly brightly colored fabrics. There was also a small selection of Michael Miller fabrics. In addition to quilting weight fabric they also stock apparel and home decorator fabric, notions, yarn, and a small book selection. I was excited to finally get to see Block Party in person! I didn’t purchase the book nor had I intended to but I’ve been curious enough to want to flip through it. If you aren’t familiar with the concept the book talks about the modern quilting bee movement and gives instructions on how to make the 12 quilts these ladies made during their bee. It’s a novel concept for a quilting book but none of the patterns really spoke to me.

The only thing I found that I really wanted to purchase at New England Fabrics came from the large sale section. I’ve seen all three of these fabrics online but didn’t want them enough to pay full price. For sale prices from $2.99 to $5.99 a yard I literally could not say no! I have no clue what I will do with them but for the price I’m happy to keep them in my stash.

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TH and I went up to MA last weekend to search for vintage finds but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to check out another quilt shop (it’s a sickness I know). The Fabric Stash was only 20 minutes away from Sturbridge, Massachusetts (where we were staying for the night) and is described as

“It is the largest independently owned and operated fabric store in Worcester County (central) Massachusetts. We carry a wide variety of fabrics including cotton, fleece, home d├ęcor (many Waverly in stock), upholstery and clothing (including Silks, Wools and several other clothing fabrics). We also have a selection of notions, buttons, books, patterns, yarn & knitting supplies, trims, gifts and much more!”

I figured the largest independently owned and operated fabric store in central Massachusetts was definitely a must see. I didn’t remember until we got there that I had already been to this particular fabric store before. It is large based on square footage and floor space, much of which is devoted to a sewing/class space (roughly 1/3- 1/2 of the total space). And as advertised they have a large selection of upholstery fabrics which I have no interest in. What was there of regular quilting weight fabric was not my particular style. But I did manage to find one of the Ghastlie prints!

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I realize that the variety of non-quilting fabrics and the amount of space devoted to sewing and classes is an attempt to broaden their profit capabilities. I understand and respect their need to make a living and think the variety of services they offer is cool if unusual for a fabric shop. But as someone that is simply passing through what really matters to me is the type and variety of quilt fabrics.

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And it seems (Ghastlie print aside) that my taste in fabric is not the same as the person buying for the shop.

Price:

I had sticker shock when the lady rang up my half yard of fabric at over $6 with taxes. That makes a yard of quilting cotton $12! I used to buy strictly online when the cost of a yard of fabric was about $8 then the price slowly crept up to $9-$10 a yard which was what I was paying at brick and mortar shops. So I stopped purchasing online and spent most of my money at local quilt shops. But now that prices at local quilt shops are $11-$12 a yard the $8-$9.50 a yard online seems like a steal!

Fat Quarters:

A somewhat sad selection, it was reasonably sized by consisted of prints that I don’t particularly care for.

Customer Service:

There were a lot of people in the shop working on various projects and it took the woman working the counter a minute to stop what she was doing and help me. She was friendly though and even gave me a small handsewn fabric bag to take my fabric home in. I thought that was a great touch and the perfect use for a fabric that they had small pieces of or wasn’t selling particularly well.

I doubt I will stop by here again. It just didn’t carry my style of quilting fabric and while they have a wide selection of other items I don’t have a need for them. I don’t know about you but I prefer to buy notions, batting, thread, and even books during a Joann Fabric sale or with one of their easy to find 40% coupons.

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Since I travel so frequently for work I have the opportunity to check out fabric shops all over the northeastern United States but I’ve been remiss in posting about them. This week I went to Quilted Threads in Henniker, New Hampshire. It was about an hour out of my way but I had seen it mentioned in a recent quilt magazine as a place to find “modern fabrics.” I had actually stopped trying to find quilt shops during my travels because so many of the ones I had gone out of my way to check out had been full of “traditional fabrics” that I would never use. The magazine article (and I must apologize I don’t remember which one it was) included some photos of the inside of the store and it looked pretty promising.

Selection:

I was astounded when I first walked in by the selection of Japanese craft and sewing books (about a dozen of them, some translated to English and some in Japanese) as well as the Sashiko kits and sashiko thread. The fabric selection was nicely varied. While there was a large selection of what I consider more “traditional” fabric motifs and manufacturers there was also a wide variety of modern designers and a variety of types of fabric. I was thrilled to see a nice selection of new and old Echino prints and five or six solids. They also had a number of voiles- Tula Pink and Anna Maria Horner. They had a decent selection of solids- as large or larger than most brick and mortar fabric shops. I guess the one thing that I thought was a bit lacking was their selection of home decorator weight fabrics. They did have lamininated cottons and suprisingly they had three of the new super wide Melody Miller prints. Unfortunately they didn’t have the large bee print which I’ve been dying to see in person…

Pricing:

Pricing was varied because they carried so many different types of fabric. I didn’t look at the solids so I’m not sure what they cost but the standard quilting weight fabrics were around $10 a yard and voiles, Echino, and the few home decorator weights went up to almost $20 a yard.

