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Thread: Kona Fabrics and Robert Kaufman Fabrics

  1. #1

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    Has anyone else noticed the poor quality of these two fabrics now that they're made in Thailand? I went to JoAnn's to buy some Kona solids and when I looked at the fabric it had the texture of some cheap WalMart sheets. It's the same at Hancock's. I didn't buy any. When I got home I looked at the labels on the bolts I have and the point of origin is Pakistan. The difference in the quality from the two countries is unbelievable. The next day I visited the LQS and looked at a bolt of Robert Kaufman and it is also now made in Thailand with the same diminished quality. When I asked the owner about it she just shrugged her shoulders and didn't answer. Am I just getting old and cantankarous about these things or has anyone else noticed. I e-mailed Kona, but never got an answer. I use the Kona on projects for the church so I don't want to use the poorer quality fabric. I guess I'll have to find a reasonably good substitute that has better quality. Since I'm footing the bill sure hope it's at JoAnn's or Hancock's because of the coupon savings.

  2. #2
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    See the Keepsake Quality fabric discussion. It's not about these brands, but you might find it interesting.
    Kona was always very soft and nice. I haven't shopped for these brands in a while, as I'm trying to use from my stash for as long as I can. However, I believe it and what bothers me is the shrug you got by your QS owner. The local one (only one) here doesn't seem care either.

  3. #3
    Senior Member krabadan's Avatar
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    I just finished a quilt using Robert Kaufman Fusions which I purchased online from Hancock of Paducah. It was the nicest fabrice I've ever used -- much nicer than Moda.

  4. #4
    Senior Member OdessaQuilts's Avatar
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    It wouldn't be so distressing if these lines weren't so gosh-darned expensive! Am I right? When I'm paying $12.00+ per yard for Kaufmann and the quality slips, but the price doesn't, then I just have to stop buying it. But I make sure that the shop owners know why I'm not spending my $$ with them for that reason.

    I also let my computer help me by sending letters and e-mails to the companies involved. I may only be one voice, but I feel I am representative of so many others who just don't take the time to express their opinions. I feel it is my responsibility to pass along why I am finding it more difficult to purchase something. And on the flip side, when I find something that I feel justifies spending my money on, I make sure to let that company/store/website know why I am buying from them, too.

    Businesses want repeat business. It keeps their doors open and the lights on. If Kaufmann suddenly realizes that cheaper quality is not going to translate into the profit margin they are accustomed to receiving, they may change back, but who knows?

    I say, get the best quality you can afford to buy and use it as much as possible. Keep the good suppliers in business for all of us. The chaff shall fall by the wayside eventually ( or so they say).

    JMHO

  5. #5
    Senior Member genghis khan's Avatar
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    Im so glad i came across this i too like kona but will stay away from it if this is going on. To jump off subject for a moment here ive been doing research into new sewing machines and thats not a good world right now either. Before i buy anything im gonna darn well make sure i can get proper service etc. for it other wise its no sale and ill be happy to stick with my old singer. Im glad we have these disscussions here and i feel weather its machines and or fabric you cant be too careful it seems these days, time to demand better of these people who via for our money in this.

  6. #6
    Moderator littlehud's Avatar
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    The last Kona I bought was still just fine.

  7. #7
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    If you are getting your Kona solids from JoAnn's or Hancocks Fabrics, it is NOT the same as Kona solids from the better stores. It is a different base fabric to test out the dyes lots and sold in the chain stores. Search the other threads on the board that discuss this issue. And Kona solids, the top of the heap ones from the good stores, are 3.60 per yard in quantities of 1 yard or more at Hancocks of Paducah (not to be confused with Hancocks Fabrics), hardly what I would call expensive!! There is absolutely no change in the quality of Kaufman fabrics that I have noticed and I buy a lot of it...solids and batiks especially. Please don't start spreading fearful rumors about quality fabrics and their makers. It just plain isn't true.

  8. #8
    Super Member Favorite Fabrics's Avatar
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    I checked the bolts on my shelf and they are either marked Thailand or Indonesia. None say Pakistan.

