The Fabric Poll

As of this morning, the poll is:

70% – quilt shop
14% – chain
15% – half and half

Those are more the numbers I was thinking.

I surely understand those who say the prices at quilt shops don’t fit your budget.  I’ve ranted about the price of fabric here before.  I know some who live outside the U.S. would be thrilled with our prices.  I can’t remember the exact prices/years but in the mid to late 90’s, good, quilt shop fabric ran $5 – $6/yard.  Then all the manufacturing/printing was sent overseas “to save money”.   How did that translate to the $10+ per yard we’re now paying for good quilt shop fabric?  If the cotton farmers are getting more $$, I can live with that but I doubt that’s the case.

Don’t forget that Connecting Threads has their fabrics for $5.96/yard with free shipping on orders over $50 and their fabric is made from cotton grown in the U.S. and it’s all manufactured and printed in North America.  I like that and wish more companies would follow their lead.

It isn’t the quilt shops making more money.  Wholesale fabric costs are now more than what I paid retail in the mid 90’s.  Do you realize that if costs double again in the next ten years, we’ll be paying $20/yard for fabric?

Sometime when you’re in a quilt shop, look around at the fabric.  Mentally count the number of bolts in the shop .. maybe 25 bolts per shelf, 100 shelves in the shop . . think how much money those shop owners have tied up in fabric.  I understand they’re not doing it for us . . they’re doing it to make a living but it’s very difficult to make it as a shop owner.  Not only do you have to be very aware of what your customer base likes . . 30’s, batiks, children’s prints, tone on tones, etc., and try to stock your shop to meet the needs/wants of your customers, but there are patterns and books, fresh samples have to be made and shown.  The shops I love the most are those who have lots of samples.  Even if the samples are designs I would never make, I just love walking into a shop full of beautiful quilts and wall hangings.

It isn’t easy being a shop owner!  They don’t come home with a set paycheck each month . . for many shops, there are months they hope to break even!

So, when you go into a shop and see $10/yard fabric, please don’t think the shop owner is rolling in cash . . not happening these days.

Does that mean I’m going to run down to the local shop and empty my pockets so she can pay her electric bill?  NO!  I’m just saying all this to say most shops struggle a bit and those who sell sewing machines, offer longarm quilting services or rental time on the longarm, that all helps their bottom line.

I completely understand buying what you can afford and honestly, for me . . with fabric in the $10/yard range, I won’t buy it.  That’s why I spend in spurts.  When I find a sale, I stock up.  Buy what you can, when you can, at whatever shop fits your budget but remember that the quilt shops will not stay in business without our support.

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Comments

  1. 1

    says

    I have to say that I do buy my fabric at a quilt store but tend to wait for sales. It’s just so expensive! I have made a couple of trips to Lancaster, PA to buy fabric as it is cheaper down there. I go with my sister-always a fun time!

  2. 2

    says

    OMG I was powering up the computer to check out Connecting Threads site, but have to visit your blog first (always) and to my surprise and pleasure find you mentioning it!! I agree with you about shopping various places. When I first started quilting you were lucky to find a 60 Cotton/40 Polly fabric. And this was THE fabric to get. Mostly I go by the feel of the fabric. I like to find fabric at Hobby Lobby, they have a different style than the fabric stores do. Also, quilt stores are not close to me, although I can find them on the web, you now have to add the cost of shipping to the cost. *I do save up and shop online quilt stores alot at their sale/clearance sections*, But I am in a position to do this now vs a number of years ago due to the fact that my kids are all grown and out of the house.

  3. 3

    says

    So, based on what you just wrote, I probably need to buy all the fabric I can because I KNOW I won’t be able to pay $20 a yard in the years to come. I need to build my stash now so I can keep quilting in the future. LOL

  4. 4

    Becky R says

    I work Saturdays at a local quilt shop. The price of fabric has increased in the 5 years since I’ve worked there. So has everything else though. There is a difference in fabric quality between stores like Walmart and others but there are also some chain stores – we have one- that do carry the quilt shop quality fabric. They may have coupons or sales more often than a local quilt shop but their prices are ususally a little higher to offset the sales. I know that you get what you pay for and after washing most of the fabrics purchased at walmarts you can tell the difference – it has really faded!
    So I’ve changed my fabric purchases to compensate. Why build a wonderful quilt only to have it look like crap after a few washings?

