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Where do you shop for fabric?

Deana's picture


Do you have a favorite local shop? Do you venture online? If so, do you order swatches first? Tell us some of your tried-and-true, favorite fabric sources.

Deana Tierney, Assistant Editor, Threads

Deana Tierney May, Editor

Ckbklady's picture

(post #31374, reply #1 of 79)

Hi there,

I never buy fabric online since I want to touch it beforehand. It's part of the sensual experience of sewing, I think, to wander aimlessly around a fabric store and "let your fingers do the walking".

My favorite local fabric shop is Pacific Fabrics and Crafts in Bellevue, WA. ( They have a great selection of silks, cotton Thai batiks and remarkable, stylish home dec fabrics. The ladies who work there are all the older, glasses-on-the-tip-of-the-nose type, which adds to the pleasure of going there. They are all sewing authorities and take pleasure in helping with selections. It is one in a chain of eight stores. It is the finest Eastside fabric shop that saves one a trip over the choked bridges into Seattle. There are a couple of very boutiquey shops in Seattle, but they are out of my price range.

:) Mary

solosmocker's picture

(post #31374, reply #2 of 79)

I am not an online shopper for fabric. I will buy trims and patterns but so far that is it.

My favorite fabric store is in Manchester NH and is called Fabric Fix. It is in an old gas station/body shoppe if you can imagine that. The amount of fabric in this building is amazing. Fabrics come from the garment district in NY with a trip being made every other week to stock up. It is staffed by the most knowledgeable helpful women who have been selling fabric together for literally decades. This place has been written up on Pattern Review many, many times with customers coming from far and wide to this little gem. If you are into one of a kind fabrics, silks, cashmeres, high end faux furs, this is the place for you. The stock changes constantly so you never know what treasure you will find. Just a couple of examples: last trip I picked up some great lycra/ cotton twill for 4.00 a yd. I have also recently purchased eggplant colored embroidered netting with eggplant colored sequins, 4.00 a yd. I have purchased embroidered dupionis, silk gazar, wool doublecloth, cashmeres, etc. This is a store for sewists of clothing, not quilters. The buttons and trims are one of a kind as well. Can you tell I love this place? I do and go there about once a month all the way from way upstate NY.

Up here in NY my only fabric option is Joanns. I do purchase all my notions and lots of patterns there. I occasionally find some fabrics that I consider garment worthy too. The staff in this particular Joanns is very friendly and helpful and the store is always neat and clean. It seems to be well managed.

Online fabric shopping - I haven't been able to take that leap of faith yet. But why would I with the two great options I have. They compliment each other.

Online is not my preference as l

threadneedle's picture

(post #31374, reply #34 of 79)

I agree with you about Fabric Fix, but I'm wondering if you are aware of my store in Vermont.  If you are going from upstate NY down to Manchester you might be going very near Essex Junction where we are located.  We also carry designer fabrics, patterns, Imperial broadcloth & batiste, rayon batik, and more.  Threadneedle Fabrics.  

Edited 6/27/2007 12:55 pm ET by threadneedle

solosmocker's picture

(post #31374, reply #35 of 79)

Wow! Tell me more, please. I travel by the ferry from Plattsburgh to exit 17 on I-89 and down 89 all the way to Concord NH. I go thru at least every two months but usually monthly. I would love to see your store. If you would like to email me, please do. I am having a bit of an issue with my spamblocker so it may be a couple of days before I get your email, earthlink dial up and all.

Yes, I am privileged to have dialup out in these boonies. No cell service, no broadband. There is dish broadband which is quite expensive, but we have been considering it for a long time. 500.00 up front and 69.95 a month - YIKES!

tscushing's picture

(post #31374, reply #50 of 79)


       Thankyou so much for the fabric place in Manchester. I live in Rochester,NH and just started a sewing busness.  I have never heard of this store but I plan on looking it up.  I have wanted a place to get fabric for unique things to make.  Thankyou for your e-mail.                  