    I may be wrong, but I think I heard, or read, that almost all of the greige goods - raw cotton fabric - is from Pakistan. Perhaps it is the dyeing and finishing portion of the job that has been moved to Thailand or Indonesia?

    As to quality solids, I rather like RJR's Cotton Supreme. To my hands, it feels softer than Kona Cotton (though it isn't as well known as a brand).

  9. #9
    Power Poster nativetexan's Avatar
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    I have noticed Kona not being good any longer. hanco ck fabrics too. shame.

  10. #10
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    [quote=OdessaQuilts]It wouldn't be so distressing if these lines weren't so gosh-darned expensive! Am I right? When I'm paying $12.00+ per yard for Kaufmann and the quality slips, but the price doesn't, then I just have to stop buying it. But I make sure that the shop owners know why I'm not spending my $$ with them for that reason.

    I also let my computer help me by sending letters and e-mails to the companies involved. I may only be one voice, but I feel I am representative of so many others who just don't take the time to express their opinions. I feel it is my responsibility to pass along why I am finding it more difficult to purchase something. And on the flip side, when I find something that I feel justifies spending my money on, I make sure to let that company/store/website know why I am buying from them, too.

    Businesses want repeat business. It keeps their doors open and the lights on. If Kaufmann suddenly realizes that cheaper quality is not going to translate into the profit margin they are accustomed to receiving, they may change back, but who knows?

    I say, get the best quality you can afford to buy and use it as much as possible. Keep the good suppliers in business for all of us. The chaff shall fall by the wayside eventually ( or so they say).

    Odessa Quilts,
    Well said!

  11. #11
    Super Member shaverg's Avatar
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    I just bought Kona and Kaufman from my LQS. Still was great the Kona Bay felt like silk.

  12. #12
    Super Member katier825's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OdessaQuilts
    It wouldn't be so distressing if these lines weren't so gosh-darned expensive! Am I right? When I'm paying $12.00+ per yard for Kaufmann and the quality slips, but the price doesn't, then I just have to stop buying it. But I make sure that the shop owners know why I'm not spending my $$ with them for that reason.
    Are you really paying $12 for Kaufman? I've never seen any over $10, and can find online much less than that! I've yet to find a less expensive Kaufman that was inferior in quality. They have always been as nice as the LQS.

  13. #13
    Senior Member ljsunflower's Avatar
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    Kona solids & Kona Bay are too different things. Right? I always thought they were anyway.

  14. #14
    Super Member JanetM's Avatar
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    All this confusion about fabric quality.

    All manufacturers produce many bolts of fabric during their design process. They are testing the colors and prints to get everything just right. These goods are called griege goods. Once the manufacturer is satisfied with the print and colors he then produces his 1st quality goods.

    The greige goods have a lower thread count (just like bed sheets) and the dyes are not as stable. The "cotton" they use during this testing process is made of short cotton fibers instead of the long staple fibers used in their final production of 1st quality goods.These inferior goods are then sold to discount stores...WalMart, Hancock's, etc.

    Your local quilt store buys 1st quality fabric (atleast I have never heard of one buying greige goods). The same holds true for many online sources, such as EQuilter, Keepsake Quilting, Hancocks-Paducah.

    I too was confused when I started sewing again after being away from it for years. I like a bargain like everyone else but have found that "you get what you pay for" is true after all.

    I made some cute embroidered neck scarves for my daughter's dog Snickers. Wanting to be economical I bought fabric at WalMart. I prewashed it (as I do everthing) and couldn't believe what came out of the dryer. Once the sizing was removed I was left with thin (see-through) misshappen fabric that stretched every which way. Never agin!!!

    On another thread, group members were commiserating about how non-quilters expect to buy a hand-crafted quilt for the price of a bed-in-a-bag from WalMart. We shouldn't be guilty of the same thing by expecting quality quilting cotton at bargain prices.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by JanetM
    All this confusion about fabric quality.