Fat Quarters:

In some sections there were baskets of fat quarters and along one wall there were shelves of them. I prefer my fat quarters to be organized all by color or all by collection but they seemed to organize the fat quarters differently on different parts of the shelves. It also looked like the fat quarters were mostly prints they no longer carried yardage of.

Customer Service:

I didn’t buy anything (shocking I know) but a couple of ladies asked me if they could help. The only thing that suprised me a bit was when a lady asked if she could put a stack of bolts down on the cutting table and at first the woman working there wasn’t going to let her. Allowing customers to stack fabric is a pretty common practice for fabric shops as it encourages customers to buy more. If you have to schlep three bolts of fabric around you aren’t likely to keep shopping or want to pick up and carry around more. The worker did eventually make room and allow the customer to leave the stack but it was still odd.

What I like about brick and mortar fabric shops is that they often have fabrics in stock that have long since sold out of the online shops. The downside is that their inventory is much slower to turn over so I doubt I’ll go back again any time soon. I didn’t buy anything because I didn’t see any “must haves” and what with the economy being what it is I’m trying to restrict my buying. But I did see plenty of “like to haves” and if I was making more in commission I certainly would have purchased a few yards if for no other reason than to support a local quilt shop that is so obviously trying to cater to “modern” quilters.

If you are going to be in the area it’s definitely worth a bit of a drive.

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I’m not sure how I’ve just found out about Quilt Home since their selection is right up my alley but I’m sure I’ll be purchasing from them quite a bit in the future.

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While the price per yard of traditional quilting weight cotton is a bit higher than I would like to pay where Quilt Home excels is their selection of non quilting weight fabrics. They have a fabulous selection of home decorator weight fabric, laminates, flannel, fleece, cordouroy and knits that I have not seen at any of my other go-to online fabric stores. While they don’t sell Kona Cottons they do sell a decent selection of shot cottons (my personal favorite solid fabric).

Selection:

Quilt Home aims to meet all your modern fabric buying needs so they stock all the most popular designers and all the most popular collections. In and of itself that isn’t hard to find, where they excel is all the supplementary collections that designers come out with in laminates, fleece, flannel etc. Many of these collections are hard to find especially this wide of a variety. I don’t know about you but I will rarely buy 1 yard or 1 print from an online store, I just don’t think the cost of shipping is worth it. To justify spending my money a shop needs to have a couple “must haves” and Quilt Home does that perfectly.

Price by the Yard:

1 yard of quilting weight cotton = $8.95
1 yard of home decorator weight cotton = $13.95
1 yard of flannel fabric = $9.95
1 yard of laminate fabric = $19.00

Like I said before the cost per yard of the quilting weight cotton is more than I usually pay but all of the yardage costs are competitive with most online fabric shops.

Shipping:

Right now they are offering free shipping for orders over $50 shipping within the U.S. It doesn’t look like this is a limited time special so perhaps it is a permanent perk.

You can find the rest of their shipping prices here.

Communication:

They have a newsletter with coupon codes (always a plus in my mind) but you can also get coupon codes off their homepage. They don’t have a blog but you can follow them on Twitter. I’m not sure what they post on Twitter since I don’t tweet.

I heard about Quilt Home on an online forum and I’m really glad I decided to hop over and check them out. Their selection of non quilting weight fabrics is really hard to beat!

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The biggest gripe I have with most online fabric shops is the fact that they don’t sell fat quarters! I personally find myself drawn to, and thus want to create, quilts that have a lot of different fabrics. I’m only two plus years into this hobby and one of the cheapest and most effective ways to get variety in my stash is to purchase fat quarters, when I can that is.

Lucky for me (and you) there is the Fat Quarter Shop.

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Selection:

The selection relies heavily on Moda and although it is called the “Fat Quarter Shop” they don’t actually sell fat quarters of all their fabrics. :( What they specialize in is fat quarter bundles of various collections as well as all the whole spectrum of precuts that Moda has to offer. On one hand this means I can get a fat quarter bundle of most of the hip, new collections, on the other I don’t usually want to purchase every single print in a collection and would prefer the ability to purchase individual fat quarters. The smallest cut you can purchase of an individual fabric is 1/2 yard. Although their primary focus seems to be Moda they also sell some of the most popular fabric collections from other manufacturers like Free Spirit, Alexander Henry, Michael Miller, and Riley Blake to name a few.

