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Your dream online fabric store
What would make your fabric-shopping dreams come true?
Barbara R
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Barbara R
Intermediate
California USA
Member since 8/24/02
Posts: 77
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Date: 6/11/12 4:11 PM

Hi, all --

I'm in the early stages of considering opening an online fabric store. Yes I know there are already plenty out there, but hey, there's always room for one more, right? I have some ideas about how I want my site to be unique (for example, I want to specialize in fabrics with lovely hand and fantastic drape - I'll let others do the quilting cottons and bottom-weight stretch denims). But I would love to hear from some PR peeps about what YOU think would make a great new store.

Please feel free to be as wild as you wish in your fantasies. For example, one of mine is to offer patterns chosen to flatter your body, altered to fit, and shipped along with fabric pre-washed and cut out, ready to start sewing. Wouldn't that be cool?

What matters to you? Free shipping? Large swatches? Lots of how-to info? What would make you pick my store over others?

If you prefer, feel free to reply to me directly at sewing@sonic.net.

Thanks!

hpsauce
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hpsauce
Intermediate
Ontario CANADA
Member since 4/3/09
Posts: 101
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Date: 6/11/12 5:59 PM

Lots of pairings of fabrics and patterns. For me, that is the hardest part: trying to decide which pattern to use with a great fabric, so I'm not paralyzed by fear of cutting into it in case it won't work as a pairing.

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Island Couture http://islandcouture.blogspot.ca/

hpsauce
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hpsauce
Intermediate
Ontario CANADA
Member since 4/3/09
Posts: 101
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Date: 6/11/12 5:59 PM

Ooops, double post
-- Edited on 6/11/12 9:06 PM --

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Island Couture http://islandcouture.blogspot.ca/

Sweetsong

Sweetsong
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Michigan USA
Member since 12/26/05
Posts: 1056
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In reply to Barbara R <<
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Date: 6/11/12 6:23 PM

The shipping cost is what deters me from ordering fabric, sewing supplies, patterns online. Free would be good.

michellep74
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michellep74  Friend of PR
Intermediate
Washington USA
Member since 7/19/07
Posts: 2977
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Date: 6/11/12 6:44 PM

I shop online quite a bit. I really like it when online stores offer specific pattern suggestions to go with a particular fabric.

If you can't feel the fabric in-person, having a specific pattern suggestion will still give you a pretty decent idea of the hand/drape.

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--Michelle

***
Blog: http://happilycaffeinated.blogspot.com/

2014 Fabric IN: 153.13 yards
2014 Fabric OUT: 88 yards
2014 Fabric Sewn: 38 yards
2014 Fabric Donated: 50 yards
pre-2014 Stash patterns used in 2014: 7

MissLadyAudrey
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MissLadyAudrey
Beginner
Georgia USA
Member since 12/2/11
Posts: 73
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In reply to Barbara R <<


Date: 6/11/12 7:32 PM

Here are my top four things....

4) Choices / I shop online (with a WM & JA within 5 miles) because I have more fabric choices online
3) Prices / The choices of online stores are only bested (is that a word?) by the prices. Consider getting to the store, standing in line 2xs (cutting and paying), and then, paying a higher price per yard.
2) Free Shipping / This is always an incentive, even if I have to spend a certain dollar amount (i.e. $35 - $50)
1) Wish List / my favorite online store doesn't have this feature (and, I really wish they did). I would love to be able to keep a running list of the types of fabrics that I want for upcoming projects.

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Needles Up!
http://sewreinventedaudrey.blogspot.com/

dawn

dawn
Intermediate
Illinois USA
Member since 12/18/03
Posts: 66
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Date: 6/11/12 7:47 PM

I'd agree with Michelle about pattern suggestions. Clear descriptions with fabric weight, sheerness, stiffness, etc. that I can't always see from a photo. Pantone color numbers are extremely helpful!

Dawn

wendyrb
wendyrb  Friend of PR
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Member since 12/30/11
Posts: 3232
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In reply to Barbara R <<


Date: 6/11/12 8:13 PM

Hi Barbara, What a great and exciting idea. How smart you are to poll for wishes here on PR.

You're on the right track with great customer service. A solid and helpful relationship makes me loyal to a company more than anything else. I've had amazing responsiveness from Style Arc. I sent them my measurements, described my figure and told them my level of pattern making expertise for a FBA. They analyzed and told me which pattern size to buy and confirmed how to alter before cutting. A little company named Danglez, resized a bathing suit pattern to my exact measurements and body type- without any additional charge. The original basic sized pattern was sent to me too.

Style Arc- many of us are fans of their patterns. Maybe you could become their US agent. By you shipping closer to home, it would help us save on the significant shipping costs from Australia.

I'd love to see a TNT pattern made up in the various base cloths, say a rayon lycra knit, a cotton jersey and a lightweight ponte. The TNT pattern might be a basic cowl top or knit dress or simple skirt. These basics would be used over and over to showcase the fabrics. That way customers could see and compare how the fabric drapes. For instance, does the cowl stand away or fall flatter and close to the body. Does one knit grow half a size and another cling more tightly? By posting photos of garments on a real person, customers would have a head start on how the base cloths behave. You wouldn't have to do this for every fabric, but rather be selective for typical ones.

Many folks seem to dislike cutting, so that service could be popular. Ditto for prewash. I wouldn't use that as I do a lot of designing as I cut. And also, I like to test the fabric pretreatments myself.

I love the idea of large swatches. This is so much fun to think about. I'll post again if I get more ideas.

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Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them. Andy Rooney

Pfonzie- my honey Pfaff Creative Performance, Bernina 930 and 830, Evolution serger.

heathergwo
heathergwo  Friend of PR
Advanced Beginner
California USA
Member since 11/14/11
Posts: 958
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Date: 6/11/12 8:42 PM

I have bought VERY LITTLE fabric online, simply because I need to be able to feel the fabric before I buy. Therefore, whatever you can do to make the pictures as close to "feeling" as possible, would tempt me to buy. Close up pics, very high quality pics and I really like wendyrb's suggestion of showing the same pattern in different fabrics - anything that will show how the fabric feels, falls, drapes, etc.

I would also recommend selling basic fabrics. Those I would be most likely to buy. For example: muslin, interfacing, broadcloth, etc. The kind of staples that everyone needs to have.

Of course, customer service is important. And price! Discounts, sales, etc. are all good incentives. Of course, if you charge a reasonable price and your service is extraordinary, I'd buy from you anyway. But shipping & handling are big as well. Keep the shipping costs low to nothing and make sure packages arrive quickly. Obviously not overnight, but priority mail or the like is a bonus!

I really like your idea of offering pre-washed and cut fabric, but I'm wondering if I'd actually use it. I am one of the ones that kinda hates to cut, but that also really gives me a feel for the fabric and project before I sew it up. It is something I would probably try at least once to see how I liked it - definitely an interesting idea!

Perhaps a "Friends of PR" discount?? Like the 10% we get at Joann's? Something along those lines would be nice.

------
Brother Innovis 1250D
Babylock Enlighten
Singer Curvy 8763
Brother 1034D
Janome 385.19606
Brother 2340CV

Barbara R
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Barbara R
Intermediate
California USA
Member since 8/24/02
Posts: 77
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Date: 6/11/12 9:44 PM

Thanks so much for the comments and great ideas so far. Keep them coming! I had actually thought about being a US distributor for Style Arc at one point so thanks for reminding me about that.

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