                                                             Love to Sew,  n Stitches with Twinkie


Bloss1996's picture

(post #31374, reply #57 of 79)

I live in the southern part of MA near Providence, RI but I have also shopped at Fabric Fix.  It is definitely in a class by itself and I agree that the personnel is more than helpful.  I do not make monthly trips as you do but at least make one trip a year (combined with meeting a good friend for lunch) and usually do it during their sale in August.  You cannot beat their prices as well as they have a good selection.

Unlike many who have joined in on this thread, I am very lucky to have a selection of stores for fabric.  I would have to say that my favorite is Fabric Place which started in Framingham, MA under the name of Sportswear (I shopped there for clothes as a teenager) but they have since opened three other branches.  They are a very good supplier of home dec fabrics as well and have a great seconds department loaded with home dec fabrics.  What you don't find in one ... you may find in one of the other branches.  They also sell yarn and sewing machines so they have a bit of everything.  I also have a number of good quilt shops as well as JoAnn's although I do not have a Hancock's very close.

I also had occasion to deal with Vogue as they were at the Sewing and Quilting Expo and I bought fabric from them there.  Wish they were located a little closer. 

My husband and I now spend at least four months of the year in FL and I do find that in my area (Sarasota/Bradenton) there is a lack of good fabric stores.  There are a number of quilt stores but not just fabric stores.  I have taken a couple of sewing trips to a few fabric stores but as I said ... I am spoiled ... I can be in three of the four Fabric places within 30-40 minutes .... so traveling an hour to go to just one store can be a let down. 

As far as the closing of many of the regular fabric stores I strongly feel that they can no longer compete with the larger chain stores which buy in much larger quantities of bulk as well as some of the other things that go along with owning.  There are certain stores like the ones in the garment district in NYC and those fabric stores in Chinatown in downtown Boston that will always be there but I know when I was on one of my junkets in FL to a regular fabric store the help and the owner were talking about a competitor that was closing and the owner said he wasn't sure how much longer he would be able to hold on due to taxes, etc. that keep going up.



Bloss1996's picture

(post #31374, reply #68 of 79)


Just had to let you know that I just returned earlier from your favorite stomping grounds for fabric .... the Fabric Fix in Manchester.

Although I was very, very good and did not purchase anything as I have sworn to deplete my fabric stash by hook or by crook they did have some (as usual) some interesting fabrics.  We asked about their upcoming sale but they said they did not know when it would be .... probably during the first two weeks of August which is about the same time.

They had quite a supply of cotton lycra (good for capris or pants) in some interesting patterns and plaids.   If I did have about nine pieces of fabric designated for capris I would have bought some.

I found the store to be somewhat neater (not that it has ever bothered me) than it usually is and I wondered if possibly they were under new management but did not ask.

As usual, my friend and I will meet during the Sale and do some shopping although I am desperately trying to use up some of the material I have.




joanbutler's picture

I only buy online now, now my (post #31374, reply #78 of 79)

Love soime of the older knitting stores x

joanbutler's picture

I only buy online now, now my (post #31374, reply #77 of 79)

I only buy online now, now my grandson showed me how to order lol but I used to use this place  also I love to get free patterns online I just made a lovely tea pot, got it from its really nice xx

NovaSkills's picture

(post #31374, reply #3 of 79)

Here in this part of Florida, garment fabrics area only available in JoAnne's, Rag Shop or Walmart (which is getting rid of them.) We have several wonderful quilt stores, such as Quilters' Choice in Jupiter, but they only have quilting cottons and flannels.

If I visit other towns and see places, I hit them. The chain stores market differently in different parts of the country, so it's worth seeing what might be unique there, too.

I was in New York, and went into Paron's--heavenly selection, and I only hit the 50% off section! I had previously ordered from their online arm, Manhattan Fabrics, which has a good website that has better photos of the fabrics than many sites. I didn't swatch, because it wasn't as critical to match anything, and I could understand from the designer's name and the fabric content description a lot about the "hand" of the goods. Fast response, got what I expected, although one fabric was just slightly darker than it had looked onscreen, not an issue in this case. If I'd needed to, I could have requested a swatch from them.

A neighbor has had much success with Christine Johnson's website, where she picks out things from the swatch sets, test-washes them, and then orders. That will work well for such vendors who have a "line"; outfits like Paron's get the end-runs of designers, etc., and you could find your first choice was sold out. I had received my 2 large cuts the day before I left for NYC, and when I hit the actual store, 4 days later, there was only 1 yard of one of them left. Had I 6 yards for me.

