I often get a lot of e-mails regarding shopping for fabrics online, so I thought this might be a good topic to bring up in a blog post. As you may have noticed, I do a lot of my fabric shopping through internet retailers and probably the #1 question I get is: “How do I know what kindqualityetc. material I’ll be getting if I can’t touch it?” I’ve found a majority of fabric sites do a great job describing the material (amount of stretch, weight, uses, and some even give the Pantone color and pattern suggestions), but it’s also important to become familiar with names of fabrics andor weights (for example when buying denim) so you get the right fabric for the project you’re looking for. If you’re unsure what a material is, invest in a good book such as Simplicity Fabric Guide (I’ll be reviewing it soon) or Sandra Betzina’s More Fabric Savvy which not only help with describing material (especially when you can’t touch them), but uses, and how to sew with them. You can also contact the retailer with any questions you may have, although beware – some sites sell out of some materials fast and may be gone before you get your answer (I’ve had this happen before) !
“How do I know this is a reliable storefront?” The best way to answer that is “word-of-mouth”. If you consistently see your favorite sites purchasing from specific retailers (including ebay or etsy sellers) or mentioned in discussion threads, then chances are you’ll have a great experience as well. Don’t be afraid to start a discussion thread yourself to get feedback from other people before you buy.
“What about coupons?” I’ll admit, Joann’s, Hancock Fabric, and even Hobby Lobby have spoiled me with coupons. With just a few exceptions, most online retailers do not run couponinternet code specials. They do, however, occasionally run sales on select items and sometimes the entire ‘store’. The best way to catch these is to sign up for their newsletter, Facebook, andor twitter page.
“If I don’t like what I get, can I return it?” All stores have different policies, be sure to check the FAQ section of their site to see if they handle returns andor have a restocking fee. I have found, however, a majority of retailers are willing to work with you and have excellent customer service.
“Have you ever had a bad online shopping experience?” I won’t lie, yes I have – it took a threat to call my credit card company to get the fabric I ordered, to be finally delivered. Fortunately, that particular retailer is no longer in operation.
Have other questions that I might not have answered? Leave them here in the comments and I’ll update the post!