fabric drape on rayon challis

16 tips for better fabric shopping online

There’s a lot to love about fabric shopping online.

For those of us who don’t live near a garment district, it let’s you still get the benefits without expensive travel.

You can order things at weird hours of the day, and you can cash in on some pretty awesome deals.

But being an online fabric shopper can come with a learning curve. So here are 16 tips so you can become a savvy fabric shopper online

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1. Get swatches!

I think the biggest drawback to online fabric shopping is not being able to see and feel a fabric. So what do you do, dear?

online fabric shopping help with swatches
swatches helpfully labeled with order info

Get swatches! There’s several stores that offer swatches for free or for a low cost. Higher end fabric shops like EmmaOneSock and Apple Annie Fabrics do offer free swatches, as do a lot of home decor fabric shops. If you’re not sure if a store offers swatches, paid or not, just ask.

I personally have received happy free swatch mail from small fabric shops on Etsy and Ebay just because I asked.

Yes, it takes a few days to wait for swatches in the mail, but then you have that fabric in your hands. Once in your hands, you can see if it’s the color, weight, style, feel, drape that you’re hoping for, potentially saving you a bad choice or a ruined garment.

Swatch clubs

There’s also several online fabric stores that offer curated swatch clubs throughout the year. They can be a great way to see what’s in the store, and just to learn about fabric in general.

If you’ve ever read the back of a pattern envelope and been intimidated by all the fabric words on there, swatches can be a great teacher! Swatch clubs usually give extra bonuses to their members like special discounts, first access to new fabrics, news, or inspiration to help you decide what to do with your fabric. Here’s a few to check out:

online fabric shopping help with swatch book
swatches from Julie’s Picks by Fabric Mart

US Fabric Swatch Clubs

  • Julie’s Picks by Fabric Mart ($50/year, $25 from now until December 2020 for 30 swatches/month) I especially love the pattern inspiration they send with each swatch collection. It’s so helpful to get ideas for how to use a fabric, especially if you’re seeing some that aren’t familiar to you.
  • Vogue Fabrics by Mail: curated color collections of swatches for all seasons ($30/year, 6 issues/year, 324 swatches) + style ideas
  • Mood Swatch Club: premium club ($39.99 1 month trial for 25 swatches/month + free shipping and inspiration projects) We can’t all go to NY or LA, so you can bring Mood to your mailbox.
  • Benartex: A quilting swatch club ($24.95/year for swatch packs 4x/year +quilting tips, free patterns and other goodies)

UK Fabric Swatch Clubs

  • Stone Fabrics Cloth Club: 2 levels of membership for £1-£ 30/year
  • Minerva: 3 different price points (£18, £30, £50/year) for yarn swatches, fabric swatches, or both sent out 4x a year and 30-124 swatches in each set.

2. Sign up for coupons

There’s a lot of smoking deals that fabric shops will offer throughout the year. I know I’m always happy to go to Fabric Mart on a 60% off day!

You can stalk your favorite sites, but if you want to save a little time, sign up for fabric store newsletters. You’ll get all the latest deals in your email box. This can be a great way to take advantage of smaller sales that any given online fabric store will offer that’s not on a major holiday or weekend.

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