Friday, March 18, 2016

Fabric Buying Tips

Let's be honest. We love fabric. We hoard fabric. We buy fabric. A lot.
So why not be smart about it?

May be you already know these tips and tricks. Here is what I have learned in my three years of obsessive compulsive fabric disorder.

1. Never pay full price for fabric - I know it is yummy and it is so enticing when the new fabric line first comes out.  Designers are showcasing it and it is hard to escape the allure. Remember, this is not a sprint. It is a marathon.  We are in it for the long haul.  Wait till it goes on sale.

Spectrum by Camelot Fabrics
See picture above. I bought most of those fabrics at $5.69/yard, after it went on sale.
Three of them bought from Etsy at $9/yard. I now have the full (almost) line at a fraction of the cost.

What if it gets sold out?
Rest assured there will be a new line even more alluring and enticing just around the corner.
Trust me, I did not buy fabric for the first 40 years of my life and I am just fine.

2. Shop around - Brand loyalty is important. But my loyalty lies first and foremost with my wallet.
I check first at my favorite stores.  But there have been times when I have found wonderful deals on Etsy.  It also feels good to support small business owners. Prices vary from one site to another. It does not hurt to shop around.

3. Yardage - I buy yardage for basic solids such as charcoal grey, black and white. My favorite store for buying solid yardage is Connecting Threads. Great quality, affordable prices and excellent customer service.  The best part is this - you can buy as little as a fat quarter (at full price) or half-yard (at sale prices).  Free shipping at $50 and they have several sales. The only caveat - limited variety. is another favorite store of mine to buy yardage. They have a LOT of variety. If I must have something and cannot find it anywhere else, they are likely to have it.  Free shipping starts at just $35.  They will give you the end of the bolt for free.  Although you may be able to buy half-yard, it is priced higher. For sale items, you have to buy at least one yard.

4. Precuts - My favorite precut is a fat quarter. I feel that FQs give me the maximum flexibility. I can cut them up into 5" squares, 10" squares or anything in between. Missouri Star Quilt Company has the best variety of precuts. Green Fairy Quilts has the best prices (very limited variety). You can also find a few of the popular fabric lines (in precuts) on Connecting Threads, but it is rarely the full line. For example, you can buy Hazel (by Allison Harris) FQ bundle at Connecting Threads but it has only 14 FQs. The full FQ bundle has 23.  Make sure you check.

5. Prices - Good quality fabric starts at about $10 a yard (Connecting Threads is the only exception). With that in mind, a FQ will cost you about $2.50. When the new lines arrive in stores, a FQ is priced at $3, sometimes even more. Check the math. Divide the cost of the FQ bundle by the number of FQs in the bundle. For example, if there are 22 FQs in the bundle and it is priced at $74, you will be paying $3.36 per fat quarter or $13.45/yard. That is STEEP (for me).  I make sure that I never pay more than $2.50 for a FQ.  When it gets down to $2/FQ, that is is great time to buy. And when it is under $2 per FQ (under $8/yard), that is when I must have it.  This also ensures two things - my stash is manageable and I am not overspending on fabric.

6. Kits - Saving the best for the last. Kits are pre-assembled, color-coordinated fabrics for making a specific quilt pattern (which is included).  There are times when the fabric line is sold out but the kits may still be available. You don't have to make the pattern in the kit. But if you like the fabrics, and the math works out to under $8/yard then it is great deal. You still get the pattern which you can save for later. I would not buy a kit, unless it is on sale. The best part about a kit on sale is the color coordinated fabric line available at an unbeatable price.

And here are some of my absolute favorite kits ON SALE at Craftsy!!!

1. Malam Batiks Aurora Borealis

Why should you consider buying this kit?

At just $53.97, it includes 6.625 yards of batik fabric at $8.15/yard. It is exclusive to Craftsy.

Exclusive and Batiks at $8.15/yard. It does not get any better.

2. Free Spirit Simply Eden by Tula Pink

This is 50% off!!!

This is so cool. For $67.47, you get 10.42 yards of gorgeous Tula Pink fabric at $6.47/yard. That is a steal.

Even if you do not care for this pattern, it is impossible to buy Tula Pink line at that price.

3. Octagon Shimmer by Jennifer Sampou

Very chic and very modern and 50% off. Now, this pattern may not be of your liking, but in this kit you get 14.625 yards of fabric from the Shimmer line at $7.38/yard, for just under $108.

Isn't that worth another look?

4. Kona Cotton Amy's Stars

How can you go wrong with this kit?
Get it if you love the pattern.
Get it if you love the fabrics.

10.5 yards of multicolored, very versatile solids at $5.42/yard for just under $57.
This one won't last long, I am sure.

Hey, this is just a small sample of the offerings/deals/steals at Craftsy right now. There is so much more.

I am not affiliated with or Connecting Threads. I am affiliated with Craftsy. It means that I will get a small commission when you click and buy from this blogpost, but that is not the reason for this post.
The reason is this - If you are going to buy fabric and you love pretty fabric, make sure you are getting a good deal!!!
I certainly do.

