Oh, Amazon. You big, sexy database. Delivering fabric to my house so I don’t have to take my sons with me to the fabric-cutting counter. (🙌🙏👍 THANK YOU!!) My sewing friends, I’ve got some choice Amazon tricks for fabric shopping that I’m itching to share.
The online mega retailer has tens of thousands of apparel fabric options for the discriminating garment sewist. And, if you know the ins and outs of searching the site for fabric AND how and where to ask questions, it’s likely you’ll make a textile love connection. If you’ve never gone hard into fabric searches on Amazon, this post is for you.
Shopping for Fabric on Amazon
Let’s talk about sewists’ second-favorite activity (after sewing, natch): buying fabric!
Amazon owns Fabric.com, so I think we can point to this marriage as to why Amazon has so much fabric to sell. Here are my best Amazon tricks for fabric shopping.
Start on the Arts, Crafts, & Sewing page. (Access this page by using the drop-down menu in the Amazon search bar. Choose Arts, Crafts & Sewing and hit Enter.) You can scan current and upcoming department-wide deals here, and you also can set up a ton of search filters (on the left below).
Amazon is a giant database, and the more you know about refining your search, the closer your results will be to what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for fabric, click Fabric on the left (above).
The left-side menu (above) on the Fabric page allows searchers to refine by (among many things):
- Featured Brands
- Customer Reviews
- Theme (e.g., animal, abstract)
Playing with Refine By
I’m going to take one of these Refine By categories — Featured Brands — and show what you can do with it. Under Featured Brands, I clicked “See more” to reveal more brands (see below).
I then went to a page called Top Brands. From here, you can search for brands alphabetically by clicking a letter. To show how stuff works, I searched for Liberty of London (a personal obsession).
My next stop is all the fabric brands that start with an L. When I clicked Liberty of London, I went to all Amazon’s results in Craft & Hobby Fabric (as this example search only is in the Fabric category). Here you can sort by featured products, low to high or high to low prices, or average customer review. You can further refine results with the left-side menu.
Walking Through a Product Page
Now we’re going to dive into an actual product listing. When you look at a listing, there’s good info at the top: price and (usually) high-level product details. But don’t stop here.
For the REALLY juicy info, scroll to Product Information, which includes weight and dimensions. Weight can help you determine whether a fabric is appropriate for a project, and dimensions can help you determine who much yardage to buy. (If you’re scratching your head over fabric weight, Indiesew has a great post on the topic.)
Below Product Information, you may find more goodies. For example, some products include a “From the Manufacturer” section. Toward the bottom of the page also are Customer Q&A, Customer Reviews, and Product Reviews — product insight from buyers like you.
How to Find Answers to Your Questions
If you’ve got questions about a fabric, the customer opinion zone is where you should start looking for answers. Type a query into the Customer Questions & Answers field (below). All info in the product listing, customer reviews, and other customer Q&A’s are searched to answer your question. And if you don’t find your answer, you can “Ask the Community” and see all questions about the listing.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! You can leave comments on customer reviews. This would be great, for example, if you’d like to know whether a fabric is opaque or would work for a particular kind of garment. You know sewists — all they want to do is help other sewists! #crowdsourcing
You also can ask sellers questions. Lots of times, the same product will have multiple sellers. Sometimes it’s confusing to identify sellers. Here’s what to look for (usually at the top of the product page):
- A line with a link that says, “Available from these sellers.” Smash that link.
- A line with a link that says, “This item is only available from third-party sellers (see all offers).” Again, click the link.
- A button that says, “See all buying options.” That looks persuasive, eh?
- A link that says something like “New (1) from $35.00 + $6.50 shipping.” Clickity-click.
If it looks like there are multiple points of entry to examine sellers, I suggest clicking them all to make sure you’re not missing any deals.
How to Ask Sellers Questions
Back to asking sellers questions. On the sellers page, click the seller you’ve got a question for. You’ll be whisked away to the seller’s info page (see below), which features tabs for posted feedback, returns and refunds, shipping, policies, help, and products (the seller’s Amazon storefront). If you can’t find your answer under those tabs, there’s button that says, “Ask a Question.” Hit it and ask away!
I tested the “Ask a Question” button for a seller, and I found the seller’s reply buried here:
Accounts & Lists > Your Account > Email Alerts, Messages, and Ads > Message Center > Buyer/Seller Messages.
What sort of stuff might you ask a seller?
- Do you offer samples?
- Would this fabric be good for pattern XX or garment XX (e.g., skirt, shirt)?
- If I buy other fabric from your store, could I get a shipping discount? (Hey, don’t ask, don’t get.)
- How do I wash this fabric?
- Does this fabric have body or drape?
- What’s the hand of this fabric? Does it feel warm or cool?
- How much stretch does this fabric have?
- Is it opaque?
- How long does shipping take?
- Do you sell in continuous yards?
And there about a gazillion other questions you could ask! Heads up — if you’re buying from a big seller, there’s a good chance the customer service rep might not know a lot about sewing and be able to answer real “inside baseball” sewing questions, if you know what I’m saying. IMO, it’s worth a shot.
Extra Research on Fabric
If you’ve poked around Amazon for info on a product but you’re still hesitant to pull the trigger, I encourage you to leave the site to continue your research. Start Googling your product and seller; there’s a chance your fabric is being sold somewhere else on the internets.
Take Robert Kaufman Super Stretch 8.6 ounce denim, for example. (I’m using this fabric to make Ginger jeans, so I’m familiar with it.) The Amazon listing for the denim has only one review. But, when you visit Fabric.com’s page for the same denim, there are eight reviews, and they’re more insightful than the single Amazon review.
Scope out sites such as PatternReview.com, The Fold Line, or Kollabora to read reviews and ask questions. Search YouTube for vids. Sewing-specific Facebook groups — (again) The Fold Line and The Self-Sewn Wardrobe — are WONDERFUL places to ask questions. (I am a member of both these groups and can vouch for them.) Search “sewing” on Facebook to see groups, pages, videos, and more. Filter to your heart’s content!
As I mentioned before (and you already know!), sewing people are THE BEST PEOPLE, and they want to help you have an awesome experience sewing. So just ask your question — about fabric, patterns, notions, sewing machines, etc. — no matter how silly you think it is. I bet you 99 times out of 100 that someone will reply. (It’s human nature to want to give advice.)
OK, over to you: Have you bought fabric on Amazon? What was your experience? Do you have favorite brands or sellers on Amazon? I particularly like Robert Kaufman, Telio, Liberty of London, and Art Gallery I want to hear YOUR best Amazon tricks for fabric shopping!
P.S. When I wrote this post, I originally was going to cover fabric shopping AND bargain pages (e.g., Warehouse, Outlet) on Amazon. But that post was pushing 3,000 words, so I decided to split it in two. Here’s the second Amazon post: Sewing Bargains: How to Save Money on Amazon.
P.P.S. ICYMI, here’s the previous post: Why I’m Sewing Less and Loving It More.
P.P.P.S. If you like this post, you might groove on these, too:
- Buying an iron for sewing: 5 irons less than $100 from Amazon
- 53 Gifts for Sewists: The Ultimate Guide to Gifts for Sewing Lovers
- The over-researched sewing table buying guide for the Type A sewist
Photo by Jorge Franganillo via Flickr
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