For our theatre, I've stuck with places that have "lines" of fabric types, and can refill an order if needed, or I've used our local JoAnn's. Luckily so far, my costume "builds" have been of fabrics I have a good chance of finding locally. If I had to do a big show with alot of specialty fabrics, I'd just bite the bullet, fly to NYC for 2 or 3 days and shop myself silly.

You might get a laugh out of this: two Broadway designers I know have trouble finding really inexpensive lighter weight cotton prints and certain other things they need for shows like "Hairspray", in volume yardage. Their secret is to leave NYC, head south and hit the JoAnn's in Virginia!

Oh, and I always check the "special purchase" fabrics in the bargain section of any JoAnn's or Walmart. A wider variety shows up there than is normal for the store's regular lines, due to the closeout, mill end purchasing agreements the chains make. I have even found quilt goods that were in the independent retailers the year before, and fabrics I could prove were used by dept. store labels like Jones New York. Ya never know...

jesse68's picture

(post #31374, reply #4 of 79)

Here in the twin cities, (MN) I use the local retailers of Hancock Fabrics, Joann's, and Mill End Textiles.  Although I often shop online for known brands and books, I prefer buying fabric by feeling and seeing the actual color.   Also fun are the local quilting and sewing stores--each has their own "flavor" of fabric choices.  I was delighted with the postings on the NYC areas, I must check that out since I regularly visit NYC. 

I find that self-discipline is a must--too easy for me to have projects in my head!

Crazy K's picture

(post #31374, reply #8 of 79)

Hi Jesse68!  I use very similar shopping.  I also live in the twin cities (MN) and have yet to find many other shops that carry fabric except for quilting cottons.  What part of the metro are you in?  Have you any other great 'haunts' that you're willing to share??  There is a wonderful store in Rochester, MN but that's quite a drive.  It seems that the quality in JoAnn's has gone down and Hancock's are closing more and more.  What's are we to do?????

Oh......Have you ever gone to S.R. Harris Outlet in Brooklyn Park?  It is a huge warehouse full of all kinds of fabrics where you take your choices to tables and cut your own and then have to put the bolts back.  If you ever go, take a'll be there a while!!!

Happy Sewing!


Edited 6/17/2007 10:02 am ET by Crazy K

Tatsy's picture

(post #31374, reply #22 of 79)

Wow! I remember all the lovely fabric stores there were in Minneapolis when I was growing up. After we moved to California, I would go home to visit and spend hours at Munsingwear's outlet and in Minnesota Mills. I don't shop for fabric online because I find too many good deals locally. We have JoAnn's, Beverly's, Hancocks', and a lovely local discount store that has hundreds of bolts of fabrics cheap. My main goal is to sew up some of the fabric that is crammed into my sewing room.

Lady Willoughby's picture

(post #31374, reply #23 of 79)

Oh, yes, I remember the fabric stores in Minneapolis!  I think of them nearly every day, particularly Amluxen's downtown.  I didn't shop there often myself as it was rather pricey for me at the time but my mother was a dressmaker who worked out of her home.  She had some wealthy customers who would sometimes have fabrics from Amluxen's delivered to her house then she would call them and they'd come over to tell her what to do with them.

How I long for the days when we could find nice fabrics (batiste and cotton interlock knit, for example).  Well, I long for the fine fabrics, not so much those days.  Now I live in a place with only a Hancock's and have resorted to buying on-line at  Though it seems I'm at Hancock's every other day looking for some notion or thread or interfacing...

Does anyone know where I can find the cotton interlock knit?  Hancocks only has a few bolts and all have nursery prints on them.  I was told that they are about $8.00 a yard "and nobody will pay that much for it so we don't carry it."

Lady Willoughby

Lady Willoughby

Tatsy's picture

(post #31374, reply #25 of 79)

I bought four yards of bright red interlock at Beverly's the other day, but it was in their flat folds area and probably not something they carry on inventory. The only thing I can suggest is Stretch and Sew. The store in our area closed but occasionally somebody comes through and does a trunk show in a hotel. Maybe they can still be reached online.

