Fabric Buying Habits

One of the major fabric retailers in Australia had their big fabric sale over Easter, with 40% off all fabrics in their store. I needed a couple of things for some projects, so I went along this morning.

It got me thinking about my fabric buying habits. Where I shop, what I buy and how much I spend.

I bought this jelly roll – no idea what to do with it! I just loved the colours.

My budget is very minimal. Fabric is very much a luxury item for me – it comes a distant last once bills are paid, groceries are bought and all the other necessities of life are paid for. I must admit – I get a bit envious when I see people on instagram post seemingly daily shots of new fabric! Aargh! I want more! There are so many designer ranges I want to collect and have in my stash. But alas, it cannot happen. Today I spent $68 on fabric. That is A LOT for me. Most of purchases are very modest – usually $10-$20 here or there, and I usually buy when there is a sale or I have a discount coupon.

So where do I shop? Everywhere. Anywhere. In person, I go a few different stores in Melbourne’s northern suburbs. I shop at three different Spotlight stores (Spotlight is a bit like the Australian version of Jo Anns) and I have a great quilting store nearby as well. My LQS has a fabulous $2 fat quarter table and I have often picked up some great bargains of designer fabrics there. I buy yardage there occasionally, but if I need a lot I will buy it online – designer quilting fabric is extremely expensive here – between $20-$30 per metre. Frustrating when it is $8-$10 a yard in the US.

Bought these today for my stash – I just liked them! The elephant print is lovely unisex colours – handy for new bubs.

Online I usually buy from the US. I have shopped at fabric.com, Hawthorne Threads, Etsy and eBay. I have no preference, I just try to find what I’m after and will buy from whoever has the best price and reasonable shipping. Shipping to Australia isn’t cheap so if I buy online I usually do a big order to make it worthwhile.

A cotton print for the exterior of a new winter sleeping bag for Lucy.

In terms of what I buy, I’m pretty bad at fabric shopping! I get so excited about being in the store and seeing so many things I want, I forget to buy the things I actually need! I’m always drawn to bold prints and colours, and I’m only just starting to really think more carefully about making sure I get coordinates and solids. Now that I’m patchworking more, fat quarter bundles make a lot more sense to me. Pre cuts like charm packs, layer cakes and jelly rolls are great too because you get a sample of an entire range, and they are great for beginner quilters like me.

Choosing the right fabric for a project is a real skill and I think it can really make or break a project. Many sewing and quilting bloggers have a certain style and you can pick their projects just by seeing a picture. I don’t think I have a unique style yet – it’s an evolving process for me. I’m  getting better at it now that I’m embracing solids and ditsy prints as well as big prints. I love colour and I’m not shy using it in my projects.

My wish list at the moment – I’d love to get some Tsuru by Rashida Coleman Hale, Geekly Chic by Amy Adams  – I love the glasses and cassette prints,  and I’d love a few more Echino and Kokka prints.

What are your fabric shopping habits? And what is on your wish list?

17 thoughts on “Fabric Buying Habits

  1. I had to keep myself away from spotlight this weekend, I also always come away with everything I didn't need and forget about the basics. I really want some Michael Miller boys stuff at the moment.

  2. Over the years Ros, I've only ever bought fabric for a specific project. I've always grabbed other people's stashes from Freecycle, my Mum, Nanna, my aunty but have never gone and just bought something because I like the look of it. I don't even know about any designer fabrics. I walk into a fabric store or quilting store and feel like a kid in a candy store. I don't know where to start. You should see my Aunty's fabric stash. She has an entire walk in robe dedicated to fabric. She goes on bus tours all over Qld picking it up. If she sees something she likes she buys it and knows it will come in handy for something. Wish I was game enough to do that (and had the budget to boot). Reminds me, I must pay a visit to my Aunty again soon! LOL

    Anne xx

  3. I love your fabric choices and look forward to seeing what you make. I am quite new to the love of fabric and most of my spare money goes on yarn but I have a few sewing projects on my wish list x

  4. I almost bought that same jellyroll a few weeks back, but couldn't think of how to use it either…So I bought the bundles instead! My fabric shopping habits are a lot like yours. I always have a coupon, but can rarely ever convince myself that the "designer fabrics" are worth the price. Sure they are pretty, but not $15 a yard pretty when I could get 3+ yards of something else!

  5. I buy in little bits $20ish at JoAnn and save my pennies for the occasional $100 splurge at the local fabric shop with the fantastic designer quilting cottons! Also, I tend to fall "in love" with fabrics and they will hang around my stash for 2 or 3 years because I love them too much to cut into them.

  6. You purchased some beautiful fabric! At the moment, buying fabric 'just in case' is not really an option 😛
    I am a lot like you though, $20 here and there. And I certainly get jealous of some of the stash pictures I see on TSL! If I had what some of those ladies have I would be set for life! haha.

    If it is for a gift, usually I can get away with a bit more expensive choices… 😀
    And if I want to make something for the boys that will definitely get a lot of use, then hubby-to-be is a bit more lenient then too haha.

  7. When I had no fabric, I was a little less discriminating when it came to fabric stashing, and now I've decided I don't want to end up like my mother (tooooons of fabric, but doesn't sew much anymore!) and so I try to only buy with a specific project in mind. Boo. Less fun, but more economical, and hopefully I'll be better about making sure I use what I have.

    The other reason I try to buy with something in mind is that I don't really yet have a sense for how much of stuff I should get. So, I end up with a lot of fat quarters, because I like scrappy looking things, and they seem cheap when you're buying them, and they look so cute on the self together. 🙂 It's like having just a taste of something yummy, and that's usually good enough for me, at least at this point in my life!

  8. I'm a specials buyer but I office I tend to get stuck on a colour and I buy that colour or a while, then change it up. I don't do heaps of sewing but I'm getting more into quilts so now I'm lays on the look out. I don't have a huge budget either so I usually buy online. I did o to spotlight on Easter Saturday and spent $60 that's a lot for me but my fiend just had a baby and wants me to make a blanket.

  9. I buy my fabric slowly, as needed, too. I've made a lot of scrappy quilts lately, using up the remnants of what I already have. It's nice to know I'm not the only one with a small fabric budget!

  10. remember to pick up the "boring" fabrics too – you want to have a range of values in your stash from light to dark so you can develop great contrast in your designs.

  11. Although i could probably budget in more fabric, buying it makes me feel guilty when I let it sit& don't use it. My husband works so that I can stay home with the kids& I really appreciate the ability to do that& try not to be wasteful in any way. So, i try to purchase fabric that I NEED rather than fabric that I really WANT. Although it is VERY VERY difficult to do. There is SO MUCH GORGEOUS FABRIC OUT THERE! I'm really loving the "out to sea" line in pink (*ok the blue is amazing too) and even got my daughter to oggle at it so she would want a dress.. though I haven't bought it yet. At this point she has plenty of dresses, but it's not really helping … I WANT THAT FABRIC! lol



  12. Love your new fabrics. I can relate to what you say about fabrics very much. I too have very little to spend on fabric and am very careful with cutting to make it stretch as far as possible. I recycle fabric and garments too and buy from op shops when I find good fabric. I haven't yet bought fabric online but have seen lovely fabrics – a bit concerned about quality and not being able to handle it first.
    I lived in Melbourne for four years (northern Pascoe Vale). I found GJ's to be good for reasonable priced fabric and Rathdowne Remnants was ok too. I don't know if either of these are near you.

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