Did you hear about the Joann concept store that opened this summer? It has features that turn my crank as a garment sewist, including:
- A Creators’ Studio, an open space for classes and community events.
- The ability to rent sewing machines and tools.
- Concierge services for tailoring and home-decor sewing.
The Joann concept store is a great start for satisfying a new generation of sewists, but I think the retailer could go further.
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How to Level Up the Joann Concept Store
I’ve got BIG IDEAS for the big-box retailer. Here’s what I think garment sewists would like at the Joann concept store:
Offer a swatch service: Samples help sewists plan projects and build a fabric reference library.
Sell indie patterns: There are more than 10,000 tags on Instagram for #indiesewing. I’m pretty sure indie designers and sewists would love to see indie patterns so easily available.
Have a PDF printing service: This would be mega-convenient for a lot of sewists AND basically a way for Joann to print money (if the pricing were right; I suggest a flat fee).
Start a subscription box: Joann has the vendor connections to get dope sewing goodies for a subscription box. What a great gift for sewists!
Recycle fabric scraps: Seriously, Joann — if H&M can recycle textile waste, you can, too. I think the store has a moral imperative to recycle fabric.
Test drive notions: Invite vendors to come in for product demos. Let sewists try before they buy.
Pursue collaborations with indie pattern and textile designers: I guarantee if Joann approached a big-time indie designer to develop patterns, a line of fabric, kits, tools, etc., sewists would shell out.
Be a champion for sustainability and ethical labor: Advocate for greater transparency about where fabric comes from and who made it. Offer sustainable and organic fabric options. Again, as the big dog in town, I think Joann has a moral imperative to use its influence for good.
Build community: I am IN LOVE with the Creators’ Studio community space. Joann needs to get down with sponsoring frocktail events! Wouldn’t a nationwide frocktails day, where sewists all across the U.S. party down at Joann, be THE MOST FUN?
Connect with big names: Hold an online class or teleconference with a sewlebrity or sewing insider: Mimi G., the editors or Threads or Sew News magazines, pattern makers at McCall’s, etc.
Welcome experts: Have an experienced seamstress hold “office hours” for hands-on help.
Introduce the Big 4: My perception is that younger (millennial) sewists don’t vibe with Big 4 patterns. Host a crash course on sewing a Big 4 pattern and make the case for these legacy pattern companies.
How Joann is Missing on the Fundamentals
Now that you’re all psyched about the Joann concept store and the future of Joann’s offerings, it’s time to pump the brakes and bring us back to reality. Jo-Ann is on to something, but the brand still has room for improvement when it comes to the basics.
My nearest Joann is 1.1 miles from Van Handel Headquarters. When the weather’s nice (and if I don’t have to buy too much), I walk or bike to the store. But, I don’t go to Joann with a skip in my step. Too often, a visit feels like a chore. Here’s why:
The quality of the garment fabric is inconsistent. This is the No. 1 reason why Joann misses with me. Yes, I’ve made some cool projects with fabric from Joann (e.g., Simplicity 8379, Cali Faye Valley blouse mini muumuu, Victory Patterns Jackie dress). But, for my sewing practice, Joann’s selection generally is too polyester for me, and I also worry about how well garments made of Joann fabric will hold up with regular wear, tear, and care (for the record, I baby my me-mades).
The coupon gymnastics annoy the crap out of me. Does anyone else feel like Joann is telling customers that its products are overpriced because of how often you’re blasted with coupons and sales?
The store staff lacks garment sewing knowledge. It’d be nice to roll in and ask an employee where the good stuff’s at, you know? Instead, I feel like Ron Swanson.
The Joann concept store is cool, and these biz ideas could help the retailer level up this good thing it’s got going on. I think, however, that until Joann nails the fundamentals — specifically the quality of its garment fabric — the big box will continue to be The Store We Love to Hate.
Over to you, my sewing sisters and brothers: How do you feel about Joann? What do you make of the Joann concept store? If you were running the show at Joann, how would you evolve to attract more garment sewists? I value your insight — give it to me and your fellow sewing friends!
P.S. ICYMI, here’s the previous post: Tracing Sewing Patterns: How I Attack My Least Favorite Sewing Task.
P.P.S. Hey, the holidays are here! Shop this mega gift guide and be happy: 53 Gifts for Sewists: The Ultimate Guide to Gifts for Sewing Lovers.
P.P.P.S. At the end of every post, I insert a button to the Sie Macht newsletter. In case you didn’t know, it’s a monthly email of sewing goodies, including what amounts to a bonus post, an exclusive video, and general behind-the-scenes intel. I suspect that if you made it to this the P.P.P.S., you’re a Sie Macht fan and you’d probably love the email. Here’s a link to the November email; why don’t you check it out and sign up if it tickles your fancy?😘
Joann Creators’ Studio photo by Joann
FYI, they no longer use the hyphen in their store name. So it is JOANN or Joann, not Jo-Ann.
Thanks for the heads up!
Omg thank you. My name is Joann and I was about to make exactly the same comment! Could you please edit your article? Thanks.
Thank you. Very interesting, I hadn’t heard about the concept store. Joann’s should listen to your suggestions, they are spot on. I would add that they need to improve the attitude of some staff. I often feel they seem to be trying to give me exactly the amount I ask for and not a 1/16th of an inch more. They need to loosen up a bit, considering that often the fabric isn’t trued to begin with. And yes, the whole coupon thing gets crazy.
Thanks for reading, Ellen! You know, I wasn’t going to gripe about the staff, because I feel like that gets kinda personal. BUT – when I researched this post, understaffing and poor attitude came up time and again.
I don’t know what it’s like to work at Joann. I don’t know what the pay, hours, and benefits are like. As a customer, though, I get a sad, stressed vibe from employees (at my local Joann, at least). The thing about attitude and employee engagement is that they start from the top and trickle down. I say this with confidence b/c I studied this in business school. It’s my observation that Joann has room for improvement when it comes to delighting customers via interaction with staff. How Joann looks into attacking that issue… well, that’s up to the organization. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to see Joann adapt a Zappo’s strategy of “we’ll do ANYTHING to delight the customer” – that means basically all employees are deputized to do whatever it takes to make shoppers happy.
OMG, how awesome would it be if when you asked a Joann employee a question, they replied, “You know, that’s a great question. I don’t have the answer right now, but I’m going to get to the bottom of it.” And then they did recon for you and solved your problem w/o going to a manager??? #dreamscenario Maybe employees (in the sewing/fabric dept, anyway) could take a garment sewing crash course so they were familiar with some pain points and terminology.
Ellen, would you please do me a favor? Consider signing up for the Sie Macht newsletter. It’s monthly, and, IMO, it’s loads of fun. Tx!