They do offer some unique features such as the ability to view the “top sellers” and fabrics that are “almost gone.” I love the idea of both since I don’t know about every single fabric line that has come out and seeing what everyone else is buying gives me an idea of what’s out there and popular. The almost gone section lets you know if you need to purchase something now before it goes out of stock. You can also shop by collection, designer and theme which is cool although I really wish they (and other fabric shops) would allow you to shop by color. Finally the Fat Quarter Shop offers a whole variety of fat quarter clubs, block of the month clubs, quilt kits, and exclusive quilt patterns.

Price by the Yard:

-1 yard cuts cost between $8.50 and $9.50
- Fat Quarter bundles depend on tne number of prints varying from $30 to $100

The price by the yard is steep for an online shop and I would only purchase yardage here if I couldn’t find it anywhere else but the fat quarter bundles are reasonably priced and you can’t find most of them elsewhere.

Shipping:

“All orders placed before 3 pm CST will be shipped the same business day unless notified otherwise. If orders are placed on a weekend or holiday, they will be shipped the next business day.

All UPS Ground orders to the contiguous US are upgraded to 3 business day shipping at no additional charge.
Every product shown on our website is currently in stock and can be shipped today unless noted.

If you’d like your package shipped on a certain date or a certain way, just let us know, we are happy to fulfill your request!”

Communication:

They have a newsletter which I subscribed to a month or so ago. It’s nice but since this shop features Moda heavily and I don’t like most Moda lines I only browse the newsletter for discount notifcations. They also have a blog, and again if you like a lot of Moda lines then you will like the blog. They feature various fabric lines, show different projects etc. and it looks like they blog pretty regularly which is always cool. A neat feature are the email notifications you can sign up for to find out when certain things come in stock (which is how I snapped up this fat quarter bundle of Dream On)

This was the first time I’ve ever purchased a fat quarter bundle or a charm pack and I’ve yet to use either. I’m not sure that I’m a fan of precuts, to me the appeal is that you can get every print in a line at a reasonable price because you are getting smaller cuts. However, I don’t often make quilts using only one fabric line and I don’t often love an entire fabric line. I would be much more likely to shop here if they offered fat quarters of individual prints versus bundles but the large variety of fabric collections and products is appealing.

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I do most of my fabric shopping online for a couple of reasons. There aren’t any fabric shops that I like within 30 minutes of me and brick and mortar shops often charge $10 a yard for the same fabric I could buy at $8 a yard online. And yes I understand and respect the reasons brick and mortar shops charge those prices but it doesn’t mean I can afford them. One of the exceptions to my online shopping is Quilting Adventures in Richmond, Virginia. They are somewhat on the way to my Dad’s and right next to a resteraunt I love so every third or so trip down to Virginia I’ll make a point to stop by.

Selection:

The plethora of modern designers and various types of fabric is what first attracted me to Quilting Adventures. My first time in there I spent well over $100 mostly on Japanese prints and heavier home dec fabric that I can rarely find online or elsewhere. I also like the fact that brick and mortar shops will have fabric that you can’t find online anymore, it’s like going on a treasure hunt!

Price by the Yard:

This varies depending on the type of fabric but it’s about $10 to $15. Steep compared to online prices but on par with most brick and mortar shops. But for Japanese prints it’s a deal because you don’t have to pay shipping and their selection is as good as some online shops.

They do have a customer reward program. I can’t remember how much you have to spend but I do know it’s a couple hundred dollars to get a “free yard.” The certificate is worth $11 so it won’t cover the cost of a yard of home dec fabric or the japanese prints but it comes close.

Fat Quarters/ Quarter Yards:

They have a HUGE selection of fat quarters. I don’t think they have fat quarters of every single fabric they carry but they come pretty close. My last trip I spent $50 on fat quarters alone.

Customer Service:

Every time I’ve been in the shop the ladies have been super welcoming and helpful. You can tell they enjoy their jobs and they enjoy working with fabric. They also offer a wide variety of classes that I wish I could take advantage of for beginners up to more advanced sewists.

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If you put a gun to my head and said I could only buy fabric from one shop then I would have to choose Hawthorne Threads. I’ve been a customer since they were known as Fabric Supplies on Etsy and the move to their own web shop has only improved their offerings!