    All manufacturers produce many bolts of fabric during their design process. They are testing the colors and prints to get everything just right. These goods are called griege goods. Once the manufacturer is satisfied with the print and colors he then produces his 1st quality goods.

    The greige goods have a lower thread count (just like bed sheets) and the dyes are not as stable. The "cotton" they use during this testing process is made of short cotton fibers instead of the long staple fibers used in their final production of 1st quality goods.These inferior goods are then sold to discount stores...WalMart, Hancock's, etc.

    Your local quilt store buys 1st quality fabric (atleast I have never heard of one buying greige goods). The same holds true for many online sources, such as EQuilter, Keepsake Quilting, Hancocks-Paducah.

    I too was confused when I started sewing again after being away from it for years. I like a bargain like everyone else but have found that "you get what you pay for" is true after all.

    I made some cute embroidered neck scarves for my daughter's dog Snickers. Wanting to be economical I bought fabric at WalMart. I prewashed it (as I do everthing) and couldn't believe what came out of the dryer. Once the sizing was removed I was left with thin (see-through) misshappen fabric that stretched every which way. Never agin!!!

    On another thread, group members were commiserating about how non-quilters expect to buy a hand-crafted quilt for the price of a bed-in-a-bag from WalMart. We shouldn't be guilty of the same thing by expecting quality quilting cotton at bargain prices.
    VERY well said, Janet M.

  16. #16
    Super Member brushandthimble's Avatar
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    once in a class I was teaching I wanted to show the difference of quality in fabric. I took a FQ from one of the chain stores, folded it in half and cut strips, refolding with each strip, NOT ONCE could I get a straight cut.

  17. #17
    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ljsunflower
    Kona solids & Kona Bay are too different things. Right? I always thought they were anyway.
    Yes, Kona Cotton Solids is a line of fabrics made by the Robert Kaufman Fabric Comapny. Kona Bay Fabrics is a different company, like Moda or Robert Kaufman, that makes many lines of fabrics (though most have an oriental flavor).

  18. #18
    Super Member shaverg's Avatar
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    I bought kona Bay large floral Peony print and Kona solids, I only use Kona black, they both feel like silk and Kaufman prints all have been good quality. I just got all three this weekend at our LQS end of year sale. They are very soft, no problem with any of the three.

  19. #19
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    You might want to try Connecting Threads. I'm new to quilting, but have been sewing for many years. Was hesitant to order online, because I counldn't 'feel' it. The CT fabric is made in America, and as shavery mentioned it feels like silk. It has a lovely hand to it and is reasonably priced.
    Mary Ellen

  20. #20
    Super Member Favorite Fabrics's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JanetM
    All manufacturers produce many bolts of fabric during their design process. They are testing the colors and prints to get everything just right. These goods are called griege goods. Once the manufacturer is satisfied with the print and colors he then produces his 1st quality goods.

    The greige goods have a lower thread count (just like bed sheets) and the dyes are not as stable. The "cotton" they use during this testing process is made of short cotton fibers instead of the long staple fibers used in their final production of 1st quality goods.These inferior goods are then sold to discount stores...WalMart, Hancock's, etc.

    Your local quilt store buys 1st quality fabric (atleast I have never heard of one buying greige goods). The same holds true for many online sources, such as EQuilter, Keepsake Quilting, Hancocks-Paducah.
    I beg to differ. I think there's some confusion about what greige goods are. Wanting to be sure, before I posted, I looked up what the definition was and this is what I found at http://textileglossary.com/terms/greige-goods.html:

    (pronounced 'gray') - An unfinished fabric, just removed from a knitting machine or a loom. Loom state of cloth that has not received dry and wet finishing.
    An unfinished fabric, just removed from a knitting machine or a loom. Also called grey goods.
    Fabric in the raw state, before dyeing or finishing processes.
    Grey fabric- Raw fabric, before it is bleached and processed.


    So... greige goods is just unfinished fabric (which is what I thought). There will be many different qualities of greige goods, with different thread counts, more or less slubs in the weave, different fiber contents etc.

