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Tips & Techniques > Finding great $1 yard fabric at Wal-Mart

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Posted by: Oopsy-Daisy!
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About Oopsy-Daisy! starstarstar
TX USA
Member since: 11/16/02
Reviews written: 125
Sewing skills:Advanced
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tips added: 14
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Posted on: 5/12/04 12:31 PM
Review Rating: Helpful by 4 people   Needs More Info by 1 people   Very Helpful by 21 people   
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I enjoy trying new patterns as much as the next person. However, I get a sick feeling when I wad and toss a high expectation/high price fabric that just didn't work. A lot of my reviews here have been trialed with $1/yard fabric from Wal-Mart, and some end up becoming part of my wearable wardrobe that my friends can't believe I made for less than $5. Here are a few tips for finding chic and cheap fabric.

1. Keep in mind that all Wal-Mart fabric departments are not created equal. I have better luck finding fabric at the regular WM's versus the SuperCenters.

2. Also, don't overlook the more rural WM's when travelling. My coolest fabric finds (metallics, knits, interesting wovens and colors, etc.) were acquired at those locations, as they are usually not fast movers there. Sometimes if you've bought a fabric at one WM, you can find its other colorways at other stores.

3. Make friends with the fabric department manager. I troll a particular WM almost daily mid-week, and she has even set aside a couple of bolts in the midst of being stocked that she "thought I might like..."

4. Midweek is a good time to check for newly-stocked fabric. I make daily runs Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday as they replenish the shelves for and from the weekend.

5. Exercise is important! Usually the fabric section is in the back of the store. Fabric shopping can be cardiovascular! Hoof it on back there!

6. Look for Golden D'Or bolt labels. They are often the manufacturer's end runs, and you'll find the quality and the unusual fabrics -- most of the time.

7. Avoid those rayon-y crinkle type fabrics. I always prewash and dry all my fabrics before cutting out. Those fabrics which look slightly crinkly on the bolt, will turn into an uncuttable mess and end up in the trash.

8. Check out the $2/yard bolt section. Often they are a bit nicer quality than the $1 ones, and you are still getting a great deal!

9. Form an informal fabric co-op with your other sewing friends, particularly those who live in different parts of the city. Work the network, you can cover and acquire more yardage that way! We know each other's colors and sewing taste, and will often call on the cell phone right there in the store with the words, "Hey, I'm at Wal-Mart and just found a knit you might like. How many yards do you want?"

10. Cull the herd. All these acquisitions can take over your sewing room/fabric storage capacity. About every 2 months, I will go sort the fabric and see and remember what I bought. And then wonder what state of mind or mood was I in?! Charity thrift stores and yes, even selling and making a profit on eBay are both good ways to recoup your mistakes and make more room.

* * * * *

I'm the first one in line to shop and support the independent fabric stores, but they are becoming as extinct as dinosaurs. The fabric chains seem to be more crafty and quilty, but the more we shop and buy the good stuff from them, the more they will stock it and send more to the stores based upon sales figures. Online stores may be future, but I miss being able to feel and sew the fabric in my head while holding it. It is with a little guilt that I do shop WM, given their recent publicity. But when I do find a pattern that works out, I tend to make it over and over again, putting my support behind the fabric stores that support us.

