u.s. fabric stores: colour them gone?

Wearing memades last week

Wearing memades last week

(My apologies in advance for this long & link-riddled post. It just got to me!)

As many American home sewers know, Hancock Fabrics closed all it’s stores in late July.

What are our options now? For me, just Jo-Ann’s, and a very real chance that whatever fabric type I’d like won’t be there.

And what about quality? Could I find a Pendleton-quality wool or Polartec® fleece or berber? Why not? They’re milled in the U.S., or used to be. Have all the mills closed as well?

Am I among the few who’ve experienced shopping at an independent fabric store with exquisite mill end fabrics at mostly reasonable, if high, prices?

I still have at least six pieces from one, and wear what I’ve made up because it’s in perfect condition after nearly two decades. (See my rayon duster in the photo.)

I, and the majority of U.S. home sewers, are forced to either purchase fabrics sight unseen from online vendors, or from conglomerates like Walmart and Jo-Ann’s.

If you live in a metropolitan area with a connection to the fashion industry (New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco), there are other options, generally with prices that have to reflect the higher cost of doing business in those areas.

There are many excellent quilting stores around the country, and I don’t mean to dismiss them!  I just don’t fancy an all-quilting cotton wardrobe.

Lovely and Gentle Readers, am I the only sewer missing a real fabric store with consistent quality fabrics?

new development on friday, includes 15 August deadline:

Don’t get too excited, as Michaels currently sells fabric online. Only.

For those who’d like a bit more about Hancock’s, here are some articles I found interesting:

Okay. Off my soapbox.

Sewing may resume, with much gratitude for all my fabric stash!

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17 thoughts on “u.s. fabric stores: colour them gone?

  1. Judy @ NewEnglandGardenAndThread

    JoAnn’s is my only choice unless I want to break the bank and go to a quilt store. And, even when I want to do that, I don’t like the one that is fairly close and end up driving three hours round trip to one that is fabulous but so out of my price range it isn’t even funny. Thanks for the update.

    Reply
    1. CurlsnSkirls Post author

      You’ve very welcome, Judy. Thank **you** for this info!
      Would you believe there are sewers (in other countries) who believe we have easy access to floods of fabrics over here? And that it’s fairly good quality & good pricing??

      Reply
  2. sewchet

    I’m sad for you as there’s nothing quite like browsing an actual store and feeling the fabrics before buying. I buy quite a lot online, but still love going to a fabric shop.

    Reply
    1. CurlsnSkirls Post author

      Thank you for such sympathy & understanding, Sheila. “Fabric therapy” is what one shop keeper used to call it, and it certainly feels like it sometimes! Texture and colour and shape can be so satisfying, and doubtless uses quite beneficial parts of one’s brain, whilst nurturing your soul and soothing your spirit.
      sigh . . . . .

      Reply
  3. SomedaySewing

    I feel the same way. I have Joann’s and one quilting store with a few bolts of apparel fabric! I order from Fabric.com quite a bit and if I happen to travel the 4-5 hours to Nashville or Chicago, they have some great fabric stores but that is a lot of travel for fabric shopping! I commiserate and I am going to check out some of the referral links folks have posted. Thanks for bringing this up!

    Reply
    1. CurlsnSkirls Post author

      You are very welcome! Thank you so much for your comments! When you go to Chicago,have you seen Fishman’s (very high end), New Double Rainbow (not an online seller) and Vogue Fabrics (no connection to the magazine)? They’re within a block of each other on Roosevelt Road, south loop.

      I don’t think very many people not involved in sewing here in the U.S. realise what’s been going on and escalating!

      We talk about where RTW (ready-to-wear) is sourced and is it ethical, but I don’t see reference to where all this fabric is being made, what effect it’s having on environments during manufacturing, and how much is spent just on getting it to market.

      And THEN there’s employees at the start of the cloth manufacturing process: What are their working conditions? How much are they being paid?

      There’s an awful lot of cheap cotton on offer around my neck of the woods and somehow it seems like that should be raising a whole lots of questions . . . . .

      . . . and opportunities for vendors such as Samantha & Robyn have mentioned.