Lady Willoughby's picture

(post #31374, reply #26 of 79)

Thanks for the idea.  I'll see if I can learn anything by looking up Stretch and Sew on-line.  I couldn't even remember the name of that chain.  I took a few classes at one of them in the Dayton, Ohio area back in the 70's.

Not familiar with Beverly's (I'm in Wisconsin) but have just recently learned that I should check out the flat fold table of clearance items in my Hancock store.  I may not find interlock but I see there is the occasional nice piece in with the weird stuff.

Lady Willoughby

Lady Willoughby

MaryinColorado's picture

(post #31374, reply #27 of 79) I have been very happy with thier cotton interlocks and all thier knit fabrics and velvets.  Mary

ellalouise's picture

(post #31374, reply #69 of 79)

has anyone tried the fashion fabrics club,iwas running out of ideas to use for fabrics,so i joined this club,there is a saving here, small cost to be a member,just got back into sewing again,we only have wal-mart here for fabrics,so i had to do somthing.i am impressed with with the choices.

GailAnn's picture

(post #31374, reply #70 of 79)

I've only just this week joined the Threads Gatherings Discussions group.  My first question was about where to go for a fabric shopping "Girl's Week-end" and now I've found this discussion "Where do you shop for fabric?"

I thought it was just here in the KC area that independent fine fabric shops have disappeared.  I guess I was wrong and it crosses the country.  What a shame.  I love to sew, but I can't afford to waste my time sewing on fabrics that I won't LOVE in the finished garment.  Aside from the fact that poor quality fabric is paralizing!

Yes, I have tried it is OK., prices good, sales good.  Time lapse between purchace and arrival sometimes a little slow.  I just find that  buying on line is just not the same as going out to a wonderful store.  I love to see, touch, and smell the fabrics.

You would think with as many people sewing for pleasure and not thrift as there are today that there would be more high=end shops than there are.  Gail

ellalouise's picture

(post #31374, reply #71 of 79)

i am unable to go to other fabic shops,i wish there were some here,only wal-mart,that has been drastly  cut down,the qualily of the fabric is waydown.i have just got back into sewing,i have been sewing for my grandaughter who will be in second grade,she simply adores the clothes that are made.i also shop at

SewNancy's picture

(post #31374, reply #72 of 79)

I live about an hour and a half from NYC and when I have time I go into the garment district, especially if I want to put together a group of fabrics. I did this Saturday for my daughter. She has little patience so we went to Mood, my favorite for one stop shopping. If I am by myself I will go to Paron, and in and out of any place interesting. I will go to B and J if I can't find something unique elsewhere, but they are quite expensive. I like to get a bargain, but I am more interested in quality over quantity. I love sewing on high quality fabrics.
I am shopping more and more on line these days, but putting together a whole wardrobe is harder that way.
I shop at Emmaonesock a great deal and Manhattan fabrics, which is Paron, I have bought some fabrics from the fabric club, but I am not too thrilled with their quality. I have also bought some things from the Fabric Mart. I have also mail ordered from up in Conn. and they are incredibly helpful in putting together groups of fabrics and great samples.

jtp's picture

(post #31374, reply #73 of 79)

I have to put in some praise for Fashion Fabric Club.  I have gotten some very beautiful, high quality fabric from them over the years - you just need to shop carefully.  Having the swatches helps.  It has become very apparent in reading these discussions that most of us don't have a really good fabric shop near home, so shopping online it very necessary if we want high quality gorgeous fabric. I also shop - and like very much- Emma one sock and gorgeous fabrics.  I bought some great fabric from Fabric Mart - merino wool knit, silk charmeuse and silk suiting...  I get notions at the local JoAnn's and from Clotilde.

SewNancy's picture

(post #31374, reply #74 of 79)

Yeah, about the only thing that I buy from Jo Anns are notions thread especially when the thread is half price. I also buy patterns there. Fabric, except for a bolt of muslin with a coupon is about it.
You have to pay for the swatches?