Your remarks are spot on…I hope someone is listening at Joanne’s
Thanks for reading, Cathy!
Former Joann employee here. The pay is ridiculously low and like most retail shops, they try to get the most work out of the fewest people. Therefore even though I have knowledge and sewing experience I’m not allowed the time to help a customer because I probably have 10 pissed off people waiting at the fabric counter. Or checkout lane. I would have loved to spend more time helping people.
Yup! I had the same experience when I worked at Joann’s. Now, because the staff know I sew, they send customers to me when they see me in the store. At our store the employees even have to clean the bathrooms. Not what I signed up for! And I know they cut hours a few years ago when 35 hours became the number for getting health insurance. We have had trouble getting them to let us set up a table during National Sewing Month in September. Staff also remarked, after seeing what guild members had made “gee, I didn’t know you could make anything that nice from our fabric”. We have a maker space. But they don’t pay those experts any more than regular staff. So where’s the incentive to share your knowledge for minimum wage and no benefits?
“gee, I didn’t know you could make anything that nice from our fabric” = YIKES
I’m sorry your Joann experience was less than great. 🙁
Hi, Jolin. Thanks for reading. That sounds like a sad and frustrating situation. Boo.
Could not agree more! Going to Jo-Ann in my area is pure misery. It’s always understaffed and while individual employees may be very helpfull, the overall vibe is “we don’t care”.
I love your suggestions. They have the infrastructure to be a really great resource. I hope some visionary at Jo-Ann’s takes a look at this!
Thanks for this thought provoking post.
Thanks for reading, Angela. You’re SOOO right. The infrastructure is there… Joann needs to leverage it!
P.S. If you like what’s going on here at Sie Macht, I’d love it if you’d join the email list. I only send messages once a month. Thanks for your consideration!
D In the end… the really tough ones who learn to stop caring are the ones who stay until the next seasonal round is hired.
If corporate (state; regional) would hire management that both* understood profit margin and if the company culture changed, they could pay a little more to retain people who have some background knowledge and skills AND staff properly, who in turn would have more morale because they see other coworkers ALSO care about their talents, who would then be able to properly sell more stuff because we’re not quite as rushed and we have time to help you find that one fabric that’s kind of hidden (like the three bolts of organic cotton gauze hidden in Clearance)… then they’d make that money back. Everyone would be happy! 😛
Unfortunately, what we say: “Hey, the employees are way understaffed, overworked, and underqualified in terms of sewing/arts knowledge.”
What corporate hears (at least in Florida): “Hey, the employees are way lazy, we should cut their hours and get tax breaks by ‘creating’ more jobs to fill the hours, and we should start demanding a bachelor’s degree in fine arts for minimum wage work.”
by the way- that cotton gauze bolt thing was real. Japanese asanoha and uroku patterns. I’ll be reconstructing some 1600s-1800s style clothes from it, the authentic way. 😛 Sometimes no one knows how to classify the rare really good stuff, or it comes in and goes straight to clearance, so check Clearance often!
I am not sure where to begin, because I am one of those members of staff that I am hearing questionable comments about.
I was hired because of my knowledge of garment construction and fiber. The manger in my store makes ever effort to hire knowledgeable people, but quite frankly, there are not many with the knowledge who want to work in this environment.
Most customers that come to the cut counter are super! Many come not knowing anything about cloth or what they need. I do my best to help them make the best choices based on what they expect of their finished project.
The store I work in is the smallest in my area, but Joann has a system that allows employees to reach out to every other store in the US to find and fill a customers need.
Some of your ideas and suggestions would work great, others may present a nightmare for the staff or the Corp.
Please consider that the staff who is cutting your fabric is being very exact because of the theft that occurs. You are in essence, paying for someone else’s bad choices.
I would love to see awesome wools in this store as well ! It is hard for me to disappoint customers who are looking for fibers that Corp is choosing to avoid on their floors.
And, albeit they do not sell many indie patterns, we do have them on our floor. I encourage everyone who I cut cloth for to step out of the huge pattern companies, even if it means that you make one of their patterns your own by changing it.
I am very aware that there is discontent with some of the stores, but I can only speak for the effort I apply to make sure this is a minimal at the store I work at.
Hi, D! First of all, THANK YOU SO MUCH for replying to this post. I really, really, really value your insight, and I think other readers do, too. I can tell you care about customer experience; thank you for that. YOU might be the reason some sewists keep coming back to your store.
I’ve had experience with a Joann staffer searching your national inventory. It’s really slick, and I think it’s something Joann could/should leverage in communication with sewists. I could see mention of this on Joann’s social media: e.g., “Did you know your neighborhood Joann is a lot bigger than your neighborhood?”
RE: fiber disappointment. OMG, I would love to see quality wools at Joann. To me, that’s an indicator of a serious garment fashion fabric retailer. I also would like to see bamboo jersey/knits, Tencel, and more rayon options. What’s the best way for customers to express a fabric wish list to corporate? I’m sure the fabric-buying process for hundreds of stores is complicated, but I also would hope Joann buyers would like feedback from the people who stalk the fabric bolts.
I’m curious: What do YOU think are the most workable ideas I suggested? How much autonomy do individual stores have to try different things?
As I read your comment, it occurred to me that maybe I’m not Joann’s ideal customer. I am, admittedly, kind of a fabric snob. Maybe Joann is a store for beginner sewists? What do you think of that? I’d love your two cents, especially as a sewist yourself.
Thanks again for reading; I appreciate your candor and courage for speaking up. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I am not a JoAnn’s fan. the quality of fabric in Milwaukee is horrendous. I do most of my buying online. that said, I love your ideas. If Joann’s would step it up, I would consider them for more than odds and ends or notions.
Yup, I’m there with you, Nancie. Thanks for reading.
I agree with everything you said about Joann. The staff at my store seem pleasant enough though uninformed about sewing in general. They also always seem to be understaffed so no one is interested in being truly helpful. Another major complaint I have about my Local Joann is it’s general shabby, grimy, unkempt appearance. M
Hi, Diane. Thanks for reading! I’m sorry your Joann feels shabby. I haven’t researched this, but I feel like Joann is in the process of refreshing stores. My neighborhood store in the Milwaukee ‘burbs was updated recently (1-2 years??), and so was another MKE suburban store. I think the one in my hometown (Appleton, WI) was refreshed, too. Maybe yours is due for a makeover? I would ask a staffer to get the low-down. A tired space definitely isn’t a way to attract sewists. 🙁
I enjoy reading your blog, because you have great points and have a lovely sense of humor too.
Based on how many people view Joanns as the store people love to hate for so many reasons, it is obvious that people want to buy fabric at a discount…always.
