Monday, February 21, 2011

Why is the price of fabric going up?????

This is a fairly long post with lots of words and no pictures.  But it's important stuff.  Be sure to click on the link that explains the reasons for fabric prices going up.

 Most quilters have noticed that the price of quality fabric has been skyrocketing lately.  At Alderwood Quilts, we are committed to selling high quality fabrics, even if that means increases.  Sadly, increases are inevitable.  Every shop is making their own decisions about how they market their products.  I just wanted to give you some food for thought, as you decide where to shop and how to spend your fabric budget.  Above all, please don't take out your frustration on the nice person cutting your fabric.  Believe me- they dislike the increases even more than you do!

You may have heard that cotton prices are going up.  If you'd like to understand more about it, here are some statements by some people who manage the top fabric manufacturers.  This is a link intended for shop owners and is one of the best documents I've seen to explain the reason for the price increases.

I recently heard someone say that shop owners must be happy that the cost of fabric is on the rise because it means more profit per yard to us.  WRONG!  In the first place, we actually care about our customers and we're not happy when friends are in pain.  But from a business standpoint, this is not working out to our favor.  Higher wholesale costs mean that we have to spend more to maintain inventory.  Customers often have a dollar amount they can spend (as opposed to just buying whatever they like).  Assuming that a customer is going to spend the same amount that they always have, this means that she will be purchasing fewer yards of fabric per month.  In order for the shop owner to have the same selection (number of bolts), she will be spending more for that inventory and getting fewer sales (purchases) with slightly higher profit per sale.  At best, this adds up to a break even.  At best.  Please don't take this as me "whining".  Being in business means challenges.  That's the way it goes.  Fabric retailers have to step up to the plate and be creative about how they market fabric.  They need to step up the customer service.  They need to maintain a good attitude.  It's what it takes to stay in business.  I'm just letting you know that we aren't raking in the money just because the price of fabric is going up.  Believe me- we're just as upset as you are!

So waddaya do?  Our budgets are pinched and prices are going up and we just LOVE to quilt! You love that new fabric but your wallet doesn't love it... what's a girl to do???
*Consider buying some fabric from a new collection as a focus fabric and using fabric from your stash to coordinate with it.
*Consider alternating projects... buy new fabric for one quilt and then use fabric from your stash for the next... alternating back and forth throughout the year.
*Why not swap with a friend- "shopping" at each others' stashes, and then fill in what you need by purchasing new fabric to go with it.
*Consider selling some of what you make, or selling your services as a quilter.  If you don't feel that your skills are strong enough to quilt for pay, maybe you can do sewing repairs, sew on scout patches, buttons, do hems, etc.  Ask around and let the word out that you will do small repairs for a reasonable fee.  Then stash that money away to pay for new fabric.
*Consider purchasing kits.  The fabric for kits is cut to the amount needed, with less leftover fabric than if you purchased yardage.  The price of a kit is sometimes (not always) a tad bit higher to compensate the seller for cutting time. But it still generally more cost effective because of the efficient use of fabric.  Of course, it means you aren't making your own fabric selection, but it may work for you sometimes.
*Keep your eyes open for sales at your local quilt shops and share the news of deals with your friends.  Sign up to receive newsletters from your favorite local quilt shops and online shops so you will be notified of sales.

***Important***  Buy the best quality fabric you can afford.  It's better to make one quilt with quality fabric than 3 quilts that are going to fade and fall apart.  Your time is worth the cost of quality fabric.  Send the fabric manufacturers the message that we don't want them to compromise on quality!

Please do consider all options for purchasing fabric.  All fabric retailers- the large fabric and craft shops, the small independent local quilt shops... large and small online shops.. are feeling the pinch these days.  Many local quilt shops have been closing in recent years, and I have to believe that the new price increases are going to cause even more to close down.  That's very sad.  I'm not telling you how or where to shop.  But do consider that when you make a purchase, you are supporting THAT business and that business model.  Do you want the large "big box" stores to grow bigger and have a great selection and always be there for you?  Do you want the small local quilt shops with teachers and knowledgeable staff to assist you to stay in business?  Maybe you want both?  You vote with your dollars.  Just as every vote counts in a political election, so does every purchase count (no matter what you're buying).  There's a woman (the fab shop hop lady- the find-the-bunny shop hops) who says we should promote spending at regular portion of our quilting dollars at our local quilt shop.  Even if you regularly shop with the big stores, spend a portion of your dollars at small independent stores if you want to see them stay in business.

