Friday, April 4, 2014

Aussie Quilters, time to start buying from Australian Quilt shops again!

How many times have I heard quilters guiltily whisper, or sometimes brazenly declare, that they buy fabric from overseas because it is sooo much cheaper! That's their prerogative, that's fine, but I believe it's time to think again my friends.
On our big trip around Queensland last year my very patient husband drove me around to any quilt shop I could Google in every town we visited. It became a regular occurrence that we would turn up at an address and find the shop vacated, no longer in business. As well as disappearing businesses we  also found downsizing businesses, shops that were struggling and had had to move into smaller premises.... pretty sad really.
I feel for the shop owners because I know how much they pay 'wholesale' for fabric, it's usually more or about the same as the US shop owners sell their fabric 'retail'.  It's hard to compete with that!
Well I hope that I can persuade shoppers to start looking back in their local quilt shops again.

Lets start with an average order:

Most US shops will send 6 - 8 yards in a Priority Flat Envelope for $24.00.
That means you need to add the cost of $4 -$3 to each yard that you buy to cover postage.

If you buy 6 yards @ US $11  (add postage $4 per yard)   6 yards X  $15  =  $90 US

The AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR is not so great now!
 So $90 US will be about $97 AUS

We Aussies deal with METRES! US shops charge by the YARD!
6 yards is equal to 5.5 metres
So you have just bought 5.5  metres for $97.
Don't forget to add the currency conversion fee that gets added separately to your bank account, around $3.
You've just spent $100 on 5.5 metres of fabric.

That comes to $18.18 per metre!

Now that's not much less than you pay in your quilt shop for a metre of fabric!
So for  a few dollars isn't it worth rethinking your next online spending spree?
Why not take your $100.00 to a shop where a you can see, feel and touch the fabric, see whats new in the Quilting world, chat with the helpful shop owner and meet with friends.......



  1. I'd like to commend you for your comment on buying locally. I live in US but I am always encouraging people to buy at their local shop or they may not have a local shop to go to. Thanks for posting this.

  2. Very well written Penny! It's the same picture in Denmark and it's almost impossible to make a living by this. That's why I'm still holding on to my teacher's job after 8 years in the quilt business. And it's not because I couldn't do with more time in my shop. This is a full job, but for a very small pay. On top of that as a quilt shop owner you'll have to listen to the customers complain about the prices and comparing them with the US shops.

  3. The customers would be upset if you weren't there when they needed a reel of cotton. Hope things pick up for you !

  4. I can see you have done your homework, Penny. Lots of good points there.

  5. All very true IF you paid $US11 a yard for fabric. I have never paid $US11 a yard for fabric from the US. I routinely pay $US5 to $US9 a yard. Someone in Australia is making a lot of money out of Quilt fabric and I am sure it is not the shop owners. By buying fabric from the US I get to actually make quilts and so buy batting, thread needles etc etc from local quilt shops. I still spend a considerable amount of money in local shops, just not on fabric. Sure you cant feel the fabric online, but if you buy a reputable brand it is not an issue.
    I am a little tired of the negativity shown to people who buy online. Online shopping in many areas is a fact of life nowadays.

  6. Oh and Penny, you were the person who introduced me to Whittles Fabrics at work one night!! I have bought LOTS of fabric from them at $US5 a yard.

  7. Hi Sandra, I was hoping to point out the fact that it is not quite so lucrative to buy O/S since some recent changes. If you look at Hancocks 'Just Arrived' lines they are $10.98/yard. As the best fabrics in the range are sold, the prices drop.
    I have some friends who own quilt shops who are struggling to keep going, hence the post, not negative at all, just encouraging a rethink.
    Yes, Whittles are still great if you're looking for Reproduction fabrics that you cannot find in a lot of our shops here!