      Reply
  4. robynsewsthisandthat

    It is so sad to see all of the fabric stores disappearing and minimizing our choices to variety of fabrics. I am lucky to live in an area where there are a few independent stores available. Check out this website for fashion fabrics – http://www.lesfabriquesinc.com/fabrics/ . They also have an Etsy site. I find it hard to purchase fabrics online as I have a need to see and feel it in order to be confident in my purchase. I know this store in the link above. They are very nice fabrics and are very helpful if you contact them with questions. I hope this helps.

    Reply
    1. CurlsnSkirls Post author

      Robyn, thank you so much for this referral! I looked at it in astonishment, then read their pricing is for 1/2 yards. Oops!
      Yes, I also really prefer to touch & feel & see the drape of a fabric before buying, but many (most?) of us don’t have that option any more. 😱

      Reply
  5. jendavismiller

    What a great post, Del. I am commiserating with you, sad lack of fashion fabric shops in my neck of the woods. I’d love to see an American version of GBSB, but all I’m aware of is Project Runway, which once was fun, but it became such a drain to listen to the whining and complaining and worse. Mood Fabrics has done well because of PR, but I know of few others, especially on the east coast. I’ve been checking into your recommendations for shops on the west coast, and it seems rather promising, but then again, no browsing. We do have one lovely (small) shop near that offers some good fabrics and knowledgeable staff. Love your duster. And the hat!

    Reply
    1. CurlsnSkirls Post author

      Thanks so much, Jen! Am glad to finally get to wear that hat – bought in Chicago, I’da been like The Flying Nun if I’d tried it there!
      Agree with you about Proj Runway the few times I watched it. Am glad you’ve got even a small shop near you to patronise. Talk soon & remind me to send you that recipe. I just forgot, again. 😮

      Reply
  6. oursewingpatch

    The guy I spoke about last week my lovely one…. Currently retails on eBay only but does fulfil orders to USA……. fabricman. He has started a website that is in it infancy BUT check out what he says when you click on retail fabric, think you will agree with him at jjtextiles.org.uk . He’s based in Manchester, my viscose was not only excellent value but beautiful quality too. Another, again t’up North is croftmill.co.uk . Their prices vary but they do have some great deals just to get you started.

    Doesn’t resolved the joy of mooching around a fabric store but I will say I really liked fabricman.

    Next time I actually get down to Walthamstow maybe we should try FaceTime as I go round 😂💋

    Reply
    1. CurlsnSkirls Post author

      Lovely One, thank you sooo much for this info. Immediately I went to his ebay site (http://stores.ebay.co.uk/thefabricman) and will start serious trolling after answering you, and Margaret over at her blog.
      Also read his web site, and was very pleased to read his philosophy, particularly about saving good fabric from getting tossed.
      Am not the least surprised he’s gotten such a following so quickly. Would lo-o-ove to go round Walthamstow with you – thank you for such a grand thought!!! Would prefer to be in person, but online’s cheaper. (Leaves more $$ for shopping!) You WILL paypal-bill me if I succumb whilst wandering, won’y you??? kiss-kiss-kiss & hug-hug-hug!

      Reply
  7. craftycreeky

    Here in the UK, we went through a stage of fabric shops closing but over the last few years (probably since ‘Great British Sewing Bee’ started) the tide seems to have turned, the independent shops seem to be surviving and new ones opening, most decent sized towns have at least one fabric shop, even in Otley we have a market stall once a week. The ranges may not be huge but the quality is usually pretty good and here in Yorkshire the prices are ok too 🙂

    Reply
    1. CurlsnSkirls Post author

      Thank you, Margaret, for this valuable info! I’d sort of gathered this, from my few years spent reading UK sewing bloggers, and most particularly since following all you delightfully spirited Yorkshire Spoolettes.
      Here in the U.S., partly because of sheer size, we haven’t been as concentrated on craft in general or sewing in particular. IMHO, another consideration is the centuries of history we don’t have over here, going back to ancient times when craft was necessity, not hobby-oriented. What may have really helped fuel population growth & density, was the Industrial Revolution. But I’d give over to any more versed in U.S. history than I in this area!
      I seem to remember Love Productions announcing a US version of GBSB, but don’t recall further events. Can anyone else fill us in?

      Reply

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