Edited 8/15/2007 9:59 am ET by SewNancy

jtp's picture

(post #31374, reply #75 of 79)

Fashion Fabric Club has an annual membership fee for which you receive 18 fabric swatches per month, discount coupons and notices of sales via email.  The swatches are just enough to get a good idea of the quality and weight of their fabrics. 

Teaf5's picture

(post #31374, reply #66 of 79)

Where and what is this "lovely local store with discount bolts"?  I live in California and have family up and down the state; I'd love to find such a store!

Tatsy's picture

(post #31374, reply #67 of 79)

Sorry it took me so long to get back to you--technical problems.  The store is F&M Fabrics  near Niles and Oswell in Bakersfield. In addition to fabrics, they have all sorts of trims.  I recently started learning Chinese knotting and was able to get the rattail cord at 5 yds for a dollar.

helpsew's picture

(post #31374, reply #37 of 79)

I have enjoyed reading what is being said about fabric and fabric stores.  I would think someone was talking about our town, Meridian, Mississippi and it would be about NYC or Canada.  Your comment helped me so much.  "Also fun are the local quilting and sewing stores--each has their own "flavor" of fabric choices".

I own a sewing machine store.  I have been in business for 25 years in retail and expanded to internet in the past 10 years,  I recently decided to start carrying fabric because our Hancocks closed and our two Walmart Super Centers also quit carrying fabric.

I just get a lump in my throat every time I try to select fabric to carry in my store.  I am so scared of not being able to please our sewing customers.  I feel like this is the right direction to take at this time with fabrics but it is an awesome job to figure out what people want.  The childrens fabrics seems simple enough, quilting (batiks, etc) is overwhelming, notions are tough, and the one I would know, home decor, is not the demand as I understand.   I plan on having discount prices on nice fabrics but there is so much to choose from - I am dizzy.

I think the Handcocks and JoAnn's were trying to please non sewing occasional crafty customers needs.  I think that market will end up with Michaels and Hobby Lobby. 

Your statement was so classic "their own flavor" .  It give me more of a perspective to shot for.  I want to make good decisions - it is so hard


solosmocker's picture

(post #31374, reply #39 of 79)

Your letter made me think of the wonderful dealer I patronize in NH. She has lessons given that show off the wonderful capabilities of her machines and then some. They go from basic pants fitting to art to wear . She is nearly next door to a Joanns and doesn't try to compete with them. But they don't have heirloom trims and fabrics, so she offers those. Her notions are those you can't get at a Joanns, as in special feet and an awesome thread selection. Last time I went she had the felting tool and brush, which I have only seen on line so far. Her stock compliments her classes and I think thats how she has achieved some of her success without going crazy on inventory. Hope this helps a little. This info is from the consumers eye, certainly not owner's.

helpsew's picture

(post #31374, reply #46 of 79)

Hello Solo,

yes,  that helps so much.  The store you are referring to sounds very relaxed and confident with what they are doing.  We already have classes so this seems to be the right thing for us to do. 

Being in the sewing machine business for 25 years, I am confident in business but so concerned about lack of places to buy fabric. 

I know I need to relax about this but, We don't have a fabric chain or a Wal-Mart carrying fabric now in our town.  I know sewing is more popular than ever.

I am soaking up everything being said.  

thanks so much 




VKStitcher's picture

(post #31374, reply #40 of 79)

Thanks for adding your perspective, Allison.  With all the choices you have, I can only imagine how difficult it is to narrow it down and decide what to offer in your store.  Just listen to your customers, and find your niche--develop your own "flavor".  :-)

I agree with you that Joann's is catering to the crafty people, with all the different kinds of craft supplies and seasonal decorations (and junk) in their stores.  I like the convenience of getting yarn and beads for embellishments at Joann's, but I can find them at other stores like Michael's as well.  I wish Joann's would stick to quality fabrics and notions!

There is one Hancock's still open here, and I tend to find more garment fabrics there than at Joann's.  We also have a handful of independent fabric stores in the area.  One store specializes in heirloom sewing fabric & supplies, another carries bridal fabrics & lace, a couple offer home dec fabrics & trim, and there are several quilt shops to round out the mix.  I shop at all of them, depending on the project I'm working on.