There is no denying the joy of walking into a shop full of strokable, colourful, tactile fabrics!
Although online fabric shopping can seem less appealing without the tactile element, most good fabric retailers do a lot to bring the in-store experience to online shopping with photos of the fabric swirled or folded to show depth and texture and excellent descriptions of the fabric’s properties.
So what can you do to help make your online fabric shopping successful and fun?
Plan your projects to save time and money!
Do you often get back from a shopping trip with a bag full of impulse purchases to realise the one thing you meant to pick up, you have forgotten? I find my online purchases are usually more considered, and I often don’t get swayed to buy things that I really don’t need. We use our Dressmakers Planners to help plan our projects and keep a record of how much fabric we need to buy.
Don’t forget to stock up on interfacings and any trims or haberdashery you might need for your project – especially the correct needles! When you’ve got everything you need to put it all in a bag and create yourself a little kit ready to sew.
Try before you buy
As well as drape, weight and hand feel of fabrics, colours often look different on a computer screen to real life. So, it’s worth planning ahead and allowing time to order swatches. As well as sending a curated range of swatches for the Swatch List subscription, we are always happy for you to ask for specific swatches.
We offer a fabric sample request service allowing you to choose up to 4 fabric swatches for a flat postage fee. We’ll also send a swatch record card with all the details for each, so you know exactly what you are buying. Why not keep these, along with your swatch list cards, as a record and start building up a reference library of fabrics!
Build Your Knowledge and Confidence
Research is the key to successful online (and offline) fabric shipping. Take time to learn about fabrics and learn what to ask or search for.
5 ways to boost your fabric knowledge:
Check out blogs and reviews!
Most online fabric shops have blogs which offer great insights into working with different fabrics. We share lots of tutorials, advice and reviews on our Crafty Sew & So and My Handmade Wardrobe Patterns Blogs plus inspirational makes from our Crafty Bloggers team.
Bloggers often share a lot of detail about what a fabric was like to work with. Search online for how other people have used the fabric you would like to use – you’re bound to get inspired and pick up a few tips and tricks!
Take a workshop!
We have workshops you can download and watch, including our introduction to jersey fabrics, a short lecture with time for questions followed by a quick practical project for some hands-on experience for use specific fabrics.
Go investigative shopping!
Either in a fabric store or a clothing store – and look at the labels, feel the fabrics and look at the trims used and the styles the particular fabrics work well in. Or take a closer look at the labels in clothes in your own wardrobe!
Focus on your favourites!
Learn about the different names and properties of fabrics you like to use regularly.
Recognise fabric weights!
It’s worth taking time to compare weights of fabric. A lot of companies now state the weight in GSM (grams per square metre). Compare weights to learn how to judge what suits different projects and seasons.
Talk to us!
Don't forget that behind that website there's a person or team who are passionate about fabric and excited to help their customers. They'll usually be more than happy to help especially with things like choosing matching thread, which is very tricky to do online.
Use our thread matching service when you shop for fabric with us, and we’ll pick the perfect colour to go with your fabrics. I hope this guide will help you feel more confident when buying fabrics online. We are always happy to help with any questions and love hearing about and helping you with your project plans!
This blog post was originally included in The Swatch List, issue three
We created The Swatch List Subscription to bring a little of the in-store shopping experience direct to you in the comfort of your own home. Each month you’ll receive five hand-picked fabrics samples, accompanied by a fact-packed mini magazine full of details about the fabrics, including how to use them, pattern and project suggestions, tips for how to buy fabric online and lots more!