And they want a dream team Joann store staff to be at their beck and call with all the info at any given time AND they want beautiful quality fabric!
I think your dream want list is pretty awesome, but you have to understand with everything that Joann offers and can do for their customers comes with a price tag, and for Joanns to continue as a business it has to ultimately make money.
Not sure if you have noticed next to the BIG pattern company book look section are at least one moving round that has about 100 patterns all from Independent Sewing Pattern Designers. It is a great opportunity for any pattern company to be available in Joanns….BUT there are drawbacks.
I was approached by a buyer for Joanns at Quilt Market. So remember those FABULOUS 50% off coupons we use all the time…the cost of doing business with coupons is huge, but that cost is passed to most vendors.
I am an Independent Sewing Pattern Designer of Paradiso Designs.
-Instead of selling my $10.00 retail patterns at $3.50 distributor cost I would have to sell the same pattern for $2.50.
-I have would have had to sign a waiver that if any damage happened to my pattern merchandise in a Joanns warehouse, they would not be liable for that damage.
-AND I would have to consign the patterns to Joanns. So they would not have to outright buy my patterns outright. In fact I would have to “consign” enough pattern merchandise to supply about 1000 stores across the US.
-I would not get the first paycheck until 3 months later.
-And just think about it….for the patterns that were bought at the retail of $10.00, Joanns would make $7.50.
-If I had signed the contract, my other distributors would have dropped me because I would be selling my products for less to a competitor.
-I believe if you want to sell your patterns to Joanns, you must have one set of patterns sold to regular distributors and another set of patterns with a different look only sold to Joanns.
So as beautiful as your want list is and if it could be true that would be the best ever. But for any retailer to offer those kinds of services the services would have to generate enough $$ so that the store can survive.
I know that sometimes the customer service is not the best, but I know a number of people at my Joanns, and the majority of them are sweet ladies that have to deal with the worst of the worst of people that expect “the world”, even as they can buy their materials for bargins.
I have had a number of people be wonderful & helpful…especially when you are at the register…they love to see how many coupons they can help you use!!
I use my Joanns a ton because I need thread and muslin and Seahawk fabric, etc … (yep, I live in Seattle). I make trips to “designer” fabric stores when I can…but they are not as convenient to pop over to my local Joanns.
AND even with out seeing the concept store model yet, which sounds super cool & fun……I am grateful to have that Joanns as I have watched many fabric stores close because they cannot compete with the online stores that carry the same fabric for less.
Where else can I get muslin for $3.00 or less a yard? OR Thread 2 for one OR whatever deal is to be had. I have found good fabric, depending on your sewing skills, awesome designer -type clothing can be had.
I just ask that you consider what it takes to make offering fabulous services! And it really was a great list of wants!!
Cheryl, thanks so much for reading and for your thoughtful reply. There are so many parties involved in this conversation, and maybe I’m being naive, but I hope there’s a sweet spot where everybody gets *most* of what they want.
I believe everyone has to look at the reality of the situation. There is a cost for any service. And I have watched many independent fabric stores go out of business because they were unable to survive in the current shopping environment. And the wonderful stores still out there they are fighting tooth & nail to survive. Here in Seattle we have Dry Goods Design (https://drygoodsdesignonline.com/ There is a huge crafting space with beautiful fabrics to be had in store OR on line, and I know how hard the owner works. She recently had a bra workshop, it cost $500.00 to enroll, and she did not make ANYTHING, the revenue generated was enough to pay fly the instructor in and pay her teaching fees.
BUT crafting is evolving to some maker studios. Buying fine fabrics can be had, generally online. I just met a gal through Seattle Frocktails that owns & runs La Mercerie, an online store for beautiful fabrics & yarn. Here is the link to it: https://shoplamercerie.com/collections/fabric.
Fabric.com (owned by Amazon) has just about anything your heart could desire.
AND my favorite fabric store is actually the thrift store where fabric treasures can be had for a fraction of the price. AND the ability to touch those fabrics is heavenly. Also ladies, reuse of fabrics is really on trend and good for the environment. I love it when I hear how the beautiful yarn of a undesired sweater is unraveled to be knitted up into something new and fabulous.
There has to be a willingness to pay for such services that you describe in your wish list. As a designer it is tough as many sewists expect free sewing content. Giving away a constant supply free content lessens the value of what we do as designers. And there are many out there that provide such a thing, because they do not have to rely on it to make a living….. But it makes it tough for the designers that need to make a living to survive, because we simply cannot work for free.
Joanns is by no means the finest fabric store and I know what I am getting when I do buy from Joanns, but I am grateful I actually have a place to buy supplies. Yep the coupon game is a pain at times, but we could also not have any coupons at all.
I completely miss the days of my fav fabric store with beautiful fabrics to touch and feel, but I am sadly not sure if those closed stores will ever be replaced because of the high cost of doing business.
And it is sure hard to watch the evolution of any shopping in general change.
They should start selling rigid heddle looms. They could sell more yarns, and cut or tear that fabric waste into strips to use in weaving. Like mini-rag rugs, placemats that use these strips wear well, don’t show food spills and wash and dry easily to last a long time. Pair with napkins made from the original fabric and you have sewing weavers shining in home-dec/up-cycling and making wonderful gifts.
Thanks for reading, Susan. I’ve never heard of this craft. Sounds cool and recycle-y. I dig!
First off, I agree wholeheartedly with everything in this thoughtful post. I actually frequent 2 different Joann’s stores and the difference between them is night and day. One is crazy well-run and has fairly knowledgeable staff that not only tries really hard to help out its customers, but actually — gasp! — does a really good job of keeping the store stocked, especially during some of their crazy sales, such as when they had all their fat quarters on sale for 75 cents during their anniversary sale this past summer … I think.
Unfortunately, that store is a little bit further and a little more out of the way for me to get to, so more often than not I end of going to the nightmare Joann’s. And yes, they have some long time knowledgeable folks like D, but those folks are few and far between there. Too many other staff members are, quite frankly, pretty clueless about a lot of the basics, whether its fabric or yarn fibers. (Yep. I do both. Lots of sewing — lately mostly Montessori classroom materials — and lots of fiber design, primarily in crochet.)
Over time, and after a brief talk one time with the assistant manager at the good store, I found out that the problem is district management. The good store is in one district and the nightmare store is in another district, (I live in an East Coast metropolitan area with probably 5 Joann’s stores within a half hour-ish drive of my house. Crazy I know …) So, part of the issue apparently comes down to whether district management cares about hiring good store managers and assistant managers who know their stuff. Although maybe part of it is that district management doesn’t know its stuff, so it wouldn’t know a knowledgeable maker manager from a hole in the wall. In which case, it feels like corporate really doesn’t care about finding good knowledgeable staff, just taking our hard earned money.
