After last week’s post where I may or may not have slightly bashed one of the major fabric chains (What can I say? Sometimes I grumpy-post. So here’s my official apology: Sorry JoAnn. I figure we’re cool anyway since I ended up at your store again a mere two days later..), I felt I should sit down and talk a little bit about purchasing fabric online and elsewhere. I’m guessing that many of you are in the same place I am: I don’t have a good fabric shop nearby (in a cruel twist of fate I somehow ended up living in a weird Fabric Black Hole where all the good fabric shops are at least a half hour’s drive in any direction), so most of the time when I need supplies, I shop at a chain *gasp*. And you know what? Their needles, thread, elastic and other notions are perfectly fine and about once I month I end up at JoAnn just because I need some interfacing or something I didn’t have the forethought to purchase elsewhere. And it turns out they DO carry SOME good quality fabrics, you just need to be able to suppress the violent urges you get when you have to stand in line at first the cutting counter and then the checkout for forty minutes. Seriously, the wait time makes me want to hurt someone, and I am not proud to admit that on more than one occasion I have stormed out, leaving my package of snaps behind (I would never do this with cut fabric). But this, this, and these were all made with very nice fabric procured at JoAnn, so it’s not really fair for me to be negative about them. It’s a little bit of a crapshoot though, you know? Sorry to be crass, but “crapshoot” just seems like the best way to describe it.
I have a strong preference for supporting fabric sellers who make it clear that quality is a priority, so I usually wait until I’m in Seattle or West Michigan visiting my parents to buy fabric and supplies, especially when I need fleece, knits or other fabrics that tend to be easier to purchase in person. But it’s nice to see any fabric in person, even quilting weight cotton (which is probably the most basic of fabrics; easy to sew, easy to predict what it will feel like).
BRICK AND MORTAR
I will always have a preference for Brick and Mortar shops. Here are the ones I have shopped at personally, have reliable friends who shop there, or know the owners and feel I can safely vouch for their quality. Many of these stores also have online shops (those links are listed further down the page). Feel free to weigh in with your favorites in the comments section. I also noticed that Dana is hoping to put together a Big List at some point so you can add yours over there too, and I know there must be other more comprehensive lists online, although honestly I haven’t found one I really use.
Michigan and Midwest:
Fields Fabrics / West Michigan (also online, limited selection)
Material Girls / Dearborn, MI (also online)
Haberman Fabrics / Royal Oak, MI
Guildcrafters Quilt Shop / Berkley MI
Ann Arbor Sewing Center / Ann Arbor, MI
Lake Street Mercantile / South Lyon, MI
Crafty Planet / Minneapolis, MN (also online)
Treadle Yard Goods* / St Paul, MN
Shiisa Quilts / Bloomington, IN (also online)
*added by popular demand
Whipstich Fabrics / Atlanta (also online)
Birch Fabrics (home of Fabricworm online) / Paso Robles, California
Britex Fabrics / San Francisco
Pacific Fabrics and Crafts / Washington (also online, limited selection)
Undercover Quilts / Seattle
Due to my unfortunate fabric-free locale, I end up purchasing the majority of my fabric online. When I discovered online fabric shopping, there was a bit of a learning curve to figure out how to purchase fabrics without touching them, but now I’ve got a pretty good system worked out. Turns out if you stick to a few basic rules (I’ll post my guidelines for fabric shopping online soon), the outcome can be pretty great. Of course, it may take a little trial and error to figure it out, but I think I can say that I now shop online for fabrics with confidence.
So here’s a list of the places I’ve purchased fabric from online that are super. [UPDATED: I'm also adding some shops that got an overwhelming number of mentions in the comments: Pink Chalk and Hawthorne; I trust if so many of you vouch for them they are fantastic!] Since I started blogging, I’ve also developed relationships with online fabric store owners (some of whom have been or are currently sponsors; I do a giveaway, they send me fabric) and have been a contributor/board member for Sew Mama Sew (I do a tutorial, they send me fabric) and those shops are phenomenal too! I’m also re-listing the online stores that I’ve shopped at from the list above so they’re all together:
Above All Fabric
Aunt Bea’s (who just announced she is closing, waaaah!!! but be sure to check out her great sale!)
Fabric.com (this one seems less independently-owned, more commercial-y to me, but I’ve bought bamboo knits there)
Fabric Bar (whose website seems to be on the fritz, can anyone help?)
Fabric Depot (also has a huge brick and mortar store in Portland which I regretably have never had the pleasure of visiting)
Pink Chalk Fabrics
Sew Mama Sew
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention True Up, a website completely dedicated to fabric that posts a crazy huge list of online fabric sales every weekend, so if you’re into the deal-hunting, that’s a good site to follow.
OK, so there you go, I’m sure I’ve forgotten someone so I’ll update as needed. I’m quite the prolific online fabric shopper but even I have only brushed the surface here, so tell me your online favorites!