Sunday Stash #97 – What I Paid For Designer Fabric

Like most of the entire blog community, this week I read the fantastic article, “What You Should Pay For Designer Fabric” from the Right Sides Together blog. Whether you (dis)agree with the arguments, it’s a smorgasbord of food for thought! Personally, I probably fall somewhere in the middle. For sure I want to find fabric at the cheapest rate, but I also want the fabric shops / small business owners that I love to succeed. It’s an incredibly fine, fine line.
So when I got the email blast that my LQS, The Remnant Warehouse, had a 25% off sale this weekend, I figured that was a sign from the fabric deities. I picked up a metre of hunter green homespun, and this Comma roll, both for Cody’s t-shirt quilt. (Surprisingly, I didn’t have any of that Comma in my stash!) I left the price tag on, so you can bear witness to the prices we pay in Australia. 
1.5 metres = 1.64 yards
$36.00 AUD (tax inclusive) = $31.28 USD
1.64 yards, purchased at $31.28 USD = $19.07 USD / yard at regular price.
After the 25% discount, that roll of Comma cost $14.30 USD / yard.
I’m not faulting my LQS for this. They have a business, and they deserve to turn a profit; after all, they’re not a charity! On the flip side, you can see there’s quite a discrepancy between the regular price in the US, versus here in Australia, even when fabric is on sale. Honestly, I don’t know the solution. However, all I can do for now is to continue to purchase from both my LQS and overseas to support both the small business owner, and my wallet.
I’m flying to Hong Kong today, so there will be mostly radio silence on the blog for the rest of the week. You’ll undoubtedly find me over on Instagram (IG: molli_sparkles), where I’ll be posting images of my first trip there. I’m not sure I’ll have much time to fabric shop, but if I do, you can be sure I’ll find the good stuff!

12 Responses

  1. Here in Switzerland, the going rate in our local fabric shop is currently around 22 – 25 CHF a metre (US$ -23 $26, AUS$26 -$30) – so I feel your pain!

  2. One Wee Bird says:

    It's the same here in Kiwiland so I'm like you I try to support my LQS when I can but am also a big bad fabric bargain shopper so online surfing fills my needs….

  3. Vera says:

    We are at 13-15$ per metre here (Europe) which compared to others is still acceptable.

  4. Kymberly says:

    I'll try to avoid all the politics going on in the US right now concerning minimum wage vs. living wage. I suspect if fabric store owners had to pay workers more that 7.25 USD per hour and were forced to pay benefits for all workers, not just those few full time employees, our fabric would be significantly more than $11.00 a yard. I do my best to support my LQS and online stores by paying ethical prices, but it is a struggle when I make less than $11.00 an hour.

  5. anne Scott says:

    Here in Canada, things can be costly but overall you can purchase fabric anywhere from $8.00 to $14.00 dollars per yard/meter. Of course you can always pay more so shopping around is always a good idea. I do a lot of online shopping as the smart shops keep their shipping costs as low as possible. Buying from the U.S. is always a temptation but as the Canadian online stores are becoming more numerous great deals are available. I love to support our economy and hate having to pay duty when purchasing outside this beautiful country.For those who are interested in knowing in Canada our minimum wage is $11.00/hour and yes we do have free health care.

  6. Leanne says:

    The thing is that for countries like Canada, Australia, and the UK, and many others, the shops must buy through a distributor – they cannot buy directly from the fabric manufacturer. The distributor takes care of all the import issues so they do provide a great value added. But then they add a cost on top of the manufacturers price. If you buy from the US shops, you avoid that cost but instead pay for shipping and sometimes you get customs charges. It is always a toss up as to which is cheaper/faster/ more efficient. I try to buy both locally and internationally.

  7. Kaja says:

    I fudge the issue: I buy pretty fabrics as and when I want them, which usually means UK shops (though still online as I have very little within sensible driving distance). If it's just greedy stash buying I go US, but mostly limit myself to sale stock. There is always the risk of getting stung for import duty but even then the US is the cheapest. It's not just about the cost though, for me. US stores still seem to have the widest choice. Also I've just read the piece you link to and realise that I'm definitely not buying from "huge corporate online retailers" as the US stores I favour are all online versions of actual bricks-and-mortar shops.

  8. Erica says:

    I was a die-hard US shopper for fabrics because the difference from there to here in Canada was ridiculous, even when shipping, converting yards to metres, and the difference in the dollar were factored in. US prices have risen steadily and somewhat sharply but Canadian prices have stayed the same and, in many cases, even dropped because our dollar has been consistently strong for several years. My attitude has definitely changed and I shop much more here at home, either online or in an actual LQS. The one thing cost doesn't qualify, however, is selection. Nobody in our neck of the woods carries some of the really mainstream designers/fabrics so I buy those online, out of the US, and don't waste a minute feeling bad about it (and once in awhile still score an awesome deal – woot!).

  9. Katy Cameron says:

    As Leanne says, outside the US shops have to pay distributor fees as well as import taxes etc, so we pay a lot more per metre of fabric. I weigh up a number of factors – if it's only a fat quarter or two I need, I try and find it in the UK or do without. If it's larger cuts I usually shop US. I don't go for the cheapest option necessarily, but the place that stocks what I want, cuts the fabric well, and has reasonable shipping and handling policies.

    I actually did a post recently about how a UK shop's attitude to cutting and packaging my order a few weeks ago resulted in my declaring how I was never shopping there again, and that I'd pay more to shop with someone that actually cared.

  10. Farm Quilter says:

    The current cost of fabric makes my stash very valuable! I got lucky and scored when a couple of quilt shops near me either went out of business or changed hands…hard to resist quality fabric that costs between $2.50 and $3.00 a yard. I have bolts of fabric…may not be the newest designs, but I can make hundreds of quilts with what I currently have. I'll only buy fabric now if I really need a specific fabric and only fell off the no-buy wagon once this year (all your fault, Molli!!). I don't know how anyone can afford to buy much fabric these days, anywhere!

  11. Add an extra 50% to that price for the pack-horse-donkey-camel to carry that across the Simpson to Western Australia …

  12. Miss Rosie says:

    I read somewhere that shops here in Australia, pay more than the US retail price for wholesale fabric price. Makes it so much harder for the smaller stores to compete.

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