This is the second of my two part post where I attempt to answer this frequently asked question! You can read the first post here; in it, you will learn that I do most of my fabric shopping IRL, and I offer my best advice for shopping at bricks & mortar fabric stores. This post is not sponsored, none of these links are affiliates - these are just my favorite places to peruse fabric online!
It is much easier for me to practice self control when I am in a physical store (as opposed to mindlessly clicking through the check out online), and I make my best decisions when I can touch the fabric and see it drape with my own eyes. I am often a little disappointed with fabric purchased online, mostly because it is different from what I imagined, but I occasionally do it, and I have learned from past mistakes.
I try to have flexibility in my expectations, and I keep a few things in mind :
Color can vary wildly from screen to reality, so have an open mind about hue, shade, and saturation. Chances are, online photos were edited to be a bit brighter or more saturated.
The texture or weight might be different from what I expected. For this reason, I stick to fabrics I know I like - linen, cotton lawn, solid color linings.
Vintage fabrics might be stiff, musty, stained, or weird….but if the price is right, they’re probably worth it! Cross you fingers that it won’t smell like mothballs, and add to cart.
Finally, I like to buy exact fabric qualities that I already know I like, but that are hard for me to find IRL. These include: Kaufman Ventana, Kaufman Brussell’s Washer Linen/Rayon, Silk Habutai, Rayon Bemberg, Pellon Interfacing.
Because I live in NYC, I have access to many fabric stores in the Garment District. For that reason, I buy silk, wool, and linen locally. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like to look! My favorite online stores for fashion fabrics are Mood Fabrics, Stone Mountain & Daughters, Fabric Mart Fabrics, and Emma One Sock. FMF and EOS update their offerings every weekday, and are worth checking often for good deals. All of these vendors offer “deadstock” fabrics, or past season designer fabrics.
For more “everyday” fabrics such as denim, cotton twill, and cotton jersey, I love Fabric.com. For some very nice offerings such as kasha lining, I like Vogue Fabrics. Fabrics-Store.com has an incredible selection of solid color linen, and Dharma Trading has a wonderful selection of light weight silks (and myriad other textile and sewing related supplies).
And finally, eBay and Etsy. Between the two, when it comes to fabric shopping, I prefer the wild hit or miss nature of eBay, but both sites have their specialties. eBay and Etsy both offer new, “by the yard" fabric, as well as vintage and random pre-cuts. Some people open “de-stash” shops to clear out their own stash. Etsy is a good place to find Japanese imports, and eBay is rich with Indian block printed cottons.
If you have a vision of your dream fabric, my main advice is: be patient. You might find what you are looking for on your initial search, but if you crave a vintage print that makes your heart sing, or a wool/cashmere blend in your favorite plaid, don’t give up easily. Set eBay alerts for your favorite search terms, and check all your favorite fabric websites regularly, sorting your searches by “newly listed”. The satisfaction of finding the perfect fabric will make the wait worth it.
Do you have any fabric shopping tips or personal favorite online shops that I missed? Let me know! And happy hunting. XO, Martha