I know-- it still stings.  I wish I had better news for you, but the sad truth is that quality fabric is going up.  (Don't shoot the messenger, please!)


quiltmom said...

We have higher fabric costs here in Canada for quite awhile and one of the things I have done to build my stash is buy from the clearance areas of the local quilt shops. The quality remains high, it supports the shops and I don't care so much about whether I have the newest line of fabrics. I know that others might have a different opinion but it works for me.
Thanks for the information about the rising costs of cotton- it at least gives some background about why the costs have risen so much.
Cotton is not the only thing that has risen- batting, and notions too keep rising so I am glad that I am in the fortunate position of having built a stash.
You gave some good suggestions of ways to help reduce the costs.
Another way is to use your scraps- there are some terrific scrap patterns and books out there to use up all the bits - even the strings.
It must be a difficult time as a shop owner too- I appreciate your honest and informative post.

Quiltin' Sandy said...

Hi Sue, I am a follower of your blog, from "across the pond". I found your comments to be so true. Everything is going up in price, and as far as cotton, well like other crops, I guess it can sometimes fail?
We grow cotton in the north west of our state, I don't know if the recent bad floods have affected the cotton or not. But just as an example, bananas, that were around $2 a kilo (that's about 2 pounds in weight) are already $6 because of the cyclone.
I also agree that quality is better than quantity, although I guess there is a place for the other fabrics to make smaller items, but definitely NOT for quilts. I buy some fabrics from a large craft store chain, but I make sure I buy also from my local patchwork shop as well. Her fabrics, although quite a bit more expensive, are the best quality, and her service and advice are next to none. :) As for the chainstore, there is sometimes a huge lineup to get served, and the assistants aren't particularly helpful. I guess it is a case of you get what you pay for! Blaming the store owners for the rising prices is rather foolish! Sandy.

Sunnybec said...

HiSue, Fabric is very expensive here in France. I have only been quilting since August last year so no stash, or none to really shout about, so its a real problem for me. I order my fabric from America as it's cheaper even with the postage. Also I don't have any quilt shops near me, the nearest fabric shop is 40kms away and they have a small corner for quilting cottons. It will just mean I have to cut back on building my stash, and buy as much as I can in the sales.

quiltingnana said...

I certainly can understand the issues that you post. My way to deal with higher prices is that I am trying to focus on fabrics that I want for a specific project rather than just buying fabric because I like it. I am also trying to use fabric from my stash and buy additional only if there isn't fabric in my stash that is appropriate. Additionally I am using up a lot of my scraps

Sue said...

You're all very understanding and you have great ideas for dealing with the rising prices so you can keep quilting! For those of us who live in the U.S.... we sometimes need to be reminded how fortunate we are that we have so much available to us for quilting. And being bloggers, we're ALL very fortunate to be connected with quilters all over the world. Our connections truly boost our creativity!

QuiltSue said...

That was a great post with lots of interesting points, thanks. Course, most of your ideas won't work for someone like me who doesn't really have stash. (Pity any poor friend who tried to "shop" in mine.) Living in the UK we have to pay about half as much again (at current conversion rates) as you do, so our increases will be even more painful. Still, it won't stop me shopping!

Kate said...

Thank you for posting all this information. I'm trying to shop my stash as I added a lot of fabric last year, so maybe I'm ahead of the game.

Colleen's Blog Long Island NY said...

I heard that with all the natural disasters we have had this winter that the cotton crop is not good. Therefore the price goes up. I am going to try and use fabric from my stash.

taylorsoutback said...

Having quilted since 1982, my stash had built up nicely, but last year it started looking a little tired so I cleaned house quite drastically and now any purchases are carefully thought out. Scrap quilts are always an option too. I find myself becoming more focused and selective in deciding on a project - it has to really make my heart flutter. Problem is, the designers keep introducing yet one more fabulous grouping!!!

Micki said...

I usually shop for fabric in the States online, but it is a shame that fabric is going up.

Anita said...

A good post. Thank you for an informative note. I hope this upward trend doesn't last to long, but I am doubly glad I have a large stash in the mean time.