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buying fabric online

buying fabric online

Old 04-12-2013, 03:23 AM
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Jeanharville, you are very discerning in how you've described the problem of choosing colors!

First, you are correct that all computer monitors display colors differently. You might know, for instance, that your screen shows things to be more vivid than they actually are. And you'll take this into account when you're looking at that screen.

The second thing is that those of us who sell online generally use the pictures supplied to us by the fabric manufacturers. And these pictures might - or might not! - be "color correct" compared to the actual bolts of fabric. Whether an e-tailer actually looks at the bolt when it comes through the door to see how accurate the picture is depends on how hard that e-tailer wants to work. Frankly, it takes quite a bit of time to look at each bolt and "fix" the pictures. I *do* take the time to do this; in fact, it was exactly what I was working on when I got distracted and decided to make a quick visit to the quiltingboard! As to what other stores do, I think that e-Quilter scans the fabric themselves (because I do remember reading a newsletter from them saying "our scanners are very busy this week"). Honestly, I doubt that most places bother to check the pictures, especially discount e-tailers. It's just too time-consuming.

I'm not sure how the "color pickers" work, where you pick a color out of a rainbow palette and then the computer pulls up every fabric with that color in it. But even if the computer could do this *perfectly*, you would still be left with your third issue, which is that different fabrics have different visual textures, even if they have the same colors. So which ones go together? Gee... this kind of requires an actual human to do the choosing, doesn't it? Like ckcowl said, this is where a store's customer service comes in. We get calls quite often from customers who ask us to put several bolts next to each other and tell them if the fabrics work well, or if we can recommend something else. And we're always happy to do it.

This is where... ummm.... size matters. If the customer service department you're calling is in an office that's not near the warehouse where the fabrics are kept, they're not going to be able to help you coordinate your colors, are they? It's possible the customer service folks have never even laid eyes on the individual fabrics. Whereas a small company has the fabrics right in the next room, and they're going to be familiar with each one, and they will take the time to help you choose fabrics that you will be happy with, and will enjoy working with. These little e-tailers - just like your little LQS - are giving you something that you just can't get from the giant discount stores. They are giving you individual attention and help. And yes, they do have to charge a little extra for this service, because it takes time. But when you think of all the time that you spend creating a beautiful quilt... and the enjoyment that comes from the creative process... you really want to have the best combination of fabrics. And when you're buying long-distance, it's nice to have a little help choosing.
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Old 04-12-2013, 03:39 AM
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Lots of good thoughts above.

I buy most of my quilt fabric online. Using the retailers' pictures and sometimes color matchers, I seem to do well enough about 9 times out of 10. The 10th time, I sometimes get a fabric that still works nicely even though not quite as expected, and I sometimes get a fabric to go in the stash LOL .

Thousandsofbolts has a color matcher, color finder, and a feature where you can see all the fabrics in a given line. On some of the other websites, I'll do a search for the name of the designer or collection name to help find coordinates. If I've got fabrics across lines but from the same manufacturer, it can also help to go to the manufacturer website and see what their pictures look like together.
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Old 04-12-2013, 03:57 AM
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When I buy on line there are several things I look for and like toolazy I go to the manufacture's website to check out the fabric.
There are some manufacturers such as Northcott I've always like the feel of so the brand gets my attention. If I see a piece and I know the brand, I can go to that site and see the line. Looking at the other coordinating fabrics gives me an idea if it's what I want. I also try to buy coordinating groups.

I'll also buy charms or fat quarters to see if I want yardage.

Another option is to go on quarterly or vacation fabric buying trips. I go to Mary Jo's fabric store which is a fabric store in NC twice a year and choose a few projects.

Last edited by berryberry; 04-12-2013 at 04:04 AM.
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Old 04-12-2013, 05:07 AM
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I have had a couple that were not exactly like the picture, but they were still pretty so I did not complain. Mostly they are right on with what I see in the site. I must have one of those "lucky" computers.
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Old 04-12-2013, 08:36 AM
  #15  
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Thanks to all of you for your thoughtful responses. Your suggestions and good experiences have given me the confidence and steps of how to start. I like the idea of selecting the manufacturer and then the fabric line. That should solve the problem of coordinating and ensuring good quality.
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Old 04-12-2013, 08:57 AM
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You're right. This can be a problem. Over the years I have accumulated a huge stash and so when I do buy fabric, I'm almost always trying to coordinate it with fabric I already have and may have purchased 20 years ago. If you're putting all the fabric together for a quilt new, it's a bit easier. Most of the sites have a way to take the fabric to a "Worktable" or you can buy from the same line by the same designer with a good expectation that it will all go together. Otherwise, I usually opt for a fabric that will "go with" rather than try to find a fabric that will "match". Getting exactly the same pink or red or blue or green is almost impossible. Still, I love the convenience and ease, especially since, like you, I don't have a quilt shop or fabric shop of any kind within 90 miles.
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Old 04-12-2013, 09:42 AM
  #17  
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I buy a lot of my fabric from Equilter or Hancock of Paducah and have always been happy with what I bought!!!!
Originally Posted by jeanharville View Post
Because we don't have a good variety of fabrics in my area, I would like to buy online. So this is addressed to those of you who buy your yardage fabric online. Please tell me how you tell the true color of your choices and how do you manage to choose coordinating fabrics. Colors can display so differently on computer monitors. On most of the sites I go to like Thousands of Bolts and Connecting Threads the fabrics can be listed by color such as pink then all the pinks are shown, but not fabrics that would be good playmates. When I'm at a fabric store, I'll chose a fabric and then spend an hour walking up and down the rows of fabric trying to find those that would work well with it. It's a major and slow job for me. Buying online is a mystery to me. Hope you can advise me.
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Old 04-12-2013, 06:06 PM
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I buy 75% of my fabric from USA I might have once or twice got the wrong shade but it is never wasted it will always work in for another project
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Old 04-12-2013, 06:38 PM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by jeanharville View Post
Because we don't have a good variety of fabrics in my area, I would like to buy online. So this is addressed to those of you who buy your yardage fabric online. Please tell me how you tell the true color of your choices and how do you manage to choose coordinating fabrics. Colors can display so differently on computer monitors. On most of the sites I go to like Thousands of Bolts and Connecting Threads the fabrics can be listed by color such as pink then all the pinks are shown, but not fabrics that would be good playmates. When I'm at a fabric store, I'll chose a fabric and then spend an hour walking up and down the rows of fabric trying to find those that would work well with it. It's a major and slow job for me. Buying online is a mystery to me. Hope you can advise me.
Staying within a collection might be the best way to coordinate fabric colors.
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Old 04-12-2013, 06:46 PM
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I love the fabrics I buy here on the Quilting Board.

LOVE THEM- LOVE THEM!!!
and the price is so much cheaper than the quilt stores.
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