If you don’t live anywhere near a “garment district” or even just a decent fabric store, you have probably at one point or another ordered fabric online. I love shopping online! Seriously–what’s better than arriving home only to find a package of potential amazingness waiting on your front porch?
However, convenience comes at a price. And I’m not just talking about shipping costs. When you buy fabric in person, you get the opportunity not only to feel its weight and drape but also to watch your fabric cutter with the eyes of a hawk while he/she cuts your precious fabric. These are not things you can do when you order online. Yes, there are swatches (usually), but that takes an extra dose of patience as you have to go through the ordering and shipping process twice (horrors!).
So, inspired by events from my own life, here are three very important tests your fabric must pass before it can graduate from the shipping parcel to the washing machine.
1. Check your fabric for snags, holes, or any other cosmetic issues. This is the one that we probably already do. Though, there has been a time or two that I’ve had my fabric laid out and ready to cut and I’ve discovered a hole that I needed to work around.
2. Lay your fabric out to check the grain. Crazy, off-grain cutting has happened to me twice. In both cases, I didn’t discover the problem within the (in this case, two week) return window. I generally have my fabric on the shelf for months before I use it (I’m a planner, not a hoarder!), so waiting until I’m ready to cut a fabric is not a good time to discover grain problems.
3. Measure the length of your fabric to be sure you received what you ordered. This is a very recent issue, occurred just last Friday actually. I was laying out some cotton/lycra knit (so pretty!) to see if I had enough to modify the Lady Skater in a certain way, and then discovered that of the 2 yards I ordered, I received 1 yard and 24″. Again, I ordered the fabric two months ago and have already washed it once. (And if the fabric actually shrank 12″, then we have bigger problems!)
Apparently, I am a very trusting person by nature, so I have always just assumed that companies are sending me what I pay for cut in a way that I can actually use ALL of what I pay for. But, this is not always the case.
Believe me, I am in no way hating on online fabric stores. We love our fabric suppliers, don’t we? Those of us who live in places that are not L.A. or New York or Chicago depend on them; we hope they stay in business forever! Plus, I’ve cut fabric. I know it’s tricky.
All I’m saying is that we the customers need to do our part to keep the fabric sellers accountable, for remaining accountable is how they will stay in business.
And that, my friends, is that.
So. . . am I the only person with blind trust issues??