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29 Comments
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KathyRNPhD said...
Realistic review--I thought I was the only one who had the difficulties with crinkled rayon--looks so nice on the bolt, but what a nightmare!
5/12/04 1:05 PM
mickisews said...
Thanks for this review!! We don't have a Walmart in the SF bay area (I guess rent is too expensive), but when we travel, I always stop an check out what they have. Your review will help me make the best decision :>)
5/12/04 10:53 PM
Liana said...
I like to use WM "muslins" too. No guilt, and sometimes it's great! It's like a treasure hunt to shop there. Glad to know about the Golden D'Or bolts. I've seen those and wondered.
5/13/04 0:13 AM
leavesongrass said...
I never have looked at the fabric at WalMart and never would have if it weren't for this review. Thanks!
5/13/04 2:04 AM
Danvillegirl said...
Great review. I am fortunate that I have two Super Centers in my area plus a regular one. I agree that regular Walmart has better selection. Thanks for the Golden D'Or tip. I know I have not purchased any fabric from that manufacturer but will make a point to check it out in the future.
5/13/04 5:53 AM
kathi s said...
I used to shop for fabric at my local walmart, but for the last year the fabric has been of such terrible quality that I have given up. Their quilting cottons are of better quality, but not what I want for clothing. Thanks for the tip on the crinkled rayon. When I was a kid, in the 50's, our local fabric store (The Nimble Thimble in Mill Valley, CA) was a treasure. Had beautiful fabrics in all price ranges and the owner was really helpful and knowledgable. We even had a couturier fabric store, Fabrics From Europe. Can't imagine such riches now.
5/13/04 8:27 AM
debbie.w said...
Thanks! I've had luck with looking at the more rural areas too for both fabric and notions. Perhaps they do more sewing.
5/13/04 9:19 AM
Mary Stiefer said...
I always check my local Wal-Mart and have found great bargains. A few months ago I found $1 yard white polyester knit and I love it. I have already made two summer tops that I also machine embroidered and they look great, wash great and are quite comfortable. Now I'm using the rest of that to make a short outfit for my 4 yr. old granddaughter. How neat. Thx for the review. Every bit of it is true.
5/13/04 10:40 AM
candyo said...
thank you! this has been very helpful!
5/13/04 1:16 PM
Phoebe said...
A person after my own heart! I have found the neatest fabrics at Wally World. Besides being very thrifty, they are perfect for all uses. I've used their stuff for anything from 'muslins' to hunt coats, sidesaddle habits, and ball gowns! Such versatility and such affordability. I usually get 5 yds at a pop because I usually don't feel $5.00 being spent and 5 yds usually will work for any (almost) pattern. I love your other suggestions on dept. mgrs, locallity, what to do with extras, etc... GREAT REVIEW!
5/13/04 2:32 PM
Lisa Laree said...
Hey, this is the place to find fabric for church (and probably other) costuming. Adult Bible-era costumes need about 4 yards of 60" fabric for each one; Wally World is definitely the place to go! I spoke with the manager of the fabric/notions department at one of the 'better selection' Wal-Marts in town (it's on the other side from me, but worth it); she told me that each department manager is responsible for what they get; it doesn't come from a Wal-Mart distribution center and largely depends on whether or not the manager wants to fool with the $1/yd stuff. She's on the phone to her supplier at least weekly and usually has some pretty nice stuff. Definitely worth a look! ;)
5/13/04 3:15 PM
jm said...
Thank you! I frequent another fabric chain and go to WM when I'm there. Now I defiently will look for your suggestions and talk with the manager more.
5/13/04 8:28 PM
SewVeryTall said...
I love the 'treasure hunt' of the $1 yard table too, lol. I talked to the fabric manager at our WM, and she told me that manufacturers automatically pull the first 20 yard bolt and the last 20 yard bolt from the 'run', and that's where most of this $1 yard fabric comes from. This means you should check the fabric for flaws, and buy accordingly. I have found some great fabrics there, that would normally be $10+ yard elsewhere.
5/14/04 5:54 AM
Rennie Ashby said...
Someone rated this 'need more info'? Gotta be a mistake. Extremely thorough, IMHO. You get a 'Very Helpful' from me!
5/14/04 8:59 AM
sewgranny said...
I think that I agree with Kathy S. I used to haunt WalMart looking for $1 yard fabric. My stash includes many wonderful pieces that I found there, including burnout velvets, laces, great knits, etc. But for the last year or two, the fabric is trash. Loosely woven garbage cottons that if washed would end up in a wrinkled ball. I'm sure that the manager of the department makes a difference, but I was told that the bargain fabrics come in a bundle, so to speak, and you do not have a choice of what you get. I still check but have not found anything for quite awhile. I was surprised, though on my last trip to a Hancock's to find that they now have "bargain fabrics" for $1.99 and $2.99 a yard and the choice was great.
5/14/04 6:41 PM
sissie said...
I argree , Wal-Mart has some really nice fabric I have made curtains to grandkids PJ's Inver really found much in the $1.00 a yard thought but the $2,00 a yard has wonderful fabrics. I resently purched some of the Golden D'or Its so nice I could make a Ball gown from it but I got it to make night gowns
5/14/04 10:46 PM
