I had such a positive experience working with Michelle that I knew I wanted to partner with her for National Sewing Month. However, before we get to the discount let's learn a little about Michelle and how Style Maker Fabrics came to be!
Hi! I’m Michelle, founder of Style Maker Fabrics, lover of fabric and all-around seamstress. I grew up in and around the fabric industry and made my dream come true in late 2014 when I launched my own fashion fabrics website. Not only does it let me play with incredible fabrics daily, it also lets me share my knowledge, passion and inspiration with other sewers all over the world. Sewing isn’t just part of my job, it is also my hobby and creative outlet that lets me show off my style and make things that are totally unique and just for me. When I’m not sewing, I am an avid gardener and reader that loves to travel!
I had a few questions for Michelle. So let's start with your background in sewing ~
How long have you been sewing?
20+ years - I started sewing when I was 7/8 years old.
How did you learn to sew?
I learned to sew on my mom’s Pfaff with her help and a kids sewing book from Palmer/Pletsch. I started with these fun worksheets that you stitched on the paper with just the needle, no thread. Later I took a few kids quilting classes at the local fabric store.
Do you have a dedicated sewing room?
Lucky for me the answer is yes! Right now I am still running my business out of my home, the basement to be exact. So half of the basement is “warehouse” and the other half is my studio and office.
What type of sewing machine/serger do you use?
I have always sewn on a Pfaff. Over the past couple of years I added a Baby Lock serger and cover stitch.
What types of garments do you like to sew?
I love making tops- blouses, shirts, sweatshirts, etc. They are usually pretty quick, easy and pair great with jeans (which I live in!). I do like to challenge myself a bit with more complex patterns like pants, a coat or pajamas when I have more time to focus and really pay attention to each step.
I lost my job in early 2014 due to a restructuring and that set the ball in motion. I had dreamed of having my own business for a few years but never had the guts to pull the trigger. Looking for a new path, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to start my own business. While my goal was to have my own brick and mortar store, starting online was a better option for the time being.
Can you discuss your goals for running this business?
My goals for my business were to offer a variety of stylish fabrics not currently available and to give seamstresses a new way to shop for garment fabrics. Many of the other shops (both physical and online) strive to have anything and everything. When shopping for fabric you might not know what you are looking for and searching can seem like looking for a needle in a haystack.
With Style Maker Fabrics, I set out to present fabric and other sewing favorites in a new way, merchandised and organized the way people want to shop! Our curated selection of fabrics are presented by fashion trend, fabric type, garment type or color so no matter how you want to shop on a particular visit you can hopefully find exactly what you are looking for. My goal is to not only help seamstresses find just what they are looking for but to also inspire them and maybe help them discover something they weren’t expecting.
So did you have a mentor to go to for assistance with starting and running the business?
My mother has been my mentor, partner and support through this whole process (well, really my whole life!). She continues to assist with buying decisions, business planning and helping cut and pack customer orders. We make a great team and I wouldn’t have been able to do this without her.
What have you learned about running an online fabric store?
Two things come to mind. First, there is no predicting what people will like or buy. We can go a whole week and not cut the same fabric twice. Crazy, right?Second, we can’t have everything! And we don’t want to! It's better for us to look at the bigger picture of how our fabrics work together and really refine what we have to offer. That lets us offer the best quality of some really amazing fabrics at the best prices!
What have you learned about yourself?
I love what I do! I love working with the customers, I love playing with fabrics on a daily basis and I love building something for myself. I work really hard and I have learned to admit when I have hit my limits. I have also accepted that it is not a failure when I have to cut back on some of my plans; it’s just an opportunity to grow and build on them in the future.
So a few more questions about the business...
What's a typical day like for you running the fabric store?
Typically we fill orders throughout the day, making a trip to the post office in the afternoon. I fit in emails, social media and planning as needed. On less hectic days I might get some sewing in, a blog post or some research for future projects.
Yes, we have a few regular customers from Australia, Europe and Canada that continue to tell us that we offer fabrics that they can’t find where they live. While shipping costs from the US are high, the higher prices of yardage overseas make shopping with us worth it.
Why has fabric shopping become such an important online shopping experience?
Shopping online brings your favorite fabric store into your home and lets you shop on your schedule. It also fits nicely with the online sewing community and ties into your favorite social media channels. See something you love on Instagram? In a few clicks, it can be yours.
What do you do to ease the fears of first time online fabric shoppers?
First and foremost, we work tirelessly to make sure all of our images are true to the real thing. We love hearing from customers that their fabrics are exactly what they were expecting. We also only buy the best quality fabrics. Years of experience have taught us what to look for, both good and bad.
Also, I am here ready to help all of our customers. If you have a question, don’t hesitate to ask! Aren’t sure if a fabric would suit your pattern or if there is something that will coordinate perfectly? I am happy to take a look, shoot some comparison photos or whatever is needed to make sure you have found the right fit. Still in doubt? Order a swatch (approx. 6” square), they are inexpensive and shipping is free!
Finally, can we get a sneak peek into the future of Style Maker Fabrics
What are your hopes for the future of your fabric store?
My goal is to still one day have a brick and mortar store; a place where the sewing community can come meet in person, be inspired and find their perfect fabrics.
What is the greatest thing you've learned about running the online fabric store that you didn't expect to happen?
I never expected to build so many friendships and relationships with people in the sewing community. Our customers are amazing and I love learning more about them, working with them on their projects and seeing their amazing creations.
Are you moving in the same direction as other online fabric stores by having bloggers blog for you? Or are you looking at other avenues to drive business?
We are not currently looking to have a “staff” of bloggers like some of the other stores. Twice a year we do organize a Style Blog Tour where participants receive showcase our newest fabric collection for the season.
Other than that, we are building relationships with customers, bloggers and pattern designers more organically. We don’t pay for the feedback that people provide about our customer service or our products making it more genuine and sincere.
Michelle and I wanted you to know that the Style Maker Fabrics Fall Blog Tour starts September 21st ~ see the line up of bloggers here.
Now I know this is the part you've all been waiting for ~ the discount!
Michelle is generously offering 10% off your order PLUS a $5 shipping fee. This discount starts today and runs through September 30th. Please use the code "SEWSEPT" when you check out to receive the discount. International sewists will receive the 10% off your order PLUS $5 off your shipping fee!
I really hope that you'll spend some quality time on Style Maker Fabrics checking out the goods...and that you enjoyed getting to know Michelle better! Next up on the blog are two posts by guest bloggers sharing some of the garments that they've made using Style Maker Fabrics.
So stay tuned for more celebrating!
Happy National Sewing Month!