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Selection:

The wide selection of modern designers (well known and newcomers) was what originally drew me to Hawthorne Threads. It is after all an online store and one of my goals when purchasing fabric online is to save on shipping by shopping at as few shops as possible. They are also constantly getting in new fabric which is of course good and bad. Good because there is always something new to check out and bad for that same reason ;). Their selection focuses on the most well known of the modern fabric designers but they also carry a decent selection of Japanese prints and couple lesser known but up and coming designers. Many times they will carry the full line in all the color ways for the first stocking but after that they only restock the most popular prints (that’s just good business sense).

A couple cool features they have are the ability to search by color and hue as well as coordinating fabrics from the same line and a print in other colorways from the same fabric line. They also have a changing set of fabrics on the front page from different lines that coordinate well.

They have a very small selection of solid fabrics which is disappointing for me but I understand that it would be hard for them to offer a large selection and still keep inventory managable and make a profit.

Price by the Yard:

This is one of my other favorite features of Hawthorne Threads. Instead of a flat price for regular fabric and a second price for sale fabric they have tiered pricing based on all the fabric you have ordered from them in the past and how much fabric you are purchasing on a single order.

” Order Yardage Discount per yard
3+ Yards 25 cents
15+ Yards 35 cents
40+ Yards 50 cents

Order History Discount per yard
40+ Yards 15 cents
100+ Yards 25 cents
400+ Yards 50 cents

On an order of 3 yards (25 cent discount per yard),
where you have previously purchased 45 yards (15 cent discount per yard),
you would receive a 40 cent discount per yard in your order.
Fabric listed at $8.00 would be discounted to $7.60 per yard.”

We won’t discuss how much of a discount I get in case anyone I know is reading this and decides to stage a
fabric buying intervention ;)

Shipping:

These are the shipping rate for the U.S. but you can find the rest here.

“Whether you’re a manufacturer or a home sewer (or both as the case may be!) we pride ourselves on our fast shipping, so you are sure to receive your order as soon as possible. We make every effort to ship orders the same day they are placed.

Based on medium weight / quilting fabric that is 44″ wide 1/2 Yard USPS First Class $2.00
1 Yard USPS First Class $2.25
1 1/2 Yards USPS First Class $3.00
2 Yards USPS First Class $3.50
2 1/8 Yards – 9 Yards USPS Priority (Flat Rate Envelope) $4.80
9 1/8 Yards – 30 Yards USPS Priority (Flat Rate Box) $10.35
30 1/8 Yards – 40 Yards USPS Priority (Flat Rate Large Box) $13.95
(Tracking and delivery confirmation included)

USPS Express Mail is also available, up to 6 yards ships for $17.50.

Shipping Delivery Estimates USPS First Class 2 – 5 Business Days
USPS Priority 2 – 3 Business Days
USPS Express 1 – 2 Business Days

Signature Confirmation is available for $1.95
Insurance on your package is available for $2.50″

Their shipping rates are pretty standard and while I appreciate them maximizing the amount of fabric they can get into the flat rate envelopes sometimes it’s just too much and the envelope will arrive busting apart. Since the fabric comes wrapped in tissue paper I’ve never had the fabric stained or damaged in anyway but the potential is there.

Fat Quarters or Quarter Yards:

From the business perspective I understand why shops don’t offer these but as a hobby sewer I find this frustrating. Hawthorne threads does offer fat quarter bundles or some fabric lines by colorway but that’s it. And although they feature a collection of prints from various designers on the front page they don’t offer a fat quarter bundle of those prints together. The smallest cut of a single fabric you can order is a 1/2 yard but once the cuts get above 1 yard then you can get 1 1/4, 1 3/8, 1 1/2 etc so to me if you are selling 1/4 yards at that point why can’t you sell 1/4 yards as the smallest cut? However this is a pretty common practice in online shops.

Communication:

This is the third area I think Hawthorne Threads really excels. They have a blog and a newsletter to keep their customer up to date. You can also sign up for notifications when a particular line or even a particular print arrives. This is particularly helpful when you are looking for a single fabric from a line and don’t want to keep having to check back. They also post their current stockage online when you pull up a fabric so you know then if the stockage is low or very high and can decide when and how much you want to order.

Overall this is a fabulous shop run by an amazing couple who are incredibly helpful. If you haven’t checked them out I highly recommend you do so.

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Kona Cotton, originally uploaded by Indie House.

