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Ever buy fabric on ebay?

kbalinski | Posted in General Discussion on

Just wondering what kind of success anyone’s had buying fabric on ebay?  Description match the product?  I’m thinking of trying it, I haven’t had much luck with local fabric stores carrying what I want, and most of the bigger websites charge an arm and a leg for shipping.

Just curious…



  1. dsrtrt2 | | #1

    I have purchased velour, panne velvet & fleece on Ebay.  The fabrics were every bit as good as what you can purchase in the fabric store and the sellers were very nice.  If you have any questions about a piece of fabric, by all means write the seller and ask before you bid/buy.  As you have probably discovered, you can get alot of fabrics for  30-60% less.


  2. physicsgirl | | #2

    I've had luck, and I've had flops.  (I confess I kinda got addicted to it for about six months a few years ago... the packages were something to look forward to when I came home from classes).  I usually dealt with private sellers rather than the big e-bay fabric houses.

    Some luck: 

    An ABSOLUTELY gorgeous embroidered ivory silk (so pretty that I'm thinking of encorporating it in my wedding somehow, if not in the dress somehow maybe as a veil even though it's not a sheer... after all, I think theres seven yards!)  A great dark pink and light pink floral stretch polyester that I used for a 70's jumpsuit pattern.  A really beautiful light blue/lavender sheer. 

    Some failure points: 

    You can't check drape without a sample.  Some fabrics were stiffer than I thought they'd be, even some sheers from the 70's. (having been a baby then, who would have known about stiff NYLON/poly sheers -- not in my local store!). 

    You can't check see-through.  Unless the seller is holding it up in the light, it's hard to tell fabric thickness (some things were sheers when I received them, and I didn't think they'd be via the photo/description, but then other things advertised as sheers and shown with a sunny window backdrop were GREAT).

    You can't check "feel."  Even if the seller gives the fiber content.   My best advice would be to go for a good reliable fiber content (silk or cotton)... although dang, I LOVE 70's prints (why, I'm NOT sure!).

    You can't check condition.  The seller doesn't always note the little flaw in the fabric-printing running down the selvage or that the cute striped cotton shirting smells like mildew regardless of repeated washing (I didn't even use it for any muslins, it was so disturbing I didn't want it near my machine).

    Remember that if you're dealing with a private seller, it's from their stash, and they don't want it... do you really want it in yours?  That said, I've found some great things that other people just didn't have space for.  It also was a great learning experience about the variety of fabric out there, especially things that aren't like whats made now -- nylon sheers from the 70's?).  It's WAS fun, that's why I got so addicted for a while.  Good luck!

  3. mrswayne | | #3

    I've bought several items on e-bay and have had good luck.  I've bought some really cute and unique fabrics that I would never have been able to find at the limited stores I have available to me. 

    The down side was when they say a yard, they mean a yard and not an inch more.  Sometimes buying a partial yard (1/4, 1/3 yard, etc) can be a pain as some (not all) dealers want to sell in full yards, but at least continuous yards.  If in doubt, email the dealer with a question, they have all been very helpful and quick to reply.  Also, some of the dealers are willing to send you swatches before you buy.

    Good luck!

  4. User avater
    matzahari | | #4

    I use ebay regularly for upholstery fabric and dupioni silk. In my experience you need to know exactly what you are looking for and what price range is a deal. Then you make sure it is stored in a non smoking pet free environment. Haven't been stung yet.

  5. Sooz | | #5


    I have had mostly successes with e-bay, as I am a bit(!) of a fabricaholic I tend to look for the weird and wonderful and luxury fabrics and set myself a FIRM price ceiling if the fabric is not for a particular project.


    Recent mega-bargains were some silk velvets, 6 yards in total, which cost me less (including the postage costs) than the price of a yard in the shops - if I could find it any closer than 50 miles from where I live! Thai silk was another similar snip.(ha ha)


    Most vendors will send a little sample if you catch the listing soon enough for the post times  and as I am not very well versed in the names of some types of fabric I tend to ask detailed questions abouth the drape and weight. Once I asked the seller to weigh a particular piece offered for sale and then compared the actual weight of a same-size piece out of my hoard. The comparison was adequate for me to made a decision about the application and I was pleased with the result.


    Mistakes include a large quantity of wedding dress satin which was more see-through than I expected and a lot thinner and even with a lining it showed the brides' tattooed stomach so it had to be interlined.  That was from an ebay shop so they should have known exactly what I was trying to describe - and it creased more than I expected. This was a rush job - from deciding to marry to the wedding was less than three weeks and although the fabric was delivered fairly quickly we had only 10 days to make the best of it or find something else and the nearest even half likely shop is over 50 miles away. We pulled it off though!                                       Also, but less dramatic, a mixed bag of 'vintage' buttons which turned out to be a rather grotty selection of what I would call old rather than vintage.  But as I only bid up to the opening bid as I was buying other items from the same seller (which were fine) I wasn't too disappointed. They just went onto the 'freebies' shelf (where I put all the bits of fabric I get given when people clear out and they give it to me because they know I sew and will always pass these on free to local theatre groups and school plays, carnival groups etc).


    To sum up I would say if it's a specific task, be as careful as possible by itemising your key requirements to the seller; if you're just browsing, try using this link to Auction Raptor (I've actually won an item with this while I've been rattling away to you guys and the e-mail noise reminded me to tell you about it) which jumps in a few seconds before the end of an auction to grab the best price under your limit. It's a bit alarming because you have to give some of your e-bay security info but a couple of 'pet geeks' have checked it out thoroughly before they sent it on to me


    and be firm with your limit!!

    Decent feedback is also important - I never buy from anyone below 98% positive and don't forget to look at the postage costs!

    Hope this helps and you're not blind from eyestrain reading all this.





    1. kbalinski | | #6

      Thanks for all the tips.  I took the plunge and got my delivery today, and I'm very, very pleased with it.  I will definitely buy again, and from the same seller.


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