Sunday, March 6, 2011

Fabric Shopping {local vs. online}

I am all for supporting local business, especially local businesses run by local women, but to be frank, the local fabric scene in my area stinks. I'll paint the picture - there's one large chain store where the fabric scores are hit and miss, but they do carry all the supplies and have good sales regularly and the staff always take good care of me.
At the other end of the spectrum, there is a teeny tiny little quilt shop (you can barely turn around with a bolt of fabric in your arms - not kidding!) that carries quilter's fabric only. I've gone in there a few times over the past 15 years and other than there being less fabric on the bolts, the fabric scene in there has not changed.
In the middle of those two on the spectrum is a shop that sells machines, supplies and fabric on top of offering lessons, etc. but it's highly overpriced, the selection is dated and the staff have zero personality.
I went on a little tour last week and this is what I scored:
I was so surprised to see this on the shelf! I had no immediate need for it, but couldn't be expected to leave it there at $3.50/m now could I? I bought 3 meteres. Here it is next to the meter I already had - barely even resemble one another, right?!
Next up some sweet little dots. These were on sale for just around $3/m, so two meters of each hopped in my cart.

Now just look at this piece of sweetness! It'll be the back to an all yellow quilt I have swimming around in my head. Cute, right? Also $3/m.

So all in all a few good scores, but how can this compare to online fabric shopping? You can do it from the comfort of your bed if you wish, you can comparison shop, you can mix and match colors and patterns without carrying the heavy and cumbersom bolts around the store with you and above all, the selection can't be beat! Sure, it's a little more on the expensive side, especially for us canucks, but I think the price can be justified especially when it just isn't available in your area!
A few of my favorite spots to shop online are: Quilt Taffy for precuts, Pink Chalk for Kona solids, Hawthorne Threads for their extensive selection and finally, I love the custom bundles that Fabric Worm puts together.
What do you do when it comes time to buy fabric? Do you prefer local or online? What are your favorite online shops?


Tong said...

lucky you!!! i went to a new to me LQS yesterday and scored some KJR orange basketweave and park slope navy flower swirls! but i still buy most of my fabrics online because they are usually so much cheaper. i have always supported a local online shop though, lol!

Holly said...

Great finds!!

I would love to support the LQS, but like you, we have limited selection here.

There is one good quilting shop in the far suburbs, but as a non-car person, it would be a full day trip. Just not worth it when they have the same selection for slightly higher prices than on-line.

I have tried to find a good Canadian source for fabric. There are a few companies, but the selections are quite limited. Call me cheap, but if I am going to pay for shipping, I want to have a full envelope to maximize my shipping costs.

My favourite on-line shops are Pink Chalk and Hawthorne Threads. Great selection and the fabrics are in the mail quickly.

Jan said...

I'd prefer to buy locally, but my situation is much like yours. My LQS, is better but the "personality" of the fabrics they carry often doesn't mesh with what I want. On-line shops get 95% of my business.

Leslie said...

i do most of my shopping online since there are not shops local to where i live...but when i am out and traveling i always try to get out and find the local shops wherever i am.

Kelly O. said...

my mom lives in the U.S.A. which is my saving grace when it comes to fabric... she buys with coupons each week for me at joann's (my solids--kona for $3 a yard and no shipping!)
and then when I see her I pay her back and reap my goodies!
I also buy ALOT of my fabric on ETSY and have it shipped to her.
I find it worth the wait to get the fabrics I want for the price i can't find in Canada.

Batting in the U.S. is also super cheap compared to Canada. Sometimes it feels a wee bit unfair, but like I said, I have it easier than most since I do have U.S. connections...

Kelly O. said...

something that I find makes shopping on ETSY worthwhile is I often buy when someone is destashing. way cheaper.

Kathryn said...

I shop on etsy, and have also bought from 2 Canadian sites: Pink Panda Fabrics (less selection than before), and Kallisti Quilts for Echino and Japanese fabrics.

My local independent store has some Kona solids and had some Amy Butler prints, but not the other designers I like. Great service though and I buy other supplies there!

Prof. S said...

Oooo, one of my favourite topics!

I buy almost all of my fabric and batting online, mostly from U.S. sites. We visit family in the U.S. a couple of times each year, and there's always fabric involved (!) -- but most of the time I have things shipped to me at home in Canada. My absolute favourite fabric source is Fabric Shack: there website leaves a little to be desired but they have amazing sales, the *best* prices on Kona solids, and now they have the best shipping charges for Canadian shoppers: $7 for the flat-rate envelope (and they can stuff it FULL).

For batting, thread, paper hexagons, tools, & books, I always look at Connecting Threads: they have regular batting sales and an EXCELLENT shipping arrangement. I have had a huge box of batting delivered for about $12 -- which *included* taxes and duties (no surprises).

Other faves: Fat Quarter Shop, Pink Chalk, and I used to buy often from Z and S but their shipping policies have changed somewhat. If I am going to be visiting the U.S., I place orders from and Superbuzzy, because they are both great but pricey for Canadian deliveries.

Riel Nason said...

Hi Sara, From your description of the local fabric scene, I am going to guess that you are the F'ton half of the duo. It was your description of that wee little place on York Street that tipped me off. ;-) I am in Quispamsis. Do you ever go to the Calais Mardens? About 90% of my fabric is from there, all fabulous modern designers, just mostly older lines. Also I recently found as a Canadian Kona source. Great colour selection and very reasonable prices and shipping. Anyway, I'm going to follow along on your blog. Stop by mine and say hi if you get a chance. It's fun to "meet" people right in the province. Cheers, Riel

Sara said...

Wow! So much great information in these comments. Thank you so much for sharing!

And a fellow NB'er...exciting!

You all should check out Riel's blog. She's one talented quilter. In particular, check out her selvage quilts. WOW!!

Jolene said...

It's great to hear from other Canadian quilters about fabric shopping. I second the Fabric Shack comment. I guess the half price shipping makes me overlook the archaic website! I also like sewdeerlyloved on Etsy. She has great prices and a selection of fabrics I love, although a bit slow on shipping maybe. Ok, my very fave is Hawthorne Threads, but it bugs me that they sell out of the popular fabrics so quickly!

Riel Nason said...

Hi Sara, Thanks for stopping by and for the kind words about my selvage quilts. Your comment came through as 'no-reply', but I figure you will see this here. If you are ever down in our area, our LQS is Town and Country Quilts in Rothesay. She has a few Moda precuts and nice quality fabric but it is typical Canadian pricing ... I am totally spoiled by Mardens! Cheers, Riel