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Thread: Looking for advice... bargain fabrics versus more costly "treasures"

  1. #1
    Super Member Favorite Fabrics's Avatar
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    I've been reading all the posts regarding where everyone likes to shop (and why), where people have found bargains, and about the times when you buy a "treasure" even if it isn't on sale.

    And I'm hoping that you'll be willing to chime in with your thoughts and suggestions on this new question.

    As a fabric store manager, I basically have two options when deciding what to buy. I can get the new (and usually too-tempting) lines that the manufacturers are just coming out with, or I can get fabrics that are being discontinued (older lines that are being dropped).

    The new fabrics we have to pay full-price for, while the discontinued ones cost us about $2 less (and so we could sell them in the $5 - $6 range, rather than about $8 ). :-)

    The "bargain" fabrics are just as good a quality - they're not seconds - but the selection is spotty, in that you'll never find a complete collection to draw from, as the best ones have already been picked over and what's left is, well, the leftovers that just weren't so popular.

    For me personally, the fun in buying is finding a group of fabrics that just "pop" when you put them together. And that's easy to do, when you choose from the new fabrics. But with the "bargains", there might be nothing much that goes with them; it's really hit-or-miss. And so I really haven't gone after the "bargains".

    But times are different these days, and money's tight. We all love "new" but not everyone can afford the price for the latest fabrics. Have I been making a mistake by not having a group of fabrics for the cost-conscious quilter? And of course, everyone who's sewing for charity or fund-raising is definitely working within a budget.

    There have been so many thoughtful - and thought-provoking - responses to other questions on the forum. I'm looking forward to hearing some collective wisdom!

  2. #2
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    I don't know if I'm typical, but I have never purchased complete lines of fabric for a quilt. I prefer to rely on my own instincts to "pull" many different fabrics together.

  3. #3
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    I guess it's a matter of preferences. To me, a quilt is not a quilt unless it is "scrappy". I never buy coordinated sets of anything, it's too matchy-matchy for my taste in quilts.

    I'm working with a reduced fabric budget, too, so I'm on the lookout for sales. If I don't particularly like a print, but the color fits in with the values I'm looking for, I'll still use it, because I mostly use strips that are 2 inches or less. I save the really ugly prints for the smallest pieces!

  4. #4
    Senior Member crashnquilt's Avatar
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    When looking at the discount fabrics, look in your shop to see what you already have on hand that can coordinate with the discount fabrics.

    I am in the process of opening a shop and I know exactly from where you speak. I live in an area that unemployment is almost 10%!

    I also find the problem of getting people to understand that the discount fabrics are the exact same fabric they have been buying but it is a closeout fabric.

    If you find a good deal on a discount fabric, see if your inventory has complimentary fabrics. If so, display those all together.

    Good luck!

  5. #5
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prism99
    I don't know if I'm typical, but I have never purchased complete lines of fabric for a quilt. I prefer to rely on my own instincts to "pull" many different fabrics together.
    Ditto. I never buy from just one fabric line. I am also very price conscious. Yet I manage to buy lots of beautiful, quality fabric that somehow goes together. When I started quilting, selecting the fabric was the very hardest part of making a quilt, and I dreaded it. Now it's the most fun part, though it still takes some time (and I enjoy spending that time). I pull almost all the fabric from my stash, somehow using all those odd pieces that I find at a bargain.

    To me, $5-6 is still too much for the discontinued fabric. I can find it on ebay for $3 or at other sites for $4. I also support my closest LQS, but her fabric is all priced at $6. She doesn't have a high turnover, so some of the fabric is not the very latest, but some of it is, and all of it is beautiful.

    I have trouble finding good neutrals and lights on sale. I think they sell out when they first hit the stores.

  6. #6
    Super Member katier825's Avatar
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    I would love to see both in a store. Some of the places I shop online have both.

    While I love the feel of the new, quality fabric, I have to be careful with the money. Like Prism 99, I tend to mix and match between the brands. Only once have I used just one line of fabric for the quilt front. I wanted to do the back with it too, but at $9/yd, it just wasn't going to happen. I found some very nice quality fabric online for under $4/yd to use for the back. It was a brand name, probably discontinued, but still the same quality as the new fabric. It isn't a perfect match, but blends very well with the collection I used for the front.

    I prefer to buy a good quality bargain fabric than to buy what they have at Walmart or Joann's. Sometimes I'll come across fabric there that is ok, but I can definitely tell the difference when I combine it with the good stuff. :)

  7. #7
    Power Poster RedGarnet222's Avatar
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    Aha!! Someone to ask a question to about a line of fabric I have been looking for.

    There is this quilt I love and I want to buy the fabric line to make. It is Rhythm & Blues by red rooster. (The quilt pattern is calle dthe same)

    I saw the quilt made up in a blog and researched it to find the manufacturer. I found the pattern and now I want the fabric. There is no one that sells it here where I live. :(
    Now how do I go about getting my yardage??

    Edited to say ... Yes I do buy some of the sale fabrics at the quilt store. It is always fun to find a bargain. Mostly I buy them with something in mind. Even if it is a backing. So maybe the fabrics should be generic enough to go with what is currently being sold colorwise, that is.

  8. #8
    Super Member Favorite Fabrics's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dunster
    I have trouble finding good neutrals and lights on sale. I think they sell out when they first hit the stores.
    Thank you for sharing what it is that you're looking for, that you can't easily find! That's very helpful!

  9. #9
    Super Member chewboo's Avatar
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    I have only bought one quilt that is all one line i loved the pattern and material and bought the kit. most of the time i decide the fabrics and they are not usually from the same line the first place i go to where on line or at the shop kis the sale fabric

  10. #10
    Super Member Lisanne's Avatar
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    I'm another one who doesn't by buy fabric line. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever seen fabrics in the same line displayed together.

    I absolutely do not care if it's the latest thing or not. Quilts aren't like clothes. It's not like you'll stop using the quilt the way you'd stop wearing an outfit that's not this year's style. In fact, when I started quilting a few months ago, I was quite dismayed to find that my favorite tiny flower prints (the ones that have been in fabric shops for decades, since I was born!) and larger tapestry look florals are no longer available. it's all about batiks now, I was told. Well, I love the batiks, but I want my classic florals, too. If I ever find a place that still carries them...

    Sure, the remainders have been picked over, but you as a shop owner can pick over what's left. It's a great idea to carry them, but choose ones you think people would like.

    Fine that you're asking us, but tastes and shopping preferences differ in different parts of the country. Why not poll your customers? Or just experiment by buying some and seeing what the response is. Maybe instead of billing them as picked-over seconds, bill them as the customers' last chance at those designs.

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