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Conversational Threads

Shopping online: addenda

carolfresia | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

The latest issue of Threads has an article, by yours truly, on shopping for fabric online and by mail. It’s intended to introduce sewers who have been nervous about shopping from afar to the process, and to reassure them that it’s both safe and easy–and fun. Along with the article, we’ve posted a selected list of fabric websites for you to explore. That’s on the Threads homepage.

When I was compiling that list, I decided to include only those vendors with whom I, or someone here at Threads, has dealt directly. Thus, there are undoubtedly many wonderful resources that aren’t included there (we shop a lot, but there are only five of us!). I’d like to invite Gatherings members to share the names and addresses of fabric retailers they’ve shopped with. Hopefully, you’ll provide us all with additional great sources, but if necessary, maybe you’ll at least offer warnings about bad experiences you might have had.




  1. mem1 | | #1

    Well I have had a bad experience recently. I live in Australia and sent for some fabric from the USA and also a pattern from one of the independent pattern houses. I had to send my credit card details and that is the last i have heard from them I havent had any luck emailing them and I havent received the goodsand this is 3 months later. . I havent been charged either so thats some relief but it would be nice to know where I stand.I have done this before and it worked out well but the postage was really rather steep so I would suggest that overseas people think hard as to whether they can get the goods closer to home first.

  2. sarahkayla | | #2

    OH Carol -


    that list was a dangerous thing. I spent a coulie of hours going through the list of websites.


    a couple of comments tho - some of the sites are not really set up for shopping...they just let you know that the store exists.

    additionally, I think it would have been helpful, particularly for folks who are new to the whole business of online shopping to have a a thumbnail description of what is carried by that particular vendor. it would be usedful to know who specializes in home dec, and who in quilting fabrics and who in Indian silks...

    anyway...thanks for working so hard and trying to keep us all happy


    sarah in nyc

    1. carolfresia | | #3

      I realized that the list wasn't all online stores, but since the article talks about shopping via phone and/or mail, I figured that some shoppers might want to go that route instead anyway. As for annotating the list with notes about the various vendors' specialities--I just ended up not having time to do it! I wish I had, , but a half-baked job of it seemed worse than letting readers find their own way, and it seemed fairer to the vendors not to single out a few.

      But of course that means readers are now obliged to explore all those sites on their own--which I found to be a lot of fun, although it did take up a good part of a weekend. I'm proud to say that I managed not to order a single yard of fabric during the research, though. Maybe the whole process just overwhelmed me; my self-discipline is not usually all that strong!


  3. Elisabeth | | #4

    Just a few to mention, I don't shop online that much. Yet.

    Thai Silks, thaisilks.com has been great for me, good selection of the basics and professional service every time. I also get a 25% dressmaker discount, not bad.

    Farthingales in Ontario,Canada, farthingales.on.ca has boning and things for period clothing and sells the steel sprial boning by the meter and tips by gross so you can cut your own size boning. They also have nylon horsehair braid in various widths. And lots of other intersting things. The service was excellent.

    The Sewing Place in California, thesewingplace.com has in my opinion one of the best ever shopping cart systems, simple, clear and easy to use. And the service is practically immediate. I ordered on Wedensday morning and got my package at my rural post office here in Virginia on Friday. Next best thing to instant gratification.

    For anyone who needs anything foam, Foam Order in California, foamorder.com is wonderful. They have a good website to order from and they do custom cuts of any of their big selection. My email questions were answered by people who know something and my foam pieces were cut really nicely. I think they might be quite busy though, I had to wait a bit for everything to happen. Why does a dressmaker need foam? Sigh, I agreed to make a padded gig bag for a small accordion for a friend. Still struggling with the foam and cordura...

    Speaking of cordura, I ordered that and zippers etc from the Rain Shed in Oregon, therainshed.com . Just a website with a basic catalog but no online ordering so I had to call them. They have lots of outdoor fabrics and the shipment arrived in good time but the person I talked to was dullsville and other than taking the order well she was not helpful. I called back to discuss a zipper that was not as advertised and she said something like gee well I don't know what to say, we got them that way. Their inventory is great but they need a new order person.

    Someone on Pattern Review has put together a long list of online fabric sources with comments. It was first on the message boards and I think it was going to be put in the knowledge base area.