Unfortunately, for the nightmare store, its location is such that no matter who they hire, or how well or poorly it’s kept stocked, the store makes district management money. I’m pretty sure that if there were a really good indie quilt or fabric store, it would probably force that Joann’s district management to clean up its act. But maybe not again, because hey they store’s making money for corporate. (Apologies for the cynicism.)
I also feel the coupon and constant sale frenzy sends two messages to its customers: one, the point you made, Erin, that its products are way overpriced; and two, it encourages a flea market mentality, which leeches out to those more casual makers. In other words, by constantly selling cut-rate goods at cut-rate prices, more casual makers not only have no idea what constitutes good quilting cottons, for instance, or for that matter, a good cotton yarn, but when they encounter such items, they typically end up balking at the more expensive, yet fair, price.
I really loved all your ideas and would add one more idea to the swatch concept. Pair up with some of the larger online indie fabric retailers. For instance, when I was looking for vinyl in funky colors to do work mats for my daughter’s classroom, I ended up ordering from a retailer in California. But, because they were indie, I ended up having to order a bit more than I actually needed, plus I was concerned about how true the colors were going to be to the photos as well as the actual thickness of the vinyl itself. I would have loved it to go to someplace like a Joann’s and be able to look at swatches of the fabric before I bought. I mean we can do swatches of wallpaper, why not fabric?
Thanks again for such a thoughtful post. Hope that Joann’s corporate is listening.
Hi, Joan. Thanks for reading. I’m glad you have a local Joann that does the trick for you.
And I second your motion to pair with an online fabric retailer! Great idea.
Excellent post. A pdf printer would be amazing! Perhaps that’s how they could sell indie patterns. Purchase directly and pay to print? It’s insanely expensive to print at FedEx so I usually send to pdfplotter.com I’m a seamstress and rarely go to Joann’s for anything but notions and even then only out of desperation. We have one garment fabric store in the Atlanta area and if I’m desperate, I go there. Mostly I order online. If my clients want to bring me fabric for a garment, I send them to the garment fabric store because the fabric I would get from Joann’s would be so off grain and hideous it would be a waste of my time to make anything more than a muslin. Sometimes I can find a reasonable piece of fabric at Joann’s but I know enough about fabrics to know what’s good by look and feel. I think Joann’s fills a need for casual makers. They need to set the concept store apart if it is going to survive. Stop the coupon madness. Stock good quality fabrics at reasonable prices. Having a long arm quilt machine set up for rent would be fabulous! Teach basic sewing and pattern alteration for fit classes. The Big 4 are so often horribly drafted the pieces don’t fit together. There’s too much ease for thin people and nobody has the same crotch curve in the front and the back! What you get for a $1 is usually worth $1.
You wrote –> I think Joann’s fills a need for casual makers. –> I think you nailed it, Rena. Thanks for reading.
I also tried an online PDF printer, and I loved it. I had them do a few patterns in one go, and I was very happy with the cost and products.
I once took a PDF pattern to be printed at FedEx Kinko’s, and when the told me it was going to be $30-$40 (I don’t remember exactly), I said I wasn’t going to pay for it and I walked out. It’s totally my fault for not understanding how the store priced large-scale printing. But C’MON!!!!
Find an Arc Company for big scale printing for the cheapest price for printing. Depending on the size it may be under $10.00 to print an entire pattern. It also depends on how wide of paper the pdf was made for. Good Luck with this!
Awesome tip! TY!
Hi! Joanns remodeled our store in Columbus, Ohio into the new concept. Lots to offer for the customers. The selection of fabric is better and services. I do wish like you said to get a better selection of independent pattern makers and books. The store is now very bright and clean! Terrie
I absolutely do not like the new concept store at Polaris! It is to sterile or hospital like to me with hardly anyone with sewing knowledge. I was asked to work there, but feel that it will be a short lived store.
Hi, N. Thanks for reading. Thanks for your insight on the concept store.
Yes! The Columbus store is amazing! Love it!!! Starbucks and free cookies! And you can meet a friend there to work on a project and catch up! I highly recommend a visit!
Hi, Terrie! Thanks for reading. I’m glad you’re happy with the concept store.
I live in a large NE Florida city where there are several JoAnn’s. The last time I went to the one nearest me , I made myself a vow that if God would help me, I would never cross the threshold of that store again. It had to with customer service and I called back and talked to the store manager when I got home and she was very nice, apologized for my difficulty. I doubt seriously that JoAnn’s will close down if I never go back but that’s ok. I could travel further for another location but not sure if it would be worth my time. The only other store with fabric in my area is Hobby Lobby and although I love the store, there is less choice in fabric,etc. Just my thoughts.
Hi, R. Thanks for reading! Gah, I have the same feeling about Joann – if I stop shopping there, the store ain’t closing its doors. Oh well. There’s only so much one sewist can do.
RE: your distant fabric store: When I’m shopping for fabric someplace special, I usually buy for several projects at a time to make it more economical in terms of time and shipping costs. Maybe that’s a strategy for you?
I really hate going to Joann’s, like everyone’s has already said attitude, quality, quantity, etc… not the same atmosphere of a store looking out for the customer, just looking at the bottom line, more money in their pockets. I worked part time there for a couple of months, didn’t like it much; we were instructed to cut fabric on the marking line of the measuring tape, cut more and you get reprimanded. I’ve been going to a non profit store, they take your fabric donations, resell very cheap and help the community to learn to sew. Love going there, always run a special deal to sell the surplus, I always shop there first and then very reluctantly have to go to joann. Signing up for your newsletter. Thanks
Hi, Wilma! Thanks for reading, and thanks for joining the newsletter mailing list. Signups make my day!!!
Your local nonprofit fabric store sounds awesome! What a cool mission. I would totally shop at a place like that.
I detest going to Joanns –they understaff the stores so the customer has lines to stand in for cut or to pay. The quality of their fabrics leaves a lot to be desired and don’t get me started on the coupon game they play with customers. I live in Western Washington and there was no competition –the only good thing that has happened is Hobby Lobby has moved in and know how to treat customers.
Hi, Marcia. I’m glad you have a decent option in Hobby Lobby for in-person fabric shopping. I’m with you – standing in line at Joann waiting to pay feels like a circle of Hell. 😐
Please sell more fabric that is wearable rather than craft-type fabric. The selection of blouse type fabric is very small and doesn’t appear to have much quality. If you carry better quality fabric I’ll be there!
Hi, Celia! I think we share the same brain, as evidenced by this comment! Craft fabric does not equal garment fabric.