The second shop up in my review of online fabric shops is the Fabric Shack. I’m planning on making a new quilt for my bedroom but when I started pricing it out I realized it was far to expensive to make a queen sized quilt from patterned fabric. Instead of going to create this quilt using a variety of solid fabrics. It won’t pop as much but it will still be beautiful and I think compliment our room more.

Selection:

One of the two main reasons I decided to purchase from the Fabric Shack was their extensive selection of Kona Cotton Solids. They carry 191 different colors to be exact. They also carry quite a few of the Moda lines as well as precuts.

Their selection seems to be a little bit of everything. They have some Timeless Treasures, some Michael Miller, Valori Wells, Lizzy House, and Prints Charming. But they also have batiks and very traditional prints.

A cool feature of the shop is their design wall which allows you to put fabrics side by side and see how they look.

Price by the Yard:

For Kona Cotton $3.99 and this is the second major reason I purchased from here. The quilt I’m making requires over 10 yards of fabric.

For patterned fabric the prices vary but are usually around $8.00 a yard.

Shipping:

“When your pre-shipping total to is up to $75 – Shipping will be $5.00
When your pre-shipping total to is $75.01 – $150 – Shipping will be $10.00
When your pre-shipping to is total $150.01 – $300 – Shipping will be $15.00″

I consider this a pretty good deal. In most Etsy shops you can get 8 yards shipped for $5.00 but it comes in an over stuffed priority envelope. My fabric from Fabric Shack came in wrapped in plastic and tissue paper in a priority box. It took about a week to get my fabric, part of that was probably “processing” time and part was shipping.

Fat Quarters:

You can buy 1/4 of a yard but that’s different than a fat quarter.

Communication:

So this is what I don’t like about this shop. They don’t keep track of their inventory online so you could order something and then a day later get a notice that they don’t have that in stock. In fact when you order you choose an option if you want them to send part of your order or cancel it if they don’t have everything in stock. They do have an email address and phone number to contact them at but I’ve never used it so I can’t tell you how responsive they are to inquiries.

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I thought I would add a new feature to my blog since many of us buy our fabric online. From here on out I will be reviewing the online fabric shops that I purchase from. These are not sponsored posts and I’m not receiving any sort of discount or “kickback” for doing this.

The first shop that I happened to purchase from after making this decision was Fabricworm. You can purchase from her on Etsy or her own website.

Selection:

I don’t often purchase from here but when I do it’s because she has a fabric that very few other people carry but also offers enough other fabrics to make the purchase and combined shipping worthwhile. In this case it was the Alexander Henry “Home Sewing is Easy.”

The other thing I love about Fabricworm on Etsy is the yard and half yard bundles she creates (like the one above) that combine prints from various designers. One of the hardest things about buying fabric online is figuring out which prints can be combined and which will clash when they arrive on your doorstep. Since colors appear differently on different monitors its impossible to know for sure unless you see the prints placed side by side (or in person if your lucky).

It’s also worth noting that she offers a small selection of Japanese prints.

But the selection is also what frustrates me about Fabricworm. The selection is different between her Etsy and website and I often find myself wanting some fabrics from each site. To be fair I’ve never tried contacting her to see if I could purchase from each and still combine shipping.

Price by Yard:

Quilter’s Cotton- $8.00
Home Decorator Weight- $14.00
Japenese- $14.00- $24.00
Oilcloth- $17.00

These prices are average for Etsy and a little lower than most independent websites.

Shipping:

From Fabricworm Etsy
“Shipping Methods and Rates to US/Canada/Everywhere Else
Up to 2 Yards of quilt weight cotton ship via USPS First Class Mail
3 to 8 yards of quilt weight, ship via USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope-$5/$10.75/$13
9-30 yards of quilt weight cotton ship via USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate Box- $10.50/$26/$41
29-40 yards of quilt weight cotton ship via USPS Priority Mail XL Flat Rate Box-$14/$33/$53

*****Significant over charges in shipping will be refunded upon shipment, friendly reminders are always appreciated”

The prices are different on her independent site, there prices are based on weight.

I bought 7 yards of fabric so I paid $5 in shipping and got a cardboard shipping envelope stuffed with fabric. The fabric came wrapped in a plastic bag which I appreciate because you never know if a package will get wet in shipping. The fabric arrived a couple days after ordering so she must have shipped it the same day I ordered.

The cost and packaging are pretty standard for Etsy fabric shops.

Fat Quarter:

Not everyone cares about this option but I’m a quilter so I like to purchase a large variety of smaller cuts of fabric.

The smallest cut of fabric you can get from Fabricworm is 1/2 yard.

What matters most to you when deciding where to buy your fabric?

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