Online Fabric Shopping Review
After a lot of hesitation, I finally took the plunge and joined the ranks of online fabric shoppers. I thought I’d share my thoughts and opinions on the experience. There are bazillions of places to buy fabric online, and I started off with these three: Gorgeous Fabrics, Lucy’s Fabrics, and Fabric Mart.
From Gorgeous Fabrics I purchased this trendy knit.
From Lucy’s Fabrics, I bought this knit that was used in a recent Burda magazine, and also by Debbie Cook.
From Fabric Mart, I found these two knits and haven’t seen them done up yet on the blogosphere.
From the time I paid for the fabric I think it was almost three weeks before I received my fabric. Clearly, if I need instant gratification, I should not go here. I received my email confirmation right away with information about how they only cut on certain days but then it was nearly two weeks later before the charge hit my bank account. However, when it arrived it was nicely packaged (albeit in a used Electrosol dish soap box – I expected a standard shipping box) and each cut of fabric had a nice label on it that included the fabric contents, yardage, and fabric care. Nice touch, and so very easy to do. I assume they just print out a few computer labels and stick a label on each time they cut the fabric. Also included in the box was a sample package of custom dress labels. I’ll definitely look into that when I get back to sewing again.
Both cuts of fabric are what I expected. Somewhat lightweight, but they looked just like they did online. I wasn’t disappointed and am very excited to start making something with them. I’m planning on tops for these fabrics, or possibly a knit dress of some sort.
This order arrived in a fairly decent amount of time – about a week and a half. (You can’t expect overnight or really fast when ordering online.) The fabric was very nicely packaged. Not only was it neatly enclosed in a clear plastic bag with a lovely Lucy’s sticker closing the plastic, there was additional pink tissue around the fabric bundle. And, Lucy is a supplier who caters to my fabric addiction. Included in the shipment was a collection of about ten different fabric swatches. Yes! The only thing wrong with that is that I don’t know what the fabrics are and can’t correlate them to their website so I can order more of them. They really should use the Fabric Mart idea and add a computer label on them.
The fabric is delightful. I can see why Burda chose it for sexy halter tops and other summer wear. It’s great, and I can’t wait to drape my body in this sensuous fabric.
Because I inadvertently chose Pay Pal for payment instead of her faster options, shipping time was about a week and a half, or longer. Really my fault for not reading closer. I got fast confirmation of my order in a nice, lovely and more personal email style. It feels like you are buying fabric from your friend. However, I was disappointed with the packaging. I would have expected something like from Fabric Mart, but the fabric cut was not so neatly wrapped in a black garbage bag!
The fabric was a tad thinner than I expected but it will work up nicely into a top of some sort. The biggest thing I have to mention about the fabric cut was just that – the cut. I would think that someone as experienced as Gorgeous Things would cut her knits with a rotary cutter, but this is the fabric cut I got. (Keep in mind, I’m somewhat OCD about my fabrics and have extra high standards. I get tweaked out when Hancocks cuts my fabric crooked.) This combined with the black garbage bag gave me an impression of less than professional business standards.
When you shop retail for fabric (brick and mortar stores) you get the additional ambiance of the store – the layout, the fixtures, furnishings, all the extra trappings that make your experiences pleasurable. When you shop online, you don’t have all that. You only get what you see in the pictures and any embellishment in the website look and feel and content. So for me, that means that I’d expect the business to put more emphasis on the packaging of what they ship and the little details and extras that they throw in with the purchase. Timely charges to your account and quick shipping are also highly important. The goal is to keep the customer coming back for more, and it’s the little things that stick in my memory when I decide to return shop somewhere – store or online.
That said, I think of the three, my favorite was Lucy’s Fabrics. She had the attention to detail that is so important to me, as well as fine quality fabrics. Some people might not think the little extras are important, but it gives me confidence in the quality of the fabric if the other details are met as well. She could add the extra detail however of putting labels on her fabric swatches so I can quickly turn around and buy them!
I was disappointed with Gorgeous Fabrics – even though many in the blogosphere rave about her – it’s nothing personal. I’ll probably shop there again, but for the price of her fabric, I expected more – at the very least, a straight cut of fabric and no black garbage bag wrappings.
Fabric Mart was good, love the fabrics, but again, took far too long to get here. But now that I know they take a long time, I’ll take that into consideration when buying from them. I’ll have to plan on whatever I make from there fabric won’t be something that’s needed right away.
I’m sure I’ll shop from all three again sometime. However, I think I’ll keep checking out the other online fabric suppliers now that I’ve officially got my toes in the water.