I'd love to hear from you if you have a favorite tip or a favorite store. And your comments make me happy :-D

Linking with Tips and Tutorials Tuesday.

This blogpost contains affiliate links.


  1. That's a great insight into buying fabric. I never thought of buying a kit just for the fabric price but it totally makes sense. I'm with you on saving money, prices in the UK are a lot more and I only buy if it is something I need now or in a sale as you are right, there will always be another wonderful fabric next week or next month. My local quilt shop has 30% off this week so guess where I have been?
    Smiles from

  2. Now you make me want to go buy fabric! Great tips and sound advice. I have always had a hard time buying full price on anything, fabric is no exception. I couldn't agree more that there will be a 'better collection' just around the corner! Thanks Preeti!

  3. I love your approach. I'm spoiled being surrounded by lots of quilt shops, but my favorite shop is the one which has lots of sales. (Even if their selection isn't the very best.)

  4. I find that a lot of shops that carry kits also carry backings for same. Often the precut backings do not sell and you can pick up large chunks of yardage for a good price - I have bought "backings" and used them as background fabric, or just used it as a back for one of my own creations. So, if you don't look at the kits, check out the backings on sale.

  5. I need to heed your advice. I'm always impressed when I hear of the deals others find when fabric shopping. I need to be more patient and look around for sales. Thanks for all the great advice.

  6. I agree with every one of your tips! My fave pre cut is a charm pack...I just love having the whole collection for (always under) $10...see tip 1 :) I have never bought a kit, but recently realized your same reasonng..same yummy fabrics..whether you make the pattern or not! I love the Amy Butler kits on Craftsy....

  7. I'm with Tish. I do get some deals on sale but often I'm paying full price. One problem I have though is that the shipping to Canada often cancels out the savings.

  8. You are wise beyond your sewing years Preeti! Some of those lessons I have only lately been realizing. Especially the one about "A new line even more alluring and enticing just around the corner." I am on a fabric diet but oh those Craftsy sales are hard to resist!

  9. Great tips. Thanks for sharing. I've really changed my priorities since retirement.

  10. In my book, precuts are out. Fabric "lines" are out. Kits are out. I buy whatever piece of fabric I like and I don't care one whit who makes it or who designed it. I've been quilting for over 25 years and have a huge stash of fabrics in all different colors and patterns and also solids that go way back. Love them all!

  11. what a good topic and well thought out tips. I have been sewing only slightly longer than you. I think I am only realizing now that I bought fabric a little too enthusiastically at first and am a little frightened when I think about how much fabric I can realistically use - I'm quite a slow sewer. Your tip about more lines will keep coming out really rings true for me. My best deterrent is to dig around in my stash for awhile before I go out to the fabric store and re-acquaint myself with what I have and what I may actually need.

  12. What great tips! I never knew kits were a bargain for fabric. Thanks for the idea on where to get solids.

  13. You should check out my FB store. The Quilting Cupboard Fabric Store. I have most of my name brand quilt fabrics for less than $6 yd.

  14. I'm definitely a bargain buyer. Last month I scored 16 FQ @ 50 cents each. It was a grab bag, but I'm pleased with them.

    You asked if I made Sophia a quilt. Yes, it's called Talita Cumi and is on my blog in Dec 2015.

  15. Great tips. However, I think this post would be best linked up with Tips and Tutorials Tuesday, not TGIFF.

  16. Those are some great tips! The most important thing for me is to buy fabric I love and will want to use. Sales are great but there's no point paying for deals unless you really want the fabric :)

  17. I agree with Lucy about buying fabric that you really want; I have learned that the hard way myself. Great tips!

  18. Well, Lucy and Yvonne, what if you are like me and you want it ALL??!! LOL. I buy sale fabric that I love, and some that I only like. Often the stuff I only like (and it has to be $5-6 max) ends up in a charity quilt or on the back of a quilt, but sometimes it surprises me by growing up into a beautiful quilt top or a fabulous bag lining...and at $5-6/yard, I am always happy. These are really sound buying tips, and good reminders, as I tend to "black out" in a sale section and go a little cray-cray....

  19. Good tips. Several months ago I saw some fabric I liked, but it was a little too spendy to buy just to stick in my stash, so I passed. Yesterday, I found a project that would be just right for that fabric and went back to get it. Well, it was gone and I kicked myself for a few minutes. Then I rationalized by saying that even if I had bought it before, it probably wouldn't be enough. Later, I went to Hobby Lobby, and there was the fabric! So while it might be discontinued one place, it could turn up another place.

  20. Preeti, you are soooo right about all of these! I buy kits for the fabric all the time, especially if they're not all one line or if they're batiks. Thanks for the tips!

  21. great tips, Preeti! Your fabric habits are right in line with my own. One thing that I like to do also- when a shop has a sale, and minimum yardage is 1 yard, I buy enough to get the free shipping I share with a group of friends in my guild. I buy a full yard of several prints, and press, cut, and bundle it into fat quarters, and then we share the cost four ways. Lots of times, we can end up with fat quarters as low as $1.30 (including tax) that way.