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Online Fabric Shopping Review

June 23, 2007

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.

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From Lucy’s Fabrics, I bought this knit that was used in a recent Burda magazine, and also by Debbie Cook.

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From Fabric Mart, I found these two knits and haven’t seen them done up yet on the blogosphere.

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Fabric Mart

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.

Lucy’s Fabrics

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.

Gorgeous Fabrics

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.

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Summary

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.

Happy sewing!

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10 Comments
  1. June 23, 2007 7:44 pm

    Of the three I’ve only ordered from Fabric Mart. I found your reviews interesting. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  2. June 23, 2007 8:01 pm

    I’ve only ordered from 2 of your 3 (FM and LF) but I agree with your experience with them. Lucy’s Fabrics arrives so pretty that it’s like a birthday present. My only “complaint” is that she doesn’t have tons more fabric for me to buy. 😉 I’ve loved everything I’ve purchased there.

  3. June 23, 2007 10:53 pm

    Thanks for sharing your experience, Claire! Very useful.

    To add to the discussion, may I add fabric.com to your list?
    I ordered from http://www.fabric.com in May because a dear friend treated me to a gift certificate there on my birthday. They were super nice (there was a problem with the shipping costs and they agreed to find a less expensive solution) and they shipped the next day. They also have labels on each fabric (with the fabric description, fiber content, yardage), which is awesome. I can’t order there often because of the shipping fees to France, obviously, but when they have another of their super less-than-$-2 sales on knits/novelty wovens, I shall. Knit prints of good quality here cost at least 10 euros a yard, and often much more than that (and that’s euros, my friend, not dollars), so even with the $-15 shipping fee for 3-4 yards, it still ends up being cheaper! 🙂
    They really do have a great, friendly customer service and the website is so detailed as to what to expect with each fabric that you are not disappointed when they come. They look exactly the way they are described on the store.

    BUT – of course it’s not the same as buying from a small company maintained by a fellow seamstress. 🙂

  4. June 24, 2007 4:08 am

    thanks for your reviews, especially about the fabric from gorgeous things. that particular print tempted me. however, after hearing that it is a bit on the thin side, i am over it. the price was holding me back. i will have to check out lucy’s fabrics….tho i am trying so very hard to *not* buy fabric. yeah, like that will happen. 🙂

    i agree with lucy’s assessment of fabric.com. i have purchased many yards from them. good customer service, fast turn around time. there have been a couple pieces that were not exactly what i was expecting, but such is the risk of buying fabric on line. i have heard of people returning fabric to them with no problems at all. often, the company will refund the payment and tell them to keep the fabric because returns are more hassle than they are worth. easy returns make me more likely to take the risk of buying on line.

    i’ve ordered a couple times from fabric mart with no problems. the ship time was a tad long, but i am extremely impatient when it comes getting my fabric in the mail. the high shipping rate is what keeps from ordering from them more often. well, that and the fact that i already own a bazillion yards of fabric. 🙂

    teri

  5. June 24, 2007 5:42 am

    I’ve ordered from them all as well. As far as FM goes, I kind of expected the recycled boxes since that’s about the price I’m paying for in the fabrics – LOL. The quality of the fabrics is good for what I’ve paid for, though. I also like the way Lucy’s packages up her items too. Similarly, you may want to try Emma One Sock. Her fabrics are a bit more expensive, but she’s quick to ship and everything is folded neatly, etc. I also like Fabric.com too (in fact, I just placed an order!).

  6. thesecretpocket permalink
    June 24, 2007 5:56 am

    I have to say I’ve rarely waited a week and a half for an order from an online fabric store, including Gorgeous Fabrics. I wonder if you had some bad luck there. I’m usually amazed by how fast things arrive on my doorstep.

    I have to mention Emma One Sock b/c she will send swatches for free! That way, there are no surprises regarding color, weight, or hand.

    Denver Fabrics is also great for staples like silk lining.

    The Sewing Place, also magically fast with shipping, is great for linings, interfacings, tapes, and patterns.

  7. June 24, 2007 7:01 am

    I just wanted to let you know that it wasn’t just a one time occurance with Gorgeous Fabrics packaging etc. I had the same thing happen to me. It took over 2 weeks, which I didn’t mind, but then the fabric was in an old shoebox with the wadded up tissue still in there, and it was just stuffed in a bag and not in any way folded. It was litterally wadded up. Also I had the same very uneven cut.

  8. June 26, 2007 1:40 pm

    My experience with Gorgeous Things was very positive. She responded to questions quickly and although my cut edge was also uneven, the measured length was over 1/8 of a yard more than I ordered. That bonus more than made up for it in my mind!

  9. Eileen permalink
    July 8, 2007 8:39 pm

    I was going to place a hefty order with Gorgeous Things, but now after reading these comments, I am a bit hesitant. The thing that bothers me about Gorgeous Things is that you can’t order in increments. You have to order whole hards. THat to me seems like it might be wasteful.

  10. February 25, 2009 11:59 am

    I order from GF all the time (as well as FM and LF) – I have always been very happy with my purchases. Yes, sometimes the cut is crooked but, if you measure it, you’ll find that the cut length is also extremely generous! To me, that more than makes up for a crooked cut. My fabric always arrives in a clear bag but I don’t really care what kind of bag it arrives in (or box, for that matter) since the prices are so great.

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