Joann’s is a handy ‘general ‘ sewing products store. I’m very displeased with the management attitude. One of the supervisor types (regional, maybe) decides that the pattern books area was cluttered and decided that the space needed to be reduced to ONE 18” wide by 5’(?) display table!! That’s for over a dozen pattern books an 3-4 chairs!!! The supervisor is not a sewist and clearly has no concept of gout he process works. I can understand Walmart having that approach. But a sewing and craft store??? Nuh-uh!! They don’t respect the customer/client—I don’t want to spend my money there. 😞70503 zip code
Egads, that sounds horrible, Lucile. 🙁
I agree Joann’s is becoming the Walmart of fabric stores. Hancock’s used to encompass all the worst comments here but now it’s out of business, Joann’s has claimed that status (and many of their former employees). If Joann’s wee to offer sewing classes to their employees for free, it ight improve their attitudes and knowledge.
Thanks for reading, Janis! I like your idea about having Joann employees take sewing classes. If they spent a few hours learning basics, it probably would make a world of difference. #empathy
I live near a very large city. We used to have several high end independent fabric stores. Now we are down to JoAnne, Hobby Lobby and Walmart. I understand that quality fabric costs more but it is disappointing to not even have that option. I would like to buy 100 % linen, silk and wool to sew with. I feel my local JoAnne has more fabric than they used to since the other stores went out but they didn’t pick up the slack in high end fabrics. I will agree that at least at my store they need more staff. Your ideas really sound great and we can dream, eh?
Hey, Jacqueline! Thanks for reading!
I’m in pretty much the same situation. My metro area – Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.A. – probably has close to 1 million people. And to my knowledge, Joann basically is the only place for garment fabric. Hobby Lobby has a VERY limited fabric collection, and, TBH, I don’t know about the Walmart sitch b/c I don’t shop at Walmart.
To compare, there are a few nice quilt shops in my area.
I also think the local Joann stores have more garment fabric than a few years ago… but almost none of it is what I would consider “premium” – 100 percent natural fibers or high-quality blends.
I am willing to pay more for nice fabric, especially when I have a specific vision for a project. The fabric quality issue is such a huge strike against Joann.
You talk about them carrying indie patterns. I do not believe they actually “carry” the patterns they have. They rent the space to the pattern companies.
Hmm, I’ve never heard this. Can someone out there confirm this?
Thanks for reading, Lisa!
To add to this, I was trying to organise a sewing event and was chatting to someone about the Big 4 pattern sales as we wanted to buy some for goody bags. The guy at the checkout told me that the Big 4 patterns are not technically carried by Joann, but that the space is run directly by the pattern companies themselves, so they set the sale schedule, pricing etc. I was pretty surprised, but I therefore wouldn’t be surprised at all if the indie space is rented. I have a lot I could say about Joann, but I do think people should consider how Joann sells their fabric so cheap and makes a profit. This is not high-quality fabric coming from a recognised source. For me, this is the equivalent of fast fashion in DIY form…
Thanks for the intel on the pattern companies, Claire. I love transparency!
I’ve often had the same thought about “fast fashion” crafting. Low prices means that someone, somewhere is not making much money. It’s a complicated issue.
Yes! The pattern section, book section, and magazines are all outside companies. Same with their sewing machine section- Singer is an ‘outside company’ that rents space there.
While I would like more indie pattern space, I do tend to buy Big 4 patterns at the $1.50-3 price and alter aspects of them myself. I do a lot of work on “my own” patterns, despite not owning most required garment construction accessories like a mannequin and most tools. But at $1-3, I can get a pattern knowing that I have room to mess something up when mixing/matching aspects from other patterns or making my own, and I can draft with the tissue paper inside of buying more muslin when I tend to have to decide to spend $20 on muslin for a mock-up OR $20 on the fabric I want to make a pattern in. If I really like a pattern, I can make another out of grocery bag paper and cut a square in a section of it to show the fabric grain through.
Maybe the Big 4 could have an arm of the company that carefully selects and distributes indie patterns alongside the ones they already carry. Especially beginner or intermediate patterns, while giving royalties to the indie pattern makers.
please read my comment as to how they deal with carrying independent sewing patterns.
The patterns are consigned, and the designers are not paid until a pattern has been sold.
We went to Joann’s in Great Falls. The Fabric is so reasonable compared to Canada I am jealous. I was looking for the larger bags of poly pellets . We only found small bags. I want to make some weighted blankets . There is a community rental system here where the new home sewer could rent a machine and some equipment at a very nominal fee. It would be great if people would mentor young sewers in communities and offered to help them. In my community we have something like this happening. Let’s do what we can to help other’s
Hi, Bev. Thanks for reading!
I’m glad that your community has a mentorship thing going on. That’s awesome! I think lots more people would give sewing a chance if the barriers to trying it were lower. Renting machines is the PERFECT way to let ppl test drive this fun craft.
Interesting! Out here in the Boondocks, our nearest Joanns is 85 miles away. The “nearby” store (32 miles away) closed when Hobby Lobby came in, and there’s Wal-Mart. It’s a pretty sorry offering. My favorite part of Joanns was the “red tag” fabrics — some of them were fiber-mysteries, but fun to try. No one at the store seemed very happy about being there, but I’m sure they were all minimum-wage and overworked. There used to be upscale fabric stores in Denver & Casper WY, but no more. Oh well, I have a life-time supply of fabric that I’ll never get sewn, but there’s something about wandering through the stacks of fabric and notions to feel and see what’s available. I look forward to reading your blog in the future.
Hi, Marilyn. Thanks for reading!
Lucky you for having a lifetime supply of fabric! I don’t have a lifetime supply; I tend to buy with specific projects in mind, and I’m pretty good at fabric-buying self-control. But I’m with you – it’s fun to have a wander in the fabric store now and again. It’s good for creativity!
I used to work at Joann’s in Florida (US). Here was the deal: if you actually knew your subject, you are overqualified and not likely to be hired. Our local tailors start off making ~$15/hr. Joann’s paid $7 (bare minimum wage at the time). If you have any actual sewing skill, it was better to get in with an alterations shop and learn the skill to make up to $30/hr if you were really good and could specialize in delicate fabrics, like wedding alterations. Some alteration shops also do cleaning of delicate silks and other fine fabrics. Joanns doesn’t want you. I even taught classes- part of my *hourly* normal wage, even though it wasn’t really my job. This is, of course, a cost-savings measure and it’s voluntolding: you ‘volunteer’ for the shift, but if you don’t, it’s held against you. You want to keep your job at all? You teach and run 2-3 sections of the store at the same time.