  5. 5

    Cindy B says

    I wonder where the 95% of chain shoppers live? Maybe in areas that have no quilt shop? The last time I was in JoAnn’s the price of the fabric was $6-$12. Hobby Lobby has fabric that is more expensive then what I can find online. I don’t know of any other chain type stores that sell fabric. Maybe a few Walmarts but the Walmarts in this area have no fabric dept.

  6. 6

    says

    I’m definitely a quilt shop fabric girl (although I buy mine online because there AREN’T any local quilt shops here) but it’s a rare day indeed that I pay full price, I actively search out the 40-50% off sales, and that’s what I buy. I use too much fabric to be able to afford $10 a yard.

  7. 7

    says

    I work at a non quilt fabric shop. Over the years I have watched fashion sewing go from doing it to save money to sewing because we love it. The only fashion sewing I do where I feel like I save money is bridal and costumes. I think the same has always been true of quilting, we do it because we love it, not to save money, the problem is that we love it so much that we can’t stop with just one.

  8. 8

    Donna in KS says

    I once sewed everything I wore……and I WAS better dressed than I am now. But apparel fabrics are not as readily available as they once were, at least not in my area. I do shop quilt shops, all of them-LQSs, online, out of town. I have just accepted that I have a love affair with fabric. When I say, almost dreamily, ‘isn’t this just beautiful’ I usually get the response, ‘you never met a fabric you didn’t like’! I recently began working with our 10 yr old grandson who said he wanted to learn to sew. I heard myself telling a friend, ‘I think he will make it; he touches the fabric almost reverently’!!! LOL And to my original statement….quilts and quilters are so much more fun!

  9. 9

    says

    I know that the economy has affected all of us. I try not to panic if my quilting schedule isn’t full. I’m very grateful for every quilt that comes through the door.

    When it comes to quilt shops, I need to say something about attitude. I have to say that it is very important to me how I’m treated when I go into a quilt shop. There’s one LQS about 40 minutes from me where the employees can’t be bothered to say hello when anyone walks in. Their conversation is more important than the customers. At another shop, the owner is always on the phone. I won’t buy anything at either place unless I can’t find it anywhere else. I have 2 favorite shops, and I not only shop, I send people to them.

    Lately, I’ve been getting most of my books online. Some places have free shipping, even for orders less than $20!

    • 9.1

      Linda says

      I work in a small, rural library and one thing we stress is that the patrons are greeted with a smile when they come in. Most of them know what they want & go get it, but if someone looks uncertain or asks a question, we stress that whoever is on duty, and whatever they are doing, they should stop and take care of the patron’s needs…and to not appear grumpy or unwilling. Attitude goes a long way in getting people to come back, not matter what you are offering.

      • says

        I agree with Eileen. There’s a quilt shop quite close to my home that has beautiful fabric. I’ve walked out of the shop 3 times because of the attitude of the employees. I keep going back because it’s close & I love their fabric – hoping things will improve, so far not so good.

  10. 10

    says

    I buy just about all of my fabric from independent quilt shops, partly because of business (I support the shops that help support me) but also because of the personalized service. A couple of shops in my area the owners aren’t as friendly as they could be and now there sales are down with this economy wil they be able to stay open down the road, who knows!!!! the shops that are doing very well are those who treat there customers like they are queens and they have seen an increase in business in this down economy.

    I’m also, seeing the manufactures changing how they do things…remember years ago when the fabric used was called calicos, there was limited colors and prints. Now your seeing 100% cotton quilt shop rated fabric that you could use for decorator type work. Some of those big splashy prints that are being designed could be used for home dec or even for clothes……..and we are seeing sewers shopping the quilt shop for those fabrics. Our industry is ever changing and its going to get tougher in the coming years to keep everyone happy.

    Karen

  11. 11

    says

    I dream of $10/yard fabric. In Canada at the quilt shops it runs more around $15-$20/metre. Ok, a metre is a bit more than a yard. And the Canadian dollar is lower than US – but it’s still a fair bit more costly here.

    I’d love to shop at Connecting Threads, but I wonder what shipping and duty would do to that lovely $5-$6 price tag.

    I need to be more patient, and wait for sales. But usually I go shopping for a particular project, and I always want to start it *now*, not when the sales are on.

