Is there really a smart way to fabric shop?
Don’t you just love when you’ve got inspiration in your soul and you walk into your large personal fabric storage armoire and your fingers glide effortlessly to exactly the right piece you were needing?
Is she serious? …The Answer is no. I’m not at all. And I apologize for my sarcastic tone. I can’t help it because the usual truth is so far from the above example that it’s laughable. More often times than not, I know what I want and I have to go diving through bins of fabric scraps, a few plastic bags that I haven’t unpacked yet a few ‘hey, I didn’t know this was in here!’ and ‘oh, I forgot about that project’ moments… And then I still don’t come up with what I had in mind.
Can you relate?
The only option is to go to the fabric store to buy new fabrics! (at least that’s what I tell my purse that the only option is)
If you’re new to quilting and don’t have a huge stash of fabrics already at your disposal, these spur of the moment trips can get rather costly. I mean there is so much that you don’t already own… if you don’t have the willpower to go in with your blinders on and laser focus on the ONE thing you were shopping for, you’ll likely want to buy it all.
Here are my 6 tips for Smart Fabric Shopping.
1. Remnant bin – aka buried treasure. You may have to ask for it if you don’t see it immediately. It’s usually located somewhere behind the fabric cutting table. This bin/stash has all the end of bolts and ‘oops’ cuts.
A remnant is anything less than 1 yard of fabric. But not all of them are skimpy. I’ve found many many just an inch shy of 36″. This is a great way to build up your collection of beautiful fabrics that are discounted (yes, discounted!)… even if you have to dig through a big drawer full of ugly ones to find your treasure.
2. Use sales to your advantage – Stock up by buying more than what you need. Hear me out on this one. Think trips to Costco strategy. Buying in bulk. This is not a wasteful technique and it does not have to be all at once obviously. I’ve seen several deals that were closeouts of a fabric line and it was on clearance for less than $2 a yard. $2! Guess who walked out with the whole bolt under her arm. This girl! You can save money in the long run, but its super spur of the moment because these sales are unpredictable. – Still, keep an eye out for these deals.
If your fabric store has a sale section, make a habit of browsing it when you shop. I love this area for quilt backing fabrics. Buy only the prints you know you will use. It’s not a good deal if you buy 10 yards of baby puke green fabric and never use it. Look for neutral fabrics and simple prints that you know you’ll always be able to add in with another focus print/color.
4. Fat Quarters are your friend – These little gems make pulling off a big amazing multi fabric quilt a total breeze. It feels a little easier to bite off than walking to the cutting counter with 20 bolts of fabric stacked higher than your head. They’re premeasured as well so you don’t have to buy more fabric than you need. They are taken from one yard of fabric, cut in half lengthwise and then in half width-wise. The dimensions are approximately 18″ x 22″
Fat quarters are already folded nice and tight and easy to store in your sewing space. Bonus: Keep an eye on these little beauties in your sale fliers. JoAnns has them on sale for $1 each every once in a blue moon and for not a huge investment, you can walk away with a huge stash and variety of fabrics that will easily piece together a beautiful thrifty quilt. (and no one will ever have to know)
5. Coupons! – Speaking of sale fliers… I can’t leave these little lovelies out. Do not ever shop the big chain stores without your coupons people! I repeat, DO NOT! Yes, they have us all trained, but money saving is saving money. Just roll with it, mmmk?
JoAnns has a fantastic App with built-in coupons. Hobby Lobby has an app as well and a fantastic 40% off one regular priced item coupon that is super handy.
Most small shops will not offer as big of coupons as the chain stores. Their profit margins are less. We understand that and love them anyway.
Ask your fabric/quilt shop if they offer any discounts for quilting groups or guild memberships. If I show my guild membership card at my quilt shop, I get 10% off. It never hurts to ask.
5. Shop Online – This is probably my least favorite tip but if you aren’t wanting to spend a fortune in eye candy fabrics, its one of the best ways to go. You’ll find an even greater selection than in the store in most cases and a greater chance of finding specialty fabrics.
Let me get one thing straight… It’s not that I dislike shopping online. I actually love to shop online. You just don’t get the same experience in a virtual fabric shop as a fabric shop. I like to touch the fabrics.
If you know exactly what you need and how much you need, sites like http://www.fabric.com and http://www.fatquartershop.com will make your shopping experience a breeze. Always do a quick google search for active coupon codes and possible free shipping codes as well.
If you’re looking for sewing tools , always check Amazon.
6. Avoid shopping at the store when you aren’t sure what you’re looking for – If at all possible, at least realize that walking in a fabric store not knowing what you need is going to lead to a long receipt. It’s like going to the grocery store when you’re hungry. We’re all guilty of this one. So many beautiful things surround you. No one can really fault you for buying it all.
If you’re like me, you may cringe on the outside when the final bill comes around but secretly we’re doing a dance on the inside because with all these beautiful fabrics who can be sad? It’s totally natural to do that, isn’t it?
If you’re looking to shop smarter for your fabrics, keep these tips in mind and you can’t go wrong.
If having a large personal collection of fabrics seems like a far-off dream without spending a fortune, just you wait… you’ll get there.
Then again… if you’re able to wander aimlessly through the aisles of the fabric store buying whatever your heart desires… hey, you do you, honey 🙂
PS – If you’re looking for some FREE quilt patterns to use all those lovely new fabrics on, check out this post – 5 Free Weekend Quilt Patterns
What is your favorite tips for shopping smarter for fabric and sewing supplies? Please tell me your secrets and favorite shopper habits in the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts!