Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Top Four Fabric Shops

This quote came up in a conversation on Facebook about (what else?) the trials of shopping for historical sewing supplies at Joanns. Let me start off by saying that Joanns is fine for what it is - a craft store that happens to have fabrics. You better believe that when those 40% off coupons come around, I'm heading there for Gutermann's thread and giant stashes of pins and needles. Still and all, if one wants really beautiful fabrics, Joann Fabrics is probably not your first stop.

(It should also be noted I have a feud with my local Joanns store for their poor customer service and general crappiness, so the name just gives me an eye twitch.)

I am really lucky. There is a fabric outlet down the street from my work. Within two minutes I can frolic among bins of silks and tables loaded with shirtings. It's not a great big store, but the prices are phenomenal and that makes up for the selection. The fabric for the Empress Gown came from there - it's a great place to build up a stash, but you may not find the exact thing you're looking for.

A little further down the road is the fabric mecca warehouse. It's the kind of place you only go to when you have two hours to kill and some money in your pocket to burn. Imagine rolls of silk taffeta piled up above your head, a whole aisle of wool suitings and coatings, another aisle of cotton shirtings...30,000 square feet of fabric in all. Verily, we are spoiled.

But there are a lot of people out there who don't have those kind of resources. And then you have to turn to the interwebz. And where do you find those beautiful fabrics online at outlet store prices? Here's my top list of places to shop for fabrics online.

 Fashion Fabrics Club: http://www.fashionfabricsclub.com
This is hands-down my favorite fabric store online. They have great prices with weekly deals, so you never have to wait too long to score a good price. I've bought silk taffetas, wool suitings, wool gauzes, wool flannels, and cotton lawns from them, and have yet to be disappointed - the fabric for the Governess Dress, the Lizzie Bennet Dress (yet to be pictured here) and my upcoming wool gauze mourning dress all came from here. Their pictures are clear and they give good descriptions. When I need a specific wool, this is where I go. I'm a big fan! Right now they have free shipping and some beautiful taffetas.

Fabrics.com: http://www.fabrics.com
I'll be honest - I don't like cotton calicos. I think there are other fabrics that provide a lady with her "best bet" wardrobe. But others have reasons for sewing more hard-wearing dresses, and when you need a quilting cotton calico, this is a good stop. The fabrics are well-organized and you can search by manufacturer to find those Marcus Brothers and Windham repros. The prices are a little high, but not as high as your local quilting shop, and they also have great sales and clearances.

Thousands of Bolts: http://www.thousandsofbolts.com
 If you don't find what you're looking for at Fabrics.com, head over here. It's all quilting cottons, and they're not kidding when they say thousands - they mean it. The fabrics are arranged by color, which can then be drilled down to historic prints. As always, be prepared to research a particular print before you buy it, but for choice and price, this is the place for quilting cottons.

Fabric Depot: http://www.fabricdepot.com
I go here for two things: silk taffetas and cotton lawns. There are often really great coupons, which you have to watch for. The fabric for the Picnic Dress came from here, and I just happened to stumble across it when it was 50% off with free shipping. You can't beat that!

It's amazing how the internet has changed reenacting, isn't it? Even ten years ago, when I first started, these kinds of resources were difficult to find. Now they're ubiquitous! No matter where you are, you can find fabric at outlet prices.

But what about the touchy-feelies? All of these stores offer swatching services - for a very little amount you can get a small piece of fabric to see what it feels like before committing to buying yardage. Always check out the return policy as well - most will let you return uncut, unwashed fabric for a total refund.

Did I miss any great online fabric shops with outlet prices? Comment and let us know about it!


sallyryran261 said...

I do believe that I have found another sister after my own heart! Great view of online shops - have dropped a few dollars with them from time to time. ;-) I AM blessed to live in Gettysburg, only a few miles across the Battlefield from Needle and Thread.
I'm also an Educator and Historian, my long lost sister! LOL

melissamary said...

Fabricmartfabrics.com is good too! Great list too!

Nora Roisin said...

May I know what the two places you mentioned are, since I am in Minnesota as well? One, I assume, is S.R. Harris.

~Amorette, from the Sewing Academy

Betsy said...

One is, indeed, SR Harris. The other is a place that I keep as my own personal hunting grounds and thus I do not give out the name to anyone :)