Friday, January 7, 2011

In an Ideal World....

.... sewing machines would be cheap and fabric would be free. A girl can dream, can't she?

There's a retailer in our area whose tagline is "an educated consumer is our best customer." Becca and I believe the same thing, being quilters and fabric addicts like yourself. We think it's in your best interest and ours (as ones who want to sell you fabric) to let you know what's going on so you can make smart buying decisions. So what am I really talking about? Cotton fabric prices are going up this year.

Cut to the reality version of this scenario and you'd see floods in China and Pakistan, where the bulk of the world's cotton crop is grown, and droughts in India, another contributor to the cotton supply. Supply is way down, demand is up. What does that mean to me, the quilter/crafter/sewer in my little sewing space, reading blogs and stashing yummy fabric? You can expect to pay an additional .50¢ to $1.00 per yard at your online and LQS shops in the near future.

Most, if not all, cotton fabric manufacturers imposed a price increase as of the first of the year. Retailers, like ourselves, did our best to lock in buys and pricing last December to see us through the next few collection releases. We're trying to hold off as long as we can on passing the increase on to our customers. But sadly, my friends, it's coming.

Some trends that are happening in the meantime are slightly narrower bolts and we may see more 42-43" bolts instead of the customary 44-45". Some large chains currently negotiate for lesser quality goods that have a name you know on them and more of this may happen. And the short life cycles for prints may become even shorter. Manufacturers are printing for demand so they do not carry costly inventory on the shelves. Designs are printed with small overages after orders are written. If designs are released but not ordered in sufficient quantity, they may not be printed at all.

As a note of perspective, the price increase for cotton fabric from 1990 to 2010 has only increased about 35%. The prices for bread and meat have gone up roughly 275%.

Deborah at Whipstitch did a fantastic job of laying out the very complex issues at play and how it will affect all of us. Please read her post here for a more complete picture.

Sew Fresh Fabrics (meaning Becca and myself), like most small online and local shops, value our customers, love what we do and strive to bring great products at competitive prices and value for your dollar. The best thing I can say about the situation as a whole is the very thing I love about quilters and this community – we do this for love. We love fabric, love making quilts, love finding good homes for them. If you love a fabric, then buy it, sew it, find it a good home. You'll never regret those few dollars more when you're doing what you love.


  1. Girls, thanks for sharing this information. I read the post over at Whipstitch a while back, but I'm glad to see you guys address this as well - I think it's sad that these changes are coming, but it is what it is, and all we can do is deal. It's nice to feel informed as to why prices are rising, so thank you.

  2. I don't want to pay more for cotton fabric ... none of us do. But I have to tell you that dealing with reputable businesses,like Sew Fresh Fabrics, Whipstitch, as well as others, and the honesty expressed in your blogs, takes some of the "sting" out of the increase.
    Thank you for your honest and straight forward approach to keeping your customers informed.

    In this house, we will just adjust our budget and have pasta for dinner on a regular basis. You didn't think I was going to say adjust my fabric budget, did you? =]