The quality is crap and the store is all over the place because… those are the signs of a failing store. When a ‘craft store’ starts carrying far more premade ‘decor’, premade ‘crafts’, candles, and things like socks, shawls, and other cheap merch like hand soap… that isn’t a craft store anymore. They are failing. The other sign of a failing store is the constant blasting of coupons. The sales have gotten deeper and deeper for a reason: they are financially in trouble. The quality of fabrics has significantly dropped for a reason: they want to sell the cheapest, worst quality for the highest price possible, disguised as a ‘deal’. And it shows- the profits stay at the top, people keep buying because they are literally the only craft store left in the area, and what are you going to really do about it? Nothing.
Many of these other suggested changes, like having the seamstress in… just won’t happen because they’d have to pay for it. I wish they would take moral imperative because I can get amazing natural fabric from other countries that is well-made and due to exchange rate wouldn’t sell for more than $15-20/yd here- what Joann’s *already charges* for crap plastic-made fabrics! But the profit margin wouldn’t be nearly as high as the pennies they pay per yard. Instead, that ultra-cheap slave labour fabric ends up in the Clearance bin within a month or so.
You might like Fab Scrap, which rescues bolts and scraps of fabric from the NY fashion industry for resale. I wish Joann would do something like this as well, even if under another company name. They desperately need to revamp their image, and aisles of premade decorative boxes and wreaths isn’t it.
Hi, J H, and thanks for reading. Your Joann experience sounds demoralizing; I’m sorry. What a bummer.
I’ve investigated Fab Scrap, and I’m VERY interested in it. Thanks for the suggestion.
I don’t get to JoAnn’s often as it requires crossing the border….. I get frustrated because I forget to download the coupons before I get to the Store
Locally I have 2 stores – one based in membership deals but otherwise high prices. And another that has 2 main sales a year (plus a few holiday ones) but more reasonable everyday prices. I have switched to the well like, beautifully organized, family business for my purchases. Yes on the day of the super sale, I could do better at the store with membership sales (kinda like coupons).
But the family business has a great selection, including wools, silks, lace, and quilting cotton. They have knowledgeable staff and greater quality products.
Years ago I was all into the “sale” prices, but like coupons, they are exhausting. Whatever I really want is on the excluded list!
Leah, thanks for reading. I’m glad you’re able to find what you want at your local, family-run store. That’s very special.
If you download the Joanns app on your phone, you will always have their coupons on you!
…I am surprised at the dislike of JoAnns. Perhaps it is not understood how they can sell the fabric as cheaply as they do. They have to keep the overhead WAY DOWN. As for the quality, there are cheaper fabrics there and there are good quality fabrics.. I look my fabrics over before I buy them whether I get them at JoAnns or at a quilt shop. Some of the worst fabric was from a quilt shop. The attitude problem? Well my store has some of the nicest people who are willing to help with anything. Yes, they are rushed and low-payed. How else can they offer the wonderful coupons that they do. All I can advise any one shopping anywhere is “buyer beware”
Jo King, you are WISE. I don’t hate shopping at Joann, but it’s not my favorite. And I have found good stuff at Joann. I think the longer you sew, the better you get and determining what’s worth buying and what’s worth skipping.
Yes! The Columbus store is amazing! Love it!!! Starbucks and free cookies! And you can meet a friend there to work on a project and catch up! I highly recommend a visit!
Sounds like a perfect place for a sewing date. 😀 Lucky you!
Our store is fairly nice and the sales staff are friendly with no extremely long waits at the cutting counter. The fabric quality is an issue, but it’s hard to handle and feel online fabric. I do purchase online though. My biggest complaint is the explosion of fleece fabric at my store. It takes up a lot of space and gets ridiculous at Christmas. The left over fleece is everywhere after Christmas. Regular fabrics get pushed around and doesn’t seem very organized. I am glad to still have a JOANN fabric store nearby though.
I’m glad your cutting counter isn’t horrible! And I am there with you on the fleece!!! All I can think is that Joann’s margins on fleece must be BANANAS for the store to stock so much of it.
You can get a sample of up to 4” cut from any fabric at Joann. All you have to do is take the bolt to the cut counter and an employee will cut a sample free of charge.
Thanks for reading, Christine! I didn’t know this! Thanks for sharing.
I only go to Joann’s for zippers and sewing tools, or rely on Amazon. As an historic costumer, I have to buy ALL my fabric online and wait for swatches and then wait for the fabric to arrive. I live 45 minutes away from each of the two Joann’s in my area, so I rarely go.
If they could stock high quality 100% linens in different weights and colors, 100% wool in different weights, weaves, and colors (please tropical weight) , 100% silk taffeta in a rainbow of colors(no dupioni -too slubby) more variety of silk thread, and linen thread in various weights, would be absolutely wonderful. I love to feel the fabric and see how it drapes before purchasing. There is a large contingent of costumers and potential customers out here.
Classes on altering and grading patterns would be very well received. A copy machine or computer program that could size up gridded patterns would be awesome. Classes on making slopers and. draping muslin on a dress form to make patterns would be great.
Thanks for reading! Good idea on a grading/alterations class. I think sewists would LOVE that.
Everything Joann’s offers I can get online with less bother and higher quality for equal price without the hassle of coupons. It would be a game changer if they were able to do everything, or even just a portion of the things on your list. But they probably wouldn’t be able to financially survive. The only thing I use them for is cheap Big 4 patterns.
Thanks for reading, Suzanne. Do you find you can get all your sewing goodies from one place online, or do you have a few trusted stores you always use?
A few trusted stores. Wawak for zippers and elastic and serger thread , Fabric Mart for general fabric, Boho and Surge and Knitpop for knits. Create 4 Less for thread. I don’t need any sewing tools anymore, I’ve pretty much bought my fill, but usually Amazon if I run out of seam tape.
Good to know, Suzanne. I do love perusing the Wawak catalog!
I’d like to respectfully challenge the idea that low quality supplies and low quality jobs are necessary for affordable prices. Those things are necessary for a public-company, doing business-as-usual to provide wealthy shareholders with ever-increasing short-term profits, but to provide a great customer experience, good jobs, good quality merchandise, and affordable prices, all you need is some ingenuity.
Look at Trader Joe’s, for example. They carry high-quality groceries at affordable prices, all while providing high wages and filling stores with lots of knowledgeable staff. How do they do it? ARE THEY WITCHES?? No, they just tried something no one else is willing to—they pay their vendors up front, rather than “with terms” (ordering inventory and then paying for it after they’ve sold it themselves). Their suppliers give them better prices because they absorb the risk, and TJ’s can then pass the savings on to customers. They also contract directly with manufacturers to make their own products rather than buying stuff from wholesalers, which is also too much effort for most other businesses. Zappos also managed high-quality/good experience/high wages/discount prices.
