Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Buying Fabric Online - Part III

I know, I's been a minute since I wrote about this...but I did promise a final piece to the series so here it is...

I ended my last post with these words:

"I am going to do one final post about buying online where I will deal with color/monitor issues, whether or not you should be on online retailers email lists, and give you a listing of a few good books to own to assist you with knowing your fabrics better"

1. Color/Monitor Issues
I have to tell you that I think the online retailers do a much better job now of capturing color and texture of fabrics than they did in the beginning. Of course, handling a piece of fiber is best but with the advent of better cameras and monitors with higher resolustions that allow you to see colors clearer, I believe that you can get a pretty true idea of what a fabric looks like. Finally the retailers that are using Pantone numbers to assist with your color choices are probably giving you the best information and I would definitely look for that to assist with purchasing...and don't forget you can ALWAYS ask for a swatch to be sent to you!

2. Email Lists
First let me state that I am solidly on the side of receiving email notifications from online vendors...because if you are "watching" a particular fabric you will know when it goes on sale...making it a great buy! I have scored countless bargains this way! It also gives me an idea of the types of fabrics that online retailers are carrying in their store. It lets me know if they are paying attention to what's happening in the sewing market or fashion by what they purchase and advertise. In my book those email notifications are a valuable resource for the home sewist...not just purely temptation dropped into your mailbox to entice you out of your hard earned dollars! If you look at them as a resource and not simply enticement, you will find that they really do have some value!

3. Book List
A. Taunton Publishing did a series of books called, "Focus on Fabric" - I have two books in the series,

~Sewing with Knits by Connie Long
~Linen and Cotton by Susan Khalje

Both books explain the characteristics of the fabrics as well as how to handle it and sew with it. Both are great additions to a sewing library.

B. Fabric Savvy and More Fabric Savvy by Sandra Betzina
Both of these books are ABSOLUTE MUSTS for a sewing library in my opinion! What I love best about them is that Sandra tells you exactly how to handle the fabric the moment it enters your sewing area right through to the finished garment...and every fabric under the sun is listed in these books!

C. Finally there is Claire Shaeffer's Fabric Sewing Guide. It's a big book, chock full of information on fabrics. If Sandra's book is brief and to the point, Claire's book gives you not only historical references but in-depth details about fabrics.

Any or all of these books would be a wonderful addition to your sewing library...and I encourage you to check them out!

My hope is that for those of you who have yet to dive into the pool of online shopping that you will give it a try. Let me emphasize that I'm not encouraging you to stop shopping at your bricks 'n mortar store this is just another option...especially if you only have the craft store masquerading as a fabric store as your only resource. And as someone who has one of the best resources around, the NYC Garment District, I still spend alot of time purchasing from online retailers...gotta keep those UPS drivers in business! *LOL* always...more later!


  1. Karen in CanadaJuly 22, 2009 8:38 PM

    I love your blog, you are very creative. Can you show more sewing details? I liked your pictures of seam binding with patterned tape. Did you make it yourself?

  2. It wasn't until some time back that I took the plunge into online fabric shopping. I had a bunch of reasons not to. But I did it anyway, and so far, so good.

    I see it as another option for buying fabrics when what I see at the stores doesn't move me. Or when I'm so busy that I can't physically go to the store and buy things.

    I've only made three purchases online, so I'm still a newbie. But I've been fairly happy with my purchases and feel confident about buying more.

    I feel like I was missing out before.

  3. I also love your blog. I have been a lurker for a few months. I will be starting my own blog in the near future. I have enjoyed your posts on online shopping. I needed this information very much. We do not have any fabric stores where I live. I am a lover of beautiful fabrics. Thanks very much.

  4. I agree on the Schaeffer and Betzina books. They site right next to my machines.

    Haven't taken the on line plunge due to the size of my "collection" but I can see those days coming. FWIW, the size is not that big but does seem to have what I need most of the time.

  5. Carolyn, I continue to be grateful for your generous and informative blog, and I always look forward to seeing what you accomplish with your boundless creativity. Thank you for the book suggestions.

  6. Great job! I've read several and have at least one of the Sandra B. books... I'm thinking a side job as a writer would be great for us... probably not so great for your "sewing time". LoL... thanks for sharing!

  7. Good information in this post, Carolyn. Do you have Julie Parker's "All About Silk: A Fabric Dictionary & Swatch Book"?
    One of the best around I think.

    I also refer constantly to Shannon Gifford's sewing guides on Emma One Sock's site. Emma One Sock is my favorite online store because I find that seeing the close-up of each fabric with a sewing gauge superimposed AND the second photo showing the drape of the fabric tells me almost everything I need to know about how that fabric will work up. Ordering swatches from this site often doesn't work though as her fabrics so often sell out too quickly.

    And I won't even begin to go into how envious I am that you live so close to good fabric sources. I'm in the heart of California's Silicon Valley and all we have are the craft stores masquerading as fabric stores (as you so accurately put it) and quilt stores. We have one good store in San Francisco (v-e-r-y pricey) and two good stores in Berkeley and all are over an hour away.

    Didn't mean to go on so long--really enjoy your blog!


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