I’m pretty sure that at least once in my life I’ve stated I wouldn’t ever want to buy fabric online… a big part of shopping for fabric for me is touching different fabrics, seeing how they work together, being inspired by the colour (even if I often default back to checking to see if they have a fabric I really like in black….), and basically just experiencing them in person.
Still, after I finished my blue linen Apron Dress (aka Hangerock or Smokkr) I was so pleased with the linen, that I definitely wanted to make future garments as well… the problem – the only place in Calgary that I’ve ever found linen is Fabricland, and they have a strong tendency towards linen blends and ‘linen look’ fabrics over real 100% linen, and usually their selection is limited to colours I don’t care for (hence the need to dye the linen I made my Apron Dress with), plus it isn’t cheap, and is usually only available during the summer…
So… guided by the Wandering Elf’s blog post where she included the weight of the linen she used for her underdress and apron dress (light weight – 3.5 oz/yd2 for the underdress and medium weight – 5.3 oz/yd2 for the apron dress) I decided to take the plunge and order some linen from Fabric-store.com.
While the weight of the fabric wasn’t an issue (thanks to the Wandering Elf and the online shop’s division of fabric by weight), picking the colour at Fabric-store.com was really, really challenging. I went in with a specific plan.. I wanted a true-blue red (maybe a little bit dark…), and a black, in each of the two weights. But… they didn’t have black in the light weight (so I bought a dark green (US$10.98/yard) in one with the hopes I’ll be able to dye it successfully….) and they didn’t have the red in the light weight either (so I bought it in “tomato puree” (US$10.98/yard) – which looks pretty pink on the screen with another plan to dye…) For the medium weight, black (US$9.10/yard) was easy to find, but there were SO many colours of red, and I know that colour doesn’t always represent the same on the screen as it does in person. I had to make a reasonable guess and hope for the best. I settled on the “Biking Red” (US$9.10/yard) and crossed my fingers.
I also bought some “dress blue” linen (US$9.10/yard) which is nearly navy blue as well in the medium weight, since even on screen I really liked the colour… (and can see it working well with the existing items I have).
They offer free swatches which is great too – so I also ordered four swatches to check colours/weights on other fabrics… which I might just have to get on my next order if I like the way they look.
I ordered on Saturday June 7th, and got a confirmation that my package had been shipped (from California) on Tuesday, June 10th via USPS Priority.
Since suddenly I was in a shopping mood, I then went to Fabric.com and ended up making another purchase there as well at the same time.
Since Fabric.com doesn’t specialize in linen the way Fabric-store.com does, it was much harder to find the linen I had in mind. Likewise, unlike Fabric-store.com, they didn’t typically give the weight of the fabrics they had to offer. I opted for a ‘washed linen black’ (US$6.98/yard) which was listed as “very lightweight” and 3.4 oz/yard2 which hopefully will work nicely… we’ll see! I didn’t see any red linen at all in a colour that appealed to me.
While I was shopping I also bought some black batiste (US$6.98/yard) (which I find hard to find locally for some reason), a skull damask quilting cotton (US$9.48/yard) (for a sundress I’m hoping) and some of their Perfection Fused Leather (US$14.98/yard) which I’m intrigued by more than anything else… I don’t entirely know what I’ll make with it frankly… though I’ve been collecting ideas I might refer to on my (currently titled) Pleather Project board on Pinterest.
I ordered on Saturday June 7th, and got a confirmation that my package had been shipped (from Georgia) on Wednesday, June 11th via UPS.
Results – Fabric.com
The Fabric.com order came in first… shockingly it made it from Georgia up to Calgary, Alberta on Thursday, June 12th! Four business days – amazing!
Before washing – I’m really pleased with the lightweight black linen – it’s very light weight as advertised. After washing I like it even better, it’s softer without the sizing. (I ordered 5 yards and received 4.67 meters = 5.10 yards.)
The batiste on the other hand isn’t as light as I had hoped – and is a bit stiff too – I hoped that it would relax after washing – but I’m disappointed with the washed results; the fabric doesn’t seem any different than a nice-quality cotton broadcloth. (There was a little sticker saying “Jackpot you got the end of the bolt; I ordered 2 yards and received 2.26 meters = 2.47 yards.)
The skull damask is super cute – I really like it and think it will make a great dress. It’s a quilting cotton, and washed up as expected. (I ordered 4 yards and received 3.8 meters = 4.15 yards.)
The Perfection Fused Leather… I’m still not entirely sure how they have done this. They claim that it’s a 100% cowhide top, backed with a knit backing. It LOOKS like leather, it feels like leather, it even has an leathery smell (vs. a plastic smell like PVC)….but.. HOW? (I didn’t measure my order upon receipt as it was on a roll, and since I won’t be pre-washing it, it’s just easier to store on the roll.)
Just in case they stop carrying this – I’m posting some of the details about this fabric:
Country of Origin Made in the USA or Imported
Contents 100% Rayon Backing/100% Cowhide Face
Description: Spoil yourself with this luxurious leather fabric! This supple lightweight cowhide leather is fused to a soft backing of woven rayon- making this leather medium/heavyweight and a dream to sew and wear! With an ultra soft hand, a touch of mechanical stretch and a metallic look, this leather is perfect for creating jackets, vests, pants, skirts, dresses, and apparel accents such as collars, elbow patches or epaulettes.
Washing Instructions : Wipe With Damp Cloth or Dry Clean
Overall I’m really happy with my order… now just to wash up the fabric and make it up into something!
Results – Fabric-store.com
So, the linen order from Fabric-store.com came in a lot later (and they sent me an email per day it seemed trying to get me to make subsequent orders… boo), and arrived on Wednesday, June 18th. 11 days isn’t bad, though it was coming from California compared to the other order which came much, much faster from much further away.
The lightweight linen (in emerald green which I’ll overdye with black) is a lot heavier than I anticipated – at least before washing. The green is somewhat brighter than I anticipated, while the tomato puree isn’t nearly as pink as I anticipated – and it might actually work as-is. (Though I might also overdye it to get a darker red…) The lightweight linen doesn’t have the same ‘transparency’ as the lightweight linen from Fabric.com.
Likewise, the medium-weight linen was also a lot heavier than I anticipated. (I haven’t washed it yet either, and this might change…?) and the colour of the blue was significantly darker than I anticipated – in fact when taking it out of the box, I had to look to see that it wasn’t the black! They’re nearly indistinguishable in low light. The Biking Red on the other hand is perfect – I love the colour!
One other odd note – I suggested that the swatch I requested be sent with the fabric – and it wasn’t… and arrived two days later on Friday – kind of odd, I would have expected the swatch to come before the package! (But I’m glad I ordered it… it definitely will help with my next purchase!)
Just because I happened to be at the fabric store, and they had two of the three colours I was looking for, (albeit not in the weight I was looking for) I also picked some linen from Fabricland. This fabric was regularly $30.00/meter but then 43% off (making it more expensive than the two online sources at over $17/meter – but that doesn’t account for the online sources being in US$ or that it was sold by the yard which is smaller than a meter.)
A week or two later it went on sale even better – 50% off. (So I bought 13 more metres…)
Just for comparison, here is the red and blue medium weight (no weight provided by the seller) compared to the black lightweight linen from Fabrics.com.