There are other companies who have figured out how to maintain all four, but only by thinking outside the box. Unfortunately, most big companies aren’t willing to fundamentally change the way they do business—and none at all in the craft space. Joann might refresh its stores with some fun new features, but as long as they continue having to squeeze “efficiencies” out of their staff and product quality, it won’t meaningfully change the bottom line. I’ve personally been so frustrated by the total disrespect for crafters (and women) that I feel from the big craft retailers that I left my job and moved my family across the country to start my own company. I hope to learn from their mistakes and build something truly different that gives all of us creative, resourceful women the experience, products, and jobs we deserve, without excluding anyone through price.
Thank you, Erin, for posting this. I hope it gets shared widely enough that all the big retailers read it and take it to heart.
Thanks for reading, Lauren, and thanks for your thoughtful reply. You colored our discussion with some great business insight! You’re on to something – if you take care of your employees, they’ll take care of growth.
I wish you TONS of success on your crafty business venture! I signed up for your email.
Aww, thank you! Love your blog, btw. Crafty writing with an MBA background is basically my love language. 😉
THANK YOU!!!! This is me. We are the same. 😀
I was a JoAnns employee 20 years ago and we had a great store – our manager was wonderful. She put together a team – a real team for the store. One of us was an avid quilter who won ribbons – she handled the quilt fabric section. I am a garment sewer and I handled the fashion fabrics – there was a crafter into beading and anything with a hot glue gun. You get the idea….
We were back then a “B” store but beat the pants off the “A” stores in the neighboring states.
It was a pleasure to help customers – a grandma sewing a Christening gown for her first grand baby or a new quilter needing color and fabric selection.
What happened – a new District Manager came in – and he split all of us up, sent to different stores and the quality and revenue plummeted fast.
They also quit letting the stores order fabric and it was all scanned and sent from the warehouse.
It’s a shame when I go in and see it looking so unkept at times. But I do use the coupons for my notions
Hi, Amy! Thanks for reading. Ugh, your story is heartbreaking! 🙁 It’s too bad sewists in your community no longer have those resources – knowledge and material. It’s not in-person help or fabric buying, but today we can turn to each other in the online sewing community for assistance.
I live in a very small town in the UP of Michigan. We have a wonderful Joann store here. The staff is always so friendly and helpful. We are lucky to have it here, because otherwise it would be a 2-3 hour drive from here! I am for the most part pleased with a lot of the fabrics. They have started carrying some premium cottons that are at least 44″!!! Why oh why do the fabric companies find it necessary to make 42″-43″ fabrics??? We used to be able to always buy 45″!!! I’ve made crib sheets for all of my grandchildren, and now the soon-to-be 7th great-grandchild. I did find that Joann’s now carries a premium 100% cotton that is 58″ wide. It is really nice and soft and does not shrink up when washed. But it’s pricey. I stopped buying any of the Joann brand cotton…it would start out at 44″ and shrink down to 42″!! Useless for my sheets projects. I do all sorts of crafts. I own two Cricut die cut machines…but they’ve cut back on all of the supplies for scrapbooking/cardmaking. And why on earth do they have row upon row of bead supplies? And cheap children’s craft supplies? And cake decorating supplies? The store used to be called “Joann Fabrics”…period! I wish they would just stick to mostly sewing supplies…and quality fabrics! I do quilting also…and have to be very careful when buying their cottons. I have always loved sewing…and my kids know that. My daughter lives in Austin, TX and wanted me to make some dresses and skirts for a trip she was taking this past summer. She ordered fabrics online. And I have to say…I was so amazed at the quality. Wow!! It was all so lovely and top quality. My granddaughter saw a crib set (blanket, sheet, crib skirt and pillow) on Etsy. But it was over $450!!! She ordered the custom printed fabric from a website by the designer and had it sent to me. I made all of the set and it was gorgeous fabric. Never, ever have I seen designer printed fabric before! The cost of course was just for the fabric for her… but what a savings. I’m in my 70’s…but would love to use patterns other than the “big 4”!! I see that some websites offer patterns that can be printed at home after purchasing. I’m a bit intimidated by this, but am thinking about being brave and trying it! I will be subscribing to your email as soon as I finish posting this reply. I’ve really enjoyed reading every single one of the “replies” written by so many.
Hi, Sherrie! Thanks for reading! I love that you wrote this: “The store used to be called “Joann Fabrics”…period!” AMEN! The thing is, like a lot of businesses, Joann has had to mix up its model to stay competitive, and that means more crafts than fabrics. Which is a bummer for us, of course. Oh well.
I absolutely recommend that you give PDF patterns a try! There are so many different designers out there. Once you get your PDF printed, it’s like putting together a puzzle. I suggestion that you Google “how to sew a PDF sewing pattern” for an overview and tips.👍If you’re looking for a specific type of pattern (T-shirt, skirt, etc.), please let me know and I’ll come up with some ideas. There are even some freebie PDF patterns you can try.
P.S. I LOVE THE U.P.! It’s so wild and beautiful. Truly one of my favorite places on the planet. (Although I’ve never been brave enough to spend time up there in winter, HA.)
Thanks so much for your reply…and so very timely! I am very interested in using a PDF sewing pattern for T-shirts, blouses and skirts. I’ll do a Google search as you’ve suggested. And I’m going try to find some freebies, too. Thanks again! Love, love this blog 🙂
Thanks for reading, and good luck!
Hi Erin. All of your suggestions would work great if Joann was a fabric store, but it isn’t. It used to be a fabric store, but now it’s a craft store with an extra department or two, like a Michael’s or A.C. Moore with more fabric. In the 1980s, I worked for a small regional chain of fabric stores that got gobbled up by Joann’s. After our store was acquired, truck after truck pulled up with boxes and boxes and boxes of craft supplies and all kinds of cheap plastic stuff from China. They literally gave us fixtures called “dump tables.” The fabric that we (the employees) loved was no longer a priority and merchandising became all about the plastic things. Actual sewing notions were put on a fixture that took up very little space. Still had them, but you had to look for them as they were no longer the central focus of the store. If you look at Joann’s now, it’s much the same. Even the fabric that they choose to emphasize is cheap and easily turned over (think about the many, many bolts of polyester fleece.) Sadly, there are no real garment fabric stores any more. Thank goodness for online retailers, who have saved the industry, in my opinion. I dread going to Joann and avoid it if at all possible.
Thanks for your insights. Came over from Abby Glassenberg’s newsletter to read this!
Hi, Mari! Thanks for reading.
Your observations are spot on. I wonder if Joann would ever consider spinning off its sewing/fabric business to be purely online? Maybe without the overhead of physical space the retailer could focus on high-quality fashion fabric.
