10. Read shop reviews
If you’re never ordered with a certain fabric shop, check out what other people say about it. There’s some I’ll never go back to for either the quality or the customer service, and there’s some that are consistently awesome.
Check out reviews on places like Patternreview, YouTube, or search for hashtags on Instagram.
11. Check out shop FAQs
How much is my shipping going to cost? When can I expect my stuff to get to me? Do you have discounts for shipping?
All those kinds of questions can be answered in an online fabric store’s FAQ section. You can either search for it, or they’re often at the bottom of their homepage. FAQs have steered me away from certain shops with too high of shipping or made me feel more confident because of various policies. Speaking of shipping…
12. Free shipping?
I really hate free shipping. Said nobody ever.
A lot of online fabric retailers have low free shipping minimums. Do you remember the good old days when it was just $35 for free shipping at fabric.com. Good times. It’s $49 until free shipping now over there, which isn’t terrible, but I always laugh a little when I come across a site that offers “free shipping” for a $150-200 order. Um, I would hope it’d be free at that price!
But what if a store doesn’t offer free shipping at any reasonable or unreasonable price? It could still be a good deal if you can order enough. Flat rate shipping can save you a lot or be a bum deal if you’re ordering lightweight things. And there’s still some rare stores out there that will weigh out your order and refund you if they overestimated. They’re the best!
13. Keep a running list of essentials
On the idea of bundling your orders so that you save on shipping, keep a running list of the things that you buy frequently.
You’ll save on shipping and maybe be able to take advantage of those store deals if you can buy a huge batch of say zippers at one time vs. 1 by 1 in a traditional fabric store.
I hang my zippers on a shower curtain rod by color (one of my 41 tips for sewing efficiently). This way, it’s super easy to see when I’m getting low on a color or size. Then I’ll go to Wawak and order something like 80 zippers to take advantage of their reasonable shipping.
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.