    The manufacturers do "strike-offs", which is a test printing of their design. If the quality of the strike-off is acceptable, then they go ahead with the full production run. I don't know *all* of what the manufacturers are checking with the strike-off, but I assume it just has to do with the quality of the printing (colors, screens) and does not have anything to do with the finishing, which is a completely separate step.

    I don't know what happens to the goods produced by strike-offs, other than they sometimes wind up in the hands of the fabric companies' sales reps as small samples. Sometimes they go to pattern designers, to make "real" quilt samples for use in selling the patterns. (I used "real" to note the difference between an actual physical quilt, and a "picture" of a quilt made using design software.)

    It can happen that a supposed "good" production run turns out to have flaws in it, maybe a repeating unprinted spot in the fabric, or maybe the wrong greige goods were loaded into the printing machine. I really don't know what happens to those! Sometimes, unfortunately, it's the LQS at the end of the line that finds and reports the problem. (I've had to do that a few times.)

    I hope this information is of some help!

  21. #21
    Senior Member OdessaQuilts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by katier825
    Quote Originally Posted by OdessaQuilts
    It wouldn't be so distressing if these lines weren't so gosh-darned expensive! Am I right? When I'm paying $12.00+ per yard for Kaufmann and the quality slips, but the price doesn't, then I just have to stop buying it. But I make sure that the shop owners know why I'm not spending my $$ with them for that reason.
    Are you really paying $12 for Kaufman? I've never seen any over $10, and can find online much less than that! I've yet to find a less expensive Kaufman that was inferior in quality. They have always been as nice as the LQS.
    My LQS has some fabric (top-quality goods) for around $12 - $12.95/yd. I don't buy much of it at that price. I have been called "The Queen of the Internet" for fabric shopping, as I love a bargain just like everyone else. And this is from a dear friend who works at the LQS. In fact, she informed me last night that her shop had recently received both some Kaufman AND some of the Kona that was NOT as high-quality as they had been in the past. And guess what? THE PRICE HAD GONE UP!:twisted:

    I'm sorry, but there is something inherently wrong with that. I do not begrudge a company the opportunity to make a profit for good quality products. But I have a big problem with seeing my money spent on things that benefit other countries while my neighbors suffer without jobs.


    I do my best to shop at the LQS whenever I can. Those ladies in there are my neighbors and if they are unemployed, who do you suppose is contributing tax dollars to provide for them? But I will not be badgered into purchasing a "name brand" when they don't even have the company pride to keep the quality at a high level. I refuse to pay more for less quality.

  22. #22
    Super Member brushandthimble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emmy
    You might want to try Connecting Threads. I'm new to quilting, but have been sewing for many years. Was hesitant to order online, because I counldn't 'feel' it. The CT fabric is made in America, and as shavery mentioned it feels like silk. It has a lovely hand to it and is reasonably priced.
    Mary Ellen
    personal I don't like the feel of CT fabrics, the weave seems looser and the feel coarser. just mho

  23. #23
    Super Member Oklahoma Suzie's Avatar
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    I haven't noticed, but thanks for the info.

  24. #24
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Favorite Fabrics
    I checked the bolts on my shelf and they are either marked Thailand or Indonesia. None say Pakistan.

    I may be wrong, but I think I heard, or read, that almost all of the greige goods - raw cotton fabric - is from Pakistan. Perhaps it is the dyeing and finishing portion of the job that has been moved to Thailand or Indonesia?

    As to quality solids, I rather like RJR's Cotton Supreme. To my hands, it feels softer than Kona Cotton (though it isn't as well known as a brand).
    is it possible that kona is making two different qualities?

  25. #25
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaverg
    I just bought Kona and Kaufman from my LQS. Still was great the Kona Bay felt like silk.
    believe it or not, the last time joanne (this is me, sticking my finger down my throat!) had a sale, i bought kona and it was delicious. great quality. i don't know what they did wrong.

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