G.G. said...
good info about WM and fabric,but I love the other products. Wehave some other outlets in this part of the vineyard (am I allowed to mention the name?).You can shop comfy at WM and you can get some patterns,but the outlet is sneaker and shopping cart territory.$1 up in everything.and I mean everything. If your sample garments turn out o.k.=aplus. If you are teaching the little ones a sewing craft(or if they teachyou) not much is lost.
5/15/04 9:27 AM
Ginny Oregon said...
I have found some fabric at Wal Mart but the store that is closest to me doesn't have much that is worth bringing home. I have been to other one and they had better choises.
5/15/04 7:32 PM
Oopsy-Daisy! said...
Thanks for all the nice responses. I wanted to let you know, too, that sometimes WM's can change almost overnight. One of my reliable ones in past suddenly wasn't getting the "good stuff" anymore. I stopped at one last week that sometimes had a good selection and hit the jackpot there! It truly is luck, which makes it fun, too. Whose heart doesn't skip a beat as you approach fabric!?
5/17/04 12:37 PM
Karla Kizer said...
I agree that the treasures on the $1 table are fewer and farther between than they used to be, but I still can't resist checking. Sometimes they make a mistake and put something really good out there. My favorite recent find was a beefy pale pink poly/cotton 60" poplin - perfect for scrubs. A set of scrubs for $3? Yeah, I think I'll keep my eye on that table.... And one more suggestion: if the bolt has a fiber content on it, view it with skepticism. I have found rayon/lycra labeled "polyester" and p-woven polyester labeled cotton/poly. Know your fabrics and how they feel!
5/18/04 6:48 AM
ncegbu said...
I'm one of those shoppers who enjoys the "hunt," so Walmart's $1 table is perfect for me. I got a very cute heavy cotton chocolate brown & lime green retro "flower power" print that I made into a halter top and capri pant set for my young, college-age cousin. She loves it! I've also made her pajamas from some a $1 Scooby Doo print cotton/poly and all of her dorm-mates are begging for me to make them some, too! Between the 99 cent pattern sales and $1 fabric, I could probably do a whole wardrobe for her for under $100! LOL!!! Now I'm using my $1 fabric stash to test out patterns for the men in my family.
5/18/04 4:25 PM
AnneM said...
Just saw this; too cute. I haven't had much luck w/ our local store, but I am not a dedicated $1 table hunter. I've checked, oh, twice. :o
9/10/04 3:10 PM
loriwxly said...
I have to agree with the other posters that a lot of times you get what you pay for! I must say that I recently fell for this $1.00 scam and took my fabrics home, washed them, ironed them, and went to cut out my pattern only to find out that it was a 40inch roll. Not the normal 43,44 or even 45 inch. BEWARE if you are using it specifically for a pattern!!!!
10/3/04 3:26 PM
sewtall1963 said...
It is hit or miss with the fabric and selection. Sometimes you get lucky though
10/21/04 9:47 AM
Annika said...
I made my last Halloween costume with $2.00 material I found at WalMarts - It was a Lord of the Rings dress that took 10 yards of fabric, so I was very pleased to find something decent for $2.00 a yard.
10/31/04 11:06 PM
SewTwin said...
I completely agree!!! WM's $1 table is great. My daughter and I stop at every WM that we can when we travel...usually use the excuse to the husbands that we need something, have to go to the bathroom, need to stretch our legs! The smaller towns have the bigger selections, and the selections at the 5 WM's around Austin have gotten so bad that I don't check them anymore. I have also found some high quality drapery fabric there for $4.96 a yard. This stuff would have been $15 bucks or more at the regular fabric stores!!!
11/25/04 1:59 AM
utz said...
I support smaller businesses. Because when they are gone because we do not shop there then the service, the variety, the creativity small businesses offer will be gone. They will be gone. The only fabric available will be made in China. No Italian wool. No Japanese silk. No Belgian linen. No American cotton. Buy less but buy with those who have a love for their fabric, love for the craft. At Walmart everything is just another "item". When small business is gone we will be at the mercy of Walmart. Low prices means a race to the bottom. A race to the bottom price is also a race to the bottom quality. A race to the bottom in service. A race to the bottom destroys craft and replaces it with commodity. Buying only on price is penny wise and pound foolish. For yourself and for the American economy. (Will step down from soap box now.)
5/17/05 10:21 PM
amyliza said...
Another reason why you can find a better variety of fabrics at the rural WM's is because it's sometimes the only fabric store around for miles. I used to live in Woodstock, VA and before the WM came to town I had to drive at least 35 mi in either direction to find a decent fabric store. The local fabric store was long gone before WM was built, and so was Ben Franklin's fabric selection. It had been reduced to mostly craft fabric by the time WM appeared.
6/20/05 7:14 AM
rose4524 said...
It seems sometimes that what they have might be driven by what a particular mill etc., is trying to offload at the time - usually when I go they seem to have mostly quilting cottons, but recently had a great selection of stretch knits and gorgeous suiting fabrics that were nicer than I can usually find at a "real" fabric store.
3/10/06 10:17 AM
 
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