Buying Fabric On The Internet: It Opens Up A New World of Opportunity

Many sewers and needlecrafters recognize the fact that there is nothing quite like being able to hold and feel a fabric, assessing the color in different lights and getting an idea about drape before buying.

The ability to find interesting and low cost fabrics online, however, provides an additional fabric source for the Internet shopper.

1. Finding Fabrics Online

It is possible to buy direct from producers internationally; for instance, to buy silk direct from a producer in India or China. An internet search will find many different international suppliers of fabrics and textiles.

However, to make this economically viable many companies have a minimum order value. Another way of finding interesting fabrics from around the globe is to take a look at the large online auction houses, for instance eBay.com. These auction sites put buyers and sellers from around the world together.

2. Auctions

Ebay offers sellers the opportunity to sell single or "one off" items, without the need to set up an internet shop or website. This means that it is cost effective for a seller to sell these "one off" items and buyers can often find some unique offers. 

Recent auctions have included pieces of antique kimono fabric from Japan and sari (or saree) wedding fabric from India.

When looking for interesting fabrics on auction sites such as eBay it is worth searching other sections than just the fabric section. Vintage fabrics often can be found in the antique section and the fabric contained in clothes can be another interesting source for the creative sewer.

3. Buying Wholesale

It is also possible to buy fabric from online wholesale dealers. Often roll ends and remnants can be found at good prices.

A roll end might include several yards of material. This means that the best speculative purchases are neutral materials that will lend themselves to many projects.

 A ‘must have’ offer of 10 yards of neon green fun fur may seem like a bargain of a lifetime, however novelty may soon wear off. Plain fabrics can also be dyed. A roll end of wool or cotton fabric, both of which dye well, can be an excellent source of fabric for many different and diverse sewing projects.

Getting Recommendations

When buying fabric for the first time online it can be useful to get some feedback from other purchasers. Discussion boards and forums can be a great way to do this.

Many sewers and needlecrafters will be very happy to exchange experiences and make suggestions and recommendations of good, reputable online stores.

Tips for Buying Fabric Online:

  • Watch the postage cost. Good quality, heavy fabrics are likely to need to be delivered by courier rather than through the post and the cost of postage might start to outweigh any cost saving.
  • Some online fabric stores are happy to send swatches. Don't be afraid to ask!
  • When buying from an auction house remember ‘buyer beware’. Check the sellers' feedback and feel confident about their credibility before bidding.
  • Ask questions of the supplier and ensure that the fabric is as expected. For instance some fabrics are described as silk but in fact are made from synthetic fibers.

Buying fabric online isn't for everyone. Some people report great experiences, others less so.

 But the opportunity to buy something a little different, or to find some well priced fabric is often too much of a temptation for the speculative buyer.

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