I loved all your suggestions for the concept store, now I really want all of it!!!! Maybe Joann’s will read your blog and start implementing your suggestions. A girl can dream.
Hey, Myra! Thanks for reading. If you keep dreaming, I will, too! 🔮🦄✨💎
I understand what you are saying, but I don’t think Joann is trying to market themselves to our demographic as experienced sewers (I’m a quilter) or our age group (it’s leaning more towards millennials). I don’t have a concept store in my neighborhood just a regular Joann. I can tell you the merchandise they sell are for newbies once you move past that phase (and your hooked!) you are into a speciality store be it for yarn, fabric, etc.. I also think that for Joann to remain relevant they need to appeal to millennials thus the new concept store. It’s not really for us.
I still use Joann for their pricing on notions though I don’t shop there regularly anymore. You can’t beat their prices (yes with a coupon) on staples that I need: needles, batting, intefacing (when I decide to make a bag), rulers, etc.. I avoid the fabric now since I’ve became accustomed to better quality cotton (insert fabric snob here 🙂 ). Though I do miss their designer premium cottons.
Hi, Dianne. Thanks for reading. I think you nailed it: Joann is for beginners. The thing is, though, once you are hooked and in search of specialty stores, there are so few brick and mortar places left, especially for garment fabric. You have no where to go but online.
Now, I have no gripes about online stores, because there are a bunch that carry REALLY, REALLY, REALLY glorious garment fabric and the proprietors know their stuff. I just wish I could go to a proper garment fabric store that’s in my metro area. Sigh.
Hooboy! What a lovely can of worms this is!
For all of the Joann employee comments, I concur with everything said. And I would add that, not many years ago, they went through a “restructuring” because they were losing money. The new CEO didn’t know squat about either fabric or art or crafts at all! It’s been so many years ago now (and I no longer work there) I can’t remember what her background was, however, I remember all of us who DO know about at least one, or all of those things, just cackled when we heard it! Where I live, I don’t think I know of any management who knows a thing about what the store carries, or what can be made from the things there.
And, it must be remembered, Joanns is NOT a fabric store – it is an all around “crafty” store which happens to carry fabrics. I truly think they took at look at how well Hobby Lobby was doing and thought, well, maybe if we copied them and carried more “decor” we would do better. Most of the fabrics originate in China, and yes, they are off grain and not very good quality. There was a time when wool was available, however, it seems that most of the customers who came to the store wanted cheap – period. And wool simply is not cheap. Now the organization only has two full time “team members” – the manager and the assistant manager. Every other position is part time only, and that means that there are absolutely no benefits offered, and that minimum wages are what is paid to all who work there. Bottom line is all that matters to the corporation, and their only view of making bottom line is to cut corners however they can, and try to work their employees to the bone. The smaller the store, the worse it is. My store often only had two people in the entire store for many of the shifts, because hours were constantly getting cut. And the store was a mess and the shelves remained unstocked, and often we had grumpy customers, as well. After all, how can two people run an entire store? Occasionally there would be a third person, in the form of a manager, however, she spent her time in the office, most often, or hiding from customers on back aisles, trying to get out the inventory from a way too stuffed back room.
The feeling you’ve gotten from the overproduction of coupons that the merchandise is highly overpriced is spot on. The mark up on the merchandise is often 400%!! That means that something marked for $4 came into the store at $1, sometimes even less. So even when the coupons put the item “on sale” at 40%, or sometimes more, there is a profit to be made.
I fail to see how the “concept” store is going to help anything. And that is because there is no knowledge of any of the things that apply to the concept in any part of the company. From the top on down, the emphasis is on get the bottom line up – period. No one cares if anyone knows anything about any of the products.
Hi, Kat. Thanks for reading. Yikes, your take on this is grim. 🙁 Joann stores are B-I-G with about a gazillion SKUs… how on Earth could two FT people and a handful of PTers take care of it all??? That’s ludicrous.
I know businesses need to be efficient to thrive, but mistreatment of your most important asset – your people – really galls me.
Hi Erin, I teach sewing/quilting classes at my local Joann and get paid as an independent contractor. The manager and staff there are extremely helpful and friendly. If you know your fabrics, you can find some good quality fabric, although I am sad that the U.S. can’t compete with China in fabric production. (It’s time to start up those fabric mills in North and South Carolina that have been shuttered!) I also find that there is not much interest in advanced sewing skills, as the classes I teach are mostly for the novice or the child who received a sewing machine for Christmas. I try to pass on my zest for the art, but the enthusiasm is lacking, and a lot of my students don’t seem to have the aptitude necessary. I think a lot of the machines given as Christmas gifts show up on Craigslist in a couple months. Maybe this is a reflection of our “fast fashion” and instantaneous gratitude society but at times it is disheartening. My business card is on the bulletin board at my Joann and the staff regularly refers me, so i do quite a bit of outside sewing, which makes me happy because if I have sewing at home to do and nowhere I have to go, I can stay in my jammies all day!
Hi, Stacia! Thanks for reading and for sharing your insight. I think sewing is an acquire taste, and it takes a fair amount of stick-with-it-ness to get to the good part, so to speak. I think you’re on to something with the “fast fashion” observation. 🙁
Totally agree with everyone’s thoughtful comments.
I do have a comment about the complaints that they just cut the amount you purchase. If you buy meat you get charged for exactly what you buy, they don’t throw in any extra. If a fabric store gives an extra inch for every fabric cut they would give away bolts worth of fabric. The staff could be trained to cut straight so each end is straight and you get exactly what you pay for!
Hi, Cathy! Thanks for reading. Your analogy is PERFECTION. Thanks.
Joann’s is a necessary evil! It is a privately held company with very little competition. I buy fabric online from independent designers, but need a Joann type store for all those last minute notions needs or for fabric to meet the needs of my clients. Love reading everyone’s comments and your blog. Hopefully the powers that be at Joann’s gets wind of everyone hopes and dreams for a better fabric store. (Definitely will make a road trip to the Joann’s in Columbus, OH.)
Hi, Nancy. Thanks for reading. Seems as though EVERYONE needs a stop at Joann for notions.😂
Could not agree more with your suggestions! They do miss the mark for people wanting to make garments. If I’m going to put the time in to make something, I want the fabric to be higher quality. There have been so many times I have walked out to the store empty handed due to a lack of attractive, quality apparel fabric. So disappointing. I am a high school clothing/textiles instructor- we are the people they need to listen to for suggestions. Unfortunately, my complaints have fallen on deaf ears…very little feedback from Joanns.
UGH. It’s such a bummer. I mean, I would be happy if Joann had fewer fashion fabrics IF they were higher quality.
As a sewing educator, where do YOU like to buy fabric and notions?