  12. 12

    Linda says

    I admit I’m one of those eclectic shoppers….LQS, chain, online…wherever I can find what I need at a price I can affordand a quality I can live with. Love the fabrics at the LQS but usually have to wait for a sale or buy from the sale room. However, sometimes I just HAVE to have a certain fabric 🙂 I always try to hit the sale room or one of the online discount shops for big pieces like backings. It’s a matter of budget.

  13. 13

    Lizzy says

    I have to comment on this one. I deliberately didn’t vote in your poll as I think it would skew things since I live outside the US.

    As you mentioned in your post, fabric is much more expensive in some overseas country. Here in Australia, you won’t have to wait 10 years to pay the inflated $20/yard prices, they’re here now! Yes, quilt shop quality fabric, that you buy for up to $10/yard, is anywhere between $20 and $26 per metre. (A metre is approx 39″, so you can work out that we are still paying more than double your current price.) Little wonder that so many keen piecers are spreading their purchases and buying some locally (gotta try to keep some LQS), some at chain stores and some (quite a bit!) from overseas. Even taking into account our fluctuating/lower dollar and the shipping costs, we still save a bucketload on fabrics. And sometimes get certain fabrics before they appear in our shops anyway!

    And then there’s the quilting costs! Our machines are all imported from the USA (why are they so very heavy, these L/arms???) so the start-up price for a hand-guided longarm is approx $25K and that all depends on our AU$ rate against the greenback. Some of my friends purchased their machines several years ago when our dollar was only worth 60cents (and sometimes less). If you want a computerised system add another $20K.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, I love what I do and nobody put a gun to my head to make me do it!!! However, I think it may help put things in perspective with regards the cost of our hobby/business and perhaps make people realise that the prices you enjoy now are really not that bad.

    I love reading your blog and I love the interesting topics you explore! Keep it up, it makes my day!
    Cheers from Down Under

    Lizzy

  14. 14

    says

    I do support my local LQS’s in my area. There are 2. I have a personal relationship with both of the owners and staff.

    I can walk into the shop and always feel like I am the only person there and the most important person. Even when they have a shop full of people, they will stop whatever they are doing and ask how I am and if I could be patient and wait for them to finish what they are doing. Of course I can! I am looking at all the fabric I wish I could buy, feeling the fabric and looking at the sales rack!

    Yes, I have bought fabric at the local chain stores, but I know that I am buying cheaper fabric that may not hold up as well. But, I am buying fabric that is catching my attention. I also purchase batting and notions at the local chain stores as it is cheaper there than at the LQS.

    After all is said and done, when I want to make a quilt that will last long after I have departed this earth, I buy my material from the LQS, because I know this fabric is well made.

    And yes, I have bought material online, from merchants that are LQS.

  15. 15

    says

    I bought two kits on sale at Connecting Threads because i wanted to see what the fabric was like (usually shop at my LQS:). Sorry, the quality and such just isn’t up to par — fabric was not as densely woven as I like, colors were flat. I’ll stick to quilt shop quality.

    🙂 Linda

    • 15.1

      says

      I bought fabric from Connecting Threads before I would recommend it here and I found the fabrics I bought to be just as nice as the fabrics I’ve bought in quilt shops.

      • Marla says

        I am a huge fan of Connecting Threads too. Their selection is getting better and better. I love their books. By the way, is your book on there? If not, I will suggest it.

  16. 16

    says

    I’m probably like a lot of other quilters out there. I bought most of my fabric at chain stores when I started quilted and there’s still some of it in my stash that gets used. Now I tend to buy more fabric online or at quilt shows with occasional trips to quilt shops when I’m at a HeartStrings sew-in.

    I definitely look for the sales when I shop online or in the quilt shop. I buy books, notions, rulers, and some batting at the chain stores still esp. at Joann’s when I can use a coupon.

  17. 17

    says

    I’m paying roughly US$18 (Rand140 – for comparison sake a litre of milk costs between 7 – 9 rand)a metre in South Africa. I can tell you that I stretch every bit of fabric as far as it can and not an inch is wasted. Everything and inch or bigger gets cut down into scraps for my scrap bins.

    Online ordering is out due to import duty and the high rate of theft. I’m lucky to have had some trips to the USA and Australia recently to stock up. Living here has been great for sewing down my stash and only buying borders, backings and bindings.