  4. evego | | #5


    I've been shopping online for fabrics for a couple years now and have had great luck with denverfabrics.com, dharmatrading.com, distintinctivefabric.com, fabric.com, fabricdirect.com, fashionfabricsclub.com, syfabrics.com, and voguefabricsstore.com (for amazing beaded trims). Of all of them, I think that denverfabrics.com is probably my current favorite<g> I did order samples from housefabric.com and loved them too. Their service was extremely prompt and I was impressed (and loved the samples that I ordered as well). I've also done the eBay thing with great success and found some excellent sellers who live there and are worth looking for when they have thing for sale (if anyone is interested).

    Initially I had good experiences with fabricclub.com, but due to unfulfilled orders, bad service, and lack of refunds I will no longer order from them and warn friends and fellow fabric fiends away from them.


    1. carolfresia | | #6

      Here's a place to check if you like  one-of-a-kind pieces--the do wonderful silk-screened silks:



    2. evego | | #7

      I can't believe I forgot to mention gotfabric.com. I've ordered from them a couple times. They're in Hawaii and I've had terrific experiences with them as well!


  5. barbchr | | #8

    Just wanted to mention a "niche" for fabrics for casual garments.
    http://www.hawaiianfabric.com They've got a huge selection of cotton and poly/cotton hawaiian prints, and some rayons, microfibers and batics. Plus patterns for shirts, MuuMuus, children, quilts and more. You can even pick your fabric and have them make up a shirt, blouse, or scrubs. The colors and quality of the fabrics I've ordered from them have been excellent; they were great to talk to; and the service I received was superior. I believe they also have a swatch service.

    I've also ordered a lot of fabric from http://www.fabric.com Great service and a very nice newsletter. They have good prices on, among many others, silk dupioni. For the silk dupioni, I'd recommend ordering a swatch card or individual swatches before buying. I did find it difficult to judge the color, texture, etc. from the picture.


  6. JustLaugh | | #9

    I have shopped at many of the sites listed by everyone and have always had a good experience. A good site for purse hardware, and other notions and hardware is Sunbelt fasteners, they only take phone orders but they have the best prices.  Also ebay is a great source for good prices.


    1. carolfresia | | #10

      Thanks! Do you have a web address for Sunbelt? So many people are sewing handbags and purses now (I was amazed by the offerings in the current pattern catalogues), and great-looking, durable hardware is often hard to find locally.


      1. SewNancy | | #11

        The latest issue of Vogue pattern magazine has an article on making handbags and they have a long list of suppliers listed.

      2. JustLaugh | | #16

        the website for sunbelt is http://www.sunbeltfastener.com


  7. Tessmart | | #12


    Thank You Carol for the time you and your staff input to the online source list.  I've spent time going thru it (when I should have been doing something else). 

    I am looking for cotton/nylon blend(52&/48% +/-).  I can't seem to find it anywhere. I am also not sure if this type has a certain name of this blend.  I bought an item and the material is so comfortable I want to find it.  Can anyone help me? 

    Since purchasing on the internet, I have come into different materials that are no available in my shopping area.  In order to keep up to date on blends, etc,  I am making up a small notebook with a sample of the different types of fabrics.  There are so many different types I can't keep them all straight.



    1. carolfresia | | #13


      I've found that some fabrics that show up in ready-to-wear take a while to get to the fabric stores--if they ever do at all. I suspect this has to do with the fact that so much clothing is manufactured overseas, but I'm not that knowledgeable about the retail fabric industry.

      The specific fabric you're talking about is one I'm somewhat familiar with--my son has a bunch of pants made of it, and I agree, it's got some wonderful qualities. Very hard-wearing, for sure, and I like the crisp texture and smooth hand. I don't know that it has a particular name; I'd guess that you might find it listed as a poplin (at least that's what my son's pants seem to be), and then look for the fiber content. Several months ago, I think I saw something like that listed as a "Tech" fabric--so check listings that look like that as well.

      So I have no leads for you at the moment, but if I run across anything, I'll post here.


      1. mimi | | #14

        Could it be a microfiber?


        1. carolfresia | | #15


          I'm not sure if it could be. I think microfibers have to be entirely manmade fibers, whereas this fabric is part cotton, part nylon. And while the surface texture is quite smooth, it doesn't have the drape I usually associate with microfibers.


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