Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pros and Cons: Online Fabric Shopping

If you are like many who sew, part of the joy is tactile. When faced with fabric, it is a joy to manipulate it into something that it wasn't.

So then why would you ever buy fabric online?

Personally, I adore online shopping (see Pros, below). But are there some items better purchased in person?

I just made these, and think they are the coolest pants I have ever made.  When the fabric arrived from Wazoodle, I was horrified because it has iridescent dots throughout that I hadn't seen on the photo (although now I see they are mentioned). I was glad I had gotten it on clearance but wondered if I could ever use it.  Then this morning my son pulled it out and started cutting, "making a bag."  I redirected his energy to pants and I am so happy with them.  This is a fabric I would NOT have bought at a regular store... and look how cool these pants are!
Pros of Online Fabric Shopping:

  1. Can do anytime
  2. Do not need to speak to anyone (salespeople, etc.)
  3. No parking hassles or driving needed
  4. Can shop around to find better prices
  5. Arrives at your doorstep- no need to load and unload car
  6. So many options- no need to go to another store if yours is out of something
  7. No need to stand in line

Cons of Online Fabric Shopping:

  1. Sometimes a fabric doesn't look like it does in the photo (sometimes it is better; sometimes worse)
  2. Fabric often feels different than you'd expect
  3. Overbuying- adding "just one more thing" (perhaps this should be a pro and a con, and also happens at real stores)
  4. Nobody can answer your questions
  5. Delayed gratification - need to wait between choosing and receiving fabric
My Favorite Sites:
  1. Wazoodle: They ship from Canada, so it takes a bit longer than other stores to receive fabric.  But they have some awesome deals and nice fabrics.  Their website is a bit flakey, but they do bulk deals and have some of the best prices around.
  2. Vogue Fabrics: They have some unusual fabrics, and good prices as well.  Their customer service actually called me to ask a question, which threw me off (I'd expect an email as a first point of contact).
  3. Online Co-Ops: These you can find through Yahoo! Groups.  They work by you becoming a part of the co-op, then the Mama in charge sends out emails to the group every time a group buy happens.  The prices are better because they buy huge amounts of fabric, then the Mama splits it up and sends it to those who wanted it.  Sometimes the cost savings is eaten up by the shipping charges, plus the lead time can be months between placing an order and receiving it.  There is also an abundance of emails to wade through.
All in all, I think that online shopping is far better than actual shopping for fabric.  I have found some notions in person that I wouldn't have found online, and I have found some fabrics online I wouldn't have chosen in person.  I think I save money by shopping online, because the impulse buys are far less than in person, and I save time.  Plus, it's fun to find new fabrics and read about them...

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